Womens Empowerment
Conference 2023

May 16 – 18, 2023

Our virtual conference will explore three themes: 

  • Finding a Seat at the Table 
  • Building Better Tables 
  • Shaking the Tables 

      During this Conference, we will hear from dynamic women who have fought for a seat at the table and made space for other women at the table, when experiencing or witnessing inequalities and lack of empowerment that female-identifying individuals may or have faced in the workplace.  

      Kick-Off Panel

      Leena Chowdhury

      Leena Chowdhury


      Leena Chowdhury


      Born and raised in India, Leena moved to Halifax to pursue her bachelor’s degree. While leading projects to solve social challenges as the Enactus co-President, she discovered her passion for entrepreneurship, project management and community development.  

      Leena has led strategic project portfolios in the banking and real estate industry. She was the Project Lead for RBC’s Halifax Growth Strategy in one of her most recent roles. Leveraging her experience of working at companies at various growth stages – from startups to well-established corporations- she aspires to help drive the growth of the tech sector in Nova Scotia by working closely with and supporting entrepreneurs. Outside of work, Leena is an avid reader, runner, meditator, and painter. 


      Amber Grosse

      Amber Grosse

      Tia Upshaw

      Tia Upshaw

      April Howe

      April Howe


      Finding a Seat at the Table 

      Opportunities for women may be small or sometimes not even available, so it is extremely significant that when you do get invited to pursue an opportunity, you go big!
      Our keywords for this session are – Hard Work, Mindset and Network and Connections.

      Mel Holmes

      Amber Grosse, Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager

      Amber Grosse is an Entrepreneurship Engagement Manager with BBI team. Amber hails from the community of East Preston and a descendant of the Preston Township. She is a graduate of Bachelor of Business Administration from Mount Saint Vincent University, with a double minor in Marketing and Management. Amber is a youth champion, community connector and event planner. She has worked in community and the child and youth sector for 15 years and brings her several years of experience working with non profit organizations. Amber is a content creator with marketing experience supporting organizations with their social media marketing. Amber sits on two Boards of Directors for Phoenix Youth on both the governance committee as well as the fundraising board. 

      Building Better Tables

      When you are invited to have a seat at the table, remember that the seat belongs to you just as much as it belongs to your peer.

      Our keywords for this session are – Speaking Up/Letting Your Voice be Heard in Your Career and Building a Way for Other Women to Succeed. 


      Tia Upshaw, Founder and CEO

      Tia Upshaw is a serial entrepreneur, mother of 3, nominee for Business leader of the year 2022 &2023 Halifax Chamber of Commerce, nominee for RBC Woman of Influence 2021 & 2022 and founder & CEO of Blk Women in Excellence. She is a mentor with Rise & Scotia Bank women’s mentorship initiative in partnership with the Forum.  

      Established in September 2020, Blk Women in Excellence is a not-for-profit organization that supports the education and empowerment of Black Women in Nova Scotia to be self-employed in sustainable businesses.  

      Her journey as an entrepreneur along with her dedication and tenacity to be able to overcome barriers that would normally condemn another, places her in the position to be able to mentor, coach and teach others “how to start a sustainable business” and her focus is with the underrepresented Black communities within Canada! 

      Shaking The Tables 

      Once you are comfortable in your seat, cause disruption and interference with the norm.

      Our keywords for this session are – Restructuring the Patriarchal Ecosystem and Changing Policies.  


      April Howe, EMBA'18

      Howe has been an active voice for diversity and inclusion in Nova Scotia for many years. Her consultancy, Crayon Strategies Inc., works extensively with clients across Canada and the US from various sectors, including pharmacare, health care, finance engineering, tech, not-for-profit, and the start-up sector.  

      Howe is the provincial Deputy Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Previously she held the senior government role of Senior Executive Advisor to the Deputy Minister of Justice. Before that, she was the Executive Director of People and Culture at the Public Service Commission and led the provincial Diversity and Inclusion strategy development.  

      April was a Partner with Knightsbridge Robertson Surrette for 16 years leading their Career Transition practice. As a community volunteer, she served on the boards of the United Way, the IWK Foundation, the Halifax Partnership, the Black Business Initiative, and the North End Community Health Center. As a proud descendant, she was a founding board director and went on to be Board Chair of the Africville Heritage Trust.

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