2021-2022 Board of Directors
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 Secretary of ApplyBoard Inc. and is responsible for ApplyBoard's global legal operations, privacy and data governance compliance and risk management portfolios and acts as Secretary of the Board of Directors. 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. Prior to her current role at ApplyBoard, Alexa created and led the Office of General Counsel and Board Secretariat at Sheridan College. Prior to her General Counsel roles, Alexa practiced as a litigator at a Bay Street law firm. She lives in Toronto with her husband and four children.
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.
Andrea joined Capital One Canada Bank in 2016 and is currently General Counsel and Chief Risk Officer. In this role, she is responsible for the delivery of legal and compliance services, enterprise risk management, and government and regulatory relations for Capital One’s Canadian business. At Capital One, Andrea is the executive sponsor of the company’s Women in Tech Network, a group that supports the advancement of women in the workplace by breaking down gender-specific biases and promoting equitable treatment. Andrea is also a founding member of the company’s Diversity Council, created to foster an inclusive environment where every employee’s voice is heard and matters.
Prior to joining Capital One, Andrea was General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for the Canadian Bankers Association (CBA). As part of the executive team, Andrea acted as the lead legal advisor for the CBA and was responsible for the Communications function as well as the CBA’s Consumer Affairs Policy team. Before that, she was General Counsel for Mastercard Canada, responsible for legal affairs and public policy.
Andrea is active on various legal and industry practice groups, sits on many advisory boards, and is a frequent speaker on topics related to banking and technology. She is a graduate of the University of Ottawa law school.
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.
Kimberley Graham is Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary at CT REIT. With 30 years of legal experience, Ms. Graham specializes in commercial real estate, securities and corporate governance . Ms. Graham previously served as Assistant General Counsel, Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC), Vice President, and Chief Counsel, CT REIT. Prior to joining CTC, Ms. Graham held increasingly senior roles within the banking industry including General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer and Corporate Secretary of Equitable Bank. She also practiced commercial real estate law at two national law firms. Ms. Graham was admitted to the Ontario Bar in 1990 and holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Western Ontario and a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Concordia University, and completed the Directors Education Program at the Institute of Corporate Directors at the University of Toronto.
PAST PRESIDENT & ATLANTIC CHAPTER LEAD
Elspeth is General Counsel, Global Compliance at McCain Foods Limited. During her time with McCain she has had primary accountability for legal and regulatory risk management in the high-growth and diverse region encompassing Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Elspeth has also managed legal partnership with innovation and technology stakeholders at McCain and has more recently assumed global responsibility for compliance, including in respect of anti-corruption, competition, information governance, and privacy.
Prior to joining McCain, Elspeth acquired extensive commercial and compliance experience at Siemens Canada, where she handled a 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 Ontario and the New Brunswick Law Society.
Elspeth enjoys living with her family in the beautiful Saint John River Valley in New Brunswick.
QUEBEC CHAPTER LEAD
Deborah Greenberg is the Chief Information Officer at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). She is responsible for furthering the technology and business transformation, and driving the digital strategy of the company, to ensure that technology underpins every aspect of the business to enable the achievement of the corporate strategy. She is a member of the Executive Committee.
Prior to becoming the CIO, Deborah was the Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary at CMHC. In that role, she was 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 Affordable Housing. She was also responsible for leading the corporate secretariat function.
Prior to joining CMHC, Deborah was the General Counsel at Aimia (Aeroplan). 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 joined Aeroplan where she practiced in a variety of areas, and was a member if the Executive Leadership Team. 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 and in 2019 Deborah and her legal team were listed on the GC Powerlist, Teams (Canada). Also in 2019, Deborah was listed among the Top 25 most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine.
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.
ONTARIO CHAPTER LEAD
Lara Speirs is a fluently bilingual C-suite executive, board member (ICD.D designation) and General Counsel, with over 20 years of experience in HR services, financial institutions, media/ broadcasting, government, crown corporations and registered charities.
Lara currently chairs Randstad Charity Foundation. She is an active member of the CD Howe Institute and sits on its Human Capital Council and COVID-19 working group. She is also the former Chair of the HR Committee and board member of Boost Youth & Child Advocacy Centre. Lara also serves as an independent advisor to the Board on governance issues for Lac Marois Country Club and Inter Lake Youth Club.
Prior to serving as EVP and General Counsel, Legal & Public Affairs, Randstad Canada, Lara acted as in-house counsel, with expertise in overseeing HR governance, data privacy, compliance and risk management programs. Lara started her career as a constitutional litigator with the Department of Justice. Lara graduated from McGill University with both her common law and civil law degrees. Lara obtained her BAH (psychology and health) from Queens University.
Lara is passionate about the rapidly evolving world of work in a post-Covid, gig economy and brings discipline to the navigation of the complex web of automation, a diverse and flexible workforce, heightened data security and privacy, and increasingly regulated work environments. Lara enjoys contributing to public policy discussions and leading strategies that foster business growth while mitigating these risks.
PRAIRIES CHAPTER LEAD
Jennifer Addison is Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate Secretary of EPCOR Utilities Inc. and oversees the delivery of all Canadian legal services for EPCOR, as well as compliance, ethics and privacy functions. She is also responsible for information services, physical security and supply chain management. As Corporate Secretary, Jennifer works closely with EPCOR's Board of Directors.
Jennifer holds a law degree from Queen's University and is a member of the Law Society of Alberta. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Edmonton's Citadel Theatre, The Queen's Law Alberta Advisory Council and the CABREE Advisory Board.
BRITISH COLUMBIA CHAPTER LEAD
Catherine leads and oversees MEC’s legal, governance, privacy, real estate and sustainability matters. She brings over 13 years of distinguished legal experience to MEC, and prior to joining MEC, Catherine was Senior Counsel at TELUS and associate at Borden Ladner Gervais, LLP. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours) in Finance from the University of British Columbia and a Juris Doctor from the University of Toronto. She was also Board Secretary of TELUS Victoria Community Board from 2014 to 2019. She is the co-chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Steering Committee at MEC. In her free time, Catherine enjoys personal training, biking, golfing and travelling with her family.
MEMBERSHIPS & AWARDS
Angela Nikolakakos is the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Office of Natixis Investment Managers Canada LP, the investment fund manager of the Natixis Funds. At Natixis, Angela provides ongoing legal, compliance and corporate secretarial advice to all of Natixis’ investment funds, mutual fund corporation and investment fund manager in connection with securities, corporate and regulatory matters such as the creation and development of mutual fund products, distribution issues and continuous disclosure obligations. She is a member of the Legal and Compliance Issues Working Group of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada and a Director of Women General Counsel Canada.
Before joining Natixis in June 2016, Ms. Nikolakakos held senior positions at BMO Financial Group. Most recently she was Senior Counsel & Director in the Wealth Management Group providing legal advice to BMO’s investment funds and fund managers on a wide range of corporate, securities and regulatory issues.
Ms. Nikolakakos practiced law as a partner and as an associate in the Corporate and Securities Group of Gowling WLG’s Toronto Office. She earned her Master of Laws degree from Osgoode Hall Law School, her Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Windsor and her Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto. She also holds a certificate in Regulatory Compliance and Legal Risk Management for Financial Institutions from Osgoode Hall Law School.
PARTNERSHIPS & SPONSORSHIPS
Bindu Cudjoe is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary for CWB Financial Group, leading teams responsible for managing legal and regulatory compliance risk. Prior to joining CWB in December, Bindu spent six years at BMO Financial Group serving most recently as Vice President, Deputy General Counsel - Technology and Operations and Chief Knowledge Officer, and prior to that Deputy General Counsel & Chief Operating Officer. At BMO she managed legal and regulatory risk relating to a wide range of topics from technology to outsourcing, intellectual property to marketing, trade finance, corporate banking, correspondent banking and commercial banking and also lead the General Counsel group’s initiatives in knowledge management, technology, project management, e-discovery and litigation support, board and senior management reporting, administrative assistance, finance, human resources, real estate, strategic initiatives and BMO's outside counsel program. Prior to BMO, Bindu was a Partner with McMillan LLP in the financial services group. Bindu was named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers in Canada by Canadian Lawyer Magazine in 2016 and a Lexpert Rising Star: Leading Lawyers under 40 in 2014. She is active in her community and currently secretary and director of the Oakville Community Foundation and a vice president and director of Women General Counsel Canada Network.
Communications & Website
Lisa Marcuzzi is the Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of ArcelorMittal Dofasco, and ArcelorMittal Country Counsel, Canada.She is responsible for managing all legal, governance and compliance matters. Lisa is a member of the Executive Team and the Pension Committee, and serves as the ArcelorMittal Americas Regional Coordinator for Group transactions and Corporate Secretarial matters. Lisa has served on the WGCC Conference organization committee for 2 years and joined the board in 2020 as a 2021 Conference Co-Chair. She is also a member of the Legal Leaders for Diversity.
Prior to joining the ArcelorMittal Group, Lisa was a partner with the Toronto office of an international law firm, engaged in a broad corporate/commercial law practice with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, infrastructure financing, governance and regulatory compliance, and served as a contributing editor to each of the Business Law Reports and O’Brien’s Encyclopedia of Forms.
She is an active member of her community volunteering at a local community centre and previously serving as a director of the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario and the Adoption Council of Ontario.
Lisa has been awarded/named: Lexpert’s Rising Star – Leading Lawyers under 40 (2008), Lexpert’s US/Canada Cross-Border Corporate Lawyers to Watch (2009), GC Powerlist Canada (2016) GC, and GC Powerlist – Canada Teams (2019).
Lisa graduated from the University of Western Ontario with a Bachelor of Arts (Administrative and Commercial Studies), and from the University of Windsor with a Bachelor of Laws and a Masters of Business. She is a member of the Law Society of Ontario.
Dorothy Quann is the former Vice-President & General Counsel of Xerox Canada. Prior to joining Xerox, she practised insolvency and restructuring law at Smith Lyons.Dorothy is Chair of the Law & Business Advisory Council TRSM at Ryerson University. She is a member of Ontario Trillium Foundation Grant Review team, and past President of Legal Leaders for Diversity. Dorothy is a recipient of the General Counsel Award from Women's Law Association of Ontario, and the Lexpert Zenith Award for her leadership in the legal industry, and the World of Difference Award by the International Alliance for Women for her contribution to the advancement of women in business.Dorothy holds a B.A. Honours and LLB from the University of Ottawa, and qualified as a solicitor in the UK. She also holds a certificate in Adjudication for Administrative Agencies, Boards & Tribunals from Osgoode Hall Law School.
2022 CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
Alison Harnick is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of First Capital REIT, a leading developer, owner and manager of mixed-use real estate located in Canada’s most densely populated cities. Prior to joining First Capital, Alison gained over 10 years of experience in private practice at Torys LLP, representing and advising companies across a broad range of industries in connection with securities and corporate transactions, risk management, mergers, acquisitions, dispositions, public and private offerings of equity and debt securities, and numerous other commercial transactions. She also has strong expertise advising public companies and their boards of directors on corporate governance and regulatory compliance matters.
Alison is passionate about First Capital’s mandate to create thriving urban neighbourhoods. In 2020, she led the creation of First Capital’s not for profit organization, the FCR Thriving Urban Neighbourhoods Foundation, and is a member of the Board of Directors of Park People, a Canadian not for profit organization that helps realize the power of parks to build strong communities, healthy environments and resilient cities.
2022 CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
Heather Mullen is the Vice President, Law at Johnson & Johnson Inc. (JJI) where she oversees all legal matters pertaining to its Consumer Health sector in Canada and is Corporate Secretary to the Board of Directors. Heather is the executive sponsor for the Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI), Open & Out (supporting the LGBTQ+ community) as well as an active member of external industry associations and numerous internal company initiatives, both local and global.
Heather joined the Johnson & Johnson medical device sector in 2012, and since that time has been a member of several executive leadership teams including DePuy Synthes, LifeScan Canada, Animas Canada, Synthes Canada, Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics as well as Medical Products and VisionCare Canada. While in the medical devices sector, Heather was not only active in the industry association (MEDEC), she was also an active as an executive sponsor of both the Operation Smile campaign and the WLI.
Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson in Canada, Heather held a senior legal position with a global healthcare company during which she was a member of the Pension, Risk Management and Compliance Committee, a Director of the company’s charitable foundation and member of the WLI.
Heather is called to the Bar in both Nova Scotia and Ontario.