Board Ready Women Montréal Kick-Off Event

April 17, 2024

We invite you to join our inaugural Board Ready Women event in Montréal! We are thrilled to be hosting this session with an impressive panel of experienced board members, Melissa Sonberg, Candice Maxis and Mary Larson, who will talk about their Board journey and share some of their learnings along the way.

Our Fireside Chat Features:

Melissa Sonberg

Board Director – Canada Post, Enghouse Systems Ltd., Hydro One, Exchange Income Corporation & Athennian

Françoise Bertrand

Board Chairperson – VIA Rail Canada
Board Director – Concordia University 
Advisory Committee – Transurban

Candice Maxis

Board Director – Aéroports de Montréal
Chief People and Culture Officer – Canadian Olympic Committee

Moderated by:

Heather Culbert

Co-Founder/Board Chair – Board Ready Women & Axis Connects
Vice Chair – Export Development Canada
Board Chair – United Way World Leadership Council

Jennifer Koury

Co-Founder / Director –  Board Ready Women
Board Director –  Bird Construction & Crescent Point Energy
Vice-Chair – Calgary Zoo

Mary Larson

Member of Advisory Board – Triasima Inc. & Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research
Board Director – McGill University School of Continuing Studies


We invite you to join our inaugural Board Ready Women event in Montréal on Wednesday, April 17, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm, at the McCarthy Tétrault downtown office (1000 Rue De la Gauchetière O Suite MZ400).

This will be an in-person event with registration starting at 4:30 pm, and at 4:45 pm we will introduce you to the value proposition of Board Ready Women, hear from our all-star Board panel, followed by networking and cocktails.

In-person attendance is limited to 100 attendees so register early!



This is an introductory session for Montréal highlighting who we are and how we can help place more women on Boards. We are also taking this opportunity to showcase local Board talent, with the goal of inspiring and encouraging women to participate in our efforts to increase diversification of Boards.

We are thrilled to be hosting this session with an impressive panel of experienced board members, Melissa SonbergCandice Maxis and Françoise Bertrand moderated by Mary Larson, who will talk about their Board journey and share some of their learnings along the way.

Following the formal program, please stay and enjoy cocktails and appetizers during our networking session.  Networking is a proven method to create awareness of talent, make introductions and open doors for Board opportunities.  We invite both men and women to join us for the event as men can be instrumental in supporting women on their Board journey.

The event will be hosted in-person at McCarthy Tétrault Montréal office (1000 Rue De la Gauchetière O Suite MZ400).

Should you have any questions, please direct them to

To sign-up for Board Ready Women Network:

We look forward to your participation in what will surely be an exciting afternoon of insight and inspiration. Please feel free to share this invitation with your network!




Chères membres du réseau Board Ready Women à Montréal,

Ça nous fait plaisir de vous inviter à notre tout premier événement à Montréal mercredi le 17 avril, à partir de 16h30 à 19h00, au bureau McCarthy Tétrault au centre-ville.

Cet événement en personne commencera par l’inscription à 16h30. À 16h45, nous vous présenterons la proposition de valeur de Board Ready Women, suivie d’une intervention de notre panel d’experts du conseil d’administration, et se terminera avec un occasion de réseautage et de cocktails.

La participation en personne est limitée à 100 personnes, alors inscrivez-vous tôt!

Au plaisir de vous y voir nombreux!


Il s’agit d’une session d’introduction pour Montréal mettant en lumière notre identité et comment nous pouvons aider à placer davantage de femmes dans les conseils d’administration. Nous saisissons également cette occasion pour mettre en avant le talent local au sein des conseils d’administration, dans le but d’inspirer et d’encourager les femmes à participer à nos efforts visant à accroître la diversification des conseils d’administration.

Nous sommes ravis d’accueillir cette session avec un panel impressionnant de membres expérimentés des conseils d’administration, Françoise Bertrand, Melissa Sonberg et Candice Maxis, modérée par Mary Larson, qui parleront de leur parcours au sein des conseils d’administration et partageront certaines de leurs expériences.

Après le programme officiel, veuillez rester et profiter des cocktails et des amuse-bouches lors de notre séance de réseautage. Le réseautage est une méthode éprouvée pour sensibiliser au talent, faire des présentations et ouvrir des portes pour des opportunités au sein des conseils d’administration. Nous invitons aussi bien les hommes que les femmes à nous rejoindre pour l’événement, car les hommes peuvent jouer un rôle important dans le soutien aux femmes dans leur parcours vers les conseils d’administration.

L’événement se déroulera en personne au bureau de McCarthy Tétrault à Montréal (1000 Rue De la Gauchetière O Suite MZ400).

Si vous avez des questions, veuillez les adresser à

Pour vous inscrire au réseau Board Ready Women :

Nous attendons avec impatience votre participation à ce qui sera certainement un après-midi passionnant d’inspiration et d’idées. N’hésitez pas à partager cette invitation avec votre réseau !

Speakers' Bios:

Melissa Sonberg

Board Director, Canada Post, Enghouse Systems Ltd., Hydro One, Exchange Income Corporation & Athennian

 Melissa Sonberg has enjoyed almost four decades of international leadership success across a wide range of enterprises, always playing key roles at the heart of transformative change. She has a proven track record working with organizations facing complex, multi-stakeholder, global opportunities to deliver real impact within their industries. 

Having spent the first phase of her career in healthcare, Melissa’s path pivoted considerably, successfully driving change at Air Canada during a period of multiple transformational phases. At the airline, she held leadership positions in a range of customer-facing, operational, and corporate functions, including leading the organization redesign in the merger between Air Canada and Canadian Airlines. 

In 2001, she was named to the founding executive team of Aeroplan, which became known globally as AIMIA (TSX:AIM), and which at the time of her departure was a broadly traded public corporation with market capitalization of approximately $3B (CAD). As a core member of the C-suite, Melissa drove a magnitude of organizational growth and change few leaders experience in a lifetime, including a successful financial and corporate restructuring during a bankruptcy process, leadership of the IPO process (including prospectus author and road-show producer), international M&A, and a multi-year global re-branding. 

In 2014, her professional focus shifted to leadership at the board level serving on multiple Boards of Directors and Advisory Boards, including Exchange Income Corporation (TSX:EIF), Hydro One (TSX:H), Enghouse Systems Ltd (TSX:ENG), Athennian, Canada Post Corporation, VIA Rail Canada, Groupe Touchette, MD Financial Holdings and Rideau Recognition Solutions. 

Within her board mandates, Melissa has provided leadership as Chair of Governance, and Chair of Human Resource & Compensation committees, and as a member of multiple Audit and Finance Committees. Engaging in enterprise challenges ranging from hybrid ownership structures to stewardship of Canadian innovation in global software, aviation/aeronautics, and defense environments, she has been recognized for her ability to deliver customer-focused leadership with skill, empathy, and an unquenchable curiosity about how to make organizations work better. 

Melissa’s long-standing commitment to positive social impact is evident by engagements as a leader and influencer in multiple community and social enterprise efforts, domestic and around the world. She has served as Chair of the Board of Directors for an internationally renowned NGO, member of the board of an organization driving diversity in Canada’s capital markets, Vice Chair of a national professional association, and as a Professor of Practice and Executive-in-Residence at McGill University’s Desautel Faculty of Management, where she teaches at both the graduate (Masters in Business Administration; Masters in Managing Analytics) and undergraduate levels. 

Candice Maxis

Board Director - Aéroports de Montréal

Chief People and Culture Officer - Canadian Olympic Committee

A graduate of the Université du Québec à Montréal in Human Resources Management and a member of the Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA) du Québec, Candice Maxis has more than 15 years of experience in some of Canada’s largest companies. Since July 2023, she has been working for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) as Chief People and Culture Officer, where she is responsible for further developing the COC’s people and culture strategy. Prior to that, she spent more than four years at Deloitte Canada, most recently as Director, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, where she developed and led the firm’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategy and vision. Her career includes positions at Coca-Cola Canada, Bombardier and Intact.

Recognized for her leadership, unique experience in diverse industries and commitment to fostering a more inclusive work environment, Ms. Maxis was named one of Canada’s 100 Most Influential Women in 2022 by the Women’s Executive Network and one of Canada’s 100 Black Women to Watch by Canada International Black Women Excellence.


Administrateur, membre du Comité de gouvernance et de responsabilité sociale


Diplômée de l’Université du Québec à Montréal en gestion des ressources humaines, et membre de l’Ordre des conseillers en ressources humaines agréés (CRHA) du Québec, Candice Maxis possède plus de 15 ans d’expérience dans certaines des plus grandes entreprises au Canada. Depuis juillet 2023, elle travaille pour le Comité olympique canadien (COC) en tant que Chef, Personnes et culture où elle est chargée de poursuivre l’évolution de la stratégie en matière de personnes et de culture pour le COC. Auparavant, elle a œuvré chez Deloitte Canada pendant plus de quatre années, notamment en tant que directrice de la diversité, de l’équité et de l’inclusion, où elle a élaboré et dirigé la stratégie et la vision de l’entreprise en matière de diversité, d’équité et d’inclusion. Au cours de sa carrière, elle a occupé des postes chez Coca-Cola Canada, Bombardier et Intact.

Reconnue pour son leadership, son expérience unique dans diverses industries et son engagement à favoriser des environnements de travail plus inclusifs, Madame Maxis a été nommée en 2022 parmi les 100 femmes les plus influentes au Canada par le Réseau des femmes exécutives et comme l’une des 100 femmes noires à surveiller au Canada par Canada International Black Women Excellence.


Françoise Bertrand

Board Chairperson - VIA Rail Canada

After a 40-year career as a business executive, Françoise Bertrand now dedicates her time to acting as a corporate director.

Since the spring of 2017, Ms. Bertrand has been Chair of the Board of Directors of VIA Rail Canada. In addition, she is a Strategic Advisor to the Leadership Institute, a member of the Board of Directors of Concordia University, a member of the Advisory Committee of Transurban and a member of the Ordre National du Québec. Over the years, she has served on a many Boards, including Osisko Gold Royalties Company, Proaction International and the United Nations Association in Canada.

She has served as President and Chief Executive Officer for several organizations, including the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) and the Télé-Québec broadcasting corporation. She is a former dean of Université du Québec à Montréal. She also spent a few years working for consulting firms, notably for KPMG and as a partner with Groupe Secor.

Françoise Bertrand holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Université de Montréal and a master’s degree in environmental studies from York University. She capped off her academic career at the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Throughout her career, Ms. Bertrand has been recognized with several significant honours, most notably, Officer of the Order of Canada, Knight of the National Order of Québec and Chevalier of the Legion of Honour of France. She also received an honorary doctorate from Concordia University and was awarded the title of Fellow by the Institute of Corporate Directors (ICD). In 2020, Françoise Bertrand received the title of Commander of the Ordre de Montréal.


Présidente du Conseil d’administration, VIA Rail Canada


Après une carrière de 40 ans comme dirigeante d’entreprise, Françoise Bertrand consacre désormais son temps à une carrière d’administratrice de sociétés.

Depuis le printemps 2017, Madame Bertrand est présidente du conseil d’administration de VIA Rail Canada. De plus, elle est conseillère stratégique à l’Institut du leadership, membre du conseil d’administration de l’Université Concordia, elle est membre du comité aviseur de Transurban et membre du conseil de l’Ordre National du Québec. Au fil des années, elle a siégé sur de nombreux conseils, notamment ceux de la Société de Redevances Aurifères Osisko, de Proaction International et de l’Association canadienne pour les Nations Unies.

Elle a occupé plusieurs postes de présidente et chef de direction, notamment à la Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec, au Conseil de la radiodiffusion et des télécommunications canadiennes (CRTC) et à la Société de radiodiffusion Télé-Québec. Auparavant elle a agi à titre de doyenne à l’Université du Québec à Montréal. Elle a aussi œuvré pendant quelques années pour des entreprises de consultation, soit KPMG et à titre d’associés du Groupe Secor.

Françoise Bertrand détient un baccalauréat en sociologie de l’Université de Montréal et une maîtrise en études de l’environnement de l’Université York. Elle a complété sa formation à l’Institut des administrateurs de sociétés (ICD/IAS).

Au cours de sa carrière, Madame Bertrand a obtenu plusieurs distinctions, dont les plus importantes sont : Officier de l’Ordre du Canada, l’insigne de chevalier de l’Ordre National du Québec, Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur du gouvernement français, un doctorat honoris causa de l’Université Concordia et l’attestation Fellow de l’Institut des administrateurs de sociétés (ICD/IAS). Et en 2020, elle a été nommée Commandeure de l’Ordre de Montréal.


Mary Larson

Member of Advisory Board - Triasima Inc. & Stanford University Clayman Institute for Gender Research

Board Director - McGill University School of Continuing Studies

Partner and National Strategy Practice Lead; ESG and EDI Practice Lead. Advisor to C-Suite leaders of companies ranging from FP 500 to entrepreneur-led. Bilingual thought leader and speaker (ESG, Strategy, EDI and Culture)

Through global strategic senior executive roles at leading international companies and partnerships in top-tier consulting firms, Mary has built relevant skills in strategy, sustainability, and organizational culture. She led the global transformation team at McDonald’s, directed technology commercialization at Alcan, and led Strategy and Government Affairs at a noted Canadian consumer goods company. She began her career at the Boston Consulting Group in the US, and later took on consulting roles at McKinsey & Co, the Monitor Group and Kearney.

Mary is a trusted advisor to CEOs and senior executives in the US, Canada and Europe on strategy, culture, governance, and leadership issues. She has led cultural and organizational transformation initiatives in multi-billion-dollar companies and crown corporations.

Her commitment to sustainability over two decades led to a national leadership role in ESG (Environment, Social and Governance), with a particular focus on the “Social”.  She has Undertaken sponsored research into board accountability for ESG and corporate culture and published widely on ESG and EDI matters. Mary is on the Advisory Board of a leading investment management firm and has served on several not-for-profit boards, typically as Board or Committee Chair, including the Stanford University Institute for Gender Studies, Chez Doris and McGill University’s School of Continuing Studies.

She graduated from Princeton University and completed her MBA at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.

Associée et leader nationale du service de stratégie; co-responsable nationale des groupes ESG et EDI; conseillère auprès de dirigeants d’entreprises allant des sociétés FP500 aux entreprises dirigées par des entrepreneurs. Leader éclairée et conférencière bilingue (ESG, stratégie, EDI, culture)

Grâce à ses fonctions de cadre supérieur dans des entreprises internationales de premier plan et d’associée dans des cabinets de consultation et services-conseils de premier plan, Mary a acquis des compétences pertinentes en matière de stratégie, de développement durable et de culture organisationnelle. Elle a dirigé l’équipe de transformation mondiale de McDonald’s, la commercialisation des technologies chez Alcan et la stratégie et les affaires gouvernementales d’une grande entreprise canadienne de biens de consommation. Elle a commencé sa carrière au Boston Consulting Group aux États-Unis, puis a occupé des postes de consultante chez McKinsey & Co, le Monitor Group et Kearney.

Mary est une conseillère de confiance pour les PDG et les cadres supérieurs aux États-Unis, au Canada et en Europe sur les questions de stratégie, de culture, de gouvernance et de leadership. Elle a mené des initiatives de transformation culturelle et organisationnelle dans des entreprises de plusieurs milliards de dollars et des sociétés d’État.

Son engagement en faveur du développement durable, qui s’étend sur deux décennies, l’a amenée à jouer un rôle de premier plan au niveau national dans le domaine de l’ESG (environnement, social et gouvernance), en mettant particulièrement l’accent sur le “social”.  Elle a publié une recherche parrainée par l’Institut des administrateurs de sociétés sur la responsabilité du conseil d’administration et du PDG en matière d’ESG et de culture d’entreprise et a publié de nombreux articles sur les questions d’ESG et d’EDI.

Mary fait partie du comité consultatif d’une grande société de gestion des investissements et a siégé à plusieurs conseils d’administration d’organisations à but non lucratif, généralement en tant que présidente du conseil ou du comité, notamment à l’Institute for Gender Studies de l’université de Stanford et la School of Continuing Studies de l’université McGill. Elle est également membre du conseil d’administration et présidente du comité des ressources humaines de Chez Doris, le plus grand refuge pour femmes au Québec.

Mary est diplômée de l’université de Princeton et titulaire d’un MBA de la Graduate School of Business de l’université de Stanford.

Jennifer Koury

Co-Founder / Director –  Board Ready Women

Board Director –  Bird Construction & Crescent Point Energy

Vice-Chair – Calgary Zoo

Ms. Koury has more than 35 years professional experience including C-suite leadership roles and international experience, with the world’s largest mining Company, BHP Billiton, as well has worked with Enerplus Resources and Exxon Mobil as a senior executive.

Currently, Ms. Koury sits on the Board of Directors for Crescent Point Energy, chairing their HRC and member of the Governance Committee;  Bird Construction in Toronto, Chairing the HR and Governance Committee and member of the EH&S Committee; the Calgary Zoo as Vice-Chair of the Board and is one of the Co-Founders of Board Ready Women.    Ms Koury also served on the Women in Mining Canada Board as Co-Chair from April 2017 to April 2021. . 

Ms. Koury holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree (honors) from the University of Alberta and has her Directors Designation, ICD.D, from The Rotman School of Business, University of Toronto.


Heather Culbert

Co-Founder / Board Chair –  Board Ready Women & Axis Connects

Vice Chair – Export Development Canada

Board Chair – United Way World Leadership Council

With over 27 years of experience in the oil and gas sector, Ms. Culbert has held senior positions in the oil and gas sector and was formerly the Senior Vice President of Corporate Services at Enerplus, a mid-sized oil and gas company.

Heather served as Interim Board Chair and Vice Chair on the Board of Export Development Canada (EDC) and Chaired the HR Committee. She was recently appointed the to the Board of The Fraser Institute and Catapult Environmental.  She chairs the United Way World Leadership Council, a member of the She Leads Economic Council of Alberta and is past Chair of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Council (ARIAC), past Chair of the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT), and past Director of Whitecap Resources.

Heather has been an active volunteer and philanthropist for many years and has co-founded and Chairs both the Board Ready Women and Axis Connects not-for-profit organizations in Alberta.  She is now the Co-Chair of the Calgary Cancer Centre campaign with the goal of raising $250 million.  Heather has served on many not for profit Boards over the past 15 years and is a recent recipient of the Queens Platinum Jubilee Award.