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Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta

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Women of Inspiration Series

Presented by Syncrude

Since the beginning of time women have been making huge contributions within their families, their workplaces, their communities and the world. Locally, there has been a real need to recognize Wood Buffalo’s hard working, critical thinking, intelligent and inspirational women. Women who challenge gender roles in the workplace and at home, women who break boundaries for the greater good in their communities, and women who do what it takes to help the causes they’re passionate about. These are the type of women that are recognized and celebrated through the Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration Series, presented by Syncrude. The overall goal of Women of Inspiration is to recognize women throughout the Wood Buffalo region who inspire others, break new ground or old barriers, and help create positive change. The series also aims to show local girls positive role models who live right here in our communities.

Neerja Gupta

Neerja Gupta was born in India, and had been teaching for 10 years in India and Kuwait with her Ph.D. in the language of ‘Hindi’ before moving to Canada in 2008. Since then, she has adapted and evolved while maintaining her own identity and character. She had to work on her accent, learn how to speak fluent English, figure out how to drive and go places on her own, and to be independent in her new country, all the while supporting a family adjusting to Canada. After her struggles to find a suitable teaching job, she decided to take another path. From not being able to understand English to making multi-cultural friends of different origins, and from being shy to being a confident woman - she toiled to transform herself. In 2011, she took a big risk. She quit her bank job and started a construction company—in a male-dominated field in Fort McMurray. Today, she has successfully grown it to approximately $4-million revenue, and has become a role model not only for her children and husband, but also for women of South-Asian origin. Neerja’s company, ATG Homes, is a one woman army. She leads the activities from the concept to commissioning; the planning, execution, research, buying supplies, follow-ups with customers. The best part is that she makes it look so easy and is always smiling; she is an effortless leader. Women and girls look up to her as a successful, multi-skilled business woman and she is an inspiration to anyone who gets to know her story.

Barb Henning

Barb Henning’s life has been dedicated to helping people. As a 25 year resident of Fort McMurray, Barb has helped many men, women and children of all ages achieve their goals. Her path has always been on healthy living and it wasn’t until she was 45 that she was able to clearly define where her passion lies. Barb’s road to discovering her goals started with getting her Education Degree from the University of Alberta. Barb taught grade three for seven years and, like many dedicated teachers, she devoted countless hours above and beyond the required classroom hours. She was involved with many extracurricular activities including volleyball, swim club, and Jump Rope for Heart. For her efforts, outside and inside the classroom, Barb was awarded the Teaching in Excellence Award, a recognition given to only 100 of the top teachers in Alberta. Sports have been a major theme in Barb’ s personal and volunteer work. In addition to Kids of Steel she was also involved in the Seniors Games, the Arctic Winter Games, Ptarmigan Ski Club, and Masters Swimming. Fast forward to 2014 and the wellness centre Layers Wellness (previously Back on Track with Barb) is well established. Having mainly a female clientele, she understands that her mission is to provide support. She describes that she’s trying to help women dance, not wrestle, with their healthy living goals.

Cheryl Alexander

Cheryl Alexander is well known for her community, business and leadership contributions in the Wood Buffalo Region, and is a professional advisor on Aboriginal issues and education. She is a Mikisew Cree First Nation in heritage and native Fort McMurrayite at heart. She holds a Master’s Degree in Theocentric Counseling in Cognitive Behavior from Genesis Institute of Theology and Leadership, and a Bachelor Degree in Business Administration. Cheryl, formerly the General Manager for the Northeastern Alberta Aboriginal Business Association (NAABA), is now the President and CEO of her own Aboriginal consulting business: C & O Consulting Ltd. Since its inception in 2006, C&O Consulting has grown from its customized, personal, and professional roots. With a variety of tailor-made courses and workshops in Aboriginal Awareness, Team Building and Leadership training, Cheryl’s consulting business offers local insight, credentialed expertise and strong leadership experience. As a member of the Mikisew Cree First Nation she has combined her business acumen with her professional and personal cultural knowledge thereby becoming a powerhouse in the Aboriginal business community. Cheryl is a well-known figure in the community and is actively involved with volunteering for her local assembly as the Youth Leader for the Tabernacle of Praise Church, and facilitating various training workshops for the leadership team. Cheryl has worked with the Athabasca Tribal Council as an Education Communicator and with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo as the Rural and Aboriginal Community Coordinator. She has designed and delivered Aboriginal Awareness training within the region.

For a complete list of the Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta Women of Inspiration nominees presented by Syncrude, or to nominate a woman who has been an inspiration to you, please visit