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Women Empowering Women Forum

March 7, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 3:00 pm

Skills for Change is proud to present its 3rd Annual Women Empowering Women Forum!
We are hosting a day-long women’s forum to mark the 2020 International Women’s Day. The theme of the forum is Life, Work, Community.   We have an engaging day planned for you with panel discussions, interactive workshops, wellness sessions and more! We have a great line-up of speakers. Check below to learn more about our speakers.
This year, we are especially pleased to have Samra Zafar, an award-winning international speaker and the bestselling author of A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose as our keynote speaker.
In the afternoon, we have workshops on different topics such as: Negotiation, Women in Trades, Storytelling, Wellness, Legal Services, Diversity and Inclusion. Join us!
* FREE Child Minding Services provided for children from age 3-10. *
Over the past 35+ years, Skills for Change has proudly served thousands of newcomer and immigrant women with wraparound services ranging from settlement services to skills training, from bridging programs to mentoring, and from language training to entrepreneurship programs. Learn more about our women-focused programs here: https://skillsforchange.org/women/




 Samra Zafar                                                                                                                         Donna Hughes

Award-winning International Speaker,                                                                       Founder, Launch Negotiation Ltd
Consultant, Educator, and Social Entrepreneur
Bestselling Author of A Good Wife: Escaping the Life I Never Chose,


        Sally Harvey                                                                                                                Carolina Giraldo

President of Green Design Landscaping Inc.                                              Program Coordinator, The Learning Enrichment Foundation

Director of Education and Workforce Development

– Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association


Narges Khazraei                                                                                                              Sampada Kukade

Women Connecting with Women Program                                                                        Associate Director,

Skills for Change                                                                            Employer Engagement and Program Marketing, Skills for Change



Surranna Sandy                                                                                                                  Jheanelle Anderson

CEO, Skills for Change                                                                                                       Research Assistant, UofT



Roxana Parsa                                                                                                                        Nouhaila Chelkhaoui

Program Lawyer, METRAC                                                                                               Founder, Scale Without Borders



Rinchen Dolma                                                                                                                       Amanda Fernandez

Founder/Artistic Director, Made in Exile                                                                                    Founder, Inclusifyy


Tenzin Tekan                                                                                                                             Dr. Swarn Lata

Program & Operations Director,                                                                                    Professional Sitarist/Gender Advocate

Parkdale Community Legal Services

Dr. Nancy Adossi

Entrepreneurship Instructor,

Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub

Skills for Change



Samra Zafar

When she was 17, Samra Zafar was forced into an abusive marriage, which she escaped years later. Since then, her powerful story of vulnerability, hope and resilience has captivated audiences across Canada and beyond. Her book, A GOOD WIFE, became a national bestseller, and is now being adapted for television. Samra is the recipient of the Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Award and was awarded 100 Most Powerful Women status by the Women’s Executive Network, recognizing women for their incredible achievements, and inspiring future generations. Samra speaks to audiences in corporate, education and non-profit sectors on a variety of topics, including leadership, resilience, mental health and human rights.

Read more on her website

Dr. Swarn Lata

Dr. Swarn Lata is an accomplished artist, teacher, performer, author, and a committed advocate of gender equality. Dr. Lata is a trained facilitator on gender-based violence issues and has facilitated numerous workshops to educate girls and women on women’s rights.

Dr. Lata is a celebrated Sitarist with 30+ years of experience in training and teaching. She received her B.A., B.Ed., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in Sitar instrumental music from Punjab University in India. Dr. Lata arrived in Canada in 2001 and founded the Sitar Darpan School of Music in Toronto which has trained hundreds of students in stringed instruments.

Dr. Lata is also a long-time mentor to newcomer women through the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council. She currently sits on an advisory committee for Skills for Change’s Senior Programs. Her book: “The Journey of the Sitar in Indian Classical Music” is available on Amazon and Indigo.

To learn more, go to http://www.sitardarpan.com

Donna Hughes

Donna is an award-winning negotiator who is passionate about engaging, educating, and empowering women to unleash their innate negotiation ability. Determined to make negotiations accessible to everyone, Donna redefines negotiations as an opportunity to innovate, collaborate and communicate to achieve sustainable value for all parties involved.
Equipped with a decade of interdisciplinary experience from roles held across Europe and North America as a Chartered Global Management Accountant, Supply Chain Manager and Operations Manager, Donna inspires audiences with her passionate, energising, and authentic approach to negotiation.

Sally Harvey

Sally is a passionate Industry veteran with over 30 years’ experience as a landscape and horticulture industry employer, educator and consultant, and for over 12 years, has also been the Director of Education and Workforce Development at Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association. Sally provides a deep understanding of the horticulture and green infrastructure profession; the challenges it faces and the opportunities awaiting our highly skilled workforce working for ‘Employers of Choice’, who will be well equipped to support solutions to many of the environmental issues we are facing as a result of Climate Change.

Sally is passionate about promoting the profession and enabling the current and future workforce through strategic development of professional and skills development training programs, including the Water Smart Irrigation and Fusion Landscaping Training and Certification programs. She has been actively involved as a Subject Matter Expert (SME)in the Horticulture Technician 441C Apprenticeship program, and the Landscape Horticulturist Red Seal Occupational Standard, item bank review, the integration of Green Infrastructure into the new curriculum standard, and the harmonization of the trade across Canada.

Sally and her firm are SME’s and the appointed contractors supporting the 1st and 2nd editions of the Canadian Landscape Standard produced by the Canadian Nursery Landscape Association and the Canadian Society of Landscape Architects.

Sally is the Past Chair of the Workplace Safety Prevention Services (WSPS) Agriculture and Horticulture Advisory Committee and participates at the WSPS Executive Advisory table. She has been an employer representative on the Ontario College of Trades – 441C Trade Board, and was appointed to the Ontario College of Trades Board of Governors in March of 2018 and sits on the Executive Committee. Sally works on behalf of the profession with multiple stakeholders and partners to create win: win results.

Carolina Giraldo

Carolina was born in Colombia and immigrated to Canada 8 years ago with her family to reunite with her husband. She brought with her a Business Administration bachelor’s degree in addition to a lot of hopes, goals and dreams for her and her family. Once in Canada, this mother of two faced several challenges starting with the language barrier. Like many newcomers, her first step was registering in ESL classes. One year later, she enrolled herself in the Occupation-Specific Language Training for Business –Entrepreneur and Sales / Marketing at George Brown College. Afterwards, she decided to study Business and Human Resources at George Brown College. To make ends meet she studied and worked at the same time as a cashier. Carolina was awarded with the Ceridian Canada Recruitment and Selection Award for her outstanding academic performance. Her co-op term at the Toronto Pan American Games 2015 as the Intern, HR, diversity and Inclusion, earned her a paid position in the same role. With a few years of experience in the field, and due her own story as an immigrant women, she has now decided to follow her passion for people and give the nonprofit sector a try; she volunteered with Skills for Change in the Women Connecting with Women program and at Rexdale Women’s Centre in the Labour Market Integration department working directly with immigrants. She now works at
The Learning Enrichment Foundation as Program Coordinator of a bridging program for International Medical Graduates.

Jheanelle Anderson

Jheanelle Anderson is a Master of Social Work student in the Human Services Management and Leadership stream doing a collaborative specialization in Community Development at the University of Toronto. Jheanelle is an active member in her community and currently sits on three advisory committees reflecting her interests in disability justice at UofT, and mental health and wellbeing for newcomer women within the GTA at Skills for Change. In 2018, she sat on Hart House’s Hancock Lecture student advisory committee organizing the lecture series on Disability Justice. Committed to her work in equity, diversity, and inclusion, she is currently the student representative sitting on the Dean’s Equity and Diversity Committee. Jheanelle is currently a research assistant for Dr. Tanya Sharpe working on projects for the advancement of research relevant to African Caribbean Black (ACB) survivors of homicide victims and the development of culturally responsive supports and services to better serve the population. She plans to pursue her Ph.D. to expand literature and eventually influence policy on an underserved and underrepresented group in social work – immigrants with disabilities. Ms. Anderson has spent over 6 years volunteering within the community and settlement sector and emphasizes self-advocacy with those who she works with as an empowerment tool. She aims to assist people in developing the skills to navigate systems of oppression and skills that will enable them to make the most of their own abilities and empower themselves.

Roxana Parsa

Roxana Parsa is the Program Lawyer at METRAC’s Community Justice Program, which provides legal education and information related to gender-based violence, equality and access to justice, in areas of family, immigration, criminal, employment and human rights law. She previously worked as a refugee and immigration lawyer in private practice, as well as in Aboriginal and human rights litigation at the Ministry of the Attorney General

Nouhaila Chelkhaoui

Nouhaila is the founder of Scale Without Borders. She also works with top tier founders & builds programs at the DMZ at Ryerson University, the #1 university-based incubator in the world. Previously, she helped run a startup based out of the University of Toronto. Nouhaila was once a newcomer from Morocco when she came to Canada to attend the U of T as an international student. She has lived in 4 different countries and speaks 4 languages.

Rinchen Dolma

Rinchen Dolma is a multi-disciplinary creative that explores storytelling through theatre, movement, installation and media arts. She was born in Kathmandu,
Nepal to Tibetan refugee parents and is currently based in Tkaronto. She is the founder and Artistic Director of MADE IN EXILE, an arts-based initiative that engages young
Tibetan creatives in exploring their complex identities through different mediums of storytelling. Rinchen’s practice is rooted in collaborative storytelling and sharing to give
an authentic voice to stories untold. She is an emerging playwright, dramaturge and director who largely develops her work through devised theatre.

Amanda Fernandez

Amanda Fernandez has lived in three different countries on two continents; experiencing new cultures and new ways of being and doing are critical to her self-development and the worldview she brings to the table. In her career as she grew through the ranks, diversity, equity and belonging were side-of-the-desk commitments for many organizations, and she intends to change this. She is a social entrepreneur and the founder of Inclusifyy, an entrepreneurial venture that matches high impact diversity, equity, and inclusion services with a bespoke innovation and Kaizen framework designed specifically for the public sector. She has a Master’s degree in Information, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA).

Tenzin Takan

Tenzin is the Program and Operations Director at Parkdale Community Legal Services (PCLS), a community based legal clinic serving low income residents of Toronto’s west end. PCLS serves clients in the areas of income security, housing, employment, and immigration law, in addition to providing public legal education, supporting community organizing and collective action, and promoting law reform in the pursuit of social justice.

Sharon Clarke

Sharon L. Clarke is a membber of the Secwepemc Nation of B.C. Sharon is also an OCT. She obtained a B.A., U of T & a B.Ed, Queen’s University, where she attended the Aboriginal Teachers Education Program. Sharon’s dance style is ‘Women’s Traditional’. She has been dancing for 15 years. Her regalia was made by her family and herself. Sharon attends Pow Wo’s and ceremonies in order to honor her family/ancestors.

Surranna Sandy

Surranna Sandy is the Chief Executive Officer of Skills for Change (SfC), a registered charity and nonprofit multi-service agency in Toronto, Ontario serving 14,000 Immigrants and Refugees annually. Prior to becoming the CEO of SfC, Surranna enjoyed a successful career as President and Founder of Surcorp Group, a Career Management firm with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Having the first-hand perspective of an Immigrant in a new country, Surranna found her calling in advocating for and advancing the needs of immigrants and refugees as a volunteer and board member in the settlement sector.

In 2012, Surranna elected to resign from her firm and accept the invitation to serve as Skills for Change’s CEO, turning her advocacy of ensuring that Immigrant and Refugee has a fair chance to realize and fulfill their potential into her life’s vocation. Under her leadership, Skills for Change has grown from 5 locations in GTA to 10 locations in GTA and Southwestern Ontario serving over 15,000 clients per year. Surranna has led Skills for Change in expanding its programs and services from serving primarily internationally educated professionals to also serving Immigrant Women, Youth, Entrepreneurs and Seniors.

Surranna has a Master of Arts in Leadership and Management from Anglia Ruskin University, an MBA in Human Resources Management from the University of Wales, an Hons Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Management from Northumbria University, a Diploma in Human Resources Management, and a Certificate in HR Management.

Surranna was awarded the Government of Canada’s Canada 150 Outstanding Neighbour award. This award is in recognition of her community service, as CEO of Skills for Change.

She is Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Workforce Innovation Group and is a Board Member of First Work, Ontario’s Youth Employment Assistant Centers. She is a member of the Advisory Committee of the Ontario Nonprofit Network’s Decent Work for Women project and serves as Steering Committee Member for the Consortium of Agencies Serving Immigrants.She is a member of the City of Toronto’s Partnership & Accountability Circle (“PAC”) for The Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-black Racism.

Sampada Kukade

Sampada Kukade is the Associate Director of Employer Engagement & Partnerships and Program Marketing at Skills for Change, a registered charity in Toronto.

Sampada has over 15 years of marketing and partnerships experience. She has a Bachelors in Arts at the University of Western Ontario and a post-graduate certificate in Marketing and Events Planning from George Brown College.

Prior to working at Skills for Change, Sampada led communications, events and a physician leadership program at the Ontario Medical Association. Being passionate about politics, Sampada also ran as a political candidate for a past provincial election.

She is extremely passionate about creating new ways to support immigrants and refugees in our community, working with corporate and community leaders to develop innovative programs.

In her spare time, Sampada teaches yoga and mediation as a certified yoga instructor, with a specific focus on helping manage chronic disease and training beginners to feel comfortable doing yoga. She is also a mother of a 4 year old boy.

Narges Khazraei

Narges is a Canadian certified counsellor (CCC), and has a master’s degree in counselling psychology from the University of Ottawa.

She has been working at Skills for Change since June 2018 with the “Women Connecting with Women” program, supporting and empowering women. Many of our clients have been newcomers.

This program supports and empowers clients through individual counselling, workshops, and support groups, and the main focus is on wellness (improving clients’ psychological and emotional well-being, stress reduction, and improving self-confidence).

Nancy Adossi

Nancy Adossi is a UN consultant for West Africa and an international development expert. She currently works as the instructor with Skills for Change with the Pre-Incubator Newcomer Entrepreneurship Hub helping newcomers learn business basics and how to create profitable businesses in Canada.  She holds a PhD in Health Sciences Education and a few other degrees in Political Science, Public Administration, Data Analysis, and Financial management.  When she is not in school or at work, she runs her consulting firm based in the US, Ghana, and Benin.


How to conquer your fear and successfully negotiate your remunerationAn interactive workshop that empowers participants to pursue personal and professional development through effective negotiation. Through this dynamic session, participants will learn how to reframe negotiation to overcome their fear, identify the multiple dimensions available for negotiation, and discover core techniques that can be deployed to successfully innovate, communicate, and negotiate their remuneration package.

Storytelling in exile – A narrative-based workshop exploring the importance of oral tradition and storytelling in creating a stronger sense of self in diaspora. This interactive workshop will have the participants engage in a series of activities used in the Made in Exile theatre and storytelling program. Participants are encouraged to come with stories and images in their minds.


March 7, 2020
10:00 am - 3:00 pm


Skills for Change
791 St. Clair Avenue West
Toronto, M6C 1B7 CA
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