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Meet Our Team

Board Of Directors


Jennifer Lonergan, PhD, Founder

Jennifer Lonergan, PhD, is the founder and Executive Director of Action for Women’s Empowerment (AWE), formerly Artistri Sud.  Dr. Lonergan has worked with small producers and producer groups in over a dozen countries in the global south. 

With over 25 years’ experience in the field of education, 15 of those working in social innovation and fair trade, she leads the development of impactful programs and curriculum. As a buyer for fair trade and ethical wholesale and retail markets in North America—in particular, for the boutique she owned, Artistri—and in partnership with international development organizations in the US and Canada, she has helped support artisans’ efforts to generate revenue by capitalizing on their strengths to meet the needs of a fast-paced marketplace.  Jennifer has a PhD in women’s history and twenty five years’ experience in education and curriculum development, both critical tools in her efforts to build capacity among women to meet market needs while supporting cultural heritage preservation. For more about Jennifer, watch her TEDx talk, Dare to Care

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Paul Simard, Chair 


Paul Simard, Chair of the Board, is the father of three beautiful girls, a speaker and writer, a death doula, a trained mental wellness guide, and the founder of two social impact organizations, Human Impact Lab and huMENity. 

With more than 15 years in the nonprofit and social impact sector, Paul has worked in and is committed to a wide range of spaces, from social business to food safety and security, sustainable cities, climate change, Indigenous rights, access to water and the crisis facing refugees and migrant populations around the world.


Sébastien Cadorette, Past Chair

Sébastien Cadorette, Past Chair of the Board of Directors, is a Human Resources professional experienced in transformational and international projects, and specifically in mergers and acquisitions. He enjoys connecting inspired people and teams and developing high-performing organizations. Through his multiple travels to South America, he has witnessed first-hand the barriers many women faced in accessing employment and basic income. Passionate about improving the wellbeing of disadvantaged communities, he was inspired to join Artistri Sud to contribute to the economic empowerment of women and building sustainable communities. Sébastien holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from HEC Montréal.

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Polina Gamayunova, MBA


A visionary professional, Polina’s career is marked by a dedication to leveraging her expertise and knowledge for the greater good. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a deep-rooted passion for understanding human behavior and cognition, and later pursued an MBA to complement her skills with a strong business and financial acumen. In the non-profit sector, she cultivated a profound understanding of philanthropy and the power of strategic partnerships. Her commitment to making the world a better place led to a series of increasingly influential roles where she spearheaded transformative projects and successful fundraising campaigns. Currently serving as the Director of Strategy and Operations at an impact investing firm, Clear Skies Investment Management, she is responsible for ensuring that the firm's investments are not only financially sound but also generate a positive societal and environmental impact.

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Mariel Langlois, MBA


Mariel has over 9 years of experience in strategic advisory. As ESG Manager at Millani, she accompanies a broad range of public and private companies, as well as institutional investors, in their ESG integration journey. Prior to joining Millani, she provided strategic support to companies in the social impact and sustainability sectors, working with clients based in South Africa, France, the UK and Canada. Mariel began her career working at leading international advertising agencies, supporting Fortune 500 clients based in Canada and the US in the development and launch of marketing campaigns, from creative design to media strategy.


Mariel has a B.Com. in Marketing and International Business from Concordia University, and an MBA from McGill University.

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Andriy Strogan


A lifelong learner, Andriy is an experienced management consultant who brings a structured approach to help organizations build creative and supportive environments. He is currently a Director of Strategic Initiatives at BDC, accelerating transformational initiatives to help support emerging business across Canada. Andriy has extensive experience across private, public, and social impact organizations, helping them make strategic choices on how to better serve their stakeholders. Andriy's commitment to empowerment and development guides him throughout his professional career and has led him to volunteer positions with both FIRST Lego league and UNHCR Young Leaders Committee to help them deliver on their missions. 

Our Advisors

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Grace Yang, CFA, MBA 


Grace is passionate about helping people see the light in themselves so that they can feel freer to unleash and express their innate talents and gifts. 


She has produced and curated several TEDxMontrealWomen events and has coached many people through the WILDFIT 90 Day Challenge.  Grace previously worked as a portfolio manager at CDPQ Capital and held the position of Associate Director at Scotia Capital Markets.  She holds a CFA, an MBA from Ivey Business School and a Computer Science degree from UWaterloo.  

For the last two decades, Grace has actively pursued a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual parts of ourselves.  She is currently engaged in the activities of the IRESOI, whose main mission is to elevate collective consciousness. Her most influential teachers have been: Cristallin Toullec - IRESOI; Byron Katie - The School for The Work; Eckhart Tolle - School of Awakening; Dr. Shefali - Awakened Heart, Year of Manifestation, Free to Be; and Tony Robbins - Date with Destiny, Unleash the Power Within.

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Milla Craig

Milla Craig is a leading expert in the field of sustainability and sustainable investing.  Milla is President and CEO of Millani Inc., an independent advisory firm helping investors integrate ESG issues into their investment decisions, companies communicate their material ESG issues to investors, boards of directors understand their ESG responsibilities and capital markets participants create their proprietary ESG strategies. In addition to her consulting experience, Milla has over 15 years in institutional equity sales and has held roles with BZW Canada, the Royal Bank of Canada’s RBC Dominion Securities and Scotia Bank.  Milla is the Co-Founder, Vice-President and Past President of the Finance and Sustainability Initiative (FSI), and has been a member of the Montreal chapter’s Executive Committee of the International Women’s Forum (IWF), where she chaired its Water Initiative, the Shared-Value Committee of the Women Investing for Impact (WIFI), and the Advancement & Advisory Council at McGill University’s Social Economy Initiative. She has been a faculty member of McGill University’s CSR Executive Education Program and a guest lecturer at McGill University’s Continuing Education Sustainable Investing Program and Concordia University’s Corporate Social Responsibility MBA Program. Milla has sat on the advisory boards of EcoFixe Technologies and Concordia University’s DOCSE/SAMCON Sustainable Real Estate Advisory Board, and is currently a board member of the Responsible Investment Association (RIA) where she is the Chair of its Nomination Committee. She is Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Finance and Sustainability Initiative of Finance Montréal. Milla is recipient of the 2017 Clean16 Award, and in 2020 was awarded Montreal’s Y Foundation Women of Distinction Award, in the Business & Entrepreneurship category.  

Sustainable Agriculture Program
Advisory Board

As part of its program design and curriculum development process, AWE benefits from the advice of a selected group of rural farmers who are also participants in AWE’s training programs.  This participatory process assures that participants’ specific needs and realities are reflected the training. In 2023-2024, the following women are members of this Board.

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Zulma Mármol

Zulma Mármol, from the community of Llano Grande, is a farmer and the founder and owner of the company, Quiruhá, which produces unique and nutritious quinoa beverages, among other products.

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Verónica Montesdeoca

Verónica Montesdeoca is a farmer and artisan embroiderer.  She is an Artistri Sud alumna, having graduated in 2019 from our leadership and intensive entrepreneurship programs.

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Erika Simbaña

Erika Simbaña is a designer, photographer, artisan embroiderer and farmer.

Consulting Expert, Agroecology

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Michelle Ruiz

Michelle Ruiz, Red de Guardianes de Semillas (Network of Seed Savers), Ecuador.  The Red Guardianes de Semillas is an organization which counts over 4000 members that protect agricultural diversity and promote regenerative lifestyles in Ecuador.

Lead Trainers

Team AWE

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