2017 Zenith Award Winners


Marcia L. Brennan, McCain Foods Ltd

As General Counsel, Marcia Brennan supports global management of the McCain Foods brand, the world’s largest privately owned manufacturer of frozen food products. Marcia has been instrumental in several M&A projects, product launches, and numerous regulatory and compliance matters. With her team, she is responsible for a diverse geographical territory, building strong relationships with external counsel in many strategic jurisdictions. She’s a strong team builder who mentors junior lawyers, law students and peers, helping create many key policy and training initiatives for McCain. Marcia has served on numerous boards and several Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society committees. She’s a member of a small team working on an inaugural Atlantic Canadian event for Women General Counsel in Canada. She’s a director with Pathway to Progress, a Canadian charity funding children’s education in Nicaragua.

Natasha Brown, Legal Help Centre

Natasha Brown is the Legal Director and Executive Director of the Legal Help Centre, a non-profit organization in Winnipeg whose small staff, volunteers and 50 law students are all women. The beneficiaries of Natasha’s advocacy and leadership are also women. Natasha and her group ensure the law works for everyone. She’s an effective leader, mentor and advocate, devoted to advancement of equity, education and access to justice. Her mission, and LHC’s, is to work in partnership with the community to increase access to legal and social-service systems for disadvantaged community members. Natasha has been a sessional lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba, and has acted as supervising lawyer of Robson Hall’s third-year LHC internship program. She’s also a member of the Canadian Bar Association’s Standing Committee on Access to Justice.

Shivani Chopra, Hicks Morley Hamilton Stewart Storie LLP Toronto

After completing her law program and being called to the Bar in India, Shivani Chopra moved to Canada in 2003. Upon completion of her Master of Laws at Dalhousie University, Shivani obtained her equivalency of Canadian law degree, articled and was called to the New Brunswick Bar in 2008. She became a partner in 2016. Her practice focuses on insurance defence litigation and employment law. She’s a diversity champion in the legal profession of Atlantic Canada, speaking about diversity in different forums and offering guidance and support to struggling candidates whenever possible. Shivani is one of the very few visible-minority, immigrant women partners at a large law firm in Atlantic Canada and her community service work has made her the recipient of a volunteer recognition award at McInnes Cooper.

Tamela Coates, Lawson Lundell LLP

Sheila MacPherson and Tamela Coates are partners in the Lawson Lundell’s Yellowknife and Calgary offices, respectively, who have led, implemented and fostered the advancement of women in law. Their work includes: facilitating the use of practice-management coaches in the areas of leadership for women, efficiency, organization and timekeeping; supporting the adoption of flexible work arrangements and parental leaves for both male and female lawyers; participating in the Justicia Project to promote the retention and advancement of women in private practice; and a teamwork approach to files, particularly as initiated by Sheila in Yellowknife, allowing lawyers to enjoy more time off. With Sheila’s and Tamela’s leadership, the firm anticipates female partnership will reach 50 per cent by the end of 2017, and they have been recognized by nearly two dozen national, provincial and local awards.

Jacqueline De Gagné, Bayer Inc.

Jacqueline De Gagné has become a role model to women, entering patent law and science when this was still uncommon for women. Jacqueline combined her expertise and leadership skills to become responsible for Bayer’s law and patents, compliance, privacy, risk management and corporate governance functions. Her role involves leading teams of specialists across Canada on complex litigation, commercial legal matters, and governance issues. Among her many responsibilities, she advocates for market access to lifesaving drugs for disadvantaged patients. She spends much of her time mentoring colleagues and students at Bayer, as well as speaking at universities, on panels, and in meetings in her local community on the topics of women in IP and life sciences. She advocates for diversity of opinion, experience and background within her team. Jacqueline was recognized as a Corporate IP Star for Canada in 2016.