Seven York University alum and one faculty member 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 2023.
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 2023 winners will be celebrated in person at the 21st annual Top 100 Awards Gala, hosted at the Fairmont Royal York Toronto on Nov. 30.
The Top 100 Awards span the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, with the winners selected by WXN’s Diversity Council of Canada. The awards are presented to remarkable women in 12 categories. York recipients earned awards in five of those categories.
Below are this year’s winners and the categories for which they were recognized.
Amex Emerging Leaders
This award recognizes women between the ages of 30 to 40 years, who have been targeted for successive leadership positions within their organizations and have a proven passion for learning and innovation.
A master connector, Rochelle Atizado is senior advisor, partnerships and special initiatives at the United Nations Foundation and leads social impact partnerships with purpose-driven companies, creative community, civil society, young people and the UN to propel the sustainable development goals forward. Atizado is also a UN published writer. A Filipino Canadian hailing from Toronto, Atizado holds a bilingual masters of public and international affairs from Glendon College, York University. Having worked in Canada, Switzerland and the U.S., Atizado is now based in New York City.
Brittany Straitton is a dynamic leader with retail experience that spans merchandising, marketing, financial planning and replenishment. As vice-president of forecasting, replenishment and planning at the Canadian Tire Corporation, Ltd., Straitton is responsible for the correct timing of the $11-billion flow of goods from vendors to Canadian Tire stores at the right quantities. Passionate for promoting diversity and inclusion, she was one of the founders of CTC’s Families Employee Resource Group. Straitton holds an honours BBA from Brock University and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University.
Compass Rose Entrepreneurs
This award recognizes women who own and operate thriving businesses.
Lisa Melchior, a Schulich School of Business alumna, has been a successful private equity investor for more than 25 years and has global investing expertise in enterprise software. Melchior is a thought leader in her sector and has sat on numerous public and private boards across North America and Europe. She is the first woman in Canada to launch a private equity fund, as she is the founder and manager partner of Vertu Capital, a technology private equity fund supporting the growth of the Canadian tech ecosystem.
This award recognizes women who are professionals in practice and play a leadership role within their organizations.
A full professor of law at Osgoode Hall Law School, Poonam Puri is an internationally recognized scholar of corporate law, corporate governance and capital markets regulation. She is the York Research Chair in corporate governance, investor protection and financial markets. Co-founder and director of the Osgoode Investor Protection Clinic, she chairs the board of directors of Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto and serves on the board of the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Colliers.
This award recognizes women in STEM roles who are challenging the status quo for knowledge and female empowerment.
An alumna of the Schulich School of Business, Victoria Granova is an industry leader, educator and passionate advocate for diversity and gender inclusion in the cybersecurity industry. Granova is a PhD student researching human-centric cybersecurity at Toronto Metropolitan University’s Cybersecurity Research Lab. She is also an instructor at Queen’s University, Toronto Metropolitan University and York University teaching enterprise cybersecurity and financial data privacy. Outside of teaching, Granova is a security technical program manager at Amazon Web Services (AWS), managing global vendor security, as well as the founder of CyberToronto, an edtech startup.
Women of Courage, presented by Richardson Wealth
This award recognizes women who champion Canada and its values across a diverse range of causes, with courage and compassion, even as it means risking their careers, reputations and, sometimes, their lives.
Domanique Grant, an alumna of the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies, leads Grant Creativity Inc., a BIPOC-owned, female-led Canadian social enterprise dedicated to increasing access and development for equity-seeking groups through wellness and entertainment-based programming. Her music has been at the forefront of some of the largest global movements of our time. Through Grant Creativity Inc., her work as a social entrepreneur includes founding The Imagine Summit, Canada’s first visualization, mental wellness and professional development summit. The Imagine Summit supports youth and entrepreneurs from underserved communities.
Lily Pourzand came to Canada as an asylum seeker from Iran at age 24 after graduating from law school. She continued her education in women’s studies and graduated with an LLM in feminism and law from Osgoode Hall Law School. Through her work as a director of programs for violence against women shelters, she provides services to women, children, immigrants and has become a leader in Social Services in York Region. Since 2021, Pourzand began to share her life experience in the media to shed light on women’s challenges and braveries.
An alumna of Osgoode Hall Law School, Lisa Raitt joined CIBC Capital Markets in January 2020, after careers in the public and private sectors. Her focus is on senior client coverage and business development with clients in the energy, infrastructure and industrial sectors. Previously, Raitt was the president and CEO of the Toronto Port Authority. She was elected into the House of Commons in 2008, and held three senior portfolios. Raitt was the deputy leader of the Official Opposition and the Conservative Party of Canada. She is currently the vice-chair and managing director, global investment banking at CIBC Capital Markets, as well as the co-chair of a Coalition for a Better Future.
About the Women’s Executive Network (WXN)
WXN (Women’s Executive Network), a member-based organization, is North America’s No. 1 and only organization that meaningfully propels and celebrates the advancement of professional women at all levels, in all sectors, and of all ages. WXN delivers this advancement through training, events, mentoring, networking and award and recognition programs for members and partners. WXN operates in Canada and the U.S.