Global Luminary Award Recipients
WBENC's 2009 Global Luminary Award recipients were Lorely Burt, a member of the British House of Commons, and Canadian Minister of State Helena Guergis.
Lorely Burt's political career began on the Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council, on which she served for five years. In 2005, she was elected as the Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Solihull, a large town in the West Midlands of England, overturning the large majority held by the Conservative incumbent – a striking achievement considering that the Conservatives had lost only two other seats to Liberal Democrats in the previous decade. Burt quickly became a Liberal Democrat spokeswoman on Northern Ireland and soon became an advocate for small businesses, women and equality.
In 2007, Burt was elected the party's first female House of Commons chairman.
Burt, who previously worked in personnel training for several national companies and as an assistant governor in the Prison Service, discovered WEConnect UK, the leading organization in the United Kingdom spearheading certification of WBEs and the connection to multinational corporations, at an event in 2007. A year later, she hosted the launch of WEConnect UK in the House of Commons and spoke at its first conference. As one of the first trained site assessors in the United Kingdom, Burt has been a consistent, enthusiastic supporter of WBEs and a champion for WEConnect UK. Burt attended University College, Swansea, earning a degree in economics, and Open University, from which she earned an MBA.
Helena Guergis was appointed Minister of State by Canada Prime Minister Stephen Harper in October of 2008 and previously served as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Trade, where her priority files included women in trade, consular and diplomatic affairs, Afghanistan, the Global Commerce strategy and the Prime Minister's America's Strategy.
She was elected to the Canadian House of Commons in 2004 and re-elected in 2006 and 2008. Guergis previously served as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade. She also served on the Parliamentary standing committees on Citizenship and Immigration, as well as Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the subcommittees on Human Rights and International Development and on International Trade, Trade Disputes and Investment. In the most recent Parliament, she served on the Standing Committee on the Status of Women.
As Minister of State, Guergis has advocated WEConnect Canada as an avenue for promoting full participation of women in the economic, social and democratic life of Canada. Through her advocacy, WEConnect Canada recently received funding to help increase economic opportunities for WBEs.
Guergis, formerly the owner of a small business, has volunteered with the Barrie Rape Crisis Centre, helped raise funds for a local food bank and been a literacy tutor for senior citizens. She attended Georgian College and is married to Rahim Jaffer.
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