Harriet Lewis among this year’s Top 100 female leaders in Canada

York University Secretary & General Counsel Harriet Lewis has been chosen as one of the top 100 female leaders in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors in Canada in 2010.

The prestigious 2010 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 award from the Women’s Executive Network (WXN) recognizes Lewis’ accomplishments as a practising lawyer who is playing a leadership role in her organization. Nominees in the professional category were judged on the following criteria: management role, vision and leadership, corporate performance and community service.

Right: Harriet Lewis

“This is a wonderful acknowledgement of Harriet Lewis’ exceptional leadership qualities,” said York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri. “Harriet first came to York as a student and then returned as the University’s counsel. She has guided York for more than 22 years, providing advice about legal matters and governance during a period of rapid growth. She has shared her expertise nationally and internationally, and this generosity of spirit has made her a mentor to many.”

Lewis joined a group of 522 women across Canada who have previously been named to WXN’s Top 100 list. The complete list of 2010 winners honoured last night at an awards dinner in Toronto, can be found on the Top 100 Women website.

The Top 100 honour caps off a trio of awards for Lewis this fall, including the John Hackett Memorial Award (see YFile, Oct. 8)  from the Canadian Association of University Solicitors (CAUS), in recognition of her goodwill in the university legal community and her legal scholarship, as well as the Bryden Alumni Award from York University for her leadership at York (see YFile, Nov. 23).

Lewis, who completed an honours bachelor of arts and a master of arts in English at York, earned an LLB from the University of Toronto and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1977. She spent several years in private practice before returning to York in 1988 in the role of University counsel. In June 1998 she was appointed University secretary, and as such, is the secretary of the Board of Governors and its committees as well as the secretary of Senate, its executive committee and sub-committee on honorary degrees and ceremonials.

Left: Lewis plays an important role in York University’s convocation ceremonies

She is also a member of the University Executive Committee, the President’s/Vice-President’s Committee and several other administrative committees. Lewis has served as chair of the board of directors of the Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange, and is a past-president of CAUS.

The Women’s Executive Network (WXN) is Canada’ s most influential female audience and the country’s leading organization dedicated to advancement and recognition of executive-minded women in the workplace. Since 1997, WXN has expanded rapidly to meet the needs of the growing number of female managers and executives across Canada. In the fall of 2008, WXN launched in Ireland, a first step in creating an international community of women leaders.

WXN now delivers innovative networking, mentoring and professional development to 16,000 members across Canada and Ireland. WXN is also a founding member of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, dedicated to increasing the diversity on corporate and federal public sector boards.