About Us

Axis Connects is led by a group of women and men who understand the value diverse leadership brings to businesses and our community.

Board of Directors

Heather Culbert

Vice Chair, EDC

Heather is the founder of Women on Boards, a non-profit focused on raising awareness of Board ready women in Alberta and assisting with opportunities for women to serve on Boards.

Heather is a director on multiple Boards and is currently Vice-Chair of Export Development Canada (EDC), Chair of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Council (ARIAC), on the Board of Whitecap Resources, and The Fraser Institute and Chair of United Way World Leadership Council.

From 1996 to 2006 Ms. Culbert was the Senior Vice President of Corporate Services with Enerplus Resources Corporation.

Heather Culbert

Vice Chair, EDC

Jenna Kaye

CEO, Odyssey Trust Company

Jenna is the Founder and CEO of Odyssey Trust Company, a North American transfer agent and trust company based in Calgary, Vancouver, Toronto and Denver, CO.

She is also the CEO and Founder of Corporate Diversity Consultants Ltd., a consulting firm that provides corporate governance and compliance services to publicly-listed companies and a Principal of Icebook Investments, a family run office that’s focused on early-stage businesses across a wide range of industries including renewable energy, real estate and fertility.

Jenna has an MBA/LLB from Dalhousie University and practiced law at a national law firm.

Jenna Kaye

CEO, Odyssey Trust Company

Marnie Smith

Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates

Marnie is a Managing Director at Russell Reynolds Associates, a top global executive search firm based in New York, NY, leading its Western Canadian team, Canadian Energy Practice and as a member of its Board & CEO Advisory Partners and Global Industrial and Natural Resources Practice. Marnie partners with clients across industries on their strategic leadership initiatives and decisions, including CEO, Board and leadership succession, leadership assessment and development and board effectiveness. Prior to her executive search career, she was Managing Director and Head of Canadian Energy at a global bank where she provided dynamic corporate finance solutions, advice in relation to valuation, strategy and mergers and acquisitions, and the execution of principal investments.

Marnie is a member of the Boards of Directors of Tamarack Valley Energy Ltd. and Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service (“STARS”). She is also on the Advisory Board of BluMaple Capital Partners.

With a passion for human equity and advancing woman and diverse professionals, Marnie dedicates her time to GROW, where she is a founding member of this grass-roots, pan-Canadian charity focused on the advancement of Canadian women and children, and to Axis Connects where she is a co-founder. She has previously been very active with Women in Capital Markets, UNICEF Canada, and the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame in Southern Alberta.

Marnie received a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction and a Bachelor of Arts, International Relations, with Distinction from the University of Calgary. She also holds a Master of Finance from INSEAD.

Marnie Smith

Managing Director, Russell Reynolds Associates

Katie Smith

BD, Industry Diversification, Spartan Controls

Katie leads Business Development for Industry Diversification for Spartan Controls, an industrial technology company with process automation, valve, measurement and control solutions in Western Canada.  

In addition to being a Co-Founder and Board Member at Axis Connects; Katie is the Executive Director of Young Women in Energy (YWE), a non-profit organization of more than 4,500 members working to increase the presence and voice of women in Alberta’s energy industry.  

In 2019, she was recognized by SHE Innovates Alberta, UN Women’s first pilot chapter of its Global Innovation Coalition for Change (GICC).  Katie is currently pursuing her MBA in Executive Management at Royal Roads University.

Katie Smith

BD, Industry Diversification, Spartan Controls

Geeta Sankappanavar

CEO, Akira Impact

Geeta Sankappanavar is the Co-founder and President of Grafton Asset Management. Her previous positions include VP, Head of Strategic Global Outsourcing for Cambridge Solutions and founding partner at Marincorp Solutions and IRI. Ms. Sankappanavar is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Ms. Sankappanavar has been recognized as one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People, Calgary’s Top 40 Under 40 and has been profiled as one of the top Women in IT. In addition to her for-profit boards, Geeta serves as a member of the Calgary Foundation Investment Committee, as a board member of UNICEF Canada,OCIF – the city of Calgary’s $100 million investment fund, attracting and supporting transformative investments in our city as catalysts for economic growth and diversification.

Geeta Sankappanavar

CEO, Akira Impact

Dawn de Lima

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, TC Energy


As Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, Mrs. de Lima provides strategic and functional leadership for human resources, information systems, aviation and facilities services. She also serves as the Chief Inclusion and Diversity Officer for the Company. 

Prior to joining TC Energy, Mrs. de Lima served as Chief Shared Services Officer on the executive leadership team with TransAlta Corporation, responsible for leading Business and Operational Services, Information Technology, Data & Innovation, Supply Chain Management, Corporate Security and Facilities. Mrs. de Lima has also held progressively senior positions in Human Resources, overseeing Executive Compensation, Talent and Culture, Leadership Development, Corporate Communications and Stakeholder Relations. 

Mrs. de Lima currently sits as the Chair of the Board for Junior Achievement Canada and the Co-Chair for SHEInnovates Alberta, a United Nations project to advance the progress of women in innovation. 

She holds a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Calgary.

Dawn de Lima

Executive Vice-President, Corporate Services, TC Energy

Arun Chandrasekaran

Head of Energy Investment Banking at National Bank Financial

Arun Chandrasekaran has 17+ years of experience in industry. Mr. Chandrasekaran re-joined National Bank as Head of Energy, Investment Banking in August 2016. Prior to re-joining National Bank, Mr. Chandrasekaran worked as a Principal with Stream Asset Financial Management. Mr. Chandrasekaran graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Commerce Co-operative Education degree where he graduated with Distinction.

Arun Chandrasekaran

Head of Energy Investment Banking at National Bank Financial

Judy Fairburn

Co-Founder & Co-CEO, The51

Judy is a corporate board director and Creative Destruction Lab Fellow who successfully bridges the worlds of tech venture finance, industry, ESG, and public policy. She has C-suite business experience, recently as Chief Digital Officer and EVP Business Innovation. A pioneer in corporate/ entrepreneurial open innovation, she co-founded a $100 million digital/cleantech venture fund. Judy also led substantial change as the first Chair of the consolidated Alberta Innovates, enabling innovation across the health, energy, agriculture and digital sectors.

Recently named as the Lifetime Achievement Award winner at our inaugural Calgary Influential Women in Business Awards, she is also a previous Canadian Clean16 award winner. Judy has a proven track record in building "ahead of the curve", low carbon economy business ventures and providing sage advice to CEOs as a board director (energy, tech, public policy). As a director / investor and avid CEO mentor/angel (The51, Creative Destruction Lab Fellow), she enables businesses to maximize value and be "future-relevant". Judy is also a Board Director for MEG Energy Corp., VEERUM, and Tundra Oil & Gas.

Judy Fairburn

Co-Founder & Co-CEO, The51

John Osler

Partner, McCarthy Tetrault

John Osler, QC is a partner at McCarthy Tétrault’s Business Law Group in Calgary, a member of their board of directors and the chair of the McCarthy Tétrault Foundation. John's practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, securities and corporate law matters for senior issuers. He has represented many of Canada’s largest corporations in a variety of public and private transactions.

John also received the Male Champion award at the Calgary Influential Women in Business Awards where he was honoured for being an ally and supporter of corporate female executives advocating for men and women to work together towards gender parity and demonstrates a commitment to champion diversity in the workplace and community.

John Osler

Partner, McCarthy Tetrault

Management Team

Amber Griffith

Executive Director

Amber has joined the Axis Connects team as the new Executive Director.

Her professional background is a combination of both public policy and human resources, with previous roles including Director of HR for the Premier’s Office in Alberta, Government Relations Consultant for a national consulting firm, Research Assistant for the University of Calgary’s School ofPublic Policy, and Recruitment Team Lead for Imperial Oil’s Kearl Oil Sands Project.

Amber’s passion lies in advancing gender equality and diversity in both the public and private sectors. She graduated top of her class from the University of Calgary’s School of Public Policy Master’s program in 2017 after completing her thesis research on the topic of legislating gender parity on corporate board of directors. Her research involved stakeholder interviews with top-level professionals across Canada to determine the underlying issues that have led to the low female representation on corporate boards. Recommendations based on her research included the need for a public-private sector partnership in order to achieve a sustained increase in the number of women in leadership roles.

Amber Griffith

Executive Director

Brenna Hardy

Director of Operations

Brenna is an entrepreneur with a history 20+ years experience in small business + event management. She brings a broad skill set to her leadership at the helm of Axis Connects. She runs her own local side business Styleista as well. Brenna has been passionate about giving back to the community and elevating women in business through various volunteer, charity and NFP work in Calgary.

Brenna joined our team as the Communications and Operations Associate for Axis Connects just over a year ago and is now leading the organization as the Director of Operations. She is very passionate about her role and Axis Connects mission to elevate women and diverse professionals in Calgary.

Brenna Hardy

Director of Operations

Jennifer Isotti

Advisor

Jennifer provides pragmatic solutions to client's talent development initiatives including leadership program design, program management and facilitation.Jennifer has been part of design and delivery teams putting together immersive, transformative and sustainable development journeys to prepare the next generation of high potential leaders in roles ranging from early to career to enterprise leaders. These programs have been delivered to a global audience. 

Jennifer is well versed in the virtual design of leadership development programs and brings ideas that provide virtual exclusivity and ensure a rich learning experience.

Ms.Isotti holds a Marketing Management Diploma from Mount Royal University, aBachelor of Management majoring in Human Resources from the University ofLethbridge and her Masters of Adult Education from Yorkville University.Jennifer is a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) in good standing at CPHR, Alberta.

Jennifer Isotti

Advisor