YWiB TO Holiday Contest is ON now!


Hey, check it out…
YWiB’s Toronto’s
Holiday Contest

Is on Now!

Yep, you heard right. Grab your gal pals, and start planning your weekend getaway because now you’ll have the one thing you were missing: a super stylish carry-on luggage!

Whether you and your girlfriends want to hit the slopes in Whistler, check out Montreal for a fun-filled weekend, or take off to sunnier weather to escape the Winter blues, we got your luggage needs covered. Enter our Holiday Contest and stand a chance to win your very own cool carry-on luggage!

All you need to do to enter is to follow these simple steps:

  1. Follow YWiB Toronto on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram

  2. Subscribe to the YWiB TO newsletter

  3. Like the Holiday Contest post on Instagram

  4. Tag a friend and leave a comment on the Instagram Holiday Post about where you would like to travel this holiday season and why

  5. Answer all the questions on InstaStories through this week

That’s it! Easy Peasy!

Pack all the essentials in your new carry on suitcase! (photography for illustration purposes only; contents not included)

Pack all the essentials in your new carry on suitcase! (photography for illustration purposes only; contents not included)

So, don’t delay - hurry up and participate, and spread the word among your girlfriends!

Contest ends at midnight on December 8th. For Terms & Conditions, check out our Facebook notes or go through the link in our Instagram Profile Bio.

Fashion meets Philanthropy: Bringing Education to Children in Pakistan


If you’ve attended one of our Networking Nights recently, you’ve probably met Sindhu Jawed, either in person or heard her pitch to a room full of women. Never one to back away from an opportunity to discuss her current project Jarsss, which is launching this weekend at the Liberty Village Holiday Market, we here at the YWiB community thought it would be a perfect time to shine a spotlight on one of our amazing members. Not only is she a philanthropist, but shes an all around BOSS, but she is creating change that is having an impact in both Canada and Pakistan.

What exactly is Jarsss?

Jarsss is a lifestyle brand, it’s a company, and its a story. At Jarsss we specialize in creating affordable leather goods that are socially impactful. Our products are designed in Canada and produced in Pakistan.  Our social impact begins when you purchase one of our leather goods because we utilize our profits to fund the education of underprivileged children in Pakistan. With Jarsss, you are not just carrying a quality product, you are part of our story.

How have your life experiences led to the creation of Jarsss?

Jarsss has spun out of my other social impact projects and it's now my main focus. At the age of 17, I started a non-for-profit in Pakistan as a result of my own hurdles with access to education. At that time, I had been self-teaching for a few years and began Asro which focuses on making education accessible to students who either can’t afford to go to school or who live in areas where safety is an issue.

From my work in the social sector, I was able to secure a full scholarship to attend university in Canada whereas before this, I was not sure if I was going to pursue further education at all. This experience taught me the value of education and how some opportunities can be life-changing.

With the continued commitment and efforts of the team, today, Asro is 7 years old, has a running and operations team in Pakistan and this year alone it has sponsored 50 students to go to school. However, finding sustainable funding models for non-profits is a common organizational resiliency strategy. To be able to continue this work, which has created a difference in the life of many, I decided to found Jarsss. Pakistan is a world-leading producer of fine leather, so by combining my country’s common export, my philanthropic mission and my passion for good design,  Jarsss is creating products that are functional and tied to the community. While at the same time the profits are impacting and driving social and financial change.

How have you been able to combine your profession and passion for philanthropy? 

My current professional role is Community & Operations Associate at Venture for Canada. I believe that VFC is an organization that lives and breathes impact. I’m grateful to be a part of an organization that has the mission to foster entrepreneurship in Canada for a more inclusive, diverse and innovative country. I have been able to combine my passion for social impact by working closely with program beneficiaries as our programs, training, and community development projects strive towards fostering entrepreneurship in Canada. I work closely in facilitating opportunities and generating content for entrepreneurs and young Canadians who want to make an impact on the future of work and business. I have the opportunity to work closely with folks who see my vision and support my efforts.

Having said that, it is unrealistic to say that managing a full-time job and a side hustle is easy. Since I have a supportive team both at VFC and at Jarsss, I have been able to manage both successfully.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with launching Jarsss? 

From picking the right manufacturer to making sure the quality of the material is top notch, every stage of the production process to the export process has presented its own challenge. One of the challenges that I’ve encountered was making the assumption that all the products that we’ve designed and sent for production matched the quality standards we had set for our brand.  Having failed to test the products ourselves, we lost time and investment in products that did not function as desired. This, of course, is the result of other challenges including working in different time zones and having hard timelines.

That being said, this challenge was an oversight and we take each challenge as an opportunity to learn. After this experience, we’ve adjusted our production line and process, allocated at least 2 weeks to test our products for functionality, to then make notes and suggestions for improvements before launching into the manufacturing of the final product. The drill is to make, fail, learn and repeat.

How do you see Jarsss growing in the future?

My goal is that Jarsss will become recognized as a brand equally for its design and quality, as well as its drive to support social missions. Jarsss will stay true to its design vision but will continue to grow with its global impact as the plan is that it serves as a sustainable revenue source for other causes.

What are you currently working on?  

This week, I’m preparing for the official launch of Jarsss. It’s a really exciting time as this is the final stage of the conceptualization, design, and execution of the idea! For the very first time ever, Jarsss products will be available for purchase at the Liberty Village Holiday Market located at 99 Sudbury St. on Sunday December 2nd.

How has the YWiB community helped you?

The YWiB community has helped me in countless ways. One fun fact is that the first time I pitched Jarsss, it was at the networking event in front of 50 women who are part of this community.  Everyone was so supportive and encouraging.

I joined YWiB when I was in school in Vancouver and not only did I find an incredible group of supporters but I also got connected to very smart, driven and ambitious women in the industry I wanted to break into. I particularly enjoy the monthly networking events and workshops focused on different topics.

If you are looking for a community of like-minded and driven women, I’d strongly encourage you to join YWiB, the team is welcoming and strives hard to provide you with resources that can help you grow both personally and professionally.

 What advice would you give other women looking to start a philanthropic project?

It’s magical to create something that shapes other people’s lives. I encourage everyone to take an initiative and hustle hard. The key is to surround yourself with people who can support, mentor and encourage you to push your boundaries. The only reason I have been able to come this far is for all the people who have consistently supported me in this journey.

I’m happy to connect with anyone curious to learn about my journey or Jarsss, shoot me an email at sindhu@jarsss.ca and we can grab a coffee!

About Sindhu

Sindhu is a recent graduate from the University of British Columbia with a degree in Economics, Business, and Philosophy, where she studied on a full scholarship.  Currently, she works as a Community & Operations Associate at Venture for Canada.

At the age of 17,  Sindhu started a Non-Profit focused on making education accessible to children from underprivileged backgrounds in Pakistan. Today, the organization is 7 years old and this year alone has sponsored 50 students to attend primary school.

Sindhu is also a member of Global Shapers, an initiative of World Economic Forum and was featured in Rich Thinking, the eighth global study in the Rich Thinking series about Smart women and risk-taking.

She loves to travel, talk about entrepreneurship, and is passionate about building communities.

As part of the launch Jarsss is offering YWiB members and exclusive discount on items purchased at the Holiday Market. Just follow Jarss on instagram @jarsss.ca

For tickets to the Holiday Market click here

November Networking Event Recap

Last night’s event was exactly what I had hoped it to be. Passionate young women connecting with each other and broadening their networks. I recently joined the volunteer team here at YWiB Toronto as an Events Coordinator. I had been looking for ways to network and find women who were equally as passionate as I was about helping young women navigate the business world.

Guests gathered around lindsay johnson, our keynote speaker for the evening.

Guests gathered around lindsay johnson, our keynote speaker for the evening.

Our November Networking Event hosted around 50 young, bright women. We gathered at The Citizen, a great casual space for working professionals to connect located right off King West. The venue had plenty of room to accommodate standing conversions and had bonus couch sections for more intimate one-on-one talks.

As someone who is always on time (or usually too early, let’s be honest!,) I appreciated that many YWiB members were ready to meet and mingle with the first few guests who arrived. There is nothing worse than showing up at a networking event to find that there is no one to talk to for the first 15 minutes! As everyone started arriving, guests were encouraged to mix and mingle with others. The conversations I had with some of the attendees were amazing and really broadened my understanding of business. I work in the music industry but enjoyed that I was able to get to know passionate women from different industries across the city.

After 45 minutes, Sandra Riano, President of the Toronto Chapter introduced our keynote speaker, Lindsay Johnson. Lindsay teaches first-time entrepreneurs everything they need to know about building their business from the ground up. Thanks to a technical difficulty, what was supposed to be a speech about how to become a client magnet, turned into two intimate sessions catered towards two groups of women: first-time entrepreneurs, and young professionals. Lindsay was able to interact with us and answer our questions about how best to go about networking, starting a business, etc. This intimate setting ended up being one of my favourite parts of the evening. The opportunity to be in a small group with a leader like Lindsay was so insightful.

As the final part of the evening started, guests were asked to split into three groups to network further. Everyone around me seemed to be having compelling and eye-opening conversations with one another. During this time, Sandra did three giveaways from a couple of YWiB’s loyal supporters. A big thank you goes out to Tangerine Bank and Shoppers Drug Mart!

Ywib toronto team at the november networking event

Ywib toronto team at the november networking event

Reflecting on my first YWiB event, I am impressed by the group of women I was surrounded with. If you are looking to find women who will help lift you up, or who are facing similar challenges as you are, or who simply want to widen their network and make connections, then you’ve found the perfect organization to help you do so.

Hope to see you at our next event!

Meet Lindsay Johnson: The Radical Connector

With our November networking night just a few days away, we would like to introduce our YWiB community to our keynote speaker: Lindsay Johnson from The Radical Connector. Lindsay has made it a point in her career to help others build their business, and at our networking night this Thursday, she will be teaching those in attendance how to Become a Client Magnet in 3 Easy Steps. But until then, we hope you enjoy learning more about Lindsay and the amazing work she is doing.

What exactly is the radical connector?

The Radical Connector is a company that’s dedicated to teaching entrepreneurs how to grow their businesses and themselves! On the surface The Radical Connector is a business development company here to teach entrepreneurs the skills and strategies to build their businesses and make money with their perfect clients. Under the surface however, this radical biz is all about connecting folks to a deeper sense of self-acceptance and self-love for a richer life and more fulfilling business.

What made you want to build a business like this?

I’ve spent my entire life surrounded by entrepreneurs and I’ve seen the high times and the low. I’ve witnessed the toll that stress from running a business can take on an entrepreneur as well as the wasted time and money spent on working harder and harder (and harder) on something that isn’t growing. I started The Radical Connector because I wanted to teach first-time entrepreneurs “how” to grow their businesses effectively while connecting to their own inner biz badass so that they can build their business their way based on what has value to them.

One of the key elements I’ve gotten from your site is the idea of combining business development with personal growth. Why do you think this is approach is best when building a business?

Your business will only grow as much as you do. When we are building a business from scratch we are pulling a vision from deep within ourselves and bringing it out to the world. This process also brings all sorts of deep-seated gremlins out to play. Impostor Syndrome, self-doubt, self-sabotage and all of the negative stories running through our heads and keeping us up at night take over our headspace really quickly. Entrepreneurship brings the gift of self-awareness and growth, if we embrace it. Working on yourself will help your businesses grow so much faster.

How have you seen businesses fall short in this respect?

I’ve watched entrepreneurs work really hard to build businesses that are not aligned with what they really want to be doing. I think this plays into a weird shame or guilt a lot of folks feel around doing what they really want instead of what they think they “should” do based on what they “can” do or what will be the most profitable. I’ve also seen so many businesses compromise and take on clients or projects they don’t want to do or even accept abusive treatment from others for the sake of building their business. I’ve watched as entrepreneurs ignored red flags in partnerships, collaborations, and with clients or customers that almost always burn them in the end. But mostly, I’ve just watched entrepreneurs become unhappy and live with constant stress, disconnected from their own joy and fulfillment in their biz. When we don’t do our own internal work, it affects our business’s trajectory and the activities we do to make it grow

How has the radical connector helped you in your own journey through personal growth?

I’ve had to face all of the same gremlins that any entrepreneur does. I’ve had to overcome that voice in my head telling me I’m crazy, that I can’t do it, or that nobody cares. The biggest opportunity for growth that has come out of The Radical Connector is recognizing that I can’t do it alone and I am allowed to ask for help. Whether it’s support from family and friends, purchasing a course, or hiring a professional; building a team of supportive superstars who can help my biz grow has been essential. I’ve also learned to listen to my gut and follow my instincts when something lights me up.

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What are some of the challenges you’ve faced while building your business and how did you overcome them?

Money! Or lack thereof. Also, time. Like most self-funded service based entrepreneurs, I didn’t have much funding and I still needed to work full time to pay my bills (which seem never ending in a city as expensive as Toronto). In order to build my business, cover my operating expenses, and still put a roof over my head and food on the table, I had to make a lot of sacrifices for the first few years. I moved into a shared living space with cheap rent. I stopped spending money going out unless it was to networking events, business meetings or something that would put me in front of my ideal clients or collaborators . I stopped spending money on clothes, movies, vacations, etc. I asked family members to help support me financially with small amounts of money per month for two years so I would only have to work a job part time. And I left my full time marketing gig for a job as a nanny (that’s right…a nanny!) so that I could have more time (and less stress) to focus solely on my business. In short, I got creative and did anything and everything I could to focus on my business and grow it the way I wanted, compromise-free.

Was there any support available to you? If not, did you seek out any? What kind(s) of support?

There is not a lot of financial support available to service-based businesses outside of traditional bank loans. In fact, access to funding for service-based businesses owned and operated by women has now become a part of The Radical Connector’s mandate. I’ve seen what women can do with $5000 and the right business support and mentorship. Access to funding and support for women starting service-based businesses is something I’ll be working on in the very near future.

How have you been able to carve your own career path during a time when so many people seem to be taking that career route?

I’ve never been a corporate career woman. There was something very weird to me about picking a career from a piece of paper in high school and then building my entire life around my selection. I had no idea what I wanted to do at that age so I chose to follow my heart and do things that lit me up and excited me. That’s not easy to do when surrounded by super focused friends who are getting, what felt like, a big head-start in their professional lives. It was hard not to compare myself to my peers and feel like I was falling short. There were definitely times I wish I knew what it was I wanted to do with my life; it certainly would have made my life easier. But I didn’t want to sell myself out for financial security or to fit in with the status quo. I stuck to my guns and worked in various roles, always following what lit me up and leaving things that didn’t fit behind. Eventually I got to the point I am today where I get to do work that fulfills me, makes a difference in the lives of others and serves my greater purpose. I’m so happy I didn’t give up on myself and my dreams.

What role does your personality/personal style play in your do business?

I have been called a ray of sunshine since I was a little girl. To this day, that is one of the first things people say when we first me. Having an optimistic, outgoing, and caring personality definitely plays a role in my business. I’m also super strategic and my brain is always trying to understand how and why things work and how to get from A to B in the most effective and fun way possible. Add to that my open, authentic, and accepting demeanor and it’s clear to folks that they are safe to open up and be real with themselves and me about what they really want out of life and their business. Then it’s my job to help them get there.

How important is it to have a community, either of other entrepreneurs or women in general, in helping to build a business?

Community is EVERYTHING! Entrepreneurship is very different than working in the corporate world and if you don’t have a supportive community of fellow entrepreneurs you will feel lonely and isolated very quickly. Without a community of likeminded folks who are on a similar journey you’ll notice your own creativity and drive dry up. Being in community is essential to your own inspiration, motivation, and sanity! I have several communities around me for both business and my life in general. I tend to get involved with women-identified communities as we face a lot of the same challenges and frustrations…and really we just speak the same language. There’s an ease and depth to the interactions of a group of women-identified folks that allows for authenticity and vulnerability that results in deeper growth and connections. Being part of different communities has led to friendships, business growth, a wealth of resources, and opportunities I would have never had access to if I was trying to do it all alone.

How were you able to find your community?

Lots of networking! I love meeting new people, so that’s an easy one for me. Going out to events that interest me or where I know I’ll meet like-minded folks and then starting a conversation with a new face is how I expand my own community and learn about others. I’m also a member of a few different co-working spaces so that I not only get out of the house (just say no to isolation) but I’m also constantly meeting new and fabulous people. And finally, I’m a member of several Facebook groups, including my own called Rad Connectors. Facebook groups give me 24/7 access to support, resources, and fun conversations around the world.

What are some of the projects you are currently working on?

I have just launched a beta version of a new online program called, Irresistible Entrepreneurs Academy. It’s an 8-week virtual program that teaches entrepreneurs exactly what to do to build their businesses with their perfect clients. I’m really excited about this program because it will cut through so much confusion and overwhelm many first-time entrepreneurs experience and get them attracting the best clients and making money, fast!

Is there anything else you would like to add?

Entrepreneurship is a personal growth goldmine. You’ll develop patience, persistence, and resilience along with a deeper connection to yourself. Radical self-acceptance and trusting your gut will propel your business forward. And if you get stuck come connect with our kickass community of entrepreneurs in my Facebook group, Rad Connectors, where we support your entrepreneurial journey inside and out!


Lindsay has over 14 years of experience in the world of business development and community building. Born into a long line of business owners and pioneers, she is no stranger to the world of entrepreneurship. She started her first business, a neighbourhood babysitting collective, at 14 and hasn’t looked back. Never one for the corporate world, Lindsay has dedicated her life to learning the art of sales, marketing, community building and business development.

Whether running the show in her family’s businesses or consulting with small businesses on how to: connect to their target market; create high-demand products and services; strengthen their reputation and build a loyal community; or simply develop and train teams on how to become stronger in sales, Lindsay has a knack for electrifying businesses and bringing them to life!

However, Lindsay knew that entrepreneurship wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. She’s watched as folks have worked themselves to the point of exhaustion and burnout, wasting years and thousands of dollars struggling to understand how to build their businesses.

Lindsay’s passion for speeding up the learning process and cracking the code for rapid growth inspired her to create, The Radical Connector, in 2013. Now, she spends her time teaching first-time entrepreneurs how to build their businesses from the ground up. She has rolled her vast experience into a powerful system for faster growth and unshakable confidence 

Beyond Lindsay’s business coaching she also: travels between BC and ON supporting her thriving entrepreneurial community, Rad Connectors; speaks around North America on topics related to business development and radical self-acceptance; facilitates the Radical Biz Retreat twice a year; and is the Vice President of the Ontario Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce where she supports sustainable growth and business development programming for LGBTQ+ business owners.

Lindsay will help you get crystal clear on your deeper purpose and big, bold business vision and then teach you how to bring it to life!

If you would like to learn more about Lindsay and The Radical Connector checkout these links:

Rad Connectors Facebook Group

Irresistible Entrepreneurs Academy

Facebook and Instagram: @radicallinds

Meet Our Advisory Committee Members

YWiB Toronto would like to formally introduce you to our Advisory Committee Members. The advisory committee members will help us ensure that YWiB programs and initiatives are current and relevant to the communities we serve. We are excited to have these exceptional women as part of YWiB’s advisory committee members. Welcome ladies!

Diviya Lewis

Diviya was part of YWiB Toronto back in 2016. She was a speaker at the YWiB Toronto launch Conference that year and then joined the organization as the Director of Community Engagement. She then supported the former President as co-President, and now is proud to join the Board of Advisors. As a woman who has been in both industry and as an entrepreneur, her values align with YWiB’s and she is excited to support the growth of the organization. She hopes to advocate for mental wellness of women in Toronto, and share insights from her diverse background with the team.

Diviya Lewis, is a Mental Health Therapist, Founder of Choose Gratitude & LIFO® accredited workshop trainer/facilitator. She provides individual, couple and group therapy in Toronto in the Bloor West area of the city. A former researcher, she strives to connect the insights found in the field of psychology and psychotherapy with interactive and relevant exercises, and she conducts lunch'n'learns, psycho-educational workshops (for a range of industries including tech, financial, entrepreneurs, non-profits, etc.), and has spoken at various Conferences (i.e. Conference Board of Canada Workplace Mental Health Conference, Young Women in Business Conference) on wellness, resilience, and positive psychology.

Choose Gratitude strives to bring the insights from the field of positive organizational psychology to workplaces and organization through presentations & workshops. Choose Gratitude uses an evidence-based approach, disseminating research of the various factors that improve our well-being and happiness. Presentations and workshops are informative and interactive, tailored to unique challenges of today, and typically include both psychoeducation, discussion as well as a hands-on practical opportunity for practice of tools shared.

Project Gratitude is her latest passion project. Project Gratitude is a documentary web-series, which takes the form of round-table discussions on the topic of appreciation, and how it manifests within our personal, as well as professional lives. This initiative focuses on obtaining perspectives from a wide range (i.e. gender, age, industry, role, sexual orientation, religious views, attitudes towards gratitude) of individuals within the city of Toronto. The purpose of this web-series will be to dig deeper about issues that millennials face in our rapidly changing society (e.g. our fears, ingrained beliefs, challenges in relationships, social media landscape), and what role (if any) gratitude has in the lives of Torontonians.

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Catherine Vendryes

We are pleased to have another previous YWiB member as a part of our advisory committee, Catherine Vendryes. She served as the Vice President, Community & People for Young Women in Business Toronto. Catherine is a storyteller. With a background in digital communications and literature, her focus is on translating brand messages into artful communications to capture audiences' imaginations. She currently works as the Marketing & Communications Specialist at Munich Re, Canada (Life) and in her spare time organizes zine workshops. Her passions are community building, storytelling, and arts programming.


Rachel Kelly

Rachel’s first “real” job was a typical 9-5 desk gig where she would spend most days daydreaming how she would redesign the office and where her next adventure would be. When the reality of freelancing with an unstable paycheque hit her hard, she decided to make some lemonade. She spent a year researching coworking, studying the market, searching for an office space, battling renovation nightmares, 'till she was finally able to open her very own coworking space, Make Lemonade. Now she's on a mission to make sure women-identified entrepreneurs are connected with the resources to make their own lemonade.

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Chanèle McFarlane

Chanèle McFarlane is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Do Well Dress Well, a career lifestyle website for women. The site provides valuable content on topics such as personal branding, networking, conferences, style and career development. Chanèle also leads Confidence Through Conferences, a non-profit initiative created to get more diverse women into conferences and networking events by minimizing the financial barrier. Through this work, Chanèle has become a sought-after conference consultant for her expertise in developing unique programming and curating diverse speakers. With her experience in developing compelling personal and corporate content, Chanèle is also a member of Humber College's Professional Advisory Committee for their Content Strategy program. Chanèle is a passionate freelance writer and speaker and has been recognized as one of PR in Canada’s Top 30 Under 30, one of the Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada and one of the Top 25 Women of Influence.

Chanèle says The most exciting thing about being a part of YWiB's advisory committee is that “I'll get to play an important role in creating professional development opportunities for young professional women in Toronto. I truly believe that the women in our city have incredible potential to become global leaders and with the right programs and networks - they'll achieve it!”


Niduk D’souza

Niduk D’souza has been a nonprofit leader and advocate for over 17 years. From working at the grassroots with small community organization across Africa and Asia to large donor organizations in the UK and North America, Niduk has helped hundreds of nonprofits raise more money, think strategically and implement their programs effectively. In 2006, Niduk helped to build Kenya’s first free children’s library - Nguuni Children’s Education Centre. Over a decade later, over 100,000 children have read, studied and played here.

In 2018, she launched her latest social business, Impact With Intention, an online educational platform for nonprofit leaders. Taking her years of experience teaching and practice in the field of helping nonprofits both online and in-person she has designed this educational and learning resource for small nonprofit changemakers and leaders to strengthen their capacity across 4 pillars: Governance; Fundraising & Communications; Project Management and; Monitoring & Evaluation.

Niduk has also recently joined the leadership team at UP Fundraising, where she is leading a new division focused on fundraising strategy and stewardship.

Previously, Niduk founded and ran an international development consulting practice working global across all major development focus areas. In 2018, her practice was acquired by PGM Africa. She has also served on the boards of a number of nonprofits from development charities such as The Haller Foundation, Livingstone Tanzania Trust to arts based nonprofits such as The Red Betty Theatre.

Earning the Max Rotman Humanitarian Award, Niduk is also recognized as a community influencer for visible minorities and women by the Canadian Armed Forces.

Niduk holds a Bachelor of Arts specializing in Industrial Relations from McMaster University. She conducted a review of minimum wage policy in Ontario for the Ministry of Labour. She continued further academic work in worker’s rights, economics and law, at the London School of Economics and Political Science earning a Masters in (Economics) International Management and a Masters in Research Methodology and Statistics at Middlesex University while pursuing her doctoral research. Most recently she completed a case study on Coal Mining in Mozambique and the Leading of Nonviolent Social Movements at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She has published and presented at numerous conferences.


Rita Houkayem

From Canada’s most cosmopolitan city, Rita is a proud Torontonian but also a spirited global citizen on a mission to positively impact youth and women through her work and activities. With a Master’s degree in International Affairs specializing in International Development Policy, she currently works for the Government of Canada at the Department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development as a Policy Analyst. She focuses on various issues and programs related to Internet governance and Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and works with different international organizations to empower communities and girls in accessing ICTs. She has also been recently nominated as a focal point to ensure that Canadian policies developed in the Department are gender-sensitive and inclusive of all groups of people. Rita had the recent opportunity to work at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris as an international development consultant, providing support in programs and publications on gender equality and comprehensive sexuality education.

Rita’s globetrotting nature, adventurous spirit and polyglot skills (English, French, Arabic and Spanish) have been enriched through her constant encounters with dazzling cultures, remarkable people and astonishing places. While she considers herself a citizen of the world, she is also an active leader in her local communities and has founded a national chapter which seeks to promote her culture and connect her diasporic community together. She is also the United Nations DPI/NGO Representative for her cultural organization and promotes its initiatives at the UN platform in New York.

She is currently a Miss Universe Canada 2018 National Finalist and will be representing Canada internationally in the coming months in Colombia. Through this experience, she has won the Humanitarian Award for successfully engaging her community in raising awareness and funds for SOS Children’s Villages, an international charity she holds very dear to her heart. She is currently an SOS Ambassador and continues to do a lot of advocacy and charity work for orphaned and abandoned children. Her years in pageantry have surrounded her by brilliant-minded women and remarkable opportunities for self-growth. Through her experiences, she has had various opportunities to mentor women and is really looking forward to developing and engaging with the Young Women in Business!

Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has”. With that in mind, Rita hopes to become an influential leader for her community, country and world and believes that she can reach her goals successfully with an army of strong ambitious women by her side. Thrilled to have YWiB be part of that journey!

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Janelle Chalouhi

Janelle Chalouhi has an extensive background in nonprofit management and fundraising consulting across the globe. Currently the Head of Business Development at Communitech, Janelle is responsible for private revenue generation for the organization. Prior to that Janelle was at the University of Waterloo where she was the Director of Principal Gifts responsible for any philanthropic partnerships that exceeded $1 million.

In the years before 2013, Janelle was Assistant Director to the Medical Director at St. George University Medical Center in Beirut, Lebanon. Also in Beirut she was Founder and CEO of her own Fundraising and nonprofit management consulting firm (Addo International Consulting). From 2003 to 2009 Janelle lived in NYC where she was Director of a Capital Campaign at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY and Executive Director of the Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital Foundation in Valhalla NY. Before 2003, Janelle also worked for CCS Fundraising a PR and fundraising firm out of NY where she worked on both the Archdiocese of Washington DC and Boston Campaigns.

A graduate of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts (a private Jesuit University) with a double major in Political Science and Studio Art. A Masters in Business Journalism from Hofstra University.

Born in Chatham Ontario, Janelle and her family are happy to have moved home and now reside in Waterloo Ontario.

Social link: www.linkedin.com/in/janelle-chalouhi-ma-6321895/

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We would like to thank these wonderful women for sharing their insights and expertise with us, and the YWiB Community.
Welcome to our Advisory Committee!

Personal Skills: Public Speaking Workshop Recap

The illusion of transparency is a cognitive bias that causes people to grossly overestimate the degree to which other people can guess their emotional state. Basically, research has show that what it may feel to us as a 10/10 in nervousness level (while your inner dialogue goes into overdrive), it comes across as a 1 or a 2 to our audiences.

For example, the anxiety we feel when we speak to crowds or anyone besides ourselves in the mirror, goes hugely unnoticed to the outside eye. The inner dialogue that goes something like: ‘what will my audience think of me? Do they notice how nervous I am? Do they hear my voice shaking? Oh my god, can they hear my crazy heartbeats? Do they see me sweating? Oh, they can tell, right? That dialogue is barely apparent to anyone, but ourselves.

Shocking, right? I was shocked also. Specially because that inner dialogue is practically me every time I have to speak in public. I know, I know. I’m supposed to be the resident YWiB’s expert in public speaking. After all, as the Toronto Chapter’s president, right? It’s my job to represent our organization during our events. I’ve been doing presentations to small and large audiences for over 10 years, so it should be second nature, right? Unfortunately, that’s far from the truth. I still get the jitters, and nervous energy when I have to speak to a crowd.

One of the things I’ve learned though, is that I’m not alone in feeling this way. Research has shown that this fear of speaking, or glossophobia, is one of our most common human fears. Even worse that fear of dying. Yep, even superstars such as Oprah, Rihanna, Adele and Beyoncé have confessed their fears of public speaking!

What’s more, even after I learned that my nervousness doesn’t translate to how my audiences see me, and that I had pretty good company in the fear department, heh — I was still not 100% comfortable with my public speaking skills.

So when the YWiB team floated the idea of a public speaking workshop, I was on board 100% without hesitation. Yes! I want to learn how to leave the doubts at the door, I want to learn how to stand better, project my voice, and appear like a confident speaker. Yes, I want to be the YWiB Oprah, with the confident delivery, welcoming presence, and easy going style.

After all, at YWiB we know that many public figures have overcome their fear of public speaking by practicing and learning proper techniques. We know our community certainly would benefit from learning how to become public speaking mavens!

Fast forward to Thursday, October 18th, at the Downtown Tangerine Café where our two wonderful facilitators, Jerako Wendt and Roxana Radulescu, delivered two concurrent workshops. Jerako taught us about storytelling and anchoring, and Roxana lead us through using body language to deliver effective presentations. Both of the sessions were practical and interactive. The attendees stretched, practiced, tried the breathing exercises, told stories to each other, and at the end, of the attendees to tell her story to the whole group. It was so encouraging and heartwarming to see all attendees come out of their shells in such a short time!

You can check out Jerako’s and Roxana’s presentations below.

Jerako’s Presentation

Roxana’s Presentation

Also, the YWiB team created a great workbook with resources and links for us to refer to when we’re ready to continue our journey to become master storytellers and public speaking geniuses. Check it out here -> Resources Handbook.

We hope these resources help you in your journey to become a better public speaker. We have included within the workbook places and groups where you can practice your craft, because like Roxana said: ‘Practice makes permanent.’ Our inner dialogue may continue, for sure, but with time it’s just background noise.

As for me, well, what I can say? I learned a lot of wonderful new things, and I’m really looking forward to practicing what I learned. Who knows? I may become the next Oprah. The Latin Canadian version, that is!

Personal Presentation for Success: Jerako Wendt

In less than a week we will be holding our Personal Presentation for Success: A Public Speaking Workshop. Earlier you met one of our facilitators Roxana Radulescu, and now we are happy to introduce our second facilitator: Jerako Wendt. Jerako is a storyteller, award-winning Toastmaster, community leader and humanitarian, making her the perfect person to carry us through this public speaking workshop. But until then, here’s a little more about Jerako (I personally love her last point).

How did your discover your interest in public speaking/personal skills development?

I was always interested in acting, probably because my father was an actor; in any case through acting I discovered my interest in public speaking. I also found Lisa Nichols and Les Brown to be so inspiring that my interest in public speaking for the purpose of personal skills development became what it is today.

In your career thus far, what would you say are some of your lessons learned?

I'll give you three that come to mind as I respond to you now but for what it's worth the answer to this question changes regularly. 1. Be professional, there is nothing wrong with making mistakes but own them and be professional at all times. 2. People need to like you to be patient with you. If you're finding that there is a lack of leadership or patience, find another company or group who will work with you or go out on your own. 3. Work hard, what that means to me is don't make any excuses for delivering. Give the client or your boss what they want when they want it or as close to that due date as possible, make sure they see that you're working hard to do so.


Why do you think communications skills are important, especially when it comes to the workplace?

If you have communication skills, you have a constant life line. You can explain yourself, help people understand, get the message across but if you don't have communication skills, you're waiting for them to just figure it out ... it's way more empowering to be able to communicate effectively.

Given your experience training executives and professionals, when it comes to communication, what is one mistake (or mistakes) you often see women making?

One mistake I often see women making is explaining the reason or giving an excuse for "something" without having been asked. It's dis-empowering. Unless you're asked why is the report late ... for example, don't start in with I had this to do and that to do .... and then apologizing on top of it just dis-empowers you.

What advice would you give to women either starting out in their career or making a transition?

Don't get married unless your husband is your business partner or he is very rich. Men will hold you back from achieving your goal.

Jerako Wendt is a sought-after storyteller, award-winning distinguished Toastmaster, community leader, and humanitarian. After obtaining her B.A. Honors in English, she pursued a career as an actor; only to return to school to become a producer, paralegal, and mediator amongst other things. She leverages her storytelling powers in various arenas: creating films; writing books; mediating human rights disputes; facilitating workshops and delivering inspiring and informative speeches across North and South America. Jerako is also the founder and co-chair of Building Beyond Borders, a not-for-profit organization that helps rebuild schools in the Caribbean and South America. She’s currently pursuing a law degree, completing her masters in English Literature, writing her second book, and preparing to launch her vlog on December 3rd, 2018.