General News

CAAWS recognizes most influential women

After a banner year for women and sport, the 2016 Most Influential Women List showcases the impact being made by Canadian women.

CAAWS is pleased to announce its annual Most Influential Women List for 2016, celebrating remarkable Canadian women and their impact upon sport and physical activity in Canada and beyond.

“This year’s Most Influential Women List once again shines a spotlight on the incredible leadership that women bring to sport and physical activity in Canada,” commented Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CAAWS CEO. “Changes to the program this year broadened the scope, showcasing even more areas where women are making a difference. From the national and international stage to the local level, we are proud to celebrate women who take impressive action, spearhead change and inspire us all.”

Updates to the format in 2016 produced a novel take on this annual tradition, enabling CAAWS to celebrate, promote and encourage female leadership in new ways through the Most Influential Women List. With the goal of expanding the reach of the initiative, CAAWS introduced new categories, broadened its definition of influence to showcase leadership at different levels in the system, and added a special Award feature to the List, highlighting one woman in each category who is felt to reflect the spirit of the Most Influential Women initiative, as voted by an external selection panel.

CAAWS’s Most Influential Women List provides us all with the opportunity to celebrate female leadership in Canada at its finest,” said the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities. “We celebrate these women for their achievements, their contributions and their willingness to forge new paths in sport for the girls and women who will follow.”

The CAAWS Most Influential Women List of 2016 is as follows, with the Award recipients in bolded font:

Full profiles and photos available for editorial use.

Athletes Category:
• Jen Kish, Olympian, Canada’s Women’s Sevens Rugby Team, Edmonton, AB
• Rosie MacLennan, Olympian, Trampoline Gymnast, King City, ON
• Katarina Roxon, Paralympian, Swimmer, Kippens-Stephenville, NL
• Christine Sinclair, Olympian and Captain, Canada Soccer Women’s National Soccer Team, Burnaby, BC

Coaches Category:
• Deirdre DeGagne, Head Coach, Abbotsford Skipping Sensations, Abbotsford, BC
• France Latendresse, Para-Swimming Coach/Head Coach, Club de Natation du Haut-Richelieu, Saint-Jean-Sur-Richelieu, QC
• Lisa Thomaidis, Head Coach, Women’s National Basketball Team/University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Saskatoon, SK
• Chantal Vallée, Head Coach, University of Windsor Women’s Basketball, Windsor, ON

Builders Category:
• Krista Devoe, Physical Activity Strategy Coordinator, Membertou First Nation, Cape Breton, NS
• Sandra Gage, Chief Marketing Officer, Canada Soccer, Ottawa, ON
• The Honourable Lois Mitchell, Lieutenant Governor of Alberta, Calgary, AB
• Thérèse Quigley, Athletic Director (Former), Western University, London, ON

Media Category:
• Kate Beirness, Host of SportsCentre, TSN, Toronto, ON
• Lori Ewing, Sports Reporter, The Canadian Press, Toronto, ON
• Dawn Landis, Live Sports Director, TSN, Toronto, ON
• Candice Ward, Photographer, Calgary, AB

Ones to Watch (Under 30) Category:
• Alycia Bannon, Owner, GO Adventure Co., Melanchthon, ON
 Melissa Bishop, Olympian, 800m Track and Field, Eganville, ON
• Cassandra Groen, Coach, Bantam 2 Winnipeg Hawk AAA Hockey, Winnipeg, MB
• Penny Oleksiak, Olympian, Swimmer, Toronto, ON

In addition to the Most Influential Women List and Awards, CAAWS celebrates the women who have been inducted to the CAAWS Wall of Influence—a special distinction reserved for those who have been named to the Most Influential List five times or more:

• Stacey Allaster, Chief Executive, Professional Tennis, US Tennis Association (USTA), Toronto, ON
• Kelly Murumets, Executive, Toronto, ON
• Hayley Wickenheiser, Member, IOC Athletes’ Commission, Shaunavon, SK

To view the Wall of Influence, visit

The CAAWS Most Influential Women List is voted on by a CAAWS selection panel. Names for consideration are compiled principally through public nominations, with contributions from knowledgeable sport and physical activity leaders. The new Award distinction was voted on by a second, external selection panel. This is the 17th edition of the list. Previous lists can be found at:

CAAWS extends its gratitude to Sport Canada for its financial support of this initiative.