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

Born and raised in Toronto, Suzanne started her career path at an investment firm in downtown Toronto; she then moved to Thunder Bay and became Owner/Operator of a large home-based family business and franchise. From Thunder Bay, she partnered with a land developer and established a golf recreational business and golf course in southern Ontario. From Southern Ontario, she went to Calgary where she worked, as General Manager, for a locally-based Thunder Bay company as they developed a new business from start-up to such time that it began trading publicly on the TSX Ventures Exchange.  After moving back to Thunder Bay, she found her dream job at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise – helping women start businesses. 

After 6.5 years at PARO, something was tugging at her, telling her it was time to start a business with heart.  She established, built and sold a private home health care company that surpassed $1million in revenue.  9 years later, she is thrilled to be back at PARO working as a Business Growth Advisor.

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.

Dhanisha Mehta

Dhanisha Mehta

Project Coordination -
Rural, Recovery and Resilience

Dhanisha is working as our brand new Project Coordinator for PARO’s Rural, Recovery and Resilience Project.

She graduated from Lakehead University with a Master’s Degree in Economics, and has a background in research and analysis, along with an understanding of policies.

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.

Susan Milne

Project Coordinator-Northern
sAULT sTE. marie Area
Working from her home base of Sault Ste. Marie, Susan is the Project Coordinator- Northern for PARO. She provides business counselling to women in the areas east from SSM to Manitoulin Island and north to White River by helping women entrepreneurs start or expand their businesses, or form PARO circles.

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.

Gitanjali Aggarwal

Business Consultant
Southwestern Ontario

: Gitanjali [git-tan-ja-lee] is a name that comes from the Sanskrit language that means “collection of lyrics”. She is a passionate individual who thrives when she is involved in the community and provides support to women in all communities. She is an entrepreneur herself with a background in Financial Consulting and Food/Tourism industry, and has been providing customer service for over 15 years. With a diverse background and passion for traveling, skydiving and food, Gitanjali is always ready to help individuals grow, thrive, succeed and conquer their dreams. 

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.

Sopheia Bacchus

Communications and Ecosystem Developer

Hailing from Queens, NY and Mississauga, ON, Sopheia embraces diversity and collaboration with the viewpoints and expertise that different people bring to an environment.

Along with her background in Professional Communication, Sopheia has over 5 years of management experience paired with her passion for developing community relations and helping others.

During her free time, you’ll be sure to find her journaling and indulging in agricultural horticulture through gardening and vermicomposting.

Carmen Farrell Knapp

Prosper Circles Coordinator

Carmen is passionate about helping women thrive in their businesses.

She has a background in education and health care and has been an entrepreneur in various ventures since 2004.

Carmen loves helping women connect with other entrepreneurs in her role as Circles Coordinator for Southern Ontario. 

Kate DeKlerck

Circle Coordinator

Kate DeKlerck is joining the PARO team as an entrepreneur, quilter, avid baker and overall champion of creativity! For the last eight years she has operated her business The Quilter’s Bolt from her small town of Millbrook, transitioning to online only during the pandemic to accommodate online learning for her daughters. She have worked in Economic Development Role as Treasurer, Marketing Lead and Event Planning Chairperson for the Millbrook BIA and most recently as a Business Coach for small businesses in Port Hope with Digital Main Street and the Municipality of Port Hope.
My “coworker” Maggie (the golden lab) and I look so forward to meeting everyone. I can’t wait to get started as a new Circle Coordinator.” 

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.

Nathalie Plouffe

Project Coordinator PAROBiz Eastern and Southern Ontario

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)


Linda Cryderman

Business Growth Advisor
With over 20 years of experience selling Phone Directories, News Papers, Magazines, and Sponsorship Marketing, Linda is currently working for a Google Certified Premier Partner. Linda learned Advertising and Marketing hands-on and is constantly updating her skills to suit the evolving digital space. Linda has been a dynamic guest speaker for several engagements and is always excited to share her expertise.

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.

Tammy Laws

Business Growth Advisor
thunder bay area
Tammy brings over 30 years of experience in politics to PARO, with 20 years as Special Assistant to a Federal MP and Provincial MPP in Constituency Offices and 10 years as Northern Outreach Assistant.

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.

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.

Cheryl Himburg

Business Growth Advisor
Ottawa Region
Cheryl Himburg is the owner of Key Element Solutions, empowering women professionals, leaders and business owners to shatter THEIR glass ceiling and achieve ambitious results. Cheryl is an ambitious coach for your personal success and an accomplished catalyst for your career or business growth.

A certified mindset and leadership coach, Cheryl leverages her corporate experience and training as a certified Master NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) Practitioner to empower her clients to go beyond baseline goal setting, to remove barriers, and conquer limiting beliefs. Your next level requires the next level of you. You don’t have to get there alone.

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: delivering accessible online career programs, 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.

Gabriela Casineanu

Business Growth Advisor
Toronto Region

Gabriela Casineanu is an award-winning author and systems coach. With an MBA in small business and a background that spans through various fields—Business, Engineering, IT, Marketing, Building & Strengthening Organizations—Gabriela is a creative problem-solver that turns challenges into opportunities. She is also a speaker, trainer, and founder of the Introverts Academy.

Maitri Mou

Business Councellor
Southern Ontario

Hi there! I’m Maitri Mou, a Windsor, Ontario-based individual with a passion for cooking and nurturing my beloved plants. With a bachelor’s degree in business from the University of Windsor, I’ve cultivated a strong foundation in the field. For the past two and a half years, I immersed myself in the IT industry, gaining valuable experience and knowledge.
Currently, I serve as a Business Counsellor at Paro, where I have the privilege of working directly with clients and partners. In my role, I provide comprehensive advisory services, assisting businesses with various needs, including business planning, cash flow analysis, financial analysis, and technological improvements. I take pride in supporting entrepreneurs in their endeavors, helping them navigate challenges and achieve their goals.
Outside of work, you’ll often find me in the kitchen, experimenting with new recipes and creating delightful culinary experiences. I also find solace in nurturing my plants, cultivating a green oasis in my home.
Feel free to connect with me and embark on a journey of collaboration and shared success. Let’s make a difference together!”

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!

Businesses Supported
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Grants from PARO Programs
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Total Grant Dollars to Clients