Most Influential Women 2015

Women’s Tennis Association (WTA)
Stacey Allaster

Stacey Allaster, whose stellar contribution to women’s tennis is recognized globally, has announced her retirement from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) in October 2015. In June at the Canadian Sponsor Forum in conjunction with the FIFA Women’s World Cup Stacey provided a keynote talking about the growth of the WTA & women in sports! The WTA aggressively increased revenue under Allaster’s direction, helping boost the tour’s pool of prize money to an all-time high of $129 million this year. Allaster is also one of very few women at the senior executive level of international sport, and as she leaves the WTA she says there is still a lot to accomplish. In addition to her excellence in her career, Allaster has also been a strong advocate for female equity in sport. When asked what she would do with her extra time in retirement, Allaster stated she wanted to give back to future generations, specifically women, as she hopes to teach in a sports marketing/management program. These future generations will be fortunate to learn from Stacey Allaster.


Chief Medical Officer, Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games

Julia AlleyneThe Toronto Pan Am & Parapan Am Games held in 2015 were the first Pan American Games to select a woman as Chief Medical Officer. Dr. Julia Alleyne was responsible for the planning and administration of medical, ambulance and public health services as well as the delivery of the anti-doping program. She was instrumental in the design of medical policies and procedures to ensure that high quality health care was delivered in all villages and venues during both Games. It was her vision, inspiration, and guidance that provided over 2,000 medical and anti-doping professionals with an incredible opportunity to volunteer their services to athletes, coaches, officials, spectators and workforce. Her mandate included the design of a state-of-the-art polyclinic complete with licensed diagnostic imaging, pharmacy, laboratory, emergency room and sport medicine clinics to ensure that the provincial health care services were not depleted. The Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games were a huge success for the athletes, the city of Toronto as well as Canada as a whole, and Dr. Alleyne had a significant impact on that success.
Follow Dr. Julia Alleyne on Twitter @jkalleyne or


Commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL)

2016-Andress_BrendaBrenda Andress has been a game-changing leader in sport since she became the first ever woman to play for a men’s college varsity hockey team. Since then, she has been a strong advocate and role model for women in sport. As the Commissioner for the CWHL, Andress strived for major milestones in 2015. One of the most notable was the partnership she forged between the NHL and the CWHL, which led to the inclusion of women’s hockey in the NHL’s annual Winter Classic game. She also led the initiative to partner with the You Can Play (YCP) project, supporting their mandate to ensure equality for all athletes, coaches, staff and fans without regard to sexual orientation or gender identity. With this partnership, the CWHL will be hosting YCP Games in early 2016, which will be broadcasted nation-wide on Sportsnet, subsequently increasing female athlete representation in the media. Also in 2015, Andress was invited to speak at the Business of Sport event series in Calgary, where she shared her inspirational story of building and raising the profile of professional women’s hockey and in turn, motivating people from all over the country to be leaders.
Follow Brenda Andress on Twitter at @cwhlcommish
Follow the CWHL on Twitter at @TheCWHL


Co-Chair WomenActive-NS, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Kentville

2016-Bedingfield_RachelRachel Bedingfield, Co-Chair of a new provincial organization WomenActive-NS, celebrated their efforts with the launch in November 2015. WomenActive-NS, is driven by their mission to collaborate with other organizations and individuals to advocate for gender equity, and provide education, support, and opportunities for girls and women in sport, physical activity and recreation. The launch of this organization received Canada-wide recognition, and the Minister for the Department of Health and Wellness of Nova Scotia attended the launch addressing the work to be done in the province to increase participation and leadership opportunities for girls and women. Also the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Kentville in Nova Scotia, Bedingfield is passionately involved in promoting physical activity and sport, with a special focus on vulnerable populations. In 2015, she led several initiatives addressing gender equity in recreation and physical activity, including providing free fitness passes to women living in a transition house, and having female change rooms installed in rinks.
Follow Rachel Bedingfield on Twitter at@RachelBedingfi1
Follow WomenActive-NS on Twitter at @WomenActiveNS


Chairman Emeritus, Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, Controlling Shareholder, Canadian Tire Corporation


Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities is a national organization which helps families in need access sport and organized physical activities for their children.This year, the charity celebrated its 10 year anniversary and the remarkable achievement of helping one million children participate in organized sport and physical activity. Much of Jumpstart’s success can be attributed to Martha Billes, Chairman Emeritus of Jumpstart Charities, whose vision and stewardship has made Jumpstart one of Canada’s most notable charities. In April 2015, Billes led a roundtable discussion with Canada’s top female athletes on “Keeping Girls in Sport,” generating ideas about what Canadian Tire and Jumpstart can do to encourage more girls to participate and stay in sport. Billes met with Olympic athletes, academics and experts in the field of women in sport, who brought their fresh and unique perspectives to the discussion. In 2015, Jumpstart helped over 206,000 children and hosted 24 Jumpstart Games across Canada, providing over 9,300 children with a fun day to build teamwork skills and interact with others. Employees, community partners, Jumpstart Athlete Ambassadors and Martha Billes herself rallied behind these Games, volunteering their time to helping kids play. As a testament to her long-standing dedication to Jumpstart, Billes was named among Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women of 2015, a prestigious recognition by the Women’s Executive Network. In addition, the Billes Family was recognized with the 2015 Retail Council of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award for their outstanding business success and community service.
Follow Jumpstart on Twitter @ctjumpstart


President and Founder, Fast and Female

2016-Crawford_ChandraChandra Crawford, Olympic Gold Medalist and 3x Olympian in cross country skiing, saw the high number of dropouts and the need for positive reinforcement to close the gap between genders in sport and physical activity. In 2005, before her first Olympics, she founded a not-for-profit organization called Fast and Female, whose mission is to keep girls healthy, happy and active in sports through their teens. In 2015, Fast and Female hosted 50 events across North America, with ambassadors from 25 different sports. The culture and attitudes of the bold organization made a significant impact on the 3000 girls who got the chance to be inspired by amazing athlete role models at these events. Crawford, who retired from her sport in 2014, has made a big impact in the community with her unrelenting positivity and drive for social change. She was awarded the 2015 Students’ Union not-for-profit Executive Learning Scholarship at University of Calgary, where she is graduating with her MBA in 2016.
Follow Chandra Crawford on Twitter at @ChandraCrawford
Follow Fast and Female on Twitter at @FastandFemale


Chief Organizer, Conversation 2015 Women and Sport

2016-Demers_GuylaineGuylaine Demers has been recognized provincially, nationally and internationally for her accomplishments and work on equity in sport for women. She was the Chief Organizer for Conversation 2015, a symposium held in Québec City, dedicated to fostering solutions to bettering the experiences of girls and women in the Canadian sport system. Demers also was a key expert in the “Play Fair” documentary released on TV in July 2015. The documentary explores the state of women’s rights in elite and community sport, and delved in to the state of those rights on the playing field as well as in the boardroom to investigate what the future holds for girls and women in sport. The Professor at the Department of Physical Education at Laval University has also spearheaded impressive work around eradicating homophobia in sport. Demers is president of Egale Action, the Quebec association for the advancement of women and sport as well as a Board member of Institut National du Sport (INS) du Québec.


Pan American Games Assistant Chef de Mission


Waneek Horn-Miller, former co-captain of Canada’s water polo team and Olympian, was Team Canada’s Assistant Chef de Mission at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. As one of Canada’s most influential First Nation Olympic athletes, Horn-Miller led an initiative for the Games, where she gifted a Mohawk talisman for every single Canadian athlete competing. The gift was a special leather pouch, containing tobacco. Mohawk warriors would wear tobacco pouches as a reminder of the strength they possessed. An incredible and generous sentiment, Horn-Miller spoke to the athletes of her own success and strength to overcome obstacles to get to where she is today. She is a long-time advocate for young men and women’s involvement in sport and physical activity, and continues to promote it as a tool that goes above and beyond to help prevent suicide, relieve stress, and develop skills and future leaders.
Follow Waneek Horn-Miller on Twitter at @waneekhm


Olympian, Athlete Ambassador for Canada’s Dairy Farmers: Fuelling Women Champions initiative

2016-Humphries_KaillieKaillie Humphries, whose tremendous athletic ability has won her two Olympic gold medals in 2010 and 2014, has taken on a new challenge in 2015. She competed in the four-man bobsled competition, making her the first woman to compete in the men’s event at the World Championship level, as well as on the World Cup circuit. While this only emphasizes her dedication to the sport and her raw talent, Humphries stated that competing in this event was not about “women vs. men” – she is adamant that this should be a women’s event as well. Further to her athletic contributions, at a 2015 Fast and Female event, she shared her story about being bullied in her teen years, and how sport helped her get through this. In a new initiative – Canada’s Dairy Farmers: Fuelling Women Champions – Humphries is an athlete ambassador, encouraging women to succeed and advance in sport, while encouraging a healthy and active lifestyle.
Follow Kaillie Humphries on Twitter at @BobsledKaillie


President and CEO, Canada Games Council

2016-Hylland_SueSue Hylland is in her 14th year as the President and CEO of the Canada Games Council. With the Council, Hylland is responsible for the overall management of the Canada Games movement, managing stakeholders and partners and overseeing the Council’s essential role in advising 4-6 individual Host Societies annually to establish new best practices for future Games. Leading into the 2015 year, the official launch of the 2015 Canada Games Torch Relay held on Parliament Hill partnered with His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, the Governor General of Canada, to unveil the Year of Sport proclamation and brought in vast exposure for the Canada Games and Canadian sport. In February 2015 the 25th edition of the Canada Games had an economic impact of $123 million, recognition through numerous awards, and left many lasting legacies for sport in the community and Northern BC due in no small part to the strategic leadership and partnership provided and promoted by Hylland. Over her 33 year career in sport, Hylland is a strong advocate for providing equal opportunity for women and men at the Canada Games Council, as well as within the Canada Games themselves and as a true professional, Hylland has earned the admiration and respect of her colleagues and peers.
Follow Canada Games on Twitter @CanadaGames


CEO, Coaching Association of Canada

2016-Lafreniere_LorraineUnder the leadership of CEO Lorraine Lafrenière, the Coaching Association of Canada (CAC) has become a champion of the newly created Responsible Coaching Movement, in partnership with the Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport. Lorraine made it a priority in 2015 to work with the Canadian sport community to create the Responsible Coaching Movement, a collaboration of all National Sport Organizations and Provincial Territorial Coaching Representatives, which will annually identify priorities for adoption of sustainable standards of ethics and respect in sport. In 2015, Canada’s National Sport Organizations came together in this inaugural initiative to create collective standards, as a first priority to enhance the protection of youth and youth at risk through Responsible Coaching.   In addition, Lorraine has been the driving force in focusing the National Coaching Certification Program (NCCP) partners to complete significant changes to Canada’s coaching education system.  This past year, the CAC also hosted a very successful Petro-Canada Sport Leadership sportif conference, Canada’s sport conference for coaches, researchers, executives, and administrators. Lorraine’s vision for the conference was to encourage and challenge delegates to consider the future potential for Canada as a leading sport nation and to challenge each delegate to consider their own piece to play in shaping, building, and realizing that potential. A leading voice, Lafrenière has helped drive the strategic development of sport since the beginning of her career and continues to move forward a Canadian sport system that is safe, equitable, and driven by excellence.
Follow Lorraine Lafrenière on Twitter at @ltlafreniere
Follow CAC at @CAC_ACE #NCCP


COO, Vancouver Whitecaps

2016-Lewis_RachelVancouver Whitecaps Football Club has become one of the MLS’s best attended franchises under the leadership of COO Rachel Lewis. In 2015, Whitecaps FC fielded a second development team in the USL, earned their spot in the CONCACAF Champions League for the first time, and sold-out attendance at BC Place 12 times. Lewis, is currently the only female C-suite executive on any of Vancouver’s professional sports teams, including football, hockey and soccer. She is an excellent role model for girls and women in sport, and she has been recognized provincially and nationally for her success. In addition to being such a successful professional in sport, she also has a strong commitment to volunteerism. She is currently on the Board of Directors for Covenant House, an organization dedicated to helping homeless youth.
Follow Vancouver Whitecaps FC on Twitter at @WhitecapsFC


Vice President, UANA, IOC Medical Commission Member-Games Group

2016-Mountjoy_MargoMargo Mountjoy is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Medical Commission-Games Group, the Executive Board Member and Chair of the FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation) Sports Medicine Committee, and is a member of the World Anti-Doping Agency’s TUE (Therapeutic Use Exemption) Committee. She is a highly respected leader, and as such, was named as the new Vice President of UANA (Union Americana de Natacion) in 2015. Dr. Mountjoy continued her work detailing the importance of athlete protection against harassment and abuse in sport at many conferences/meetings including the VISTA 2015 conference, an International Paralympic Committee event and Canadian Olympic Committee session meeting. She chaired the IOC Expert Working Group on this topic, which will produce a Consensus Statement to be published in 2016. Dr. Mountjoy has extensive experience in sport leadership, and her vision for the future is to ensure collaboration and development of all sports at the grass roots level.
Follow Dr. Margo Mountjoy on Twitter at @margomountjoy


President and CEO of Tennis Canada

2016-Murumets_KellyThe President and CEO of Tennis Canada, Kelly Murumets, has had a tremendous first year with the organization. When she arrived at Tennis Canada, there was only one female executive sitting on the senior management team. Under her leadership and direction, there are now three. In 2015, Murumets led the organization to a record-breaking year in revenue, including ticket sales for the Rogers Cup events, as well as a five-year renewal of event title sponsor Rogers, and a broadcast rights deal with Sportsnet! In addition to these accomplishments, Murumets was also appointed to two key advisory committees in the past year. She was selected to be on the WTA tournament council, where she sits as the Premier level representative for the Americas on WTA tournament-related business. An avid skier, golfer and hiker, Murumets is also a strong advocate of physical activity for children and youth.
Follow Tennis Canada on Twitter at @TennisCanada


President and CEO of Canada Basketball, First Vice-President of FIBA Americas

2016-O'Keefe_Michele2015 has been an impressive year for Michele O’Keefe to say the least. After an impressive tenure as the Executive Director of Canada Basketball, O’Keefe was named the new President and CEO of the organization in April. She is a member of the FIBA Central Board and the first Vice President of FIBA Americas. Her expertise in the sport is highly valued, as her global recognition suggests. O’Keefe was integral in securing the 2015 FIBA Americas Women’s Championship in Edmonton, where team Canada won the gold medal, securing their spot for the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. This gold medal came on the heels of the women’s team gold medal win at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto, where the men’s team also secured a silver medal. 2015 was arguably Canada Basketball’s most successful year, stemming from the leadership of its new President and CEO.
Follow Michele O’Keefe on Twitter at @mokeefe64


CEO of Canadian Paralympic Committee

2016ONeil_KarenThe Canadian Paralympic movement continued to advance this year under the leadership of Karen O’Neill, CEO of the Canadian Paralympic Committee, with sustained focus and work towards becoming a world-leading Paralympic nation. The organization’s balanced agenda targets sustainable growth in high performance sport, system development and Games operations, along with increasing awareness of the Paralympic brand through marketing and communications, and enhancing revenue through partnerships. Throughout 2015 the CPC focused on building strong service and support to its sport members leading up to the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games, in order to facilitate optimal performance at the Games. In Toronto, Canada had its best-ever performance at a Parapan American Games, finishing second in the total medal count. Working with CPC members and partners, O’Neill and her team also led the implementation of new initiatives targeting athlete identification, enhanced training environments and coaching support, as well as programs to help more people with a disability to get involved in sport. Central to O’Neill’s leadership is the building and support of key partnerships, which in turn help support and coordinate collaboration at the national and provincial levels.
Follow the CPC on Twitter at @CDNParalympics (English) and @CDNParalympique (French)


Captain, Canadian Women’s Soccer team

2016-Sinclair_ChristineChristine Sinclair, the best soccer player Canada has ever produced, has become a household name for all Canadians. In 2015, Sinclair was able to perform on home soil as Canada hosted the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015. She had contributed greatly to promoting this world class event, and it certainly made a difference, as several records were broken during the tournament in terms of attendance at games and television viewing numbers. In December 2015, Sinclair tied another record, this time at the International Tournament of Natal in Brazil, where she tied former US star player Mia Hamm for second place on women’s soccer’s all-time international goals list. An incredible role model for young girls and women, Sinclair exemplifies modesty in interviews and always shines the spotlight on her teammates and coaches; a true sportsperson.
Follow Christine Sinclair on Twitter at @sincy12


President, Canadian Olympic Committee (COC)

2015-Smith-TriciaCOCTricia Smith has served in the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) in various capacities for nearly 30 years. She was elected as one of the two COC Vice-Presidents in 2009, and in November 2015, she was elected as the President of the COC. Smith vows to help spearhead change for the betterment of the Olympic movement in Canada, as well as institute changes to ensure a safe environment for the athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers, and all those in the Olympic family. A former Olympian and silver medallist in rowing, Smith is also Vice-President of FISA (Fédération Internationale des Sociétés d’Aviron), the governing body for the sport of rowing. She is also a lawyer, and is on the Board of Directors at the International Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Follow the COC on Twitter at @TeamCanada


Member, IOC Athletes’ Commission, Board member, Own the Podium

2016-Wickenheiser_HayleyHayley Wickenheiser, regarded as one of the best female hockey players in the world, is also an award winner, community leader and mentor in the sport and physical activity community. She has been a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission since 2014, and in 2015 she was also appointed to the IOC Medical, and Medical and Scientific Commissions along with the Own the Podium Board here in Canada. Wickenheiser spearheads a project every year, the Canadian Tire Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival, or “Wick Fest”, where all proceeds go towards Right to Play and JumpStart; both organizations that ensure kids from around the world have the opportunity to participate in sport. After suffering a season ending injury in early 2015 and unfortunately missing the World Championships, Wickenheiser is battling back, making strong strides back on the ice, and is planning to compete in the upcoming 2016 season.
Follow Hayley Wickenheiser on Twitter at @wick_22


Premier of Ontario

2016-Wynne_KathleenOntario Premier Kathleen Wynne played an integral role in ensuring that the 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games were the best Games ever. The Toronto-based Games featured outstanding performances from Canadian athletes and created a tremendous legacy to benefit Canadian sport, including 25 new and renovated sport facilities. The Games also helped to create over 26,000 jobs and helped develop the largest peacetime volunteer team in Canadian history. An avid runner, Premier Wynne strongly advocates the Ontario Government’s Sport Plan — Game ON — to ensure that children from diverse backgrounds and abilities have the opportunity to lead healthy active lives, develop new skills, and learn lessons that will support them in every aspect of life. Game ON has identified three priorities for amateur sport — participation, development and excellence. In the first year of its implementation, Game ON will explore opportunities to advance the participation of women and girls in sport.
Follow Kathleen Wynne on Twitter @Kathleen_Wynne


Ones to Watch
Each year, CAAWS also highlights the names of women who are emerging as leaders. These game-changers are making a difference in sport and physical activity. There are more great things to come from these strong individuals.


2016-Buchanan_KadeishaKADEISHA BUCHANAN (Toronto, ON) is a member of the Canadian National Soccer team, and competed in both the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015, and the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. At the World Cup, she was awarded the Hyundai Best Young Player award, and was the lone Canadian on the tournament all-star squad. She was one of 10 shortlisted for the 2015 Ballon D’Or, which honours the World women’s player of the year. The 20-year-old Buchanan was also voted the BMO Canadian Female Player of the Year in December 2015.


2016-Gollish_SashaPhD Engineering candidate and track athlete at University of Toronto SASHA GOLLISH (Toronto, ON) was named a 2015 Academic All Canadian Student-Athlete, a prestigious award, presented to her by the Governor General. Gollish also won the bronze medal in the 1500m at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games. While juggling academics and athletics, Gollish still finds time to give back to the community, and has recently volunteered with Fast and Female in support of encouraging young girls and women of the positive impact of sport and physical activity. She is also on the Board of Directors for Morning Glory Cycling Club as the Safety and Advocacy Director.


2016-Henderson_BrookeBROOKE HENDERSON (Smiths Falls, ON) earned her LGPA card at age 17 after winning at the Cambria Portland Classic. Currently 18 years old, she sits at number 18 in the world, and should be a lock to compete in the Rio 2016 Summer Olympic Games. In October 2015, Henderson has been active in numerous charity/fundraising events, including one to raise money for United Way, as well as a golf tournament in Smiths Falls, ON, her hometown, to raise money for both Lanark County Support Services, and funding for her good friend who had suffered a serious spinal cord injury in a hockey game. Henderson was also named the 2015 Canadian Press female athlete of the year.


2016-Nurse_Kia2015 was KIA NURSE’s (Hamilton, ON) breakout year. Nurse’s stellar season began in the NCAA, winning the 2014-2015 NCAA Championship with her Connecticut Huskies and being named American Athletic Conference’s Freshman of the Year. Channeling those victories, she helped the Canadian Women’s National Team to their best finish ever – winning back-to-back gold medals on home soil. First, at the Toronto 2015 Pan American games, Nurse scored 33 points in the gold medal game versus the USA. Following this triumph, Nurse was named as Canada’s closing ceremonies flag bearer. After succeeding at the Pan American Games, Nurse and Team Canada competed at the FIBA Americas in Edmonton. Nurse and Team Canada once again captured the gold medal, while securing a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nurse, one of the youngest athletes in the tournament, was named the tournament’s MVP.


2016-Rivard_AurelieAURÉLIE RIVARD (Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, QC) debuted at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London, and has since been a strong leader in aquatics. The swimmer won a total of seven medals at the Toronto 2015 Parapan Am Games; six gold and one silver. She was also named the Para-swimmer of the Year (2015) by Swimming Canada. This award came right after she became a double world champion, and set a world record in the S10 100-metre freestyle.


 CAAWS Wall of Influence