12:30 p.m. - 1:40 p.m. ET

Culture change is necessary: Addressing the culture of exclusion to advance gender equity

To open this year’s 30 by 30 virtual conference, a gathering for 30 by 30 Champions, engineering leaders, and engineers, Engineers Canada invites you to join a discussion of the current state of gender equity in the profession and what has been working to increase the number of women in engineering and dismantle the cultural and systemic barriers impede progress towards 30 by 30.

The opening of the conference features a keynote address from Charlene Theodore, the Ontario Bar Association’s first Black President. She has led the OBA’s groundbreaking initiative, Not Another Decade, which is focused on moving the dial on equality for Black and Indigenous people and people of colour. She is also committed to working with lawyers and law firms to reimagine workplaces through the OBA’s Work That Works initiative, building productive, profitable, healthy and inclusive work environments for all lawyers.



Keynote: Charlene Theodore

Charlene Theodore

OBA President Charlene Theodore is a workplace lawyer with a background in public policy and government relations, and currently serves as in-house counsel to one of Ontario’s largest teachers associations. One of Canadian Lawyer’s Top 25 Most Influential Lawyers of 2020, she is known for tackling some of the most challenging issues facing the bar and the justice system, as well as bringing about positive change throughout the profession for women and people of colour.

As the OBA’s first Black president, Ms. Theodore—who is also a member and former director of the Canadian Association of Black Lawyers—has embraced her role in improving equality, diversity, and inclusion in the justice sector and beyond. Her ground-breaking initiative, Not Another Decade, is focused on moving the dial on equality for Black and Indigenous people and people of colour. She is also committed to working with lawyers and law firms to re-imagine workplaces through her Work that Works initiative – building productive, profitable, healthy, and inclusive work environments for all lawyers.

As she likes to say: “Our best chance for a just society is diverse and dedicated lawyers working at their best.”

Jean Boudreau, FEC, P.Eng.

Jean boudreau

Jean Boudreau is past-president of Engineers Canada. Jean graduated from the University of New Brunswick with a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering degree. A senior engineer and principal consultant at GEMTEC Limited, she has over thirty years’ experience in civil engineering, highway planning and design and civil construction projects with the largest portion of her work over the last twenty-five years comprised of highway and hydraulic structures design projects.

Jean has been an active volunteer in a variety of community as well as professional organizations. As the Director for Engineers Canada from New Brunswick, she is a member of the executive for the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of New Brunswick (APEGNB). She has served on the Board for GEMTEC Limited and for the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies – New Brunswick (ACEC-NB) and has twice served on the board for the New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council. She has served on APEGNB Council (2009 – 2014) including a year as president and has been serving on various APEGNB committees since 1991.

Claudette Commanda

Claudette Commanda

Professor Claudette Commanda is an Algonquin Anishinabe from Kitigan Zibi Anishinabeg First Nation located in the province of Quebec. An alumni of the University of Ottawa Faculty of Common Law and Faculty of Arts, Claudette has dedicated the last 30 years to promoting First Nations people, history, culture and rights in various capacities as a University of Ottawa student, professor, member and chair of the Aboriginal education council, and via public speaking events. 

She is a professor for the University of Ottawa’s Institute of Women’s Studies, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Law, and the Aboriginal Studies Program, teaching courses on First Nations Women, Native Education, First Nations People and History, Indigenous Traditions, and Decolonization. In addition, she is the Executive Director of the First Nations Confederacy of Cultural Education Centres, a national organization that protects and promotes First Nations culture, languages, and traditional knowledge. She is inducted into the Common Law Honour Society, served two terms on the Board of Governors for the First Nations University of Canada, and three terms on the Kitigan Zibi band council. 

In 2017, Claudette is the first First Nation appointed Elder in Residence for the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa, and the first person of a First Nation heritage to be appointed to the Board of Governors for the University of Ottawa. She is the Special Advisor on Reconcilation, for the Dean, Faculty of Law.  Claudette is a proud mother of four and a grandmother to ten beautiful grandchildren. In March 2020, Claudette received the 2020 INDSPIRE Award for Culture, Heritage and Spirituality.

Jeanette M. Southwood, FCAE, FEC, LL.D. (h.c.), P.Eng., IntPE

Jeanette M. Southwood

An accomplished engineer, Jeanette Southwood is Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Strategic Partnerships, at Engineers Canada. Before joining Engineers Canada, Jeanette led the Canadian Urban Development and Infrastructure Sector and the Global Sustainable Cities teams at an international consulting firm. At Engineers Canada, Jeanette’s team's portfolios include: Public Affairs - Government Relations and Public Policy; Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Outreach; Communications; and Member Services. A dedicated leader in her volunteer work, Jeanette is a Fellow of Engineers Canada, and recipient of the Province of Ontario’s “Leading Women Building Communities Award”. She was honoured as one of Canada’s Clean50 2014 for her work and dedication to sustainable development, leading change, and championing innovation. Also in 2014, she was inducted as a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering.  Jeanette has received an Honorary Doctorate, Ontario Professional Engineers Awards (OPEA) Engineering Excellence Medal, and was named one of WXN Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and one of 2017’s Women of Innovation.

2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. ET

Perspectives: Indigenous women in engineering

Join us for a panel discussion featuring Indigenous engineers who are women as they share their stories and career development journeys and recount how they have made a place for themselves in the profession.


Cassandra Polyzou

head shot of Cassandra Polyzou

Cassandra has been working on social justice and public engagement for over 20 years on a diversity of campaigns and issues. Cassandra is the Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Engineers Canada where she leads work on increasing the number of women in engineering, improving Indigenous People’s access to engineering, as well as a wider range of diversity and inclusion issues related to the profession. Before Engineers Canada, Cassandra worked for Environmental Defence on their Toxic Nation campaign, where she helped successfully ban Bisphenol A from consumer products in Canada. Her focus has been creating spaces for multi-stakeholder dialogue and creative collaboration to support community-based solutions to complex problems. Cassandra completed a Master of Arts in Cultural Analysis and Social Theory from Wilfrid Laurier University on transnational Muslim feminist mobilizations, and a Bachelor of Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo. Her training and volunteer work in LGBTQ2+ advocacy, environmental campaigns, and anti-oppression have continued to motivate and educate her ongoing work in diversity and inclusion.

Moderator: Denise Pothier, P.Eng.

Denise Pothier

Denise Pothier has a background in chemical engineering and more than twenty-five years of industry experience. She is currently the Vice President of Practice Services and was the first-ever Vice President of Indigenous Relations at Stantec. Since joining Stantec, she has helped develop, build, and now supports Stantec’s Diversity and Inclusion council. She is a firm believer that a diverse and representative employee base, led by a diverse and representative leadership team, enhances and strengthens the cultures of quality, innovation, and health and safety within an organization. She sits on the board of directors of Center for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship (COVE), and the NSCC Foundation; she is the past chair for the Indigenous Advisory Committee for Engineers Canada. She was a recipient in 2016 of the Canadian Progress Club Halifax Women of Excellence Award for Management and the Professions; was named as one of the 2018 Canada’s Inspiring Fifty women in STEM; was named one of 2018 Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners; in 2019, she was named one of Athabasca University’s 25 Hall of Fame Alumni; and most recently was named as one of Dalhousie University’s Aurum Award Winners for 2020. Follow Denise on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

Esther Escott, P.Eng.

Esther Escott

Esther Escott is currently a Senior Transportation Engineer with the City of Calgary's Transportation Planning department. Esther grew up in Brandon, MB, and graduated with a civil engineering degree from the University of Manitoba in 2001. Esther began her engineering career in Regina, SK, as a Project Engineer with SaskEnergy. Esther then moved to Calgary, AB, working with the City of Calgary, Water Resources department in the area of stormwater management. Esther transferred to the City of Calgary's Transportation department where she has been involved in road design, transportation impact assessments, and parking studies for almost ten years. Esther is currently the President of the City of Calgary Society of Professional Engineers. In her spare time, Esther likes going to the gym and taking her two kids to gymnastics and trampoline. Esther is Anishinaabe and a member of the Lac Seul First Nation.   

Katrine Levesque, EIT

katerine Levesque

Katrine Levesque is a graduate of the University of Manitoba Civil Engineering Program as well as the Engineering Access Program (ENGAP). She is a Métis woman who resides near Winnipeg, MB. Katrine grew up with a love of math and sciences, which eventually led her to a career in engineer. She also holds a Bachelor's Degree in Recreation Management and Community Development from the University of Manitoba. Currently, Katrine works as an EIT in the structural group at Dillon Consulting on bridge and culvert projects in Manitoba and north-west Ontario. As well, she is a Councillor for Engineers Geoscientists Manitoba Council.

Monika Rumbolt

Monika Rumbolt

Monika Rumbolt is an Inuk tradeswoman from the NunatuKavut council located on the southern shore of Labrador. She has been directly involved within the mining industry for eight years and continues to do work on community/company relations, while trying to advance educational and employment opportunities to indigenous youth in the region. She now works as a Youth Engagement Officer for the Unlooweg Community Foundation and is currently creating partnerships between Indigenous organizations and companies.