WOMEN GENERAL
COUNSEL CANADA

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2022-2023 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
PRESIDENT

Alexa 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 also on the Board of Directors of CoinSmart Financial Inc., an OSC-registered restricted dealer and marketplace crypto-currency trading platform, which is also publicly traded.  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.

Lara Speirs
VICE PRESIDENT

Lara 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 the former Chair of the HR Committee and board member of Boost Youth & Child Advocacy Centre. Lara 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.   

Hilda Wong

TREASURER

Hilda 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.

Hilda is the recipient of the 2021 WLAO General Counsel Chapter Award.

Alison Harnick

Secretary

Alison 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.

Elspeth Hagan
PAST PRESIDENT & ATLANTIC CHAPTER LEAD

Elspeth is Associate General Counsel and Director of Special Projects at The City of Saint John, Canada’s first incorporated City. Prior to her role with the City, she was General Counsel, Global Compliance at McCain Foods Limited and also regional General Counsel for the APMEA (Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa) region.

Before moving to New Brunswick, Elspeth commenced her career in the Business Law Section of a national law firm in Toronto, focusing on ICT and IP, before moving to Siemens Canada, where she acquired extensive commercial and compliance experience and handled a variety of complex, major projects in the energy, industrial, and health-care sectors of this global engineering 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 and is proud to be a member of the first cohort of Women General Counsel Canada GCU.

Genevieve Richard

QUEBEC CHAPTER LEAD

Genevieve acts as the Vice-President, Legal Services and Regulatory Compliance at VIA Rail Canada Inc. In charge of managing the legal and enterprise risk management teams of VIA Rail composed of lawyers, paralegals, risk and claims specialists. Experience executive with over 20 years of M&A, retail, transportation and IT project management background, she is recognized as a visionary leader and as a change agent that specializes in business transformation, growth and expansion as well as reshaping organizations to ensure sustainability of their business.

Prior to joining VIA Rail, she has worked at Belron Canada a company specializing in the automotive glass replacement, repair and distribution industry as well at The CSL Group specialized in maritime transportation and international trading. She is a graduate of Université de Sherbrooke and Université de Montreal. Throughout her career, Ms. Richard sat on CBA and Quebec Bar committees and has always invested time to share best practices with the legal community.

Jennifer Good
ONTARIO CHAPTER LEAD

  Jennifer joined CRH Canada in 2008 as Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary. CRH is the leading diversified building materials business in the world, employing 77,000 people at 3,100 locations in 29 countries, and is the largest building materials business in North America. Jennifer and her team provide all aspects of legal and compliance support to all of CRH’s businesses in Canada.

Previously, Jennifer served as Corporate Counsel for Home Depot Canada and practiced with the Toronto office of Heenan Blaikie LLP (corporate law) and the Montreal office of Fasken Martineau Dumoulin LLP (litigation).

She holds civil and common law degrees from McGill University, is a member of the bars of Ontario and Quebec and practices law in English and French. She remains closely connected to McGill University, volunteering on several boards and committees.


Jennifer Addison
PRAIRIES CHAPTER LEAD

Jennifer 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.

Lilac Bosma
BRITISH COLUMBIA CHAPTER LEAD

Lilac is the General Counsel of HSBC Bank Canada, the proud leader of a national team working together to protect HSBC and help grow HSBC’s business. Prior to joining HSBC, Lilac was a partner at a regional firm in Vancouver, with a broad general commercial litigation and employment law practice. Lilac joined HSBC as a specialist employment lawyer in 2012, took on the role of Head of Litigation and Regulatory Enforcement in 2014, and was appointed Senior Vice President and General Counsel in June 2018.

In her role as General Counsel, Lilac is a member of HSBC Bank Canada’s Executive Committee. She also plays a global role in HSBC as a member of HSBC’s Global Legal Risk Executive Committee, considering legal risk and regulatory trends in jurisdictions all over the world. Lilac is a champion for diversity and inclusion, and is currently Executive Co-Sponsor for HSBC’s Indigenous Canadian Employee Resource Group.

Lilac’s goal is to build and maintain an agile in-house legal team that provides simple, practical advice to support HSBC’s business priorities in a sustainable and ethical way. She brings the skills she honed as a commercial litigator to every aspect of her role, strategically managing conflict to obtain superior outcomes for the organization. Lilac is known for her creative problem-solving, clear thinking under pressure and direct yet diplomatic communication. Her passion is people; Lilac’s personal purpose is to help those around her grow and transform to fulfill their full potential.

In her personal life, Lilac enjoys cycling, hiking and skiing with her husband and three daughters.


Heather Mullen

MEMBERSHIPS, interconnectedness & AWARDS

Heather 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. 


Catherine Lau

PARTNERSHIPS & SPONSORSHIPS

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.

Deborah Greenberg

Communications & advocacy

Deborah Greenberg is an experienced executive and passionate leader. Most recently she was the Chief Information Officer at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) where she was 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.

Deborah joined CMHC in 2017 as Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary. In that role, she was responsible for the development and oversight of the overall legal and governance framework for CMHC’s operations. Prior to joining CMHC, Deborah was the General Counsel at Aimia (Aeroplan). Deborah started her law career at Davies Ward Philips & Vineberg LLP, and 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 of 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.

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 at CMHC 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. In 2021, she was short listed for the Canadian General Counsel Award in the category of Business Achievement.

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. She is a member of the Board of Women General Counsel Canada, where she was the chair of the Quebec region and is currently in charge of Communications and Advocacy. She is also a mentor for new and aspiring women general counsel.

Jolie Lin
MENTORSHIP & EMERITUS

Jolie Lin is the Founder & CEO of Linnovation Works. She is a creative and collaborative thought leader who truly impacts the organizations she serves.

Before founding Linnovation Works, Jolie was Vice-President and Deputy General Counsel at Bank of Montreal from 2009 to 2019. As DGC and Chief Knowledge Officer, she led global innovation initiatives to create greater efficiency and to maximize resources for BMO’s Legal & Regulatory Compliance group. Jolie established functions for project management, records and information management, centralized litigation support (eDiscovery and legal holds), internal knowledge-sharing systems, centralized board reporting, legal tech strategy, and continuing professional development. Her team was also accountable for managing legal and regulatory risk for BMO’s Technology & Operations functions, including cybersecurity, privacy, procurement, technology outsourcing, brand IP, marketing, advertising and social media.

The last role Jolie held at BMO was Chief Legal Officer for BMO’s Canadian Personal and Commercial Banking businesses, where she was accountable for managing legal and regulatory risk relating to BMO’s retail branches, personal and corporate credit cards, its commercial loan portfolio, Corporate Finance Division, Treasury & Payment Solutions and Special Accounts Management Unit. Jolie led her team in managing significant regulatory exams and reviews, cyber attacks, unprecedented consumer class actions, innovative new product development, and countless customer questions.

Prior to joining BMO, Jolie was a partner in the Financial Services Group at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP. She was also responsible for KM at Vale Inco Limited immediately before joining BMO.

Jolie received her LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. She is a board member of Canada’s National Ballet School (Chair, Nominating and Governance), a director of Women General Counsel Canada, and a certified coach.

Ratika Gandhi
2023 CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
 

Ratika is currently General Counsel of Alcon Canada Inc., an evolving medical device company with a mission to help patients see more brilliantly. In addition to overseeing all legal and compliance issues for this organization within a complex industry, she is an active member of the Senior Leadership Team, which she finds to be the most rewarding aspect of her role. Her approach has always been to be a collaborative but proactive legal advisor, providing risk-management advice and embedding principles of sound corporate governance. Ratika has repeatedly trained other executive members on fiduciary duties, employment law considerations, best practices from a diversity and inclusion standpoint and compliance issues. She is a champion of a “Tone from the Top” culture and work to instill principles of integrity and collaboration to facilitate strong performance results. She is also currently the project lead on Alcon’s global transformation initiative aimed to redefine how the entire organization worldwide, engages and contracts with third parties.

Clare Smith
2023 CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
 

Clare Smith is General Counsel at PepsiCo Beverages Canada, and is responsible for all legal matters relating to the Canadian business. Clare is passionate about brands and innovation, diversity and inclusion and employee engagement. Clare has spent the majority of her legal career in-house in the consumer packaged goods industry. She was previously the General Counsel at Labatt Breweries of Canada.

Clare began her legal career at Blakes. Clare holds a law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School and a Bachelor of Arts Honours (Political Studies) from Queen’s University

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