Six named among YMCA Women of Excellence

There is a strong purple-and-proud feeling among honourees of the eighth annual YMCA Women of Excellence Class of 2019, the YMCA of Southwestern Ontario announced today.

Among the Western-connected honourees were:


Shantal Feltham
Entrepreneurs category

Shantal Feltham, BA’91, is the Founder, President and CEO of Stiris Research and Stiris Research USA Inc., an award-winning company conducting global clinical trials for biotechnology and biopharmaceutical industries. Stiris is a recipient of the PROFIT Top50 Emerging Growth Companies award, two-time recipient of the PROFIT 500 award for Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies and recognized by the London Chamber of Commerce as Business of the Year in the Small Business category.

As a six-time recipient of the PROFIT W100 Top Female Entrepreneur award, Feltham was selected into the Ivey KPMG QuantumShift program for Canada’s Top 40 Entrepreneurs and awarded a full scholarship to the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program for women entrepreneurs. In 2015, she initiated a Mentorship program for co-op and summer students.


Heather Hiscox
Business and Professions category

Heather Hiscox, MA’87, LLD’11, has been a leader in Canadian broadcasting for more than 30 years. She is currently the host/anchor of the CBC national morning news program for which, in 2018, she won the Canadian Screen Award for Best National News Anchor. Many of her early career years were spent in London at FM96, CJBK Radio and CFPL TV.

Hiscox is sought after across Canada as an emcee, moderator and keynote speaker for a wide range of events, including the Leaders in Innovation Dinner at Robarts Research Institute. She continues to be a mentor and role model to young and aspiring journalists and broadcasters.


Dr. Bertha Garcia
Health, Science & Technology category

As an accomplished physician in the Department of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Bertha Garcia has attained international recognition for her research in organ transplantation and medical education. After achieving her Doctor of Medicine degree (Summa Cum Laude) in her native Peru, she came to Canada to pursue her postgraduate education and experienced multiple challenges being a woman, an immigrant and a medical trainee.

Consistently ranked by students as one of Schulich’s top professors, Garcia is described as enthusiastic, engaging and a master storyteller. With 28 career awards, including recognition by the Canadian Association of Pathologists for outstanding leadership in education and the international ASPIRE award from the Association for Medical Education in Europe, Garcia is a generous and supportive mentor to others.


Kathy Longo
Community & Volunteerism category

Kathy Longo’s name is synonymous with volunteering. Her involvement goes back to 1980 when she started with the London Regional Art Gallery Junior Volunteers as a committee member. She is a founding member of La Ribambelle, a French First Language Day Care that continues to serve the French-speaking population of London.

Longo, BA’77, has served in a variety of roles with the YMCA, including two terms as President of the Board and the initiation of the Young Woman of Excellence Award. She has been involved with St. Joseph’s Health Care London since 2000, the Kidney Foundation Celebrity Men in Fashion and as an honourary co-chair with her husband Frank for the Youth Opportunities Unlimited New Addition Building Campaign. As a strong role model, Longo is the person that every community not only wants to have living in their city, but also the person that every community needs.


Christine Stapleton
Sports, Fitness & Recreation category

As Director of Sports and Recreation at Western since 2017, Christine Stapleton has helped set the table for national and provincial championships, the hosting of major and community events and the forging of strong links with the City of London. Stapleton has earned a national reputation as a leader in interuniversity sport and recreation programming, fundraising, facility development, event management and student leadership.

She has earned a number of personal honours including winning three consecutive Conference Coach of the Year awards, named the top Women’s Basketball Coach in the Country and in 2001, named the 3M Canadian High-Performance Coach of the Year. Stapleton provides unwavering dedication to sport and recreation at the university level and is an exemplary role model to girls and women, in a male-dominated field.


Serena Tejpar
Young Woman of Excellence category

Facing horrific challenges with grace, tenacity, and courage, Serena Tejpar has astounded everyone with her determination and passion. Despite barely surviving a severe motor vehicle collision, Tejpar returned to university and graduated with a Bachelor of Medical Sciences (honours with Distinction) degree from Western. She is committed to improving the Canadian health care system, advocates for better physician-patient relations and clinical outcomes and is completing her Master of Science in Global Health degree to address the inequities and deficiencies in health-care systems around the world.

Tejpar has been recognized with numerous awards including a Top 50 Emerging Canadian Leader by Gen Y Inc., National ISTAR Student of the Year Finalist by the Ismaili Council of Canada and was recently named as a Young Director with G(irls)20, a nationwide initiative to recognize and promote female representation in leadership roles.

The YMCA of Southwestern Ontario also honoured Janet Stewart, Outstanding Achievement Award, and Deb Harvey, Arts, Culture, Education and Training category.

“We are delighted so many accomplished and passionate women with such distinct and compelling backgrounds have been selected as our 2019 Women of Excellence honourees,” said Lynne Cram, Women of Excellence co-chair. “This is a sincere tribute to the talent and hard-working contributions of women in London and the surrounding community.”

The eight women will be honored at a May 15 gala at the London Convention Centre. The YMCA Women of Excellence program has paid homage to the exceptional achievements of more than 100 women over the past 30 years.