The PARO Team

Founder & Ceo

Rosalind Lockyer

Together with twenty years of working as a teacher, entrepreneur, and community developer, Rosalind became blatantly aware of the many systemic issues that kept women from achieving their life goals.  In 1995, she founded PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, channelling this experience, her passion, and her determination to continue to work for positive change locally, provincially, nationally[RL1] and internationally.  Today, PARO is recognized as the “largest peer lending network in North America’ supporting its unique form of women-centred Community Economic Development with 150+ PARO Circles located across Ontario. In 2005, Northern Ontario Business awarded her the prestigious Influential Women of Northern Ontario Award-Public Sector recognizing her leadership in building PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise into the dynamic organization that it is today, serving women entrepreneurs living in rural, urban and remote communities of Ontario.

Rosalind Lockyer has dedicated her lifetime toward supporting gender equality and building sustainable livelihoods for thousands of women “who need it the most”. Important to her role as Founder and CEO of PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise and co-founder of the national group, the Women’s Economic Council (WEC) is supporting women who are disadvantaged by the intersectionality of poverty, race, sexism, ageism, and disability.

Rosalind Lockyer is Treasurer for the International e-Rotary for Social Innovators, and the board director for Ontario on the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada board (WEOC), and a member of the Gender Equity Network of Canada. Through her work and community activity, she shares her experience and influence to mentor individuals and organizations to develop effective solutions and sustainable strategies. As a social entrepreneur, she has assisted the management of enterprises, whether non-profit, private business or professional sector organizations with fund development, strategic planning, organization management, and policy development, human resources, leadership, social enterprise, business development and public relations.

Recognized for her notable efforts in building PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, working with diverse populations, especially those most challenged, such as Indigenous people, people with disabilities, seniors and youth at risk with particular emphasis on women, Rosalind was called “one of the most remarkable social entrepreneurs in the world” by the Office of Social Enterprise, MEDEI, Ontario government, and received the International Award for “Women of the Decade in Community Leadership”, from the Women’s Economic Forum 2018 in New Delhi, India.

In 2021, Lakehead University awarded their highest honour – an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters to Rosalind for her work in the community, gender equity spaces and women-entered economic development.


The women of paro


Management tEAM

Brenda McDougall is the Executive Assistant/HR Assistant, and provides supports to all members of the team at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise.
Laura Lynch is a prominent member of PARO’s Management team, serving as the Financial Manager and Loans Officer. She has a passion for improving women’s financial security, and is proud to be able to contribute through her work at PARO.
With a passion to support the economic advancement of women, Maria is a proud member of PARO’s Management Team, serving as the Program Developer.
Karen Lynn Evans is a Project Coordinator and the Lead Business Counsellor at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. She leads the Women’s Enterprise Centre Northern Ontario (WECNO) project.
Melissa Cook is the Program Manager at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. With a background in human rights, economic development, diversity and inclusion and social enterprise, Melissa is an expert in diverse community development practices.

head quarters tEAM

Lori Morin

Business Counselor
Lori Morin is a Business Counsellor with PARO, working with clients interested in start a business, as well as growth and expansion. Lori is sensitive to the needs of women and the barriers they experience developing and growing a business.

Suzanne Tighe

Business growth Advisor

Suzanne Tighe is a seasoned entrepreneur and she is a passionate advocate for women’s empowerment and entrepreneurship. With a career marked by a series of successful ventures, Suzanne has consistently championed the idea of women helping women, fostering a community of support and mentorship.

Drawing from her own experiences as a female entrepreneur, Suzanne understands the unique challenges and opportunities that women face in the business world. With a deep-seated belief in the power of entrepreneurial spirit, she has dedicated herself to help other women to succeed.

Kylee Monteith

Strategic Communications & New Media Officer

Kylee is our communications and multimedia gal and graduated from the Interactive Media Development program at Confederation College.

She has a background in graphic design, social media management and front-end web development.

When she’s not working you can find her out at the barn with her horses or out on the trails.

Judith Tiriwepi

Financial Manager

Judith holds a BSc degree in Economics from the University of Zimbabwe with 15 years of experience as a finance and accounting professional. She is an aspiring CPA who has worked for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe as a compliance officer, taught economics and accounting at one international school in the Democratic Republic of Congo and has worked as an accountant in a business development organization in the Congo.

Judith always wanted to use her finance and accounting expertise to make a difference in other people’s lives and is proud to be part of the PARO team where she can use her knowledge and experience to contribute to the empowerment of fellow women.

Karen Tretter

Business Coach
Thunder Bay Region

Karen Tretter has a degree in Business and Accounting and her certification as a business coach.  She has worked for PARO both in the office and on the road for the past 20+ years, with a few breaks. 

She was one of the first BGA’s and has travelled and worked with women throughout most of Ontario.  Karen has 4  daughters and 5 grandchildren and has recently moved back to Thunder Bay to be close to her family and her businesses that she has operated for over 35 years.

Karen enjoys hiking, both in the summer and winter, volleyball, curling, downhill skiing and travelling.

Mary Margaret Laing

Business Development
Coordinator, She Rises

Having just moved to Thunder Bay recently, I’m excited to share my experience and the skills, learned during over twenty years in both non-profit and for-profit business sectors. I have worked in such diverse areas as corporate advertising & promotion, management consulting, and most recently in operations, where careful strategic and business planning, diligent resource management and building highly effective teams are my passions. Businesses I have worked with include financial services, global relief & development and clinical services delivered to children in northern Indigenous communities.  I believe strongly that the economic success of women is critical to the advancement of women in every part of life, both individually and collectively. I am a life-long learner who never ceases to be curious about what comes next.

I love to spend time with my family, dabble in fibre arts, garden and walk.


Andrea Zappe

Andrea is a mindful and enthusiastic Business Entrepreneur with 20+ years of customer service-oriented territory management. With a BSc in Zoology from the University of Manitoba and a Business Administration Certificate in Environmental Entrepreneurship from the University of Victoria, she spent 5+ years as a biologist on commercial fishing vessels working the coastal waters of BC as well as the Bering Sea near Alaska.

Renée Gendron


Renée has extensive experience in professional development, research, and entrepreneurship. 

Kayla Soomer

Business Northeast Counsellor
sudbury area
Kayla Soomer is a serial entrepreneur, mentor and advocate for women in business. She has over 17 years of marketing experience in graphic/web design and photography. An entrepreneur at heart Kayla travels throughout the province working in different areas including PARO Business Northeast Counsellor, photo booth owner, professional photographer, and marketer. Kayla’s work has been published all over the world including in Maclean’s, Canada’s premier current affairs magazine.

Luciana Palotino

BizGrowth and Loans Coordinator

Brazilian corporate lawyer, Bachelor’s degree in Law with an MBA in Health and recent Post-Graduated in International Business Management at Cambrian College. 

She has devoted 14 years to working in the health sector, where the client is the center of the business and she is always eager to provide excellent service.

She is experienced in expansion, global markets, mergers and acquisitions, as well as corporate matters and administrative processes.

Cathy Tait

Business Counsellor
Central Ontario
Cathy enjoyed a diverse career in the not-for-profit sector, most recently as the General Manager for the Southern Georgian Bay Chamber of Commerce where she supported close to 400 businesses.  Previously, Cathy worked as the Business Consultant in Muskoka for the Self Employment Assistance Program, mentoring entrepreneurs throughout the start-up phase of their own small businesses in the region. In addition, Cathy enjoyed a longstanding career in the tourism industry and thrived as the Director of Marketing and Sales for Muskoka Steamships in Gravenhurst.  Cathy lives with her family and jumbo canine in central Ontario.

Nathalie Plouffe

Business Growth Advisor

Nathalie Plouffe left the corporate world in her mid-twenties to pursue the entrepreneurial route. She has built a resourceful network of business owners, investors, and a myriad of like-minded professionals over the years. She is a commercial real estate agent by trade, and is a Growth Wheel and Nova Global certified consultant. Small business coaching is her passion.


  • Clarity, perspective, focus and productivity
  • French-language services (FLS)
  • Commercial Real Estate (office/retail)

Lesa Isenor

Prosper Project Coordinator
Nova Scotia

Lesa has 30 years experience in business. Her latest business endeavor was owning a successful Grocery store franchise. She enjoys collaborating with other business owners to achieve successful outcomes. As a Prosper Project Coordinator for Nova Scotia, she will use her experience to help business owners thrive. 

Montse Galeana

Prosper Coordinator
Newfoundland and Labrador

Montse is originally from Mexico, she arrived to Canada in 2022. With more than 10 years of experience as a university professor and helping entrepreneurs from her place of origin to develop their business ideas and make them come true. she has a law degree and a master’s degree in Business Innovation and Development.

Zulfira Pulotova

Prosper Coordinator
Zulfira’s passion is in supporting women on their entrepreneurial journey. As a business owner and a community builder, she served many women entrepreneurs in Alberta as a Business Coach, Consultant, Mentor, and Connector. She also has helped organizations as an Impact Coach and Change Management Consultant. Her educational background includes Masters in Public Administration & Social Work; Business Consultant Certificate (Boise State); and Women Entrepreneurship Certificate (Cornell University).  
In her role as a Prosper Circles Coordinator for Alberta Zulfira is supporting women entrepreneurs to start and grow business via PARO’s staple Peer Lending Circles, business education, coaching and advising. 

Joy Idoko

Prosper Coordinator

With 18 years of diverse work experience, my journey spans Project Management, financial services, Sales, and Administrative roles. I began in banking for 5 years before becoming the CEO and Senior Project Manager at Pearl Interfacet Resources Limited, where I led a team of 47 employees and initiated a successful youth mentorship program. As a Project Manager with Verisult Training & Consulting, I honed my project management skills, meticulously overseeing budgets and plans.

I hold a post-grad Certificate in Business Management, an Executive Masters in Global Business Strategy, and relevant certifications. My diverse skill set includes project coordination, stakeholder management, creative problem-solving, budget reporting, and more. Excited to contribute my experience to PARO, empowering women entrepreneurs and driving success.


Elizabeth Verwey

Business Growth Advisor
toronto area
Elizabeth is committed to supporting women in their personal and business growth. She joined PARO in June 2020, after mentoring business owners for over 20 years in Toronto, Ontario. Elizabeth has written two business books and created seven customized mentoring programs. She founded and curated a women’s speaker series called ‘Spoken Lives’ for 7 years. This project is on pause as Elizabeth focuses on her online learning platform called ‘Grow at Your Pace’. Check out the courses by experts available on this boutique online learning platform.

Kaouthar Faouzi

Business Growth Advisor
ottawa region
As an expert in marketing strategy, I enjoy sharing my over 10 years of professional experience; and my knowledge (Bachelor’s Degree in Marketing and Communication and Master’s Degree in City Management) with women seeking to start-up and grow their businesses.

Victoria Watts

Business Growth Advisor

Victoria is an entrepreneur in the food manufacturing, wholesale and retail sector having experience with all aspects of building a brand and business from ideation to national distribution and everything in-between. She holds an L.L.B. from the University of Ottawa and practiced law in the areas of labour/employment, Human Rights and with Legal Aid Ontario.  She brings a broad range of experience to her role as BGA and is passionate about empowering females to become successful in all areas of their lives.

Chantal Fraser

Business Growth Advisor
Eastern Ontario

Through her company, Empowered Path Inc. Chantal Fraser (she/elle) acts as a Thought Partner, sharing practical tactics and strategies to help people discover their ideal jobs.  Chantal also helps employers learn how to create more inclusive workplaces, so that they can attract and retain a more diverse workforce.

Chantal offers a variety of services including: professional speaking on a variety of topics, providing business growth coaching through the PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise, and delivering Indigenous Inclusion sessions to Canadian employers from Coast to Coast to Coast, with strategic partners Indigenous Link. Chantal is Métis and a military veteran. Lieutenant-Colonel (retired) Chantal Fraser, holds an MBA from the Royal Military College of Canada and is a recipient of the Human Resources Professional Association (HRPA) Honourary Life Award.

Melissa Marie Maltais

Business Growth Advisor
Nipissing, Parry Sound & Temiskaming Districts

With her 15+ years of experience in project management and event coordinating, plus her creative expertise from her own hobby business, Blossom & Shine Creative, Melissa brings with her leading-edge solutions that can spearhead your entrepreneurial growth goals and help you overcome your unique challenges and barriers. Her passion for connection, community and collaboration will undoubtedly translate into authentic, heart-centric approaches in your entrepreneurial journey. Melissa’s super-power is brainstorming innovative solutions that will help you to unveil efficiencies and opportunities. 

Carole Perrin

Business Growth Advisor
Northern Ontario

Carole has been working in the Travel, Tourism & Hospitality Industry for over 30 years in Canada, Australia and NZ. Her vast experience includes working in the Leisure, Business, Groups, Incentives, B2B and B2C markets, for various types of businesses including Tour Operators, Online wholesale and retail.

She has worked for various companies assisting them in creative travel packages, exclusive product ranges, incentive programs that will WOW any team!

Carole has also been successful in recruiting, motivating, coaching, leading and managing sales teams for new sales growth. Her Consulting Biz “Great Visions Consulting” in the last 7 years has helped grow businesses of all sizes with their planning, marketing and sales. A well rounded Business Growth Representative who loves meeting and helping people from all walks of life!

Carol Brazeau-Weisflock

Business Growth Advisor
Northern Ontario
With 30+ years of entrepreneurship, owning multiple businesses, Carol was introduced to Paro and formed the first Paro Peer lending circle in North Bay, Ontario in 2016. 

She also sat on the North Bay Women’s Business Network Board as Chair from 2018-2020.  

She was part of the PARO Women Enterprises Board of Directors from 2016 – 2018.  

In 2018, Carol accepted a role with Paro women Enterprise as a Bilingual, French and English speaking “Business Growth Advisor” covering Northern Ontario.

Carol enjoys helping to support women in all aspects to build, expand, develop, and grow their business. 

She is very passionate about empowering females to become successful in all areas of their lives.

Jennifer Latham

Business Growth Advisor
Northeastern Ontario

After a successful career in retail management, Jen used her sales and management experience along with her education in marketing communications to open a marketing firm dedicated to small businesses in northeastern Ontario. In 2016, Jen closed the marketing firm and moved to southern Ontario. She went back to her love of design and received her certifications in interior decorating and feng shui.
Now based out of Timmins, Jen runs a successful feng shui consulting firm, working with women entrepreneurs from all over the world to shift the energy in their homes and offices. She is a motivational speaker, where she has spoken in both Canada and the US. She is a women’s empowerment mentor and a contributing author to a book that was released in September 2022.

Helping to support women in all aspects of their lives is something Jen is passionate about. With over 10 years of experience running successful businesses, she is happy to use her expertise to help more women in Ontario to build successful businesses and to help them access all of the resources PARO has to offer.

Francoise Briet

Business Growth Advisor
Southern Ontario

Bonjour, Hello, 

My name is Francoise, and my motto is: My life story makes me who I am.” 

I am French and come from a small village near Beaune (Burgundy) – a well-known area for its prestigious wine and gastronomy.

I have a Ph.D. in Nutrition and decades of clinical research behind me. My area of expertise was Metabolic Energetic Nutrition and the impact of disease on the interface between energetic and immune cell function. 

I changed my career path when I reached a glass ceiling in the clinical research environment. I went back to school to study international development and worked in Haiti, Ghana, and Ethiopia, where incredible entrepreneurs inspired me in food security.

When I returned to Toronto, I started my company – Malty & Hoppy Delicacy. We use beer from the best local breweries in Ontario to make delicious beer jellies and jams (coming soon) with a French twist. I went to business school again (Yedi & York University, Schulich Business School) for a six-month program for small entrepreneurs. 

I also worked for the French consul in Toronto for four years (part-time job), where I developed my culinary skills and creativity with food to become a true chef.

I am an entrepreneur, a private chef, and a culinary educator. I am also a resilient person. Life has challenged me deeply over the past decade. I never give up.

I love exchanging ideas and finding solutions. I am also a great listener. My new challenge is working with PARO and helping women in their entrepreneurial journey. It is time to share my life experience and help other women who want to follow the same entrepreneurial path. 

Let us have a cup of coffee or tea and discuss!

Cathleen Lundgren-McMahon

Business Growth Advisor
British Columbia

Cathleen Lundgren-McMahon is a results-driven Business Development Manager with 15+ years of experience in driving revenue growth and expanding market share across diverse industries.

She is a strategic thinker and effective communicator, adept at identifying and capitalizing on business opportunities, cultivating key partnerships, and implementing innovative strategies to achieve organizational objectives. Her proven ability to lead cross-functional teams, negotiate complex deals, and foster long-term client relationships has given her unique opportunities to experience and understand the many aspects of her entrepreneurial path.

Cathleen has fostered her strong analytical and problem-solving skills through the development of multiple companies in the entertainment and not-for-profit sectors. She has a keen understanding of market trends and competitive landscapes to help advise and direct new or expanding businesses toward achieving their goals.

Businesses Supported
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Grants from PARO Programs
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Total Grant Dollars to Clients