The Inaugural Leadership Program Graduation

The graduation of the inaugural leadership program took place on Wednesday, May 4, 2019, complete with the celebration of Mass and presentation of certificates.

Congratulations to the participants, leading learners, coaches, guest speakers upon completion of this successful and transformative program.


As we just completed our first year-long Leadership Program I express gratitude:

To the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada for having the foresight and wisdom to set the seeds and provide initial funding for a leadership program for Catholic women;
To the Steering Committee (Claire Heron, Velma Harasen, Kim Scammell) who did not give up, although met by many obstacles, to having the Foundation incorporated and receive charitable status and continue to support us;
To members of the First Board (January 2015) and those who have joined the Board along the way, providing a Vision and Mission, for ensuring we had the finances to offer a Leadership Program, approving format and guiding principles for such a Program, and accept every task that comes their way;
To the Campaign Committee, chaired by Claire Heron, and the many CWL women in each province of Canada, who gave so generously of their time, talent and perseverance to solicit the financial support we so needed for the Program and who continue to support us by making their members and friends aware of the Foundation; 
To all donors, for believing in us, and for your generosity; 
To Betty Anne Brown Davidson who so generously volunteered her time to be ‘bookkeeper’, provide receipts and ensure every donor was thanked for their generosity;
To all the applicants who applied for the first program. If not selected the first time, I hope you will reapply;
To the 1st Cohort who so willingly began the journey with 14 other Catholic women in a Program that integrated faith and life. It was so obvious in our final days and reflections together experienced “ a change of mind, a change of heart, a change of consciousness’; 
To Chantal Beauvais, Rector, Saint Paul University(SPU), who connected with me December 2017 and suggested SPU and the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality could provide the Leadership Program we had in mind. It did. My lucky day! The Foundation’s lucky day!
To Miriam Martin, psvm, who became my contact at the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, who so easily understood what we wanted to do, and translated it into a program that integrated faith and life, personal and professional leadership development.
To Miriam Martin, Director, Lorraine Ste. Marie, Carol Kuzmochka, and all the leading learners, guest speakers, and online facilitators for allowing us to be part of such an exceptional program whose underlying philosophy is that leaders are whole persons and an effective leadership program must take into account the whole leader.
To Gabrielle Dupuis, administrative assistant for the Program at Saint Paul, who looked after us so well, arranging for good accommodations, nutritious meals and, of course, our technological needs.

God’s blessings on you all.

Neysa Finnie

Neysa Finnie

Vice-Chair and Treasurer

Neysa is the Vice Chair of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation and has served in that capacity since January 2015. On January 1, 2017 she was appointed Treasurer.


CWLF Closing Ceremony and New Beginnings with Saint Paul University

Rita Janes, Chair, Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation (CWLF), presents Dr. Chantal Beauvais, rector of Saint Paul University with a gift of $75 000 to allow the Providence school of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, Saint Paul University to establish the Catholic Women’s Leadership Program, a first in Canada. This national university-level certificate program integrates personal, professional, and faith development into a holistic program for women.

Dr. Chantal Beauvais, thanks the foundation for the generous gift stating, “Thank you Rita and all the board members who approved this gift, and thank you to everyone who made this week a special gathering. (We) are proud to be partnering with the CWLF to support and promote women in leadership roles”.

Fourteen participants, along with board members and leading learners, gathered in the beautiful chapel at Saint Paul University for a Eucharistic Celebration, giving thanks for an amazing week of learning in a very caring and vibrant community of women leaders from across Canada. The evening ended with a banquet and square dancing to fiddle music.

Rita Janes

Rita Janes


Rita has been a member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation since January 2015 and was appointed Chair on January 1, 2017.


CWL National Convention, Charlottetown, PEI

Presentation to the CWL National Convention , Charlottetown, PEI, August 5 – 8, 2017 by  Rita Janes, Chair, Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation

Madame Chair

Thank you President Margaret Anne and National Board for the opportunity to speak to the Convention about the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation – an organization charged with developing and supporting quality leadership programs for Canadian Catholic women; an organization founded by the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.

Let me begin this presentation by saying how grateful the Foundation Board is to the Catholic Women’s League for your support over the past five years and, your support, in so many ways.

When Sisters of Service in 2012 approached the Catholic Women’s League offering, as part of their legacy, $500 000 to provide quality programming for catholic women,  the Catholic Women’s League ( that is you) didn’t have to ponder too long before accepting the offer.

In your wisdom, you saw it as a way to continue your long history of promoting and developing the leadership of your members and, indeed, now you were able to reach out to all Canadian Catholic women. You saw it as a way to provide leadership education for women, but more in-depth.

The Sisters of Service were delighted with your decision.

And to show its commitment, the CWL agreed to match the Sisters of Service donation of $500 000.

So, the two organizations, inspired by a shared mission of having more women in leadership roles, were able to bring to reality a vision to transform the leadership landscape for Canadian Catholic women and for society.

Immediately, now that was in 2012, an interim committee of very experienced League members was tasked with establishing an incorporated organization under the Canada Not-for- Profit Corporation and have it registered as a charitable public foundation.

Through the committee’s hard work and dedication, this became a reality in 2014, and the first Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board was established in 2015.

The first task of the Board was to develop a Mission Statement, and we did, namely,

“ to fund leadership education that inspires Catholic women to be transformational and influential leaders where they live, work and volunteer”.

“to fund leadership education” is and has been a very important focus for us. We knew very early that the endowment fund set up by the Sisters of Service and the Catholic Women’s League, both setting restrictions on its use, would have to be increased from the initial $1 million  to at least $2.5 million if we were to provide the quality leadership  program we envisaged for women from all over Canada, and, yes, to carry this program into the future.

Hence the Capital Campaign, which has been ongoing for the last 18 months, was initiated.

No, we were not able to “ fund the program” and programs into the future without increasing the endowment fund.

Thank you Campaign Cabinet and Helpers

And so this leads me to express my gratitude to the many Catholic Women League members, who gave so much of their time, talent, perseverance, and determination to be voluntary solicitors for the Campaign and to bring us quite close to our target of $1.5 Million.

I have to give a special thank you to Claire Heron who chaired the Campaign, Velma Harrison, Betty Anne Brown, Kathy Bouchard, and Josephine  Pettigrew who chaired special committees; to the representatives from each Province and the teams of CWL members they engaged seeking donations from targeted donors.

Thank you. We truly appreciate what you have done. Soliciting donations is not an easy job, but you showed determination.  You obviously believed in the cause.

Your names (all 65 of you and all CWL members) are on the banner by the exhibit table. Come by.


Thank you, Donors

Thank you also to our many donors, especially the Sister Religious, Congregations and Dioceses across Canada, targeted in our initial campaign.

Your generosity is very much appreciated. We received gifts from $500 000 (yes the two Sister Congregations from NL committed to $500 000) and we received gifts of $5.00 and all were, and are so welcome.  $5.00 from a person living on a “Senior’s  Pension” or $100 from a struggling Council can also be a lot of money.

We did receive many donations from CWL councils, and from CWL members, especially after we ran an article in the Spring magazine asking for your support.

It is not too late to donate.
CWLF Leadership Program

In keeping with our Mission and in accordance with the Articles of Incorporation, the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation Board has the responsibility “To develop women’s leadership capacity-building programs that are of the highest quality and that are consistent with Catholic values by establishing and maintaining partnerships with key educational institutions” (Objective 1).

I am so pleased to announce to you today that the initial Leadership Program will begin in May 2018 at the Providence School of Transformative Leadership and Spirituality, Saint Paul University, Ottawa.

Our year-long Certificate Program has been specifically designed to integrate faith and life, personal and professional leadership development.

Spirituality and a Catholic faith perspective are the foundations of all activities; prayer and reflective practice are core elements that are integrated throughout the program.

Women will participate in specially developed modules, both face-to-face: 5 days residency to kick start the program, 11 months online, and 3 days at the end, again face to face and residency; and there will be ongoing mentorship.

After completing the program, women will have the skills they need to make a tremendous difference in their community,  whether they are acting or speaking on behalf of an organization, fundraising for a local community group, or serving as a director of a major corporation.

For more information about the program be sure to pick up a brochure or just come and talk to me.

Candidates for the Program

A candidate for the Program must be a Canadian Catholic woman, at least 21 years of age, and of any background and experience.  A candidate for the Program will not have to qualify for university admission. She might be a teacher, a sales clerk, an electrician, a nurse, a homecare worker, a doctor, a lawyer, or a politician. All are welcome to apply.

More details about the criteria, the commitment a woman must make to participate, and application form will be shortly available on our website.

We will start accepting applicants in September, and a selection committee, made up of Board and non-Board people is being formed to make the final selection of candidates for the Program.

SO AGAIN, THANK YOU. The fund raising is ongoing, and I am appealing to each and every member, each and every Council, to donate what you can to this very important program happening for Catholic women in Canada today, and one that will have a tremendous impact on the secular society in which we presently live.

We need your support, the support of all our members both financially and morally.

Come by our table in the Exhibit Space and chat to me. Take some brochures back to your Council.

Thank you.

Rita Janes

Rita Janes


Rita has been a member of the Catholic Women’s Leadership Foundation since January 2015 and was appointed Chair on January 1, 2017.