2013 Speakers

Keynote Speaker: Christine Magee, Sleep Country Canada


Over the past two decades, Canadians have gotten to know Christine through the company’s numerous television and radio commercial spots. Now here’s your chance to meet Christine in real life.

Christine, together with her co-founding partner Steve Gunn and their dedicated team of professional associates, built a company which has achieved dominance in each regional market it entered in Canada, establishing Sleep Country Canada as the #1 Mattress Retailer in Canada. Since opening four stores in British Columbia in 1994, Sleep Country has successfully grown to over 238 corporate-owned stores in 17 regional markets.

As part of her strong philanthropic commitment to reaching out to communities, Christine has been asked on many occasions to speak to a diverse group of charities, schools, conferences and events such as Sleeping Children Around the World, Youth-In-Motion Women’s Health & Wellness conference, SMLS Career Carousel, Peterborough Women’s Business Network; to mention a few. She has also taken on an active role in mentoring students through her involvement with Ivey School of Business, 20 Under 20 and working with young professionals through Women’s Executive Network. Christine served as an Honorary Chairperson for the Hamilton YWCA, and was a proud member of the Selection Committee for YWCA – Women of influence in 2009 and in 2010.

In addition to her charitable work, Christine is on the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation Board and on the Diabetes Campaign Committee. She is also an active member of the Women’s President Organization, as well as a member of the Advisory Council for the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario.

Christine’s leadership and foresight has led her to be recognized and receive numerous awards over the years. Most recently on November 16, 2012, Christine was honoured with the Possibility Thinker Award by Futures Possibility for Kids in Toronto. Christine was recognized by the WXN as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Awards in 2007 in the Professional Category and in 2010 and 2011 in the Corporate Executives category. In 2010, Canadian Living named Christine one of 35 Canadian Women Who Made our Lives Better This Year.

In 2006, Christine received an Honorary Doctorate of Commerce from Ryerson University, as well as the CIRAS Henry Singer Award for Exceptional Leadership in Retailing and Services from the University of Alberta School of Business. In 2005, Christine received the Laurier Outstanding Business Leader Award from Wilfrid Laurier University. Sleep Country Canada was also inducted into the Marketing Hall of Legends in 2005 and the Retail Council of Canada Hall of Fame in the same year. In 1998, Christine was named Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year, Retail/Wholesale by Ernst & Young. She was also recognized as one of Canada’s Top 40 Under 40 in 1997.

Christine is a graduate of Western’s Ivey School of Business.

She resides in the greater Toronto area with her husband and two children.


Keynote Speaker: Kelsey Ramsden, Profit W100 Winner, Cancer Survivor, Mom


Ranked #1 by Profit and Chatelaine Magazines W100 list in 2012, Kelsey has founded and run businesses as diverse as construction and children’s toys. As President of Belvedere Place Development, a land development and construction firm, she wasn’t afraid to roll up her sleeves and strap on some work boots and get down in the dirt.

Kelsey delivers her talk “Play is the New PhD” at TEDxKelowna.

And as founder of Spark Play, a monthly play subscription service – as much for parents as for their kids – she finds herself back on the ground, and yes, sometimes playing with dirt; encouraging growth and development through creative play.

This formerly wayward student, born of generations of true grit and determination, triumphed when she graduated with her MBA from the highly regarded Ivey School of Business. She credits that same grit and determination for helping her overcome a devastating cancer prognosis last year – a cancer she has since overcome. In her work she balances venom and virtue, book and street smarts, while always holding that imagination and play are powers greater than knowledge.

In addition to her ongoing ventures, Kelsey provides wing man services to both budding and big business as well as provides comment to various media agencies across the country on the topics on entrepreneurship, modern play and the value of nimble thought in our modern economy. She is Mommy to three children under seven and a still-blissful bride of nine years.

Keynote Speaker: Deborah MacNamara, Ph.D, Neufeld Institute Faculty, Counsellor and Educator


“The role of parent is not just a list of things we do for a child; it is ultimately about who we are to them and who we become because of loving them.” – Dr. Deborah MacNamara

Dr. Deborah MacNamara is on Faculty at the Neufeld Institute and in private practice offering counselling and educational services. She works individually with parents and professionals to make sense of learning, behavioural and developmental issues with children and adolescents. Deborah regularly presents on child and adolescent development to parents and child care, education and mental health professionals. Her particular interests and passion are in providing insight into preschooler behaviour, helping adolescent’s transition to adulthood, and walking people through the journey of parenthood.

Deborah is an experienced teacher and counsellor with over 17 years experience working with children, youth and adults. She has also worked at leading educational institutions such as the University of British Columbia and Kwantlen Polytechnic as a researcher, counsellor, and teacher. Her articles and interviews have been seen and heard in parenting magazines, websites, and newsletters across Canada and internationally including Australia’s “Nurture” Natural Parenting Magazine where she is a regular contributor.


Natacha Beim, Core Education & Fine Arts


Natacha V. Beim is a renowned writer, speaker and educational leader. Born in Uruguay and raised in Montréal, she has traveled extensively and studied several countries’ educational approaches. She now resides in Vancouver, Canada, with her husband and two sons. She is the Founder and CEO of Core Education & Fine Arts, and divides her time between research, writing and speaking engagements.

Natacha has many accomplishments in her name: She wrote a poetry book at the age of sixteen, which got published and was sold out; she speaks three languages fluently and understands two more; and she graduated two years early by doubling her course loads. She also excelled in many areas, including as a teacher, ballerina, model, journalist, painter, writer, actress (theatre) and runner. Although she devotes some of her time to these interests, her passion, and most of her time, is in the CEFA Early Learning schools that she created, which continue to expand throughout North America.

About CEFA

Natacha established Core Education & Fine Arts (CEFA), Canada’s first junior kindergarten school, in 1998. Our full day early learning program is designed for infants and children up to five years old. The enriched curriculum features a unique partnership of core subjects, such as Reading and Math, with fine arts, including Drama and Yoga, providing children with the freedom to learn and grow through play.

Our program has a reputation of highly developing a child’s intellect and delivering the finest start in education, arts, and the humanities. The full day early learning and junior kindergarten programs at CEFA are far beyond the typical child care programs found throughout Canada. Each of our Teachers are trained Early Childhood Educators who, in addition to their qualifications, are trained and certified by CEFA Educational Systems to become specialized junior kindergarten Teachers.

Tara MacLean-Grand, Singer/Songwriter


Last year, Tara’s video presentation of Where Am I touched the hearts of our audience. We are thrilled that Tara will be performing her song live at Leading Moms 2013.

Tara MacLean-Grand is a singer/songwriter and mother of three amazing girls.  She is also a doula, a prenatal consultant for Moksha Yoga, an ordained minister and devoted wife.  Tara has toured the world singing for the last 15 years but now lives on a stunning Salt Spring Island farm where she is immersed in being a mother and writer.  She is currently trying to figure out what to do with 600 pounds of pears, and trying to hide her lip gloss from her 10-year-old. Find out more about Tara at www.theripple.ca.

Monica Morong, WorldHipHopMom


Monica Morong, aka WorldHipHopMom, is Vancouver’s only conscious hip hop mom rapper. Monica is on a mission to create meaningful rap songs that appeal to mass audiences and move people to improve their lives and be a positive force in our world.

In addition to writing several catchy rap songs on her YouTube Channel, Monica has created custom rap songs as a marketing tool for small businesses including Lunapads, Granola Girl and Little Dreamers. She even created a catchy rap song for the Ford Flex that garnered accolades from Ford executives! She has Emcee’d large-scale events including GLOW Vancity and the Marpole-Oakridge Family Place 35th Anniversary Gala.

Before becoming a rapper, Monica enjoyed a seven-year long career in public relations in Toronto where she gained a strong grasp of branding and the importance of differentiating oneself in the marketplace.

Married to her music producer and soulmate, Sean, the creative couple celebrated the birth of their third daughter in March of this year.


Dr. Shimi Kang, Psychiatrist, Author, Media Consultant, Speaker

Dr. Shimi Kang is a Harvard-trained physician, Medical Director for Child and Youth Mental Health for Vancouver, and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia. Her first book: The Dolphin Parent – How to Raise Smart, Happy, Successful Kids without Turning into a Tiger (Penguin-Randomhouse) is coming out in January 2014. Dr. Kang’s lives in Vancouver with her husband and three children.

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch, Silicon Sisters Interactive

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch

The research on the effects of video games is interesting and often controversial. Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch will walk us through what we do know – and it may be surprising. For example, we know that less female university students have entered Science, Technology, Engineering and Math over the past 20 years. Research at the University of Alberta indicates that children who play video games are more likely to enter these fields. Given that 90% of the games industry is male, is it any surprise that most games are designed for boys, feeding this concerning division of roles? Brenda will explore the benefits, and some of the costs, of unlocking the power of video games to make positive change in the world.

About Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch

Brenda Bailey Gershkovitch is the CEO of Silicon Sisters Interactive, a women-owned, female-focused studio building top quality games for women and girls. Launched in May 2010 in the male-dominated world of video games, the studio has successfully introduced a tween series called School26 to iO/S, Android, PC and Mac. The studio recently launched a Romance casual game for adult women called “Everlove”.

Brenda was previously the Managing Partner of Deep Fried Entertainment Inc., building sports and racing games for the Nintendo Wii, the Nintendo Dual Screen (DS) and the Sony PlayStation Portable (PSP) with publishing partners Sega of American and Take Two Sports.

Brenda frequently speaks at conferences on a wide range of issues including: women in games, change management and emerging video games markets. She is a Founder of Women in Games Vancouver, a past board member of the Canadian Video Game Awards and Advisory Board member of GDC Canada.

A mother of three amazing children, Brenda enjoys running, flying planes and rowing.


Anna Rice, two-time Olympian and five-time Canadian National Badminton Champion


Anna Rice is a two-time Olympian and five-time Canadian National Badminton Champion. At the Beijing Olympics, Anna became the first female singles player from a Pan American country to achieve a top-10 finish.

Born and raised in North Vancouver, Anna completed a B.A. from UBC before moving to Denmark where she lived and played professional badminton for nine years. While in Europe, Anna completed a Masters in Communication for Development, with a focus on Sport & Development.

Off the court, Anna has been an active advocate for women’s rights in sport. In 2006, she successfully led a campaign to establish an equal prize money pay distribution for the international professional badminton circuit. In 2011, Anna helped defeat a proposed clothing guideline that would force all female players to wear skirts or dresses for international competition.

Anna is passionate about “play” of any kind and has been an Athlete Ambassador for the humanitarian organization Right To Play since 2004. In 2009, Anna spent three months volunteering with Right To Play in Uganda, where, among other things, she taught badminton inside refugee camps.

Anna now lives in East Vancouver with her husband and their one year old son Robby, and is also the Head Coach and Program Director at Badminton Vancouver, a 12-court recreational badminton facility.


Susan Washington, Social Mom Entrepreneur, Leadership Expert, Educator, Mentor


Susan Washington believes in the power of innovation, education and entrepreneurship built on solid relationships – just like she learned in her hometown of Winnipeg. She is a business owner, certified executive coach, leadership expert, teacher and speaker, with 25 years’ experience in her field. Susan builds and facilitates leadership programs and is a passionate volunteer, coach, mother of a son and a daughter, and a committed fitness and yoga enthusiast.

Susan recently joined the leadership team at the Women’s Enterprise Centre in winning the 2012 Canadian Mentorship Challenge prize. She has also facilitated mentoring and leadership programming for the Minverva Foundation Combining Our Strengths Program, volunteered with the Canadian Congress for Learning Opportunities for Women, and is former chair of the Women in Leadership foundation Vancouver chapter. Watch for Susan on WTN or in the woods of North Vancouver.


Traci Costa, Peekaboo Beans


Peekaboo Beans Founder and Director of Play, Traci Costa worked in the corporate world of investment banking field for over 10 years, with much focus on work and little focus on play.

In 2003 after several years of infertility, she was blessed with her first daughter. Her world suddenly became all about play!

Dreaming of dressing a little girl for years, Traci realized a lack in the market for good quality clothing that focused on play and empowering children with the independence to dress themselves fuss-free, without sacrificing style.

In 2006, Traci founded Peekaboo Beans, Playwear For Kids On the Grow, with a mission to provide ingredients for a playful life. Traci is fiercely passionate about the benefits of unstructured free play in a world over scheduling and the growing concern of the endless technological distractions. Peekaboo Beans is now sold through Independent Play Stylists across Canada, “On-Vine” through the e-commerce site www.peekaboobean.com and through select retailers across Canada.

Peekaboo Beans is a proud partner of Playground Builders, a non-profit organization that builds playgrounds in war torn countries. Through its “Play it Forward” campaign, a team of Peekaboo Beans Independent Stylists donate monthly contributions from their commission, as well as raising awareness with their VIPB’s (Very Important Peekaboo Beaners) to Playground Builders.

Traci was a Top 40 under 40 recipient in 2010 and has been a strong advocate for creating a culture that supports working families and mothers. Traci and her husband Brad were blessed with another little girl in 2008. Together they play a lot!


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