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February 19

Alison Kirkland, Facilitator:

Headshot of Alison KirklandAlison was named the inaugural CEO of WEOC in September 2019 but has been working with women entrepreneurs for close to 20 years. A seasoned communications professional, she joined the team of the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba in 2002 where she spearheaded the re-development of the Centre’s brand, the creation of a comprehensive training program and participated in the development of innovative programming and funding initiatives. An APEC-IBIZ Certified Small Business Counsellor, Alison has worked directly with women entrepreneurs at various business stages and in urban and rural communities throughout Manitoba. Over the past seven years, she has travelled to Ukraine and Vietnam to share knowledge and best practices gained as a result Canada’s support for women entrepreneurs.

A graduate of the University of Manitoba, Alison is an active board member of the Manitoba Chambers of Commerce


Jennifer Bessell, Panelist:

Jennifer BessellA seasoned leader, Jennifer brings over 15 years of senior management experience in the non-profit sector to her role of CEO with the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs (NLOWE) and as Board Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada. In her previous executive roles with organizations such as The Canadian Bar Association, the Boys and Girls Club of Canada, and most recently the Association for New Canadians, Jennifer led with a commitment to advocacy and passionately represented the views and values of each community sector.

Throughout her executive career in Newfoundland and Labrador, Jennifer has had the privilege of working with many female entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds. In her previous work with the Association for New Canadians for example, she has come to appreciate the many unique skills and abilities that women have and continue to bring to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Paulina Cameron, Panelist:

Headshot of Paulina CameronAs CEO of the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs, Paulina leads a national organization that educates, mentors and connects women entrepreneurs to be wildly successful. She is the author of bestselling Canada 150 Women: conversations with champions, leaders and luminaries; and was the co-founder and president of Young Women in Business.

Paulina serves on the Board of Directors for the YWCA Metro Vancouver, the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, and the Government of British Columbia’s Small Business Roundtable. She has been recognized in the community by being selected as Business in Vancouver’s Top 40 Under 40 2019, and being awarded the BCBusiness 2019 Most Influential Women in Finance Award, the Vancouver Board of Trade’s inaugural Wendy McDonald Award, The International Alliance for Women Top 100 Award in Washington DC, the KPMG National Leadership Award, and the YWCA’s Women of Distinction Awards.

Kayla Isabelle, Panelist:

Headshot of Kayla IsabelleKayla Isabelle is the CEO of Startup Canada, the national rallying community supporting and giving a voice to Canada’s 3.5 million entrepreneurs. Kayla has dedicated her career to supporting entrepreneurs, both in Canada and internationally. Kayla is an award winning strategic communications consultant and change management facilitator, and is passionate about leveraging the power of storytelling in the entrepreneurial community. An advocate for women in leadership, Kayla is also the host of the THRIVE Podcast focused on providing resources to women entrepreneurs across Canada.

Kayla is the Board Chair of the Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation, President of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Ottawa Chapter, and a former Board Member of the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS). With a passion for mentorship, Kayla runs the IABC Members Connect Mentorship program, is a Carleton University Network Mentor, and Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) Career Mentor. Kayla has also worked as a Coach at the World Skills Employment Centre for newcomers to Canada, and as a Volunteer with the Darkness into Light Suicide Prevention initiative.

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