WES Expert Panel

Canada's Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is committed to helping women entrepreneurs grow their businesses through access to financing, talent, networks and expertise.

In support of the Strategy, the Government of Canada established the WES Expert Panel to provide advice and identify opportunities and challenges for women entrepreneurs.

What is the Expert Panel?

In 2019, the Government of Canada assembled diverse and talented Canadians to be members of an Expert Panel. The Panel was comprised of experts from the private sector and civil society from across the country, with significant experience, expertise, and knowledge in a range of disciplines. Members had backgrounds that included entrepreneurs (in various sectors), financial experts, mentors and academics.

Members of the Panel acted on a part-time, volunteer basis. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, panel members were screened.

To establish the Panel, the Government of Canada sought expressions of interest from diverse and talented Canadians through a public application process.  Applications from a number of highly-qualified candidates were received. 

For further information on how the members were appointed, please review the WES Expert Panel appointment process.

The Panel advises on a range of issues, including identifying and providing options to solve gaps in services and supports available to women entrepreneurs in Canada. The Panel has provided recommendations to the Government and has fulfilled its mandate.

Panel Members

The committee is co-chaired by Laura McGee, Founder and CEO, Diversio and Danièle Henkel, Founder, Daniele Henkel Inc.;

Video – WES Expert Panel: Laura McGee

WES Expert Panel Co-chairs Laura McGee, founder and CEO of Diversio talks about the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Video – WES Expert Panel: Danièle Henkel

WES Expert Panel Co-chairs Danièle Henkel, founder of Daniele Henkel Inc. talks about the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Biographies of the WES Expert Panel members

Danièle Henkel

Founder and CEO, Danièle Henkel Inc.

Danièle Henkel is the founder and CEO of Danièle Henkel Inc., whose services are offered by health professionals in over 2,000 locations across Canada. Its beauty products were launched in 2017.

Danièle is the Canadian champion of the Women's Enterprise Leadership Group for the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (we-fi). She has received various awards, including the Medal of Honour from the National Assembly of Quebec.

Danièle has appeared on the past five seasons of "Dans l'œil du Dragon" as an investor and mentor.

Danièle was born in Morocco and grew up in Algeria. She immigrated to Canada in the 1990s and currently lives in Montreal, Quebec.

Laura McGee

Founder and CEO, Diversio

Laura McGee is the founder and CEO of Diversio, a software company that uses data analytics and machine learning to help companies become more inclusive. Laura also serves on the Board of Informed Opinions, Summit Leaders and the Ted Rogers School of Management.

Laura worked at McKinsey & Company where she was recognized as a thought-leader in women's advancement and public sector practice. She worked closely with the Canada-US Council for Advancement of Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders on their recommendations for supporting and growing women-owned businesses, which helped shape the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy.

Laura currently resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Shauna Harper

CEO and Marketing Strategist, Live Work Communications

Shauna Harper has been a full-time entrepreneur for 20 years and is a trained group process facilitator. She is the CEO and Marketing Strategist for Live Work Communications, a marketing communications business, and a volunteer mentor for the Women's Enterprise Centre of British Columbia.

Shauna founded and led Startup Prince George, a grassroots driven group in Prince George dedicated to creating a community passionate about entrepreneurship, collaboration and innovation.

From 2014-2017, Shauna served as the Co-Vice Chair of the BC Premier's Women's Economic Advisory Council. Shauna was also recognized as one of BC's Most Influential Women 2017 (Mentors Edition) by BC Business Magazine for her mentorship roles as founder and lead for Startup Prince George.

Shauna resides in Prince George, British Columbia.

Dr. Virginia McGowan

Co-Founder, Partner/Senior Researcher, Writer and Editor at McGowan & Co.: The Write Edit Group
Owner and Sole Proprietor/Author, Speaker, Consultant and Trainer at The Business Mentoring Solution

Dr. Virginia McGowan is the Co-Founder, Partner, senior researcher, writer, and editor at McGowan & Co.: The Write Edit Group. She is also the owner, speaker, consultant, and trainer at The Business Mentoring Solution. Dr. McGowan is currently an Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology at Dalhousie University. Dr. McGowan also volunteers with a number of organizations, including as a mentor for the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and the Forum for Women Entrepreneurs.

Dr. McGowan holds numerous degrees and professional memberships, including a Doctor of Philosophy: Anthropology from the University of Toronto and a membership with the Editors' Association of Canada. She is also a professional-level member of the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Dr. McGowan resides in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.

Maudeleine Myrthil

President, Iweartech
Teacher, Marguerite-Bourgeoy School Board

Maudeleine Myrthil is the President of Iweartech, a company specializing in the research, creation and marketing of smart products and accessories since 2015. She is also a teacher at the Marguerite-Bourgeoy School Board, in charge of the program "Lancement d'une entreprise et vente-conseil". In addition, Maudeleine is a lecturer at CÉGEP Marie-Victorin.

Maudeleine has worked for more than five years with Groupe 3737, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing entrepreneurial support services. The clientele served by Groupe 3737 is primarily composed of women entrepreneurs and business owners from diverse backgrounds.

Maudeleine resides in Laval, Quebec.

Shannon Pestun

Director, Women's Entrepreneurship, ATB Financial

Shannon is the Director of Women's Entrepreneurship, and part of the Indigenous Relations Advisory Circle, at ATB Financial, a financial institution and Crown Corporation owned by the Province of Alberta. Leading the strategy to reimagine banking for women, Shannon's work is centred around implementing critical changes and breaking down barriers women face in entrepreneurship. As a Métis woman, Shannon also strives to promote economic reconciliation through her work. Shannon is a recognized voice on women's entrepreneurship, and has been featured at business conferences, on podcasts, in business magazines, and broadcast/online media. Shannon was recently recognized by SHEInnovates Alberta, a pilot chapter for UN Women to celebrate and inspire women entrepreneurs and innovators.

Shannon resides in Calgary, Alberta.

Sharon Zohar

Founder and CEO, The Big Push

Sharon Zohar is the Founder and CEO of The Big Push, an all-women led business accelerator, dedicated to accelerating the growth of women-led start-ups, and helping to prepare them for Series A financing through a unique 'sweat for equity' model. Sharon is a serial entrepreneur and investor with more than twenty years experience founding, investing, advising, and operating technology, internet, and digital media companies.

In her pursuit of entrepreneurship, Sharon has successfully developed a number of mobile and software applications for health, finance, and media markets including Moodi, a mental health platform that won the Google Startup NEXT best company.

Sharon resides in Toronto, Ontario. 

Ex-officio members

  • Sheldon Levy (Special Advisor, Small Business and Export Promotion)
  • Karen Kastner (Business Development Bank of Canada)
  • Wendy Cukier (Women Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub)