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.

Linda Farmer

Building bridges coordinator
Linda is a Business Development Counsellor for PARO’s Breaking Barriers –Building Bridges program. This program is for individuals, both men and women with disabilities, who feel that working independently through self-employment will help them reach their goals for success.

Nefry Falla

Circles Coordinator & Business Counsellor
Nefry joined PARO in May of 2017, as the Marketing and Communications Officer and is currently fulfilling the role of PARO Circle Coordinator and Business Counsellor.
Kylee is our current intern and recently 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.
Kezia Royer is the Capacity Development Project Coordinator at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. With a background in communications, public relations, social services, equity and inclusivity, Kezia has a broad perspective of the mosaic that makes up Canadian women.


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

PAROBiz project coordinator - (Eastern)

Renée Gendron holds a master’s degree in social sciences and is nearing the defence of her Ph. D in humanities and conflict resolution. She draws from a background in professional development and business development. She’s coached starts-ups, pitched billion-dollar companies, and all points in between.  She’s a trained mediator and has been a speaker on leadership, workplace conflict, and workplace bullying. She speaks French, English, and Dutch with a life-long dream of learning Spanish and Russian. She’s stepped foot on four continents. In her role at PARO, she is the ParoBiz Project Coordinator—Eastern Ontario.

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.

Chantal Gingras

Business Counsellor
marathon region
Chantal Gingras is a Business Counsellor at PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise. As a municipal councillor for the Town of Marathon, Chantal has a passion for growing the economy in her region.


Cindy Crowe

Lead Business Growth Advisor
Neebing area
Cindy Crowe is a band member of the Lake Helen First Nation, Robinson-Superior Treaty Area, located an hour east of Thunder Bay. Her business Cindy Crowe Consulting (2004 to present) represents an award-winning Indigenous consulting firm with its headquarters based in Neebing, Ontario. Cindy specializes in community liaison, engagement and development. She continues to work with Federal, Provincial and Municipal government agencies and Indigenous communities across Ontario.

Penny Tremblay

Business Growth Advisor
north bay area
Penny is a genuine entrepreneur. Founding the Tremblay Leadership Center, with relationship strategies training and keynotes internationally for 20+ years, thousands have benefitted with skills and confidence to be productive, PLAY NICE in the Sandbox, and climb the ladder of success.

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.

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.

Elizabeth Verwey

Business Growth Advisor
toronto area

Elizabeth is committed to supporting women in their business and personal growth. She joined PARO in 2020, after mentoring business owners for over 20 years in Toronto, Ontario. She has written two business books and created seven customized mentoring programs. Elizabeth is launching her first online course in 2022.

Shaye Belanger

Business Growth Advisor

Shaye has been working in non-profit organizations with a vast array of clients for over 10 years. She has diverse experience in various sectors of settlement of newcomers, community connections, volunteer and workshop coordination, job matching, employer engagement and staff management. She holds a Management Certificate for Women, is a Registered Canadian Immigration Consultant, Certified Career Development Practitioner and owner of a business called Full Circle Immigration.

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.

Barbara Baker

Business Growth Advisor

Barbara has been an entrepreneur most of her life.  She is currently in a “soft retirement”, meaning that although she retired in 2013 she still runs a business; SUMthing, that provides a series of educational courses such as technology for seniors, estate planning, and budgeting.

Barbara created the Women of Manitoulin Entrepreneur Network (WOMEN), to support/educate/inform all current or soon-to-be women entrepreneurs on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario.  Barbara is also an elected official sitting as councillor for the North Eastern Manitoulin and the Island. The Island Sisters, of which Barbara is a member, was awarded the PARO Circle of the Year for 2021.

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.

Jenny Chandler

Business Growth Advisor
Ottawa Region
Jenny owns and operates Simple Desk, a small business support company in Trenton, Ontario.
Passion, drive and success are all goals she strives to help her clients achieve. She takes great joy in helping others succeed and realize their dreams.

Chantal Fraser

Business Growth Advisor
Through her company, Empowered Path Inc. Chantal Fraser acts as a Thought Partner, sharing success stories to help people learn how to help themselves, their communities and organizations thrive.

Chantal offers a variety of services including delivering accessible online career programs and delivering Indigenous Inclusion sessions to Canadian employers from Coast to Coast to Coast, with strategic partners Indigenous Link. Chantal has Métis ancestors and is a military veteran.

Melissa Maltais

Business Growth Advisor
Timmins Region
From a young age, Melissa has chased her dreams of living her happiest and most purposeful life. She spent the early years of her career working within the recreation and hospitality industry; eventually leading to a rewarding career as a Wedding and Banquet Coordinator on Vancouver Island, BC. With her extensive expertise in event planning and project management, Melissa founded Blossom & Shine Collective in 2017 as a means to support small businesses within her community. This provided her with an opportunity to continue her role as a stay at home mother, while still pursuing her dreams of creating her own business.

With a passion for supporting women and their pursuit of happiness and entrepreneurship, her new role as a Business Growth Advisor & Business Development Trainer with PARO Centre for Women’s Enterprise offers you authentic, professional and inspiring opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Kristina Medow

Business Growth Advisor
Ottawa Region

Kristina loves helping others turn their ideas into reality. She has been a business consultant her entire career working with organizations of all sizes & industries – from Fortune 500 e-commerce companies to small & ambitious startup teams, in the US, Canada, Europe, Russia and Latin America. She also co-founded Impact Hub Ottawa, a community of creative and entrepreneurial changemakers and a part of a network of 100+ Impact Hubs around the world.

Kristina is deeply committed to supporting entrepreneurs of all walks of life and does so through her innovation consultancy where she works closely with her clients on ways to integrate innovation strategies, tools & methods into their businesses.

Marisol Fornoni

Business Growth Advisor
Toronto Region

Marisol is a coach, facilitator and fundraiser that works with social enterprises to strengthen their business models and build their social impact. Marisol has worked with non-profits, social enterprises and incubators across Canada to test and develop their social enterprise ideas, diversify their revenue streams and fundraising since 2012.

She has coached more than 50 social enterprises and worked with organizations like the Centre for Social Innovation, Art Reach, George Brown College and Action Canada for Sexual Health & Right to promote social entrepreneurship.

Laurie Del Net

Business Growth Advisor
Toronto Region
Laurie spent over 30 years in senior management for several large corporations, including national retailers, and two of the top four Telecommunications Companies in Canada. As a safety and security professional, Laurie spent the bulk of her career helping corporations protect their people, product, and property. Laurie was also responsible for developing strong operating procedures and health and safety best practices while building strong relationships with all levels of management, staff, vendors, and community partners. In addition, Laurie has served on several boards in the not-for-profit sector and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Crime Stoppers of Grey Bruce.
Laurie owns and operates SafeTeaVis Inc., an organization focusing on helping small businesses, home and cottage owners, to identify and address areas of vulnerability and risk. Laurie is thrilled to be able to take the knowledge and experience gathered throughout her career and share it with entrepreneurs as they start or expand their businesses.
Businesses Supported
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Grants from PARO Programs
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Total Grant Dollars to Clients