Women Empowerment Awards
2022 Award Recipients
TORONTO, September 22, 2022 - Last night at the Shangri-La in downtown Toronto, the inaugural Women Empowerment Awards presented by Rogers Communications Inc. in association with Mantella Corporation, revered the accomplishments of 10 diverse women from varying industries across the country. The awards were created to recognize and celebrate the achievements of women in Canadian business, leadership, mentorship, global impact, diversity, equality & inclusivity, community service, rising stars and lifetime achievement.
“It was a true honour to meet so many inspiring women and hear their stories through the Women Empowerment Awards. I am so grateful to the country’s supportive business community and everyone who contributed creative thinking and resources to help bring this vision to life,” said President and Founder, Women Empowerment Awards, Klaudia Zinaty.
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Meet Our 2022 Women Empowerment
Beckie Di Leo - 6ix Academy
Beckie is a practicing artist, illustrator and the Founder of the 6IX Academy, a Fashion/Arts Entrepreneurship program at Central Toronto Academy which provides students with real-world experiences through industry partnerships in the areas of Business, Marketing, Fashion Design, Graphic Design, Content Creation, Photography, Event Planning and more. Beckie re-branded the Arts Dept into the HeARTs Dept and works directly with BIPOC community mentors on social justice pursuits within the curriculum along with award winning designers to design a unique, innovative
and entrepreneurial educational program.
Laura Desveaux - Women Who Lead
Laura is the founder and Executive Director of
Women Who Lead, dedicated to supporting the career advancement and leadership development of women in the health sector. She is also the Scientific Director of the Institute for Better Health at Trillium Health Partners, the Lead for the Learning Health System Portfolio and the founding partner of E2I Consulting. Her dedication to the professional development and advancement of women includes authoring a book chapter titled 'Climbing the invisible ladder-Advancing your career as a woman in Science’, several speaking engagements at Women's Leadership Conferences, and the creation of the Women in Media Fellowship in partnership with Enterprise Canada, a fellowship that supports women in healthcare to develop skills and confidence.
Izzy Camilleri - IZ Adaptive
Izzy is one of Canada's most innovative and celebrated fashion designers of IZ Adaptive clothing line, focusing on clothing for people who live with a physical disability. Her designs have been featured in publications, such as Vogue, InStyle, Harpers Bazaar and Business of Fashion and has dressed A-list celebrities such as David Bowie. Recently, she was a style expert on a new series called 'FASHION Dis’, a revolutionary show featuring makeovers for people living with a physical disability.
Global Impact Award
Alma Jiwani - Emeritus UN Women Canada
Almas is a long-time advocate for gender equality and women’s economic empowerment. She is internationally renowned for her many efforts to encourage women’s social, economic, and political empowerment, having spearheaded many initiatives where corporate growth intersects humanitarian development.
Almas’s efforts to strengthen women’s economic capacity as entrepreneurs and producers, has earned her a long list of accolades and awards for her achievements. She plays a crucial role in building networks among charitable institutions and socially responsible businesses.
Diversity, Equality & Inclusivity Award
Ashley McKenzie-Barnes - D.PE Agency
Ashley is an award-winning Curator and Creative Director with over 17 years of integrated experience in design, cultural programming, teaching and visual art. She has worked in the media/broadcasting, entertainment, publishing, corporate, and non-profit sectors. Most recently, she led the launch of the international campaign for Universal Music Canada’s newest soul sensation, Emanuel’s single Black Woman, in which she was also profiled. In 2020, she was the Curator for Canada’s longest running Black History festival, KUUMBA at Harbourfront Centre, and one of the main 2019 curators for Nuit Blanche Toronto.
Entrepreneur of the Year
Emily O'Brien - Comeback Snacks
Emily is the founder of Comeback Snacks (@comebacksnacks) —a specialty popcorn company that challenges the status quo. After being sentenced to a four-year jail term stemming from her battle with addiction, Emily set out on a mission to get clean, transform herself, and make her time in jail as meaningful as possible. She developed Comeback—a popcorn brand that uses high-quality, health-conscious ingredients to create unique flavours inspired by the ones she found and curated in prison. Emily believes that positive change can happen within correctional institutions with passion, drive, and a positive mindset. Aware of the hardships of being incarcerated, she is driven to help remove the stigma surrounding people with prior convictions, and give them opportunities for reintegration through training, empowerment and education.
Rising Star Award
Sarah Lalji-Mawji - SLM Prep
Leading by example, our Rising Star Award recipient is 19 year old Sarah Lalji-Mawji who is the Founder and CEO of @slmprep, a serial entrepreneur passionate about Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Social Justice. She started her first venture at 10 years old, raising $25,000 for the World Partnership Walk, and has only grown since then—founding multiple businesses that have partnered with large organizations and worked with national corporations throughout Canada. Sarah is a fearless advocate for global change; she has collaborated with youth in Guatemala to explore sustainability through the COVID-19 pandemic, managed a cardiac surgery initiative on the ground in Congo to increase access to cardiac healthcare, and continues to support local movements that aim to propagate mental health research and resources.
Mantella Corporation BIPOC Entrepreneur of the Year
Marcia Brown - Trust 15
Marcia is the founder and Executive Director of Trust 15, a non-profit Youth Community Support Organization with a primary focus of impacting the lives of youths and young adults in racialized communities. Marcia founded Trust 15 to provide personal and educational support for young people beyond the classroom. Her organization includes two specific programs, Ladies on the Rise and Girls on the Rise that allow a safe and inspiring space for future generations of women to thrive with women entrepreneurs and leaders to provide mentorship and career discovery. Her programs are designed with STEM to ensure young girls can be confident to pursue careers in these industries where there are gaps of representation for women.
Businesswoman of the Year
Fennella Bruce - FKB Media Solutions
Fennella is a veteran television producer and writer, and now at the helm of FKB Media Solutions – a media consulting business that finds solutions for media problems, focusing on clients from diverse communities, non-profit organizations and gender equality in media exposure. With over 20 years in journalism, Fennella has produced both of Canada’s national morning shows – Your Morning and Canada AM and has been the senior writer or producer at numerous major market television stations. She mentors dozens of journalism and public relations students through her business and offers free workshops on her website
educating entrepreneurs and professionals on how to access media.
Lifetime Achievement Award
Jeanne Beker - Journalist, Fashion Entrepreneur and Media Personality
With a career that began in acting, then journalism and flourished into the host of internationally acclaimed Fashion Television for 27 years with viewers in over 130 countries, Jeanne’s endless achievements include an author of 5 books, contributing editor of multiple publications including Style Columnist at The Globe and Mail and Post City Magazine, producing the biography special on Designer Valentino, the numerous charitable organizations and Boards, her own clothing line and hosting a regular series for The Shopping Channel called “Style Matters with Jeanne Beker” and her more recent podcast Beyond Style Matters.
Her numerous awards include her appointment to the Order of Canada in 2014 for her support of the Canadian fashion industry, the 2012 Canadian Award of Distinction from the Banff World Media Festival, inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame in December 2016 and being honoured with a Canadian Screen Achievement Award for the role she played in changing the way Canadians watch television.