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Introducing the 2021 WGC Board of Directors

Women Geoscientists in Canada held their AGM meeting at the end of January 2021 and elected the following directors to continue supporting gender diversity in the geosciences and demanding change to the status quo. Diana's nomination in particular sums up why we are all passionate about this organization and our excitement for a brighter future for all womxn.

Diana Benz, PhD

Women Geoscientists in Canada (WGC) provides the perfect environment for the free exchange of technological ideas and advancements across the many geological sciences related to mineral exploration and mining as well as providing a united voice for interactions with individuals, companies and other groups within our industry. As a member and Director of WGC since 2019, I believe it is our duty to promote the importance of exchanging ideas amongst our peers and our communities in order to keep alive the desire of learning beyond our everyday lives and to ensure the diversity of the visible and not-so-visible stakeholders of our industry is represented. Last year, 2020, the world took a deep look into the inequities inherent in our social and political systems and had time to deeply reflect on the importance of social interactions. In response to petitions to reform geoscience associations, WGC adopted a detailed Mission Statement to tackle racism and other inequities in the geosciences. The Statement lists actions to compile statistics, bring diversity to the main stage, support parents, identify bias and re-write policies, promote marginalized groups, advocate for income parity and recognize the historical and current impacts of mining on local communities and the environment. I hope to further WGC’s mission, in the coming year, with a field-safe program. Continuing as a Director for the WGC, I would work closely with the Board and Members to help develop and implement our current strategies to ensure they nurture and grow with the coming generations. We are in the early stages of a resurgence of equity and diversity issues in the geosciences that calls for an agent, in this case WGC, to help guide all of us in mapping out the way ahead. For the next generation of geoscientists, we need to identify what WGC can provide as a catalyst for everyone’s success. Simply put, I hope to be able to further help implement WGC’s mission to promote diversity, equity and inclusion while aiming to support our current colleagues and communities! About Me: I have worked in the mineral exploration industry, from field to lab to office, for 25 years. BC-born and raised, Prince George-based, my career has taken me from Osoyoos to Atlin and Whitehorse to Dawson City as well as beyond into the Northwest Territories, Ontario and Greenland. I have also worked remotely on projects located in South America, Africa, Eurasia and Australia. I have a B.Sc. in General Biology (UBC), a M.Sc. in Earth Sciences (UofW) and a Ph.D. in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies (UNBC). My graduate work at the University of Northern British Columbia focused on enhancing mineral exploration techniques through the use of publicly available data while at the University of Windsor (ON) I re-analyzed samples with highly-sensitive technology. I am an active prospector in BC and the President of Takom Exploration Ltd., a small geological and environmental consulting firm focused on metal exploration in BC and the Yukon. I became a Director of Women Geoscientists in Canada in 2019 where I contribute to the Leading Lady blog, actively post on Slack and Twitter where I have doubled WGC’s followers in the past year, developed WGC’s Board diversity and anti-harassment policies and drafted a mentoring program.

Suzanne Byron, P.Geo

I am a P.Geo registered in both Alberta and British Columbia, and have worked in the mineral exploration industry for over ten years, for a variety of exploration/mining companies and provincial geoscience surveys. Having had strong female leaders during my career, I want to pay forward this generosity so that other women in the mining industry can also benefit.

Sarah Devriese, PhD, P.Geo.

I've been on the WGC board since its inception and am proud of the network we've built. I'm a early career professional; I got a PhD in geophysics and have been working as a geophysicist for a consulting firm the past few years. I want to make sure I have a path forward in mining and help to pave that path for other young professionals too.

Farzaneh Farahani, P.Geo.

I'm a project Geophysicist at Ronacher McKenzie Geoscience Inc. Since 2016. I started my career as a Geomagnetic observatory and Geomagnetism lab assistant, back in 2004 at the Institute of Geophysics, University of Tehran, Iran. My passion to solve industrial problems, led me to pursue my career in exploration geophysics (Magnetic and Electromagnetic explorations.) I have over 14 years of research and work experience at the academia and Industry, during these years, I've been an active member of Geophysical societies and has helped in organizing and coordinating national Conferences and symposiums. Working in a male dominated industry for years and facing with gender equality challenges motivated me to dedicate my time and energy to advocate for diversity and gender balance in the field Geoscience. I'm honored and would like to use this opportunity to join WGC's executive board members to liaise and work together in this journey.

Jenna McKenzie, P.Geo.

I am co-founder and Principal Geophysicist of Ronacher McKenzie Geoscience. I would like to help advocate for gender parity in the geosciences. I currently serve on the WGC board as Treasurer.

Rebecca Montsion

Long time supporter and looking to get more involved with helping women in geoscience. I have experience in organizing successful conference activities and love to plan events or find ways to bring people together.

Victoria Tschirhart, PhD

I am passionate about advocating for women and underrepresented groups in geoscience and providing new opportunities for students and early career scientists. I am returning to work soon from maternity leave and look forward to learning back into this cause. My experience as a women in science throughout my leave has shown me that there is still much headway to be made.

Ken Witherly

I believe that the WGC is carrying out a critical mission in the natural resources industry to help define issues that women face to first enter and then stay engaged in the industries that employ geoscientists. My value to the WGC and other directors is likely best described as a resource of extensive experience within the industry that the other directors can call upon, combined a strong desire to see change in the number and quality of opportunities available to women in the industry. I have found working with the other directors as one of the most rewarding experiences in my career in minerals exploration.

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