Press Release

Women of the Year Celebration 2019


[Brockville, ON] (May 12, 2019) – LEEDS AND GRENVILLE — Girls Incorporated of Upper Canada is pleased to present the women who have been selected as the 2019 Honourees for our annual Women of the Year Fundraising Celebration. At this event we recognize and celebrate women from Leeds & Grenville who through their strength, intelligence and spirit are affecting positive change. These women remind girls of the amazing things they can accomplish and help inspire them to achieve greatness.

Girls Inc. is proud to celebrate five honourees who were publicly nominated for demonstrating what it means to be “strong, smart and bold.” The following is only a sample of what these inspirational women have accomplished:

Ramona Braganza – her journey includes a career as an NFL cheerleader, personal trainer to Hollywood stars, entrepreneur, activist, motivational speaker, published author and philanthropist. Her 321 Empower Foundation, established in India, helps women who have been rescued from human trafficking work towards careers in fitness and personal training. Ramona is a one person powerhouse focused on assisting others to realize their best selves – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

Heather Haynes – uses art as a medium to make a difference around the world. As a professional artist, Heather has created a number of different initiatives, including projects in the Congo and Tanzania, focused on helping people see those who are most often overlooked. These initiatives have helped raise funds, build schools, build a medical clinic and sponsor children in need. Heather’s relentless humanitarian work is exemplary.

Trish McNamara – is the General Manager of KEYS Job Centre managing 15 staff in 3 different locations. Through her work, Trish connects employers and job seekers often using ‘out of the box’ thinking to make things happen. She is mindful in her work, providing assistance whenever needed and supporting others to be their best. Aside from her professional contributions, Trish volunteers and sits on numerous committees, working tirelessly to make her community a better place.

Wendy Merkley – an entrepreneur, selfless leader and volunteer making a difference in her community. After an accomplished career in the insurance and reinsurance industry, retirement has not slowed Wendy down. With strong family roots in the 1000 Islands area, Wendy’s contributions are numerous, including roles in municipal politics, entrepreneurial endeavors and various community memberships. Most recently, she has been active as Chairperson of Friends of Rockport Customs, bringing a much-needed public waterfront park to Rockport. Wendy backs away from no challenge, and in the process she enriches those around her.

Christine Wilson – is a role model encouraging young women to pursue their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) through her active and long term involvement with the Rideau St. Lawrence Science Fair. As a teacher, Christine has inspired countless students, encouraging their pursuit of careers in non-traditional fields. An active volunteer, Christine also shares her musical talent with her church and at nursing homes in Brockville. Christine is a passionate, creative, critical thinker who inspires others the same traits in others.

The Celebration takes place Thursday, May 30th at 7pm at the Brockville Convention Centre. In addition to the awards presentations, the event will feature a showcase of Girls Inc. programming, silent auction, complimentary light refreshments and cash bar.

Tickets are $40, and can be reserved by calling Girls Inc. at (613) 345-3295 or e-mailing

Every day in Leeds-Grenville, Girls Inc. provides real solutions to the unique issues girls face. At Girls Inc., girls are in a safe, girls-only environment where professionally trained women help them build life skills and aspire to be all they can be. With this critical support, girls seize opportunity and thrive.

Media Contact:         Lesley Hubbard
Phone:                       613-345-3295
Fax:                            613-342-8684