Changing the Game
Founder and Commissioner of the Canadian Women's Hockey League
As a young girl, Brenda Andress had a dream: to one day play for the Montreal Canadiens NHL hockey team. She didn't know, then, that there was no place for women in professional hockey. So, many years later, she created one. As the founder and commissioner of the Canadian Women's Hockey League, Brenda is at the forefront of an explosive new movement in sport. As a speaker, she shares lessons in leadership, teamwork, and determination that are essential for any organization. "I welcome barriers. I welcome obstacles," says Brenda. "When they come, they're teaching you something."
Brenda Andress is the founder and commissioner of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. For the past decade, she has shaped and led the CWHL’s vision to create the world’s most exceptional women's professional hockey league—expanding across Canada, the United States, and now China. Brenda is creating a place where women will ultimately earn a living playing the sport they love. Just like their male colleagues, they will be able to one day turn their dreams into their full-time profession.
For two decades, Brenda's leadership and vision helped communities stay healthy and fit as she served as a Director of Parks and Recreation. Brenda was instrumental in the planning, development, and opening of state of the art facilities and her work over the years saw her become the recipient of a Province of Ontario award for innovation. In 2013, Brenda was recognized with a “Women of Distinction” award by the YWCA, for her work in championing accessibility and diversity in sport. That same year, The Hockey News named Brenda as one of “The Powers of the Future” in their annual Power and Influence issue. In 2014 she was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Award Winners by WXN and a Most Influential Woman by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport (2014 and 2015).
Always athletic, Brenda was the first women to ever play for a men’s college varsity team, suiting up for Centennial College in 1978. Brenda’s love of hockey took her into refereeing the game, ultimately achieving one of the highest ref rankings attainable.
Suit Up: How One Woman Is Changing the Game of Hockey—and Business—Around the World
For decades, women around the world have been left out of professional hockey. A little girl could dream of entering the NHL, but that was it—just a dream. Brenda Andress was one of those little girls. Now, as the founder and commissioner of the Canadian Women's Hockey League, she's finally shifting the balance. In this inspiring talk, Brenda reveals how—and why—she founded the CWHL. She shares the story of the league's remarkable growth so far. And, she instructs audiences on the strategies she employs to make change happen.
Being a leader doesn't just happen at work—it's an essential part of everyday life. As is teamwork. As is focus. As is unrelenting, uncompromising determination. "We can never be okay with where we are," says Brenda. "We have to be okay with where we're going." An exceptional leader and a true pioneer, Brenda shares her invaluable perspective and sheds light on where we fit in in the new era of sport—and business.
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