The Voice of Women


The VOW: Aya Mhana

Aya Mhana is a Syrian-born singer, songwriter, and oud player. Now a proud Canadian citizen, Aya moves easily between English and Arabic, writing lyrics with a poet’s sensibilities.

Since emigrating to Calgary, Canada, in 2016, Aya has performed at the Calgary Stampede and Globalfest, and with the Kensington Sinfonia. Also, got invited to Folkfest.

In 2020, for her outstanding commitment to the community and art, she received the Calgary Catholic Immigration Society New Canadian Artist Award and the Portail De L, immigrant Association (PIA) award. She formed a band called HYMM, a seven-piece ensemble that often graces Calgary coffee houses with its Middle Eastern fusion repertoire.

Aya’s musical journey is deeply influenced by her Syrian roots. Which was obvious in her album (Homeland) the combination of two homelands that she has Canada and Syria, Hailing from Sweida, she taught herself to play the oud (a string instrument similar to the lute) during high school and graduated from the University of Damascus with a degree in education. She volunteered with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, working with families displaced during the Syrian war.

Inspired by her volunteer work, Aya used her music to explore the human capacity for hope during wartime and performed her compositions in her home city. In Canada, she translates the rich culture of her homeland for audiences who often know little of Syria, but are eager to embrace her soulful melodies.

As an artist who inhabits the crossroad between nations, Aya is committed to speaking out about issues on exile and diaspora, and to celebrate the importance of home. She hopes that her music helps shape Canada’s vision for a peaceful and vibrant cultural mosaic.

The VOW: Shashi Behl

Shashi’s first foray into entrepreneurship was as a partner with Body Blocker Co, a manufacturer of state-of-the-art sun wear for children, which dramatically decreased the effects of the sun’s UV rays. This business set the course for her to pursue her own business and later opened Twisted Goods, retail stores that specialize in fun and eclectic personal and home accessories, with storefronts in key malls in Calgary and Saskatoon. She has since sold that retail banner.

 This knowledge and love of retail have launched various niche retail banners. Shashi is the Owner and Founder of Joydrop, Partner and Co-founder of Fernweh, and Founder of Twisted Goods. 

She has been on the W100 profit list, P200 list, represented Canada at the G8 Young Business Summit, been awarded Calgary Leader of Tomorrow, and was named Retailer of Year for Canada. 

She is passionate about the retail business and a strong advocate for women in business. She champions women in her current role as Chair of Board for AWE, Board member with EO, and former Board member of Futurpreneur as well as being a judge on various panels and was the Entrepreneur in Residence for SAIT in 2019. She Invests in and mentors women in all industries of business. 

Shashi loves traveling with her family, meeting new people, road biking, practicing yoga, and reading. Here motto is to get comfortable with being uncomfortable and looks to have a YES moment every day!

The VOW: Annette Stanwick

Annette Stanwick considers herself an ordinary woman with lots of extraordinary experiences that have molded her, changed her, and given her a passion to help others just like you to overcome your struggles, heal your wounds, improve your life and relationships, and forgive yourself and others, so you can live your very best life. She is no stranger to tough times. 

She has risen above trials, trauma, terror, and tragedy, but despite those difficulties, she is a confident, happy, and passionate woman. Positive choices, faith, and fortitude empower her to rise above difficult situations. The most profound was the murder of her brother. Never could she have dreamed she would publicly forgive his killers in the courtroom in the US. 

As a result, she developed a passion to help others overcome painful experiences, and she is eager to help you in your troublesome times. 

She is the best-selling and award-winning author of FORGIVENESS: THE MYSTERY & MIRACLE.

With a nursing background, decades of experience as a health care executive, and having coached hundreds and spoken to thousands, she has a strong platform of experience, wisdom, stories, and tools to help you, regardless of your situation.

The VOW: Lesley Conway

Lesley is the former President of Hopewell Residential, a land development and housing company headquartered in Calgary. Having spent over 35 years in the real estate industry, she now serves on several Boards including The Calgary Stampede and The Calgary Health. Lesley and her life partner, Scott Hutcheson have four children Cole (26), Syd (24), Parker (23), and Avery (21). She enjoys skiing, cycling, yoga, reading, watching the Kansas City Chiefs, and travel.

The VOW: Monsy Lopez

Monsy is a 33-year-old single mother of two girls ages 6 and 4. Her story is one of inspiration and resilience as she battles through building a career in the mortgage industry while raising her young children on her own. She began her career at one of the big 5 banks and quickly built her reputation as a ‘go-getter’. Motivated by challenges and never afraid to take risks, she is now one of the top mortgage producers at her brokerage, a proud homeowner, and a landlord to more than 5 rental properties. Monsy tells her story about how she didn’t let being a single mother stop her from reaching her goals. She is currently a Mortgage broker at Mortgage Connection as well as an Insurance Broker at Insureline Complete and lives inner-city with her daughters.

The VOW: Heather Heasman

Heather Heasman is a senior business leader with over 20 years of experience in strategy development, change management, and leadership development in the profit and non-profit sectors. She has worked internationally and has most recently provided management consulting and executive coaching services to privately held start-ups and foundations in Alberta and British Columbia. ⁣

⁣As an experienced instructor, Heather has taught at both the Haskayne School of Business and the Bissett School of Business in business strategy, business communications, and entrepreneurship.

⁣An avid community volunteer, Heather has a wide variety of governance experience and has served on a number of boards from being the current Chair of the Board of Wood’s Homes to being a Past President of Kicking Horse’s Freeride team.

The VOW: Corinne Lyall

Corinne Lyall is the broker and owner of Royal LePage Benchmark and has worked in some capacity in the real estate industry for over 30 years. She is the 2015 Past President of CREB® (Calgary Real Estate Board), was on the Royal LePage Canada's National Advisory Council, and is the current Chair of Pillar9 (the Alberta One MLS Board). Corinne was also President of CREB®’s Charitable Foundation and helped create partnerships to build the 60-unit Crestwood Affordable Housing project. Other non-real estate boards she has been involved in are Doors Open YYC, WEDO (Women's Entrepreneurship Day), and is currently on the EO (Entrepreneurship Organization) Calgary Chapter board.  Corinne is passionate about being involved in the real estate industry and loves having the opportunity to have leadership roles in organizations where she can influence better relationships and collaboration for positive change and outcomes.

The VOW: Verna Marzo

Verna Marzo has been described as an Inspiring Albertan, a messenger of hope, and an energizer bunny. Verna Marzo was born and raised in the Philippines. She completed University there receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Mass communication where she worked in print media. ⁣⁣

⁣⁣She moved to Canada in 2001 to provide a better life for her family. She made a life for herself in Canada, building a strong community with a focus on helping others. She lived life to the fullest taking adventure trips that involved cage diving with great white sharks, sky diving, bungee jumping, and swimming in the devil's pool.⁣⁣

⁣⁣In March 2017 her life took a dramatic turn when she suffered a medical trauma leaving her a quadruple amputee. She has demonstrated resilience and resolve through the adjustment to her new conditions. She has locked into a new purpose of inspiring others by showing them what is possible for those who believe in the power of positivity.⁣ ⁣

⁣After she finished the Fast Track program of the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers, she built a speaking business not only to provide for herself but to encourage. others to embrace challenges, push forward and never give up.

The VOW: Jayme MacFayden

Jayme MacFayden is the co-founder of BMeX Restaurant Group Inc.

BMeX was established in 2010 with the opening of one single restaurant UNA pizza + wine and now oversees five independent concepts between Calgary and Saskatoon. (UNA pizza + wine is set to open two new locations within Calgary starting as early as August of this year)

Although her career was originally set down a path outside of the restaurant industry, a long-time love of food, wine, and hospitality kept drawing her back and eventually made itself the clear contender of her passion. To this day that passion stays strong with the collaborative feel of her restaurant community in Calgary and the global language of food and restaurants.

Jayme’s passion is working with and developing her team, traveling for ideas and inspirations for the restaurants, building relationships with local food producers, farmers, and suppliers, and leading the way as a responsible restaurateur when it comes to environmental integrity and stewardship.

When she is not in the restaurant she can be found wandering in the woods, spending time with honeybees, or making medicine from plants.

Her vision is to continually develop enduring restaurants with soul, through culinary excellence, knowledgeable service, and gracious hospitality while supporting local food resiliency, the community, and the environment.

The VOW: Kelly Doody

Kelly is an athlete turned journalist turned digital marketing diehard. After founding two marketing agencies, one focused on public relations and the other on content marketing, she shifted to education. In her current role as founder and CEO of Social School, a leading digital skills training provider for thousands of individuals and organizations worldwide, Kelly and her team passionately teach businesses how to build their online community, further their reach, and grow their bottom line.

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