Women General Counsel Canada is led by an amazing group of senior women in general counsel and legal executive roles from across Canada with diverse professional backgrounds.
Alexa Abiscott is the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of The Sheridan College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning. Alexa is a proud founding member of the Women’s General Counsel Chapter (WGCC) of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario and member of the Executive of the WGCC. Since 2012, during Sheridan’s exciting transition to become a university, Alexa has led the Office of General Counsel, which supports the Board of Governors and myriad stakeholders and provides oversight responsibility for Sheridan’s policies, privacy program, data governance and risk management. Prior to joining Sheridan, Alexa articled and practiced as a litigator at a Bay Street law firm.
Alexa holds an Honour’s Bachelor Degree from McGill University in Anthropology, a Graduate Diploma in Business from McGill University, a Bachelor of Laws from Western University, and has been certified in NFP governance by the Institute of Corporate Directors and the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
Mary Ellen Bench
Mary Ellen Bench is City Solicitor for the City of Mississauga. She graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School in 1984 and was called to the Bar in Ontario in 1986. She joined the City of Mississauga in May, 2001. In 2003, the International Municipal Lawyers Association (“IMLA”) conferred upon her the designation of Local Government Fellow. In 2006 she achieved the designation of Certified Specialist (Municipal Law – Local Government/Land Use Planning and Development Law) from the Law Society of Upper Canada. In 2015 she was granted the designation of Certified In-House Counsel, Canada (CIC.C) by the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and the Rotman School of Management, for her work as an advisor in the development of the program. Mary Ellen is a Past President of IMLA and is proud to be responsible for Membership and Awards as a member of the WGCC executive.
Outside of law, she is Secretary to CanoeKayak Canada’s Western Ontario Division, a National level canoe kayak official, and a member of CanoeKayak Canada’s Planning Committee.
Mary Ellen is a frequent speaker on municipal, ethics, governance, and contract law topics and has been involved in directing many City of Mississauga initiatives involving codes of conduct and ethics, land development, P3s, adapting to legislative change and other matters that impact or involve the City. She has also participated on steering committees at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). Mary Ellen was awarded IMLA’s Bruce A. Noble Award for a Distinguished Canadian Municipal Lawyer , is the 2015 recipient of the OBA’s Tom Marshall Award for Public Service Excellence and in 2016 received the Osgoode Hall Law School Alumni Gold Key award for public service.
Bindu Cudjoe is Vice President, Deputy General Counsel – T&O Legal and Chief Knowledge Officer of the legal, compliance and security groups at BMO Financial Group. She is accountable for managing legal and regulatory risk relating to technology, procurement, outsourcing, intellectual property and enterprise brand, marketing and social media. Additionally, she is responsible for knowledge management, including board and senior management reporting, project management, records and information management, centralized litigation support (e-discovery and legal holds) and internal knowledge-sharing systems.
Bindu was most recently Deputy General Counsel & Chief Operating Officer. Bindu started at BMO as Senior Counsel in the Canadian Personal & Commercial legal team and then lead the BMO Capital Markets Corporate Banking legal team. Prior to joining BMO in 2012, she was a partner in McMillan LLP’s Financial Services group and is an adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall law school at York University.
Bindu is active in her local community as a director and secretary of the Oakville Community Foundation. She is also active in the legal community as a director of the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto, former director of the Federation of Asian Canadian lawyers and is Vice-President and director of Women General Counsel Canada.
Bindu is a frequent speaker, panellist and writer on topics of innovation, diversity & inclusion and women in the legal profession. Bindu was recognized in 2016 as one of the 25 most influential lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine and was a 2014 recipient of the Lexpert Magazine Rising Star award and the South Asian Bar Association of Toronto’s 2014 Legal Excellence Award.
Cheryl Foy is UOIT’s first University Secretary and General Counsel, serving as the university’s senior advisor on governance and legal issues with responsibility for advising and supporting the UOIT Board of Governors and Academic Council and their committees.
Prior to joining UOIT, Cheryl was responsible for overseeing the legal affairs and large intellectual property portfolio at ViXS Systems Inc., a leading fabless semiconductor company based in Toronto. Before joining ViXS, Cheryl was University Secretary and General Counsel at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario where she provided legal counsel to the Board of Governors, its committees, the President, Vice-presidents, faculty and administrative leaders. She also served as the Chief Privacy Officer for the university. Prior to that, Cheryl was Vice-president, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Tundra Semiconductor Corporation, a Canadian public company. After completing her law degree, Cheryl practised law in Ottawa with a focus on litigation and also taught employment law at Queen’s University, Faculty of Law.
Cheryl is actively involved in the in-house legal community and was a digital columnist for Canadian Lawyer InHouse Magazine. Cheryl holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Studies, and a Bachelor of Laws, from Queen’s University at Kingston, Ontario and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1995.
Deborah Greenberg is the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). She is responsible for the development and oversight of the overall legal and governance framework for CMHC’s operations including managing commercial, claims, litigation, labour and employment, and general regulatory matters as well as supporting and partnering with the different areas of the business including Policy, Insurance and Underwriting, Capital Markets, and Assisted Housing. She is also responsible for leading the corporate secretariat function. She is a member of the Executive Committee.
Prior to joining CMHC, Deborah was the General Counsel at Aimia. Deborah started her law career at Davies Ward Philips & Vineberg LLP specializing in general commercial, securities and privacy law. After seven years, Deborah left private practice to serve as legal advisor for various businesses, including Air Canada. In 2007, she left Air Canada to join Aeroplan. Prior to her career in law, Deborah held various positions in marketing and advertising, including several years as the director of marketing for a private-label health and beauty manufacturer, where she researched trends, developed products, priced raw materials, led customer service, and managed quality control.
In 2014, Deborah won the prestigious Global Counsel Award in the General Commercial Law Category. In 2016, Deborah was listed among the top 100 Canadian general counsel on the GC Powerlist, which recognizes corporate counsel who drive the legal business forward. Deborah holds Bachelor’s degrees in Civil and Common law from McGill University, a Graduate Management diploma from McGill University, as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Carleton University. She has also obtained her ICD.D designation, which is granted after following a well-known rigorous accreditation program that provides corporate directors with the knowledge and tools to encourage and enable good governance practices.
Elspeth joined McCain Foods Limited with responsibility for the region encompassing Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (ANZ, AMENA) in 2011. While accountable for this high-growth and diverse region, she has led all substantial compliance, commercial, M&A, innovation, regulatory and corporate governance matters across many cultures, languages and time-zones. In 2015, Elspeth took on an additional role with global responsibility for compliance at McCain, including in respect of anti-corruption, record management and privacy.
Prior to joining McCain, Elspeth acquired extensive commercial and compliance experience at Siemens Canada, where she handled a large variety of complex matters in the energy, industrial and health-care sectors of this global engineering firm. She has also practiced in a national law firm in Toronto and with a regional Atlantic Canadian firm.
Elspeth has a JD from Osgoode Hall and completed graduate work at the University of Toronto. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the New Brunswick Law Society.
Elspeth enjoys living with her family in the beautiful Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick.
Dorothy Quann was most recently Vice President and General Counsel for Xerox Canada.
Dorothy is the Chair of the Law & Business Advocacy Council to the Ted Rogers School of Management. She was formerly on the Executive Committee of the Legal Leaders for Diversity. She is a member of the Board of Directors of the Cancer Research Society. She is a recipient of 2016 General Counsel Award from Women’s Law Association Ontario for commitment to the success of women in law. Dorothy received the Lexpert Zenith Awards which celebrates leading women lawyers. She is a recipient of The International Alliance for Women- World of Difference 100 Award, which recognizes women from around the world who have contributed to the advancement of women in business.
Dorothy is a Juror for the Canadian Lawyer In-house Innovation Awards, and a member of the Selection Committee of the Common Law Honour Society of the University of Ottawa. She is former member of the Advisory Panel to the University Of Toronto Global Professional Masters Of Law. She was the Co-Chair of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Ass. National Conference in 2015. She is a past member of the Board of Directors and Audit Committee of the YMCA of Greater Toronto. Dorothy is a former member of the Awards Committee of the Ontario Bar Ass. She was a director of the Ontario Board of the Information Technology Association of Canada. She is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada and the Law Society of England and Wales.
Julia Shin Doi
Julia Shin Doi is General Counsel and Secretary of the Board of Governors of Ryerson University. As an Executive Group member, she is responsible for providing legal and governance advice and has operational responsibility for access to information, privacy and records management. Julia is also a member of the Board of Directors of Ryerson Futures Inc. and the national Board of Directors of Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange (CURIE).
Julia has taught legal seminars for Ryerson University’s Law Centre and advises Ryerson’s Law Practice Program. She is an Executive in Residence for the Certified In-House Counsel – Canada designation offered by the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association and University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Julia is a past adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, where she taught from 2001 to 2013. She is the past director of the Osgoode Business Clinic, past instructor of Legal Drafting, past assistant director of the LLM in Business Law and past instructor of Osgoode Professional Development’s Commercial Legal Drafting Workshop. She currently teaches contract drafting and practice skills to lawyers.
Julia is the co-author of the leading Canadian text on drafting boilerplate contract clauses, Behind and Beyond Boilerplate: Drafting Commercial Agreements. She has also published and presented in the areas of licensing, securing copyright and privacy law and serves on the editorial board of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada’s Canadian Intellectual Property Review. Julia is also a past member of the editorial board of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association Magazine. She serves on the judging panel for Canadian Lawyer InHouse Magazine Innovatio Awards.
An active member of her community and the legal profession, Julia is past Chair of the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association of Ontario. She is past president of the Federation of Asian Canadian Lawyers and a founding member of the Korean Canadian Lawyers Association. She co-founded the Roundtable of Diversity Associations which brings together diverse professional associations, founded the Women’s General Counsel Group of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario to support senior women in law, and established the Law Practice Program Corporate Counsel Advisory Board. Julia serves on the Board of Directors of the Korean Canadian Arirang Age Friendly Community Centre.
She has been recognized by The Law Society of Upper Canada’s Diversifying the Bar: Lawyers Make History project as an early and exceptional lawyer from a diverse community, and also by the Korean Canadian Lawyers Association and the Korean Canadian Leadership Development committee for her community leadership. In 2014, Julia was named one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canadaby the Women’s Executive Network (WXN), in recognition of her vision and leadership, management role, contribution to corporate performance, and community service. In 2015, Julia was awarded the Ontario Bar Association’s Linda Adlam Manning Award for Volunteerism in recognition of her outstanding volunteer commitment, advancement of the interests of the Ontario Bar Association’s membership, and promotion of the role of the legal profession in Ontario. In 2016, the Canadian Bar Association and the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association awarded Julia their highest national honour, the R.V.A. Jones Award, as her career exemplifies the highest standards of service, conduct and professionalism.
Julia obtained her BA with distinction from the University of Toronto, her JD and LLM from Osgoode Hall Law School, was admitted to the Bar in Ontario in 1994, and is a registered trademark agent.
Hilda Wong is the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for First National and oversees all aspects of First National’s legal affairs including formation of legal policy, compliance and regulatory matters, governance, contract negotiation and documentation and is responsible for First National’s privacy and anti money laundering programs. Ms. Wong joined First National in 2007 as Senior Legal Counsel and was appointed General Counsel in January, 2013 and Vice President in April, 2014. Prior to joining First National, Ms. Wong was a partner with the national law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP. Ms. Wong has extensive experience in all aspects of financing, syndicated lending and real estate. Ms. Wong holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Toronto and has been in practice since 1993.