Karla Briones arrived in Canada in a U-Haul truck with her family when she was 18 - after a long five-day drive from her native country, Mexico.
She and her family lived the struggles most immigrants experience: cultural, language, environment and job security barriers. She is now proudly a Mexican-Canadian serial entrepreneur with retail and online businesses (Global Pet Foods). In her venture, Karla Briones Consulting, she uses her 10-year business experience to assist new immigrants become successful entrepreneurs in their adopted country by helping them build sustainable and scalable businesses. Her mission is to build the strongest, most thriving and collaborative immigrant entrepreneurship ecosystem in the world - one newcomer at a time. Karla launched the Immigrants Developing Entrepreneurs Academy (IDEA) in January 2021, a digital platform where newcomers can gain knowledge, access mentorship through a network of successful immigrant entrepreneurs and funding so they can launch, incubate and accelerate their businesses regardless of what part of Canada they are in - regardless of the industry they want to be in.
She sits on the Ottawa Board of Trade’s Board of Directors and chairs their EDI Council. Karla is also part of the team of independent business advisors at Invest Ottawa - the local economic development agency which provides services to local aspiring and current entrepreneurs needing support. She works with all types of entrepreneurs at different stages, and most recently launched the Peer Groups, where she helps revenue-generating companies reach their first $1M faster.
Karla is a recipient of the 2018 City of Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneur Award, given to an immigrant who has made an impact in the local economy and entrepreneurship ecosystem. She actively gives back to her community and is a business mentor with Futurpreneur Canada, World Skills’ Entrepreneurship Connections program, the Centre for Social Enterprise Development (CSED) and other local community groups.
Guest speaker, lecturer, and generous with her advice, Karla is passionate about growing the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Canada and giving back to the country that welcomed her with open arms. Karla is the lucky mom of two amazing, strong, and inspiring humans! She lovingly instills in them her Mexican roots and encourages them to use their Canadian wings to fly after their biggest dreams. Her husband and business partner, Shawn, patiently supports, encourages, and contributes to the success of it all.
Jessica Greenberg is the Vice President of Asset Management at Osgoode Properties, overseeing the strategic direction of asset management, marketing and leasing, as well as the training and human resources departments. Osgoode Properties, owns and manages an extensive portfolio of 10,000 multifamily units spanning Ottawa, Gatineau, Kingston, Toronto, Alberta, Florida, and Georgia.
In addition to her corporate responsibilities, Jessica actively contributes to various community initiatives. She serves as a director on the Ottawa Jewish Community School board, holds a position on The Ottawa Hospital Campaign Cabinet, and provides advisory support to the Keynote Staffing Group and the Ottawa Community Land Trust. She is slated to assume the role of chair for the Jewish Federation of Ottawa, underscoring her commitment to community leadership.
Jessica is a Certified Property Manager, having earned her MBA from the Questrom School of Management at Boston University and a BA from Middlebury College.
Recognized for her contributions, Jessica is the recipient of the Frieman Young Family Leadership Award, The Canadian Real Estate Institute’s Young Leadership Award, The Canadian Real Estate Institute’s Pursuit of Excellence Award, was recognized as one of Ottawa’s Top Forty under 40 and was named a member of the Governor General Leadership Conference in 2020—an accolade reserved for future Canadian leaders.
Beyond her professional achievements, Jessica takes pride in being a solo parent to her children, Eloise, Noah, and Laz. Her ability to balance leadership, community engagement, and personal commitments reflects her multifaceted approach to life and work
Meseret (Mesi) Haileyesus
Meseret Haileyesus is a multi-award-winning thought leader, ambassador, social entrepreneur, and change-maker with a distinguished record in championing economic justice and health equity. She stands at the forefront of change in policy and philanthropy, leveraging her passion, expertise, and unwavering commitment to positively impact society.
Meseret's journey as a change-maker began with her work as a midwife and reproductive health rights policy advocate in Ethiopia. Early in her career, she joined various international non-for-profit organizations including UN, Jephogo, and an Affiliate of John Hopkins University, where she played a pivotal role in shaping policies aimed at addressing social inequalities. Her innovative approach to policy formulation and ability to navigate complex legislative landscapes garnered recognition, establishing her as a rising star in the field.
For the past 22 years, she has dedicated her life to advancing progressive policies on access to reproductive health, women's and children's health, global health research, financial empowerment, racial justice, and women's economic rights. As the visionary founder of the Canadian Centre for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE), the only organization in Canada addressing Economic Abuse. She has been unflagging in her efforts to address economic disparities and dismantle systemic barriers that hinder women's economic advancement. Through pioneering policy advocacy (Bill 41, Pan Canadian Women Homeless Voice, Skills Sharing), groundbreaking research, innovative digital education initiatives, and programs preventing Economic Abuse, Meseret is at the forefront of this critical work.
Her primary mission is to shape public policy and legislative decisions that empower Canada to achieve economic independence through digital literacy, technology, research, and financial empowerment tools. Her commitment to societal improvement extends beyond CCFWE. Meseret is also the Founder of Maternity Today, an organization dedicated to sharing evidence, resources, and advocacy tools with healthcare workers, and the Co-Founder of " TENAWO Health app," the first Multi-user digital healthcare mobile app in Ethiopia.
Meseret serves on the Board of Directors at Centertown Community Health Centre and the End FGM Canada Network. She is actively engaging as a subject matter expert with various World Health Organization task forces, Service as a Policy Advisor of the Network for the Advancement of Black Communities and the Governance Committee for the City of Ottawa's Community Safety Wellbeing Plan, aimed at addressing poverty, systemic racism, gender-based violence, and mental health challenges face in Ottawa. Meseret is also actively involved in the Black Youth Economic Equity project, which aims to facilitate the reintegration of youths into the workforce in Ottawa.
Meseret's pioneering work on Economic Justice Project and commentary can be found in Forbes, Globe & Mail, the Toronto Star, Global News, CityNews, CTV news, The National Observer, iPolitics, the Hill Times, Toronto Sun, News forum, Canadian Center Policy Alternative, Ottawa Citizen, Healthy Debate, National Post, the CBC and more.
She has also appeared to speak for the House Commons, Status of Women Standing Committee, and Black Parliamentarian Caucus on the study of Canadian Women Entrepreneurship, Intimate Partner Violence, and Federal budget 2023 consultation.
Her work was recognized by 100 prominent city mayors across Canada and at the House of Commons. Meseret continues to work with Women and encourages them to speak out so that their voices can make a difference in shaping policy and planning with governments.Her efforts have been recognized through several community service awards, including:
- 2016 Women of Excellence
- Named one of the 100 Most Accomplished Black Canadian Women in 2019
- L’Oréal Paris Top 10 National Woman’s Worth Awardee - 2020
- Top 100 Women to Watch in Canada 2020.
- Forty under 40 award recipient in 2021 from Ottawa Business Journal
- Top 3 recipient of the National RPA Award from Honorable Nina Tangri, Member of Parliament from Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade/ Economic Development in 2021
- Recipient of Women of Inspiration 2021 (Social Impact and Authentic Leader Award)
- Recipient of the 2023 Canadian Women Entrepreneur, Google Canada Award - Winner, Community - Women's Health & Wellbeing
Meseret envisions a future where collaborative efforts between policymakers, philanthropists, and technology innovators lead to sustainable, positive change. Her advocacy for inclusive policies and strategic philanthropy continues to inspire others to join the movement toward a more equitable and just society.
Outside of her professional endeavors, Meseret actively engages with local communities. Her commitment to mentorship programs underscores her belief in the transformative power of empowering the next generation of change-makers, nonprofit founders, and social enterprise founders.
She is a proud mother of one beautiful daughter who inspires and motivates her daily to continue her work toward a more just, fair, and inclusive society that protects and advances the well-being of women and girls