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Join us for the 2021 WAMS Gala Atlantic!

Date: Friday, November 5th, 2021
VIP Reception: 6:15 PM-7:00 PM ADT
Dinner & Formal Program: 7:00 PM-8:00 PM ADT
Venue: Virtual

Join us for an evening to raise funds and awareness for MS research, while enjoying a gourmet food, and impactful speakers. There will be meaningful networking opportunities with local business leaders, a silent auction, and more!

Your attendance at the WAMS Gala Atlantic drives us toward a world free of MS.

To look at and bid on some amazing Silent Auction items, click here.  

To view the digital program for this event, click here.

Keynote: Risha Grant
Diversity Done Differently

Motivated by her passion to correct societal “isms” like racism, sexism, classism and plain old stupidism, it’s Risha Grant’s personal mission to expose the value of diversity and inclusion, while shining a light on the economic impact it creates. From her race, gender, and lifestyle choices, to growing a small business and tackling economic issues, every area of her life intersects diversity. It’s this range of experiences that has earned her an internationally renowned reputation as a diversity, inclusion, and bias expert.

Founder and CEO of Risha Grant LLC, an award-winning diversity consulting and communications firm, she is also an edgy, educational, and motivational speaker and author. She covers the important topics of diversity, inclusion, and bias as NBC KJRH’s community correspondent and host of the Risha Talks series. Through her Tulsa World column, Risha Talks, and as a contributor to Black Enterprise Magazine, she has motivated and educated numerous corporations, associations, and universities. Through her interactive keynotes and deep-dive training sessions, Grant teaches and empowers attendees with diversity and inclusion tools to increase their bottom line and get rid of their BS.

In her book, That's BS! How Bias Synapse Disrupts Inclusive Cultures and the Power to Attract Diverse Markets and her corresponding “BS” video series, Grant has led audiences to new places of respect and understanding. These audiences have included Discover Card Financial Services, Samsung Electronics America, Wells Fargo, Boy Scouts of America, the US Airforce, NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder, and University of Oklahoma.

Grant has been featured in Forbes, The Financial Times, Bloomberg Media, Engage Magazine, among many other print, television, and radio media outlets. She’s also been awarded numerous honors such as being named a 2019 Top 100 HR Influencer by Engagedly, a 2018 Inclusive Leadership Award Winner, and Entrepreneur of the Year in 2017.

Honouree: Fiona Kirkpatrick Parsons

Fiona is Senior National Advisor / kā-nīkānīt* with Deloitte Indigenous, advising on Deloitte’s work with Indigenous businesses and communities, and providing overall guidance to firm leadership around issues that matter to Indigenous peoples. She is also a passionate champion of Deloitte’s Reconciliation Action Plan, the first of its kind in corporate Canada. She is also a sought-after speaker, conference panelist, and moderator.

She is a proud nehithaw-iskwew (Woodland Cree woman) and member of Lac La Ronge First Nation, Treaty 6 Territory, northern Saskatchewan, now living in beautiful Kjipuktuk (Halifax), on the unceded, traditional territory of the Mi’kmaq.

When she first joined Deloitte in 2016, she led the marketing team for Deloitte’s Atlantic practice and spearheaded the firm’s initial steps toward reconciliation, advocating for the establishment of what would later become six Downie Wenjack Legacy Spaces within the firm across Canada, honouring residential school survivors and those who didn’t make it home. Fiona’s career spans four decades and two provinces, with leadership positions in the media, public, and private sectors. She has held roles as facilitator, manager, writer, communications/marketing practitioner, graphic designer, and has volunteered her time to mentor entrepreneurs, new Canadians, as well as Indigenous students.

She is the chair of the 2023 North American Indigenous Games, set to be the largest multi-sport and cultural event in Atlantic Canada’s history. A passionate community-builder and volunteer, she has also chaired the renowned Halifax Comedy Festival; was president, International Association of Business Communicators-Maritime Chapter; has held director positions on several non-profit boards in both Halifax and Calgary and currently volunteers for several non-profits. Atlantic Business Magazine named her as one of Atlantic Canada’s Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Business (March/April 2021 issue). She was recently elected to the board of directors for the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB).

She is married to Dr. Michael Parsons, an environmental geochemist, and is mother to Ella, who is attending Dalhousie University and has recently chosen to major in psychology.

*kā-nīkānīt means ‘the one in front’ or ‘the leader’ in Cree

Impact Speaker: Donalda Martin-Gagnon

Donalda Martin-Gagnon is an MS warrior who hails from Hubley, Nova Scotia. With a long-term career in the healthcare sector, Donalda worked at Dartmouth General Hospital until she retired in 2009.

Donalda started volunteering with the MS Society in 2011 where she put her administrative skills to good use at the Atlantic Division’s office and she soon became a facilitator for the Dartmouth MS Peer Support Group. Donalda has also volunteered at many annual events across the region, such as the Annapolis Valley MS Bike, MS Walk, WAMS, the MS carnation campaign and Burgers to Beat MS.

In 2020, she received the MS Society’s Atlantic Volunteer Impact in Programs and Services Award in recognition of her dedication, leadership skills and outstanding ability to improve the quality of life for people living with MS.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Donalda worked hard to transition the Dartmouth MS Support Group online as part of the MS Society’s National MS Peer Support program and became co-facilitator of the new Atlantic Facebook Peer Support page and many other online forums.

When she’s not volunteering, you can find Donalda knitting, reading and enjoying quality time with her husband, Gino, a military veteran, as well as her daughter and grandson.

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Can’t make the event? Want to help? If you would like to make a donation to the MS Society as part of the WAMS event, click here. Tickets can also be purchased to donate back to the organization to allow for those living with and affected by MS to attend. Contact to connect with a staff member to make arrangements.
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