Professional Category

Holds a professional designation and is responsible for growing her own practice.

Category Sponsor


Candace Enman

WelchGroup Consulting

I grew up in a family of six, the daughter of oyster fishermen, on rural Prince Edward Island. I have always appreciated this humble life because it taught me to work hard and value community, while also instilling in me a desire to help others.

I’m always a bit surprised to think that these early experiences would set me up for success in the business world.

I moved to Ottawa in 1991, to attend the University of Ottawa. Here, I earned my Bachelor of Commerce degree with Honours in Accounting in 1996. After graduating, I interned at Welch & Co. (now Welch LLP), where professionals help businesses with accounting, tax and advisory services.

I bought into the standards that Welch espoused – integrity, quality, accuracy, and trust – and I have carried these ideals with me throughout my career. While learning the ropes from some wonderful mentors, I studied for, and obtained, my Chartered Accountancy designation in 1999. I was proud to become a CPA while associated with Welch. With my new designation, I was ready to take on new challenges.

In 2000, I assumed the role of Director of Finance at both The Canadian Produce Marketing Association (CPMA) and The Canadian Horticultural Council (CHC), two national not-for-profit organizations. Having uncovered some financial irregularities during their audit, it became my mission to restore faith in the corporate governance structure of these entities. By 2003, CPMA/CHC’s internal infrastructure was strong; I had fulfilled what I set out to accomplish and I wanted a new challenge. With this in mind, Welch introduced me to their Australian client, Club Assist, that was looking to start up operations in North America. This company required a dynamic Financial Controller who could build a team and manage a company that was expected to surpass all markets in which they currently operated: Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. I was grateful for the opportunity and the confidence that Welch placed in me. Club Assist set out to strategically create a market niche by partnering with motoring clubs around the world, including CAA and AAA in North America, to provide a mobile battery replacement service. When I joined the company, revenues were approximately $5 million; by the end of my 7-year tenure, we had grown them to $80 million.

During this time, we opened, closed and amalgamated businesses, set up new divisions, and even expanded into Europe.

At its inception, I was the European Financial Controller as well as a Director. As part of their management team, it was very rewarding to see this steady growth, which I believe was achieved due to a solid business plan, consistent financial and operational reporting, a transparent corporate governance model and a cohesive management team.

With the majority of the growth stemming from our US operations, and specifically the Californian Clubs, we made the decision to move the core Finance team to Los Angeles, at which point, I opted not to relocate. My sons Evan and Alex were both under 2 at the time, and I believed work-life balance (because of commute times) would be too difficult to achieve. The decision to leave Club Assist led me back to my roots and Welch. However, rather than resuming a career in public practice, I found that Welch’s consulting business appealed to me. The company had just begun to rebrand and I was intrigued to work with owners on their growth and exit strategies. Having thrived in a high growth environment for 7 years, I felt I had a lot of value to offer the SME market.

As a result, in 2010, I joined WelchGroup Consulting (WGroup) as one of several people who leads an Advisory practice that focuses on business efficiencies, growth and transitions. Since then, I have played key transformational roles in all aspects of business sustainability and transferability. It’s this desire to lead change in businesses through proven structure that motivates me to share my experiences with others


Lisa Langevin

Kelly Santini LLP

Lisa has been practising law for over 15 years and is a bilingual litigator and mediator. She is a partner in the firm’s litigation group with a focus on banking litigation including debt recovery and insolvency matters. She also acts on insurance defence matters including bodily injury and property damage as well as prosecuting subrogated claims on behalf of insurers. For the past 12 years, she has co-chaired the Special Olympics Festival Breakfast, and is also on the Board of Directors for the USLAW Network which is an international organization composed of 64 independent law firms. Lisa devotes her time away from work to her blended family of 5 amazing children.


Susan Richards

Managing Partner/Founder
Number Crunch/Casual CFO

Susan Richards, FCPA, FCMA is an award winning Accountant who has had a very successful 20 year professional career, having served the last 13 years as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for many Ottawa companies. Susan has provided tremendous service back to the Accounting profession, including having served on the Board of Governors of CMA Ontario. Susan has been awarded the Canadian Business Leadership Award for Business Intuition from CMA Ontario and the youngest recipient to achieve the prestigious Fellowship designation by CMA Canada. A great community ambassador, Susan currently serves on the Board of Directors of Invest Ottawa, including serving as Chair of the Finance and Audit committee and a member of the Executive Committee. Less than 14% of companies have women occupying the top finance job, but Susan is proud to confirm she has served as CFO in a part-time or full-time capacity to over 30 Ottawa companies. As demand for Susan’s services grew she co-founded Numbercrunch Inc, an innovative professional service corporation that provides ambitious start-ups and growing businesses with a virtual internal accounting team as a cost effective solution to her clients that can expand and contract along with their business. In addition to Numbercrunch, Susan is also co-founder of (an innovative online marketplace supporting local businesses), a Board Member of Invest Ottawa, a Mentor, a Wife, and a Mother to three gorgeous boys ~ Ben (14), Charlie (12) and Jack (9). Susan is who she is a result of her upbringing. Her parents were hard-working entrepreneurs (bootstrapping a retail store, restaurant, video rental business, volunteer businesses and still managing to spend quality family time together) and her older brother set a high benchmark of expectation (he co-wrote a text book with his university professors while attending school!) Susan also credits her ability to collect supportive friends and colleagues along her journey – and her intuition to know when to Partner (with great teammate Craig) and when to go it alone.

Emerging Entrepreneur Category

Significant shareholder in her emerging business and has taken entrepreneurial risk for.

Category Sponsor


Kyla Cullain

CEO & Co-founder
Next Step Transitions

Kyla Cullain is the founder and owner of Next Step Transitions, Canada’s only nurse-managed construction company. Specializing in barrier-free renovations, Next Step Transitions helps seniors, people with physical disabilities, and those with mobility-related injuries or diseases, to stay independent in the home they love.

Kyla is also the founder of the annual Ottawa Seniors Expo, she is a director of the Ottawa Brewery Market, and is a founding member of St. Patrick’s Home Philanthropic Women’s Circle. Through these endeavors, Kyla has contributed to raising over $60,000 for local charities in Ottawa in the past two years alone.

Kyla is a Registered Nurse with a Master of Nursing (MN); and contributes to the educational community as a Clinical Instructor and Faculty Advisor for the Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing program. Locally, Kyla sits on the board of directors for The Ottawa Hospital’s Rehabilitation Centre Volunteer Association (TRCVA) as the Patient Relations Advisor, and on the board of directors for St. Patrick’s Home of Ottawa Foundation.


Ashley Cyr

Owner/Head Investigator
Private Eye Investigations

By the age of 21 I had already experienced more in life and surpassed any expectations I could of ever imagined for myself. I had travelled through several continents, lived in some of our most extreme weather conditions, worked in fields most women wouldn’t be seen in, and met thousands of people worldwide which expanded my social, cultural and economical knowledge. I count myself extremely lucky to have chosen the path I took, regardless the hardship, difficult decisions and friendships I lost along the way. Once enrolled in university, I realized quickly that schooling wasn’t for me and was prepared to work twice as hard for everything in order to achieve my goals, including career advancement. Having started my career in the federal government quite young I understood the stresses involved in order to work my way up the ladder, especially without anything more than a high school diploma. Dedication, perseverance, hard work and a lot of over time had me at a level in which I was managing staff twice my age, training students fresh out of university, overviewing countless files, deadlines, projects, attending management meetings and handling concerns Canada wide. However, I wasn’t aware that the stress would be able to get to me the way it did. I was diagnosed with clinical depression, anxiety and panic attacks by the age of 23. Although I was lucky enough to have incredible role models, an amazing support system, and the strength to see the light at the end of the tunnel, I still had to make a decision which could result in one of the biggest career risks of my life. By the age of 24, I quit the federal government and had my pension paid out to me.

Several months had gone by and I still didn’t know what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, the only thing I knew for certain was that I wasn’t willing to let myself regret the decision I made. After many weeks of trying to figure out how I can make my passion of helping people and use my knowledge, skill sets and creativity, to form some sort of income I realized I wanted nothing more than to enter the exciting world of entrepreneurship. I now knew I wanted to work for myself! Even though by then I had nearly 9 years of management, leadership and training experience I knew nothing about starting a business. That being said, I did know that I would need to do whatever it took in order to make my dreams come true.

At 24 years of age I was the proud owner of a new Private Investigation Agency in Ontario. I was raised in the intelligence environment, I have come to know, understand and learn many tactical skills in order to complete a variety of tasks related to surveillance, interrogating criminals and interviewing witnesses. I have extensive experience proof reading, requesting amendments and completing background, criminal and security checks while working for the government of Canada in liaison with intelligence organizations. I have hands-on experience with video surveillance, undercover work and reading individuals their Rights while completing work as a loss prevention officer for some of Ottawa’s largest stores. In addition, I have experience working closely with inmates, interacting with them and monitoring them while I worked for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in the Northwest Territories as a prison guard. My life has always found some way to guide me back in the direction of investigative research, and now being a 25 year old woman in a male dominated career and owning one of Ottawa’s leading private investigation agency’s I couldn’t be happier. I have become an emerging entrepreneur.


Shelley True


Shelley True is a trail-blazer in Ottawa’s business community. Never one to take the easy route or just wait for doors to open, Shelley took the bold step of acquiring the award-winning Ottawa-based firm Avenue Design and has successfully merged the two companies under the TRUEdotDESIGN brand; building on 2 decades of experience while seamlessly integrating the culture, approach, mission and values of both firms – no small feat! At TRUEdotDESIGN, Shelley oversees a team of fourteen vibrant and talented women, and continues to lead the way as the award-winning agency of choice, providing strategic marketing, branding, design, and social media for companies within the architectural, engineering, property development and construction sectors.

Known as a natural connector, Shelley is a champion of women entrepreneurship and women in business, believing that mentorship and encouragement is the role of all business leaders (not just women). She is on the board of directors for the annual Women in Business Conference and co-hosts Fore-Play For Charity, a women’s golf tournament which connects women leaders in the construction industry, while raising funds and awareness for Women’s Mental Health Programs at The Royal. Innovative and energetic, Shelley is leading the TRUEdotDESIGN team onto the national stage as they support the business growth and impact of their clients across Canada.

Established Entrepreneur Category

Significant shareholder in her established business and has taken entrepreneurial risk for.

Category Sponsor


Jennifer Dalgleish

Pure Yoga

As Co-Owner of Pure Yoga and Pure Kitchen Ottawa Jen has successfully built a brand that is known to Ottawa as not just a yoga studio, but a lifestyle. Pure opened their first yoga studio in 2012. In just over 5 years Pure has grown into four studios, two restaurants and have recently expanded into the Toronto market. Pure has also hit the the online market with their very own online yoga studio and apparel brand.

Jen has used her influence in the community to support multiple local charities such as the snowsuit fund and last year successfully raised enough to support the ongoing refugee crisis. Jen welcomed her first new comer (refugee) this past Fall, and will welcome her second this year.

Pure Yoga has been named “Best Yoga Studio” 4 times and in 2016 Pure Kitchen received a BOB Award for “Best New Business”.

Outside of the studio, an avid foodie, Jen finds balance by spending time being creative in the kitchen.


Amber Hall

Co-Founder and Owner
Equator Coffee Roasters

Amber Hall is the co-owner of Equator Coffee Roasters, which has cafés in Almonte and Westboro and sells fair trade organic coffee throughout the Ottawa Valley. She and her husband, Craig, also own and operate three other businesses in Eastern Ontario including commercial and non-commercial real estate companies and a Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt franchise. Amber has four children ranging in age from 10 to 16 and is the Board Chair for SchoolBOX, a grass-roots national charity working to “Make Education Possible” in Nicaragua and First Nations communities in Northern Canada. She also maintains volunteer roles in her children’s school, her church, and the local soccer club. In her spare time, Amber loves to play piano and sing, travel the world and enjoys the great outdoors with her family.


Mary McGill


My name is Mary McGill and I am the CEO of Strathmere, the only wedding, spa and retreat destination of its kind in Ottawa. I feel truly honored to have been nominated for this award and humbled to be among so many other inspiring business women from the Ottawa area. I have always been a creator and a builder, bringing new ideas to completion is what motivates me. From the time I was very young, I never felt the need to follow conventional paths or rules. My formal education stopped after high school and by the time I was 21, I found myself in the role of Executive Director of my family’s new small business. As the only full¬time employee at the time, I think it goes without saying that I was in over my head! I answered every phone call, booked every meeting, was the receptionist and cleaner, and the only Wedding Planner. I personally met with every bride and groom, and spoke with every single guest. This allowed me to channel all the feedback I received, both good and bad, to improve upon the business and create a customer focused experience like no other. Over the past 15 years, Strathmere has doubled its full time employees to 35, and we employ over 100 employees during the high season. Revenue has also doubled. We have have hosted over 3000 marriages, welcomed over half a million guests, and have recently launched yet another independent business, the Retreat and Spa.

Organization Category

Holds a senior position in, and significantly contributes to a publicly traded or privately owned business.

Category Sponsor


Vicky Kyriaco

General Manager and Chief Administrative Officer
Ottawa Student Transportation Authority

Vicky Kyriaco is the Chief Administrative Officer and General Manager of the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority. The OSTA provides multi-modal transportation solutions for the students of the Ottawa- Carleton District School Board and the Ottawa Catholic School Board. Vicky drove the transformation of the organization, and its transportation systems, to eliminate funding deficits and increase services for students in the Ottawa community. The Ministry of Education recently rated the OSTA as a “highly efficient consortium”.

Under Vicky’s guidance and leadership, the OSTA has evolved into an organization that integrates sustainable mobility and active modes of transportation as essential components in promoting the health and well-being of children across the city today, and sets an effective model to prepare for the future. Vicky has been invited to speak in provincial and national forums, including the ACT Canada Sustainable Mobility Summit, the Heart and Stroke Active and Safe Routes to School Provincial Summit, and the Canadian Pupil Transportation Conference, among others.

Prior to the OSTA, Vicky garnered more than 15 years of leadership expertise in the fields of air and ground transportation, as well as in musical arts. She also taught French, music and physical education. Vicky has been deeply involved in motivating change of thought and process, to benefit her community, including investigating the repurposing of a historical armoury into a concert hall, exploring development opportunities for a local airport, spearheading a national relief effort to benefit the victims of Hurricane Mitch, as well as other special projects. Vicky has been recognized for her volunteer efforts by the past Premier of Ontario.

Vicky is proud to model the leadership and management acumen for women in her workplace, and continues to encourage women in her community to take the risks required to be successful in this male-dominated industry.


Nina Kressler

President and CEO
Shaw Centre

It’s no stretch to say that hospitality is ingrained in my DNA. Growing up in Nova Scotia, my childhood home was often filled with visitors; many were European relatives who marveled at what to me was just typical Maritime hospitality. Like our neighbours, our door was always open and anyone was welcome in our home and at our table, even strangers. I fondly remember how much I enjoyed helping my mother make our guests comfortable – little did I know then that it would become my life’s work! My mother has actually been my role model in so many ways, thanks to her ability to juggle the demands of returning to school while raising a family single-handedly and her unwavering faith in the power of hard work and determination.

While I hadn’t initially planned to work in hospitality, when I graduated from University, jobs were scarce so I gladly accepted a secretarial position at the Halifax Sheraton Hotel. I very quickly progressed through the ranks there and assumed various leadership positions, thanks to a willingness to learn and a strong work ethic. In just seven years, I was appointed as the hotel’s Director of Sales and Marketing, and moved on to senior sales and marketing and operations roles with Casino Nova Scotia and Hotel, Trade Centre Limited and the World Trade and Convention Centre Halifax where I served as Vice President, Sales and Marketing. I am proud of my accomplishments in successfully promoting my hometown as a premier destination to host national and international conferences and events.

My next career move saw me become Vice President, Business Development for the Toronto Congress Centre. My success in that role, including significantly increasing business volumes, drew the attention of Aramark Sports and Entertainment, who hired me as the General Manager of Shaw Centre’s Food and Facilities operation in October of 2013. While this position was outside my comfort zone, I felt that I could successfully leverage my sales/marketing background and learn from the strong operations team in place. During my time as General Manager, improvements I implemented helped the operation exceed key performance indicators for food quality, customer service and facility performance, all while increasing revenue. I was honoured to receive Aramark’s prestigious Top General Manager award in 2014, based on the highest customer service ratings and sales.

When I was appointed as President and CEO of Shaw Centre on June 1, 2015, it felt like all my years of hard work had finally led me to my dream job. Although it’s still very much a man’s world at the C-level of organizations like ours, I feel that being a woman in this role is a key contributor to Shaw Centre’s success. Mine is no longer the “corner office” – it’s the place where the door is always open and employees know they can come in and chat about anything, from business triumphs or challenges to personal news, happy or sad. Business is fierce and at the end of the day, it’s my job to ensure we are profitable, but it’s great to demonstrate that you can get there with humanity and compassion. On a personal note, I’ve been happily married for 20 years and my husband and I are glad to model a progressive, loving relationship for our 17 year old daughter, with whom I share a love of horses. This year, I completed three 5K races, despite never having been a runner – next year, I’ll tackle a 10K!


Tosha Rhodenizer

Chief Executive Officer
The Recreation Association of the Public Service of Canada (the RA)

Tosha joined the Recreation Association of the Public Service of Canada (RA) with a fresh and experienced perspective after a seven-year career at the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA. While a member of the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA team she served as the Vice President of Health, Wellness and Family Engagement responsible for operational and strategic leadership of health, fitness and recreation facilities and programs, licensed and unlicensed childcare as well as residential and day camp operations.

Tosha a varsity swimmer and Water Polo player with Dalhousie University started her career in the tech sector with Nortel in 1988 rising to Senior Product Line Manager. Following a 12 year start with Nortel, Tosha started a small consulting company called Human Inertia Inc. As a co-founder she focused on human resources related challenges helping companies in the National Capital Region build strong customer focused teams.
The experience operating a consulting firm led to a career defining position with the Ray Friel Complex as the General Manager. Tosha used this challenging position and the skills gained to teach the next generation of business leaders as a fulltime member of the Carleton University Sprott School of Business as a full time faculty. Her focus was on Organizational Behaviour and Strategic Human Resource Management. While working with the school Tosha conducted feasibility study for Sprott School of Business on viability of adding a Sport Management stream within school.

Following her teaching Tosha began work as the Vice President of Health, Wellness and Family Engagement with the National Capital Region YMCA-YWCA. As the Vice President she was responsible for a budget of $16 million, a staff team of 400 and a volunteer compliment of almost 1000.

Now as the Chief Executive Officer of the RA, Tosha is leading a 10 year re-imagining of the facilities and the strategic direction of the organization, beginning with the launch of the House of Sport. The concept House of Sport combines several distinct organizations which may have various operational, staffing, space, and architectural requirements but which share one clear passion; a love for Canadian sport.

This approach considers how these diverse National Sports Organizations (NSOs) and Multi-Sports Organizations (MSOs) could share a facility where their individual needs are considered but also their co-location could result in positive collisions of energy and experience. Most of all, the House of Sport will encourage the NSOs and MSOs to leverage their collisions to deliver increased quality in sport experiences and improved performances nationally and internationally. As each of these organizations is operating with different sizes of teams, this approach will attempt to balance their proximity for maximum exposure while maintaining identity and autonomy within the overall design. The co-location of these organizations provides opportunities for knowledge sharing, provides a critical mass to leverage operational efficiencies and provides a synergistic platform for growth.

Tosha enjoys Ottawa with her family and is an active parent attending / participating in a variety of sporting activities to model and encourage an active lifestyle for her 14 year old son and family.

Photos courtesy of:  Michelle Valberg