2016 Zenith Award Winners


Lorin MacDonald

For nearly 30 years, Lorin MacDonald has made it her mission to make Canada more accessible to all. Lorin was born with a severe hearing loss but her advocacy work has a crossdisability focus and she believes that an accessible Canada is good for all Canadians. She’s an active volunteer, supporting cross-disability initiatives such as the StopGap Foundation, Music Without Barriers and the Rick Hansen School Program, as an ambassador speaking to elementary and high school students about inclusion. Her human rights law practice focuses primarily on disability discrimination experienced by children, seeking remedies at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. She also acts as a mentor to law students and new lawyers with hearing loss. Lorin is a member of the Law Society’s Equity Advisory Group and a member of the Ontario Bar Association’s Equality Committee.

Karen MacMillan, Lawson Lundell LLP

Karen MacMillan is Chair of the Diversity and Inclusiveness Committee and Chief Inclusiveness Officer at Lawson Lundell. Karen has designed and implemented numerous initiatives to improve the workplace for female lawyers and raise the firm’s overall inclusiveness. She regularly canvasses associates for their views on issues that affect them. Her efforts have led to improvements within the firm, such as tracking gender and minority demographics; introducing industry-leading flexiblework and parental-leave policies; developing programs to foster women’s networking and business development; and annual training of partners and decision makers to recognize unconscious bias and address inequities. She is the firm’s representative for the Justicia Project, addressing evidence that women leave law practice at a higher rate than men. Karen supported best-practice policies of the LSBC, including flexible working arrangements and advancement to partnership.

Loretta Manning, Cox & Palmer

Loretta Manning encouraged Cox & Palmer to become the first firm in Atlantic Canada to join the Law Firm Diversity and Inclusion Network (LFDIN). This led to the creation of a firm-wide diversity committee that formulated a plan for education, external sponsorship, policy review and updates. As Chair of this committee, she led the firm to become the first business in Atlantic Canada to join Pride at Work Canada, supporting the inclusion of LGBT employees. She also spearheaded a firm-wide diversity survey and unconscious bias training and worked with each office throughout the region to coordinate survey delivery and training sessions. Loretta values the perspective and strength that diverse teams bring to an organization and believes that enhancing diversity and inclusion will improve attraction and retention and strengthen client relationships.

Rita Maxwell, Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario

Assistant Crown Attorney Rita Maxwell prosecutes criminal cases, including homicides, child abuse, exploitation and human trafficking. As a mentor for minority law students, Rita has assisted in their pursuit of summer and/or articling positions with Bay Street firms, the government and international opportunities. With the Law Alumni Association, Rita developed and supported financial aid programs, making law school more accessible to historically under-represented groups. She has been a guest lecturer for the University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Clinic and advised numerous students from diverse backgrounds on internships and job opportunities with international tribunals, as well as on litigation and/or criminal law practice. Rita has been actively involved in the University of Toronto’s See Yourself Here, an annual student-led initiative, which encourages high school students from under-represented minorities to pursue a legal education.

Kael McKenzie, Provincial Court of Manitoba

Justice Kael McKenzie became Canada’s first openly transgender judge in 2015. He is a member of the Manitoba Métis Nation and served in the Canadian Armed Forces. Before taking up his judicial appointment, Justice McKenzie served five years as a Crown prosecutor in family, commercial and civil law. He has been an active member of the legal and LGBTQ communities and co-chaired the CBA’s sexual-orientation and gender-identity conference for three years. He has served on the Manitoba Women’s Advisory Council and was president of the Rainbow Resource Centre. He also advocated for Bill 18, which enabled gay-straight alliances in Manitoba high schools. His appointment was recognized as a victory for quality, equality and diversity on the Manitoba Bench.