2024-2025 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.
As the Chief Legal Officer and EVP of Public Affairs of Randstad Canada for the last 10 years, Lara is a fluently bilingual C-suite executive and ICD-certified board member, with expertise in legal, HR and public affairs functions. Lara's 25-year legal career straddles the private sector (HR services & financial institutions) and the public sector (government and Crown corporations).
As the 2022 Canada Law Award finalist for Female Trailblazer of the Year, Lara seeks to drive business growth in balance with strong risk mitigation strategies in the rapidly evolving world of work. Lara is passionate about promoting a purpose-driven and diverse & inclusive workplace, bringing rigor to the growing gig economy and discipline to the complex web of automation, heightened data security and privacy.
In addition to serving as President and board member of Women General Counsel Canada, Lara is an active member of the CD Howe Institute and sits on its Human Capital Council. Lara also currently serves as an independent advisor to the Board on governance issues for Lac Marois Country Club. Her previous board experience includes serving as: the former chair of the Randstad Charity Foundation, as HR Committee and board member of the Side Launch Brewery and as the former Chair of the HR Committee and board member of Boost Youth & Child Advocacy Centre.
Prior to serving as Chief Legal Officer & EVP Public Affairs, Randstad Canada, Lara was 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, after graduating from McGill University with both common law and civil law degrees. Lara obtained her BAH (psychology and health) magna cum laude from Queens University.
VICE CHAIR & TREASURER
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.
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.
SPONSORSHIPS & PARTNERSHIPS
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.
GOVERNANCE & MEMBERSHIP
Heather holds the Chief Counsel position in Canada with Kenvue, the
largest pure-play consumer healthcare company in the world. She also holds
several executive positions with Kenvue as Officer, Director and Corporate
Secretary for all Kenvue companies in Canada. Until recently, she also was lead
counsel for the Kenvue US Customer Development Team, which includes territories
in the Caribbean and was a member of the US Customer Development Leadership
Team. In addition to these corporate responsibilities,
she is a member of the Kenvue Pension Committee, the North American DE&I
Council, the Executive Sponsor for both Women@Kenvue and Pride@Kenvue (supporting
the LGBTQ+ community) and the BCP Site Sponsor for both Canadian campuses. Heather is also an active volunteer mentor with
the University of Toronto Women’s Association, a member of several industry and
professional associations and is often called upon to lead company initiatives
at both the local and global level.
Heather graduated with a Business Administration Degree from Acadia
University (concentrations in Finance and
Pension), obtained her Law Degree from the University of Alberta, and earned
her MBA (Dean’s List Scholar) from University of New Brunswick (focus on
International Business). She earned her
GCU.D designation in 2023 and will complete her qualifications for her ICD.D from
the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto later in 2024.
qualified to practice in both Ontario and Nova Scotia and is a member of the
Canadian Bar Association, Canadian Corporate Counsel Association, the Women’s
Law Association of Ontario, the GC Collective and the Nova Scotia Barrister’s
Society. In 2023, Heather was awarded
the Ontario Women’s Law Association General Counsel Chapter Award in recognition
of her leadership role and commitment to the success of women in law. In the 2022
Canadian Law Awards, Heather was an Excellence Awardee for Law Department
Leader of the Year.
Heather is called to the Bar in both Nova
Scotia and Ontario and lives in Oakville with her husband and family.
Andrea is General Counsel for Amica Senior Lifestyles, Canada’s leading provider of premium, private-pay retirement residences and a wholly owned subsidiary of Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan. In her role, Andrea leads and advises the business on all legal, strategic, and corporate - related matters, including all transactions, development, operations, and regulatory and compliance activities.
Prior to joining Amica, Andrea practiced for 9 years at Oxford Properties Group, the real estate investment arm of OMERS, where she advised on a broad range of complex real estate transactions, development projects and corporate law matters across all asset classes in Canada, the US and Europe. Andrea also spent eight years as a student/associate in private practice in the corporate real estate department of Goodmans LLP.
Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science from Queens University and an LL.B from the University of Western Ontario. In 2022 Andrea was one of three Canadian finalists for Chambers & Partners Diversity & Inclusion: Lawyer of the Year in recognition of her contributions and leadership towards equity, diversity and inclusion. In 2019, Andrea was awarded a Lexpert Rising Star, an award recognizing leading Canadian lawyers under 40. She has been named to The Legal 500 GC Powerlist: Canada for 2016-2017 and 2019-2020, a list recognizing the most influential and innovative in-house corporate counsel in the country, and in 2016 she was a recipient of the Women in Build Awards, recognizing her dedication and creativity in a typically male-dominated industry. Andrea is a member of the Women’s Law Association of Ontario, Toronto CREW and Women General Counsel of Canada. She is an active mentor in the real estate and legal communities and currently serves as a Director and Chair of Governance to the Pine River Institute.
Kathleen Flynn is the former Executive Vice President Real Estate, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Indigo Books & Music Inc. where she was responsible for the real estate portfolio and all legal, compliance and governance matters for Indigo, a publicly traded Canadian retailer. Prior to her in-house career at Indigo and Sears Canada she practiced real estate law at a national law firm in Toronto and taught courses part time at both Seneca College and University of Toronto. Kathleen serves as a Director on the National Board of Habitat for Humanity Canada, Chairs the Governance Committee and has served on the Nominating and the Housing and Community Strategy Committees. Kathleen also serves as a mentor seeking to empower women and girls, under various programs, including Fora Network for Change – Rise on Boards. Kathleen holds an LLB from Queens University, an LLM from York University and the ICD.D designation from University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management.
PROGRAMMING & REGIONAL RECRUITMENT (ONTARIO)
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.
REGIONAL RECRUITMENT (QUEBEC & ATLANTIC)
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.
REGIONAL RECRUITMENT (ALBERTA & PRAIRIES)
Leah is currently acting as the Senior Corporate Development Advisor at AltaGas Ltd., co-leading a multidisciplinary negotiation and transition team tasked with the C$1.1 billion divestiture of the Alaskan natural gas utilities. Previously, she served as the General Counsel, Corporate and Corporate Secretary of AltaGas. As General Counsel, she maintained primary responsibility for legal support of global corporate functions including finance, tax, IT, HR, regulatory affairs and ESG. As Corporate Secretary she acted as liaison between the Chair, board members and management and assisted the board in the development, oversight and review of governance practices. Prior to joining AltaGas, Leah was a senior associate in the securities group of Torys LLP’s Calgary office.
Leah holds a law degree from Pepperdine University and is called to the Bar in Alberta, California and the District of Columbia.
REGIONAL RECRUITMENT (BRITISH COLUMBIA)
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.
Cinda Serianni is Associate General Counsel, Legal Affairs for Gilead Sciences Canada, Inc. and member of the Canadian Leadership Team. Working in the pharmaceutical industry for over 23 years, Cinda is used to wearing multiple hats. She oversees Gilead Canada’s legal activities and policies, as well as ethics and compliance. She provides strategic and tactical legal advice to senior management, global colleagues and business clients, in a manner which furthers the company’s strategic objectives, while at the same time meets the company’s legal and compliance obligations. Cinda is the executive sponsor for the employee resource group, Women at Gilead.
Cinda joined Gilead in 2008, leaving GlaxoSmithKline Inc. where she was legal counsel. Prior to her move in-house, Cinda was a litigator in Toronto, and St. Catharines, Ontario. Cinda has also been an instructor and course developer for Niagara College with a focus on adult learners. She has a passion for training and making compliance fun! She has written numerous legal articles and spoken at various programs throughout the country and abroad. Cinda has sat on a number of Boards including the Niagara Centre for Youth Care and was appointed Governor for Niagara College.
Cinda received a LL.B degree from the University of Windsor and a B.A. from the University of Toronto. She and her husband have two hockey loving girls.
Cinda is passionate about mentoring others in all types of careers and from all walks of life. In her free time, you can find her cheering from the sidelines in cold arenas, cooking up a storm, or with a ball of yarn and a good glass of wine.
2024 NATIONAL CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
Adrian is Chief Legal and Privacy Officer at Staples Canada, where she has accountability for all legal, regulatory and compliance matters. Prior to that, she was Head of Operations and Small Business Solutions at Bank of Montreal, where she led the integration and management of Small Business payment products, as well as managed operations for the cards business in North America and oversaw operational risk and compliance for the cards business. Prior to that, she was Head of Business Management for Personal and Commercial Banking, and Associate General Counsel, where she led the litigation team for P&C Canada. She was awarded the Canadian General Counsel Award for Litigation Management in 2015, and her team was awarded Litigation Team of the year by Benchmark Litigation. Adrian received the 2015 Community Builder Award from the Canadian Corporate Counsel Association. Prior to joining the Bank, in 2013, she was a partner with Stikeman Elliott’s Toronto litigation group, where her practice focused on commercial litigation, securities litigation and class-action litigation. She was repeatedly recognized as a leading lawyer by Lexpert®, Benchmark Canada and Best Lawyers, and was recognized by Lexpert® in 2008 as one of the "Leading Lawyers Under 40". Ms. Lang currently serves on the Board of War Child Canada. She has served on numerous boards, including the Advisory Board of the Class Action Defences Quarterly, the Board of Governors for Royal St. George’s College (where she was also Chair of the Governance Committee), The Advocates' Society, the Advisory Board of Young Women in Law, Canadian Stage Company (where she was also Chair - 2013-15), and the YWCA Toronto. She was a Vice Chair for the 2017 Princess Margaret Ride to Conquer Cancer. She is a graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors’ Directors Education Program, and has her ICD.D designation.
2024/25 NATIONAL CONFERENCE CO-CHAIR
Corinne Pruzanski is the Chief Legal Officer with the Great Gulf Group of Companies, one of North America’s premier owners, managers and developers of residential and commercial real estate. In her role, Corinne leads Great Gulf’s legal strategy and has responsibility for risk, compliance and governance matters relating to all of Great Gulf’s businesses. Prior to CAPREIT, Pruzanski was a partner in the real estate group at Stikeman Elliott LLP, which she joined after starting her legal career at law firms in New York. Her experience includes mergers, acquisitions and capital markets transactions in the multi-family, commercial and hospitality sectors on both sides of the border. She is a member of the board of directors of Women General Counsel Canada and the Distress Centres of Greater Toronto. Corinne is an experienced public company secretary, having served as corporate secretary to the CAPREIT board of trustees as well as the board of ERES REIT, and was corporate secretary and alternate director to CAPREITs’s Irish alternative investment fund manager.
An accomplished general counsel and senior executive with over 25 years of experience in the commercial real estate industry in Canada, the US and Europe, Pruzanski was previously general counsel for Canadian Apartment Properties REIT (CAPREIT) for more than a decade. At CAPREIT, she oversaw the company’s growth in Canada and expansion into Europe, first in Ireland with the formation of its first multi-residential REIT, and in the Netherlands with the formation of the first Canadian listed European multi-residential REIT.