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Infinite Options for a Neurodiverse Workforce

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

The Azrieli Foundation aims to open doors to opportunity for all and one of its priorities is to empower the often-overlooked neurodivergent community.  
Naomi Azrieli, OC, D.Phil, Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation, will provide a keynote address discussing the current state of employment for neurodivergent people in Canada and how the Foundation increases opportunities for this population. She will then moderate a panel discussion featuring sector leaders who will share perspectives on creating a truly inclusive Canadian labour force.

headshot of Naomi Azrieli, OC, DPhil

Naomi Azrieli, OC, DPhil

Chair & CEO, Azrieli Foundation

Naomi Azrieli is Chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. In this capacity since 2004, she has been the strategic driver behind the Foundation’s philanthropic initiatives and overseen its growth into the largest non-corporate foundation in Canada.

In this role she creates numerous initiatives that bring people and institutions together to address challenges in science, health, education and community. She has created and launched several programs and partnerships, including the Azrieli Fellows Program, the CIFAR Azrieli Future Leaders Program, the Canadian Centre for Caregiving Excellence and the award-winning Holocaust Survivor Memoirs Program.

Naomi is Chair of the Foundation’s Investment Committee, President of Canpro Investments Ltd., and a Director on the Board of the Azrieli Group Ltd., a publicly traded real estate company (TASE: AZRG).

She also sits on the Boards of the Weizmann Institute of Science, the Brain Canada Foundation and several other cultural and academic institutions.

In 2013, Naomi Azrieli was awarded France’s Legion of Honor and in 2022, she was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

headshot of Stephanie Cadieux

Stephanie Cadieux

Chief Accessibility Officer, Government of Canada

Stephanie Cadieux is a change leader, an advocate for diversity, accessibility and disability inclusion, and an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in planning and leadership roles. Her four-year appointment as the Government of Canada’s Chief Accessibility Officer began on May 2, 2022. Before her appointment, Ms. Cadieux was a member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia from 2009 to 2022. She was the Minister of Children and Family Development from 2012 to 2017, and between 2010 and 2012, held various positions, including Minister of Social Development; Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government; and Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development. Prior to her engagement in provincial politics, Ms. Cadieux was the director of marketing and public relations for the BC Paraplegic Association from 2004 until 2009.

headshot of Wanda Deschamps

Wanda Deschamps

Founder & Principal, Liberty Co

Wanda Deschamps is the founder and principal of Liberty Co, a consultancy seeking to increase the participation level of the neurodiverse population in the workforce with a special emphasis on autism due to Wanda’s own diagnosis at midlife. Her approach is centred on the IDEA (Inclusion-Diversity-Equity-Accessibility) framework and focuses on inclusive leadership, entrepreneurial thinking and employee retention. Wanda is also the catalyst behind the #Women4Women collective premised on women supporting other women. She is an advocate for autistic women, as both an advisor and participant in research into autistic women’s experiences in the workplace. Wanda was recently honoured with the 2023 Life Sciences Ontario Volunteer Award. Prior to founding Liberty Co, Wanda enjoyed a 25-year career in the philanthropic sector.

headshot of Garth Johnson

Garth Johnson

President & Co-Founder, Meticulon and CEO, Auticon Canada

Garth Johnson- co-founded Meticulon in 2013, Canada’s first enterprise to deploy the unique abilities of people with autism as IT consultant. It was acquired by Auticon in 2019. Garth’s entrepreneurial career in IT included roles as VP of Business and Community Development for iStockphoto and President of Fotolia North America, now Adobe Stock photo. Garth brings his personal life with a person with autism in his family together with his professional passion for building sustainable, disruptive businesses to auticon Canada’s mission to grow across the country and expand our services into new sectors. He also serves on the board of the Canadian Association for Supported Employment in support of its mission to create sustainable, equitable employment for all Canadians with diverse abilities.