A fire chief, a doctor who advocates for financial literacy, and a medical student who hosts free prenatal workshops for homeless and low-income women are among seven members of the Queen’s community named to the 2022 list of Canada’s Most Powerful Women.
The annual list is produced by the Women’s Executive Network as a way to honour and celebrate women who have made a positive impact on their companies, industries, and communities.
The six alumnae and one student on this year’s list are:
Ishita Aggarwal, Meds’23
Aggarwal is an advocate for women's health, human rights, and issues surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion. She runs Mom’s The Word, a non-profit organization that hosts free prenatal workshops for homeless and low-income women and connects sexual-assault victims with health professionals. She is also co-leading an evaluation of Queen's School of Medicine's equity, diversity, and inclusion curricular offerings.
Desiree Bombenon, MBA’22
Bembenon is the CEO of SureCall, a company that designs solutions to streamline business’s processes. She has won numerous business leadership awards and says one of her proudest moments is creating the Hero Girls program, which educates girls in underserved and developing communities through scholarships and micro loans.
Dr. Roopan Gill, Artsci’07
Dr. Gill is the co-founder of Vitala Global Foundation, a non-profit that supports access to safe abortion care and family planning. Gill, a doctor and assistant professor at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, also works with Doctors Without Borders as an emergency obstetrician gynecologist.
Natalie Klopfer (nee Marchesan), MBA’01
Natalie is the global head, procurement, and chief administrative officer, Shared Services, at RBC (Royal Bank of Canada). Before her banking career, she spent more than a decade in the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving as a C130 Hercules aviator and flying missions for the United Nations and NATO operations.
Deryn Rizzi, Artsci’97, Ed’98
Rizzi is the fire chief and director of emergency management with the City of Mississauga who advocates for equity and inclusion in the fire service. She has more than 20 years of experience in the fire service and sits on various diversity-related committees and boards.
Lisa Taylor, Artsci’96
Taylor is president and founder of Challenge Factory, the first company in Canada to offer career services specifically designed for older workers. She is passionate about labour and career-development issues. The author and community leader is an associate fellow at the National Institute on Aging, and serves on the boards of directors of the Canadian Special Operations Forces Regiment Association and CERIC (a charitable organization that advances education and research in career counselling and development).
Dr. Stephanie Zhou, Artsci’14
Dr. Zhou grew up in subsidized housing and was the first in her family to pursue post-secondary education. Today, she is a doctor who advocates for financial empowerment and diversity mentorship. She developed the financial literacy curriculum at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Medicine, serves on the financial aid committee, and runs a popular financial education blog called Breaking Bad Debt.
“These women are exceptional examples of the many great leaders who are part of our alumni and future alumni community,” says Queen’s Vice-Principal (Advancement) Karen Bertrand, Artsci'94. “The work they do in their communities is important and inspiring. I want to congratulate them on being recognized for their accomplishments.”
The recipients will be celebrated Nov. 17 during a ceremony in Toronto.
Many Queen’s alumnae have appeared on Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women’s lists in previous years. Former recipients include Habitat for Humanity Canada CEO Julia Deans, Artsci’85; now-retired LGen. Christine Whitecross, Sc’84, who was once the Canadian military's highest-ranking woman; CBC TV Dragons’ Den star and tech entrepreneur Michele Romanow, Sc’07, MBA’08; and former National Football League Chief Operating Officer Mary Ann Turcke, Sc’88, MBA’97.