Row Ontario Announces Diversity and Inclusion Committee
Announcement/ Nov 2

Row Ontario Announces Diversity and Inclusion Committee


In August, Row Ontario announced a call for expressions of interest for its newly-formed Diversity and Inclusion Committee. The response from the Ontario rowing community was exceptional; it quickly became apparent that equity, diversity, and inclusion are topics of great importance to many members of the rowing community.

Row Ontario is excited to announce the members of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, representing an array of perspectives and experiences from both inside and outside the realm of rowing:

  • Janet Lancaster (Chair) has been a member of the Row Ontario Board of Directors since 2019 and a long-time member, volunteer, and coach at the St. Catharines Rowing Club. Janet has been a secondary school educator for 20 years, currently as a Program Leader of Student Services. As an educator and counsellor, she subscribes to the philosophy that sport, whether recreational or competitive, has an immensely positive impact on individuals and communities.
  • Manny Azarcon has 20 years of leadership and experience in rowing as an athlete and coach; he is currently the head coach of rowing at Havergal College and a program coach at the Don Rowing Club. He also brings to the Committee personal experience with the challenges and opportunities that exist within the sport for visible minorities. He is primarily interested in increasing the availability and accessibility of the sport of rowing.
  • Caitlin Beresford is a current Director on the Row Ontario Board, as well as the head coach at Orillia Rowing Club and was recently named an apprentice coach for the 2022 Canada Summer Games by the Coaches Association of Canada. Off the water, Caitlin is a lawyer with her own practice in the area of Aboriginal law, focusing on land claims, consultation and governance. Caitlin is supporting the Committee as an ex-officio member and advisor.
  • Katie Bruggeling is the assistant rowing coach at Queen’s University. She is passionate about the topics of diversity and inclusion, and about advancing the sport of rowing to a an even greater level of excellence. Katie has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s of Education degree. Her academic interest in how systemic social issues are created and maintained, and strategies for addressing them, inform her interest in this Committee.
  • Raissa Espiritu is a purpose-driven social entrepreneur and systems change leader. She has helped non-profit organizations navigate change, implementing inclusion & diversity and community engagement goals. She is the co-founder of a medical devices company focused on female health and research called Cosm Medical, and the director of partnerships for the Centre for Social Innovation. An avid volunteer, Raissa is chair of Youth Climate Lab, and former president of the Toronto Ultimate Club and Argonaut Rowing Club.
  • Claire Hutchinson has 13 years’ experience in the sport of rowing, having competed for clubs in Canada and the United States. A former University of Toronto Varsity Blues rower and coach with UTM and the Don Rowing Club, Claire presently volunteers as a board member at Leander Boat Club. A recreational therapist by profession, Claire works with diverse populations to overcome barriers to accessing and participating in recreational activities.
  • Sara Mathew has been an active member of the Durham Rowing Club since 2017, where she began rowing as a novice with Ontario Tech University during her degree in Legal Studies. In her senior year, she served as President of the rowing team, the recipient of the Women’s Leadership Award, and a nominee for the Dr. Gary Polonsky Leadership Award.
  • Victoria Nolan is a world champion in the LTAMix4+ and three-time Paralympian currently training with the Canadian National Team in preparation for the 2021 Paralympic Games. Victoria is passionate about improving the quality of life for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted, and advocates for the inclusion of all abilities. She is committed to making things equitable and providing opportunities for all people and is looking forward to giving back to the rowing community.
  • Jordan Rendall is the current varsity lightweight women’s coach at Western University, and has experience rowing for Queen’s University, St. Catharines Rowing Club, Middlesex-Western Rowing Club, as well as competing for Canada at FISU in 2014 and the Senior World Championships in 2016. Motivated by the Black Lives Matter movement and other recent events, Jordan hopes to be an anti-racist ally to improve the diversity of rowing in Ontario.
  • Kubet Weston began rowing in her hometown of Tillsonburg, continued rowing at the University of Toronto, and competed with the Canadian National Team from 1997-2003. As a Nigerian-born woman of colour, Kubet’s personal experience with systemic and implicit bias, and as the only person of colour “in the room”, has inspired her to work toward developing and fostering a more diverse and equitable rowing community.

In addition, the Committee is supported by three Row Ontario staff members, who serve as ex-officio, non-voting members: Andrew Backer, Chief Executive Officer; Andrea Miller, Manager, Sport Development; and Stephen Ross, Manager, Competitions and Events.

The Committee held its first meeting in late-October and is looking forward to playing a role in advancing equity, inclusion and diversity across the Ontario rowing community. The Committee will be seeking input and engaging with the Row Ontario membership in the coming months to develop a comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategy for the organization.

More details about the Row Ontario Diversity and Inclusion Committee can be found in the Terms of Reference, available on our website.