International Women’s Day is upon us, but this year it means something more to me. Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology are here to stay, and they’re disrupting the legacy systems previously designed to keep women out. The late Ruth Bader Ginsburg once said, “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.”
Now, we’re taking our place. According to Coinsquare, there is a higher degree of women represented in cryptocurrency and blockchain than any other sub-industry in tech. If I had to guess why, I’d say it’s our long painful history of financial and economic exclusion; the very problems blockchain was created to solve. It’s the kind of tech we can get behind because it’s personal.
On this International Women’s Day, I am honoured to present 20 Influential Canadian Women in Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Technology who have inspired me to reach higher, and do better. These women are driving change and breaking barriers to give the rest of us a seat at the table. But watch your step, there’s glass everywhere.
1. Alexandra Moxin
Alexandra Moxin is an alumnus from both the University of British Columbia (UBC) and Stanford University. Currently, she is the Vice President of Product for LQwD Fintech Corp; a Vancouver-based company using Bitcoin and the Lightning Network to build a global, decentralized payment system. She is also on the advisory board for the Open Crypto Foundation. However, Alexandra is best known for her wildly popular Advanced Tech Podcast, of which she is both the founder and CEO.
In less than two years she grew the podcast to 1 million downloads. The show features in-depth interviews with tech industry disrupters on how they scaled a simple idea to an industry-leading business. Alexandra has produced and curated such quality content that her podcast is now among the top 10% most popular podcasts in the world.
2. Amber D. Scott
Amber D. Scott is the founder and CEO of the Anti-Money Laundering (AML) consulting firm Outlier Solutions Inc. She calls herself the AML Ninja and has worked as an anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing compliance officer for major financial institutions like Capital One, Fidelity Investments, and MNP, to name a few. So it might come as a shock to find out that Amber is a crypto-convert and blockchain evangelist. Her company, Outlier Solutions Inc., has helped countless Canadian cryptocurrency exchanges develop the necessary protocols to achieve regulatory and legal compliance.
Despite crypto’s reputation as the currency of criminals, Amber believes people need access to cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to achieve true political and financial freedom. Based on her extensive experience in the field, Amber knows regulation and decentralization can co-exist if done properly. Compliance can help cryptocurrency and blockchain technology deliver power to the people without sacrificing safety for individuals or the integrity of the system.
3. Amy ter Haar
Amy ter Haar is a triple-threat lawyer, consultant and entrepreneur working hard to advance blockchain adoption in Canada. Currently, she is a Lawyer of Counsel with Templeman LLP, an Ontario-based law firm. There, she helps businesses integrate technology, like blockchain, into their core business practices. In addition to practicing law, Amy is also the current Program Director for the Osgoode Certificate in Blockchain Law and the Osgoode Certificate in Privacy and Cybersecurity.
In the fight to normalize cryptocurrency and blockchain technology at the institutional level, Amy hits well above her weight class. She is also a board member for Ocean Falls Blockchain Corps, as well as a mentor for tech entrepreneurs at Creative Destruction Lab. Amy is an influential force driving blockchain technology closer to widespread adoption. That’s one of the most important obstacles to overcome before the benefits of blockchain technology can be fully realized.
4. Anastasia Santasheva
What do Facebook, Blackberry, and Coinbase have in common? Anastasia Santasheva. Hailing from the University of Waterloo, this Canadian software engineer has left her mark on some of the biggest names in tech. Currently, she works for Coinbase; the second largest cryptocurrency exchange platform in the world by trade volume.
Anastasia is passionate about blockchain technology and the future of tech. More specifically, she understands how blockchain capabilities can impact the future of democracy. Yes, you read that right. At a TEDTalk-like conference called StarCon, Anastasia explained how projects like Ethereum can protect our democratic institutions from hacks, interference, and government overreach. What some only see as confusing internet money, Anastasia sees as a powerful tool that can help struggling nations achieve political freedom and economic stability.
5. Anne Connelly
CBC once named Anne Connelly one of the 12 Young Leaders Changing Canada. Later, she was named one of Canada’s Most Inspirational Women in Technology, and she shows no signs of slowing down. Anne is a faculty member at Singularity University. There, she teaches global leaders from around the world how to use blockchain technology to affect positive socio-economic change.
She also teaches Blockchain-Based Business Models for Social Impact at Boston University, and has also written a book about Bitcoin, charitable donations, and the future of fundrasing. She spent 10 years working for Doctors Without Borders and has seen the severity of human suffering up close and personal. That’s why she’s so passionate about cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. Anne sees how the underlying fundamentals have the ability to help millions of people around the world achieve social, political, and financial inclusion; which is critical for the development of struggling nations.
6. Brenda L. Krause
At the intersection where two male-dominated industries collide, Brenda L. Krause sits in two executive seats of a cryptocurrency exchange platform in Canada. She is currently both the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Bitvo, a Calgary-based crypto company. Bitvo is helping to make the crypto market safe and accessible for every Canadian. And, quite frankly, Brenda is overqualified for the job. Her long history in the finance sector is helping to demystify and normalize cryptocurrency trading for traditional investors.
Not only is she a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), she also has over 20 years of experience working in legacy finance for institutions like Pateno Payments Inc. and DC Bank. As a high-value member of the C-suite, Brenda is helping to create a cryptocurrency trading experience that investors are used to in the traditional market. That may seem trivial, but it’s a critical roadblock preventing new or wary investors from accessing financial opportunities in the digital asset market.
7. Pamela L. Draper
Joining Brenda in the C-suit, Pamela L. Draper is the Chief Executive Officer of Bitvo; one of the only women-led cryptocurrency exchange platforms in Canada. And she’s the Director of the Canadian Blockchain Association for Women; a networking organization for female blockchain professionals. Pamela has extensive experience in the traditional finance industry. To Bitvo, she brings 14 years of experience working for major Canadian financial institutions like BMO, CIBC, and Pateno Payments Inc. She is well versed in the world of financial analysis, raising capital, and the payment processing industry.
Now she’s using that wealth of knowledge to break down barriers standing between Canadians and the digital asset market. Just two years after Bitvo launched in Canada, they were named one of the top 10 best cryptocurrency trading platforms by HackerNoon, a popular online tech publication. In fact, they were the highest-ranked Canadian exchange at the time.
8. Elena Sinelnikova
Elena Sinelnikova is one of Canada’s leading blockchain authorities. That reputation was solidified when she won Canada’s Top Woman in Blockchain award. She has a Masters of Computer Science from the National University of Electronic Technology in Russia; specializing in full-stack programming, cyber security, and blockchain technology. Elena is best known as the co-founder and CEO of CryptoChicks; a non-profit organization that makes blockchain education accessible for women.
Her company provides training, mentorship, and support for women seeking to launch careers or scale businesses within the cryptocurrency/blockchain space. CryptoChicks has since grown into an international hub of talented female blockchain professionals spanning 56 countries. She is also the co-founder and CEO of Metis.io, a company that provides an open-source network solution for anyone looking to build pretty much anything on the Ethereum blockchain, regardless of their coding or technical experience. In the past, Elena has even developed software solutions for government and law enforcement agencies.
9. Natalia Ameline
Natalia Ameline is the co-founder of the powerhouse organization, CryptoChicks. It’s worth noting she is also the mother of Canada’s own crypto superstar, Vitalik Buterin; the inventor of Ethereum. Natalia is a longtime finance industry insider with extensive experience as a financial analyst for companies like Unilever and Heinz. She has a master’s degree in Computer Science and Business Administration, which has perfectly positioned her to use the power of blockchain technology to empower other women.
CryptoChicks began as a small meet-up among women in downtown Toronto to discuss the implications of blockchain technology and cryptocurrency. Together with co-founder Elena Sinelnikova, CryptoChicks has grown into an international organization with member chapters across 56 countries. Her organization has helped educate and empower thousands of women to start careers and launch businesses within the blockchain/cryptocurrency industry. Today, Natalia serves as the Senior Director of Business Analytics for Pitney Bowes; a global shipping company used by most fortune 500 companies.
10. Elena Yunusov
Elena Yunusov is the Head of Marketing at Borealis AI; an RBC research centre for artificial intelligence. She is also the founder of Toronto’s CryptoCamp Unconference; a non-profit event that brings the blockchain community together to showcase their talents and run blockchain boot camps. Elena has been recognized as a Top Social Media Influencer in Canadian Tech and listed among the leading Women in Blockchain Building Up the Industry by Coinsquare.
Elena combined her love of journalism and technology during her time as the Senior Editor of BetaKit; a Canadian online publication covering startups and cutting-edge tech innovation, including cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. She has also led marketing projects for various blockchain companies like Ambrosus, before starting her own tech-marketing company called Communicable Inc.
11. Ellis Odynn
Producer and co-host of Let’s Tech podcast, Ellis Odynn is one of the most educated and powerful women in Canada’s technology sector. She was named Canada’s Most Influential FinTech Business Woman in 2019, one of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women, and she earned the title of Canada’s first Chief AI Officer. Now, Ellis is the Executive Director of the Digital Finance Institute; a Canadian think tank tackling issues like digital finance innovation, regulation, compliance, financial inclusion, and gender equity in the tech industry.
Ellis is passionate about the socio-economic impact of cryptocurrency, blockchain, and other emerging technologies. But while she believes in the adoption of cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, it needs to happen in a way that is safe for stakeholders. So she led a financial crime unit that investigated international blockchain transactions to combat fraud. Ellis boasts a stack of degrees from prominent institutions like Queen’s University, the University of British Columbia, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – the world’s most prestigious school for engineering and technology.
12. Farwa Kazmi
Farwa is an advisor and mentor for Junior Achievement Canada with Deloitte, where she helps young tech entrepreneurs scale their businesses. Before that, she was an advisor for a company called myCryptoHippo that teaches kids how to trade cryptocurrency. She was also an advisor for Intrst Financial; a financial literacy and money management platform for youth. Before founding her own product consultancy firm called Explorux, she worked for major entities like Blackberry, Shopper’s Drug Mart, Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital, and even the U.S. Army.
Farwa Kazmi is a graduate of York University with degrees in Design, Interactive Design, Communication, and Psychology. She currently works for Kira Systems, a company that helps lawyers integrate AI technology into their practice. She’s also a coding-whiz with certifications in various coding languages and front-end web design from Juno College of Technology, formerly HackerYou College of Technology. But her true passion lies in helping kids develop the skills to become tech innovators of tomorrow.
13. Hanna Zaidi
Hanna Zaidi is the Chief Compliance Officer for Payments at Wealthsimple, one of the most influential fintech companies in Canada. Wealthsimple was one of the first to launch a fully regulated cryptocurrency trading platform. She also served as Wealthsimple’s Director of Regulatory Research & Development for their Cryptocurrency and Cash applications. Frustrated by the restrictive nature of the legacy banking system, Hanna is passionate about giving Canadians more control over their wealth. She believes open banking and cutting-edge financial technology, such as cryptocurrency and other decentralized financial services, are an important step in creating better financial and economic inclusion for Canadians.
Currently, Hanna sits on the board for Open Banking Initiative Canada and has served as a mentor for Girls In Tech Inc. She was recently recognized as one of Canada’s emerging leaders for 2022 by The Peak; a podcast and digital publication that covers Canadian and global business news. Hanna holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from York University, a Master of Public Policy and Economic Policy from the University of Toronto, and is a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist.
14. Hilary Carter
Hilary Carter is the Vice President of Research at The Linux Foundation; an organization that helps tech developers advance their projects. They also promote the commercial adoption of cutting-edge technologies like blockchain. Hilary is also a Certified Bitcoin Professional through the CryptoCurrency Certification Consortium. She has done considerable work to help entrepreneurs and business professionals harness the disruptive nature of blockchain technology for positive change
For three years, she served as the Director of Research and Managing Director of Canada’s Blockchain Research Institute. During her time there she launched multi-million dollar blockchain research initiatives, scaled the organization’s research program to include new business verticals, and built a community of “best in class” cryptocurrency and blockchain professionals. Now, she volunteers as a steering committee member for Toronto Blockchain Week.
15. Iliana Oris Valiente
Illiana Oris Valiente is the Managing Director of Accenture; a global company that provides digital strategy consulting and other tech-based services for business professionals. In her current role at Accenture, Illiana specializes in helping business leaders integrate distributed ledger technology, like blockchains, into their business operations. Previous to her current role, Illiana served as the company’s blockchain innovation lead. She believes blockchain technology is the key to financial and economic inclusion for historically underserved communities.
Iliana is also a talented entrepreneur, co-founding two blockchain-centered initiatives. As the Blockchain Strategy Leader for Deloitte, she co-founded their Rubix software platform where clients can build their own blockchain and smart contract applications. She eventually left Deloitte to start ColliderX, an open-source organization for blockchain research and development.
16. Kelsey Cole
Kelsey Cole is the co-founder of MVM Inc, a digital marketing agency that has worked for the likes of Tesla, The Grammy’s, and the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), to name a few. More importantly, she is a blockchain entrepreneur and women’s rights activist. She co-founded a blockchain-based advertising platform, called Adbank, which facilitates cryptocurrency payments between publishers and advertisers. She also works closely with the United Nations to help achieve gender equality and women’s financial inclusion through the use of blockchain technology and various crypto projects.
In 2019, Kelsey was the recipient of the United Nation’s first-ever Frontier Woman 300 award. This award recognized Kelsey for her outstanding work as an advocate for women in blockchain technology, and her financial contributions to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Impact Fund through cryptocurrency initiatives. Kelsey is an active speaker for The 3% Movement, an organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of women. And she is currently the Crypto Ambassador of Women’s Coin which is a blockchain-based charitable organization with its own cryptocurrency. Women’s Coin helps underserved women around the world access education and decentralized financial services.
17. Lana Denina
Lana Denina is a talented artist, feminist, and human rights activist from Montreal, Quebec. Her street art and graffiti projects are beloved by local art enthusiasts. But she really found her footing with NFT digital art. Lana Denina has made over $500,000 CAD selling her NFT artwork on OpenSea. The Mono Lana project is an Ethereum based NFT art collection made up of 500 unique women across diverse backgrounds and cultures. Each piece is a depiction of a woman with unique characteristics and futuristic clothing. The Mono Lana collection has since sold out and is now trading on the secondary NFT markets. Every time a Mono Lana NFT is sold, she receives a royalty. Lana donates a portion of the proceeds to women’s shelters across Canada to provide critical resources and help bring an end to gender-based violence.
The public art scene is still very male and very white. As a woman of colour, Lana understands firsthand, the struggle to gain access, inclusion and participation in the world around her. The wild success of her NFT art collection has proven there is incredible demand in the market for more diverse artists and their work. Lana is using the Ethereum blockchain and NFT technology to not only bring black culture and people of colour to the forefront of the contemporary art scene but to also remove the barriers preventing other talented artists from showcasing their work.
18. Ly Nguyen
Ly Nguyen is a banking industry insider with over 20 years of experience trying to normalize the use of blockchain technology across the Canadian economy, and beyond. Currently, she is the Senior Manager and Canadian Blockchain Capability Lead for Accenture; a global services company that helps corporate-level professionals integrate blockchain and other tech-based business solutions. Essentially, Ly helps big businesses across all industries harness the power of blockchain technology to help them adapt and thrive within the new digital economy.
Ly has extensive experience as an Equities Trader and Project Manager within global capital markets. She has worked for major institutions like BMO, Scotiabank, and Citco Group of Companies. Ly is one of the exceedingly few legacy banking insiders to understand how blockchain technology can reshape the financial and economic landscape for the better. Her work to integrate blockchain technology at the corporate level, across industries, is helping to normalize blockchain applications and dismantle common misconceptions; a critical step towards bringing blockchain capabilities to the masses.
19. Maddie Shang
Maddie Shang is a math-magician from the University of Waterloo, and one of the most influential women promoting blockchain education in Canada. She co-founded TheBlockchainHub, a York University-affiliated program that provides courses on blockchain technology and Ethereum based programming. She also designed the curriculum for their Blockchain Academy Program, which is a blockchain certification course for professionals. TheBlockchainHub is considered to be one of the top 10 best tech education organizations in Canada.
In the fight for female representation in tech, Maddie also co-founded a non-profit. Women Who Code is an organization that provides women with the skills and resources they need to advance their careers in the tech industry. It also focuses on teaching tech companies how to better recruit, train and promote talented female tech professionals. She currently serves as the organization’s global Lead for Data Science and Machine Learning. Maddie has also worked closely with CryptoChicks, a non-profit organization for women in crypto and blockchain. There, she organized one of their many high-profile Hackathon events. Maddie continues to work on various Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning research projects within the tech industry.
20. Maggie Xu
Maggi is a former corporate lawyer turned tech CEO turned Metaverse entrepreneur. She co-founded a new social media platform built on blockchain and NFT technology, called MetaSpace. Before co-creating MetaSpace, Maggie served as the CEO for Decentral Inc, the company that introduced Canada’s first two-way Bitcoin ATMs, and has since become one of the leading blockchain companies in the country.
Maggie is particularly focused on both increasing women’s representation in tech, as well as empowering today’s youth to become the tech innovators of tomorrow. She has worked closely with organizations like CryptoChicks to help make blockchain education accessible to all women. And she has volunteered as an advisor to myCryptoHippo, an organization that teaches kids about blockchain technology and cryptocurrency trading.
Compare dozens of Canadian crypto exchange platforms and find the one that best suits your needs.
About The Author: Heidi Unrau
Heidi Unrau is the senior Finance Journalist at Hardbacon. She studied Economics at the University of Winnipeg, where she fell in love with all-things-finance. At 25, she got her first bank job as an entry-level teller. She moved up the ranks to Credit Analyst, Loans Officer, and now a Personal Finance Writer. In her spare time, you'll find her hiding in the car listening to Freakonomics podcasts, or binge-watching financial crime documentaries with a pint of Häagen-Dazs. When she's not chasing after her two little boys, she's in the hot tub or arguing with her husband over which cash back card to use for date night. She’s addicted to coffee, crypto, and obsessively checking her credit score on Borrowell.
Fun Fact: Heidi has lived in five different provinces across Canada, loves her free Tangerine bank account, and will never cut back on Starbucks. Like ever.
More posts by Heidi Unrau