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About the Captain Nichola Goddard Women in Leadership Series

 The 6th Annual Captain Nichola Goddard Women in Leadership Series provides a forum for a sharing of ideas between the military and corporate worlds and features a moderated panel discussion with CAF members and Veterans discussing their experience as women leaders and what shaped them into the leaders they are today. The event provides a networking opportunity for like-minded individuals and supporters and is a great engagement and learning opportunity for your employees on the unique leadership skills and dealing in adverse and challenging situations that military members face regularly.


Through the Captain Nichola Goddard Fund, True Patriot Love provides national funding to directly benefit community programs that support servicewomen, Veteran women, and their families. The Fund was established in memory of Captain Nichola Goddard, the first Canadian women soldier to die in a combat role.
Make a donation to the Captain Nichola Goddard Fund.

“We started the Captain Goddard Fund to celebrate and serve strong women like Nichola who have the courage to never take no for an answer. They are the servicewomen, female Veterans, and their families, who protect the values integral to Canada and stand on guard for those less fortunate around the world.”
Katherine Rusk, Sister of Captain Nichola Goddard


Kelsey Armstrong, Partner, Corporate

Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP

Kelsey’s practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, corporate governance and general corporate matters. Kelsey has extensive public and private mergers and acquisitions experience, having acted in plans of arrangement, takeprivate transactions, hostile take-over bids, private equity transactions, share and asset acquisitions, special committee engagements and complex restructurings. Kelsey also advises a broad range of clients on power and renewable energy transactions and partnerships with Indigenous-owned counterparties. Her experience also includes acting for issuers and underwriters in domestic and cross-border debt and equity offerings, including initial public offerings, shelf and short form prospectus offerings and private placements. Kelsey completed her J.D. (with Distinction) at the University of Alberta where she was awarded the Horace Harvey Gold Medal for highest standing in her graduating class. Prior to attending law school, Kelsey obtained her B.Comm. (with Distinction) in Finance from the University of Calgary. On completion of her studies, she was awarded the Haskayne School of Business Gold Medal as well as the Governor General’s Silver Medal.

LCdr Anna Kocot, OSM, CD

LCdr Kocot has had the opportunity to participate in several military operations. In January 2017, she deployed as the Operations Officer aboard HMCS Saskatoon in support of OPERATION CARIBBE, Canada’s contribution to the Joint Interagency Task Force South and US Coast Guard mission with the aim of stopping illicit trafficking of drugs, money, and people in the Caribbean Sea and Eastern Pacific Ocean. From May to June 2020, she participated in OPERATION LASER (CAF response to Covid-19 pandemic), as the Navy LO to 41 Canadian Brigade Group (CBG), coordinating information between 41 CBG and Nave Reserve forces in Alberta. Most recently, in the spring of 2021, she deployed to Ukraine as part of OPERATION UNIFIER, where she taught NATO signals and maneuvering to members of the Ukrainian Navy, increasing Ukrainian Naval capability and interoperability with NATO. LCdr Kocot is passionate about culture change and creating a safe and accepting work environment for all members both within her unit and in the CAF. She is a Positive Space Ambassador and is committed to promoting Positive Space and offering peer support, as part of the Positive Space Program aimed at increasing awareness of LGBTQ2+ issues within workplaces and creating a safer and more welcoming environment for all members. LCdr Kocot has a Bachelor of Biological Sciences and Bachelor of Education and her civilian life she is a High School Science teacher. She currently resides in Calgary with her husband, who is also a member of the CAF and her two young daughters.

Natalie Forcier, Transitioned Panelist

Natalie Forcier is an experienced healthcare professional and the leader of the veteran program at Pure Life Health Management (PLHM). Born and raised in northern Saskatchewan, she joined the military at 18 as a Medical Technician, dedicating 14 years to serving in various capacities, including deployments as a Role 1 and Role 3 medic in Afghanistan and Libya. After being medically released in 2016, Natalie transitioned her career in healthcare, acquiring a cannabis education clinic in 2018 and medical clinic in Fort Saskatchewan in 2020 to develop a comprehensive veteran support program. Additionally, Natalie's volunteer work with the Veterans Association Food Bank has provided an extensive and collaborative community committed to addressing the broader socioeconomic needs of veterans and connecting them with essential support services. In March 2024, Pure Life Health Management acquired her two clinics to further growth and continue to expand the excellence in care. As former co-owner of The Herb Clinic (THC), the cannabis education clinic focused on alternative medicine to reduce pharmaceutical reliance and improve the quality of life for veterans and civilians alike. In 2023, in collaboration with Onaya Science and supported by the University of Melbourne, Natalie continues to spearhead a series of groundbreaking plant medicine retreats in Peru for combat veterans diagnosed with PTSD. The preliminary research results demonstrated remarkable improvements in areas such as gut biome, EEGs, psychometrics, and gene expression. Now at PLHM, Natalie is instrumental in expanding the veteran program, enhancing the quality of care and support provided to veterans, first responders, and their families. She continues to engage in advocacy and research, aiming to bring supportive data to government policymakers and stakeholders to foster significant improvements in veteran care.

Major R.Y.M. (Rachel) Hilbig

Upon graduation, then Second-Lieutenant Hilbig was posted to 1 Service Battalion in Edmonton, working on small projects in between Logistics Officer courses in Borden, ON. Upon completion of her trade training in 2014, she was promoted to Lieutenant and assigned to role of Unit Transport Officer, responsible for the reconnaissance, staging, deployment, and redeployment of the battalion on various unit-level exercises. In 2015, she completed the Movements Officer Course and then deployed on Operation LENTUS, a domestic response to fires in Prince Albert, SK. There she worked as a Duty Officer in the Forward Logistics Group in support of the fire relief effort. She took over as Movements Platoon Commander later that summer. During that time, she planned and oversaw the 1 Canadian Mechanized Brigade Group (1 CMBG) Rail Move to CFB Shilo, MB and organised an in-house Helicopter Under-Slung Operations Course, training that she went on to use regularly that spring on exercise in Wainwright, AB, sling loading resources and equipment for transport via Griffons and Chinooks. In summer 2016, she was promoted to Captain and posted to 1 CMBG Headquarters to take on the role of G4 Transportation, which she occupied until July 2019. During that time, she participated in Joint Warfighter Assessment in Germany, Operation UNIFIER in Ukraine and various exercises domestically. She also ensured successful deployments of 1 CMBG units on multiple operations. After three years, in summer 2019, Captain Hilbig was posted to CFB Shilo to take on the role of Base Adjutant and then Acting G4. Captain Hilbig rose to the challenge of leading 130 soldiers in a COVID-19 environment, overseeing all supply, transportation, ammunition, and maintenance support for CFB Shilo units. In winter 2020 she was attached to 2nd Battalion Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry for Operation LASER, a domestic COVID-19 relief mission. As the lead Combat Service Support planner, the Task Force Movements Officer, and the only Logistics Officer on ground, she coordinated all sustainment for soldiers deployed to multiple remote First Nations locations in northern Manitoba, earning her the Canadian Joint Operations Command Commendation. Following that task, she started the Army Operations Course in spring 2021, which she completed that summer before being posted back to 1 Service Battalion in Edmonton, to take on the role of Adjutant. As such, she managed the administration of one of the largest, most complex units in the CAF, all within a COVID-19 environment. In fall 2022, the then Captain Hilbig deployed on Operation REASSURANCE, a deterrence mission in Latvia, where she spent nine months coordinating logistics support for the large Canadian contingent there. At the end of her deployment, she was promoted to the rank of Major (as seen in the photo above) and then posted to Calgary to be the G4 of 41 Canadian Brigade Group. Working with a reserve brigade has its own unique set of challenges and Major Hilbig has learned a great deal in her time there so far. She is looking forward to another year in Calgary and to continue to learn and progress as a Logistics Officer in the CAF.

Master Sailor Gillian Embree

Master Sailor Gillian Embree was born and raised in Calgary Alberta. She is the daughter of Lieutenant Commander Jeanette Embree and Chief Petty Officer Second Class Tim Embree. In 2021, she completed a Bachelors in Business and Administration at the Southern Alberta Institute of technology. She is also a Certified Professional in Human Resources Associate, and is working towards earning a CPHR designation. Master Sailor Embree has served nine years in the Naval Reserves at HMCS TECUMSEH. She originally enrolled as a musician part-time, but then changed her occupation to Human Resource Administrator. MS Embree has four years of experience in the unit training department. During her time in the training department she coordinated unit wide training and assisted with loading members on career courses across Canada. She became a certified first aid instructor and has taught ten first aid courses at HMCS TECUMSEH and CFB WAINWRIGHT. She has also completed the Primary Leadership Qualification course and has instructed two basic training courses. MS Embree is now the HR Department Supervisor of HMCS TECUMSEH’s Ship Office.  

Sonya Lockyer

President & Chief Executive Officer, Lifemark Health Group

Sonya joined Lifemark as President and CEO in March 2023. She has spent the past 20+ years working with a number of Canada’s leading private and public healthcare organizations in executive and advisory roles.

Most recently, Sonya worked at TELUS Health leading their healthcare delivery capabilities, including clinical and pharmacy services. Prior to that Sonya was the CEO of Canadian Addiction Treatment Centres, the largest outpatient and inpatient addiction and mental health treatment network in Canada. Sonya has also worked as a management consultant and as an executive at CML Healthcare/LifeLabs.

Sonya’s relentless commitment to delivering excellence in both clinical quality and patient experience is a cornerstone of her people-focused leadership philosophy.

Sonya has an MBA from the University of Toronto and a BSc in Medical Laboratory Sciences from the University of Alberta. Early in her career, Sonya served as a member of Canadian Armed Forces, spending most of her time stationed at CFB Edmonton.

Colonel Vanessa Hanrahan


Colonel Hanrahan (Col) joined the Canadian Armed Forces after her graduation from high school in 1994 as a member of Communications Reserves in Halifax, N.S. She completed a BA degree at Saint Mary’s University in 1999 and then transferred into the regular force as a Military Police (MP) Officer.

After finishing her Basic Military Police Officer’s Course at Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Borden. She held positions as Assistant Provost Marshal Security, Assistant Provost Marshal Police in Ottawa. In 2001, she was promoted to the rank of Captain and in 2003 was posted to CFB Gagetown as the Officer Commanding the MP Detachment. While in New Brunswick, she completed her first deployment to Haiti in 2004.

Col Hanrahan returned to Ottawa in 2006 and remained there until 2010. During that time, she was promoted to Major in 2007 and held positions as the Officer Commanding the Canadian Forces National Investigation Support Detachment and Executive Assistant to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.

In August 2010, Col Hanrahan was deployed to Afghanistan for a year as Officer Commanding for the Canadian Afghan Uniform Police Training team, helping develop the Afghan National Police in the Province of Kandahar. Upon her return to Canada, she was posted to Toronto where she held the position of the Commanding Officer 2 Military Police Regiment until her posting to Canadian Force College (CFC) in 2013. Upon completion of CFC in 2014, Col Hanrahan was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel and posted to CFB Esquimalt where she held the position of the Regional Departmental Security Officer Joint Task Force (Pacific).

In 2016, she was appointed as the Commander of the Army Military Police Group, responsible for the provision for MP Services to all Canadian Army establishments in Canada. In 2018, she was posted to the position of the Special Advisor to the Canadian Forces Provost Marshal. At the end of 2019, Col Hanrahan was promoted and deployed to South Sudan, Africa, where she filled the position of the Task Force Provost Marshal for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS). At the end of 2020, she returned to Canada where she commenced second language training.

In February 2022, she was posted to the position of the Deputy Commander of the Canadian Forces Military Police Group. A year later, in February 2023, she became the incumbent of the newly created position of Deputy Canadian Forces Provost Marshal.

Chief Warrant Officer Lori Flowers, MMM, CD

Canadian Armed Forces

Chief Warrant Officer Lori Flowers is originally from a small town on the Gaspe Coast in Quebec.  She joined the Canadian Armed Forces in 1989 as an Administration Clerk, after a posting to Canadian Forces School of Communication and Electronics in Kingston she released.  She joined the Primary Reserves and spent time with 33 Medical Platoon in Halifax NS from 1992 – 1996 as the Chief Clerk.  In 2002 she made the decision to transfer back into the Regular Force and was posted to 2nd General Service Battalion in Petawawa ON as a Resource Management Support Clerk.  In 2003 she deployed on a 6-month tour to the Golan Heights as the support clerk managing the yearlong posted personnel, in Dec 2003 she was posted to the release section at CFB Petawawa. In 2007 she served with the 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment (2 RCR) as the Lima Coy Clerk in Gagetown, NB.  In 2008 she was promoted to the rank of Sergeant and appointed as the supervisor in the Orderly Room at Canadian Forces School of Mechanical Engineers.  In 2011 she was posted again to 2 RCR as the supervisor in the Orderly Room and prepared for deployment on OP Attention Roto 1 in February 2012 for a nine-month tour as the assistant Chief Clerk for the National Command Support Element. Upon returning from Afghanistan in July 2013 she was promoted to Warrant Officer and posted as the Chief Clerk of the 2nd Regiment Royal Canadian Horse Artillery in Petawawa, ON.  During her time there she deployed as the Superintendent Clerk on OP IMPACT Roto 1 in Kuwait for 7 months.  In January 2017 she received the Commander Canadian Joint Operation Command Commendation for her deployment on OP IMPACT. In July 2016 she was posted to the Combat Training Center in Gagetown as the Formation Chief Clerk.  She was reunited with her husband Chief Warrant Officer Harvey Flowers 2nd Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment who was posted there in January 2016. In 2017, she was promoted to Master Warrant Officer and appointed as 5th Canadian Division Support Base Personnel Support Services Sergeant Major.  In 2019 she was posted to the language school for a yearlong French course. Upon completion of that she was posted to 5th Canadian Division Headquarters in Halifax as the Human Resource Superintendent.  CWO Flowers was promoted to her current rank and appointed as the Technical Services Branch Sergeant Major in Borden, ON, June 2021. CWO Flowers was appointed as the CWO for the DJAG July 2023. She has 4 children Shawn, Samantha, Stephen and Shannon a 2-year-old grandson Samuel, and two granddaughters Quinley and Sadie as well 2 stepchildren Colby and Caleb, all of which have been very supportive over her military career.  She is grateful to be posted back with her family after being 3 years IR. When not busy with the kids she enjoys hockey, kayaking, biking, and spending time at their cottage in New Brunswick.

Master Sailor Julie Briffa

Canadian Armed Forces

Born and raised in Toronto Ontario, Master Sailor Julie Briffa has over 6 years of service in the Royal Canadian Navy.  She joined at His Majesty’s Canadian Ship York as an Intelligence Operator. Master Sailor Briffa has deployed domestically within Canada to support flood relief and covid response efforts. And earlier this year, she deployed to the Middle East for 3 months in support of Canadian Operations. Currently, she is the Divisional Petty Officer for the Intelligence Production division at HMCS York. In addition to her Naval career, she's a licensed Professional Engineer working in automation and controls and is employed within the Manufacturing Industry in Toronto.

Cybèle Wilson

M.M.M, C.D

VP Partnerships, ADIT North America

Cybèle Wilson is the Vice-President Partnerships of ADIT North America, a globally integrated risk-advisory firm specializing in economic intelligence, business diplomacy, ethical compliance, and security. Cybèle brings three decades of diverse experience to this role from her service in the military, international work in the private sector and in government in both an advisory and elected capacity.

A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, Cybèle served as an officer in the Canadian Armed Forces retiring at the senior rank of Lieutenant-Colonel. As a Healthcare Administrator, she served as part of the Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) in Turkey and was appointed twice as a Commanding Officer of medical facilities. She also acted as medical liaison representative to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) as well as the America British Canada Australia and New Zealand (ABCA) program. In recognition of her distinguished career in uniform and exception service to Canada, Cybèle was made a Member of the Order of Military Merit.

In the private sector, Cybèle worked with Accreditation Canada International in the field of medical accreditation and compliance, building partnerships in Europe and countries in the Persian Gulf. She helped establish the healthcare accreditation system for the State of Qatar’s Supreme Council of Health.

In government, she served as the Director of Stakeholder Relations in the office of the Minister of Veterans Affairs and helped turn around a fractured relationship with national Veterans associations. More recently, she also worked in the federal civil service for Public Services Procurement Canada, where she led outreach for the Canadian Collaborative Procurement Initiative between multiple levels of government.

Cybele holds a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from the University of Toronto and is a graduate of the Canadian Forces Joint Staff College. She currently serves as an elected municipal councillor in the municipality of Chelsea, Québec and dedicates time to mentor the next generation of women military leaders through the Athena Network in the Canadian Armed Forces.


Major-General J.R. Speiser-Blanchet, CMM, CD

Deputy Commander, Royal Canadian Air Force

Major-General Speiser-Blanchet enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces in 1990 and graduated from the Royal Military College of Canada (RMC) in 1994 with a degree in Computer Engineering.

Earning her pilot wings in March 1996, she joined 1 Wing where she qualified on the CH146 Griffon helicopter. Her operational and staff postings include 430e Escadron tactique d’hélicoptères in Valcartier, 1 Wing Headquarters in Kingston, 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg and 403 Helicopter Operational Training Squadron in Gagetown.

MGen Speiser-Blanchet deployed as a helicopter pilot during United Nations and NATO missions in Haiti and Bosnia and was appointed Deputy Commander (Operations) for Joint Task Force-IMPACT in Kuwait. In Canada, she has deployed on domestic operations in response to regional emergencies and in support to other government agencies. MGen Speiser-Blanchet has commanded at multiple levels throughout her career, including 403 Squadron, the Canadian Forces Intelligence Group and the Cadets and Junior Canadian Rangers Group. She has served in strategic staff appointments as military assistant to the Minister of National Defence and as the Special Advisor to the Chief of the Defence Staff.

A graduate of the Joint Command and Staff Program (JSCP) and the Defence and Strategic Studies Course (DSSC) in Australia, she holds a Masters degree in Defence Studies from RMC and a Masters degree in Politics and Policy from Deakin University. She was recently promoted to her current rank and appointed to the position of Deputy Commander of the Royal Canadian Air Force.

With three children, she and her husband, Janin Blanchet, are always busy.

Chief Warrant Officer Sandra Bouchard, CD

Canadian Armed Forces

Enrolling the Canadian Armed Forces in 1996, CWO Bouchard blazed a trail as one of the first female Combat Engineers. In 2002, CWO Bouchard remustered to the Military Police Branch and following the completion of her QL3 training she was posted to Petawawa, ON. In 2006, CWO Bouchard left Petawawa for Gagetown where she spent 4 years before returning to Petawawa in 2010. In 2014, CWO Bouchard was seconded to Global Affairs Canada and served as the Mission Security Manager for the Canadian Embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Upon her return to Canada in 2017, CWO Bouchard was posted to Bedford, NS where she served as 3 MP Regiment Regimental Sergeant-Major. One year later, CWO Bouchard assumed the position as the Senior MP NCM Career Manager in Ottawa, ON. In Jul 21, CWO Bouchard assumed the position as the Unit CWO for the Canadian Forces National Counter-intelligence Unit which resides inside the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command.

CWO Bouchard has deployed on 3 international deployments during her career; Operation Athena, Afghanistan in 2003 and 2005, and, in 2010 to Op Hestia in Haiti, following the earthquake that devastated that area. She received a VCDS Commendation for her work while on Op Hestia.

CWO Bouchard is a proud mother, and her spare time is dedicated to her fantastic 11-year-old daughter, Hope, and her partner Chris. She loves to run and strives to stay healthy. In June 2023, CWO Bouchard has been appointed as the Strategic Joint Staff Chief Warrant Officer.

Master Corporal Afton David

Legal Counsel and Manager, Thales

Afton David is currently legal counsel at Thales Canada Defence & Security, as well as a reservist in the infantry with the Cameron Highlanders of Ottawa (CHofO). She is a retired Rugby player (uOttawa Gee-Gees, Ottawa Irish Rugby Club, Québec provincial team), and a graduate of the University of Ottawa’s National Program, with a degree in Civil Law (LL.L) and Common Law (J.D). She also has a bachelor’s degree in International Development and Globalization from the University of Ottawa. She was called to the Ontario Bar in 2018. She is currently taking a Master’s in Public Administration from the Royal Military College, with a keen focus on expanding her knowledge on the strategy surrounding Canada’s defence procurement system. Her main areas of interest are constitutional law, commercial law, and military justice. Afton joined the reserves in her second year of law school in 2016, and she joined the infantry because her love of physicality, as reflected in her athletic endeavors. She has been deployed domestically three times; OP LENTUS (2017 & 2019), and OP LASER (2020). Afton spent three months in 2018 with 3RCR, doing work-up training with their field Company in preparation for being part of the Company in the Infantry Dismounted Company Commander Course (IDCCC). For the duration of IDCCC, Afton, as a newly promoted Corporal, was appointed 2IC of a Section where she had the opportunity to learn from and be mentored by some very experienced Junior & Senior NCOs from 3RCR. Afton had the honour to travel to Vis-en-Artois, France, in 2018, to represent the CHofO for their 100 Years’ Commemoration. Afton was promoted to the rank of Master Corporal in 2022, and she has taught on a number of courses, ranging from BMQ-L to RSCC. She recently took Sentinel training and hopes to become part of her unit’s Sentinel team. During her maternity leave in 2022 & 2023, she volunteered her time to train and participate in an amateur boxing event called Clash of Cartier, which is a charity boxing event showcasing entertaining boxing matches between CHofO and Governor General’s Foot Guards (GGFG) soldiers, in support of the CHofO and GGFG Foundations. She currently lives in Pembroke, Ontario, and she continues to parade regularly. Afton currently splits her time parading with 42Fd Artillery in Pembroke during the week and with CHofO on weekend exercises in Petawawa. Afton is the winner of the 2017 Canadian Bar Association’s Sword & Scale essay contest with her paper titled Neither Charity nor Special Treatment: Amendments to Sustainably Modernize the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act, which she wrote during her articles. She is also published in the area of medical assistance in dying and is mentioned in the Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution for her work on Amending the Constitution of Canada. In 2021, Afton co-authored a book chapter entitled “The Fork in the Road and the Path Not Taken”, in March to Justice: Global Military Law Landmarks, about the legal repercussions of R v. Généreux over the past three decades. Afton continues to look for opportunities to contribute to military justice improvement, and in 2023 she was invited to participate in the Commonwealth’s development of military justice principles in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Afton is also an amateur boxer, having participated in Ottawa’s Fight for the Cure in 2019 (benefitting the Ottawa Regional Cancer Foundation), and Clash of Cartier in 2023. She continues to box in her free time. Afton spends her free time playing sports, cooking, reading, spending time with her family & friends, and volunteering. Afton recognizes her incredible support system; her husband, family, mentors and champions, and she maintains that she would not have been able to achieve any of the above had it not been for those people. Afton and her husband have a son, who is by far their greatest achievement.