2023 Board of Directors


Kelsey Howlett

Kelsey graduated Memorial University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, majoring in political science. She first became involved with WISE NL in the Fall of 2017, when she was hired as the Program Administrator. Though her career aspirations have taken her elsewhere, she is committed to the goals and mission of WISE NL and has thoroughly enjoyed serving as Director of the Student Summer Employment Program on the WISE NL Board; and will continue to do so. Professionally, she is the administrative assistant/transaction coordinator for the Sold by Stokes Real Estate team with Keller Williams Platinum Realty. She is also an active volunteer with the Goulds Lions Club since 2013. On her personal time, she enjoys reading, cooking, and travelling (whenever that can happen again!).

Jenny Jefferies

Jenny Jefferies
Vice President

Jenny grew up on the South Coast of Labrador and moved to St John’s upon finishing high school. Graduating in 2009 with a Diploma in Marine Engineering Technology and a Bachelor of Maritime Studies, Jenny started her career with a large corporation as a field engineer. Within a couple of years, she found herself in a management operations role and relocated to Texas, Houston.

Ready to begin a family, Jenny returned to Newfoundland and continued to work in the marine industry locally. She has worked in the marine industry for 14 years with service companies in various roles, and recently served as a legal Marine expert representing a litigation case for a large corporation. Her passion really is the marine industry, as she is fascinated with ship repair and design. Jenny lives in Holyrood, NL. She has two small girls who keep her busy, and the family likes to spend all of their spare time outdoors, enjoying the Newfoundland scenery.

Kerri Smith


Dr. Kerri Smith received her BSc (Honours) in Biology from Memorial University, with a specialization in Cell and Molecular Biology and a minor in Biochemistry. She then completed MSc and PhD degrees in Medicine in Memorial’s Cancer & Development group, with a focus on the genetic and endocrine factors that contribute to pediatric-onset ovarian cancer. Kerri has worked as a Research Assistant in Memorial’s Discipline of Genetics and Discipline of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and as a Research and Development Scientist with Eastern Health’s Public Health and Microbiology Laboratory. Kerri currently works as a Clinical Genomic Scientist at the Centre for Translational Genomics, Eastern Health, where she is involved with the development of clinical genetic tests and the interpretation of genetic variants. Kerri volunteers as a Public Interest Member on the Council of the College of Physiotherapists of Newfoundland and Labrador, and in her personal time enjoys reading, playing volleyball, and hiking with her dog Gin.

Gloria Montano

Gloria Montano
Past President

After completing a BSEE in 1978, Gloria began her career in the Silicon Valley where she advanced through high tech positions in design, customer support, technical sales and marketing support, project and program management. She left private industry to join the Institute for Women and Technology (now AnitB.org) as the director of an innovative, design-based experiential learning program. She came to NL in 2006 to earn a Master of Education degree then worked in various roles in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science at Memorial University.

Now post-salary, Gloria continues to seek to broaden discussion on the role women play in the identification, development and distribution of technology-based solutions and she uses her experience and skills for the benefit of non-profit and volunteer organizations. Gloria is a Past President of WISE NL, a national Past President of the Society of Women Engineers in the US, and has served on several boards including the Canadian Centre for Women in Science, Engineering, Trades and Technology (WinSETT).

Directors – Core Support

Alison Cox
Director, Communications

Alison is a Professional Geologist registered under the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Newfoundland and Labrador. She graduated from Memorial University in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Earth Sciences focusing on economic geology and biogeochemistry. In 2018 she completed a Masters by Research in Mining and Mineral Engineering from the University of Exeter (Camborne School of Mines) in the UK. Since graduating, Alison has worked in greenfields and brownfields mineral exploration in Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, and Greenland focusing on precious and base metal projects.

Alison is passionate about women having equal representation in technical roles, especially within the junior exploration and mining sectors. She hopes to introduce young students to geology and other STEM related fields and to build a network that can support graduates and young professionals throughout their career progression.

Sarah McGuire
Director, Membership

Sarah McGuire first became involved with WISE NL while completing her undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering where she held multiple positions within WISE US. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Engineering within the ONAE department while working at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro as a Mechanical Project Engineer. Sarah has previously worked at Ontario Power Generation and Aker Solutions where she met the experience requirements to attain Professional Engineer status.

Directors – Programs

Valerie Darmonkow
Director, Leadership

Valerie and her husband immigrated to Canada from Eastern Europe three decades ago. Since then, they have been living, working, and parenting their two children (born shortly after arrival) in St. John’s, and have successfully integrated into the local community. Valerie has expertise in the area of health sciences and related research, and is also experienced in the fields of public policy, law and ethics. While adjusting to a new country and a new culture, and advancing her academic credentials, Valerie has stayed committed to volunteer work. She has served on the Health Research Ethics Board and on several advisory and steering committees, representing the Faculty of Medicine (MUN), in addition to her past roles as an Executive on the Board of the NL Multicultural Council Inc., and a Board Director at the Multicultural Women’s Organization of NL.

Valerie is passionate about continuous professional development and is looking forward to the opportunity to contribute to the improved competencies of leadership that women with careers in the SE- and technology-based sectors can benefit from.

Kourtney Edwards
Director, Mentorship

Kourtney completed a Diploma in Remotely Operated Vehicles at the Marine Institute in 2013, and received a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University in 2018. After graduation, Kourtney moved to Nova Scotia where she worked in the utility industry, supporting the day-to-day operations of Regional Engineering. During her time in Maritimes, Kourtney volunteered as a unit leader with Girl Guides of Canada.

Kourtney is a Professional Engineer with Professional Engineers and Geoscientists Newfoundland and Labrador (PEGNL) and is currently employed as an Electrical Engineer with Newfoundland Power. She has volunteered with organizations such as Skills Canada, FIRST Lego League, and Women in Resource Development Corporation.

Svetlana Barkanova
Director, Outreach

Dr. Svetlana Barkanova obtained her BSc in physics from the University of Latvia in 1994 and earned her PhD in theoretical subatomic physics from the University of Manitoba in 2004. An internationally-acclaimed researcher and an award-winning teacher, Svetlana is currently a Full Professor of Physics at Memorial University of Newfoundland, Grenfell Campus, there she leads the provincial science outreach program designed to engage rural youth, girls and Indigenous students. Svetlana is the Chair of the Division for Gender Equity in Physics of the Canadian Association of Physicists, the Chair of Hadronic Physics/QCD Scientific Working Group of the Canadian Institute of Nuclear Physics, a member of WISE NL working on initiatives such as Indigenous Youth Gatherings, and a popular presenter with lectures ranging from astrophysics to clean energy.

Esraa AbouAmin
Director, Speaker Series

Esraa AbouAmin is an entrepreneur, the principal owner of NISOM NL ISO & Management Mentor Ltd. Canadian management firm located in St John’s, NL. She is a senior consultant and project manager providing management, engineering and business services to companies looking for international recognition. As well as providing ISO certified auditing as registered ISO lead auditor since 2010.

Graduated in 2002 with BSc in Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture. She believes in continuous learning. Acquiring two Masters Degrees (MEM Engineering Management, MSc Marine and Naval Engineering) and maintaining Lead Auditor status for the integrated system ISO9001, ISO14001 and ISO18001.

With a diverse background of managerial and business development experience in shipyards, industrial organizations, mental health and wellbeing education, non-profit organizations and small/medium industries, plus numerous Awards of Excellence to her credit, Esraa’s infectious enthusiasm for personal and professional excellence has been inspiring individuals and teams for years. She is a Rotary member, an active volunteer with SPCA, Big brother and big sister, SJIWFF and WISE NL board member for 3 years.

Most recently she has started a Nautical Science diploma with MI (MUN). In addition to Working on her ID PhD research on ” Designing a Newfoundland Prototype Social Enterprise Business Model for the Development and Evaluation of a Complex Intervention that Integrates Care for People with Mental Illness who are working in heavy-industry Workplaces.”

She believes in spirituality, loves animals and lives in St John’s with her family of handsome sons “Shahin and Yassin”, and inspired beautiful white husky “Junior”.

Morgan Chafe
Director, Student Summer Employment Program

Morgan Chafe is a practicing lawyer with McInnes Cooper. Her practice is primarily focused on administrative litigation, regulation of professions, and insurance defence. Morgan became a member of the Law Society of Newfoundland and Labrador in 2020. She received a Bachelor of Commerce (Co-op) from Memorial University in 2016, and her Juris Doctor from the University of New Brunswick in 2019. Morgan is a vocal activist for BIPOC, LGBTQIA2S+, and women’s’ rights.

Off the clock, Morgan can often be spending time with her golden-doodle, Cooper, exploring the beautiful sits of Newfoundland and Labrador, or practicing her culinary skills through local cooking classes.

Directors Emeritae

Mona El-Tahan
Director Emerita

Mona El-Tahan is the founding president of WISE NL, leading the development of a provincial chapter of WISE National in 1988. Mona is a professional engineer, businessperson, and successful entrepreneur experienced in leading diverse and highly talented teams of professionals in the offshore and high technology industries. She is recognized nationally and internationally through awards for success in engineering, business and entrepreneurship, and has an extensive network of professional industry and academic contacts throughout the Middle East, North America, Europe and Southeast Asia.

After obtaining a B.Sc. in Civil Engineering from Cairo University in Egypt and a Masters in Ocean Engineering from Memorial University. After graduation she worked with Lavalin-Fenco Newfoundland Ltd. as a Project Engineer and Senior Research Engineer/Manager then moved to C-CORE as a Senior Research Engineer/Manager. Mona founded InCoreTec Incorporated, an applied research and development company specializing in offshore and environmental engineering, marine navigational aids, sea ice management, project management and consulting. She stepped away from the company and is now in a consulting role.

Mona’s numerous awards include Canadian Female Entrepreneur of the Year Award (1999), NLOWE Entrepreneur of the Year NL 2000), Sara Kirke Award – Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATA) (2002), and the Canadian Muslim Contributors to the Business Sector – Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) (2005).

Mona’s own favourite quality is her love of helping others. In 2019, this very quality won her a community service award offered by the Professional Engineers and Geoscientists Newfoundland & Labrador (PEGNL).

Directors at-Large

Stephanie Adey
Director at-large

Stephanie is from Mount Pearl, NL, graduated from the Mechanical Engineering program at Memorial University in April of 2021 and has been with Growler Energy ever since as a Renewable Energy Engineer-In-Training. Stephanie’s work at Growler has focused on renewable energy development projects in Nunavut in partnership with Indigenous communities, as well as electrification and blue hydrogen research initiatives. Stephanie’s work term experience from her undergraduate degree was quite broad; starting in Oil and Gas she moved on to tech and spent her fifth work term with Tesla at their Gigafactory in Nevada, exposing her to a variety of industries and workplaces.

In 2018, Stephanie was named a Canadian Engineering Memorial Foundation Ambassador, one of five national ambassador awards presented to the most promising female engineering students in Canada. Upon graduation, she was also awarded the Dean’s Award in Engineering in recognition of outstanding contributions made to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science through leadership in student affairs and service to the community while maintaining high academic standing.

Stephanie has always loved being involved, she was President of the MUN Engineering Society throughout her undergrad and was engaged in a variety of panels and speaking opportunities throughout her studies and into her career. Currently, Stephanie is a Big Sister through the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Newfoundland program, and she is excited to be continuing her involvement with WISE NL.

In her free time, when not spending time with family or friends, Stephanie enjoys being with her two dogs, reading, baking, and in the winter, she loves to get out skiing.

Basma Alfaoury
Director at-Large

Basma Alfaoury is a third-year Bachelor of science student at MUN. She was born in Syria and immigrated to Newfoundland with my family in 2016. Since coming to Canada, Basma had done lots of volunteering in hospitals, community centers and Go Getters. Read more about Basma…

Jennifer Bessell
Director at-Large

Jennifer Bessell is currently the chief executive officer with the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs. Jennifer is an accomplished senior leader in the non-profit sector with extensive experience in both professional associations and charitable organizations. She has held executive director roles in both professional legal education and with the Canadian Bar Association as well as executive positions with the Association for New Canadians locally and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada nationally. Jennifer has a demonstrated ability to lead and motivate teams with a people first approach to leadership. She is an experienced executive leader who enjoys both program and finance management. Jennifer is currently the Vice-Chair of the Women’s Enterprise Organizations of Canada and volunteers with Junior Achievement of NL.

Jennifer is passionate about lifelong learning and helping others achieve success in their professional endeavours. She considers coaching and mentoring a responsibility of leadership. As such, Jennifer is driven to help women and youth realize their potential and be successful in their journey as entrepreneurs.

Kimberly Byrne
Director at-Large

Kim Byrne is a Development Officer for Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, with prior experience as the Executive Director at a sports non-profit and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.

She uses diverse experience to leverage community strengths from a background in volunteering with organizations such as TEDX, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Gathering Place, and by virtue of experience on multiple sub-committees for organizations. Kim also brings lived experience from her student politics days, working abroad, teaching, and having a background in Occupational Health & Safety.

Kim has a passion for integrative thinking, inclusion, collaboration, policy, and formalizing strategic planning goals into operations. Kim is invested in youth outcomes, equitable work environments, and mentorship.

Rachel Coombs

Rachel Coombs is from Portugal Cove South, a small community on the southern Avalon, and has always been passionate about helping her community through volunteering. She graduated from MUN Civil Engineering in 2022 and has since been employed with CIMA + as an Engineer in Training with their energy and resources team. CIMA + is a multidisciplinary company specialized in engineering, project management, urban planning, new technologies and environment. Rachel primarily works with transmission lines to complete structural analysis and design with the aid of modelling programs such as PLS-CADD.

Rachel first became involved with WISE when she was a SSEP participant in 2015. Participating in SSEP helped her discover her interest in Civil Engineering, and inspired her to pursue a degree. In 2018, she returned to the SSEP program to work as a Program Coordinator. Rachel started volunteering with WISE to help women pursue their goals in their chosen STEM field. She volunteered with WISE-US from 2017-2022 taking on roles such as President, Past-President, VP Engineering, and Treasurer. Rachel also volunteers as Youth Representative for the Mistaken Point World Heritage Advisory Council.

Monawar Shahwan

Monawar Shahwan
Director at-Large

Monawar Shahwan is a Third year Biochemistry (honors) student at MUN and the VP science of WISEUS. She was bornin Gaza, Palestine and her family immigrated to Newfoundland in 2009. This is her first year on the WISE NL board and she is looking forward to encouraging women and minorities to follow their ambitions in pursuing a career in STEM.

Monawar volunteers with the Canadian blood services, is the community engagement officer of MUN NextGen, and is the treasurer of Jack.org society.

Abygail Pike
Director at-Large

Sarah Tuff
Director at-Large

Sarah has worked in Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore oil and gas industry since she finished university and has been part of the Cenovus (formerly Husky) team for 15 years. Her roles at Cenovus have included subsea and project engineering, concept development engineering and most recently, commercial and business development. While at Cenovus, Sarah participated in WRDC’s Techsploration program, facilitated Husky day for the WISE Summer Student Employment Program and held a leadership position in the Atlantic Region Women’s Leadership Network.

She grew up in Witless Bay and still lives there today with her husband and three children. She enjoys living close to her family, gardening and morning runs around the beautiful community with a great group of friends.

She graduated from Memorial University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical) degree. In 2021, she returned to MUN to start a Graduate Diploma in Business Administration (GDBA) with completion planned for end of 2022. With her children getting older and GDBA completed, Sarah is excited to dedicate more time to volunteering with organizations like WISE!

Staff & Contractors

Clare Graves
Program Administrator

My name is Clare Graves and I am the Program Administrator with WISE NL. I am a native Newfoundlander with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Science in Medicine from MUN. I have had a passion for science and learning since my experience with WISE SSEP back in 2007! I am an avid sports fan, music lover, runner and reader! In my spare time I like to spend time with my husband, Wayne, stepdaughter, Addyson and our dog, Mika!