Our Mission.

A network of dynamic, professional women empowered through support, inspiration and mentoring, to promote success of women in business and their professions.

Our Foundational Pillars.

Building Business

Ladies Who Lead will foster an environment that allows professional women to network with other dynamic professionals, to provide one another with peer support and empowerment.
We will engage professional speakers on a variety of prominent and meaningful topics that will help grow and prosper your business.

Building SELF

As women we often put ourselves on the back burner and allow our family, business and others to come first. Ladies Who Lead wants to provide you tools for self care, and thus empower you to be refreshed and reinvigorated. We all need to put our oxygen mask on first, from time to time!

Building Relationships

We believe that business and personal growth is based on building long term relationships. It is not about the quick sale or tracking referrals. It is about networking with like minded professional women and building each other up, not tearing each other down. We want to help women enhance their personal brand, learn to balance the difference between personal and professional relationships, master the art of conversation and more.

Building Community

We believe in supporting women in their philanthropic goals and objectives. Ladies Who Lead believes that giving back to our community is a priority and we want to enable our membership to feel empowered to do the same. We all want a strong community where individuals and businesses prosper and grow. Ladies Who Lead wants to LEAD our community with philanthropic endeavours to several local organizations.

We accomplish our goals in each pillar by creating a meeting atmosphere that is filled with relevant speakers, networking opportunities, peer-to-peer learning and more.

History of Ladies Who Lead.

Ladies Who Lead was formed as a branch of The Power of the Purse; founded by Shannon McMannis.

Shannon, together with long-time supporter Stacey Bester, recognized that there was a significant gap in our community for women leaders to have a place to engage, support and learn with, for and from each other; where women can build each other up.

Formed in 2016, The Power of the Purse was created to Empower Women to Wealth through education.

Through innovative workshops and speaker series, The Power of the Purse has helped to empower over 500 women in Southern Ontario in the areas of finance and law.

MEET THE Executive Leadership Team.

Shannon
McMannis

Founder

Stacey
Bester

Executive Team

Janice
Vilaca

Executive Team

Heather
Wilson

Executive Team

Denise
Luciani

Executive Team

Ashley
Pettifer

Executive Team

Shannon McMannis – Founder – President @ Cornerstone Capital Financial Group.

Shannon is a Certified Financial Planner, specializing in holistic wealth management strategies. She has personal and professional experience in estate planning, retirement planning, risk management as well as income property acquisition and management. Shannon ensures her clients receive and maintain a well rounded, comprehensive Financial and Life Plan that addresses their current needs and propels them toward their future goals.

Shannon has twice been named the Financial Planner of The Year, as well as being awarded the Canada 150 and Ontario 150 Awards. She also believes firmly in giving back to the community and has done so through a variety of ways including being a Board Member for Nova Vita Domestic Violence Prevention Services and the Crossing All Bridges Fundraising Committee to name a few.

“After producing The Power of The Purse I saw a definite need for professional women to learn, grow and lead. We often as women compete with one another. I sought to create an empowering environment that was collaborative, welcoming, empowering and educational. We are always stronger standing together!”

Stacey Bester – Executive Leadership Team – Owner, Sweet Bakery.

Ever since I was a little girl, baking tiny cakes with a 40 watt light-bulb in my Easy Bake Oven, I knew that I loved baking and entertaining. When I turned 19, I started a home baking business called “Fancy That” ! Over the years I successfully raised my three ( now adults) children, Sarah, Spencer and Alex; and also enjoyed the experiences of many careers.

In 2014, I realized that it was time to take that preverbal leap, and open up my own business. I had always told my “kids” to follow their passions, so it was time for me to do the same! My SWEET little shop offers nostalgic home baking, with modern panache. Everything is made from scratch, in our open concept kitchen. Using only whole ingredients and of course real butter, it tastes just like grandma used to make.In 2018 I married my best friend and the SWEETEST man I could ever imagine to be my partner, Justin Bester. Together the two of us try to find ways to make our community the best place it can be.

“The Ladies Who Lead is an opportunity for me to help other professionals learn how to network effectively to build successful businesses. Networking isn’t about getting as many contacts as possible, instead it’s about building strong relationships.”

Janice Vilaca – Executive Leadership Team – Owner/operator, tasty road trips food tours.

Jan is the proud owner operator of Tasty Road Trips Food Tours, South Western Ontario’s leading food tour company offering guided food + drink experience tours. Working a side-hustle for 12 years in the gourmet food industry in sales and marketing, growing a large national sales team and then taking that knowledge into the corporate training arena, offered Jan a clear understanding of service excellence at every level of client connection. Jan’s values in business focus around building meaningful community connections, identifying service expectations and executing with a solid delivery on every project

You may find Jan by day, in the Senior Executive Office at Wilfrid Laurier University Brantford Campus, where she has been an Executive Assistant for the past 11 years. As well, Jan is a part-time faculty member at Conestoga College in the School of Business where she teaches in the Office Administration Program inspiring students to become forward thinking, successful professionals ready to enter the workforce with both technical and soft skills required for today’s business climate.

“I am committed to building community through Ladies Who Lead – creating a place where business women in Brant belong!”

Heather Wilson – Executive Leadership Team – Director, Montessori Chilren’s Academy.

Heather opened Montessori Children’s Academy (MCA) in Paris, Ontario in 2003 and has been the Director of the school ever since. Prior to joining MCA, Heather taught casa before relocating to teach upper elementary in Sydney, Australia. Heather received her A.B.A. psychology graduate degree from Lakehead University followed by her primary and elementary teaching diplomas from the Toronto Montessori Institute. After opening MCA, Heather pursued her love of education to qualify as a Montessori teacher trainer and furthermore as a facilitator of Montessori for Dementia.

Heather is an involved community member and has volunteered with incredible organizations like Kids Can Fly (Past Board Member), Storybook Breakfast (Chair) and the BCHS Foundation (Vice-Chair), ECE Awards Steering Committee (Member), North Park Collegiate School Council (Past Chair) and BCHS Ladies Night Out (Committee Chair). Heather has also been the recipient of the Early Childhood Education Award for Professionalism in 2006 and Nancy’s Joy of Nature Award 2018.

“When I was asked to be a part of the ELT for Ladies Who Lead, I jumped on board. The four pillars that we have created aim to meet the objectives of exactly the things that women in business will find to be empowering, rewarding and valuable assets to growing both professionally and personally! ”

Denise Luciani – Executive Leadership Team – Owner, Marlin travel Inside Walmart, Brantford.

Denise is the owner and manager of Marlin Travel inside Walmart Brantford. For over 30 years, Denise has been living her passion in the business of travel. She loves to travel the world and share those experiences with her valued clients.

Denise believes that a positive client experience is of the utmost importance and that is how she has built her business and reputation in our community. By listening too, and engaging with her clients to live their best lives, she has been able to grow her business effectively.

Denise is very community minded and has shown her support of numerous local initiatives and charitable activities throughout the community.

“I am truly inspired to be part of Ladies Who Lead as there is a need in our community to support and inspire women in business. I have always been passionate about helping guide other women entrepreneurs and celebrating in their success! I look forward to being part of this dynamic group of ladies!”

Ashley Pettifer – Executive Leadership Team – Director, Public Affairs & partnerships, Ryelle strategy group.

Ashley is a strategic relationship builder with extensive expertise in stakeholder engagement and fund development. Her proven track record demonstrates a broad range of partnerships among the public, corporate and labour sectors. With over 10 years’ experience with one of the world’s most recognized charities – United Way, Ashley has successfully developed and executed stakeholder engagement strategies focused on partnership, collaboration and corporate social responsibility solutions as well as overseeing a $10 million annual workplace campaign.

Ashley is passionate about supporting community and has volunteered with many community tables at the leadership level including the Brantford-Brant Roundtable on Poverty, Rotaract Club of Brantford and Soup for the Soul. Ashley holds an Honours Specialization in Childhood and Social Institutions from King’s University College at the University of Western Ontario and certificate in Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Management. She is currently pursuing her certification in Corporate Social Responsibility & Sustainability at the University of St. Michael’s College in the University of Toronto.

“I believe that Ladies Who Lead is filling a significant gap in our community for professional women. When we lift each other up and empower one another, there is so much more we can accomplish for our profession and our lives.”

Meeting Information.

Ladies Who Lead meet the first Wednesday of every month at the Brantford Golf & Country Club from 6:00pm8:30pm (approx).

Dinner is $45.00.

Every meeting has networking opportunities, an engaging speaker or presentation focused on one of our four pillars.

If you are interested in becoming a member and joining our meetings, please complete an application or send us a message!

Ladies Who Lead is a network of dynamic professional women who believe that by Building Business, Building Self, Building Relationships and Building Community, we can lift each other up to achieve our goals. Proudly serving Brantford, Brant & Six Nations.