About Us


  • “The more women help one another, the more we help ourselves.”
    ~Sheryl Sandberg, Lean In

Lean In Canada is a community of professional women empowering each other to build purposeful and fulfilling careers. Since 2013, we have grown from an audience of 20 people to over 2500 members in various professions. We built our organization for people just like us: professional women who are passionate about driving their careers forward to the next level and beyond, and who want to achieve greater success not only in work, but in life as a whole.

Meeting monthly, we focus on hot career topics with actionable information and inspiring stories, and provide networking opportunities with like-minded people. We recognize that women face unique challenges in their professional lives, and seek to bring women together to learn from and champion each other in a positive, enriching environment. Together, we can be stronger.


  • Beverly Altberg

    Beverly AltbergNational President

  • Katie Lee

    Katie LeeSecretary Treasurer

  • Kathy Smart

    Kathy SmartDirector of Events

  • Candy Lee

    Candy LeeDirector of Expansion

  • Jennifer Spencer

    Jennifer SpencerDirector of Marketing & PR

  • Kelly Olsen

    Kelly OlsenDirector of Membership

  • Lorraine Leduc

    Lorraine LeducDirector of Sponsorship

  • Gail Banack

    Gail BanackDirector Strategic Initiatives

"After each Lean In Canada event, I feel like my batteries have been re-charged; I am motivated and have connected with other like minded, driven women."

- Alana Elmaleh


  • Judi Hughes
    Judi Hughes
  • Lynn van der Valk
    Lynn van der Valk
  • Jackie Foo
    Jackie Foo
Judi Hughes

Judi Hughes

Judi Hughes is the co-founder of Your Planning Partners Ltd. She and Nick have worked together building successful businesses since 1979.

Judi has applied her strong marketing and sales skills to her work with hundreds of small business clients. She has been instrumental in helping her clients set a clear destination, develop strategic action plans and focus on implementing those plans.

Judi has written numerous articles, been a key-note speaker, taught a wide range of hands-on workshops and led numerous seminars all directed at bringing small business owners the tools and knowledge they need to create an exceptional business.

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Lynn van der Valk

Lynn van der Valk

Lynn van der Valk is a partner at Gray, Whitley, van der Valk LLP, specializing in corporate, commercial, and not-for-profit law. Lynn is also a Lawyer-Editor at Practical Law Canada, a Thomson Reuters business, where she creates and maintains corporate and M&A "how-to" resources. Previously, Lynn worked as in-house counsel at Cara Operations Limited and as a business law associate at McMillan LLP.

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Jackie Foo

Jackie Foo

Jackie Foo is a seasoned executive, specializing in Telecom and Retail. She has successfully led 5 major retail chains and 2 national call centres. She has extensive experience in building and transforming organizations. Jackie is passionate about leading and developing people. Her energy is infectious and she has shaped so many careers with her inspirational leadership style. As an executive advisor to Lean In Canada, Jackie has participated in networking events, led speaking engagements and has contributed to our national expansion strategy. Jackie currently leads the Retail Centre of Excellence (RCoE), providing shared services to Bell Canada’s sales channels including Corporate Stores, Dealers and National Retail (over 2500 points of distribution). She is best known for creating retail programs for store management, sales, service, operations, merchandising, store design and distribution that result in record sales growth. Prior to leading the RCoE, Jackie was the former Chief Operating Officer for The Source - one of Canada’s leading Consumer Electronics and Wireless retailers with 650+ locations across Canada. Jackie also held the role of Vice President of Bell Corporate Stores. She was responsible for all aspects of retail operations for Bell and Virgin Mobile branded stores. Outside of her career, Jackie loves to travel the world with her husband, Steven, and daughters Sidney (19) and Rachel (6). She lives in Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, just north of Toronto.


In 2013, when Sheryl Sandberg's book, Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead, was released, it was something that Christina Rupsingh, Despina Zanganas, and Sarah Kwan individually knew they needed to read. One of the key points of the book was this: that we need to actively build our own support systems in order to be successful. After discovering each other's mutual passion for supporting professional women, they began meeting in Despina's office with a group of 20 as Lean In Toronto, and before long, knew they were on to something special. In 2014, they incorporated the organization and became Lean In Canada, with the mandate to build a thriving community of women who come together and celebrate each other's successes and ambitions.


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