OTTAWA -- The Women's Business Network of the National Capital Region has announced the winners of its annual Businesswoman of the Year Awards. 

The awards were divided into four categories with each of this year's recipients learning of their wins with a front porch visit Thursday morning.  

"This is just tremendous and I think a real tribute to the women leaders in Ottawa," said Jennifer Conley from Carleton University. "This is just a total surprise and delight, the women that are in this cohort are extraordinary and inspiring in every way."  

Two-hundred-and-40 women were nominated and there were 12 finalists in four categories: emerging entrepreneur, established entrepreneur, professional services and organization, for their expertise, achievements and community involvement. 

The annual gala celebrating their accomplishments was cancelled due to COVID-19.  

"All of these women have been fostering their careers for decades and we just wanted them to feel special, feel enlightened, we wanted to give a little bit more," said awards gala chair Deborah Bard. 

Anjali Dilawri from Logan Katz Chartered Professional Accountants won for professional services.  

"Women have had to work harder, jump higher, speak louder just  to be taken seriously and so when we shine, when we take the stage, it's so noteworthy, it's so important, it's so deeply meaningful," Dilawri said. 

It's meaningful too for Jennifer Reynolds, the founder of Fresh Legal.  

"To be involved with so many incredible women is just another group of women who have played a part in my story," Reynolds said. 

Heather Desjardins was also recognized as the founder and owner of the Open Door Educational Services, which helps those with learning disabilities.  

"To be part of the entrepreneurial community... just seeing how so many people have switched their entire business model or sometimes their entire business seemingly overnight... it's pretty amazing," she said.  

Among other things, recipients received gift boxes from local company Gift Better Co., which is also giving back through a donation to the Youth Services Bureau. 

"I think these women who are out leading companies and leading businesses and creating innovation, they're spectacular and we really want to feature them and recognize them and congratulate them all," said Nancy Graham of PWL Capital, the presenting sponsor.  

Below is a list of the 12 finalists:  

  • Jennifer Stewart  
  • Jennifer Conley  
  • Vanessa Kanu  
  • Heather Desjardins  
  • Sabrina Fitzgerald  
  • Roxanne Whiting  
  • Anjali Dilawri  
  • Jennifer Reynolds  
  • Tonya Bruin  
  • Jacqueline Belsito  
  • Karen Brownrigg  
  • Meghan Dagenais