Introducing GLORY’s 2023 Champions of Change


Most popular


In a world brimming with remarkable talents who lead by example, we’ve assembled a co-hort of outstanding Canadian individuals who are both industry trailblazers and dedicated community advocates. These leaders embody the ideals of progress, resilience, and compassion, weaving their unique narratives of success into a broader tapestry of empowerment. From shattering glass ceilings in traditionally male-dominated fields to fervently driving social and environmental causes, meet 14 remarkable pathfinders who are pushing boundaries and unapologetically transforming the world around them for the better. 


Presented by

bold by veuve clicquot
Lauren Chan with her hair tied back. She is wearing a sheer pleated tunic and holding a strand of her hair looking off into the corner.
Photo: Sophie Sahara

Lauren Chan

Model, activist, entrepreneur


Amidst the ever-evolving landscape of the fashion industry, where institutionalized norms have often stifled progress and diversity, a crescendo of voices is challenging the status quo. At the helm of this movement stands Lauren Chan, a powerful advocate for inclusivity and genuine representation. Her journey has been multifaceted—from her tenure as a magazine editor, where she championed diverse, size-inclusive coverage; to her role as a plus-size model; to co-founding her trailblazing brand, Henning. But it’s her unwavering commitment to reshaping the larger narrative around inclusivity and representation that truly defines her impact.


The fashion and media industries, historically bound by restrictive definitions of beauty and body image, have slowly started to recognize the need for change, for more inclusive and diverse representation. Chan, a Brantford, Ontario native living in New York City, embodies this paradigm shift. As the first openly queer plus-size Sports Illustrated Swimsuit rookie, she personifies the evolving standards of beauty and courageously challenges conventional norms.


Chan embodies the potential for impact that today’s enterprising models have on shaping culture. They are not “just” models but multi-faceted entrepreneurs who champion a value set rooted in inclusivity, community, and self-empowered agency. Her story is a testament to progress, resilience, and the profound impact one individual can have on an entire industry.


Read our cover story interview with Chan. 

Aurora James is wearing an off the shoulder violet dress. Her hair is down and head is tilted looking into the camera. A bushel of lavender paper flowers frames her face. She is against an orange background.
Photo: Sebastian Kim

Aurora James

Founder, Fifteen Percent Pledge, Brother Vellies


In the ever-evolving world of fashion, one name continues to shine brighter than ever—Aurora James. The Toronto native (now based in New York City) is not just an entrepreneur but a fervent advocate for transformative change. The brains behind the Fifteen Percent Pledge and the iconic Brother Vellies brand, James is reshaping the industry with a blend of innovation and commitment, all deeply rooted in her Canadian heritage.


Born in Toronto, Aurora James grew up surrounded by the vibrant diversity of her city. It was her multicultural family background and Jamaican roots that sowed the seeds of her values and ambitions, setting the stage for her pioneering work in fashion and activism.


James launched her mission to reform the retail landscape during the tumultuous aftermath of George Floyd’s tragic death, when the world was coming to terms with the pervasive issue of racial inequality. Recognizing the long-standing disparities within the fashion and retail sectors, she conceived the Fifteen Percent Pledge. In 2020, this groundbreaking initiative was born, urging retailers to allocate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, mirroring the Black population’s representation in the United States.


Listen: Aurora James on Creating More Shelf Space for BIPOC Brands


What makes the pledge so powerful is its singular vision. It’s not about reinventing the wheel, but about corporations embracing social responsibility. James, leveraging her unique industry position and her brand, Brother Vellies, galvanized major retailers to join her in building a fairer, more inclusive economy. The pledge is not merely a campaign; it’s a testament to James’ unshakable belief that systemic change begins with collective action. The initiative’s impact is undeniable—it’s rewriting the rulebook on diversity, inclusivity, and equity in the retail world.


Earlier this year, James embarked on a new chapter of her life with her memoir, Wildflower. In her personal narratives and reflections, she offers invaluable life lessons, challenging readers to reflect on their roles in the ongoing fight for fairness and justice.


A proud Canadian, James’ Canadian roots have given her the resilience to nurture the diversity she champions, serving as a reminder that a single vision can be a catalyst for global transformation.The story of this Canadian trailblazer is proof that even in the most turbulent times, the seeds of change can sprout, inspiring us all.

An Verhulst-Santos wearing a black blazer and blouse. She is sitting on the edge of her desk with her palms crossed on her leg. She has blonde hair and is smiling. Behind her are shelves full of cosmetics.
Photo: L'Oréal Canada

An Verhulst-Santos

President and CEO, L’Oréal Canada


When An Verhulst-Santos stepped into her role, she made history as the first woman President and CEO of the subsidiary, symbolizing the wind of change sweeping through the conglomerate. In its 65th anniversary year, the industry leader is redefining beauty, guided by a commitment to sustainability, DE&I, and innovation.


Under her leadership, L’Oréal Canada’s beauty of the future promises personalization, enriched experiences, and tailored recommendations. Key milestones include pioneering augmented reality and AI through Toronto-based ModiFace, a proponent of digital decarbonization in partnership with Impact+ and Footsprint, and launching technology-forward products like Lancôme’s HAPTA (the first ultra-precise smart makeup applicator for physically-limited consumers) and L’Oréal Professionnel’s WATER SAVER showerhead, which has saved more than 32 million litres of water.


As the beauty industry navigates a transformative era, An’s leadership is an embodiment of the company’s mission: creating the beauty that moves the world.

Noura Sakkijha wearing a white turtleneck sweater with her arms crossed and white trousers. She is wearing Mejuri jewelry standing in a living room.
Photo: Mejuri

Noura Sakkijha

Co-founder and CEO, Mejuri


In a world once tailored for men to gift to women, Noura Sakkijha saw the need for change. Since Mejuri’s inception in 2015, she’s amassed a legion of empowered women, even catching the attention of superstars like Oprah and Kate Middleton. The secret behind Mejuri’s allure? Exceptional jewelry minus the eye-watering price tags. Her mission is simple but transformative: “Buy yourself the damn diamond.” Sakkijha’s message fosters agency and self-expression, propelling Mejuri into the limelight as one of today’s most captivating lifestyle brands. At Mejuri, her support isn’t limited to exquisite jewelry; it extends to fostering a culture of empowerment. With the launch of Mejuri’s Empowerment Fund, she offers underrepresented individuals tools to become effective leaders.


In a time of conscious consumption, their partnership with Regeneration addresses environmental concerns, dedicating $1.5 million USD to restore legacy mines. With over 3.5 million pieces sold and an illustrious fan base, Mejuri remains a beacon of change in the world of jewelry.

Carrie Baker wearing a black Canada Goose puffer vest and black long-sleeve sweater underneath. She is smiling with blonde hair perched on her hand.
Photo: Canada Goose

Carrie Baker

President, Canada Goose


At the helm of iconic Canadian powerhouse, Canada Goose, President Carrie Baker is responsible for steering this global phenomenon to new heights. 


One of the key hallmarks of Baker’s tenure at Canada Goose is her dedication to Corporate Social Responsibility. She not only founded the Corporate Citizenship team but also laid the foundation for the brand’s Sustainable Impact Strategy. Under her watchful eye, the brand has achieved Responsible Down Standard certification, and committed to achieving net-zero emissions and transitioning to sustainable materials. 


Project Atigi, a social entrepreneurship program conceptualized by Baker, empowered Inuit designers to create distinctive parkas using Canada Goose materials. These creations found homes worldwide, celebrating traditional craftsmanship while fostering economic empowerment. Beyond this, her impact extends to the Resource Centers Program, which donates millions of meters of materials to Inuit communities, allowing craftspeople to make their own parkas with a nod to tradition.

Sasha Exeter wearing a white jumpsuit. She is seated on a white lounger leaning up against her arm. She is in a living room setting.
Photo: David Pike

Sasha Exeter

Content Creator


In the fast-paced world of content creation, Sasha Exeter emerges as a beacon of purpose and community. While her meteoric rise may seem like an overnight success story, it’s underpinned by a decade of dedication and a powerful voice that resonates far beyond the confines of a screen.


Exeter’s journey began in 2012, propelled by a life-altering event that changed her path forever. During a period of convalescence, she turned to blogging as a creative outlet. As she regained her health and resumed her corporate career, her heart tugged her in a different direction. Exeter saw an opportunity, not just for herself but for the entire content creation landscape, and she seized it. With that pivotal decision, she transitioned from corporate life to full-time content creation, and the rest, as they say, is history.


What sets her apart in this ever-evolving industry is her multi-dimensional approach. She’s a Black creator over the age of 40, offering a unique perspective that resonates profoundly with her audience. Her experiences as a busy entrepreneur and single mother enrich her storytelling, ensuring that every piece of content is not only engaging but, more importantly, genuinely relatable.


Through her work, Exeter emphasizes the significance of collaboration amongst her contemporaries.. 


“I would really like to see more collaboration and sharing amongst my counterparts. Less gatekeeping,” says Exeter. “We are stronger together. I would like to see more open discussions around rates and less undercutting, so there is more of an even playing field for everyone in the game.”


In Exeter’s world, unity and diversity are not just buzzwords; they’re the cornerstones of an industry that’s changing the conversation and moving towards a brighter, more inclusive future.

Dorian Who is looking down. Her hair is full of curls and she is wearing a large overcoat.
Photo: Dorian Who

Dorian Who

Creative Director, Dorian Who


Born in Tehran and based in Toronto, Dorian Who is emerging as one of Canada’s brightest stars in the fashion constellation, seamlessly blending her Iranian heritage with streetwear influences.


Who’s designs bear the imprint of her multicultural journey, reflecting the rich tapestry of her culture while embracing the gritty vibrancy of street culture. Her creations are not mere garments but stories woven from threads that connect past, present, and future.


What sets Who apart, though, is not just her design prowess but her innate understanding of the digital age. She masterfully harnesses the power of social media to showcase her creations, connecting with a global audience and rewriting the rules of how fashion is presented and consumed.


It is this digital prowess that helped Who receive critical acclaim for her Noor collection, earlier in 2023. It wasn’t just a seasonal presentation; it was a powerful statement on women’s rights in Iran. Who used her platform to shed light on crucial issues, proving that fashion can be a catalyst for social change.


With each stitch and every post, she’s shaping a new narrative that unites diverse influences, cultures, and voices under the banner of fashion, firmly securing her place in the vanguard of style’s future.

Kayla Grey is wearing a flowy jumpsuit and leaning against a backwards chair, which is situated on a parquet floor in the corner of a mirrored ballroom.
Photo: Wade Hudson

Kayla Grey

Host, The Shift


In the world of sports media, Kayla Grey is a trailblazer, a force to be reckoned with, and a herald of change. As the first Black Canadian woman to host a flagship sports highlights show (TSN’s The Shift) she’s not just rewriting the playbook; she’s redefining the entire game.


With a razor-sharp focus on the intersection between sports and culture, Grey brings a fresh and dynamic perspective to the screen. Her magnetic presence extends beyond delivering scores and highlights—she transforms sports coverage into a microcosm of the broader cultural landscape. Through her lens, the arena becomes a stage for powerful discussions on race, gender, and social justice.


What truly sets Grey apart is her unwavering commitment to authenticity. In an industry often dominated by clichés and stereotypes, she remains unapologetically true to herself. She’s not just reporting the sports news; she’s creating a new narrative that reflects the diverse, complex, and ever-evolving world of sports and culture.

Jennifer Flanagan wearing a white suit. She has tussled wavy blonde hair and is seated on a leather loveseat in a white room.
Photo: Actua

Jennifer Flanagan

Co-founder and CEO, Actua


Jennifer Flanagan is a visionary force reshaping youth empowerment in Canada. As the CEO of Actua, Flanagan ensures that youth across Canada acquire the skills and confidence necessary to thrive in STEM fields. Actua, an expansive network of 43 universities and colleges, reaches over 400,000 youth annually, providing immersive programs that bridge the gap to STEM, particularly for underserved communities. Flanagan’s journey with Actua was marked by her pioneering spirit, challenging the status quo in a landscape that had yet to acknowledge the crucial role of early STEM engagement. She relentlessly advocated for diversity and inclusion, initiating groundbreaking programs such as the National Girls Program for STEM and the National Indigenous Youth in STEM Program. Under her guidance, Actua’s work transcends academia, generating substantial economic value and reshaping the future for countless young Canadians. She was also the recipient of the 2023 Bold Woman Award, presented by Veuve Clicquot. 

Jenn Harper wearing an olive green blouse. She is seated at a marble counter with a makeup mirror and is applying lip gloss in a home kitchen.
Photo: Cheekbone Beauty

Jenn Harper

Founder, Cheekbone Beauty


Jenn Harper’s path to success is nothing short of inspirational. As founder and CEO of Cheekbone Beauty, Harper’s transformative journey, from estrangement from her Indigenous heritage to confronting generational trauma, embodies the spirit of resilience. 


Not just another beauty brand, Cheekbone Beauty aims to foster representation and empowerment in an industry that often lacks diversity. At its core, Cheekbone Beauty is about more than makeup. It’s a testament to Indigenous roots, a commitment to sustainability, and a celebration of clean, vibrant colour. The brand’s SUSTAIN line, launched in 2020, epitomizes its values, offering low-waste lipsticks without compromising quality.


Listen: How Can We Adopt An Indigenous Approach to the Business of Beauty?


But the impact goes beyond cosmetics. Cheekbone Beauty’s mission is about making a difference in the lives of Indigenous youth, supporting education and creating a space where everyone can feel seen. Their products, reflecting Indigenous culture and guided by sustainable practices, are a testament to a brighter, more inclusive future in beauty.

Vicky Milner seated on a stool. She is wearing a lime green blazer with a white blouse underneath and black pants, sitting with her leg crossed over.
Photo: Vicky Milner

Vicky Milner

Co-founder and President, CAFA


Vicky Milner, the driving force behind the Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards (CAFA), is the linchpin of the Canadian fashion world. As the founder and president, she’s dedicated to catapulting homegrown talent onto the global stage. CAFAs’ mission is simple yet powerful: boost appreciation for Canadian creativity, fuel year-round economic development, and fête the industry’s luminaries through the illustrious Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards Gala. Milner’s visionary leadership cultivates fresh faces while honouring the seasoned pros, knitting together a dynamic tapestry of Canadian design. Her work doesn’t just put Canada on the fashion map; it creates a vibrant, lasting legacy for Canadian culture through the lens of style and fashion. 

Barbora Samieian laughing and looking to the side wearing a blush pink blouse. She is leaning against a couch arm.

Barbora Samieian

Co-founder, SUNDAYS


Barbora Samieian, the force behind Sundays, has a résumé that reads like a roadmap to success. She transitioned from her role as an associate evaluation officer at the United Nations in bustling New York City, where she tackled everything from global program assessments to data collection and report drafting. It was in this high-stakes environment that Samieian honed her skills in precision and organization.


That was just the start of her journey. Samieian’s passion for innovation and her entrepreneurial spirit led her to Vancouver, where she became a vital voice in the thriving startup community. Her dedication to supporting emerging entrepreneurs and startups has made her a beacon for those looking to make their mark.


Photos: Mission Critical Live Goes to Vancouver with Barbora Samieian


SUNDAYS, her brainchild, is a testament to her commitment to craftsmanship. The Vancouver-based furniture brand creates meticulously crafted, beautiful furniture, offering individuals a way to transform their living spaces into personal oases. Samieian is a true trailblazer, seamlessly merging her experiences from the world’s biggest stages to create a design-forward future from Vancouver, British Columbia.

April Hicke seated on a stool wearing a fuschia pink blazer set and white sneakers. Marissa is seated on the ground wearing a plaid jacket and green pants.
Photo: Toast

April Hicke, Marissa McNeelands

Founders, Toast


April Hicke and Marissa McNeelands, the dynamic duo behind Toast, are changing the game in the tech industry. As the founders of Canada’s first female-focused talent partner, they’ve set out to revolutionize the landscape for women in tech. Toast, operating in major cities like Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Victoria, and Ottawa, has quickly become a driving force in promoting gender diversity and equity in the workplace. 


Their mission aligns with a critical reality—women are vacating the workforce at an alarming rate. A 2022 McKinsey report underscores the need for supportive, equitable workplaces, and that’s exactly what Toast delivers. They collaborate with forward-thinking organizations committed to fostering gender diversity and equity.


With operations across the country, Toast boasts the federal government’s support for organizations striving to enhance gender diversity in ESG reporting by 2024. Over 3,500 women are part of their ever-growing roster, and they’re partnering with 30 organizations and counting nationwide. Hicke and McNeelands are igniting change, and Toast is a testament to the shift toward more equitable workplaces in the tech world.