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AWE Announces Transition Board of Directors

November 1, 2023

As of 2023, AWE (previously known as Artistri Sud) is prioritizing working with women in small-scale sustainable farming.  This focus will allow us to generate impacts in the areas of biodiversity and nutrition, in addition to our core impacts in the areas of women’s empowerment and poverty reduction

This evolution will involve the launch of a new brand, program innovations, new approaches to fundraising and resource development more generally, building communities of engaged supporters, and a strategic plan to guide the organization’s direction in the coming years. 

The AWE Evolution Interim Board of Directors is serving until spring 2024, with the specific objective of shepherding the organization through this important transition. 

Jennifer Lonergan, PhD

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

Sébastien Cadorette

Sébastien Cadorette, 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.

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.

Kristina Babić, MA

Kristina Babić is an experienced program manager specialized in women’s empowerment and education. She has managed the development, implementation and evaluation of Artistri Sud’s women's empowerment programmes in VietNam. As educator and facilitator, she has had the opportunity to first hand witness the power of change Action for Women’s Empowerment programme can bring to the participants.

Kristina is dedicated to building capacities of marginalized groups, especially women who are powerful agents of change in their communities, once equipped with necessary skills. She is passionate about the environment and protection of nature, which makes her very excited about the new direction of Action for Women’s Empowerment. Kristina holds an MA in Social Anthropology, with a specialization in Anthropology of Gender and  Economics, from the University of Belgrade, and has been supporting Action for Women’s Empowerment (Artistri Sud) as the Country Director for VietNam since 2020.

Gabriela Baillargeon

Non-profit work has long been an integral part of Gabriela’s life.  Her passion for the health of our planet and its inhabitants has been expressed as a fundraiser through corporate partnerships, and she's currently responsible for communications and marketing for a Montreal hospital. Gabriela is excited to join the Board of Artistri Sud as it expands its strategic direction as AWE Global, and feels that with her professional background, personal experiences and commitment to responsible and healthy food practices, she will be able to contribute and make a difference in this important initiative.

 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.

Antonella Castellana

Antonella became well-acquainted with the lamentable position of women in the world during her 40 year career in the tourism industry.  Since joining Artistri Sud in 2019, she has been active in organizing our annual fundraising event in March 2020 – its most successful year ever -- as well as on the project committee that delivered training programs in Ecuador. Antonella and her husband Garo are Champions of Change donors to the organization, and support fundraising efforts in their network.

Paul Simard

Paul Simard 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.

Laura François

Laura is a socio-environmental impact strategist and entrepreneur, bridging creative arts and environmentalism. She founded Awe Exchange, a non-profit lab fostering awe-inspired tools for change-makers. Her focus is leveraging the universal emotion of awe for collaborative socio-environmental action. Laura edits "Reload.Earth," exploring navigating binaries in the climate movement. Previously, she launched global environmental campaigns and co-founded The Spaceship program for impact entrepreneurs. As the country director of Fashion Revolution, she worked with organizations like The World Bank and H&M. Laura's work includes circular economy models, employment programs, and artisan platforms. She's also been a guest lecturer and mentor in sustainable systems.

Val Lonergan

Val is more than a digital media consultant or business coach. With a focus on women poised for their second act, she empowers them to bring their projects and businesses into their truest form. As an entrepreneurship catalyst, her mission revolves around empowerment and guidance.

A fervent advocate for women pursuing their dreams, she offers support in various forms: from refining authentic business ideas to branding, crafting marketing strategies, designing websites, and streamlining daily operations.

Her vision extends to launching a Speaker Series featuring impactful and inspiring women, while creating a hub for women to network, inspire each other, and collectively achieve new goals. She firmly believes in the pursuit of purpose and takes on roles of cheerleader, strategist, and co-conspirator of joy.

She deems the work this organization does as profoundly necessary, compelling and awe-inspiring; she is honored to contribute toward its success.


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