Build a Dream expo advocates for women in industry

Founded by Nour Hachem-Fawaz, Build a Dream expo has helped thousands of students (and their parents) expand their career choices by exploring pathways that are under-represented by women.


The expo held at the Unifor Family Education Centre in Port Elgin on November 19th saw some six hundred students and parents come out to hear a panel of successful women in industries where women have traditionally been in the minority and to network speaking directly with employers and female employees.


       (L) Lisa Petronski, Mary Jane Bushell, Terri Allen, Hillary Newkirk and                                                         Alison Fernandes

The event spotlighted careers in areas related to STEM and  provided information, resources, networks, and role models.

Cheryl Cotrill, who was Executive Director of Women in Nuclear (WIN), acted as moderator for the panel event.  Cotrill was responsible for promoting women in the nuclear industry and advocating for their advancement, while promoting science and skills trades careers to young women.  Today, she is co-Chair of the recently established Huron Shores Hospice located in Tiverton.

Each member of the panel gave a brief description of her career to the audience before answering questions posed by the moderator.

Lisa Petronski works at Bruce Power where she is a ‘First Line Manager, Construction.  As a construction boilermaker with Red Seal certification, she went on to study Construction Management.

Mary Jane Bushell is President & CEO of Larsen & Shaw Ltd. a  100 year-old manufacturing company in Walkerton.  With 30 years’ experience, Bushell has implemented new automation technology and in-house training programs.  She advocated for enhanced skills training within the education system and has a personal passion to attract qualified, local talent to her industry

Hillary Newkirk is a Rope Access Technician Director and has the unusual skill of using harnesses and ropes to climb and rappel buildings, towers, bridges and dams and also worked on the CN Tower in Toronto.  In 2018, she changed direction and formed her own company to sell the equipment that she used to fire departments, police, military and the construction industry.

Alison Fernandes is Manager of the Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries (OCNI) based in Port Elgin (Saugeen Shores). A graduate of Ryerson university, Fernandes worked in the field as a Social Worker until she decided to change careers and joined her family’s business in the Nuclear, Defence and Aerospace Industries. Following another brief career change, she began working for OCNI and with Bruce Power and Bruce County as the Manager, Nuclear Economic Development & Innovation.

Terri Allen is in Emergency Protective Services (EPS) – Fire at Bruce Power. From on-duty shift work to Fire and First-Aid Trainer, Terri has worked in the EPS industry for over 11 years. Today, she is responsible for preparing and executing the scenario of all fire drills, occupant evacuation of on-site buildings and also prepares radiologically contaminated casualty drills in the emergency rooms at local area hospitals.