Posts Tagged ‘Fiona Webster Mourant’

The Whirlwind of Washington

Posted by Debbie

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013
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This week has been a whirlwind…and it began with the start of a 3 week tour across the United States.  First stop: Washington DC where I was immersed in all aspects – political, culture, site seeing, music…and wine & food too!  The last time I visited this city, was in grade 8 – a while ago!  Memories of that school trip were few but impressionable including the inclusion of sign language in Lincoln’s hands at the infamous memorial & somberness of the hourly changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Solider at Arlington Cemetery.

This time, my trip to Washington DC is far different.  I was nominated and selected by the U.S. Embassy in Canada to be one of six Canadian women to participate in the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship.  This is a huge honour as over 30 Canadian women were nominated and I was one of six who were hand selected to be part of IVLP tour & to be involved in the post-tour benefits of being part of the worldwide alumni.

During our 3 week tour, we are stopping in at Washington DC, Kansas City MO, Austin TX, Denver CO and San Francisco CA. Our days are fully packed of meetings with American women business owners who are recognized as innovative and outstanding in their fields.  In addition, we are learning from the feds about the resources & programs initiated by the US that are available to women entrepreneurs. This as a phenomenal opportunity to soak it all up, have my mind open to all kinds of ideas & have great discussions with the other 5 women in the group along with those who we meet along the way. Already on Day 3, my mind is buzzing!

3 weeks, 5 cities, 6 women & 8 suitcases….

As if we had known each other for years before, I instantly felt a strong bond within the 6 of us.  Since Saturday when most of us arrived in DC, there have been lots of laughs along with many questions about each other’s business. I know that I am amongst a dynamic group of women who I will call friends for a long time to come.  Joining me are:

Jennifer Brandle-McCall – CEO, Prince George Chamber of Commerce (British Columbia)

Stephanie Jecrois – President, Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce (Montreal, Quebec)

Amina Gerba – President & Founder, Afrique Expansion (Montreal, Quebec)

Nancy Phillips – Director of Investment and Trade, Greater Halifax Partnership (Nova Scotia)

Fiona Webster Mourant – President & Co-owner, Manrex Ltd.

 

What is the trip all about?

Since 1940 when it began, the IVLP has given hundred of thousands of emerging leaders – including thousands of Canadians – the opportunity to experience first-hand American culture and business society on a personal level. As explained by our hosts in the pre-trip briefings and in our first meeting in Washington, the IVLP recognizes Canadians who are emerging leaders and invite them to participate in the delegation to observe U.S. institutions and culture, and meet with professional counterparts to explore issues of common interest.  Some twenty Canadians travel each year under this program on different themed trips.

To get a feel of the lay of the land – of Washington that is – we were invited to come early to Washington for a private tour of the city.  We were definitely in for a treat as our guide – Jeannie Fogle – is a highly recognized historian and has authored many historic guide books of the city.  A woman entrepreneur herself, she started – A Tour de Force – and I would highly recommend for anyone to call on Jeannie when you are next in Washington.  She definitely knows her city!   During the unseasonably warm Sunday, we wound our way through the historical sites by stopping in at the White House (of course!),  Capitol Hill, The Mall, monuments galore – Grant, Lincoln, Jefferson, the new Martin Luther King and the impressive black wall paying tribute to those who fought in the Vietnam War.  Jeannie had fantastic stories to share.  Eager to learn more, I spent the afternoon wandering through Smithsonian museums including the National Portrait Gallery, Space and Aviation Museum, National Art Gallery and finished this whirlwind day enjoying an after hours chamber music once the National Art Gallery had closed.

Let’s get down to work!

Our meeting itinerary for Monday & Tuesday was built to provide us familiarity of the inner workings of the US federal government at all levels, the who’s who to contact for resources to grow our businesses in the US and to leverage resources of existing programs.  We stepped outside of government office buildings to meet with Professor Clyde Wilcox of Georgetown University & learn about federalism and the various levels of government.  Then were whisked off to meet Dr George Solomon from the Centre for Entrepreneurial Excellence at George Washington University.  Every last minute – including a to die for lunch at Vidalia Restaurant was organized by the Institute of International Education and the Department of State.

After the full day and with our heads exploding with information, the 6 of us celebrated ‘day one done’ with a fantastic meal at The Source – Wolfgang Puck.

Tuesday started with high security meetings with a large group of people involved in Canada-US relations and global womens’ programs at the US Department of State followed by a meeting and lunch in the US House of Representatives.  Here, the hallways were chaotic with anyone who came to meet or lobby various government officials. And on the TV screens  in every office were abuzz about the Dow Jones plummeting 200 points and the wild winter storm in the Midwest – especially Kansas City – our next stop!

Before I left Washington, I went to one of the hippest wine bars in town – Proof.  This night was all about sampling great wines with my long time friend Mark Chandler from Lodi.  I thought I would be seeing Mark at the end of the tour when we visit Napa, however as luck had it, he had just started working for Wine America as their new CEO only 2 weeks ago…and was in Washington the same week I was visiting.

Next stop…a 4 day visit to America’s heartland (and Dorothy’s home) – Kansas City.

Follow us on Twitter!

For in the moment tweets about our tour, follow our group on #IVLP and

  • @savvydebbie (Debbie Trenholm)
  • @Halifax_Gateway (Nancy Phillips)
  • @JenniferBrandle (Jennifer Brandle)
  • @PillPak (Fiona Webster Mourant)
  • @amigerba (Amina Gerba)

 

 

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NEWS: Debbie selected to participate in Women in Trade & Entrepreneurship IVLP

Posted by Debbie

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013
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Re-posted from the Embassy of the United States Ottawa 

Six business women from across Canada are visiting Washington, D.C. and several other U.S. cities this week as participants in an International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) focusing on Women in Trade and Entrepreneurship. The visit began on February 24 and concludes on March 15. The program is organized by the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa and sponsored by the U.S. Department of State.

Our guests were personally invited by U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Jacobson, for whom innovation and entrepreneurship are key themes.

“Innovation has been the engine of economic growth for millennia. It is our hope for a better tomorrow. It allows us to learn faster, reach farther, work better, dream bigger, and live longer,” said Ambassador Jacobson. “In order to pass a strong North America into the hands of future generations, we need to seize the opportunity to innovate, create, and discover. Programs like this one provide leaders with the tools to do just that.”

The program participants are CEOs, presidents, and founders of Chambers of Commerce, consulting firms and other companies that facilitate global trade. During the program, they will examine entrepreneurial efforts initiated by women in the U.S. and the factors that influenced their success. Participants in this program are:

  • Ms. Jennifer Dawn Brandle-McCall of Vancouver, CEO of the Prince George Chamber of Commerce
  • Ms. Stephanie Jecrois of Montreal, President of the Young Haitian Chamber of Commerce
  • Ms. Amina Gerba of Montreal, President and Founder of Afrique Expansion
  • Ms. Nancy Phillips of Halifax, Director of Investment and Trade at the Greater Halifax Partnership
  • Ms. Deborah Trenholm of Ottawa, President and Founder of Savvy Company Inc.
  • and Mrs. Fiona Webster Mourant of Winnipeg, President and Co-Owner of Manrex Ltd.

The IVLP enables Canadians who are emerging leaders in their professional field to observe first-hand U.S. institutions and culture, and to meet with professional counterparts to explore issues of common interest. Some forty Canadians travel each year under this program on three-week study tours as guests of the U.S. government. Their visits better inform their views of the United States, link them with American colleagues, and influence public opinion or policy in Canada for mutual benefit. Founded in 1940, the IVLP has given hundreds of thousands of emerging leaders — including hundreds of Canadians — the opportunity to observe and interact with American culture and society on a personal level. For more information, please visit eca.state.gov/ivlp.

More information on the program will be available on the U.S. Embassy website following the participants’ return to Canada.

Media wishing to speak with the participants when they return can contact the Embassy press office at youngjm1@state.gov  One of our participants, Deborah Trenholm, will be blogging occasionally during the trip; anyone interested in hearing about her experience as it happens can follow her on Twitter at @savvydebbie or follow her blog at savvycompany.ca.

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