Wanda Thomas Bernard tops list of Women of Influence

Senator Dr Wanda Thomas Bernard

The annual Top 25 Women of Influence® awards ceremony is back, shining a spotlight on remarkable women and gender-diverse individuals who have made exceptional contributions to society. This prestigious event acknowledges the accomplishments of women from various sectors, career stages, and areas of influence, all of whom have left an indelible mark in their respective fields. Whether through their initiatives, global achievements, or the use of their influence to drive meaningful change, these women are true role models.

This year, the Lifetime Achievement Award goes to Senator Dr. Wanda Thomas Bernard, an esteemed social worker, educator, researcher, community activist, and advocate for social change. Senator Bernard has dedicated her life to promoting social justice and equality. Her work has had a profound impact on Canadian society, inspiring generations to fight for a fairer and more inclusive world.

Among the recipients of the 2023 Top 25 Women of Influence® awards, three exceptional individuals have been making waves in their respective domains:

Elvalyn Brown, a founding member of the Black Ontario Public Services Employees (BOPSers) Network, has been a driving force behind positive change. The BOPSers Network empowers public service employees by providing a platform for information sharing, problem-solving, and policy recommendations. Elvalyn’s personal experience with anti-Black racism and career obstacles inspired her to create the network, aiming to eliminate systemic barriers and foster a more inclusive environment within the Ontario Public Service (OPS). Her efforts have been instrumental in promoting anti-racism, diversity, and accessibility within the OPS.

Natalie Evans Harris, an entrepreneur and data advocate, has been at the forefront of advancing the public sector’s use of data for social good. With her extensive experience, including

Paulette Senior
Natalie Evans Harris

working at the National Security Agency and the Obama administration, Natalie has been instrumental in developing ethical algorithms and responsible data practices. In 2022, she assumed the role of executive director of the Black Wealth Data Center (BWDC), addressing the inaccessibility of vital data on Black wealth equity. Natalie’s work at the BWDC aims to centralize information, improve data quality, and enhance accessibility, enabling decision-makers to address the long-standing harm caused by racial inequality.

Haben Girma, a disability rights advocate and Harvard Law graduate, has shattered barriers and defied expectations. As the first deafblind person to graduate from Harvard Law School, Haben has become a leading voice for disability justice. Recognized as a White House Champion of Change by President Obama, she emphasizes the importance of inclusivity for people with disabilities. Haben’s memoir, “Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law,” chronicles her journey and inspires others to embrace intentional decision-making that incorporates individuals with disabilities. Through her consulting and public speaking work, Haben continues to promote accessibility, diversity, and leadership.

Paulette Senior, President & CEO of the Canadian Women’s Foundation (CWF), has dedicated her career to empowering women and girls. From her early work in underserved communities to her leadership roles at national organizations, Paulette has been a force for positive change. In 2022, under her guidance, the CWF secured visionary grants exceeding $50 million for gender justice, swiftly supporting grassroots organizations in combating gender-based domestic violence. Additionally, the CWF launched the Signal for Help Responder digital learning journey, helping individuals recognize abuse and support survivors.

Haben Girma
Elvalyn Brown

Paulette’s tireless advocacy has earned her numerous accolades and positions on influential advisory boards.

These remarkable women, alongside the other recipients of the Top 25 Women of Influence® awards, continue to shape the world through their exceptional achievements. By celebrating their accomplishments, we hope to inspire future generations to strive for greatness and create a more inclusive and equitable society for all.