2017 Zenith Award Winners


Joanna Radbord, Martha McCarthy & Company LLP

As co-counsel, Joanna Radbord successfully challenged the ban on same-sex marriage in Ontario. Since 2006, she has worked on a pro bono basis to help LGBTQ families secure equal parental recognition. While heterosexual couples benefited from a presumption that the male spouse of a woman who gives birth is a parent, one partner in an LGBTQ couple is frequently a legal stranger to his or her child. Joanna first litigated the issue in Rutherford v. Ontario. She was also key strategist behind Cy and Ruby’s Law (Bill 137). After the bill stalled in 2015, Joanna launched a constitutional challenge, Grand v. Ontario, securing an interim settlement with the government. Joanna then helped draft the All Families Are Equal Act, which passed with all-party support in late 2016.

Angela E. Rae, Filion Wakely Thorup Angelletti LLP

Recognized leaders in their field, Frances Gallop and Angela Rae advise and represent employers in all aspects of labour and employment law. They advise clients on issues central to the advancement of women, including human rights, accommodation, discrimination, pay equity, harassment and parental leave. Both Frances and Angela have been instrumental in changing the culture of the historically maledominated labour Bar and of their firm. Frances and Angela have consistently provided mentorship, counselling, and practice management support to women in the firm and the broader legal community. They’ve written articles and provided seminars and training programs to their clients and the legal community on discrimination, harassment, equity and human rights issues, and on recognizing and resolving cultural and systemic barriers. Both have prepared policies for clients and the firm on equity-related issues.

Audrey Ramsay, Blouin Dunn LLP

Audrey Ramsay is a volunteer for NourishHOPE, raising funds for the International Justice Mission rescuing women and girls from sexual slavery. An immigrant daughter of a single mother of six, she was the first black woman to serve as chair of: the Bar Dispute Counsel Forum at the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO); the OBA Professional Development Committee, where she initiated a diversity program for all 37 sections and a strategic plan for the expansion of Continuing Legal Education; and the OBA Insurance Law Section (2014 to 2016), where she made submissions on the impact of proposed regulatory changes to no-fault benefits. She was Chair of OBA Civil Litigation Section (2009 to 2010), which spawned the Franchise Law & Class Action sections. In 2010, she was awarded the OBA Linda Adlam Manning Award for volunteerism.

Charlene Ripley, Goldcorp Inc.

As executive and General Counsel, Charlene Ripley’s contributions to community, company and legal profession are profound. Charlene is responsible for Goldcorp’s human resources function and a member of its diversity committee. She is a key contributor in setting policy and process and enhancing diversity awareness across the company. She has mandated that high-potential employee selection and hiring process all require gender diversity in candidate selection; all language used in job postings be gender-neutral; and that a diverse candidate pool be presented for final selection. She has mandated diversity within succession planning and helped Goldcorp craft an ethics and compliance function. She restructured the legal function, including a “make versus buy” project to determine what legal work should be managed internally versus externally. Charlene is Chair of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of BC & Yukon.

Suzanne Rix, Cox & Palmer

Suzanne Rix is a partner and chair of the firm’s immigration practice group. She specializes in relocation and retention of foreign workers for regional, national and international companies and assisting clients in applying for permanent residence, retaining permanent-resident status and applying for Canadian citizenship. Since joining the firm, Suzanne has created one of the largest immigration practices in Atlantic Canada, also mentoring and training the firm’s lawyers across Atlantic Canada in immigration law. She has served three terms on the firm’s Halifax management team, which demonstrates the confidence, trust and respect of her partners. She has also served as the Professional Personnel Partner, a demanding role overseeing associates. Suzanne has been named one of Canada’s Leading Lawyers Under 40 and selected as a Best Lawyer in Canada in Immigration Law from 2013 to present.