Board, Staff & Mentors


Claire ToplisDirector, Chair

Claire Toplis is a technology executive with over twenty-five years of research and development, customer operations and management experience in IT, telecommunications and mobile applications.  A passionate customer advocate, she most recently served as Vice President of Product and Operations of TrueContext Mobile Solutions Corporation.

Prior to joining TrueContext, she was Director, Information Management at CGI Inc., where she product managed the portfolio of practice.   As Director, Product Management at Nortel, Claire had responsibility for a $500M US revenue portfolio with a global customer base.  Earlier in her career, she spent over a dozen years in leadership roles in Research and Development at Nortel, responsible for programs with annual budgets of up to $40M.  Over the years, she has consistently demonstrated a talent for improving the bottom line by focusing on quality, profitability and employee development.   The iSisters role is her first venture into the not-for-profit world.

Claire holds a Bachelors of Applied Science (Electrical Engineering) from Queen’s University.

Patricia den BoerDirector, Past Chair

Patricia den Boer, B.J., is a management consultant specializing in organizational communication planning and measurement and change communication management strategies. She has built her business on a foundation of providing solid communications advice to companies and public sector organizations on how to create happier, healthier and more productive workplaces by involving stakeholders as partners in business planning and operations.

Patricia holds an Honours Bachelor Degree in Journalism from Carleton University. She sits on the Boards of the Women’s Bureau Network of Ottawa and iSisters Technology Mentoring. She is a founding member of the Women’s Educational Business Breakfast (WEBB), a west-end based professional women’s networking group, a past Vice-President of Communications for the American Marketing Association/Ottawa Chapter and a strong supporter of new business start-ups.

Patricia has been a strong supporter of many city-wide initiatives that address the professional development needs of women in our community.

Cathy LewisDirector, Founder

Cathy Lewis received undergraduate degrees from Carleton University, her Education Degree from the University of Ottawa and has additional qualifications in special education. She completed her Executive MBA at the University of Ottawa in 2007. Cathy was an Ottawa Business Journal Top 40 Under Forty in 2010 and earned the Trudeau Medal from the Telfer School of Business in 2013.

Cathy is a founder of iSisters. She was the primary onsite teacher from 2001 until 2005. Now she supports strategy, business and partnership development.

Cathy is a passionate community member and volunteer who believes strongly in equality and providing access to education as a vehicle to promote and build healthy and happy families and communities. She served as treasurer on the Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa board and is an active supporter of the Ottawa Network for Education’s Junior Achievement and School Breakfast Programs.

Ashley (Kelahear) LourencoDirector, Communications

Ashley is an experienced communications and public affairs professional with experiences focused on strategic communications, stakeholder engagement and crisis communications. With 9+ years of experience in the federal government, Ashley uses her expertise in government process and media relations to educate the public on issues of importance.
Ashley has a Diploma in Marketing and Business Administration from Algonquin College.
Ashley believes in the iSisters vision, and is proud to be part of an organization that provides women with the tools and knowledge they need to provide for themselves and their families.

Gina Bak, Director, Secretary

Gina Bak is a programmer in the Dev Degree program at Shopify  A former language teacher for immigrants and refugees, Gina brings a deep knowledge of language and pedagogy to her work, including as a mentor to computer science students at Carleton University  Gina’s enthusiasm to make everyone feel welcome fueled her efforts to create a scholarship fund for women to attend Grace Hopper Celebration, the world’s largest celebration of women in computer science. She strives to work hard to make everyone feel welcome in the world of science and technology.

Gina is passionate about making people’s lives better. An ethical and sustainable fashion enthusiast, Gina spends her free time studying how blockchain and artificial intelligence can bring greater transparency and sustainability to the fashion industry.

Janet Clarke, Director-at-large

Jennifer Welsh, Treasurer


Judy PurittDirector, Volunteer Management

As the part-time Program Manager between 2005-2009, and the lead onsite teacher during that time, Judy brings extensive front-line experience to the board.  She is passionate about learning and teaching, access to education, and enabling opportunities for all learners, and is especially interested in working with marginalized women.

With a Master’s in Adult Education (focused on “technology-enhanced employability skills training for marginalized women”) from St. Francis Xavier University, Judy also has a Bachelor of Education from Ottawa University and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

Judy has been teaching at Algonquin College since 2001, specializing in business communications.  Beyond supporting current trends in ‘plain language’ use and encouraging her students to embrace technology and take advantage of mobile learning on various e-devices and platforms, she is active in the broader professional college community.  An active union steward and long standing advocate for employee rights, Judy also participates readily in project initiatives such as those related to employee engagement and new approaches to performance evaluation.

A passion for teaching and learning has led Judy to take on new challenges at Algonquin in recent years.  She taught basic marketing at a sister school in Nanjing, China and traveled to Costa Rica to learn about sustainability.

Generally an active volunteer in the community, Judy is currently highly engaged and enthusiastic about her work with the Rural Root Theatre Company.  She is happily married to Edan, has three grown children, Alicia, Calvin, and Daniel, in various stages of post-secondary studies and young careers, and loves going for walks with their dog, Baloo.

Lauren Thibodeau, Director, Governance

Like you perhaps, Lauren believes that girls and boys, women and men, around the world deserve equal access to quality education and opportunity. Unfortunately though, as we know, in a number of contexts women and girls face disproportionate barriers. Lauren got involved with iSisters to help remove barriers and spark opportunity for women, their families, and their communities, starting right here in Ottawa.

In her professional career, Lauren helps Software-as-a-Service companies drive user adoption, which in turn fuels customer and vendor success. She’s been fortunate to work in global leadership and executive roles at Cognos, IBM, PTC (Parametric Technology Corporation), and Kinaxis throughout her career. She has seen first-hand how the power of technology education fuels confidence and success. Lauren is delighted to leverage her professional experience in service of the important work that lies ahead for iSisters.

Sarah D’AngeloDirector, Human Resources

Sarah is a Human Resources professional, having held a variety of positions in the private sector in both Toronto and Ottawa. She has a Masters of Industrial Relations and Human Resources from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Queen’s University.

Sarah first joined iSisters in 2011 as a member of the Human Resources Committee, moving into the role of Human Resources Committee Chair after a few months. In December 2012, she joined the Board of iSisters as the Director of Human Resources. In this role she provides guidance in the area of human resources policies and procedures, recruitment, and employee relations.

Sarah strongly believes in the iSisters vision, and is proud to be part of an organization that positively impacts our community and provides women with the tools and knowledge they need to create a brighter future.

iSisters STAFF

Ann McSweeney,  Executive Director

Ann McSweeney is a not-for-profit leader with over 25 years Executive Director and Operations Management experience.  As a strong advocate for marginalized women, Ann has developed successful programs and strategies to educate and support women who are homeless, criminalized and who experience abuse.

Prior to joining iSisters, Ann was Acting Executive Director of The Elizabeth Fry Society of Ottawa, Executive Director of The Good Companions Seniors Centre, Operations Director of ParaMed Home Health Care for Champlain District and Manager of Cornerstone Emergency Shelter for Women.

Ann is a strong community partner who takes a vision and makes it a reality through sound strategy development. She has successfully developed state-of-the-art programs and services that are unique which can be replicated by other agencies.  She has been a champion for indigenous and immigrant women and their families.

While working in Research at the Canadian Medical Association, Ann and her Director established the first computerized medical system in Canada for appointment scheduling, accounting and medical record management in physicians’ offices. She also co-authored two published books – Health Informatics and Information Systems for Patient Care.

Ann believes that “we need to empower women who seek a hand-up not a hand out.  Through education and support we can mentor women to be the best they can be”. 

As an Honors Graduate – Queen’s University (Human Services Management), Social Worker and who received an Award of Excellence – Performance based Management (CCAC), Ann strives to deliver passion and expertise to her role as Executive Director.





“I am taking the iSisters level 3 computer course and have found it very, very useful.  It has opened many, many locked doors in front of me. I have a new job.  They gave...

Sarah, iSisters student

“Cornerstone offers a variety of programs and services that we hope one day will enable women to move out of the shelter with a tool box full of skills.  One of these programs is...

Transition worker, Cornerstone

“The purpose of this letter is to tell everybody how the computer course has helped me in achieving my goals. Right now I am taking a Masters course at Ottawa University where I need...

Yaquelin, iSisters student

“As a result of our partnership with iSisters, Youville Centre has been able to integrate technology into the curriculum and provide our young mothers with computer opportunities to enhance their future studies and careers....

Judith Sarginson, Executive Director, Youville Centre

I am a computer student in the iSisters course taught by Zahide.  I find the course extremely helpful.  Zahide explains the material step by step.   It is very helpful as the skills are very...

Charmaine, iSisters graduate