This year's International Women's Day campaign will be an opportunity to celebrate local women who have made a difference in the community when it comes to progressing inclusion.
We've narrowed down all of the nominations submitted for this year's Inspirational Woman Award and now we're asking YOU to vote for who you think deserves to win.
The winner of the award will be a result of a poll voted on by the public from now until Friday, March 8 (the official International Women's Day). The winner will be announced at our International Women's Day EmpowerMarket event on Saturday, March 9 and will receive a $500 cash prize and trophy sponsored by Cornerstone Wealth Planning.
In addition to the awards program, the event will local female vendors, live music performances, fashion show, food and cocktails, door prizes, and a silent auction to raise money for three local non-profits dedicated to supporting women: Dress For Success, Dawn House and MRKH Canada. By attending this event, you will be showing support for the local female vendors, performers, nonprofits, and the amazing individual receiving the Inspirational Woman Award!
READ THE BIOS OF THE THREE INSPIRING WOMEN BELOW!
AND THE TOP 3 NOMINEES ARE...
TOP 3 NOMINEES
Ainsley Latour is a Kingston entrepreneur, scientist, author, educator and researcher who identifies as deaf and neurodivergent. She is passionate about the inclusion and participation of people from all equity deserving groups in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).
Driven by barriers she continues to experience in her pursuit of a career in science as a person with significant disabilities, Ainsley founded IDEA-STEM (IDEA stands for: Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility). IDEA-STEM works with post-secondary schools, science based non-profits, and governments to reimagine programming, policy and practices to be more inclusive for people from all equity deserving groups, including persons with disabilities.
Ainsley is an impactful speaker at many conferences, most recently the 2023 Canadian Science Policy Conference, leads the research portfolio at Brain Injury Canada, is facilitating research to examine the accessibility of federal level science labs in Canada, is part of a project with a national non-profit investigating the accessibility of research for persons with disabilities, and has been part of the Ontario Post-Secondary [Accessible Education] Standards Development Committee. She's currently on maternity leave from her work in genetic diagnostics at Kingston Health Sciences Centre. Her past research on the experience of graduate students with disabilities in Canada has been presented nationally and internationally, including at the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Ainsley is a young adult cancer survivor, and volunteers with Young Adult Cancer Canada as a peer chat leader, as well as on their research leadership team. Ainsley is the proud mom of an active and inquisitive 18 month old, and is enjoying the challenge of being a parent.
Cressana Williams-Massey was nominated for her extraordinary dedication and unwavering support in uplifting children within our community and for the resilience and strength she demonstrates as a Black woman pioneering innovative educational programs for Black youth at Queen’s University.
In the face of numerous challenges, Cressana has demonstrated remarkable perseverance, navigating the intersectionality of her identity as a Black woman while championing initiatives that empower and uplift Black children.
Her innovative programs, such as Sistas-in-STEM, Kiddies Robotics Club, etc., have had a transformative impact on the lives of countless children, providing them with valuable STEM and life skills, a sense of community and belonging, and the confidence to navigate the challenges they may face. Cressana's ability to inspire and empower both children and their families is truly commendable.
Cressana actively addresses the disparities that Black children often face, recognizing the importance of representation and inclusivity. Through her leadership, she ensures that the programs she pioneers are culturally sensitive, providing a safe and supportive space for all children.
Erica Kramer is the manager of the East End Starbucks and has made a lasting impact on the customers, employees and community members she refers to as friends. She spreads kindness to all, striving to make the store a "home away from home".
Beyond work, Erica has overcome many hurdles this past year, including the loss of several loved ones. In addition to supporting her family as much as she can, she has been seen countless times helping friends and staff members who may be struggling.
Her dedication, compassion and leadership is something her younger employees look up to. She has given her time and enthusiasm arranging special days for groups in the area including ‘Tea for Tots' and ‘Tiny Barista’ days. She has invited community members such as veterans and seniors to come in for a day at the store
to hand out coffee and engage with customers as a way to encourage connections and build community. Erica has also managed to create positions at different stores in Kingston and surrounding areas for individuals who experience exceptionalities to work and be a part of a team.
Erica is a big advocate for those who live with exceptionalities . She has an Advanced Diploma in Child and Youth Worker and a Graduate Certificate in Autism and Behavioural Science.
She now uses Starbucks as an avenue to make a difference in the community through engaging with as many individuals as possible and fundraising for local charities such as Lionhearts. On occasion, she has been seen at Lionhearts helping to prepare food for those who are less fortunate. Erica also says Mondays are her favourite day of the week because of the program she runs in the evening. Erica runs the ‘Circle of Friends’ program with her longtime friend who also experiences exceptionalities, where they spend time learning about one another and building community.
WHERE DOES THE DONATION GO?
One of the ways we will use this campaign to enact lasting, sustainable change in our community is by raising money for local non-profits. Donations placed through the link will be split between Dawn House, Dress for Success, MRKH Canada and ourselves. (We are a not-for-profit organization as well).