In honour of the exemplary leadership taking place at our member organizations, HealthCareCAN has launched a new hub to call attention to the great work undertaken by these in leaders in health and health research.
In honour of International Women’s Day, HealthCareCAN is featuring women healthcare leaders from throughout our member organizations. These empowering and inspiring champions of Canadian health enrich the system every day with their knowledge, experience, and enthusiasm for health and health research.
President and CEO, Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
Carol Lambie was appointed as President and CEO of Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care in Penetanguishene in 2009, after providing support in this role on an interim basis to lead the 301 bed hospital through divestment from the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care in 2008 to a new public hospital corporation. She has more than 30 years of experience in the health care sector in a variety of roles providing strategic and operational transformational leadership. Carol advocates for access to quality care across the health care sector, and specifically across the continuum of care for mental health and addictions.
President & CEO, Women’s College Hospital
Heather McPherson is a highly recognized healthcare executive with extensive experience in clinical, academic and health system leadership. Prior to her role as President & CEO, she served as the hospital’s Executive Vice President of Patient Care and Ambulatory Innovation; where she was at the forefront of shaping and executing hospital strategy and operations.
Heather is an innovative leader who has been instrumental in establishing clinical programs and services that close the health gaps for patients – not only at Women’s College hospital but throughout the province. Throughout her career Heather has focused on the evaluation and improvement of the systems of clinical care delivery and redefining what it means to be a patient: engaged, empowered, and understood.
Dr. Danielle Martin
Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Executive, Women’s College Hospital
Dr. Danielle Martin is the executive vice-president and chief medical executive at Women’s College Hospital, where she is also a practicing family physician. She’s leading the creation of Women’s Virtual, Canada’s first virtual hospital, and helping to create a hospital that leverages digital tools to bring care directly to the patient, re-shaping modern healthcare to be more accessible, timely, and innovative.
Martin has been named one of Toronto Life magazine’s “Top 50 Influentials”; called one of the most powerful doctors by The Medical Post; and is listed as one of the Toronto Star’s top “13 People to Watch”. In 2019 she became the youngest physician ever to receive the F.N.G Starr Award, the highest honour available to Canadian Medical Association members.
Associate President and Executive Director, McGill University Health Centre
In January 2013, Martine Alfonso was appointed as the new Associate Executive Director of the Montreal Children’s Hospital. In this position, with her colleagues, she prepared for the move to the Glen in 2015 and always remained a strong advocate for The Children’s. She also helped enhance the leadership position of the MCH within the Quebec healthcare network.
More recently, in June 2016, Martine accepted the position of Associate President and Executive Director (PDGA) of the MUHC. In this role, she is responsible for making strategic, informed and evidence-based decisions and supporting the continuum of care for patients and their families. Martine believes that the MUHC has a leadership role to play as an academic health centre in a networked health system and this includes encouraging the active participation of patients and families in their care.
Interim President and CEO, Vancouver Coastal Health
Vivian has a long history providing care and leadership at VCH. Currently, she is the interim President and Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH), leading the largest academic and tertiary health authority in the province. Vivian was also the executive lead for the VCH COVID-19 emergency operations response during the first several months of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Recognized for her patient-centred focus and collaborative leadership, Vivian has nurtured staff and physician innovation for the delivery of more responsive, exceptional care. Her record of achievements includes significant improvements in emergency department wait times, and the successful implementation of an award-winning integrated care model.
Dr. Catherine Zahn, C.M.
President and CEO, Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
The most gratifying way to deploy personal, professional and positional power is to give it away through mentorship and sponsorship…the impact is exponential
Dr. Zahn was appointed President and CEO of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in 2009.
She is a champion for the integration of psychiatry and neuroscience, working to steer mental illness into the mainstream of medicine and promoting equitable access to health care resources for people with mental illness. She is leading CAMH through a major expansion and renewal phase and has attracted Canada’s leading philanthropic support for research in mental illness and addiction.
President and CEO, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital
Julia Hanigsberg joined Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital as its President and CEO on January 12, 2015. She has spent her career in government, post-secondary education and healthcare as a champion for cultural transformation, innovation, excellence and social justice.
Julia honed her expertise in public policy during her time with the Ontario government including roles as Counsel to the Deputy Attorney General, Counsel and Special Advisor to two Secretaries of Cabinet and Chief of Staff to the Attorney General of Ontario.
A lawyer by training Julia has law degrees from McGill University and the Columbia Law School and following graduation from law school clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada. She has held Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and Fulbright Fellowships. In 2019 she was named one of Canada’s Top 100 most Powerful Women.
President & CEO, St. Boniface Hospital
Bouchard is from Quebec and has 30 years of experience in health, community, university and social service networks.
She previously served as CEO of administration and director of quality, evaluation, performance and ethics with the Centre intégré de santé et des services sociaux de la Montérégie Est, a regional health authority in Quebec.
Bouchard is fluent in English and French and holds a master’s degree in nursing from the University of Montreal.
Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer, The Ottawa Hospital
Suzanne has served at The Ottawa Hospital for more than 30 years, starting as a front-line RN, where she worked for many years across a diverse array of services. Suzanne achieved her Masters of Nursing degree with a focus on nursing leadership, supporting her many years of experience as a clinical leader. Suzanne became a Clinical Manager within the Cancer Program in 2005 and in 2014, Suzanne took on the leadership of the Regional Cancer program as Clinical Director. She became the Service Line Director for the Surgery Service Line, and eventually took on the role of Interim Executive Director for Regional Operations, and played a large role in leading the operations arm of the Champlain Health Region Incident Command for the COVID-19 response.
Dr. France Desrosiers
President and CEO, Vitalité Health Network
Dr. Desrosiers has more than 22 years of medical and administrative experience, including many within her own private medical clinic in Tracadie. Dr. Desrosiers was born in Montréal. She holds a College Diploma in Health Sciences from the Collège de Maisonneuve, and a Doctor of Medicine from the Université de Montréal.
She is a member of the New Brunswick Medical Society, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New Brunswick and the Canadian Society of Physician Leaders, and she is also a member and Fellow of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.
Dr. Natalie Banville
Acting Vice-President of Medical Services, Vitalité Health Network
A native of Quebec’s North Shore, Dr. Banville graduated in medicine from Université Laval in 1993. Five years later, she completed a specialization in anesthesia-resuscitation at that same university.
She launched her career in 1998 as an anesthesiologist at the Chaleur Regional Hospital (Bathurst). Since then, she has held various leadership positions within the Network, including Chair of the Credentials Committee, Department Head of the Anesthesia Unit and a medical director of the organization. She also served on the Network’s first Regional Medical Advisory Committee (RMAC) from 2019 to 2012.
Acting Vice-President of Clinical Services, Vitalité Health Network
Ms. Smyth-Okana has over 30 years of experience in clinical services management and nursing. She was Director of Surgical Services at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont UHC and then Regional Director of the Network’s Surgical Services (32 sectors) and Medical Device Reprocessing Departments for over a decade. She thus has an in-depth understanding of the issues facing the Network.
Over the course of her career, Ms. Smyth-Okana has been heavily involved in the integration and harmonization of clinical services and programs and in the modernization of Surgical Services and Medical Device Reprocessing Departments. Her new role will be dedicated to the management and harmonization of services and to tackling the Network’s current challenges in the areas of staffing and modernization of care.
Acting Vice-President of Human Resources, Vitalité Health Network
Johanne Roy has worked in the health and social services sector for close to 30 years. She has held management positions since 1985 and began her career in senior management in 1992 as Director of Nursing of the Hôpital de Verdun. Among her various positions, Ms. Roy was Assistant Executive Director of the Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur de Montréal for nearly 10 years. During this time, her efforts were always focused on the planning, development, and accessibility of quality care and services.
The quality and safety of care were also ongoing concerns and led to her work as an Accreditation Canada surveyor starting in 1999 and as a representative of the Association of Canadian Academic Healthcare Organizations (ACAHO) to the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2009 and 2010.
Vice-President of Performance and Quality, Vitalité Health Network
Gisèle Beaulieu is a trained dietitian with more than 20 years of experience in health care management and extensive experience in strategic and operational planning, development of corporate policies, as well as management and implementation of organizational projects and programs, including programs related to quality, risk management, and patient safety, information management, decision support, and privacy protection.
Ms. Beaulieu has held several senior management positions, including that of Executive Director of the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst, Chief Health Renewal Planning Officer, and Vice-President of Planning and Organizational Development for Vitalité Health Network. She also held various management positions within Vitalité Health Network and Regional Health Authority 4 in Edmundston.
Chief Executive Officer, HIROC
We know that we still have a long way to go before women, especially but not limited to those who are racialized or are in disadvantaged circumstances, will universally be treated as equals. Celebrating Women and their contributions to society including their unparalleled roles in healthcare delivery and leadership is extremely important.
This does not mean that we do not appreciate the contributions of others. Many of us are privileged to have supportive spouses, fathers, sons, brothers and colleagues who are fully with us on our journey to equality.
International Women’s Day is, however, one day when we need not have any hesitation in fully acknowledging and rejoicing in the unique and “required” perspective and decision-making acumen that women bring to all aspects of our lives – not just on this one day, but each and every day!
Congratulations to all women and to those in our lives who treasure our contributions.
Denise Lewis Fleming
Chief Executive Officer, Health PEI
An alumna of UPEI’s Bachelor of Business Administration program, Dalhousie University’s Master of Public Administration (MPA) program and the 2017 Governor General’s Canadian Leadership Conference, Denise is a Chartered Professional Accountant (Chartered Accountant) with twenty-six years of public service experience in PEI. Since January 2009, she has been employed as a senior leader in the health care sector, participating in the development and promotion of Health PEI’s broad goals and priorities, as well as the translation of goals and priorities to objectives, guidelines, policies, core programs and standards. Her previous experience in PEI public sector includes working at the Auditor General’s office, the PEI Public Service Commission and the Department of Provincial Treasury.
President and Chief Executive Officer, Northern Health
Cathy has held this position since 2007. From 2002 to 2007, Cathy was the Vice President, Clinical Services and Chief Nursing Officer for Northern Health. Before the formation of Northern Health, she worked in a variety of nursing and management positions in Northern British Columbia, Manitoba, and Alberta.
Cathy has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Alberta and a Master’s of Science in community health sciences from the University of Northern BC (UNBC).
Dr. Victoria Lee
President and CEO, Fraser Health
Victoria is responsible for overall strategic direction and operations of Fraser Health Authority including a wide range of integrated health services – acute care hospitals as well as community-based long term care, home health, mental health, and public.
Victoria joined Fraser Health in 2010 as a medical health officer. She held progressive leadership positions including her most recent role as the vice president for population health and chief medical health officer. Prior to joining Fraser Health, she worked in collaboration with national and international organizations including the United Nations Development Programme and the World Bank in the areas of comparative health systems, health policy, health financing and ecohealth.
Victoria also worked as a travel physician in rural communities in Chile and Brazil. Her research activities include health equity, community-based primary health system, health performance and clinical prevention.
She serves on the board of Canada Health Infoway and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer.
Vice President, Acute and Community Care, Fraser Health
Laurie is accountable for all acute care hospitals and community care settings throughout the Fraser Health region. She provides strategic leadership to a range of services in acute care and community care settings.
Laurie began her career in health care 30 years ago as a nurse at Vancouver General Hospital. She has held several leadership positions at Vancouver Coastal Health, most recently as regional director Home and Community Care Program and operations director for Coastal Sites including Primary and Public Health, Pediatrics and Perinatal, Acute Operations Sea-to-Sky, Palliative Care and Hospice. Laurie has a broad understanding of the entire health care continuum from tertiary/academic settings to community, rural and Aboriginal health care.
Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin
Vice President, Population Health and Chief Medical Health Officer, Fraser Health
Dr. Elizabeth Brodkin’s primary mandate is to prevent disease, protect health and promote wellness in populations and communities in the Fraser Health region.
Dr. Brodkin also provides executive leadership and strategic oversight in the areas of infection prevention and control, population health, prevention of non-communicable diseases, communicable disease prevention and control, environmental health, licensing of community care facilities, Aboriginal Health, South Asian Health Institute, Mental Health and Substance Use and population health surveillance.
Vice President, Pandemic Preparedness and Response, Fraser Health
Linda Dempster provides strategic leadership for pandemic preparedness and response and infection prevention and control. Her portfolio also includes innovation, planning and transformation, research, professional practice and antimicrobial stewardship.
Linda has over 30 years of experience in a variety of health care settings. She was the winner of the CRNBC Award of Distinction in Nursing in 2014. Most recently she led the Professional Practice Department within Alberta Health Services, with responsibility for provincial staffing services as well as all aspects of professional practice such as specialty education, student placement, new graduate transition, collaborative practice to name a few.
Prior to that Linda led the Quality and Patient Safety portfolio for Vancouver Coastal Health which included leading the accreditation, infection prevention and control, community engagement, performance improvement and human factors engineering processes across the organization.
Vice President, System Optimization and Chief Financial Officer, Fraser Health
Brenda Liggett leads system optimization and provides leadership and oversight for Fraser Health’s strategic financial planning, budgeting and financial services.
In her role as Vice President, System Optimization, Brenda Liggett leads system optimization with the purpose of fully leveraging integrated analytics to improve our clinical, operational and business processes. Brenda is also the Fraser Health executive liaison for Lower Mainland consolidated services. This includes Integrated Protection Services, Laboratory and Medical Imaging.
As Chief Financial Officer, Brenda provides leadership and oversight for Fraser Health’s strategic financial planning, budgeting and financial services. She leads Accounting Services, Business Support, Financial Planning, Capital Development and has general management oversight for our Public Private Partnership (P3) projects. Brenda also has responsibility for Business Initiatives and Support Services (BISS) and the procurement and accounts payable functions for BC Clinical and Support Services (BCCSS).
Vice President, Communications and Public Affairs
Naseem Nuraney leads a team that provides strategic and tactical public affairs, media relations, corporate communications and stakeholder relations guidance.
Naseem is also responsible for the oversight of Fraser Health’s public facing digital strategy and social media channels. She is also the executive liaison for the foundations. Naseem plays an important role in promoting sustainability and enhancing the health and wellness of all patients, residents, clients and staff.
She leads the Communications and Public Affairs Department to develop and maintain a comprehensive, well focused and proactive communications program that meets the needs of all stakeholders including the public, our health care professionals and other staff members, medical staff and all levels of government.
Dr. Gillian Kernaghan
President and CEO, St Joseph’s Health Care London
Dr. Kernaghan was appointed President & Chief Executive Officer of St. Joseph’s Health Care London in October, 2010. Between 2006 and 2010, she held the position of integrated Vice-President, Medical Education and Medical Affairs for both St. Joseph’s Health Care London and London Health Sciences Centre. Prior to 2006, Dr. Kernaghan held the same role for St. Joseph’s Health Care, London.
Dr. Kernaghan was the President of the Canadian Society of Physician Executives from 2010-2012. She was the Co-Chair of the Canadian Health Leadership Network (CHLNet) from 2014-2018. She is currently a member of the OHA Board, Chair of Catholic Health Care Association of Ontario and a member of the Premier’s Council on Improving Health Care and Ending Hallway Medicine. Dr. Kernaghan currently services as a member of the Executive Committee and Cabinet of the Foundation.
Vice President, People, Island Health
As Vice President, People Sharon provides strategic leadership to promote employee and medical staff engagement in order to achieve excellence in health and care. Sharon’s role encompasses responsibility and accountability for Human Resources, Occupational Health & Safety and Organizational Development in Island Health. Under Sharon’s leadership, the People portfolio engages volunteers, employees and medical staff to achieve superior clinical quality and service excellence.
Sharon has over 25 years of progressive leadership experience across both public and private sectors. She joined Island Health in the Spring of 2018 as Interim Director HR Client Services. Sharon brings with her a wealth of senior and executive leadership in the BC health system, including oversight of Human Resources, Privacy and Access to Information and Stakeholder Engagement programs.
Dr. Jeannie Shoveller
Vice President, Research & Innovation, IWK Health Centre
Dr. Jeannie Shoveller is the Vice President, Research & Innovation at the IWK Health Centre and a professor of Community Health and Epidemiology in the Faculty of Medicine at Dalhousie University. She holds a PhD and is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.
Her extensive research on adolescent health, sexually transmitted blood-borne infections, gender-based violence, and addictions is widely cited and internationally renowned. In 2015, Jeannie was inducted into the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences as an ‘outstanding public health scholar whose leadership and vision has contributed to system change nationally and internationally.’
Jeannie is also the chair of the Governing Council of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Amanda Whitewood (FCPA, FCMA, C. Dir, CHE)
Chief Operating Officer, IWK Health Centre, Halifax
Ms. Whitewood is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA), and a holds the peer-awarded designation of Fellow for her contribution to community and the profession. She is a Chartered Director (C.Dir.), and a Certified Health Executive (CHE) with more than 25 years of leadership experience in healthcare, post-secondary education and government.
As a leading healthcare executive with proven success in transformational change at a national and provincial level Ms. Whitewood is a widely recognized talent who inspire individuals and organizations to innovate, collaborate and deliver sustainable results. Most recently, she played pivotal role in securing the Government of Nova’s approval for the funding and construction of a new state-of-the-art Emergency Department for the IWK – an investment of $100M+ over the next four years to redevelop the IWK Health Centre’s Emergency Department to meet current and future demands of women, children and families across the Maritimes.
President & CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, Hamilton& CEO St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation, Guelph
Every day, I’m inspired to work with remarkable, generous people and organizations that empower the work of our hospital by providing donations of all kinds to improve the overall health of the communities we serve
Growing up, Sera Filice-Armenio often thought about becoming a teacher. A chance meeting, however, inspired her to change the course of her career from education to philanthropy, and she hasn’t looked back since.
In her role as President and CEO of St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation in Hamilton and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Centre Foundation in Guelph, Filice-Armenio provides strategic direction for the foundations’ donor relations, fundraising campaigns and events in support of the hospital and health centre.
When she isn’t leading initiatives that support quality patient care, research, and education at St. Joe’s, Filice-Armenio gives back to the community by serving on a number of volunteer boards.
President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
I try to be a leader who sets the direction for teams generating ideas and concepts to take ownership of their work. Innately, I trust people to deliver, and I am always so impressed with the creativity and quality of work by our teams at St. Joe’s.
Prior to taking on the top job at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, Melissa Farrell, President, served as the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s Hospitals and Emergency Services Division.
At a time, she also held the role of Director of the Primary Health Care Branch with the Ministry’s Negotiations and Accountability Management Division, which supported the enhancement of primary care services in Ontario.
She credits an opportunity early in her career, during which she helped establish a strategy to reduce wait times for a number of healthcare services in Ontario, as a pivotal moment in her climb up the professional ladder.
Vice President and Chief Information Officer, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
Give yourself permission to not sacrifice one goal for another, or things that really matter to you. You don’t need to be where you want to be tomorrow. It’s getting to the end goal that counts.
When Tara Coxon, Vice President and Chief Information Officer at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, first embarked on her career in healthcare management 20 years ago, information technology was largely a male-dominated sector.
“The people and process design skills associated with transformational change pioneered the way for women to enter the technology workforce. This is where I got my start.” she says. “Today, women are still actively working on closing the gender gap in technology professions.”
Since then, Coxon says the industry has become more balanced in terms of gender equality, and there are number of women on her team, including those in leadership positions.
Chief Financial Officer, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
Be kind to yourself and others. As a leader, you will not only be recognized for your accomplishments but also remembered for how you treated others along the way.
With more than 20 years experience as a finance and business leader, much of which has been dedicated to health care, Franca Vavaroutsos, Chief Financial Officer at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, was fortunate in her career to work with strong female leaders who encouraged her professional growth.
“They saw me as their right-hand person, which instilled a great amount of confidence that I could do the job,” she says.
Now, in her role at St. Joe’s, Vavaroutsos strives to extend the same support she received to advance other women on her team – through opportunities that leverage existing strengths or the chance to learn something new.
Director, Occupational Health and Safety Services, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
To be an influential leader, you need to win the hearts and minds of others by building relationships with the people you serve, deeply understanding their lived work experience, and then providing collaborative solutions to address those safety needs.
Over her 20-year career promoting occupational health and safety excellence, Geeta Sharma has led a number of organizations to becoming recognized among Canada’s safest places to work.
In her role as Director of Occupational Health and Safety Services at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, she works with a broad team of employee health and safety specialists to help keep the hospital’s healthcare workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond.
Sharma says her approach to achieving safe workplaces stems from a valuable lesson learned in her first role out of university.
“The minute I started to understand that sustaining safety in the workplace involved engaging people, and not just legislation and safety principles, it changed the trajectory of my career. It gave me the learnings I needed to become a leader.”
Chief Facility Planning and Patient Support Services, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton
Expose yourself to different jobs and departments – all of them will help you gain exposure to the way other people think and work, you might be surprised in what you find, and where your interests might lead you.
While Karen Langstaff chose to work in health care to make an impact on the community, her career path took a number of twists and turns resulting in varied, yet progressive, experiences that have shaped her approach to leadership.
“I feel like my career unfolded in front of me. Obviously, I had to make decisions and choices, but whenever a new opportunity came up, I took it and can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every role that I’ve had,” she says. “If the next one felt good, and it happened to be a greater leadership role, then I knew I made the right decision.”
Langstaff was a nurse before taking roles in infection control and utilization management. Today, as the Chief of Facility Planning and Patient Support Services at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, she takes a collaborative approach to leading redevelopment and building maintenance for more than 2.5 million sq. ft of space, including biomedical engineering, environmental services, clinical nutrition and food services.