Image L – R: Julie Barker-Merz, BMO Bank of Montreal; Cathy Alexander – BMO Celebrating Women 2018 Expansion & Growth in Small Business Honouree; Sharon Gallant – BMO Celebrating Women 2018 Community & Charitable Giving Honouree; Angela Marotta – BMO Celebrating Women 2018 Expansion & Growth in Small Business Honouree; Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli – BMO Celebrating Women 2018 Expansion & Growth in Small Business Honouree; Janice McDonald (Keynote Speaker); Janet Peddigrew, BMO Bank of Montreal
Four women were honoured at the annual BMO Celebrating Women event in Burlington for their remarkable contributions to business and the community in one of three categories: Innovation and Global Growth; Community and Charitable Giving; and Expansion and Growth in Small Business.
The program recognizes female leaders in local communities as part of BMO’s commitment to drive the advancement of women.
The following honourees were recognized:
- Community and Charitable Giving: Sharon Gallant
Ms. Gallant is the founder, executive director and board member of the Fit Active Beautiful (FAB) Foundation. Established in 2009, FAB helps girls through the FAB Girls 5K Challenge Program, an innovative and empowering 12-week running program for girls in grades 6, 7 and 8. Hundreds of young women in the Hamilton area have participated in FAB since the launch of its pilot project in 2009.
In 2014, the FAB Foundation piloted The FAB Girls Empowerment Program to provide opportunities for high school students. The free 12-week program led by volunteer coaches continues to enhance young women’s goal-setting skills and physical abilities, empowering them to make confident life choices.
In 2010, Ms. Gallant completed her first IRONMAN triathlon. In 2013, she achieved professional standard at IRONMAN Mont-Tremblant. Ms. Gallant received the 2014 Soroptimist Ruby Award for her work advancing the status of women and girls.
- Expansion & Growth in Small Business: Cathy Alexander
Ms. Alexander is the co-founder of OKE Polymer Systems Inc. and Blake Medical Group Inc., a distributor and manufacturer of medical products including mattresses and wheelchair accessories.
A nurse by profession, Ms. Alexander was interested in bringing wound care solutions to health care and costs savings to acute care. Her vision is to continue to develop effective solutions to reduce the number of preventable injuries (musculoskeletal disorders and pressure injuries/ulcers).
Ms. Alexander recently completed a three-year study on the Managed Pressure Injury Prevention Program (MPIPP) in long-term care settings.
- Expansion & Growth in Small Business: Angela Marotta and Melissa Marotta-Paolicelli
Ms. Marotta and Ms. Marotta-Paolicelli are co-proprietors of Two Sisters Vineyards, a private, family-owned corporation with a purpose of offering a full-service, prestigious destination in Niagara’s wine country.
After four years of development, the first grapes were ready for processing with the inaugural vintage in 2010. The winery and restaurant officially opened to the public in 2014. The restaurant, Kitchen 76, has been critically acclaimed and the winery has quickly become a go-to destination in the region.
Two Sisters Vineyards has received many accolades and awards, recently winning several Gold Medals at the 2017 All Canadian Wine Championship for the 2016 Unoaked Chardonnay, 2016 Sauvignon Blanc and 2013 Cabernet Franc.
“BMO is thrilled to recognize and celebrate women in our communities who are dedicating their time, resources and expertise to help and inspire others,” said Julie Barker-Merz, Senior Vice-President, South Western Ontario Division, BMO Bank of Montreal. “We are pleased to recognize our honourees through this event. The BMO for Women program proves our commitment to developing and furthering initiatives that support the advancement of women across Ontario and in other communities nationwide.”