March 8th, 2023

International Women’s Day: Celebrating Successes and Reflecting on the Road Ahead

My parents were the first feminists in my life. They encouraged their two daughters to be anything they wanted to be. I celebrate and acknowledge International Women’s Day as a daughter; as a mother of a teenage daughter interested and thriving in STEM education; as a colleague and friend to many women who are trailblazing in their chosen fields; and as a leader appointed as the first woman President of Humber.  

There is much to celebrate and there is still so much work to do. In our celebrating today, we can’t lose sight of the fact that we still aren’t there, particularly as we think about the theme of equity for IWD 2023.

So many girls and women are denied the basic rights that we enjoy. I support all efforts to ensure the right to education, work and freedom are provided to all.  

As a woman driven to succeed, I have faced many obstacles in my life. In many cases, being the first to blaze a new trail can be a lonely experience. People celebrate it when you arrive, but the road to get there can be challenging.  

There is no doubt that my rebellious nature allowed me to persevere. It is important for me – that what defines me - in breaking through glass ceilings is to ensure that the path created by the broken glass creates an easier pathway for others who have been denied equity and inclusion to follow. As the first woman president and CEO of Humber College, I hope I can continue to help create those pathways, and I am committed to championing women and people from equity-deserving groups to thrive, assume leadership opportunities, and know that they belong.

I believe that higher education has an important role in building a wider tent, so to speak, and to create environments where women from diverse backgrounds can emerge as the impactful leaders we know they are. At post-secondary institutions, there are opportunities for transformation in a student’s life. As educators, we have a professional responsibility to nurture students’ strengths so they can become the best version of themselves. I am inspired by the work we are doing at Humber – here and globally – to address equality for women. I also know firsthand the value of the student and employee experience in shaping who I am today and celebrate these opportunities that allow women to shine at Humber.  

We must not lose sight of the important journey we are on and the pathways we are blazing for future leaders. We must be intentional in empowering leadership. It doesn’t just happen by chance, and, because equity is not guaranteed, we all need to be even more determined to ensure it is. Breaking that glass ceiling often requires an intentional opening of a door or extending a hand for others to come through it.

Collectively, we have an added responsibility to amplify women’s voices. As leaders and colleagues, we must set the tone for women’s voices to be heard and be deliberate in elevating them. We must also understand that there are women just looking for the opportunity to be heard and, in being heard, can spark their confidence and passion.

International Women’s Day is March 8 and is a day to recognize women’s achievements, raise awareness about the discrimination we continue to face and take action to further gender parity. It is a day to acknowledge the injustices that many women and girls still face every day internationally and here at home. We must not be complacent, but continue to fight for rights, equity and justice for women and girls all over the world.

I am profoundly grateful to the people in my life who helped me along this journey, and I live every day in the hope that I do that for others.

This is a day to celebrate strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them. It is also a day to ask ourselves what we can do to open the door, inviting others to be strong by widening the entry. To this well-known quote I add - May we support them. May we include them.

My sincere thanks to everyone who has welcomed me in my new role – here's to all of you!