2017 Zenith Award Winners


Charlene Theodore, Ontario English Catholic Teachers' Association

As chair of the Ontario Bar Association’s equality committee, Charlene Theodore headed a leadership diversity initiative within the OBA, an organization led predominantly by white men since its formation in 1907. Charlene brought together public- and private-sector leaders to plan a leadership pipeline for women and people of colour, and the resulting strategy was adopted by the OBA for implementation in 2017 and 2018 to change the future face of the Bar Association. She is currently OBA Treasurer and an in-demand speaker on gender equality and the equal representation of women of colour. Charlene has also been extremely active as a member of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers (CABL) and is currently Treasurer. Charlene served as counsel for the Ontario Nurses’ Association and the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association, organizations representing predominantly female workforces.

Heather Treacy, DLA Piper (Canada) LLP

Under Heather Treacy’s leadership, the Calgary office has maintained its complement of lawyers and a collegial culture through a tough economy pummelled by plunging oil prices. Heather has acted as counsel for several precedent-setting matters in Aboriginal law, a specialized area with significant economic and socio-cultural implications and has published and lectured widely in the US and Canada. She co-founded the Internationally Trained Lawyers Program, helping new Canadians who practised law overseas overcome accreditation barriers, and she founded the Calgary office Women’s Mentoring Network to assist female lawyers to build their practices. She champions workplace accommodations such as flex hours and diversity, to help lawyers achieve work/life balance. She chairs the firm’s Canadian pro bono committee, leading projects and fostering a culture of engagement. She received a Women in Law Leadership Award in 2016.

Shawna Vogel, Dentons Canada LLP

Practising corporate-commercial law in Edmonton, Shawna Vogel became the first woman to chair the firm in Canada in 2015 and a leader at the global level when she became the second woman to join the 25-person global board as a Vice- Chair. Shawna provides strong leadership, mentoring and modelling of ideal behaviours to the benefit of other lawyers of both genders. It’s very unusual for national firms in any sector to be led out of Edmonton, or by a woman. It’s even rarer for that to happen at a global level. Professionally, Shawna is an exceptional lawyer whose ability to complete projects and to work on major and impactful files is exemplified by Edmonton’s new Rogers Place and Ice District. Shawna has also served as a director of the Legal Education Society of Alberta and the Organization of Women in International Trade (Alberta Branch).

Elizabeth Watson, WATSON Advisors Inc.

Elizabeth Watson has provided exceptional advocacy for women in corporate leadership, both by recruiting women to boards and supporting women in board and executive positions. In 2001, after a 20-year career in private practice, Elizabeth was hired to oversee appointments to all of BC’s Crown corporations. In that role, she instituted merit-based recruitment to hire exceptional women to BC public-sector boards, achieving 40 per cent female directors. Many women profiled during Liz’s tenure went on to serve in key leadership positions across Canada. Returning to the private sector in 2005, she established a boutique executive search firm known for providing practical, expert advice to boards of directors. Her commitment to getting women to the board table has resulted in enormous positive change for hundreds of women. Liz was named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in 2012.

Katy Waugh, The Bank of Nova Scotia

Katy Waugh is responsible for leading a 75-person legal department at Scotiabank and is currently a member of numerous senior management committees. Katy has been involved in programming for women and diverse team members, creating opportunity to initiate real change. While part of the risk-management division, she was co-chair of the GRM advancement of women committee and is currently involved in the bank’s gender equity committee. The Advancement of Women risk committee focused on building a strong feeder pool of junior women to succeed into more senior roles, understanding their perspectives and providing relevant training. She has mentored and helped ensure opportunities for women to strengthen their professional skills. Katy is currently a United Way Law Cabinet co-chair and has been a supporter and previous participant in Pathways to Education and Camp Oochigeas.