• Webinar
  • May 19th, 2021

Better and Stronger Men as Allies

“Others now look back now and acknowledge Bob Rae was ahead of his time in promoting diversity, gender equality.” – Tim Harper, Toronto Star

BETTER AND STRONGER MEN AS ALLIES is co-sponsored by the University of Ottawa and Benchmark Corp to provide a platform for advocates in the public and private sector STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math) community.

Luc Villeneuve and Martin Bernier, co-founders of Better and Stronger Men as Allies, are honoured to host this exclusive event with the honorable Bob Rae, Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, bringing these renowned and respected voices together to engage in thoughtful dialogue and explore how we can drive concrete change in our organizations and communities.


The Honourable Bob Rae
Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations

The Honourable Bob Rae, P.C., C.C., O.Ont., Q.C., former Premier of Ontario, and former interim Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada, was born in 1948, in Ottawa. Mr. Rae received his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Modern History in 1969 from the University of Toronto, a Master of Philosophy as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University in 1971, and graduated from the University of Toronto Faculty of Law in 1977.

Mr. Rae’s passion for social justice dates back to his early days in student politics and community service. Between 1978 and 2013, he was elected 11 times to federal and provincial parliaments, and served as the Premier of Ontario from 1990 to 1995. In October 2017, Mr. Rae was appointed as Canada’s Special Envoy to Myanmar. In this role, he engaged in diplomatic efforts to address the crisis in the country’s Rakhine State and wrote the report Tell Them We’re Human in 2018. In March 2020, he was named Canada’s Special Envoy on Humanitarian and Refugee Issues to continue the important work he started as Special Envoy to Myanmar, while also addressing other pressing humanitarian and refugee issues around the world.

Bob Rae is a Privy Councillor, a Companion of the Order of Canada, a member of the Order of Ontario, and has numerous awards and honorary degrees from institutions in Canada and around the world.

Clea Gigantes
Client Director, Public Sector Benchmark Corp

Clea’s career spans 20 years in specialized technology in various sectors, including Enterprise, Crown Corp & SMB globally. Clea grew up in Ottawa and France surrounded by politics and purpose, guided by her trailblazing mother Evelyn Gigantes, former MPP for Ottawa Centre, one of a handful of female ministers in the Bob Rae government. Evelyn was mentored by former UN ambassador Stephen Lewis and Ottawa’s former Mayor Marion Dewar. As a Senator for Quebec for former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, her uncle Philippe Gigantes has been featured by CPAC as one of the builders of Canada.

Riya Karumanchi
CEO, SmartCane

Riya is an entrepreneur and CEO of SmartCane, a technologically-enhanced assistive device for the visually impaired community to improve mobility and independence. She is immensely passionate about creating health technology to improve quality of life and push the world forward. Over the years, Riya has led a team at Deloitte to design a fall prediction wearable device for seniors from conception to prototype, and has consulted with companies like Microsoft, Wealthsimple & Walmart about leveraging exponential technology and scaling CSR initiatives.
Luc Villeneuve

Luc Villeneuve
President, Benchmark Corp

As president of Benchmark Corp, Luc Villeneuve leads a customer-first software solutions provider focused on open source technology. It offers fully integrated, multi-vendor solutions to the most respected brands in Canada. Benchmark specializes in assisting, accelerating and automating business infrastructure and application transformation with innovative solutions that reduce acquisition and integration costs. Its unique offering leverages a single, cost-effective point of accountability across multi vendors in a manner that can’t be matched by any other partner in today’s market.

Martin Bernier
CIO University of Ottawa

Martin Bernier is the Chief information Officer (CIO) at the University of Ottawa since April 2018. Previously, he spent seven years in the federal public sector as the CIO at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the CIO at the National Capital Commission. Before that Martin held various executive positions such as a Strategic Advisor in the health sector, leading his own consulting company and Vice President of Information Technology for Brookfield Renewable Partners. He has more than 25 years of experience in the field of information technology and organizational transformation. His career path led him to experience in diversified industries in Canada, the United States and Europe, serving as executive and consultant in private and public organizations. He is a proud founding member of uOttawa’s Women in Innovation and the group`s first male ally and “Better and Stronger Men as Allies”.

About Better and Stronger Men as Allies

This initiative was recently created by Martin Bernier CIO, University of Ottawa and Luc Villeneuve President, Benchmark Corp. who are passionate champions of change for women in STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Math).

​“Better and Stronger Men as Allies” is​ a safe place for men and women to support one by pledging to drive concrete change in their organizations.  It has grown organically through relationships and partnerships.

Luc and Martin created “Better and Stronger Men as Allies” after speaking at FWD50 in 2020 with Sarah Paquet, CEO Fintrac Canada (formerly VP Shared Services Canada). Sarah is a huge supporter of this initiative.  We believe concrete change can only be achieved by having all voices at the table sharing, educating, and collaborating to help talented women. Here is the video from their FWD50 panel.  

Please join our “Better and Stronger Men as Allies” Community on LinkedIn via this link

For any inquiries please email