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Vic One Plenary Judy LaMarsh Lecture Celebrating Women in Leadership

Nov. 23 4:00p.m.

 Judy LaMarsh Lecture Celebrating Women in Leadership

Wendy M. Cecil, C.M, Vic 7T1, FRCGS is a Toronto-based philanthropist and the former vice-president of business development at Brascan Ltd. (now Brookfield Asset Management). She is also Victoria University's first woman chancellor (2010–2015). In 2016, she was named a Member of the Order of Canada in recognition of her commitment to “create stronger communities, a better country and a better world.” Cecil was president of Brookmoor Enterprises Limited, chair of the Governor’s Council at St. Michael’s Hospital, chair of the Presidents’ Circle at the University of Toronto, a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, is an associate senior fellow at Massey College and holds on honorary doctor of law degree from U of T. On Dec. 4, 2009, the Government of Canada recognized Cecil for her many years of voluntary service and extraordinary contributions by naming her a recipient of the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award. She is past chair of the University of Toronto Governing Council (1998–2002) and a member since 1993. She has been instrumental in strategic planning and fundraising for a number of institutions including Branksome Hall, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation, the Royal Ontario Musuem and the St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation, among others. She has also served on various boards including, but not limited to, the Li Ka-Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital, the Olympic Trust of Canada, Toronto-Central YMCA, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Canadian Opera Company, the Canadian Merit Scholarship Foundation, Canadian Stage Company and the campaign cabinet for the Toronto Reference Library.


Maureen Kempston Darkes was appointed General Motors Corporation Group Vice President and President, GM Latin America, Africa and Middle East (LAAM) and a member of the General Motors Automotive Strategy Board, effective January 1, 2002, a position which she held until her retirement from General Motors in December, 2009. Prior to this appointment, she was President and General Manager of General Motors of Canada Limited (GMCL) and Vice President of General Motors Corporation from 1994 to 2001.

Kempston Darkes currently serves on the board of Brookfield Asset Management and she is a Member of the RCMP Advisory Board. In January 2013, she was appointed by the Government of Canada to the Science, Technology and Innovation Council. She has also served on the Boards of Brascan, Noranda, Falconbridge, Thomson Corporation, Balfour Beattie pie, Schlumberger Limited, Irving Oil, Canadian National Railway, Enbridge Inc. and The Canadian Olympic Committee. During her tenure as President of GM of Canada, she was a board member of the Vehicle Manufacturers' Association; the Ontario Government Education, Quality and Accountability Board; and the Ontario Minister of Health's Women's Health Council.

Kempston Darkes was appointed by the federal government to the Free Trade Agreement Automotive Select Panel in 1989 and, in 1994, to the Transportation Equipment Sectoral Advisory Group on International Trade.

Kempston Darkes is a former Director of Bridgepoint Health Foundation. She has served as the former chair for major gifts for Women's College Hospital Fund Raising Campaigns; co-chaired the BC Cancer Foundation's Millennium Campaign, focused on genome science and research into finding cures for and treatment of cancer.

Kempston Darkes was born and raised in the Toronto area. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in history and political science from Victoria College, University of Toronto. She also holds a Bachelor of Laws degree from the University of Toronto Law School and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 1975.

She has received honorary doctor of laws degrees from the University of Toronto, University of Victoria, McMaster University, Dalhousie University, Wilfrid Laurier University, Mount Saint Vincent University; and the Law Society of Upper Canada, an honorary doctorate of business administration from Laurentian University and an honorary doctor of commerce degree from Saint Mary's University.

In 1997, Kempston Darkes received The Order of Ontario and was appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2000. The American Bar Association in 1998 recognized her with the Margaret Brent Women Lawyers of Achievement Award. In 1999, she received the Distinguished Service Citation from the Automotive Hall of Fame. In 2006, she received the Government of Canada's Governor General's Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case. In May, 2011 she was honored with the Global Athena Leadership Award, and in December, 2011 the Automotive Hall of Fame and the Women's Automobile Association International honored her with the Alice B. Ramsey Award.


Sheelagh Whittaker was the first female CEO of a company listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange (Canadian Satellite Communications Inc.).

Her early days with The Canada Consulting Group (now Boston Consulting) were followed by the tremendous satisfaction of winning the license for CBC Newsworld, and later, her appointment as CEO at Canadian Satellite. Her role as CEO at Electronic Data Systems in Canada led to work in Australia, the UK, Middle East and Africa.

Ms. Whittaker served on the Boards of Directors of CanWest Global Communications Corp, CanWest MediaWorks Income Fund, Catalyst Canada, Donahue Inc., General Trust Inc., Imperial Oil Limited, Network 10 Australia, Phamacia & Upjohn Animal Health Board, Royal Bank of Canada, Spar Aerospace Ltd, Sterling Trust and Standard Life PLC.

Sheelagh has authored three books: The Slaidburn Angel, Evaline: A Feminist’s Tale, and When Harvey Didn’t Meet Sheelagh – Emails on Leadership. At present, she serves as a member of the board of Banting Research Foundation.

Honoured with a DHumL (Hon) from Mount Saint Vincent University, and LL.D. (Hon) from the University College of Cape Breton, and an Honourary Fellowship from Ryerson University, Ms. Whittaker was also named to the Honour Roll of Outstanding Canadians by Maclean’s Magazine.

The rough and tumble of an international business career has served to make Ms. Whittaker more, rather than less, humble about her insight and experience. Nevertheless, she can never resist offering her opinion, if asked

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About Vic One Plenary

The Vic One Plenary session is a weekly guest lecture series, exposing students to different areas of investigation. The plenaries are meant to encourage open-minded discussion and ignite intellectual curiosity. Rather than an academic commitment, these sessions present another opportunity for students to gather and reflect.

2022-2023 Plenary Sessions