Formidable Women Across Alberta

To celebrate Women’s Month this year, CRIEC is shining a spotlight on some of the remarkable women who are making a difference across Alberta. These women are breaking barriers, challenging stereotypes, and inspiring the next generation.

Despite the challenges and obstacles they’ve faced along the way, these women have remained dedicated to their passions and committed to making the world a better place. Whether they’re working to improve the lives of their communities, championing important causes, or simply leading by example, these women are true role models and sources of inspiration for us all.

Immigrant Serving Agencies

Anila Umar Lee Yuen, BSc, BSc (Hon), MBA

President & CEO of Centre for Newcomers    

Since joining CFN, Anila has grown the agency by $12M, adding nationally recognized programming such as LGBTQ+ refugee supports and indigenous education for newcomers.  She co-chaired the Calgary COVID Care Table, where she led the civil society response to assist over 50,000 vulnerable Calgarians.


Anila is the Chair Ag Media at the Calgary Stampede, volunteer with Calgary Foundation, member of International Women’s Forum, Rotary and enjoys training in martial arts at Pamana Kali.  


Anila is a recipient of the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Person’s Case in 2001 for her work advocating for the rights of immigrant and minority women and children in Canada. Other accolades include University of Calgary Alumni Award, Top 40 Under 40 designation, Women of Inspiration, Top 25 Women of Influence in Canada and Top 100 Most Powerful Women In Canada.  

She lives in Calgary with her husband Stefan and their puppy named Sith.    

Gordana Radan

Chief Executive Officer of Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS)


Gordana Radan is the chief executive officer of Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS), one of the leading immigrant-serving non-profits in the Prairies. At CCIS, Radan leads a team of over 450 employees and 2,000 volunteers in the design, development and delivery of innovative programs and services that support the settlement and integration of immigrants and refugees in Southern Alberta. 


She came to Canada as a refugee from former Yugoslavia in 1995. Upon her arrival, CCIS’ reception house for refugees, the Margaret Chisholm Resettlement Centre (MCRC), served as her first home. Inspired by her host organization’s impactful work with newcomers, Radan joined CCIS in 1997 in a frontline employment counsellor role where she quickly made a mark through an outstanding work ethic and exceptional leadership skills. She became popular with clients and colleagues alike, and her impact was felt throughout the organization, earning her a promotion in just two years to the position of Employment Services Coordinator where she provided leadership and oversight to CCIS’ employment team. 


In 2007, she became the Director of CCIS’ Business, Employment and Training Services (BETS) division leading a team of over 100 employees in developing and providing several ground-breaking employment and training programs that address the needs of Southern Alberta’s employers and support the labour market integration of immigrants and refugees. Radan’s visionary leadership of BETS considerably strengthened CCIS’ position as a leader in Canada’s settlement sector with some of her programs earning national recognitions as promising practices. 


On January 1, 2023, she became the CEO of CCIS and continues to drive the organization’s vision of creating a society where newcomers can fulfil their potential. Her passion for creating new and better ways to serve newcomers is rooted in her unique lived experience and depth of understanding of the newcomer experience. 


Radan is a talent manager par excellence. Her managerial nous, perceptive eye for promising talent and intuitive ability to match employees with suitable roles in which they can maximize their potential have seen several of CCIS’ frontline workers evolve into leadership, program management, and advisory roles within and outside the organization. 


Her leadership approach is shaped by the philosophy that leadership is about contribution and impact, not titles–an ethos that has become the defining trait of each member of her team. 


With 25 years of experience working in Canada’s settlement sector and positively impacting the lives of newcomers, she possesses invaluable sector knowledge, a robust professional network and remarkable professional accomplishments that inspire the admiration of her colleagues. 


Through high-level involvement in various boards and committees, she contributes her expertise to several community-based initiatives that improve newcomer outcomes across Canada. She currently serves as the Vice-Chair of the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA).


Paula Calderon

Chief Executive Officer of Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association 

Originally from Colombia, Paula came to Canada with her family in 2001. Over the last 20 years, inspired by her family’s own immigration journey, she has focused on leading workforce development projects that support the economic integration of newcomers to Canada and has had a progressive career within the immigrant-serving sector.  

Currently, she is the CEO of the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association, Canada’s largest gender-focused immigrant-serving agency. For the past 40 years, CIWA has supported immigrant and refugee women, girls and their families with more than 50 programs that focus on settlement needs, language and employment training, family matters and much more. 

Dr. Sally Zhao

President and Chief Executive Officer at The Immigrant Education Society (TIES)

Dr. Sally Zhao is the current President and Chief Executive Officer at the Calgary-based not-for-profit organization, The Immigrant Education Society (TIES), a position she has held since November 2014. Dr. Zhao has always had a passion for education, as she has obtained her Ph.D. in ESL (English as a Second Language) Testing and Assessment, and an MA in Language and Communication from Cardiff University, UK, as well as an M.Ed. in Teaching English for Specific Purposes from the University of Exeter, UK, and a BA in English Language and Literature from Lanzhou University, China. In October of 2005, she joined her family, who immigrated to Canada in 2004, where she discovered TIES and began volunteering as an ESL tutor. As a dedicated educator, she quickly took on more responsibilities within the Society, coming into roles such as LINC (Language instruction for newcomers to Canada) instructor, ELT (Enhanced Language Training) instructor, LINC Manager, Executive Director Designate, and ultimately, President and CEO. On top of her work for the Society, Sally is also a dedicated volunteer within the community, serving on boards such as the Alberta Mental Health and Addictions Council, the CFN (Centre for Newcomers) Indigenous Education for Newcomers Advisory Committee, and the Bow Valley College Research Ethics board, as well as dedicating her time in numerous capacities for organizations such as Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC), Alberta Association for Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA), and The Alberta Teachers of English as a Second Language (ATESL). Since coming into the not-for-profit sector, Sally has fully immersed herself in her passion for the betterment of newcomers and financially challenged individuals through her involvement and leadership in a variety of services like second language education, employment training, settlement and research programs. With a deep care for helping others, Sally has been making positive impacts on so many people’s lives in the community and for clients and staff at TIES for nearly 18 years.

Marietta Pangan

Community Outreach Coordinator for the UC Caucus – Alberta Legislative Assembly

Marietta Pangan is the Community Outreach Coordinator for the UC Caucus at the Alberta Legislative Assembly. She is a Canadian of Filipino descent and a strong advocate of the “Pay It Forward” system. Her goals are to educate, inspire, and inform others. Marietta is dedicated to adding value to marginalized and ethnic communities in Alberta when she is not busy chasing the Northern Lights.

Since 2018, Marietta has been volunteering as the Executive Director for the Diaryo Alberta Society, a non-profit media and community organization operating in Alberta. She enjoys conceptualizing factual news, inspirational stories, blogs, and creative content writings. Marietta is also an expert in editing and proofreading.

Marietta always leaves the house with a camera or an extra battery to find inspiration. This hobby helps her find balance after more than 25 years of extensive experience in technical, scientific, featured, and news writing. Marietta is also a decade-long entrepreneur with expertise in digital and multimedia marketing, promotions, customer service, coaching, and mentorship.

Marietta finds the kitchen therapeutic and has a wide range of experiences in Research and Development, Public Health, Menu/Food Product Development, and Standardization. She is a seasoned Food & Nutrition Management Technologist (Canada) and professional Dietitian (Philippines). Marietta also visits the Philippines annually to teach organizations and feeding coordinators, providing cooking demonstrations with feeding programs (beans/lentils) and expressing her social responsibility.

Human Resources

Heidi Brandley

Director of Workforce Development at  Manpower

Celebrated for her breakthrough work by both the industry and her peers, Heidi brings expertise in Leadership, Career Development and Education.  She has developed highly effective and industry-focused training and employment programs, across Alberta with the purpose of upskilling the workforce of tomorrow. Heidi is an inspirational and compassionate leader, who builds incredible relationships centered around empathy while exhibiting a steadfast commitment to integrity.  As a mother of young children, Heidi understands the unique challenges faced by women in leadership today as she strives to balance a busy family life with a dynamic and challenging career. She is committed to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, while making the support and mentorship of female leadership a key priority and continues to works toward mentoring and advancing the next generation of emerging and women leaders within Manpower and the community.


Chi iliya-Ndule

Corporate Commercial Lawyer at Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP 

Chi Iliya-Ndule, is a corporate commercial lawyer with Blake, Cassels and Graydon LLP.

She is a co-founder and the President of the Calgary Black Chambers, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to making Calgary the most equitable place for Black people to live and work through its pillars of scholarship, mentorship, advocacy and fellowship. Chi also serves on the boards of Telus Convention Centre, Alberta University of the Arts,  and Antyx Community Arts.

Chi also sits on the executive committee of the Environmental, Energy and Resources Law Section of the Canadian Bar Association, provides pro bono legal services through Pro Bono Law Alberta, and mentors internationally trained lawyers through CRIEC and Black law students through BLSA.

In 2022, Chi received the Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal from the Alberta Government for her contributions to the Province.

Chi holds a Master of Laws (LL.M) from the University of Calgary, Canada and a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B) from Nigeria.

Billie Fortier

Partner at MLT Aikins LLP, Calgary

Billie Fortier advises First Nations and Métis communities on matters related to economic development, commercial leasing, industry partnerships and community governance.


She advises the leadership of Indigenous communities on a variety of matters, including corporate structuring of Indigenous-owned businesses, financial administration and governance, including drafting laws and bylaws. She also advises clients across a number of industries on general commercial matters and in connection with M&A and corporate reorganizations.


Billie has appeared before the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta and the Provincial Court of Alberta, and has experience with regulatory proceedings before the Alberta Utilities Commission, the Alberta Energy Regulator and the Impact Assessment Agency of Canada.


Billie is a member of the Fort McKay First Nation.


Hong Phuc Nguyen

Founder/CEO of Kibbi

Hong Phuc is a Vietnamese newcomer of 2 years. Having struggled to work through the labyrinth of barriers to finding work faced by immigrants, she created Kibbi App with the mission to revolutionize the job search experience for immigrants and refugees, enabling them to enter the workforce swiftly and contribute to local businesses and economies. The app helps thousands of newcomers per month ease the process of finding local jobs to settle fast and lowers the common barriers to jobs such as language, local know-how, and resume and cover letter writing. Kibbi is the only job portal that translates jobs into 60+ languages. Within 6 months of launch, Kibbi has secured 895k investment from angels and is currently incubated at the Platform Calgary. 
Before moving to Canada, Hong Phuc was an MBA graduate from Hong Kong University, had +12 years in marketing, and worked in 4 different Asian countries including Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

Banking and Finance

ED's Pick

Cindy Rogers

Vice-President, ICM Asset Management CorporationBoard Chair, Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council, Community Council Member, The51, Investment advisor for UCEED social impact fund

Bringing together her expertise in finance accounting and business management with a passion for social issues, Cindy Rogers is committed to Canadian energy, financial feminism and equity, diversity and inclusion. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and write and reviews exam questions for the FP&A certification. She is Chair of the Calgary Region Immigrant Employment Council and In 2020 she joined the Community Council of The51, a venture fund investing in women-led businesses. 

Jerilynn Daniels

Regional Director, Community Marketing and Citizenship at RBC

Jerilynn Daniels is the Regional Director, Community Marketing and Citizenship for RBC, Alberta and Territories, a position she has held since 2011. In 2006 after more than 12 years in not-for-profit working in roles ranging from front line support to Director of Fund Development and Communications, Jerilynn made the move back to the corporate world. She now works at her dream job, fulfilling her love of community with the desire to work in a corporate environment. Jerilynn is responsible for Community Investments, Sponsorships and Marketing for RBC in Alberta and Territories.

A passionate community supporter, Jerilynn serves on the Board of CCVO, is a member of the advisory council for the Haskayne School of Business and an advisory member to Dress for Success Calgary.

A graduate of the University of Calgary, Jerilynn has been fortunate to have worked her entire career in Calgary.

In 2010, Jerilynn was the recipient of the Hazel Gillespie Community Investment Leadership Award, the first Community Investment professional to receive the award after Hazel herself. In 2012 she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in community locally and internationally and most recently in 2022, she received the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal. She resides in Cochrane with her husband and two teenage children and loves to cook and travel.

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