Twelve York University alumnae have been recognized as female leaders in Canada who work to build positive change and empower others. The women are recipients of the WXN Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards for 2020.
WXN is a Canadian national organization that celebrates the advancement of women. Launched in 2003, the Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards celebrate the incredible accomplishments of Canada’s top female executive talent as well as their organizations and networks.
The awards are organized into 13 categories. Below are this year’s winners and the categories for which they were recognized.
Cynthia Loyst, co-host, creator and CEO of The Social, is a York University alumna with a BFA (’98) and selected in the Arts, Sports & Entertainment category. A passionate advocate for healthy sexual information, Loyst is best known for giving advice and opinions on the joys and complications of love. A writer, public speaker and co-host on CTV’s The Social, she has shared her expertise on The Marilyn Denis Show, etalk, CTV News Channel, The Loop and various radio stations. Her website, FindYourPleasure.com, is dedicated to pleasure, sensuality and unadulterated joy. Last year, she published her national bestseller book, Find Your Pleasure.
Stachen Frederick, executive director at Weston Frontlines Centre, is a York University alumna with a BSW (’13) and selected in the category Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders. Weston Frontlines Centre (WFC) is a youth charity in Toronto that offers children and youth a safe, welcoming place away from the streets. Frederick is also founder of the international organization BrAIDS for AIDS, which promotes HIV/AIDS awareness and provides access to resources for Black communities through culturally appropriate practices. As well, Frederick is a professor at Sheridan College in the School of Social Work and a consultant/grant writing coach.
Lorraine Gray, superintendent at Stations Services, Hydro One, is an alumna with an MBA (’09) and selected in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders category. Gray is a professional engineer with 15 years of experience at Hydro One, 12 of which have been in leadership positions. In her current role, she is responsible for one of six zones covering the Province of Ontario. Today she leads more than 100 employees that in-service and maintain crucial electricity equipment. She is one of only three women to ever hold this position and is a fierce advocate for women pursuing non-traditional roles.
Fatema Pirone, senior director of Enterprise Innovation at CIBC, is a York University alumna with a BA (’07) and an EMBA (’16) and selected in the Mercedes-Benz Emerging Leaders category. Pirone is a bold leader who constantly strives to create impactful change; qualities that have driven her dynamic career at CIBC. She is a trailblazer who redefined innovation across the bank, evolving CIBC’s Innovation mandate from a simple vision to an established unit. Her leadership provokes thoughtful conversations, results in impactful execution and creates purposeful client experiences.
Reetu Gupta, president and CEO of Easton’s Group Hotel, The Gupta Group, The Gupta Family Foundation; and chief strategy officer, Rogue Insight Capital, is a York University alumna with an MBA (’08) and selected in the category BMO Entrepreneurs. Gupta is a force to be reckoned with, sitting as the CEO of three companies, and co-founder of Rogue Insight Capital. She was honoured with the distinction of WXN’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2019 as well as Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in June 2017. She is wildly passionate and with this energy she continues to exceed excellence and is an inspiration not only in her industry, but for women everywhere.
Caroline Cole Power, founder and chief executive officer at Canadian HR Solutions, Inc., is a York University alumna with a BAS (’95) and selected in the BMO Entrepreneurs category. Cole Power launched Canadian HR Solutions, Inc. in 2010. She has since expanded the company’s footprint to 10 Canadian cities and established a national facilitator network to serve clients from coast to coast to coast. Operating divisions include Canadian HR Academy; Sensitivity Training Canada, a provider of Respectful Workplace Training; and Worldwide Workplace Learning, a provider of workplace-related online courses in English, French and Spanish.
Jane A. Langford, senior vice-president, Legal at TD Bank, is a York University alumna with an LLB (’95) and selected in the CIBC Executive Leaders category. Langford is a proven leader and a sought-after critical and innovative thinker. After 15 years as a litigator, including partner at McCarthy Tétrault LLP, she moved to the corporate world. At the helm of TD’s Canadian legal department, she provides strategic counsel on all aspects of the bank’s operations. She is a champion for women’s economic and professional advancement and a tireless advocate for diversity, in boardrooms throughout the workplace and community.
Effie Simanikas, vice-president, Operations, Finance and Information Technology, IAMGOLD, is a York University alumna with an MBA (’01) and selected in the CIBC Executive Leaders category. After holding executive roles in multiple sectors, Simanikas joined IAMGOLD in 2011. She has also played a key role in evaluating several growth options that led to IAMGOLD’s current transformational growth strategy. She serves on several Cote Gold joint venture committees, is a board member of Euro Ressources, and is actively involved in several organizations committed to women’s career advancement, including the WXN’s Diversity Council.
Susan Uthayakumar, country president at Schneider Electric Canada, is a York University alumna with an EMBA (’12) and selected in the CIBC Executive Leaders category. Uthayakumar has been with Schneider Electric for 15 years, progressing through increasingly senior roles until being appointed country president in January 2018. Throughout her 23-year career, her demonstrated ability to break down barriers and turn challenges into opportunities has empowered her to chart a path of success. She is an influential voice in the industry, and is passionate about building the next generation of leaders.
Catherine Yuile, executive vice-president, Data Intelligence, Canada and Latin America, Edelman, is a York University alumna with a BA (’01) and selected in the CIBC Executive Leaders category. A marketing and communications research veteran, Yuile is an active, inclusive leader on Edelman’s Global Women’s Equality Network (GWEN) steering committee, driving initiatives and events that support women’s success in the workplace. She volunteers on multiple boards to drive the research and analytics industry forward and supports diversity and inclusion in business, including the Insights Association and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s Council Working Group for Women’s Advocacy.
Rusul Alrubail, executive director at Parkdale Centre for Innovation, is a York University alumna with a BA (’07) from Glendon, and is a former York University staff member, selected in the Manulife Science and Technology category. Alrubail is the executive director of Parkdale Centre for Innovation, a non-profit incubator that seeks to fill the accessibility and inclusivity gap to innovation, technology and entrepreneurship, especially for underrepresented groups: women of colour, newcomers, and those from low-income backgrounds. She is also a published author, keynote speaker and mother of two.
Lucia Iacovelli, Canadian managing partner, Tax & Legal, KPMG in Canada, is a York University alumna with a BAS (’90) and selected in the Intact Professionals category. Iacovelli is KPMG’s Canadian managing partner for Tax and Legal and a member of the firm’s Management Committee. She is focused on setting strategic direction for clients and markets, people and knowledge, operational excellence, and public trust and quality. As a member of the firm’s Global Tax Steering Committee, she is also involved in helping define the firm’s strategic priorities globally. Iacovelli uses her influence and her voice to ensure various leadership tables are balanced with female leaders.
These women join a prestigious community of past award winners, including Canada’s most iconic women trailblazers: former Osgoode Interim Dean Mary Condon; Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps; York President and Vice-Chancellor Rhonda L. Lenton; Julia Foster, former Chair of the Board of Governors of York University; bestselling author Margaret Atwood; astronaut Roberta Bondar; Arlene Dickinson, chief executive officer, Venture Communications; Christine Magee, president, Sleep Country Canada; Michaëlle Jean, former governor general of Canada; Heather Reisman, founder and CEO of Indigo Books & Music; and York University alumna Kathleen Taylor, Chair of the board, Royal Bank of Canada.
For a complete list of winners, visit the WXN website.
About the Women’s Executive Network (WXN)
WXN inspires smart women to lead. WXN creates and delivers innovative networking, mentoring, professional and personal development to inform, inspire, connect and recognize its community of more than 19,500 smart women and their organizations in the pursuit of excellence. WXN enables its partners and corporate members to become and to be recognized as employers of choice and leaders in the advancement of women.
Founded in 1997, WXN is Canada’s leading organization dedicated to the advancement and recognition of women in management, executive, professional and board roles. WXN is a founding member of the Canadian Board Diversity Council, dedicated to increasing the diversity of Canada’s corporate boards. In 2008, WXN launched in Ireland, followed by London, U.K., in 2015, creating an international community of female leaders.