Spotlight Symposium


Saturday, 26 October

14:30 – 15:45


Shaw Centre

Meeting Room 208

Available for Sponsorship

Click here for details.

Spotlight Symposium – Women on Boards: Courageous Leadership Required

Statistics for the percentage of women on boards suggest a stubborn resistance to equality with men. In 2017, women held only 15 percent of board seats globally and Canada, the host to this year’s ILA, was only slightly ahead in 2018 at 16% with 31% of issuers with no women on their boards. While countries such as Norway, Iceland, Finland, and Sweden with specific targets, quotas, and penalties for not meeting regulations have nearly doubled the number of women on boards (approximately 34%), the business case for women on boards alone ought to convince other countries to follow suit.


In this spotlight symposium, we’ll hear from several experts on board governance who situate diversity and inclusion in the context of what good governance looks like. We’ll tackle questions including:

  • Why are women directors important to a Board? Why diversity and inclusion?
  • What is the connection between diversity and inclusion and good board governance?
  • How does a Board ensure diversity and inclusion? How can resistance to equality on the board be addressed?
  • How does a Board ensure that it has the right voices around the table in addition to the right talent?
  • How can a Board create the conditions where these voices actively empowered, can and will be heard?
  • How can courage be developed in Board leadership to step up to lead the organization, define the purpose of the organization clearly, and hold management accountable?
  • What is the board’s accountability to the ownership? Are employees, owners who should have a voice in governance?
  • How does a board measure the impact of diversity and inclusion on people, planet, and profits?

Join us for this panel focused on interactive dialogue and featuring:


Karen Fryday-Field, Senior Consultant, Meridian Edge Leadership & Governance Consulting

Karen is the Senior Partner of The Meridian Edge Leadership and Governance Consulting Group located in London, Ontario, Canada.  Meridian Edge provides consulting services to Boards and Senior Leadership Teams.

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Karen consults regularly with Boards of Directors to address governance effectiveness and to develop new ways to add value at the governance level. She has also been a Governance Consultant and researcher since 1993 and completed the Policy Governance Academy Program in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996.  Her client list of non-profit, public and for-profit/corporate Boards in Canada and the United States is extensive.  Karen is dedicated to helping Boards improve their effectiveness.  One client organization, The Michener Institute, won runner-up for the Spencer Stewart Award for Governance Excellence in the public sector, over two different years, presented by the Conference Board of Canada.  Several Boards Karen has coached have been recognized for their governance contribution nationally and internationally.

Karen was the gold medalist in the Bachelor of Science in Physical Therapy and has completed the course work for the Masters program in Epidemiology at The University of Western Ontario.  Karen achieved the position of Ivey Scholar while graduating from the Executive MBA, at the Ivey School of Business at Western University in 1998.  Karen has served for several years in senior leadership positions at a large teaching hospital in London, Ontario as well as in several community based public and privately owned health care organizations and services.   Karen also served as the Chief Facilitator for organizational re-engineering at Victoria Hospital in collaboration with Ernst & Young prior to the formation of the London Health Sciences Centre.

Karen consults with many organizations to develop strategic thinking and planning directed toward building success in the face of an ever-changing business environment. Her leadership consulting practice is focused on assisting for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, regulatory bodies, and companies with developing successful business and market strategies, building measurement systems to assess organizational effectiveness, and building people capacity and energy.

Deborah Rosati

Deborah Rosati, Founder & CEO of Women Get On Board

Deborah is an accomplished corporate director, entrepreneur, Fellow Chartered Professional Accountant (FCPA) and certified Corporate Director (ICD.D) with more than 30 years of experience in technology, consumer, retail, cannabis, private equity and venture capital.

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An experienced Audit Committee and Nominating & Corporate Governance Committee chair, Deborah provides extensive knowledge as a Corporate Director in the areas of financial and enterprise risk management, corporate strategy,transformational changes, M&A, corporate governance and CEO and board succession planning.

Deborah currently leads and serves as a Corporate Director for Lift & Co.(TSX-V: LIFT) as Vice Chair and Chair of the Audit Committee. Deborah recently served on the board of MedReleaf (TSX:LEAF) as the Chair of the Audit Committee (-acquired by AuroraCannabis (TSX: ACB)- July 2018, as well as she chaired the Audit Committee, for NexJ Systems (TSX:NXJ) and was on the board of Sears Canada (TSX: SCC).

She is the Founder & CEO of Women Get On Board, a leading member-based company that connects, promotes and empowers women to corporate boards. Deborah has been selected as a Diversity 50 2014 candidate and was recognized in 2012 as one of WXN’s Top 100 Canada’s Most Powerful Women in the corporate director award category. Deborah’s thought leadership on corporate governance, board diversity and entrepreneurship are profiled on her website:

Portrait of Jim Durrell, C.M., ICD.D, Chair

Jim Durrell, ICD.D, Former Mayor of Ottawa, Chairman of the Board, Hydro Ottawa

Jim Durrell has served on the Board of Directors of Hydro Ottawa Holding Inc. since July 2012. In July 2013 he was also appointed to the Board of Directors of Hydro Ottawa Limited and subsequently elected Chair of both Boards. He is best-known for the significant contribution that he made as Ottawa’s mayor from 1985 until retiring from public life in 1991.

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After leaving public office, he was active in the private sector as a successful business executive until his retirement in December 2018. Mr. Durrell was the Chairman of the Ottawa Airport Authority from 2008 to 2011 and is the former owner and President of Capital Dodge Chrysler Jeep. He has had a long-time involvement with Ottawa sports franchises including the Ottawa Senators NHL organization and the CFL’s Ottawa Rough Riders. He has served as a governor of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, as President of the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame, and on the board of the Canada Centre of Ethics in Sport. In 2018, he was inducted into the Ottawa Sports Hall of Fame as a builder.

Mr. Durrell brings extensive governance experience having served on the Board of Directors of the Business Development Bank of Canada and as the Chair of the Ottawa International Airport’s Board of Directors. He continues to volunteer his time and enthusiasm to numerous charities and organizations in the Ottawa community, such as the Board of Governors of Carleton University, the Ottawa Hospital, the United Way/Centraide Ottawa Campaign Cabinet, the Salvation Army and the Kiwanis Club of Ottawa for over 30 years. In October 2006, he was appointed Chairman of the Ottawa Convention Centre and in July 2011 was appointed by the Provincial Government to serve as Vice-Chair of the Police Services Board.

In December 2012, Mr. Durrell was appointed a Member of the Order of Canada for his decades-long contributions to the City of Ottawa, as a businessman, mayor and committed volunteer. Also in 2012, Mr. Durrell was awarded the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce’s inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Order of Ottawa. In 2015 Mr. Durrell was the recipient of the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award (Sovereigns’ Medal for Volunteers), and in 2016 was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award with Volunteer Ottawa.


Moderator: Marlene Janzen Le Ber, School of Leadership & Social Change, Brescia University College

Marlene is Associate Professor and Chair, School of Leadership & Social Change at Canada’s only women’s university, Brescia University College.

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Marlene holds two Adjunct Research Professor appointments; one with the Ian O. Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership at Ivey School of Business and the other with the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, both at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. Her most recent publication is an edited volume More Women on Boards: An International Perspective. The book is Volume 7 in ILA’s Women and Leadership: Research, Theory, and Practice book series published in partnership with Information Age Publishing.

A multiple research grant holder in complex processes of leadership, her current research spans core topics in leadership, i.e. leader character, leader aspirations, and leader identity development in women to policy and social change. Her most recent research grant, a SSHRC Partnership Development Grant, titled “Mobilizing Narratives for Policy and Social Change” builds on an earlier SSHRC Insight Development Grant, titled “From Intractable to Tractable: Transdisciplinary Processes of Innovation.”

Her teaching is all leadership related: Women and Leadership, Positive Organizational Scholarship, Leader Character, Giving Voice to Values, and Spirituality and Leadership. Prior to her doctoral studies, Marlene was a health care executive within academic health sciences centers, known as a strategic leader who spearheaded numerous health system innovations. Her first career was in Public Health and Mental Health Nursing. Marlene has a PhD (Strategy) from Ivey Business School, MScN (Admin) and BScN from Western University.

[1] Women in the boardroom: A global perspective – 5th ed. (2017).  Retrieved from

[2] MacDougall, A., Valley, J., Aziz, R., Bettel, C., Dick, M., Kim, A., Lastman, B., & Traore, T. (2018). Report: Diversity Disclosure Practices 2018 – Women in leadership roles at TSX-listed companies. Retrieved from

[3] Quick take: Women on corporate boards. (2018). Retrieved from

[4] 1Devnew, L. E., Le Ber, M. J., & Torcia, M., & Burke, R. J. (Eds.). (2018). More women on boards: An international perspective. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.