I started my career as a nurse, and worked three jobs to make ends meet as a single mother. I lost my house after ending an abusive marriage, and had to claw my way back into the light.
Through all of that, I met more and more members of our community, and I learned that we have amazing people doing amazing things in every field. I’m passionate about empowering people, and soon realized, I could make an impact as the Mayor. This might sound conceited, but I promise it isn’t: I knew I had to try, and I knew I could win.
Serving as the Mayor of the City of Waterloo, Canada from 2006 – 2014, I led our city through one of the most innovative periods in its history. Together, we won the most “Intelligent Community Award” in 2007 and IBM’s Smarter City Challenge in 2012.
In 2012, I led a Mayor’s International Business mission to ten cities in China, signing friendship agreements with cities in China, Taiwan, and Europe. My mission was to establish business relationships and open doors for the Waterloo economy. And while I’ve become a global leader, it’s always been important to me that I keep my local conscience. Our people drive our community, and are the basis of our global recognition. We lead by example.
As an advocate for Canada and as a motivational speaker, I’ve had the opportunity to take international stages, talking about innovation, technology, intelligent communities, and the importance of startups and creating an intelligent nation. I’m also a member of iCANADA and the past Chair of the Board of the Alumni of the International Communities Forum, a global think tank of intelligent communities. I support our people and cheerlead for the passionate leaders who push us forward.
Today, I’m my own CEO, and work hard to empower women in Canada to own their future and their potential. I’m also the Chair of the Board of Startup Canada, and the President of the Trillium Innovation Venture Group. I’m committed as ever to our local community, and am a member of the Rotary Club of Waterloo, the Kidsability Foundation Board, and the board of Supportive Housing of Waterloo. I assist many organizations with fundraising, and believe in coaching and mentoring others. I’m also still involved in the local technology sector as a mentor, and recently received the StartUp Canada Lifetime Achievement Award. Oh, and I’m also proud to now be called “Nana”!
In summary, I get very little sleep. But I’d like to help you get a little more! If you’re looking for help growing your business internationally, or if you need an awesome keynote speaker, please connect with me. And if you’re a young woman reading this and wondering, “How do I get my own ‘Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Award’?”, let’s have coffee.