Ascend Canada recognizes diversity champions at 2017 Leadership Awards Gala

Celebrating achievements of five individuals from rising star to the C-Suite

TORONTO, April 4, 2017 /CNW/ - Ascend Canada is proud to congratulate five winners of its 4th Annual Ascend Canada Leadership Awards, which will be handed out tonight at a gala reception. The awards recognize five individuals for their personal dedication, career achievement, and contributions to the community.

"All of this year's Ascend Canada Leadership Awards recipients are leaders in the community. They're not afraid to speak up for inclusion and are strong proponent of diversity. We're proud to recognize five individuals – from rising star to the C-Suite – for their accomplishments," said Kelvin Tran, President, Ascend Canada.

Ascend Canada, a North American organization with a mission to develop and advance Pan-Asian professionals and leaders, is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2017 Ascend Canada Leadership Awards:

Executive of the Year: John Chen

Sponsored by TD, this award recognizes an individual who has made outstanding contributions to their organization; delivering business results, demonstrating leadership and being at the forefront of innovation.  John Chen, a distinguished and proven leader in the technology industry, is the Executive Chairman of BlackBerry's Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer. Since joining BlackBerry in November 2013, John has transformed BlackBerry from a 'smart phone' company to a leading software and services company, delivering the 'smart in everyThing'.  Prior to BlackBerry, John led the turnaround of Sybase Inc. from a mature, slower growth technology company into a high-growth innovator.

At today's Ascend Canada event, John is also the featured guest in a fireside chat with Miyo Yamashita, Chief Transformation Officer and Managing Partner, Talent, Deloitte Canada.  They will be in conversation about John's career journey, his views on diversity, and the importance of innovation.

Ascend Canada Lifetime Achievement Award: Janice Fukakusa

The recipient of this award is carefully chosen by Ascend Canada's Board of Directors and distinguishes an individual who has made an outstanding lifetime achievement and contribution to diversity and leadership in Canada. It is only the second time this award has been handed out. Over Janice's 33-year career with RBC, she has always made time to support the goals and aspirations of diverse professionals through mentorship and advocating for systemic change. Among her many achievements, Janice was one of American Banker magazine's 25 Most Powerful Women in Banking for four consecutive years. She is also an exemplary philanthropist and volunteer. She recently retired as Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Financial Officer of RBC.

Rising Star Award: Kristen Coutts

Sponsored by RBC, this award recognizes an individual under 30 years of age who has demonstrated early leadership qualities through personal performance and commitment to professional, volunteer, and educational opportunities. Kristen is the head of internal communications and global events at G Adventures. Prior to that, she founded a company developing social media content lifestyle brands.  She also teaches social media marketing at George Brown College.  An active community leader, she has been recognized as the Youth International Woman of the Year award, and was nominated twice for the YMCA Peace Medallion.

Mentor of the Year:  Jennifer Lee

Sponsored by Manulife, this award recognizes the dedication, guidance and leadership of a Pan-Asian individual who has made a significant contribution to an employee's or several employees' quality of life and professional development. In her professional life as a Partner with Deloitte Canada, Jennifer has made a tremendous impact on many career paths. Her passion for being an advocate for women extends to volunteer work at community programs in and outside Canada. Her most significant and game-changing contribution has been her volunteer work for over a decade on microfinance for groups of rural women in Asia.

Volunteer of the Year Award: Anthony Vacca

Sponsored by Ascend, this award recognizes an individual for an exceptional contribution as an Ascend Canada volunteer team member. Chosen from among hundreds of Ascend's diverse group of volunteers, Anthony was recognized for his energetic dedication to marketing and communications efforts for Ascend Canada. An entrepreneur at heart, Anthony has been with RBC for 13 years in various capacities.  Prior to joining RBC, he started and successfully divested an app development company. 

About Ascend Canada
Ascend Canada is a non-profit organization with the mission to develop and advance pan-Asian talent through partnership with other Canadian and like-minded organizations. With more than 3,000 members and 18 corporate partners, Ascend Canada's objectives are to develop the full potential of our members by leveraging our networks and providing programs and events that inspire, as well as educate. For more information on Ascend Canada, visit

SOURCE Ascend Canada

For further information: Ka Yan Ng, Director of Communications, Ascend Canada,, 647-625-8726


Custom Packages

Browse our custom packages or build your own to meet your unique communications needs.

Start today.

CNW Membership

Fill out a CNW membership form or contact us at 1 (877) 269-7890

Learn about CNW services

Request more information about CNW products and services or call us at 1 (877) 269-7890