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Black History Month Panel: Celebrating Black Excellence

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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Black History Month Panel: Celebrating Black Excellence

The Empire Club is excited to host keynote speaker Dr Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business Queen’s University, who will deliver an inspirational and thought-provoking address on themes of increased access, innovation, transformation and representation — followed by a call to action from our audience on how to support the next generation of black leaders.

Wanda will then be joined by successful executives Claudette McGowan, CEO of Protexxa and Jaqui Parchment, Board Director and recently Retired CEO of Mercer Canada, who will discuss their career journeys and how they obliterated the glass ceiling.

This conversation will be moderated by Lori Beausoleil, Corporate Director, Metro Foods, Brookfield Real Estate Income Trust, Canadian Apartment REIT and Slate Office REIT, focusing on the panel’s successes, achievements and how they overcame the challenges they faced.

The panelists will also provide their perspectives on what Martin Luther King Jr. asserts that we must do to realize “the dream of living in a nation where we will not be judged by the colour of [our] skin, but by the content of [our] character.”

“Top talent is diverse and if we do not start making changes now, we will have missed the opportunity for changing the mosaic of our nation’s leaders” – Lori Beausoleil

Please join us on February the 28th, for The Empire Club of Canada’s celebration of black excellence and black history. 

headshot of Lori-Ann Beausoleil

Lori-Ann Beausoleil

Corporate Director, Metro Foods, Brookfield Real Estate Income Trust, Canadian Apartment REIT and Slate Office REIT, Co-Founder, Board Diversity Network Inc.

Lori-Ann Beausoleil is a retired senior partner from PwC where she led the national Ethics, Compliance and Governance practice focusing on regulatory compliance, ethical business conduct and governance. She also led the National Real Estate and National Forensics practice. She brings over 36 years of risk, governance, real estate, financial, operational, and regulatory experience to the Boards she serves on. 

She is currently a Board member and Audit Committee Chair of Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust; Lead Director and Audit Committee Chair of Brookfield Real Estate Income Trust Inc.; Board member, Audit Committee member and Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee member of Metro Inc.; Board member, and Audit Committee Chair of Slate Office REIT; and Board member, Chair of the Financial Advisory Committee, Regulatory Oversight Committee member of Cboe Canada. 

Lori-Ann is also the co-founder of Board Diversity Network, a board readiness program and network for diverse executives. 

Lori-Ann was recognized by Directors&Boards as a “Director to Watch in 2022.” 

She is also a member of the Canadian Chartered Professional Accountants and the Chartered Professional Accountants of Ontario and is a FCPA, FCA Ontario Fellow. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Toronto. 

headshot of Wanda Costen

Dr. Wanda Costen

Dean, Smith School of Business Queen's University

Dr. Wanda Costen, Dean, Smith School of Business at Queen’s University

Dr. Wanda Costen is an academic leader who champions inclusive excellence. She brings a unique
combination of global experience in academia — as a Dean, senior administrator, researcher, and
professor — as well as a private and public sector management career in sales, operations, and human

Dr. Costen is reimagining the future of business education to ensure it is meeting the changing
expectations of organizations and training emerging leaders to thrive.
Her research interests include managing diversity, racial and gender inequality in organizations, women
and leadership, and strategic human resources.

Dr. Costen sits on the board of the Kingston Economic Development Corporation, as well as the EQUIS
advisory committee for the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD).

headshot of Claudette McGowan

Claudette McGowan

CEO, Protexxa Inc.

Claudette McGowan is a global information technology leader with more than 20 years of success leading
digital transformations, optimizing infrastructure and designing new approaches that improve service and
cybersecurity experiences. She has worked in the technology industry for several organizations such as
Deloitte, Metropolitan Police Services, North York General Hospital, Bank of Montreal, and TD Bank.
At BMO, Claudette served as the Chief Information Officer, Enterprise Technology Employee Experience,
and at TD she was the Global Executive Officer for Protect Fusion & Cyber Experience.

Claudette is currently the Chief Executive Officer for Protexxa, a Canadian-based cybersecurity software
and services company.

Claudette is an active member of the Canadian innovation ecosystem. She is the Founder of the Black
Arts & Innovation Expo, and Chair of the Coalition of Innovation Leaders Against Racism (CILAR), a
group of senior business leaders committed to creating platforms that break down systemic barriers within the innovation economy. McGowan recently co-led the launch of Phoenix Fire & The Firehood, a multimillion-dollar women-focused angel fund and network for women in technology.

Her commitment to community is evidenced by her multiple board seats for leading organizations such as
Air Canada, MaRS Discovery District, SickKids Hospital Foundation, Black North, CILAR, Elevate
Technology Festival, University of New Brunswick Canadian Institute for Cybersecurity, and the U.S.
Consul General of Toronto U.S.-Canada Innovation Council.

Claudette holds a BA from Lakehead University, MBA from Athabasca University, Hon Doctor of Laws
from Carleton University, and is currently in the Computer Science PhD program at Toronto Metropolitan

headshot of Jaqui Parchment

Jaqui Parchment

Board Director and Retired CEO, Mercer Canada

Ms Parchment is a Board Director, and recently retired as CEO of Mercer Canada.

She previously served as leader of Mercer Canada’s investment business. Throughout her career she advised a wide range of boards and employers on pension, investment and human capital issues.  She currently serves on the boards of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the BlackNorth Initiative, and has been appointed to the board of the Ontario Teachers Pension Plan.  She previously served on the Board of the Business Council of Canada.

Ms. Parchment holds a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics and Actuarial Science from the University of Waterloo, and has earned her Associate designation from the Society of Actuaries, and her Chartered Financial Analyst designation.