OWIT’s 20th Anniversary Gala an Inspiring Evening

Friday, September 27, 2019 9:33 AM | OWIT-Toronto (Administrator)

“Wonderful turnout, great range of participants, and a selection of excellent speakers, I loved that panel!” This is how OWIT-Toronto member Aylin Luisi of UPS summed up our 20th anniversary celebration and Awards ceremony held at the Toronto Board of Trade on September 17. An inspiring panel of our chapter’s founders, including Candice Rice, Molly Zito, Susan Baka and Gail Morris, shared their international trade journeys and insights on global trade issues in a fireside chat moderated by Cindie-Eve Bourassa of Global Affairs Canada. Some of the take-aways:

  • OWIT was launched in Canada after the first Business Women’s Trade Mission to Washington.
  • Joining OWIT helped all the panelists develop a strong network of contacts, which often led to new roles or new business.
  • Many other valuable resources exist in Canada to help women export, including the Business Women in Trade program and Trade Commissioner Service of Global Affairs Canada, EDC, BDC and the Magnet Export Portal.
  • The role of women in trade has evolved dramatically in the last 20 years, with the topic of trade and women’s economic empowerment now on the agendas of international organizations like the UN, APEC, OECD and World Trade Organization.
  • Growing protectionism is a big challenge on the international trade front.
  • Getting involved with OWIT and networking are great ways for young women to meet role models and advance their careers or businesses.

The panel was followed by an equally inspiring Awards presentation to outstanding women who have made a mark in trade. The 2019 winners are:

  • Isabella Bertani, JoAnna Townsend Award for Leadership in International Trade, recognized for her global speaking on trade topics and for mentoring young women

  • Myra Sable, Sable & Rosenfeld, Woman Exporter of the Year Award, honoured for putting Canada on the map entering new markets and conquering taste categories with win-after-win in international specialty food competitions for almost 50 years.

  • Hamideh Mahmoudi, Centennial College, Student of International Trade Award, recognized for her excellent knowledge of international trade and for creative problem solving.

Kudos to all the nominees for their outstanding achievements:

  • Townsend Award finalists: Professor Maureen Irish, University of Windsor; Nicole Lunstead, Trade Commissioner, Global Affairs Canada; Karin Muller, Director, Trade Compliance for North America, Magna International; Christine Nakamura, VP, Asia Pacific Foundation of Canada, Toronto Office
  • Woman Exporter Award finalists: Rhonda Barnet, President & COO, AVIT Manufacturing; Natalia Mykhaylova, Founder & CEO, WeavAir; Niru Somayajula, President & CEO, Sensor Technology Ltd.; Shelby Taylor, Founder & CEO, Chickapea
  • Student Award finalist: Ledia Dervishay, Centennial College

A big thanks to our sponsors: the Diversity Institute/Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub, EDC, and Jewels4Ever and to supporter Global Affairs Canada.

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