Yolande Clément, Executive Director of the FORA Centre, nurtured the Centre to become a service that is renowned nation-wide; answering the educational needs of its clients through the purchase, production and editing of books. A teacher for the past 20 years and leader in literacy, Yolande is passionate towards reducing the rate of illiteracy among francophones, recognizing that the path to economic independence for women is through education. One of Yolande’s many achievements was the creation of the francophone library at the FORA Centre. She initiated and sponsored the first Salon du Livre in 2004. Yolande is actively preparing to open a used book library, sits on many volunteer committees, sings and leads a choir, and plays piano for various groups. Her colleagues describe her as a source of inspiration and she is considered a role model for all women who know her.
Jean Dick was the first President of the YWCA Sudbury in 1955. This was a time when women were not expected to be power brokers, but this did not dissuade Jean at all. She proceeded to lead the board through the development of policy, a membership drive, staff hiring, and positioning of the YWCA as an organization for women, by women. She initiated the hiring of a full time “House Mother” to assist the residents. Genevra Richards, the successful candidate, became an integral part of the YWCA’s history and Genevra House stands as a testament to both Jean and Genevra’s dedication. Jean went on to become the first woman President of the Canadian Institute for the Blind (CNIB). Over the years she worked tirelessly to ensure equity for both woman and the disabled through a more inclusive approach at both organizations. She has continued to support the YWCA and was the keynote speaker at the opening of the new location of Genevra House. Jean was a strong, motivating force and instituted change through her exemplary leadership and the power of her convictions.
Myra Gerow’s impressive career as a geologist made her an excellent role model for other women. She took a keen interest in mentoring young women in the provincial geology program to excel in non-traditional mining careers. In her zest to improve the lives of women, she formed a team to participate in our local 2000 Run for the Cure. Two weeks after the run Myra was diagnosed with breast cancer herself. The following year she inspired others to join her to develop the MACH Team – My Amazing Cancer Heroes. She has won the “Determination Award” for six years for the most money raised by an individual and was twice the inspirational speaker for the Run for the Cure. Although currently battling cancer again, it hasn’t slowed her commitment. She has been a powerful mentor to other breast cancer survivors, many of whom are on her MACH Team, and is always very supportive to the young members of the team. The words of one young girl who joined the MACH team captures the feelings of all who come to know her – “Myra changed my life forever.”
Gisèle Guénard began her career as a registered nurse then added college professor, public health nurse, manager, and then became the first female Chief Executive Officer for the Espanola General Hospital. Under her expert guidance, the EGH was one of the first to launch a fully operational Family Health Team. Her creative problem solving resulted in the construction of the covered link which fully integrated the Espanola Health Care Centre and Hospital “under one roof”. Gisèle is a long time sponsor of Women for Women International, supporting women in war torn and developing countries; founding professor at Collège Boréal; Board member of the Northeast Local Health Integration Network; Leader on the Ontario Hospital Association’s (OHA) Small Rural Northern Leadership Council; and founding member of the francophone choir, Troubador. She is author of the nationally recognized “Attract It: Beyond Positive Thinking”, and currently gives seminars for women titled “Women: Change Your Thoughts – Change Your Life.” Gisèle not only mentored over 1000 nursing students and countless colleagues, she inspired young women to use their unique abilities to excel.
Shelly Martel was first elected to the Ontario legislature at age twenty four and three years later became a Cabinet Minister. During her twenty years in public life she was steadfastly committed to women’s equality. She consistently supported women’s groups on issues including breaking the silence on violence against women; pay equity and employment standards that would lift women out of the ranks of the working poor; and high-quality, licensed, non-profit childcare spaces. She pushed for safe needles to protect front-line health care workers; for and end to work place harassment and for the right to safe housing for all women. Shelley’s support of autistic children and their families is legendary. When she was Minister of Northern Development and Mines, all of Northern Ontario became her focus: she negotiated agreements that saved both Algoma Steel and Spruce Falls Paper, greatly contributing to the economic stability of those communities. Shelley’s ability to balance her home and political life is renowned. She recently retired from public life and is currently enjoying being a “hockey Mom” to Sarah and Jonathon, and assists several struggling learners three times a week at her son’s school.
Emily Caruso Parnell’s leadership skills were evident at an early age, initiating changes to the children’s program at the Northern Lights Festival. As a dance teacher, choreographer and performer in the community Emily ardently supports healthy choices and a positive body image, taking an active stand against the early sexualization of young girls, which she sees evident in many dance competitions. Emily is also an advocate and strong instrument of an egalitarian leadership and participation within the Shaar Hashomayin Synagogue. Although she was the youngest member of the synagogue, she guided the membership to celebrate the first egalitarian Yom Kippur (Jewish New Year) service in this community. Through her continued guidance she demonstrates the valuable role Jewish women have to play in traditional services. Currently Emily teaches music and dance for the Rainbow District School Board. She volunteers on School Board committees, is the volunteer founder of Sudbury Spirit Movers based at L’Arche Sudbury, and is a member of the Legal and Education Fund (LEAF) committee.
The ‘Pay It Forward’ Team is a group of women teachers from MacLeod Public School who turned an idea into action and in the process developed a movement that changed not only their own school community but many others as well. Working together, Dana Campeau, Kerri Monagham, Leila Mallett and Leslie VanWallegham initiated the ‘Pay-it-forward’ program where staff, students and family members are encouraged to perform random acts of kindness. The recipient of the kindness then pays it forward to others instead of paying it back. Through their initiative and efforts, the Pay-It-Forward Team entered a Santa Claus float to promote random acts of kindness and published a compilation of stories of paying-it-forward. Their program was adopted by other schools and received an award from the City of Greater Sudbury. In a ripple effect, the mayor then challenged the entire city to pay-it-forward. The Pay It Forward team is a fine example of how women working together can have a positive and lasting influence on the lives of many.