Women for Mental Health Chairs

Sharon Johnston

Mrs. Sharon Johnston - Honourary Chair

Mrs. Johnston became, as she says, “a card-carrying member” of Women for Mental Health in 2012 and has never looked back.  She began her working career in Kingston, Ontario, as a psychiatric occupational therapist with young adults at Kingston General Hospital, and then as a therapist at Beechgrove, a treatment centre for young children with learning and behavioural problems. When the Johnston family moved to Toronto, she worked at the Crippled Children’s Centre in Occupational Therapy.

Mrs. Johnston speaks publicly with great passion on the topic of mental health.  She and her husband, graciously opened the doors of Rideau Hall to host Women for Mental Health on many occasions and brought mental health community partners and the public together on the grounds of Rideau Hall to help eradicate the stigma often associated with mental illness.




Katherine Cooligan

Katherine Cooligan – Chair

Katherine is a certified specialist as a family law lawyer.  In addition to her law practice, she holds senior leadership roles in Canada’s largest national law firm, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP.  She is the Regional Managing Partner of BLG’s Ottawa office, and also sits on the firm’s National Management Committee. 

As she has become more senior in her career, Katherine’s focus turned towards topics of leadership and specifically, women in leadership.  Katherine is a passionate champion for women, encouraging and supporting them to be successful and to fly high within their own chosen professions. Katherine is a frequent speaker at Women in Leadership conferences, and just did a TED Talk on “Tackling Fear and Unleashing the Full Potential of Women in Leadership”. She has also created and chaired annual programs on Women in Leadership in Ottawa, which have become “the place” to be for local business leaders from all backgrounds. This past year, she was elected to the International Women's Forum. Most recently, Katherine was recognized for her outstanding contributions to the community and as a leader and mentor for female professionals with the 2018 United Way Ottawa Spark Ignite Award.  She has also been selected as a Finalist for the Women’s Business Network’s Businesswoman of the Year 2019 Award, in the professional category.

Katherine is also a very committed contributor to the Ottawa community. She sits on the Executive of the Board of the CHEO Foundation. She is on the organizing committee for The Royal’s Leaders for Mental Health Breakfast, and she is a member of the Ottawa Board of Trade’s Capital Build Task Force.




Nancy O’Dea

Nancy O’Dea - Past Chair

Nancy is the Inaugural Chair of Women for Mental Health. Nancy has been a successful Realtor in the world of luxury real estate in the nation’s capital since she began in real estate in 2005. Having practiced as a registered nurse in critical care for many years, Nancy earned a master's degree in counselling psychology; a degree that opened doors to an interesting career in the world of mental health and addictions, as well as working with the worried well in business. It was a perfect segue into the world of real estate for Nancy as the buying and selling experience can be an emotional roller coaster if not under skillful management. 

Nancy is with the international specialty boutique real estate firm of Engel & Völkers and our Inaugural Chair of Women for Mental Health and former Cabinet Committee member of The Royal’s Campaign for Mental Health. Nancy is committed to ensuring the continuity and historical integrity of Women for Mental Health and we couldn’t be more grateful.