Women of Distinction
A night to celebrate women who have influenced women and girls as a role model, a mentor, or through their direct accomplishments in many different fields.
When Kyelle is not performing her regular duties as a Grants Manager at Science North, she is tirelessly advocating for 2SLGBTQ+ people at every opportunity. She has been a driving force in Science North’s Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (EDIA) Committee, championing diversity and awareness initiatives across the staff compliment of the science centre and inspiring others to develop their leadership skills and bring forward their authentic selves.
As a Board Member for Fierté Sudbury Pride, Kyelle’s dedication to social change has helped the organization raise thousands of dollars for 2SLGBTQ+ programming that has the potential to change the lives of 2SLGBTQ+ people within our community. She was indispensable in organizing the 25th annual Pride Week celebrations, launching events like the first ever 2SLGBTQ+ Community Awards Gala to recognize community leaders who go above and beyond to better the lives of 2SLGBTQ+ people in Sudbury, and relaunching events like Pride Prom and Pride Day in the Park & Pride March to bring together thousands of 2SLGBTQ+ folks and allies to celebrate their identities. With community volunteers and other members of Fierté Sudbury Pride, she packaged and delivered 100 Pride Care Packages to 2SLGBTQ+ youth in our community and was recognized as a TakingITGlobal #RisingYouth alumni for these efforts.
Kyelle’s advocacy for 2SLGBTQ+ people in our community, initiatives to make science more accessible and engaging through educational programming and outreach, such as creating science content for podcasts and social media, and the generous sharing of her grant-writing skills with several community and Northern Ontario organizations have earned her a New Leaders Fellowship to the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC) from among a large group of nominees across North America. Her passion, determination, and eagerness to always lend a hand make a considerable difference in our community.
Adebola is a working mother of three from Nigeria, West Africa with a big heart and a passion for empowering racialized women and girls to stand up for themselves, raise their voices, and step into leadership roles. When her daughter began experiencing racism at school, Adebola modeled and taught her to self-advocate which helped her gain confidence and to support and guide her peers in turn. Adebola recognized that there was a need for this work in the community at large and founded the Afro Women and Youth Foundation to provide leadership, empowerment, and mentorship programs to Black women and youth through strategic partnerships and collaborations with like-minded community services and non-profit organizations.
She recently completed her Masters in Child & Youth Care at the Toronto Metropolitan University and has honed her skills in early childhood education at the Seneca Lab School Daycare and the City of Toronto Early Learning and Child Care. Currently, she’s working on the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care and Women and Gender Equality Canada’s (WAGE) project that is investigating the impact of COVID-19 on racialized women and families to inform recommendations for feminist, childcare, and family program policies in Ontario. Throughout, Adebola has continued leading and volunteering her time at the Afro Women and Youth Foundation.
Adebola brings insightful perspectives and strategic, research-based Anti-Racism principles to The Family Supports Institute of Ontario (FSIO) Board of Directors, the School of Early Childhood Education, Seneca College, and other committees she sits on and offers this knowledge through consultancy and training services to organizations. She continues to seek opportunities for collaborative work to strengthen her community and her drive and devotion inspires those around her.
Jackie has been standing up for and making a difference in people’s lives since she was young and has always continued to do so throughout her 30+ years in education. She has a gift for meeting young people where they are, accepting them as they come, and patiently listening to understand in a way that makes them feel heard, validated, and comfortable being authentic with her. She demonstrated that she was willing to put in the time and effort it took to get to the heart of the needs presented and connect individuals to the right resources and guide them through that process.
It’s no surprise then that, when she retired, Jackie moved into the field of social justice through her work with Sudbury District Restorative Justice and their Population Health Safety & Wellbeing Committee, and on the Boards of NISA, the Sudbury and Area Victim Services, and Northern Youth Services. Her leadership, integrity, and sincerity allowed her to build a strong reputation and solid connections, leading other organizations to seek her input on social initiatives, like the Greater Sudbury Police Service’s Safe Space Curriculum, and on the development of practices and strategic planning. She’s also taken actionable steps to push for change by creating a go-to community resource directory, endorsing the value of the Violence Threat Risk Assessment (VTRA) process, and developing anti-racist programs in schools.
Jackie courageously and tenaciously advocates for those who are trying to find their voices, generously shares her knowledge of wrap-around supports and how to navigate them, and kind-heartedly mentors people to set them up for success through self-empowerment and growth. Her example creates ripples in the lives of others and make us believe that nothing is insurmountable.
As the Project Coordinator at J. Corsi Developments, a real estate development organization, Paula blazes a trail every day for women and girls who dream of breaking into and succeeding in male-dominated fields. She exemplifies professionalism and excellence in her diligent determination to achieve diverse and complex goals by making use of her reflective critical thinking skills and good judgement.
Paula is respected by her peers for her dependability, knowledge, and expertise and has grown in her role at the company as the Lead Administrator for New Home Construction and Real Estate Development and Asset Management, proving invaluable on several major projects and earning recognition with the Sudbury & District Home Builders Association and the Ontario Home Builders Awards of Distinction. Her work ethic and drive extend beyond her career as well.
She is currently serving as the President of the Sudbury District Girls Hockey Association (SDGHA), one of only two female Presidents in the history of the association, after volunteering for the past 8 years as a Dressing Room Mom and Trainer on the ice and the Equipment Manager on the Board. She also sits on the Committee for the Esso Cup Legacy Fund. Paula advocates to provide equal opportunities for women and encourages them to get involved in their community and on Boards. By her example, she is proving that women and girls have a place in leadership positions everywhere, especially in historically male-led fields like hockey, real estate, and trades.
Jennifer was a woman who lived and breathed leadership and compassionate caring, and every aspect of her life was coloured by her warmth and strength of character. In her career, she began as a Personal Support Worker at Finlandia Village, then pursued her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and developed skills in research, acute inpatient psychiatry, and ethics facilitation as a Registered Nurse at the local hospital and organizational skills as the Operations Manager at Kirkwood Place in the Regional Specialized Dementia Care Unit/Regional Specialized Psychiatric Rehabilitation and Transition Unit. She then returned to Finlandia Village as the Director of Care and eventually the Chief Clinical Officer while also working towards her Master of Nursing.
Her commitment to resident-centered, quality care, her knowledge, and her initiative has changed the culture at Finlandia Village. Jennifer spearheaded the innovative Enhanced Care Seniors Support Program which enabled practices that celebrate and honour residents who have passed and give their neighbours the opportunity to mourn them. She also prioritized empowering her female-dominated staff to confidently manage responsive behaviours associated with dementia through organization-wide training in Gentle Persuasive Approach (GPA) and remaining approachable to listen, guide, and mentor her over 130-person team.
Jennifer generously donated her time to the Special Olympics as a swim coach as well as participating in the local Program Advisory Committee for the PSW, RPN, and RN Programs, the Behavioural Supports Ontario North East best practice network, Sudbury Manitoulin Ethics Network, and the Research and Ethics Board at Finlandia Village. She modeled to her two daughters the value of giving back when she brought them to volunteer with her at SISU fundraising events and even regularly visited a Grade 4 classroom as Walden Public School over the years to speak about her work as a Registered Nurse and inspire young girls to work hard and reach their goals.
Kelu immigrated to Sudbury from Nigeria in 2020 and began studying Developmental Service Work at Cambrian College followed by Indigenous Social Work at Laurentian University. She is a single mother of two children she cherishes as well as a student, part time life skill trainer at Sudbury Community Service Center, and the owner of Kelz Everclean, the only black-owned cleaning service in the area. She also saw opportunity in clothes alteration (International Obioma) and authentic, delicious Nigerian catering (Kelu Cooks) for fellow students who were in need and run these operations as side hustles. She is a jovial and ambitious woman bursting at the seams with drive and dedication in everything she does.
She is incredibly passionate about supporting and uplifting those around her. Kelu’s employees are largely international students that she trains regularly, mentors, and empowers to find their own financial and career success, some even launching their own cleaning companies. She prioritizes people and their wellbeing and ensures that everyone she interacts with feels respected and cared for.
While living in Nigeria, Kelu was an entrepreneurial fashion/style influencer and certified image consultant to celebrities and uses her knowledge to help women feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. She writes a blog for Women of Rubies weekly and often helps the vulnerable women in that community secure funds for rent and school fees. She also helps to fundraise for the Pregnancy Care Centre and to organize Afro Fest Sudbury. Kelu’s story has been a source of inspiration and encouragement for many young single mothers, especially in the Black community, to go to college and chase their dreams.
Sonia has been a longstanding and devoted volunteer with the Ukrainian community in Sudbury, predominantly through her work on the Board for the Ukrainian National Federation, where she spearheaded initiatives to support and enrich Ukrainian cultural heritage. By virtue of her unassuming leadership and quiet charisma, she’s been a source of motivation and inspiration for her peers.
During her time as a Registered Nurse and Hospital Administrator, Sonia facilitated relationships and ongoing mentorships between the Grandview Children’s Treatment Centre in Whitby and the Dzherelo Children’s Rehabilitation Facility in Livv. She remains involved with the facility to this day, which has been internationally recognized and is being adopted as a model and standard of excellence in family-centered care across Ukraine. When tensions with Russia escalated in early 2022, Dzherelo welcomed both adults and children with physical disabilities seeking help from all parts of the country.
As Ukrainian families were displaced to Canada, many of whom were parented by young, single mothers due to spouses remaining in the country to fight, Sonia recognized the need for supports for these immigrating families and advocated passionately with all levels of government. She rallied a Ukrainian Newcomer Support Committee and worked collaboratively with the Welcome to Sudbury staff to secure emergency & long-term housing, household goods & furnishings, food, clothing & hygiene donations, English language acquisition, and transportation for families while helping guide them in navigating our medical care, daycare & education, and resettlement systems and services. For Sonia, being of service is second nature but those whose lives she touches admire her exceptional selflessness, compassion, and humility.