Our Patrons Council consists of accomplished influential individuals who strongly believe in the important programs and services Working Women delivers and are actively committed to advancing the organization’s mission.
A teacher, mediator and investigator by training, Fiona Crean is the City of Toronto’s first Ombudsman. Prior to taking on this new post, she was an Assistant Deputy Minister in the Ontario Government, responsible for addressing systemic racism and sexism, and managing significant organizational change. Fiona established the Ombudsman’s role at York University and was Executive Director of the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office. She also worked for a number of years at the Ontario Human Rights Commission. Multilingual, Fiona has done development and good governance work for governments and community organizations in Central and South America, Eastern Europe and southern Africa. She has worked extensively in First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada.
Kamala-Jean Gopie had a distinguished career in the field of education, which spanned over 30 years. In 1981 Kamala-Jean was one of the first immigrant minority women to run for public office in Ontario. Although she was not elected, her pioneering effort opened the doors for other immigrants, women and minorities to pursue their political aspirations. After retiring in 1998, Kamala-Jean was appointed to the Immigration and Refugee Board where she served for eight years and in 2006 she was appointed a part time Ontario Human Rights Commissioner for a two year term. Kamala-Jean has made a memorable contribution to many community organizations: the Jamaican Canadian Association, Metropolitan Toronto Children’s Aid Society, Ontario Housing Corporation, International Social Service (Canada), the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, Beatrice House, the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and many arts organizations: Harbourfront Corporation, National Ballet of Canada, Roy Thomson and Massey Hall, Toronto Arts Council, the Royal Ontario Museum, Canadian Stage Theatre, Tarragon Theatre, Obsidian Theatre, and the Stratford Festival Theatre. Kamala-Jean has been awarded the Order of Ontario, YWCA Woman of Distinction, UWI Vice Chancellor’s Award, the Queen’s Golden Jubileemedal, the City of Toronto’s Award of Merit for Education and the GardinerAward as Volunteer of the year. She is divorced and has one son, Sean, and three grandsons, Kai, Jian-Noa and Taj.
Krishan Mehta is Executive Director, Campaign at Ryerson University. Previously,
he was Executive Director, Marketing and Advancement at Seneca College. Prior to
joining Seneca, he spent ten years in fund development at the University of
Toronto, serving most recently as the Director of Advancement at New College.
Krishan is also an instructor in Ryerson’s Fundraising Management Certificate
Program and is completing his PhD at the Ontario Institute for Studies in
Education where he is conducting research on the philanthropy of first-generation
immigrants in Canada. Krishan is President-Elect of the Association of
Fundraising Professionals Greater Toronto Chapter and he remains an active
volunteer with a number of local community organizations.
Audrey M. Johnson
Audrey M. Johnson has been a passionate equality and human rights advocate for women and marginalized groups for over 15 years. She is active in community and corporate organizations having served on government task forces and committees, and in various corporate and social enterprises. Through her varied experiences, Audrey has developed extensive expertise in the areas of leadership, not-for-profit management, fund development, corporate communications, and organizational development. Audrey is a former Executive Director of Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF), a position she held for 10 years in Vancouver and Toronto. She has also held roles at the Vancouver Status of Women and University of British Columbia. Currently Audrey is the Director of Advancement at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Nursing. Audrey’s recent volunteer activities include serving as a director of the former government agency, ECHO: Improving Health for Women in Ontario; member of the Toronto Health Policy Citizen’s Council; a director and secretary of the board of the Multilingual Community Interpreter Services Society; a member of the national advisory committee of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg; and a founding member of the newly established Black Women’s Leadership Network.
is a leading community activist and former Liberal MP who represented the riding of Beaches-East York from 1993-2011. She served in Cabinet as the Minister of International Cooperation from 1999-2002 and her contribution is recognized in foreign capitals across the world. She doubled Canada’s overseas investment in health and nutrition and quadrupled investments in education, HIV/AIDS prevention and child protection. She ensured that gender equality and human rights formed an integral part of all those priority areas. During her tenure in Parliament, Maria was appointed Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources Development; Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; and special adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs on issues of women, peace and security. Before entering politics, Maria served as the volunteer president of COSTI-IIAS, Canada’s largest immigrant service organization. She also served as director of the National Council of Welfare and as president of the National Congress of Italian-Canadians. Since leaving elected office, Maria has been professionally active in the field of international development and gender equity policy issues.
Florence Minz is a highly regarded leader in an array of fields including the arts, public health, children’s mental health and economics and management. She is Past Chair of the Canadian Museum of Nature and became a director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival in March 2012. She has been a director of the Royal Conservatory of Music since 1999 and was Chair of that board from 2004 to 2009. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Ryerson Image Centre. She was a director of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra from 2003 to 2010, and a member of the board of Opera Atelier. Florence chaired the Board of Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care from 1995 to 1998 and was a director there from 1991 to 2001. She was a director of St. Michael’s Hospital from 2001 to 2010. A passionate advocate of children’s mental health, she was a director of Oolagen Community Services from 1980 to 1990 and President of that Board from 1984 to 1987. She was a member of the /McCain Early Years Task Force for Ontario in the late 1990s and the President of Voices for Children from 1997 to 2000. Florence earned a B.A. in Economics from York University and M.A. in Political Economy from the University of Toronto and worked as an economicforecaster and then management consultant from 1975 until 1995. The work at the Royal Conservatory and her other commitments led her to choose full time work in the community. Florence has two sons, ages 18 and 22.
Judith Ramirez is a passionate advocate whose strength as a strategist in government relations has led to groundbreaking policy changes both federally and provincially. She has spearheaded many successful initiatives on behalf of marginalized immigrant and refugee women. In the 1980s her leadership of INTERCEDE, the advocacy group for foreign domestic workers, resulted in thousands of temporary women workers gaining the right to live in Canada permanently. Judith is a bold and innovative thinker who, from 1989 to 1999, played a leading role at the Immigration and Refugee Board in defining forms of gender-related persecution that made Canada a global leader in the equitable determination of women’s refugee claims. She has pioneered the creation of community-based services for immigrant women, including the Immigrant Women’s Reproductive Health Centre in Toronto that provides counseling and medical services free of charge in fourteen languages. Judith’s work has been recognized with a Women of Distinction Award from the Toronto YWCA, the Constance E. Hamilton Award from the City of Toronto and a Civilian Citation from the Toronto Police Commission.
Ceta Ramkhalawansingh had an outstanding career at Toronto City Hall for three decades prior to retirement in 2010. She was responsible for pioneering many ground-breakingequity and human rights policies making Toronto a leader in social justice. Ceta was a co-founder and lecturer in Women’s Studies at the University of Toronto and worked with school trustees at the Toronto Public School Board to develop anti-racism and multicultural policies and programs. As a leading activist in the Grange community, Ceta initiated revitalization efforts for Grange Park and had a leadership role on social housing, protection of rental housing, heritage conservation and land-use planning. Currently, Ceta is the National Chair, The Word On The Street Canada;President, LEARNXS Foundation and board member, Yee Hong Centre for Geriatric Care. She is a Principal’s Appointee, Innis College Council and represents New College alumni on the College of Electors at the University of Toronto. She serves on George Brown’s Advisory Committee for the Community Worker Program and is a jury member for Heritage Toronto’s community heritage award. Ceta has won many awards for her work, including the LEAF/WIN Person’s Day Award, the New Pioneers Award, the University of Toronto’s Arbor Award and is an Honorary Member of the Women and Gender Studies Institute, U of T.