Name: Maria Pimentel
Position: Legal Assistant
Company: Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited
Industry: Legal

Tell us a bit about what you do, and what do you enjoy most about it?
I am currently working as a legal assistant in downtown Toronto. I am also an avid volunteer, both at Amnesty International Toronto and as a Crisis Line Counselor at the Toronto Rape Crisis Centre. Currently, I’m working on a student workshop initiative at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management with a close friend, Thurukka Sivanantharajah. Thurukka is a co-founder and a Ryerson graduate who is the most recent recipient of the prestigious Ryerson Gold Medal award. In partnership with the Student Success Centre, we will be launching a workshop that focuses on inclusion, diversity and equity education this October. For me, this project started in February 2015 after a Lean In Canada event where I met Theresa Laurico, the founder of SociaLIGHT Conference. With her guidance, we were able to gain the momentum to build our ideas into a reality. It’s really something exciting because it brings together all of our diverse experiences, and we are creating something new while supporting existing programs that are doing amazing work!

What attracted you to Lean In Canada?
In the beginning, I was attracted to Lean In Canada events through word of mouth recommendations – and it also had great reviews online. I had also read Lean In and thought this would be the best place to network and make friends with other young female professionals like myself, as well as getting feedback from more experienced women. Since then, I have always found the topics engaging – and the events are conveniently located in downtown Toronto.

What was one thing that most resonated with you at our last event?
The last event in July 2015 was all about networking. I really enjoyed meeting people who have never been to Lean In Canada events before. As a volunteer ambassador, I love finding out what women in Toronto are up to in their careers. It’s interesting to share personal stories and play networking games too! From each event, I always come away with something new, and am inspired by everyone’s experience.

How are you leaning in?
In Lean In, we are asked “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” For me, the answer is to apply to law school abroad and also to create a project that will make a difference in the world. I’m accepting an International Postgraduate Scholarship for the Juris Doctor program at Queen’s University Belfast, School of Law for this September 2015 – and I aim to specialize in international human rights, to make a difference in violence against women and human trafficking. I also intend to continue building the student workshop initiative we started at Ryerson to Queen’s University Belfast, with the support of the team here in Toronto.

If you were to recommend Lean In Canada to anyone, what would you say?
I would recommend Lean In Canada because the topics are always relevant and the speakers are engaging. The overall atmosphere is inviting and the event space is beautiful, with delicious catering and signature drinks! It’s the perfect event after work to help you unwind, relax and enjoy! The Lean In Canada team really goes out of their way to make you feel welcome.

Name one notable woman you think deserves a shout out or career recognition – and what would you like us to know about her?
I would recognize Theresa Laurico for her amazing work at SociaLIGHT and her support of the i.d.e.a. Project, which stands for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity in Action. I think as a Filipina-Canadian and a woman she is an amazing person to emulate. Through her work, I am now connected to several social innovators and entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their communities here in Toronto and abroad.

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