Most Influential Women 2005
Suzanne Coffey, Fredericton, NB
Suzanne Coffey has been involved with Commonwealth Games Canada
(CGC) since 1994, serving as a member of the Mission Staff for the
1994 and 2002 Commonwealth Games. She is currently a vice-president
on CGC’s Board of Directors. She has also served on CGC’s
volunteer resources work team. Retired in 2004, as a sport consultant
Suzanne has over 25 years of experience working with provincial
sport, recreation administration, and programming. Her outstanding
organizational contributions as a volunteer include posts as Chef
de Mission for New Brunswick’s team to the 1991 and 1999 Canada
This past year Suzanne served as a member of the Bid Review Committee
for the domestic phase of the 2014 Commonwealth Games bid. She brought
an inclusive approach to the group, and ensured that the bid committee
represented a wide perspective of interests in reviewing all aspects
of the bids, before eventually choosing Halifax, Nova Scotia as
the successful bid city.
Charmaine Crooks, Vancouver, BC
Five-time Olympian and Olympic Silver Medallist, Charmaine Crooks
represented Canada for close to 20 years in athletics. For several
years she was one of only three Canadians to sit on the International
Olympic Committee (IOC), and was the only woman. She is President/Founder
of NGU Consultants, a sports marketing, promotion and production
company that develops and creates entertainment programming, and
which provides strategic counsel for companies and athletes on a
In addition to continuing to serve on several IOC Commissions (IOC),
she was elected to serve a four-year term (2005-2008) as a member
of the executive board of the Canadian Olympic Committee. Currently,
she sits on the Board of Directors of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic
and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee. She recently served as
Co-Chair of Protocol for the 2006 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship
Organizing Committee, which just completed a successful tournament
in BC. As well, she is consulting with Bell Canada on its Olympic
Sonia Denoncourt, Gatineau, QC
Although Sonia Denoncourt, a native of Sherbrooke, played competitive
soccer for 11 years, she then made a choice to devote herself to
officiating the game, rather than playing. She began officiating
at the age of 11, and over a lengthy career she rose to the very
highest ranks of international officiating. She has been a pioneer
as a female official for the last two decades. She was the first
Canadian woman official to work at an "A" international
men's game, and since then she has officiated in the 1995 and 1999
Women's World Cup, as well as the 1996 and 2000 Olympics. She has
been working with the Canadian Soccer Association as Community Referee
Development Coordinator, responsible for the development of referees
at the grass roots level, as well as serving as one of FIFA’s
In 2005, she was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
Later in the year, it was announced that she would be moving to
FIFA headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland to head its new women’s
referee development program. In this position, she will continue
to influence and inspire women for many years to come.
Ann Dow, Montreal, QC
A member of the National Women's Water Polo team since 1991, Ann
Dow is one of the most experienced and respected players in the
country. She is a two-time Olympian, who helped her team place 5th
in the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney and 7th in the 2004 Olympic
Games in Athens. She also competed in five World Aquatic Championships,
five World FINA Cups, two Pan-American Games, and 25 National Championships.
In 2005, which marked the end of her outstanding career as an athlete,
she was co-captain of the Canadian team that won bronze in front
of a home crowd at the XI FINA World Championships in Montréal.
She was named Most Valuable Player for the tournament and was selected
to the all-star team. In December, she was named provincial International
Female Athlete of the Year at the 33rd annual Sports-Québec
Peggy Gallant, Antigonish, NS
Peggy Gallant is a professor in the Saint Francis Xavier University
Department of Human Kinetics. She regularly presents on gender in
sport to promote the participation of women and girls in sport locally,
provincially and nationally. She is an NCCP Master Course Conductor
and an active volunteer soccer coach at the community level.
In 2005, she led the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) through
the final stage of a transition that saw the emergence of a new
organization amalgamating CAC and the National Coaching Certification
Council (NCCC). She served as chair of the CAC during the challenge
of creating an organization that will see a leading-edge national
coach and sport education program - the National Coaching Certification
Program - tailored to meet the needs of sport participants from
the playground to the podium.
Shirley Green, Brockville, ON
As a result of a donation from the Green family, Canada's top alpine
ski racers, freestyle skiers and snowboard athletes will soon have
access to a world-class off-season training base. A unique partnership
between Canadian philanthropists Don and Shirley Green, CODA and
the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Games Organizing Committee
will create a training centre, located on Farnham Glacier in south-eastern
British Columbia. It will be named "Camp Green on Farnham Glacier
- High Performance Training Facility," in recognition of the
$1 million financial contribution provided by the Green family.
Shirley Green, along with her husband Don, have donated money for
hospitals, libraries and other initiatives, but this was their first
donation earmarked for sports. This significant donation will assist
Canadian athletes build towards the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in
Vancouver. Shirley, and her husband Don, were named Citizens of
the Year in 2005 by the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce.
Cindy Klassen, Winnipeg, MB and Calgary, AB
Originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Cindy Klassen is an outstanding
long track speed skater, who has had a meteoric rise in a demanding
sport. She began her athletic career playing lacrosse as well as
hockey, reaching the AAA level in the men’s league before
competing on the Women’s Junior National Hockey Team for one
year. When she discovered speed skating at the age of 18, she wasted
no time in finding her way onto the podium. In just her second year
on the national team, she finished third in the 1,500-metres at
the 2001 World Championships, followed by a bronze medal from the
Salt Lake City Olympics in the 3,000-metres.
She overcame a horrific injury sustained in the fall of 2003, to
win two gold medals at the 2005 World Championships. She set a world
record in winning the 1500-metres, and then also won gold in the
3000. She continued winning races and setting world marks at the
beginning of the 2005-2006 season, in preparation for the upcoming
Winter Olympic Games. She capped off 2005 by being named Canada’s
female athlete of the year.
Marion Lay, Vancouver, BC
As an athlete Marion Lay won an Olympic medal and set a world record
as a swimmer. Her significant contributions in a 40-year sport career
also include coaching, commentating and policy development. As part
of the Vancouver Bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter
Games, almost from the inception, Lay Co-Chaired the Bid Committee
for two years, and then became President and CEO of the 2010 Legacies
Now Society, an initiative of the Province of British Columbia and
the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation. 2010 Legacies Now works in partnership
to develop sustainable legacies in sport & recreation, arts,
literacy, and volunteerism which will benefit British Columbians
in the years leading up to and beyond the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic
In 2005, Marion’s leadership of 2010 Legacies Now continued
with the development and implementation of a variety of programs:
an interactive online registration system for volunteers with a
target of registering one million Canadians by 2012 ; the creation
of a new exhibit to recognize the achievements and contributions
of women to sport in British Columbia at the B.C. Sports Hall of
Fame and Museum; the extension of the Hosting BC program to more
communities to create legacies and opportunities in sport tourism;
as well as many other initiatives in not only the areas of sport
and recreation, but also arts and culture, literacy and volunteerism.
She also shared her personal and professional experiences with the
200 delegates at the International Association of Physical Education
and Sport for Girls and Women World Congress (IAPESGW) in August,
to encourage and educate others countries as well.
Ljiljana (Lilo) Ljubisic, Vancouver, BC
A five-time Paralympic competitor, Ljiljana (Lilo) Ljubisic, is
a blind athlete who successfully represented Canada in national
team handball and athletics for 20 years. She is a world-class discus
and shot put thrower with 19 international podium finishes including
a gold medal at the 1992 Summer Paralympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
She is still the World and Paralympic record holder in both the
discus and shot put. After nearly two decades of competing in Paralympic
Sport, Lilo has developed a lifetime commitment to and passion for
sport for athletes with a disability. She serves as Chair of the
International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Athletes Council, and
with the 2010 Legacies Now Society.
In 2005 she was re-elected as the chair of the IPC Athlete’s
Council, re-appointed to the IOC Athlete’s Commission and
is a member of the IPC Governing Board.
Anne Merklinger, Ottawa, ON
A fixture on the Canadian sport scene since the 1970’s, Anne
Merklinger moved from a distinguished swimming career to curling,
where she has competed with distinction and success since the mid-1980's.
She is currently Director General of the Canadian Canoe Association
(CCA) and sits on many other sport committees including the Canada
Games Council and the Sport Matters Group.
In 2005, Anne continued to build on the success of CCA athletes
at the 2004 Summer Olympic Games. Canada turned in strong performances
at the 2005 Flat Water World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia and
the 2005 Slalom World Championships in Penrith, Australia. As one
of the most successful Executive Directors of a Canadian Sports
association she is a highly influential leader in the sports community
in this country and a real role-model for young women entering the
field of sports administration.
Margo Mountjoy, Guelph, ON
Dr. Margo Mountjoy is not only a leader in aquatics in Canada but
internationally as well. A former competitive synchronised swimmer,
Dr. Margo Mountjoy has served for several years as Chair of the
FINA Medical Committee, and was the first woman to serve in that
role. She is Editor of FINA Sports Medicine Review, an International
Sports Medicine Lecturer, and a Member of the IOC Sport and Children
Working Group. In addition to running her own Sport Medicine Clinic
in Guelph, she also has had a significant involvement within the
Sports Medicine field for Syncrho Canada and within all aquatic
sports in Canada.
In March 2005, Margo was nominated to the IOC Medical Commission.
She is the representative for all the Summer Olympic Sports. She
attends IOC Medical Commission meetings and plans health care strategies,
educational programs and medical research projects. She will also
attend Olympic events to assist in supervising medical care and
doping control procedures. In 2005, she was also named to the medical
consultative group committee of the ASOIF – Association Summer
Olympics International Federation.
Chantal Petitclerc, Montréal, QC
Although she lost the use of her legs after a childhood accident
at the age of 13, Chantal Petitclerc has since gone on to become
one of Canada’s most decorated athletes. Throughout her career,
she has constantly pushed the barriers for athletes with a disability
and she is a proud ambassador of the Paralympic Movement. The five-time
Paralympian regularly takes part in community events, increasing
the awareness of people with a disability, and has achieved celebrity
status throughout Canada for her athletic accomplishments, motivational
speaking and television appearances.
She was named the Canadian Female Athlete of the Year at the Canadian
Sport Awards in March 2005. She also continued her outstanding athletic
career, with several victories throughout the year, including three
gold medals at the European Open Athletics Championships.
Sheryn Posen, Toronto, ON
While many members of CAAWS’ Most Influential Women List continue
to set new records, and create new opportunities, one woman is working
diligently to maintain Canada’s sporting past. Sheryn Posen,
Chief Operating Officer of Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame has
been working to find a permanent home and branch locations across
Canada for the Hall, where the rich sporting history of our country
can be preserved and displayed. She is actively pursuing funding
for these locations as well as planning travelling exhibits and
a new interactive educational website.
In 2005, she led the planning behind the highly successful 50th
anniversary induction dinner in Toronto in November. It resulted
in one of the largest gatherings of sporting heroes and builders
every assembled, with 6 individual inductees, and the entire 1972
Canadian Hockey Team from the historic Canada/Russia Summit Series
honoured at the gala induction. She has also re-energized the Hall
by encouraging travelling displays, working to update the website,
and reconnecting with the corporate community. It is her determination
that is helping the Hall regain its prominence in the Canadian Sport
Cathy Priestner Allinger, Vancouver, BC
An Olympic medallist in speed skating, Cathy Priestner Allinger
involved with all aspects of sport and sport management. After her
competitive career ended, Cathy moved to television commentary,
and then into sport management. Prior to joining the Vancouver Organizing
Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC)
in the summer of 2004 as the Senior Vice President of Sport, she
held the position of Managing Director of Games Operations for the
2006 Torino Olympic Winter Games and Managing Director of Sport
for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games.
In 2005, she has continued in her role with VANOC and is the first
woman to head the sports function at an Olympic Games. In 2005,
the report she co-wrote on the state of winter sport in Canada for
the Canadian Olympic Committee was released. This detailed plan
Own the Podium - 2010 is a collaborative effort of all 13 Canadian
Winter National Sport Federations, the COC, VANOC, the Canadian
Paralympic Committee (CPC), Sport Canada and the Calgary Olympic
Development Association (CODA) to give Canadian athletes the required
financial and technical support to make Canada number one on the
podium in 2010.
Theresa Ross, Inuvik, NWT
Theresa Ross is known as a leader in recreation, sport, physical
activity and culture in the North West Territories. She has supported
and delivered recreation, sport, and physical activity and culture
opportunities in her home community of Inuvik. Through her many
roles on volunteer boards and as a Recreation Leaders Program Instructor,
with Aurora College, Theresa continues to have a significant and
positive influence on the delivery of recreation and physical activity
services across the North.
After serving for three years as a Board member for the Canadian
Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA), Theresa was elected in
2005 to serve as its President for 2006/2007, serving this past
year as president -elect. During her tenure on the Board, she has
not only championed the recreation, sport, physical activity and
cultural needs of isolated communities in Canada, but she has also
been successful at seeing the establishment of a Northern Director
position on the Board of Directors. She actively elicited support
through CPRA for the development of a Northern Strategy for Everybody
gets to play™, a program geared towards eliminating barriers
to participation in recreation, sport, physical activity and culture.
Tricia Smith, Vancouver, BC
A member of four Olympic Teams, competing in rowing, during her
13-year international career, Tricia Smith won a silver Olympic
medal in Los Angeles in 1984, gold at the Commonwealth Games in
1986 and seven World Championship medals. When her rowing career
was complete, she practiced law in Vancouver, and is now a Partner
at Barnes, Craig & Associates, managing claims for liability
insurers, providing risk management consulting and is a recognised
sport Arbitrator. Tricia is the founder and past president of Olympians
BC, vice president of Olympians Canada, a member of the Board of
Legacies Now, a member of the Executive Committee of the International
Rowing Federation (FISA) and Chair of the Women's Commission and
a Board Member of the International Council of Arbitration for Sport
(ICAS) which oversees the International Court of Arbitration.
She was elected as a member of the Executive Board of the Canadian
Olympic Committee to serve a four-year term (2005-2008). This year
she was also selected as the Chef de Mission for the Canadian team
at the 2007 Pan American Games.
Xiuli Wang, Calgary, AB
This native of Harbin, China competed in long track speed skating
for China for 17 years, and was a World Champion in the 1500 metres
at the 1990 World Speed Skating Championships in Calgary. She is
a Certified Level 4 long track coach, and coaches at the National
Training Centre at the Speed Skating Oval in Calgary. She began
coaching in 1996, and has since received numerous coaching awards,
including the Petro-Canada Coaching Excellence Award twice and the
Speed Skating Canada Female Coaching Award in 2004.
Her athletes have been excelling on the World Cup circuit for the
past several years, with world-class results. She is currently coaching
Clara Hughes, Arne Dankers, and Kristina Groves, and is working
with them in preparation for the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin,
Italy. She is also coaching rising stars Mark Jesney, Shannon Sibold
and Kerry Simpson.
Emma-Jayne Wilson, Toronto, ON
A former rugby player, Emma-Jayne Wilson, is a tiny, powerful force
on the horse racing circuit. She has a diploma in equine management
from the University of Guelph where she studied accounting and business.
As a jockey, she goes toe-to-toe with her male counterparts, and
has been a force to be reckoned with this past year.
In 2005, the 5'2" and 106 pound apprentice jockey became
the top rider in the country in only her first season. With 175
wins, she was miles ahead of her closest competitor, a male, and
the horses she rode earned almost $7.4 million this year alone.
She was the first woman in the 50-year history of the Woodbine racetrack
to win top jockey honours. She ended the year by receiving the Jockey
Club of Canada’s Sovereign Award for top apprentice jockey.
Joyce Wityshyn, Brandon, MB
It takes a special person to relate, motivate, coach and supervise
athletes with intellectual disabilities. Brandon, Manitoba’s
Joyce Wityshyn is the consummate volunteer Cross-Country Ski coach
for athletes with an intellectual disability. She has been an extremely
dedicated, conscientious and effective Cross-Country Ski Coach for
over 20 years. One of very few high level Special Olympics coaches
with a Level III National coaching certificate, she has coached
athletes at the Special Olympics World Winter Games and the Intellectually
Disabled Division of the Paralympic Winter Games.
Joyce is a member of the Organizing Team now preparing for the Special
Olympics Canada 2006 Summer Games to be held in Brandon, Manitoba.
Her dedication and capabilities were recognized by Special Olympics
Manitoba this year, where she received the Coach of the Year Award.
She also received the 2005 Special Olympics Canada Coach of the
Year Award in November.
2005 Canada Summer Games Host Society Women, Regina,
Donna Alport, Vice-President (VP) Medical Services; Brenda Bancescu,
Culture Manager; Deb Barker, VP Volunteers; Pat Barrett-Deibert,
Assistant Vice-President (AVP) Volunteers; Darlene Brunskill, VP
Ceremonies & Protocol; Ann Clark, VP Athlete Services; Kim Exner,
Senior Manager Volunteers and Administration & Finance; Andrea
Kelly, AVP Marketing; Dawn Kobayashi, Senior Manager Information
Technology and Planning & Project management; Rhonda Korpan,
Senior Manager Logistics and Ceremonies & Protocol; Janet Lee,
AVP Sport; Barb MacLean, Board of Directors, Province of Saskatchewan
Representative; Gursh Madhur, VP Culture; Diana Milenkovic, Board
of Directors, Director at Large; Bev Pelzer, Management Committee
City of Regina Representative; Barb Pollock, VP Sponsorship; Francine
Proulx-Kenzle, AVP Language Services; Wendy Sheppard, Executive
Assistant; Lucille Sirois-Donnelly, AVP Planning & Project Management;
Val Sluth, Management Committee Province of Saskatchewan Representative;
and Carol Tremblay, AVP Ceremonies & Protocol.
The 2005 Canada Summer Games were held last August in Regina. The
planning and staging was made possible by the tireless dedication
of over 6000 volunteers and staff. The 21 women who held leadership
positions within the 2005 Host Society as Vice-Presidents, Associate
Vice-Presidents and Senior Managers were crucial to the almost flawless
execution of the Games. They helped to make a difference in the
lives of over 3,500 athletes who will forever remember their experience
in Regina. These women showed incredible dedication to not only
stage the games, but to also strengthen the Canada Games Movement
for the next generation of national and international level athletes.
They helped to make the 2005 Canada Summer Games the best-ever organized.
Laryssa Biesenthal, Victoria, BC
A two-time Olympic Bronze Medalist, Laryssa Biesenthal, has been
named Rowing Canada's full-time Assistant National Team coach. An
outstanding competitor over her six years representing Canada at
the international level, winning both Olympic and World Championships
medals. In 2005 she coached the lightweight women’s quad to
the first ever Gold medal at the 2005 World Championships. She previously
coached the lightweight double to gold at the Lucerne World Cup
in 2004, as well as the 2003 Pan Am rowing team and other development
crews. She is currently focusing on preparing Canada’s lightweight
women rowers for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing.
Tanya Dubnicoff, Calgary, AB
Becoming the National BMX Coach added to Tanya Dubnicoff‘s
role as Head Coach of the National Cycling Centre at the Olympic
Oval in Calgary. A national team athlete, she raced internationally
for 10 years, and competed in three Olympic Games. She is currently
enrolled in the National Coaching Institute Calgary earning her
level 4/5 certification and diploma in coaching.