2017 Zenith Award Winners

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Maria Scarfo, Blaney McMurtry LLP

Maria Scarfo has spent her entire career at Blaney McMurtry, becoming the first female managing partner in 2013 and being unanimously reappointed in 2016. Maria’s style is focused on mentorship and she develops talent by encouraging others to succeed. A senior law professor called her one of the two best students with whom he had ever worked. Her great sense of humour, honed by improv classes in university and performances at the after-hours pub, along with her infectious laugh, contribute to her effective management style. As managing partner, she demonstrates daily how important empathy and listening are. She has the ability to put people at ease and to make tough decisions and build consensus without antagonizing people. Maria has also been an outstanding litigator, successfully handling hundreds of claims.

Muneeza Sheikh, Levitt LLP

Muneeza Sheikh practises labour, employment, and human rights law and is often referred to within the firm as a “powerhouse.” Muneeza wants not only to practise law, but to influence change. She believes in helping employers shape practices to protect their employees from economic, social and cultural displacement, and she regularly appears in the media to speak on important employment issues. She works to create a safe space for marginalized and excluded minority groups to share their stories and gain a voice. She recently spoke at a conference supporting Muslim women’s resiliency in the face of Islamophobia. She has attended several roundtables to speak on women’s rights, equality in the workplace, diversity engagement and how women can learn to climb the corporate ladder. Muneeza is a board member and Director of Communications for the Canadian Muslim Vote.

Jennifer L. Shilson, Miller Canfield LLP

Jennifer Shilson is one of the most recognized and highly sought after lawyers in Windsor and Essex County, as well as a role model in the office of Miller Canfield. Jennifer has served on the Miller Canfield management team for at least six years, and as managing partner of the Canadian office for the past three years. In 2013, Jennifer helped the Canadian office transition from a controlled subsidiary to a financially independent firm, which has since grown steadily in both lawyers and revenue. In addition to practising law and managing the firm, Jennifer finds times to act as a practice principal for articling students and speaks at the University of Windsor Law School on work/life balance and the challenges women face practising law. Jennifer is a 20-year supporter and long-standing director of local cancer charity Transition to Betterness.

Megan Shortreed, Paliare Roland Rothstein LLP

Megan Shortreed is an excellent litigator who has had a transformative effect on her firm and the profession of law. Megan’s leadership on the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Justicia Initiative and her work on the Advocates’ Society diversity task force has led to concrete advancements in the law for women and members of racialized communities. She served on the Retention of Women steering group, and chaired working groups for: medium firms; compensation for parental leaves; flexible work arrangements; and leadership. She also led the implementation of those initiatives at Paliare Roland. She has also worked tirelessly as a mentor to women lawyers. Megan has served as director of Homes First Society and chair of the Homes First Foundation. She was the inaugural recipient of the Toronto Lawyers Association Honsberger Award for ongoing contributions to the community.

Lisa Skakun, Mogo Finance Technology Inc.

As Chief Legal and Administrative Officer, Lisa Skakun leads matters related to legal and compliance, people and culture, government relations and corporate governance. The only female senior executive when she was recruited in 2015, Lisa launched innovative products and partnerships to extend the brand, including a $50-million marketing deal with Postmedia. She’s frequently featured in articles about the complex regulatory world of fintech. Lisa has assembled an all-female legal and HR group with a goal to increase board diversity and spread a message that “the future of fintech is female.” She is developing a code of conduct that includes anti-harassment policies and implementing focus groups on key employee issues. Lisa has been recognized by the Canadian Board Diversity Council’s Diversity 50 (2015) and won the National Post’s WCGCA “Tomorrow’s Leader” and the Association of Women in Finance’s “Rising Star” awards.