This year's Leadership Summit theme is Press for Progress

Leadership Summit for Women

Inspiring bold leaders in #HamOnt on Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Leadership Summit for Women (LSW)’s goal is to inspire, instill confidence and provide a network for young future leaders in our community. We strive to be an open and inclusive event with speakers reflecting the diversity of experience that makes this city great. We also welcome feedback on how to continue to improve this work. The Leadership Summit welcomes First Nations, Metis and Inuit peoples, racialized persons, persons with (dis)Abilities, LGBTQ2SIA persons and allies.

Our theme this year, “Press for Progress,” is inspired by the International Women’s Day 2018 campaign theme. Learn more here.

Thursday, November 8, 2018 Hamilton Public Library

Did you know we trended on Twitter?

The Leadership Summit for Women creates a place to develop and advance leaders, while creating an opportunity for all women and allies to share experiences, skills, and plans for growth and development. The Summit will also provide a local network of mentors and supports for women in the Hamilton community.

These last two years, the conversations made a big impact. We trended on Twitter and were able to open up the conversation beyond our conference.

Why do women only hold ‘33% of senior management positions and approximately 13% of CEO positions despite making up 47% of the workforce?’ Let’s not kid ourselves; the glass ceiling still very much exists. It is time we get the hammer out.

Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Student Success Centre

Speakers and Workshops

We are in the process of developing this year’s program. While you’re waiting, check out our speakers and workshops from last year!


The panel discussion is a moderated talk focused on employment. We will highlight women in our community who have passionately followed their own career paths in various industries.

Read on to learn more about our moderator and speakers, their careers and interests.

Maja Jovanovic

Professor Maja Jovanovic, Moderator

Professor Maja is a sociologist, author, and guest expert on CTV’s The Social. She is an apology-hater, confidence-builder and recovering make-up addict. She also hates the word humble.

To deal with the lack of confidence, perfectionism, and incessant apologies she witnessed daily, Prof. Maja and started a blog ( and authored two books (“Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing…and other career mistakes women make” and “Hey Ladies, Stop Apologizing, THE WORKBOOK”.)

Professor Maja speaks to women of all ages on topics such as: confidence, communication skills, mindset, self-promotion, perfectionism, and body positivity.

Professor Maja teaches at both McMaster University and Mohawk College.

Photo of Tammy Hwang

Tammy Hwang, Speaker

Tammy Hwang is a passionate Hamiltonian and City Builder. She’s a Mac Alumni who currently works for the City of Hamilton in Economic Development’s Global Hamilton Office helping immigrant business owners access city resources and generally spreading the good word about Hamilton internationally.

Tammy has helped launch programs like “Land in Hamilton,” a soft landing program for international firms to experience and learn about starting/expanding a business in Hamilton, and getting us recognized as a top Intelligent Community. When she’s not working at the City, she’s one of the CoFounders of CoMotion Group Inc., a small business that creates office coworking spaces to help companies lower the cost of doing business and allowing entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they do best. She’s one of Hamilton’s biggest cheerleaders and she’s excited to see what the future brings!

Nicole LeClair

Professor Nicole LeClair, Speaker

Nicole is a Welding Professor, Welding Engineering Technologist, Welder/Fitter, and Welding Inspector, Level 1, visual (CWB).

Although Nicole’s road to becoming a welder was neither paved nor straight, she has ultimately arrived at her dream job where she can educate and empower the future welders of tomorrow at Mohawk College.  After spending many years in technical outside sales, she decided to make this career change so that she could focus her emphasis on sharing her passion for this trade.

Despite it being male-dominated, she has never waivered from attaining her goals.  Nicole is a big advocate for recruiting youth to enter the trades, reminding them that there is no such thing as “jobs for girls” or “jobs for boys.” There’s just “jobs” and to find the one that makes them happy!

photo of Hira Nadeem

Hira Nadeem, Speaker

Hira Nadeem is a third year Electrical Engineering student, poet, and space advocate.

Hira was a member of the core team of the Hamilton Youth Poets who went on to compete at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word in 2017. With the group, she was able to help run workshops that empowered members in the community by sharing their stories. Her writing is a reflection of her passion for poetry and science.

Hira is active in the student community on campus as the Co-President of the McMaster Space Initiative, a student chapter of The Planetary Society. Off campus, she acts as the Director of Advocacy with the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space. Inspired by Carl Sagan, Hira dreams of one day exploring the cosmos… by sending a spacecraft in her place. She is currently working with the McMaster NEUDOSE cube satellite team as a Junior Embedded Firmware Developer. She continues her work to inspire more women to pursue careers in the field of science.

Photo of Erin O'Neill

Erin O’Neil, Speaker

Erin O’Neil is the founder of Broad Conversations, an experiment to foster conversation on a broad range of topics relevant to feminist broads. Broad Convos consists of a newsletter, conversation-based gatherings, and social hangouts, plus a newly launched radio show on CFMU 93.3 FM. You can learn more about these activities at

Erin is the founding co-lead of Ladies Learning Code Hamilton Chapter, a volunteer mentor with the G(irls)20 Girls on Boards project, and a board member at Cobalt CONNECTS. She is a McMaster ArtSci grad and recently completed a master’s in philanthropy and nonprofit leadership at Carleton University.

Attend Two Workshops

Attendees will have the opportunity to attend two of four workshops offered in the afternoon. Workshop sessions this year are:

  • Do Better, Feel Better, The Intersection of Womanhood, Mental Illness, & Race
  • Channelling our Sheryl Sandberg in a room of Marks and Bills
  • Just Ask! Giving and Receiving Feedback
  • Strength in Storytelling: Choosing stories to foster solidarity, not division

Read on to learn more about the workshops and their presenters.

Do Better, Feel Better: The Intersection of Womanhood, Mental Wellness, & Race

Almost half of all North Americans will develop some form of mental illness during their lifetime. In communities of colour, these numbers may be more devastating because of cultural stigma involved. Similarly, women are 40% more likely than men to develop a mental illness in their lifetime. Representation of mental illness excludes women of colour (WoC), leaving this marginalized group feeling forgotten and isolated. The goal is for every participant to leave this workshop with a commitment to taking action within their respective organizations for WoC living with mental illness and to ensuring the mental wellness of those around them.

Presented by Ruchika Gothoskar

Ruchika Gothoskar is a sometimes student, wannabe writer, budding activist, and weekend barista. Ruchika’s passion for activism began through her involvement in the McMaster Student Union’s Women and Gender Equity Network. Seeing the network thrive and being able to meet like-minded students and leaders in her community drove her to do work that engaged audiences that were just like her – 20-somethings interested in doing better. Featured in Sophomore Magazine under the A Woman Speaks: Nine activists on their work and what fuels them piece, Ruchika prides herself on making student activism inclusive, accessible, and engaging.

Channelling our Sheryl Sandberg in a room of Marks and Bills

Let’s face it. The tech industry has long been hailed as an exclusive boys club, ‘no girls allowed’; but, with changing industries and career paths, breaking in has never been more important. Join this peer-driven workshop to partake in exercises about being vocal in a room that silences and learn ways you can mobilize the arts to enhance your digital skillset and teams.

Presented by Elizabeth DiEmanuele

Elizabeth DiEmanuele is a digital marketing professional in the Hamilton community. Though she graduated with an MA in English, her career has centered around digital communications and technologies, which includes providing support for tech start-ups, developing digital brands, writing grants and patents, and leading global campaigns. Regardless of the experience and industry, for Elizabeth, the arts have always been a career compass. She’s excited to exchange stories and encourage her peers to be vocal and be bold.

Just Ask! Giving and Receiving Feedback

Leaders aren’t eager to feel exposed — as not being perfect, as not knowing everything, as not being as good at leadership as they should be, as not being up to the task. And subordinates are even more reluctant to suggest that the emperor is wearing no clothes. However, getting valid and useful feedback is essential to learning. And learning is the master skill. Feedback is too often viewed through a frame of evaluation and judgment: Good and bad. Right and wrong. These frames raise resistance. But when you frame feedback as an essential part of learning, it becomes less about your deficiencies and more about your opportunities.

Presented by Mimi John and Banafsheh Rafeh

Mimi John is an experienced training and project coordinator. With an MBA in Human Resources and a multifaceted background in various sectors in both the non-profit and corporate industry, Mimi has significant experience prepping leaders and clients for public speaking events and large presentations. As a consultant, Mimi has helped organizations look at their business from a different perspective – encouraging, motivating and uplifting people to further energize their roles in organizations and communities at large. Currently, she is coordinating the Women in I.T. program at the YWCA Hamilton where she facilitates personal development and leadership workshops for women who face barriers to employment in the I.T. sector.

Banafsheh Rafeh is a program coordinator at YWCA Hamilton. She graduated from McMaster University, with Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Feminist Research. After graduation, she started working with Skills for Change, and supervised two educational programs for seniors in Dundas and newcomer youth in Hamilton. Passionate about social justice initiatives and women empowerment, YWCA Hamilton was a natural fit for Banafsheh. Currently she is coordinating an exciting program called Equitable Pathways to Technical Fields and Skilled Trades for young women. She is an active volunteer in the community, committed to projects welcoming newcomers, empowering women, and celebrating diversity.

Strength in Storytelling: Choosing stories to foster solidarity, not division

Hamilton has recently received attention from both outsiders and residents on its revitalization — from the boom in restaurants to the city’s many trails and waterfalls. But with growth comes challenges for much of its population, especially low-income, Indigenous and newcomer women. The stories we choose to tell, and the media we use to tell them on, have the ability to encourage solidarity among the city’s women, instead of keeping us apart. This workshop looks at the dangers of telling only Hamilton’s “hype” story, highlights examples of those in and outside the city that use storytelling for good and asks how a city balances its many narratives.

Presented by Eva Salinas

Eva Salinas is a Hamilton-based journalist and editor, currently the managing editor of global affairs site, She holds an MA with McMaster University’s Institute on Globalization and a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University. She was previously the Editor of The Santiago Times in Chile, where she was also a freelance correspondent for the Globe and Mail, The Times of London, and the CBC, among others, and has also worked for the Financial Post, Journalists for Human Rights, and Athletes for Africa.

Develop your leadership

The Leadership Summit for Women includes a series of keynote speakers, panels, workshops, and networking opportunities; it is also a great opportunity to build meaningful relationships with leaders in a safe and supportive environment. We have many services and supports to help you develop your leadership:

Write a resume that encompasses who you are and stands out from the pile.

Uncover tips and tricks on networking with your peers, colleagues, and potential employers.

Contribute your time, skills, and insights to organizations dedicated to your learning.

Presented in Partnership

McMaster University logo

Mohawk College logo

Workforce Planning Hamilton Logo

YWCA Hamilton Logo