Why She’s Top 40: She’s part of the rising tide lifting women into leadership roles in both politics and the corporate world.
As soon as she was old enough to call people to remind them to vote, Lana Cuthbertson has been helping with political campaigns. She was initially inspired (and volun-told) by her mother’s friend, who’s remained a constant supporter and mentor. While in her teens at a job for Volunteer Alberta, her mentor handed her a business card. “It was for Equal Voice,” she explains, “and it kind of gave me pause and I thought, ‘Huh, women in politics.’ I was about 19 at the time and I thought, I care about this.”
She started a chapter for the organization at the University of Alberta and, after completing her degree and later a Masters in Journalism at Carleton University, she went on to chair the Alberta North chapter of Equal Voice. Their efforts helped to nearly double the number of female candidates running in the municipal election to 37 per cent in 2017, compared to the 2013 election.
Following that election, she and her team realized they needed to focus more locally to influence more women. “If you’re going to ask women to run, you have to sit down with them face-to-face and have coffee,” she explains. And so they founded ParityYEG, which is currently aiming to have half of the candidates be women in the upcoming provincial, federal and municipal elections.
Her goal of gender parity also influences her work at ATB. On top of her job of helping team members adopt digital technologies, she assists with the Ellevate mentorship program, which works to give women in the company leadership opportunities. In politics and work, she believes projects succeed when you give the right people an opportunity to shine. Cuthbertson’s working toward a future where gender parity is “normal and not a question or a weird thing in people’s minds,” she says. “To me, it’s such an important linchpin in our values of democracy and freedom.”