Women in Public Affairs (WIPA) Mentorship Program!
This is a unique opportunity to work with successful senior professionals working across the public affairs industry.
Space will be limited with mentees matched based on the preferences of the mentee and the experience of the mentor. We encourage mentees to be very specific in their applications about what the areas of expertise and traits they are looking for.
Join us over the next few months for discussions covering a variety of topics, including career path recommendations and moves, virtual interviews, work-life balance, and what the ‘new normal’ is looking like for public affairs.
Time commitment for mentees is approximately 2 hours a month for the duration of the 4-month program. While there is no fee to apply, we will be asking successful candidates consider a donation of $25 to support three local charities:
- Black Women in Motion - This Toronto-based, youth-led organization "empowers and supports the advancement of black women and survivors of sexual violence" through training and advocacy work.
- Women's Health in Women's Hands - This community health centre in Toronto provides care for women in African and Caribbean (as well as Latin American and South Asian) communities.
- The Most Nurtured - The Most Nurtured is a Toronto-based holistic wellness program created for black women, by black women. The programming, which includes community yoga, panels, and workshops, is
currently on pause due to COVID-19, but aims to help LGBTQ+, non-binary, and trans women connect with and become the most nurtured version of themselves.
We are pleased to introduce a number of WIPA mentors below:
Drew is a communications professional with experience in politics, the private sector and media. Currently, she is AVP, Marketing & Communications at Huron University in London, ON. Prior to joining post-secondary, she led the expansion of IBM's P-TECH educational model in Canada, working to connect underserved students with STEM degrees. In government, she led large-scale communications projects for two Premiers and three Premiers, including strategic communications related to the Ontario Anti-Racism Directorate and the Ontario Public Pension Plan.
Drew has a reputation for effectively telling stories about complex issues, navigating bureaucratic and legislative landscapes and keeping a cool head in crisis situations. She has led large teams and small, remote-based teams, and always put an emphasis on mentoring, coaching and developing new leaders. She has been published in the Toronto Star, Globe and Mail and the Huffington Post.
Belinda is a seasoned communications professional with a passion for storytelling. Over the course of her career, she has supported communications for some of Ontario's most senior leaders including the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, the Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Premier of Ontario. After her time at Queen's Park, Belinda led communications for the Office of the President and CEO at University Health Network, Canada's largest academic health sciences centre. Prior to joining CBoC, she was a Senior Account Director in the Corporate Reputation Practice at FleishmanHillardHighRoad (FHR), supporting the agency's reputation and corporate communications clients across a variety of sectors. As a forever recovering political staffer, Belinda has a keen interest in the intersection between the business and public sectors.
Jennifer leads CCA's government relations and public affairs strategy and outreach in Ottawa, communicating CCA's policy positions with the Federal Government. Prior to joining CCA, Jennifer worked in public affairs and advocacy with a focus on agriculture, health, trade and environment. Jennifer also previously worked on Parliament Hill. She is a board director and the Chair of the Professional Development Committee for the Government Relations Institute of Canada.
A strategic leader and communications professional with a keen interest for media in all forms. Thriving in challenging and evolving situations, results driven and the ability to pay close attention to detail, I am eager to accept new challenges. A creative content curator, experienced in crisis communications, social media strategies, internal communications, strategic planning and stakeholder engagement.
Alexandria Anderson is Federal Relations Advisor where she is responsible for building and managing relationships with OPG's stakeholders, including senior officials, government, industries and communities. Her responsibilities also include developing and providing insight, analysis and recommendations on both government and stakeholder policies and strategies. For the past 3 years, Alexandria has been a part of the Toronto Region Board of Trade Young Professional's Committee; working to help develop and promote young professionals in the City of Toronto. Alexandria received her degree in Communications and Public Relations from the University of Guelph-Humber and her diploma in Public Administration from the University of Guelph.
An experienced public affairs professional with a diverse client background and unique insights into the relationship between stakeholders and government. Throughout her career Alexis has been called upon to manage a number of complex files, and navigating political, policy, and government processes are a key strength.
Nadia is a senior executive marketing and communications professional with over 16 years of experience in the non-profit and public sector. She has led award winning campaigns for prominent organizations including the United Nations, the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the YWCA. She has served under two provincial Ministers during her tenure at the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport and has supported the re-election campaigns for the Hon. Mark Holland, Government House Leader.
Shazia brings over 10 years of communications, issues management and public policy experience. Shazia is the Chief of Communications and Government Relations for the Toronto Catholic District School Board. Previously, she was political staff in the Ontario government as a Special Advisor to Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Director of Communication and Senior Policy Advisor to three Minister's of Education. In addition to issues management, she initiated the creation of Ontario's first Education Equity Action Plan and improved supports for students with prevalent medical conditions. Shazia was political staff in the B.C government to the Minister of Health and policy lead to Premier Christy Clark, where she managed the policy development process for the 2013 mandate. Shazia's passion for increasing mental health awareness in workplaces led to her role as co-founder and co-chair on the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) Engages sub-committee on Education and Awareness. Shazia also served as a Board member on the 519 and co-chair on the strategic priorities and planning committee. Shazia currently sits on MAX Aspire as a Senior Executive, mentoring young Muslims.
Sarah Letersky is a Vice-President at Rubicon Strategy, based out of Toronto. Rubicon Strategy is a government relations and digital marketing firm that advises companies and associations in health care, gaming, social services, government procurement, entertainment, environment, energy, natural resources, and more. Prior to joining Rubicon, Sarah worked in the Ontario government as a Director of Communications at the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade, and as a Chief of Staff at the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services.
Gabrielle has worked in and out of politics, including the provincial Treasury Board Secretariat and the office of Premier Wynne. She is an experienced lobbyist and currently works for a social finance think tank. Gabrielle is also a college instructor in Sheridan College's post graduate certificate program in Public Relations and Corporate Communications.
Genevieve is an experienced communicator with 15+ years working in senior roles within government, public sector, media and both public and private corporations. For Gen, curiosity is a driving force and asking the right (and sometimes tough) questions is key to achieving results for clients. Her areas of expertise include public affairs strategy, issues management, media training, executive thought leadership, op-ed and speechwriting. Gen lead communications and investor relations through a tech company's IPO, acted as Director of Strategic Messaging for former Premier Kathleen Wynne and as media lead and spokes person for the LCBO. Prior to that, she spent the better part of a decade as a journalist for the CBC, working in television, radio and online as a reporter and host. She has interviewed premiers and prime ministers as a political correspondent and was part of CBC's Gemini Award winning coverage of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee visit to Canada.
Lauren is a communications and media strategist with over a decade of experience working in politics, for start-ups, at corporations, and in media. Since 2018, she has been the Manager of Media Relations and Communications at the Ontario Real Estate Association. In this role, she leads the development and implementation of OREA's media relations and issues management strategies, working closely with the Government Relations team on their lobbying and advocacy efforts. Prior to working at OREA, Lauren spent four years in a senior communications role across three ministries as political staff at Queen's Park. She's a proud Brock grad, and also holds a post-grad journalism diploma from Humber College.
I am currently the Director of Communications for the Executive Council Office with the Government of Yukon, but will be moving to the Director of Communications and Social Marketing with the Department of Health and Social Services in January. Prior to this, I worked for the Government of Alberta as the Director of Planning and Events, the Yukon government in policy and communications with the Department of Tourism and Culture, and in a variety of progressive roles with the B.C. government. I began as a political staffer and transitioned to strategic communications.
Caroline Grech’s professional career has spanned media, public affairs and governmentrelations. Currently, serving as the Associate Director, External Relations and Public Affairs for Seneca, Caroline has excelled in a variety of roles including, overseeing the communications, government relations and events teams. She also serves as director on the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and chairs its Government Relations Committee. Prior to joining Seneca, Caroline worked in government relations at the Canadian Automobile Association, where she was the lead spokesperson on the company’s provincial Worst Roads Campaign, an advocacy campaign aimed at increasing funding forinfrastructure needs in the Greater Toronto Area as well as advocating on issues such as distracted driving, cycling safety and revisions to towing regulations. Prior to government relations, Caroline was an award-winning reporter covering stories on a wide range of issues in the GTA.
Over 20years working in public affairs with expertise in advocacy, government relations, communications and marketing. Currently, I am the Vice President of Public Affairs for the 20 publicly assisted universities in Ontario. Prior to this role I spent over 10 years working for a large health charity. I also have a masters degree in gender relations and bachelor of honours degree in history and political science.
Melanie Paradis has been working in public affairs and politics for more than 15 years, most notably serving as a speechwriter and op-ed ghostwriter for politicians and CEOs. She has served in provincial and national war rooms, as well as on multiple leadership election teams in senior communications roles. Since 2018, she has been 2nd Vice President of the Ontario PC Party. But that has all been a side hustle. Her day job as a consultant has always involved some combination of ghost-writing, crisis management, media relations, public and Indigenous consultation, and lobbying. After Erin O’Toole won the CPC Leadership in 2020, Melanie took the role of Director of Communications during the transition and promptly got pregnant, making her career as a staffer a short one. She is currently on maternity leave.
Ariel Benjamin is an experienced and passionate public affairs and communications professional with a diverse background, joining Media Profile as a Senior Consultant in 2022. Prior to joining Media Profile, Ariel was a Consultant at Hill+Knowlton Strategies where she led national campaigns as part of the Financial and Professional Services team. Ariel began her career as a Public Affairs Specialist at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce where she led communications and government relations efforts on a variety of key policy initiatives and reports as well as leading signature events including the Deputy Ministers Series and Ontario Business Achievement Awards. Ariel is currently on the Communications Committee for the Public Affairs Association of Canada (Ontario Chapter).
I have a passion for politics. I have spent nearly a decade working for the provincial government in both opposition and in government. In that time, I have worked on several leadership campaigns, bi-elections and general elections.
Jess Georgakopoulos has over 13 years of strategic thinking, political insights and communications expertise. She has extensive experience both in the public and private sectors in strategy development, communications, government relationsand policy development. She was chief of staff to a provincial cabinet Ministerand was a Director of Communications for the Premier of Ontario. She has also worked for advocacy organizations and high-profile consulting firms.
Kathryn Lawler is Director of Communications for CIBC Capital Markets, managing external, internal and executive communications. Previously, she’s held roles in issues management and strategic communications for high-profile business units across the bank. Kathryn began her career at Enterprise, a leading Canadian public affairs firm with expertise in government relations and public affairs.She’s the previous Co-Chair of the C&PA CIBC Run for the Cure Committee, and was a board member of Margaret’s Housing and Community Support Services.
A lover of conversations that push boundaries, Alicia likes being in community with others who make her see things from a new point of view. This – being able to put the lived experiences of others ahead of your own – is also how Alicia defines leadership. A Senior Account Director at Edelman, Alicia manages the corporate reputation of some of the country’s largest technology companies,giving her a unique perspective on the importance of partnering with the private sector to solve pressing social issues. Passionate about the democratic process, Alicia’s experience as a Press Secretary to one of Ontario’s former Premiers has given her the insights necessary to understand how effective and accessible communication can shape policymaking. When she’s not problem solving, you can find Alicia listening to motivational and wellness podcasts –maybe as inspiration for her own talk show one day!
Jenny has worked in the public sector, specifically related to community and consumer services, for almost a decade. She is currently the Director of Stakeholder Relations at Tarion. Prior to Tarion, she was a senior political advisor on health and community safety, with responsibilities for such areas as public health, health promotion, mental health and addiction and women’s health. Previously, Jenny was the lead advisor on consumer services, not-for-profit law, and government agency oversight including board governance. She holds a Master of Science in Climate Change and Bachelor of Arts in Human and Environmental Geography. Jenny sits on the Board of Directors at Ernestine's Women's Shelter and is Chair of the Governance Committee.
Tiffany Gooch is a Canadian writer, communications executive, and advocate for racial and gender equity, inclusion, and justice. She currently serves as the Executive Lead for Public Engagement and Communications at the Peel District School Board. Prior to joining the PDSB, Tiffany worked as a consultant and crisis communications manager with public affairs firms Aurora Strategy,Enterprise Canada, and Ensight; served as political staff at Queen’s Park inboth Minister’s Offices and the Office of the Premier; wrote a political column for the Toronto Star; and provided political on-air commentary for CBC and CTV.She has a passion for lifelong learning, and serves on the Board of Governors for the University of Windsor. When she isn’t working, she can be found singing, storytelling, reading, and having adventures with her son Lawrence.
I’m the GM of Figure 1, a platform for healthcare professionals to share medical cases with each other. Previously, I worked for the Premier of Ontario, the Ministerof Culture, and the Minister of Education. I also worked as a senior consultantat StrategyCorp after my time in government.
I'm an experienced strategic communicator with over a decade in politics, specializing in issues management and diversity and inclusion.
As Director of Government Policy and Stakeholder Relations for RBC, Judy Dobbs is a member of the Regulatory and Government Affairs team that ensures RBC has maximum flexibility to pursue enterprise and businesses’ strategic objectives within the governmental and regulatory environments in which RBC operates. Since joining RBC, Judy has held a variety of public relations and communications positions in national and regional teams supporting RBC’s personal, business, commercial banking, seed capital, wealth management and insurance businesses in the areas of media relations, change management, leadership communications, issues management and crisis communications and sponsorship marketing communications. Prior to joining RBC Royal Bank, she worked in the Ontario government as Legislative Assistant to an MPP, and to the Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Native Affairs. Responsibilities included issues management, legislative policy development, crisis management and community relations. During 2020-21, Judy earned a Master of Laws degree at University ofToronto.
Meaghan Salmons is a public affairs professional with over a decade of experience spanning government and not-for-profit organizations. She currently works as a Stakeholder Relations Advisor with Tarion, having previously served in roles within the office of the Ontario Government House Leader Chiefs of Ontario, and the Institute of Canadian Citizenship. Meaghan has been involved in numerous political campaigns, tour and event planning and execution, and recently opened a seasonally inspired baking business.