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Catherine Wang (L) moderates the International Women’s Day panel featuring (clockwise from top) Azadeh Yadollahi, Kathryn Tinckam and Sandra Robinson. (Graphic: UHN; Photo of Sandra Robinson used with permission of The College of Nurses of Ontario)

Building a brighter future for the next generation is at the heart of a virtual event sponsored by UHN Women to mark International Women's Day, which is Monday, March 8.

The 45-minute intimate panel discussion recognizes remarkable progress and features insight about mentorship and the need for allies. It also marks multiple historical firsts at UHN over the past year.

For the first time in UHN history, the next Physician-In-Chief will be a woman. Dr. Kathryn Tinckam, who during the event acknowledges the importance of mentorship and sponsorship on her own journey, will take on the position next month.  

Deb Davies was named Canada's Nursing Hero in 2020 by Hospital News for her unwavering, relentless leadership as Nurse Manager of the Toronto General Emergency Department. The acknowledgement turns the spotlight to UHN's nursing and allied health teams whose invaluable skill was instrumental in UHN's COVID-19 response.

For the upcoming 2022-2023 year, all six of the Chief Residents in the University of Toronto's Department of Medicine will be women: Dr. Celine Allen, Dr. Emily Bartsch, Dr. Emily Hughes, Dr. Danielle Meschino, Dr. Nikita-Kiran Singh and Dr. Grace Wang are the talented leaders trailblazing this remarkable first.

Dr. Gelareh Zadeh was also recently named one of Canada's Top 25 Women of Influence for her brilliant work leading to her being appointed as the first women to hold the Dan Family Chair in the Division of Neurosurgery, or any chair in neurosurgery in Canada.

These "shattering-the-glass-ceiling" moments point to extraordinary progress, but we still have further to go. 

The virtual panel event moderated by Catherine Wang, VP, Clinical and UHN Women Executive Sponsor, features three powerhouse leaders:

  • Kathryn Tinckam, UHN's first incoming female Physician-In-Chief;
  • Sandra Robinson, Toronto Western Nurse Manager, Interim Manager of the COVID-19 vaccine clinic, and current President of the Council for the College of Nurses – the first Black leader to hold the position since 1977; and
  • Azadeh Yadollahi, KITE Scientist and inaugural Chair of the Research IDEA Committee

Opening remarks from Catherine touch on the disproportionate impact of the pandemic to women, and the need to create a safe and comfortable space for women to be their most authentic selves at work.

During the event, the panelists reflect on their own experiences, which included the benefit of strong mentorship.

"People have a wealth of knowledge and are willing to share," says Sandra. "They can actually point out things in you that you don't necessarily see in yourself."

"It's really important to find those people that you trust, who have your back and who you can go to...it may help you get to where you need to be."

Building strong mentorship and sponsorship relationships involves everyone.

"Allyship is not just about women," says Azedeh. "We're all in it together." 

"It's about meeting the needs of everyone, where they are," adds Kathryn.

UHN Women Relaunches

UHN Women started as a grassroots initiative rooted in intersectionality and inclusivity. Founded and launched last International Women's Day, a kick-off event was planned for June 2020, but the pandemic impacted original programming, with many members of UHN Women playing an integral role in UHN's COVID-19 response.

Now, UHN Women is relaunching with a new Steering Committee to adapt to the growing needs of a diverse TeamUHN, as well as the needs of women across our network. Aligned with UHN's Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, and supported by Executive Co-sponsors Catherine Wang and Brian Hodges, strategic planning for a re-imagined UHN Women will start this month with pro-bono support from consulting firm Optimus, who are invigorated by UHN Women's vision and want to help action change.

"My dream is this is a movement, a culture change, to inspire, to remove barriers and inequities that exist, and uplift everyone to be the best version of themselves," says Catherine Wang. 


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