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WNORTH Conference Announces First Five Speakers that will Inspire Female Leaders in Whistler Next Spring

By October 30, 2018 No Comments

5th annual global gathering of women to take place at Nita Lake Lodge,

April 10-12th, 2019 

WHISTLER, B.C. October 30th, 2018 – The WNORTH Conference team is excited to announce the participation of six world-class female leaders to its fifth edition, taking place in Whistler, BC next April 10-12th, 2019. Alison Desir, Amy Nelson, Barinder Rasode, Celeste Burgoyne and Dr. Lois Nahirney will each take the stage to share experiences, challenges and defining moments that shaped both their business and personal paths. WNORTH is a boutique-style conference focused on providing a forum for women who are aiming for, or already on, a senior executive leadership track.

For the fifth edition, Heather Odendaal, Co-Founder and CEO of WNORTH, really wanted to offer a line-up of speakers with diverse professional backgrounds: ‘Leadership opportunities can come in many ways, shapes or forms. This year’s Conference theme is “Colour Our World” and will highlight the importance of diversification, creativity and modernization in the workplace and our role in making these advancements. As women our challenge is often to recognize and to grasp them’, said Odendaal. ‘I’m thrilled to announce this first round of speakers; each of them demonstrates that no matter what your field is, from sports to sciences to marketing, leadership opportunities for women do exist and they are diverse, now more than ever. I know our conference attendees will be inspired by these six incredibly accomplished speakers, and hopefully the event will act as a springboard to elevate themselves both professionally and personally’, she concluded.


Alison Desir – Founder, The Harlem Run, New York, NY

Named by Women’s Running as ‘one of twenty women who are changing the sport of running and the world’, and by The Root 100 as ‘one of the most influential African Americans, ages 25 to 45’, Alison is a mental health counselor, endurance athlete, activist, highly sought-after speaker, and community organizer. She is currently featured in Under Armor’s latest global campaign, Unlike Any, which celebrates and honors the unprecedented achievements of female athletes that rise above gender comparisons, and stand on their own as marvels of athletic prowess.

Amy Nelson – Founder & CEO, The Riveter, Seattle, WA

Amy Nelson is the founder and CEO of The Riveter, work and community spaces built by women, for everyone. A graduate of Emory University and the NYU School of Law, Amy practiced corporate litigation for over a decade in New York City and Seattle. She served on President Obama’s National Finance Committee and previously worked with President Carter’s The Carter Center. Amy launched The Riveter in 2017 while pregnant with her third daughter in three years. The startup’s growth has outpaced even WeWork’s first years and they recently closed a $5 million Series Seed led by Madrona Venture Group. Amy is a contributor for Forbes, and has been published in The Washington Post. She has spoken across the world on many stages, including Forbes Under 30, Cannes Lions and the United State of Women.

Barinder Rasode, CEO at NICHE, Vancouver, BC

Barinder is the CEO of NICHE, an independent, not-for-profit organization that provides impartial and evidence-based research about cannabis production and use in Canada. Based in Vancouver with a national vision, NICHE was established in 2017 after discussions with the Federal and Provincial governments, industry, universities, patients, consumers, non-governmental organizations, law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders.

Barinder has extensive experience working with senior levels of government, stakeholders and the private sector to find common ground to encourage respectful, informed dialogue on diverse issues to tackle emerging challenges facing BC’s future. She is also an active advocate for advancing women’s leadership including a focus on attracting more women to emerging industries such as Cannabis.

Celeste Burgoyne – Executive Vice President- The Americas at lululemon athletica, Vancouver, BC 

Celeste Burgoyne is the Executive Vice President, Retail, Americas at lululemon athletica inc. (NASDAQ: LULU), an athletic apparel company. Ms. Burgoyne has been with lululemon since 2006 and most recently served as Senior Vice President, Retail, North America where she was responsible for overseeing all Canadian and U.S. Retail. Prior to that, she held the positions of Vice President of Store Operations and General Manager of U.S. Operations. Celeste started her career with Abercrombie & Fitch, where she held various positions during her ten years with the company, including most recently, Senior Director of Stores. Ms. Burgoyne holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of San Diego in 1996. An avid runner, road rider and yogi, Celeste and her two young boys are delighted to call Vancouver home with frequent visits to Whistler for all of their snowy pursuits.

Dr. Lois Nahirney – President and CEO, dnaPower Inc. and SkinDNA Inc, Vancouver, BC

Dr. Nahirney solved years of personal health problems by learning about a simple weakness in her genetic make up. Today, her businesses are revolutionizing preventative healthcare by bringing state of the art DNA information to people to help them make better diet, fitness and health decisions. Before becoming a biotech entrepreneur, Lois had a fruitful executive career, including at Teekay Corporation and BC Hydro. She is passionate about advancing women in business, hence her involvement with We for She, the Women’s Executive Network and Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards, among others. Lois’s work has been recognized with awards on multiple occasions, including from BIV Influential Women in Business, YWCA Women of Distinction and BC Business Women of Influence.


The WNORTH Conference will take place at the Nita Lake Lodge in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada from April 10-12, 2019 and is supported by Indeed, Tourism Whistler and Nita Lake Lodge.

Conference registration is now open. The Conference pass includes two days of keynote addresses, talks, and workshops, opening reception and some meals. All attendees will also gain access to the WNORTH Community Networking app, hosted on Bizzabo, to connect with other attendees in advance of the conference.

Early bird Conference Passes that include an annual membership to the Global Online community are $1,199 CAD plus tax until November 23.  For more details or to register visit: https://wnorthconnect.com/conference/registration/

Virginie (V) Lamarche
Media Relations


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