Women On Top
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The women in Simcoe County have got it goin' on. Whether it's a meteoric rise through the ranks or simply creating their own path, they are out there every day making things happen. At GoodLife we endeavoured to make a list of the women who are making a difference or even doing something different, as a nod to their drive and ingenuity. This is not a comprehensive list. We all know countless others who could have graced these pages. Read on for the women we found going about their business sometimes quietly, sometimes selflessly, and sometimes right in your face.

Angie Howe
considers herself lucky to have had the opportunities she has. And while the right timing often does come into play with opportunities much of Howe's accomplishments come from simple hard work,  the courage to make tough decisions, the ability to listen to others and perseverance. As a chief superintendent, Howe is one of the two highest-ranking females in the Ontario Provincial Police.  
“It can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming but I'm proud the organization has recognized me as a leader. I think it's great to set an example for others. Mentoring is an important part of success and one of the traits of good leadership.”
She has held a variety of positions throughout her 23 year career including working in the intelligence field, VIP protection and witness protection, the sex offender registry, and corporate communications. She currently leads the OPP's career development bureau. The hardest, bar none, was managing the child sexual exploitation section.
“That is a very tough job. One of the hardest I've done but also the most rewarding.”

Anne Dorsey
There is a thriving business community in Barrie and Anne Dorsey, Business Librarian at the Barrie Public Library, is an integral part of providing services and support to its members. Dorsey came to her librarian career by accident but after returning to school for a Masters of Information Studies her degree and work life came together.  
“My real passion is in teaching adults and making them aware what's out there so they can make good business decisions. We want them to make decisions based on information rather than a gut feeling.”
Dorsey is well-connected throughout the business community and acted as one of the judges for the Barrie Business Awards last year. Her continual support and drive to supply current, relevant information to local businesses is a resource the city would be poorer without.

Barb Richards
It is hard to know where to begin when listing the accomplishments of Barb Richards. A two-time world champion auctioneer, her first volunteer work was with Mental Health Barrie 40 years ago when she arrived in Barrie. Since then she has been involved in an endless list of charities including recently the director of the capital campaign for Hospice Simcoe. In recognition of her contributions she received the The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in June.  
Richards has been instrumental in the Legends and Legacy Gala, started five years ago, that functions as both a fundraiser and recognition of women in the community who have made a difference.  
Through A Touch of Class, her auction and appraisal business, she provides support and counsel for charities and non-profits looking to make the most of their fundraising efforts. The Seniors Wish Association, another initiative by Richards, started a year ago and aims to grant wishes to seniors.
 “I'm known for being creative and having ideas for how to get things done.”

Debbie Wood and
Deryl lynn franklin
When the company Debbie Wood and Deryl Lynn Franklin worked for in Vaughan shut down in 2009, they looked at each other and decided ‘They could do this.' ‘This' being starting up Cast ‘n Stone, a stone company that supplies stone and pre-cast products to landscapers and home-owners.
“It's awesome,” said Wood who handles the operations side at their location on Ferndale Drive. “There's nothing like working for yourself.” Franklin takes care of the financial side of the business that has been growing continually since they started.
“We filled a void [in the area],” said Wood, adding that they service contractors as far south as Toronto.
The key to their success is knowing their stuff and being able to talk to clients (most of whom are men) on their own level. Many landscapers are from a younger generation which they say helps. “They have grown up in another mentality.”

April Stewart
calls herself The Terminator as part of her business strategy but those who have come up against her in court say it suits her. That strength was a critical element 15 years ago when she found herself on her own with three young girls aged two, six and nine with an idea for a business and one client.
“Those were nasty times,” said Stewart who now operates Landlord legal providing legal advice for landlords. “There was no balance. I did what I had to do.”
She worked 60 to 80 hour weeks to build up a property management company that she later sold to open up Landlord Legal in 2006. She now has clients throughout the province and is sought after to speak at professional organizations and instruct realtors and investors.
“It was blind determination,” she said of her success. “No one was going to stop me. Once I started, despite everything, deep down I knew it would be okay.”

Charlotte Wallis started as a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada 28 years ago initially to give herself something to do while her figure skating students attended school.  But what started out as a part-time position turned into a long career involving nearly every aspect of the banking world including
branch management, small businesses
and commercial markets. She is currently the  regional
VP of RBC Insurance with a territory that stretches from
Barrie to Kingston and Ottawa.
 “There is lots of chaos and lots of learning,” said Wallis of her new position.
Learning has been a constant throughout her career including during her six-year stint as  Chair of the Georgian College Board of Governors, of which she is in her final year.
“Being the Chair was a personal challenge and offered me an opportunity to learn. I was glad to be involved in the community.”

Charlotte Wallis started as a teller at the Royal Bank of Canada 28 years ago initially to give herself something to do while her figure skating students attended school.  But what started out as a part-time position turned into a long career involving nearly every aspect of the banking world including
branch management, small businesses
and commercial markets. She is currently the  regional
VP of RBC Insurance with a territory that stretches from
Barrie to Kingston and Ottawa.
 “There is lots of chaos and lots of learning,” said Wallis of her new position.
Learning has been a constant throughout her career including during her six-year stint as  Chair of the Georgian College Board of Governors, of which she is in her final year.
“Being the Chair was a personal challenge and offered me an opportunity to learn. I was glad to be involved in the community.”

Deborah Foster-Stahle
It seems incredible that one woman could have such an effect on the City of Barrie and its surrounding area. But when Deborah Foster-Stahle arrived five years ago, she brought an energy and vision that has changed not only Barrie's business community but the economy that underlies it. As the owner of the BNI franchise for Ontario Central North, she facilitates and nurtures networking groups across five counties, including Simcoe. Since she's been here the number of chapters in Barrie has grown from five to eight, plus she has sponsored a charity to participate in each.
“It allows charities to get connected with the business community in a way different than before.”
Alongside the connections made at these groups what is truly remarkable is the resulting economic impact.
“Last year referrals through local BNI chapters generated $5.97 million for our members. Monies earned by business tend to recycle into the economy several times over. The ripple effect of that revenue throughout the community is two-to-three times during a recession or seven-to-eight times during strong economic times. Now it would be somewhere between four-to-five times.”
Foster-Stahle won the prestigious Arch Brown Entrepreneur Award of Excellence last year.

Jayne Pritchard
has spent 30 years in the television business as a writer, reporter, producer and, since 1998, anchor of the evening news.
She credits her longevity with not pretending to be something she's not.
“I'm an average person who believes in being approachable, sincere, and authentic.”
She hadn't planned on a career in television, and had no training prior to her first show, but by recognizing opportunities for what they were and acting on them has worked in nearly every stage of the process.  
Traditionally there is a lot of ambition and movement in television but Pritchard chose to remain in Barrie. “Barrie is my home. It's important to work where you live, if you can.”
For her, viewer response is the best part of the job. “People tell me they watch me every night. It's one of the few jobs where you are appreciated for what you do. Coming into people's homes each night is a very personal thing and I appreciate and value the opportunity.”

Kate Ramos
A successful artist in her own right, Kate Ramos felt there was still something she needed to do. Last fall she opened The Edge Gallery on Dunlop Street to provide a venue for local artists to display their work and provide a centre point for the art community.
“Barrie was a difficult sell. I used to have to drive 50 kilometres to find a gallery that focussed on art.” Since opening last November the gallery sales have taken off and she has plans to expand in the basement so she can have room for more paintings as well as a workshop area.
“I've already got 50 to 60 people interested in the workshops and six instructors. I think a need existed that had to be filled.”
Ramos displays more popular artists in the front of the gallery with a room in the back for local artists to gain exposure and test the market.

Kris Hughston
When Kris Hughston stopped in at the 12 Women in a Tent event in Niagara Falls last year she decided Barrie needed to have one. With a goal of raising 150,000 pounds of food for the Food Bank, Hughston set about corralling 12 women to spend five days in a tent at the same time as she organized the event.
“I wanted to choose a charity to incorporate into my business. I listen to a lot of families with tales of woe so [the food bank] made sense to me.” Hughston owns Hughston Insurance Solutions.
Her experience of organizing the event has left her humbled. “I am in awe of the City of Barrie and Innisfil. Even in these economic times I have rarely had anyone say no [when asked for help or a donation].”
Ultimately she would like to see the 12 Women events extend across Canada. “It's bringing awareness to everyone in the city. The food back is all year round. Not just at Christmas.”

Lisa Bertram
has always loved problem solving and she gets plenty of that as president of Bertram Construction. As young as 13 years old she knew she would eventually work her way up in the family business. The fact that it was in a dominated field didn't even occur to her.
“If [discrimination] was there. I didn't see it.”
It might also be that her skills and training as a Civil Engineering Technologist at Georgian and as an engineer at Lakehead earned her a deserved respect. Plus having worked nearly every job in the company, she had the experience to back her up.
“You often need well-rounded knowledge to ask the right questions,” said Bertram.

Michelle Castano
When Michelle Castano worked as a dental hygenist she kept seeing elderly patients suffering because they hadn't received proper dental care either due to mobility issues or an inability to communicate. She wanted to know why someone wasn't doing something about this until one day she realized there was someone who could: her.
That was the start of Toothpicks, a mobile dentistry service she provides along with Dr. Amanda Braude. Castano visits nursing homes and long-term care facilities to provide on-site dental services. If there's a problem she makes a note and Dr. Braude will perform an examination when she arrives.
“It is hands-down the hardest work I've ever done,” said Castano, referring to the difficulties of sometimes working with patients with dementia that strike out at her or those that can't recline in the conventional dentist's chair. She and her crew also lug around 100 pounds of equipment to each stop. “But I have never felt so much reward.”
One day a year, Toothpicks provides free dental care with a donation to the MS Society.

Nicole Taylor
With a husband in the military, Nicole Taylor knew first-hand the challenges of active duty when she saw friends returning from Afghanistan suffering from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. With yoga as a passion, she sought to find a bridge that could bring the benefits of the practice to those who work in first response including fire fighters, police, soldiers and nurses.
She has become the first provider of Yoga Warriors in Canada and has such a demand that after less than one year she is expanding her offerings at BLISS studio downtown and at Base Borden. With a high population of military, veterans and response workers in Barrie it was the perfect fit.
“The language is different [than traditional yoga] as is the atmosphere,” said Taylor who plans to expand throughout Canada. Often coming from traumatic jobs and experiences, classmates have an unspoken camaraderie and bond they can't find anywhere else. “Many of these people are continually in a hyper-alert state. It's about re-training the brain and teaching it to come back down.”

Peggy Hill
has always had a passion for helping people and that passion has translated into a very successful real estate business. She started nine years ago and this last year has been her best mainly, she believes, because of referrals.
“Real Estate is about people not housing,” said Hill who has 12 agents working out of her office. “And there are so many people out there who need help.”
Filling that need has also been what prompted her to contribute significantly to the community that supports her. She sponsors Kool- to-Care, providing free radio time for community groups, works with the Autism Society, is a sponsor of Gilda's Red Door event, and has been involved with the Lupus Foundation for fifteen years.
“A lot of people work really hard. I'm lucky, I've been able to reap the rewards of hard work. This is my way of giving back.”

Patricia Lechten
Like many successful people, Patricia Lechten, owner of the Allandale Veterinary Hospital (AVH), attributes much of her success to others. “Our growth can be attributed a lot to the staff,” she said of the growth that has made them one of the largest veterinary hospitals in Simcoe County.
Lechten wanted to be a vet since she was five and it is her vision of a professional and caring hospital that has driven the growth of AVH. Not being adverse to hard work has also helped.  “I'm a fairly driven person. Putting in time comes naturally,” said Lechten, winner of the Business Woman of the Year Award last year.
Her belief in supporting the community led her to develop the ‘We Care' fund within AVH that provides veterinary services to animals when owners can't afford it. The hospital also donates time to rescue services in the area and has travelled to Jamaica to provide help to a rescue group there. In the future she'd like to set up a home where pets can go when an elderly owner dies.

Rose Adams has seen her fair share of adversity. As a child she was in and out of foster care until age nine when she found a permanent foster home. Later, after having trained as a legal secretary at Georgian College she decided she wanted to be a lawyer and put herself through Osgoode Law School.  Her inherent strength and the skills and perspective she learned along the way are what have allowed her to accomplish and contribute in so many ways.  
She was drawn to family law because of the emotional issues that often accompany the cases. “It's their life, their home, their heart,” Adams said. “That's where I like to help people.” She is currently active in the Rotary Club of Barrie but has participated with Out of the Cold, Simcoe Literacy, Big Brothers and Sisters, and Georgian College.
“I'm in a good place but I didn't get here by myself,” she said of her reasons for giving back.
Her current project is Oxygen for Success, motivational training for individuals who know where they want to be in life but aren't sure how to get there. With her life experience she shows them the steps to get from A to B. 

Edwina Douglas started singing at a very young age and has brought her enthusiasm and love for music to the heart of Barrie. As the founder of and performer at Bravado; and now Marmalade, a smaller performance group, she has raised the level of vocal performance. She's had a hand in being a vocal adjudicator, accompanist, teacher, and has been involved with Theatre by the Bay's Young Company for five years. She's also been musical director for both Moving Art's Triple Threat Program as well as the Kempenfelt Community Players.
“I just love to sing,” said Douglas, who believes that everyone has a voice. “The thrill is finding what unleashes their voice. I get chills lots of times during the day when a person has tapped into what made it click for them.”
One thing she likes about the music world is that it is never the same. “I'm well suited for this job. It is ever changing.” 

Rose Romita
There are few people who haven't heard of Rose Romita the organizer of the Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter dinners for the homeless in Barrie. This year will be her eighteenth year putting on the Christmas meal with the crowd reaching 500 to 600 people.
 “We see a lot of the same people and a lot of new. But they aren't all homeless. Some people can afford a roof over their head but not food.”
She had plenty of support as a single mom with twins but knows that not everyone has that. A self-proclaimed workaholic she has a long history of helping out those who needed a leg up and her current work continues with that. In recognition of her on-going contributions she received The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in June.
She recently started the Rose Foundation and is currently trying to establish transitional housing.
“If you don't have a roof over your head, you can't do anything. People need help getting back on their feet.”

Sandra Trainor has always been good at making things happen. As Executive Director of the Marketing Association of Simcoe County Farm Fresh she is currently espousing the benefits of buying local and getting information out about where local food can be bought.              
Started in 2006, the program has grown in memberships in all categories: producers, restaurants, and food retailers.
“Prior to the start there was no marketing association for farmers but they could see the advantages of pooling their resources to market products and farms. We have such amazing food [in Simcoe County] and not enough people knew about it.”
In August, they will be celebrating their fifth year of the Savour Simcoe Event and expect 600 to 800 attendees.

Stella Gan, owner and operator of the award-winning Days Inn Barrie and Liberty North, openly admits she can't sit still. But it is this energy and her eternal drive to do her best that has led to her success as a businesswoman in the hospitality industry and as a member of the community.
“I get my energy and ideas from other people. I'm not one to sit at my desk,” said Gan, who was nominated as a candidate for the Provincial Liberal Party for last year's election before having to withdraw due to an illness. Moving into politics was an easy fit due to her ongoing involvement in Rotary, the Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Barrie. Starting in 2013, she will be the incoming president for the Kempenfelt Rotary Club.
“I never want to regret not doing something. I take opportunities as they come, run with them and learn from them.”

Tara Stamp Even as an employee Tara Stamp was dedicated to the families she served at Peaceful Transitions Inc.  “I was involved in every activity for three years, 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.”
So when the owners were looking to sell the business she was the logical choice for succession.
“Funeral services were the only thing I was ever going to do,” said Stamp, who bought the business three years ago.
“At the age of thirteen I realized the reality of how life is and this is where we'll end up.”
She has since dedicated herself to making the end-of-life transition as comfortable and painless as possible for those left behind.  Her aim is to keep things simple and let her clients celebrate the life of the deceased as they like. And when it comes to heavy lifting she and her female staff are quite capable of taking care of it.

Bev Morgan worked for several decades in the telecommunications industry but after being laid off twice in five years decided she needed an alternative. That alternative involved her own painting company, a profession often left to the younger population.
“I really like [the physical] part of it,” said Morgan who says she found working in customer service much more exhausting. “We're hard workers and [the physical work] answers that.”
   She initially had to get over the fear of not having a regular pay check but now wishes she had done it years earlier. She is a member of the Simcoe County Women in Trades, was previously on the Board of Hospice Simcoe, and is the immediate past President of the Barrie Huronia Rotary.

Whitney Young graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine in 2008 and expected it to be years before she ran her own clinic but in 2010 when the opportunity to purchase The Healing Oasis came up she jumped in with two feet.
“It took time to decide but in the end thought I would try it. I've done it and I've learned a lot. People asked me if I was ready to be the boss lady but I didn't know what that meant. Now I know it's about making hard decisions and having hard conversations.”
As a business owner she understands that it ultimately comes down to her but that hasn't stopped her from giving back. She participated in the Vagina Monologues play, a fundraiser for the Barrie Women's Shelter, and sits on the Theatre by the Bay board.

Heather Tennant 
When Heather Tennant's first son was born she had some choices to make. As the main breadwinner she needed to find the elusive balance between her career as a physiotherapist and motherhood.

“My corporate and family life hit each other smack in the head.”

A year later she registered Therapeutic Mobility as a business, starting with a single treatment room at the then Fit for Life. Now a stand-alone clinic, it boasts six physiotherapists and a naturopath under a single roof.

“There's a fine line between leading and being one of the crew. I try to meet the needs [of my employees] and make it a place they want to stay.”

All the decisions she's made have had reasons and been based on the need at the time. 


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