For the past 27 years, I have called Hamilton my home in many respects. I have raised both my daughters here in Ancaster and successfully ran family businesses in Hamilton and surrounding areas for 19 years before returning to my original love, academia, at McMaster University, Hamilton in 2010 for a second Masters in Globalization. In terms of experiences, I have been lucky enough to try my hand at various things from a young age. From channeling my athletic side with a position on my college-level basketball team, to completing my Doctorate in Urban Geography while also teaching university level courses, to being a Director of a corporation that owned and operated multiple businesses while simultaneously being a mom - it has been an interesting journey.
GRASSROOTS & COMMUNITY ACTIVISM
As a passionate social justice advocate, I have sat on the Board of Directors for a few non-profit organizations including:
Equal Voice Canada - A national organization promoting gender parity in politics by dedicating its various programs to support and help more women get elected to all levels of political office in Canada across all party lines. As a current National Board Director, I’ve been working on Equal Voices’ Fundraising Committee, EVE Award Committee and Chapters Committee, advocating for the equal representation of women in Canada’s Parliament, in provincial and territorial legislatures, and on municipal and band councils.
Neighbour to Neighbour Hamilton - A multi-service organization located in Hamilton that is dedicated to providing programs and services for poverty alleviation, education assistance, nutritional support, settlement services and community counselling, along with the Hamilton Community Food Centre (HCFC) on the West Mountain. In my past role as a Board Director, I advocated for poverty alleviation through fundraising, strategic planning, partnership building, communications, and public engagement to promote social change.
Ontario Council for International Cooperation - As a past Board Director for three years working on the Governance Committee, Fund Diversification, Sustainability & Fundraising Committee, my efforts were geared towards supporting Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy & Civil Society Partnership Policy by bringing together leaders from civil society organizations, academia & community groups working towards the realization of Agenda 2030: UN Sustainable Development Goals.
My passion for community engagement also stems from my past and ongoing involvement with community organizations such as:
Fieldcote Memorial Park & Museum Expansion Fundraising Committee - a community project in my hometown of Ancaster focused on creating an inclusive, culturally diverse, livable and walkable community.
Hamilton Organizing for Poverty Elimination (HOPE)
POLITICAL INVOLVEMENT: FEDERAL & PROVINCIAL
I am a former Federal Liberal Nomination Candidate for Hamilton Mountain in 2018-19 - an experience that encouraged me to help promote gender, diversity and inclusion in politics, and empower many more women to step up and run for office
As an avid advocate for advancing women's civic leadership and political participation, I currently hold the following positions:
Vice President, Ontario Women's Liberal Commission, South Central Region: In this position, I oversee 17 ridings across Southern Ontario, from Halton Hills to Waterloo, promoting and amplifying women's voices on important policy issues, and helping them navigate the pathways to politics
President, Hamilton Region Women's Liberal Association: I am the inaugural president of this Ontario Women's Liberal Commission club, founded in January 2020 with women from all five Hamilton ridings. It engages women in discussions on policy, youth engagement, mentorship and promotes gender balance in politics.
Previously, I stayed politically engaged by working with both Federal and Provincial local Liberal Riding Associations for a number of years in the following fundraising and executive roles:
VP Fundraising and Executive for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Federal Liberal Association (Held riding for MP Filomena Tassi, Honourable Minister of Labour)
In this role, I gained valuable insights into the key steps of a campaign including the importance of canvassing, creating strong community ties, implementing effective communication strategies, and developing lucrative fundraising opportunities through partnerships with different stakeholders
I also harnessed my business-oriented skills to help organize successful fundraising events such as a joint Hamilton Liberal Red Tie Gala for five Hamilton ridings and Donor Appreciation events for MP Filomena Tassi's HWAD riding
Fundraising Chair for the Hamilton West-Ancaster-Dundas Provincial Liberal Association (Former MPP Ted McMeekin's Campaign Team)
In this role, I organized lucrative fundraising events with guests such as David Herle and Jennifer Keesmat, connected with previous supporters, and built relationships with new donors to ensure that we exceeded our fundraising target
Furthermore, I successfully managed to enhance fundraising goals through community outreach and promoted the riding's digital presence through strategic social media planning and brand awareness
Director at Large for the Hamilton Mountain Federal Liberal Association
Overall, all these experiences helped me capitalize on exceptional fundraising opportunities through community partnerships, donor relationships and public engagement
In addition to organizing various Liberal events locally in Hamilton, I was also able to strengthen my political awareness and public engagement skills by attending various events including both the Liberal Party of Canada Convention in Halifax and many annual Ontario Liberal Party conventions in Toronto and Mississauga, including the OLP Leadership Convention in March 2020 as an Ex-Officio Delegate for Ontario Women's Liberal Commission.
BUSINESS, FAMILY & COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Before re-entering academia in 2010, I have been a business woman and a single mom while staying engaged in the local Ancaster, Dundas and West Mountain community through my ongoing volunteer work at:
Fieldcote Museum & Park in Ancaster
Neighbour to Neighbour & Community Food Centre at West Hamilton Mountain
Local Liberal organization in Dundas
For almost two decades since 1992, while raising my two daughters in this riding, I was also the President of Richa Enterprises Inc., a private corporation that owned and operated businesses in the jewellery and luxury goods industry in Hamilton and surrounding areas
I gained an in-depth understanding of small business operations:
Developed and implemented action plans to create new initiatives for the businesses to increase profits
Promoted the businesses effectively to the local communities through extensive planning and results-driven marketing strategies
Instilled fair workplace policies to benefit employees and create an inclusive work environment, thereby enhancing proficiency and productivity
ACADEMIA, CONFERENCES & PUBLICATIONS
After obtaining a second Masters in Globalization Studies at McMaster University in Hamilton in 2011, I have been teaching at York University's Law & Society program while undertaking a research fellowship focusing on global social justice, law and public policy reforms since 2012
As an educator, I have gained the unique ability to connect with and understand the needs of youth while also inculcating dynamic leadership skills in them and promoting a strong work ethic
During my time at York University, I was also fortunate enough to receive:
Helena Orton Memorial Award - Awarded by Osgoode Hall Law School for a research work that explores relationships between law and social equality, with particular reference to workplace issues of benefit to women
Penelope Jane Glasser Award - Awarded by the Faculty of Graduate Studies to a candidate returning to academia from a work or family career with a research focus on interdisciplinary fields such as education and social inequalities
I have been a regular presenter at the Oxford Women’s Leadership Symposium, a global academic platform and conference at the University of Oxford, UK that brings together a group of participants who share their academic research from all corners of the world
I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to attend global forums and international conferences each year that allow me to travel and widen my research horizons such as the L'Oreal UNESCO for Women in Science debate in Paris curated by New York Times, followed by "Stand, Speak, Rise Up”, a forum to support war rape survivors, organized by HRH the Grand Duchess of Luxembourg in collaboration with Mukwege Foundation and We are NOT Weapons of the War Paris - I attended both events at the invitation of Women’s Forum for the Economy & Society in March 2019
Writing remains one of my passions and some of my recent publications include:
"Gender Dynamics in Family Entrepreneurship: A Socio-Legal Perspective" published in the Journal of Academic Perspectives Vol. 1, 2017
"Will the G7 be a breakthrough for gender equality and inclusive growth?" published by the Institute on Research for Public Policy on June 6, 2018
"Law, Equality, and Entrepreneurship Through a Gendered Lens: Bridging the Gap Between Academia, Legislature, and Politics" published in the book Critical Reflections and Politics on Advancing Women in the Academy, eds. Taima Moeke-Pickering, Sheila Cote-Meek & Ann Pegoraro, 2020