Session 1C: Advocating with Impact

Be a Bias Interrupter

Time and Date: 10:15-11:15 AM on Saturday May 6th 
Session Type: Panel
Panelists: Lianna Mah (Moderator), Janet Sinclair, Shari Graydon, Kerry Gibson, Kory Wilson and Brittany Zenger

Diversity is necessary to remain innovative and competitive in today’s market, however, unconscious bias acts as a barrier to equality in the workplace, affecting the way marginalized groups are judged during recruitment, performance reviews, mentorship and promotions. Biases help us make quick judgements and are formed by our cultural environment and personal experiences. They are often not easy to recognize in ourselves. How do you actively question your own biases and the biases of the people around you? How do you advocate for diversity in your organization and support underrepresented groups on a daily basis? How do you make the most out of your organization’s diversity policies? Can eliminating workplace bias be as simple as interrupting it?

Lianna Mah: A civil engineering graduate from UBC, Lianna also has a Master of Engineering degree and more than 25 years' experience specializing in the design and construction of wastewater, water, and civil engineering projects.  Currently, Lianna works as the Vice President of Business Development at Associated Engineering, where she is responsible for business development, marketing, and communications. She is the corporate champion for Associated Engineering’s Women in Science & Engineering Retention (WISER) Committee.

Lianna is a guest lecturer at UBC and BCIT and has spoken at multiple conferences on topics including leadership, diversity, marketing, sales, and personal branding.  She is an active volunteer with APEGBC and  an advocate for women in engineering.  She has also served on committees for ACEC-BC and CCWESTT (Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology), and has participated in a number of initiatives for Engineers Canada. In recognition of her work with these organizations, Lianna received APEGBC’s 2002 Professional Service Award and, in 2009, received the designation of Fellow from Engineers Canada.  In 2015, Engineers Canada presented Lianna with the Award for the Support of Women in the Engineering Profession.

Janet Sinclair: Responsible for the association’s operational and member support functions, Ms. Sinclair oversees APEGBC’s communications, stakeholder engagement, information technology and government relations functions. Her role as Chief Operating Officer involves strategic planning and development, and resource allocation and management within these areas.

Ms. Sinclair holds a BSc in Genetics from the University of British Columbia and a postgraduate diploma in cytogenetic technology from the British Columbia Institute of  Technology. A past president of the BC Society of Medical Laboratory Science, she practised as a cytogenetic technologist at Vancouver General Hospital for eight years before joining APEGBC in 2001.

Shari Graydon is an award-winning author, advocate and speaker. A former newspaper columnist and commentator for CBC radio and TV, she has devoted the past seven years to amplifying women’s voices for a more democratic Canada. Through her non-profit projects, Informed Opinions and, she has supported hundreds of women across Canada in drawing public attention to issues they know and care about. Previously she served as press secretary to a provincial premier, and as president of MediaWatch. Shari has written two best-selling media literacy books for kids, received the Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons’ Case, and been named one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women by WXN. Her most recent book, OMG – What if I really AM the best person? is mobilizing women across the country to share their insights more broadly.

Kerry Gibson: President of the Clean Tech Corporation “EcoCentury Technologies Inc.,” Kerry Gibson is proud to lead a successful, environmentally and socially conscious organization. She and her team not only develop and supply quality technologies, recently embarking on a Joint Venture that will revolutionize aviation technologies in Canada,  but they also support various causes from inner-city schools to refugees.

Kerry sits on the boards of organizations such as the Canadian Club, a 110 year old institution celebrating citizenship, and Upgyres, a foundation of scientists banded together for the purpose of cleaning our oceans of plastic and upcycling the harvested waste into fuel (circular economy, zero waste). 

Most recently, she was honoured to speak at the United Nations on gender equity and is working together with UN Women to expand their important work to support Canadian Women and Youth, creating corporate partnerships and impactful campaigns.

Kory Wilson is the Executive Director, Aboriginal Initiatives and Partnerships at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT). Kory is Chair of the National Indigenous Education Committee of Colleges and Institutions Canada and a Global Access to Post-Secondary Education Ambassador. Kory has a law degree from UBC.

With over 20 years of experience in post-secondary education, community development, and the legal profession, Kory’s passion lies “in ensuring success for Aboriginal Learners and other multi-barriered learners”. She has a deep commitment to education and has dedicated her working life to ensuring that under-represented learners succeed, both within learning institutions and the larger community.

Kory is a member of the We Wai Kai Nation (Quadra Island) and is Musgamagw Tsawataineuk and Laich-Kwil-Tach. Both nations are part of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, also known as the Kwak’wala speaking people.

Brittany Zenger is a Lead Software Engineer at Salesforce, where she works in the Analytics Cloud building the next generation of analytics products. She has also taken on roles as a scrummaster helping to organize and lead teams, writing modern web UI using the latest technologies, and building enterprise class backends. She joined Salesforce in 2014 following 5 years developing geometry processing algorithms for Safe Software. Brittany has an Honours and Masters in Computing Science focusing on data mining from Simon Fraser University.

Together with fellow alumnae, she founded an endowment to support a Women in Computing Science Alumni Award. She is actively involved in mentoring students in computing science through UBC Tri-Mentoring as well as through informal mentoring.

In her spare time, Brittany is involved with the BC Mountaineering Club, having served on the board of directors in various capacities, enjoys getting out ski touring, climbing and hiking, and playing peekaboo with her daughter.