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September 16, 2019

CP Women's Leadership Summit 2019: A day of inspiration, celebration, and community

The CP Women's Open 2019 was a great sporting event.... and so much more.  Beyond the joy of watching the game, we were awed by the display of mentorship, empowerment, and philanthropy organized by Golf Canada and Canadian Pacific (CP) through activities like the Golf Town #BrookeBrigade, SickKid's fundraising initiatives through the CP Has Heart program, and the CP Women's Leadership Summit.

CP Women's Leadership Summit

On August 20, 2019, with the practice rounds for the CP Women's Open 2019 underway at Magna Golf Club, the CP Women’s Leadership Summit was also in full swing. This event was geared towards empowering women in the workplace and provided a platform for networking and giving back to the community.  

Hosted by Sportsnet Anchor Evanka Osmak, guests were inspired by two power panels of fearless and talented women from the business and sports world.

Athlete Panel

Athlete Panel (from left to right): Canadian Olympic athletes Anastasia Bucsis (speed skating), Karina Leblanc (soccer), Georgia Simmerling (3x multi-sport Olympian in alpine skiing, skicross & cycling) and Natalie Spooner (ice hockey).

Athlete Profiles

Anastasia Bucsis: Anastasia started speed skating at the age of 4. In her 24 years as a competitive speed skater, she competed in 46 World Cups, 6 World Championships, and 2 Olympic Games. She now lives in Toronto and works for CBC Sports as their Athlete Management Lead, speed skating analyst, and host of the “Players Own Voice” podcast- which debuted at #3 on iTunes. When she isn’t working, Anastasia is a passionate advocate for mental health issues and working towards ending homophobia in sport. 


Karina Leblanc: Karina's passion for purposeful living and inspiring the next generation has led her to be an ambassador for Unicef and CONCACAF where she leads the Confederation’s (all 41 countries of North America, Central America, and the Caribbean Islands) efforts to strengthen and grow the women’s game throughout the Concacaf region.

Georgia Simmerling: Georgia is a multi-talented, multi-sport athlete. She made history in Rio 2016 by becoming the first Canadian athlete to compete in a different sport at each of three different Olympic Games. Georgia has overcome devastating injuries and continues to inspire the world with her resiliency. No stranger to perseverance, Simmerling returned to training 14 months after the injury, and is working towards yet another Olympic appearance in cycling at the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Natalie Spooner: Natalie started organized hockey at the age of 4 years old.  She has been a member of the national team program since 2007, competing in her first Olympic Games at Sochi 2014 and part of Canada’s silver medal-winning squad at PyeongChang 2018.  She also competed on season two of the Amazing Race Canada and played for the CWHL's Toronto Furies. Natalie is an avid volunteer, a spokesperson for Fuelling Women Champions, and a keynote speaker at events where she can spread the word around the importance of empowering women and helping girls get active in sports. 

How four Olympic athletes got their start in sport

SeeWhatSheCanDo when....

....she sees it and wants to be it

Anastasia: At the age of 5 years old, Anastasia watched Oksana Baiul win the gold in 1994 at the Winter Games in Lillehammer and professed that she wanted to be a figure skater. Given her height (she's almost 6 feet tall), she decided to give speed skating a try instead. Anastasia was introduced to her sport very early on and liked the competition. 

....she has a coach who builds confidence and helps her shine

Karina: Karina was a shy child. Her big personal moment happened while she watched Donavan Baily's 1996 gold medal Olympic win and thought to herself "I want that." She aspired to watch the flag rise, to represent Canada, cry with the fans, and play great soccer (even though there was no women's soccer team at the time). She first tried soccer after being invited by a friend at a sleepover. "76% of girls who play sport do it for the social aspect" says Leblanc. When some local coaches invited Karina to the track and field club and basketball team, her confidence rose and allowed her personality to shine. This confidence enabled Karina to pursue a college education, play soccer for her country for almost 18 years and further win a Bronze Medal at the Olympics in 2012. 

.....she has a role model who shows her what she can be

Georgia: Georgia spent much of her childhood "being chased by older brothers and having to rip down double black diamonds to keep up with them". As a kid, when she was in an early ski program, a national team athlete skied with her family. This national athlete who sported a maple leaf on his back, spent just 30 minutes with her family and made a life-changing impression on Georgia. On that day, she decided she too would represent her country. 

....she has family who encourages a love for sport

Natalie: Growing up with brothers, Natalie had plenty of hand-me-down sticks and skates waiting for her. Natalie wanted to be just like her brothers and fully embraced ice hockey early on. It was on her backyard rink, and in the family driveway, that Natalie first discovered her passion and began to hone her own hockey skills. Natalie played one year of boys hockey before she switched to girls hockey. 

Business Panel

Business Panel (from left to right): Jennifer Tory (Chief Administrative Officer, RBC),  Maeghan Albiston (Assistant Vice-President Investor Relations & Pensions, CP) and Anne Simard (Chief Mission & Research Officer, Heart and Stroke Foundation). 

Evanka introduced business panelists as a power panel. "The business world can be a whole different kind of sport" states Osmak. "Competition can be fierce...you have to put in long hours, and having a team of supporters is the best way to achieve success."

Business panelists gave advice to women in the audience on what it takes to be a good leader, how to build the confidence to ask for the job, and how the workplace needs to evolve to help women thrive in the workplace. They also spoke about the important role men play in women's leadership success. 


Keynote Speaker - Roberta Bowman

Following the panels, the audience welcomed Roberta Bowman, Chief Brand & Communications Officer of the LPGA to the podium. Why is golf a great sport? "Golf raises more charitable money than any other sport, it's competitive, not adversarial, it gets you outdoors away from screens and is a wonderful game that brings women together," says Roberta.

"Most women won't play golf because they don't think they are good enough," Roberta told the crowd. The LPGA wants to change this paradigm and encourage more girls and women to play the game and compete. They host summits like this to inspire women to succeed in their sport, the boardroom and beyond. 

"Sport has always been an incubator for leadership and innovation," says Roberta, “90% of female leaders and 96% of women CEO’s played competitive sports. Where better than in sports than to watch women lead?” 

LPGA's #DriveOn campaign... we totally connect!

Roberta led the LPGA's rebranding and the creation of their #DriveOn campaign with the help of an all-female creative team. "#DriveOn is not just about golf or for women. It's about the fire within and the dedication, resilience and sheer grit it takes to succeed " says Roberta.

We love this campaign. Inspiring women and girls to be their best selves is a cause near and dear to our hearts and the essence behind our own rally cry #SeeWhatSheCanDo.

The centerpiece for the LPGA campaign is this 45-second video "This is for every girl". It's a must-see. Here's the link:

Mariah Stackhouse 

In this photo (from left to right): Leahanne McNeil (Maui Jim), Mariah Stackhouse (Pro Golfer), Tina Finelli (SeeWhatSheCanDo)

SeeWhatSheCanDo when.... she has supportive parents

25-year old golf pro, Mariah Stackhouse took the stage with the maturity of a seasoned athlete twice her age. Mariah spoke about her dad's impact on her success. When Mariah was 3 years old her dad created a written affirmation for her that was posted on her mirror for her to see and recite to herself each day. It helped solidify who she wanted to be and how she wanted to move forward. It is four paragraphs long and is made up of some pretty great stuff: 

The first paragraph: A bible passage

The second paragraph: Who she would be as a person

The third paragraph: How she would interact with everyone in the world

The fourth paragraph: Who she would become as a golfer 

What a gift!!! Our hearts swelled when we heard Mariah recite her affirmation with unwavering confidence.

What's her why?

When asked "What’s your why? Why do you golf?" Mariah responded:

  • Spending time with my dad
  • Who it makes me as a person. The constant test and opportunity for growth. 
  • The challenge is fulfilling.

CP Women's Open Partners with SickKids

This year’s CP Women’s Open partnered with SickKids Foundation with a goal of helping young hearts across Ontario.

Sara Neiman, SickKids heart patient and Impact Ambassador, shared her story saying "When you are born battling, you have a different appreciation for life." Sara encouraged CP Open Leadership Summit participants to join her in the room next door to pack gift bags with crafts and activities for SickKids patients who are waiting for treatment in the hospital.

$2.2 million was raised at the 2019 Canadian Pacific Women’s Open; the largest donation in the history of Canada’s women’s open championship. These funds will go towards upgrading a Cardiac Operating Suite at SickKids.  In addition, CP also supported the tournament host community this year by making a donation of $250,000 to Southlake Regional Health Centre in Newmarket, Ont. to support pediatric cardiac care.

A day of inspiration, celebration, and community

Thanks to the fierce female athlete and business panelists and organizers for a great day at the CP Women's Leadership Summit hosted by Golf Canada.

We were thrilled to host business leaders from the sport and business world at our table for this awesome day of inspiration, celebration, and community. We enjoyed our day with these awesome supporters of women in sport featured here with the Olympic Athlete panelists.

From left to right: Caroline Wiley & Tina Finelli (SeeWhatSheCanDo), Georgia Simmerling, Anastasia Bucsis, Ainka Jess (She's4Sports), Karina Leblanc, Pamela Julian (Ringette Ontario), Leahanne McNeil (Maui Jim - Canada), Natalie Spooner, Arienne (last name?) Hardwood Ski and Bike

From left to right: Georgia Simmerling, Anastasia Bucsis, Donna Finelli (Source for Sports), Elizabeth Williams (Chandler Chase), Karina Leblanc, Natalie Spooner. 


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