The Advisory Council consists of eleven members appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor for a three-year term. All members are eligible for reappointment. Appointments reflect a regional representation of women with diverse backgrounds. Council members are selected through an open nomination process administered by Government. They are selected based on criteria such as demonstrated leadership in working to advance the status of women as well as the ability to work on women’s equality and equity-seeking issues from a community, regional, or provincial perspective.
A new Council was appointed in 2015 by the Lieutenant-Governor and held its first meeting in September 2015.
Left-Right (Back Row): Carmichael Polonio, Marina Simon, Hilda Whelan, Vanessa McCarthy
(Front Row): Lorraine Hearn, Yamuna Kutty, Linda Ross, Kelly Power, Melita Collier
Linda Ross, President/CEO, St. John’s. Linda Ross has held the position of President and CEO of the Provincial Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Newfoundland and Labrador since May 2009. She has over 30 years of experience in policy development and program planning and delivery in the field of community development, women’s economic and social equality, HIV/AIDS and public health, both in Canada and internationally. Previous to joining the Provincial Advisory Council, Ms. Ross spent 24 years in various positions working with Oxfam Canada.
Ms. Ross has served on a number of Boards of Directors and is presently the Chair of the Coalition of Provincial and Territorial Advisory Councils on the Status of Women, a national entity dedicated to advancing women’s issues. She is past Board of Directors chair for Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) and past co-chair of the Newfoundland and Labrador Coalition Against Human Trafficking Inc. She is a member of Newfoundland and Labrador Access to Justice Committee and member of Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador (MNL) Respectful Municipalities Working Group. She just completed a three-year term on the Board of Directors for the College of Family Physicians of Canada and is presently a member of the College’s community of practice on Prison Health.
Ms. Ross holds an Honours Baccalaureate in Science from the University of Waterloo as well as certificates in Change Management and Performance Development from the Professional Development Institute and Management for National Voluntary Sector Leaders at the Faculty of Management, McGill University. In 2017, Linda was the recipient of the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction, Lifetime Achievement Award.
Carolyn Lavers, Vice-President, Port au Choix. Carolyn is a recently retired Economic Development Officer with the Provincial Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development in Port au Choix where she resides. She is a small business entrepreneur and worked with the former Women’s Enterprise Bureau. Carolyn has served on several local business development boards and other community agencies. She is currently the mayor of Port au Choix. She is also deeply concerned about issues related to violence, rural child care solutions, women’s employment and women in leadership. She brings great dedication and insight. Carolyn has been a member of the Advisory Council since 2006.
Melita Collier, St. Albans. is a Career Development Specialist with the Department of Advanced Education and Skills for the Coast of Bays region. She has been committed to women’s issues and advancements for many years and in numerous ways. Her involvement in the Coast of Bays International Women’s Day Committee is one of the ways she expresses her passion for ensuring healthy, safe and supportive workplace practices for which diversity and inclusiveness is valued. Melita works with some marginalized and under-represented groups, and highly recommends non-traditional career options and the skilled trades as a viable career choice for females. She obtained a Bachelor of Administrative Studies in 1997 from York University in Toronto and returned to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003. Melita joined the Advisory Council in 2011.
Lorraine Hearn, Grand Falls-Windsor. Lorraine’s professional background is in the fields of Nursing and Addiction Studies and Intervention. In 1998, she graduated from McMaster University in Ontario with two Diplomas; one in Addictions Studies and the other in Addictions Care Worker. In 1998-1999, she earned, Associate Counselor Status in Addictions through the Canadian Certification Board for Alcohol and Drug Counselors. She began volunteering with the Committee Against Violence in 1992 and over the years, held various executive positions. She has extensive background in delivering community presentations, workshops and training in all areas of violence as well as advocating for women and victims of violence. Lorraine is the former Executive Director with Violence Prevention South & Central Inc. (Violence Prevention Initiative) where she provided leadership in violence prevention initiatives as well as provided education, awareness and training on violence issues. In retirement, she continues to volunteer with Status of Women in the central west region of the province. Lorraine joined the Advisory Council in 2011.
Sandy Kershaw, Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Sandy lives in Happy Valley-Goose Bay and is the former Executive Director of Mokami Status of Women Council. In her role she was responsible for overseeing the Women’s Centre, Thrifty Fashions, and the Supportive Living project. Graduating from Memorial University with a Bachelor of Education degree, Sandy taught children of all ages before she transitioned her skills into the business world. Sandy worked on the military base for seven years before joining the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company as Aboriginal Affairs Coordinator. Most recently, Sandy worked with Nunatsiavut Government and MUN, overseeing a social work degree program that would eventually see eighteen Inuit women earn the professional designation of Social Worker. Currently the Business Transformation Partner/Aboriginal Liaison with Serco Canada Inc. in Goose Bay, Sandy’s work focuses on change and business process management, and Aboriginal recruitment, retention, and skills development. Sandy is an Inuit woman who has continued her education through various management and university programs. Sandy is a voracious reader who is working toward attaining a Master’s Degree in Post-Secondary Studies.
Yamuna Kutty, St. John’s. Yamuna is the Vice-President of the Multicultural Women’s Organization of Newfoundland and Labrador. She has also served on the St. John’s Status of Women Council, the National Action Committee on the Status of Women, and the National Organization of Immigrant and Visible Minority Women of Canada. Yamuna is involved with numerous projects and initiatives and is an advocate for violence awareness and prevention for women and girls. She brings critical perspectives about the lives of immigrant and refugee women, along with a warm and caring heart. She has an extremely busy volunteer schedule. Yamuna is originally from India, and has lived in St. John’s for the past 50 years.
Vanessa McCarthy, Gander. Vanessa is a lawyer in private practice with Rebecca Redmond MacLean Law Office PLC Inc. She completed both her Bachelor of Arts and LLB degrees with the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton, where she was involved in numerous organizations committed to equality and women’s rights. Vanessa worked and volunteered for many years with the Fredericton Sexual Assault Crisis Centre and later the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre. She has extensive experience screening and training volunteers for sexual assault crisis line work, as well as in presenting to volunteer and community groups on sexual assault, empowerment and healthy relationships. Vanessa is originally from Grand Falls-Windsor.
Carmichael Polonio, St. John’s. Carmichael works as a civil engineer at NL Hydro. She migrated from Belize to Newfoundland and Labrador to attend Memorial University in 2006. She was involved in numerous youth and advocacy groups as a teenager, with her areas of focus being youth rights, youth political participation, sexual and reproductive health rights, and indigenous cultural retention. She sat on the Board of the Directors for the Social Investment Fund for two years before moving to Canada as the youth representative. During her time at MUN, she volunteered with the International Student Centre. Currently in her spare time, she is part of the St. John’s Local Immigration Partnership, Multicultural Women’s Organization of NL, and the Basilica church choir. Her areas of interest and advocacy are for increased participation of women in technical fields and seamless integration for the immigrants of Newfoundland and Labrador into local society.
Kelly Power, Conception Bay South. Kelly is the training director for the IBEW College and former Director of the Carpenters Millwrights College. She has actively promoted skilled trades to women and encouraged partnerships with organizations to attract women to the construction industry. Kelly is very passionate about ensuring the success of trade’s women and works closely with them to ensure employment equity within the trades and to help mediate barriers to completing their apprenticeship. Kelly has been involved in various educational committees including those with the Federation of Labour, Strategic Partnership & Innovation, as well as various curriculum evaluation committees with the Carpenters International Training Center.
Marina Simon, Cape St. George. Marina Simon is a retired teacher, who received her Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Education (BED) degrees from Memorial University. Marina is bilingual in French and English. She was a Principal and teacher for 36 years, substituted for 10 years post-retirement, and taught Adult Education for six years. Actively involved in her community, Marina has served two terms as the Mayor of Cape St. George. She was a founding member of Les Terre-Neuviens Français (French Association), French Federation, and Cape St. George chapters of The Women’s Institute and the Catholic Women’s Church Group. She has been a member of many organizational committees including three years with the Provincial Association, four years as member of Sir Roddrick Hospital Board and two terms as member with the Provincial Committee for the Aging. Marina has also been a long-time volunteer with the Christmas Seals Campaign as well as volunteering her time with Seniors on the go Water Aerobics Program, Income Tax Volunteer Program and other local fundraising projects.
Hilda Whelan, Whitbourne. Hilda is the Mayor of Whitbourne, who successfully challenged the Worker’s Health and Safety Compensation Commission in a case involving surviving spouses. Hilda solely represented and fought for all widows involved in the case for fifteen years, winning an important victory for women’s equality. She is a strong advocate, concerned about a wide variety of issues affecting women, including violence and access to child care. Hilda brings the realities of rural women to the work of the Advisory Council. She is determined to continue to make a difference. Hilda sits on numerous committees serving the people of her town.