Dr. Rachel Ollivier was so excited that her hands were shaking when she learned she that been named one of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2023.
Considering how steady she has been through her exceptional work in the fields of nursing, maternal health, and sexual health, that’s saying something — and her excitement was certainly understandable.
Women of Influence+ (WOI+), a leading North American organization committed to advancing gender equity in the workplace, created the Top 25 Women of Influence® awards as a way to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary accomplishments of self-identified women and gender-diverse role models, acknowledging the unique achievements of diverse women representing various sectors, career stages, and contributions to the advancement of women.
According to a news release by WOI+, “Each recipient has left their mark over the past year: contributing to the greater good through their initiatives; by reaching inspiring heights on the global stage; or in using their influence to drive demonstrated change.”
Ollivier has left her mark with her global and local health work, which has spanned education, research, and practice, with an emphasis on women’s postpartum sexual health.
A practicing registered nurse in Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia, Ollivier is currently enrolled in the Nurse Practitioner diploma program at Queen’s University. Her bio on the WOI+ website calls Ollivier “a determined and courageous advocate for women’s and maternal health – specifically postpartum sexual health.”
A spirit of service and dedication within health care was instilled in Ollivier from a young age growing up in Alberta, she says.
“My Grandmother definitely had an impact on my life growing up. As a young child, often I would spend the days at her house while my parents were at work. So she was our caregiver on weekdays. And she was a pastoral care provider in Calgary for over 25 years, so often we would accompany her, me and my siblings, to the hospital where she would visit patients and hear their worries or hear their stories,” Ollivier shared with Kingstonist.
“Seeing the impact she had, and how she led with kindness, there was such compassion and selflessness that I really saw the difference she made in patient care. I think that really was what spurred me into pursuing a career in health care.”
Today, Dr. Ollivier’s global health work has spanned education, research, and practice, having collaborated with local care providers in Zambia to develop updated neonatal fluid resuscitation practice policies, as well as involvement with hypertension research in Zambia, and maternal health research in Tanzania.
She has also been a guest lecturer in graduate-level nursing courses at the Muhimbili University of Health & Allied Sciences in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In 2022, she successfully completed her Ph.D. in Nursing at Dalhousie University with her research focusing on exploring sexual health after birth using a feminist post-structural lens. Spearheading crucial conversations about this topic with media appearances, Ollivier also created the first patient educational tool in Nova Scotia on sexual health after birth, ensuring that it was relevant and useful for patients, while also using gender-affirming language.
Mentorship is one of the keys to success that Ollivier recommends to other young women just starting out.
“Find mentors who really can take you under their wing, can show you new ways of thinking or being or doing. And your mentors don’t necessarily have to look or think like you, either,” Ollivier relayed.
“I’ve been fortunate to have mentors who are in perhaps my area of maternal health or who are in nursing, but also others who aren’t… that really has been something I’ve been so incredibly fortunate to have. “
She credits Dr. Megan Aston, Dr. Sheri Price and Dr. Frank Leblanc as some mentors who have “bestowed incredible wisdom” on her.
“We are thrilled to be honouring and celebrating the remarkable work of this year’s recipients, each woman on this year’s list has made their mark in the past year, whether by spearheading initiatives for the greater good, achieving inspiring feats on a global scale, or utilizing their influence to effect tangible change,” explained Rumeet Billan, CEO of Women of Influence+. “Our list includes women from all walks of life who have dedicated their work to breaking boundaries, setting new standards, and rewriting the narrative of what is possible. We are excited to shine a spotlight on their achievements and know that their stories will inspire others and future generations.”
This year’s Top 25 Women of Influence:
- Cheyenne Arnold-Cunningham, Researcher at the Indigenous Law Research Unit and In-House Counsel at Union of BC Indian Chiefs
- Louise Aspin, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, UHN Foundation
- Kirstin Beardsley, CEO, Food Banks Canada
- Linda Biggs, Co-Founder, joni
- Elvalyn Brown, the Black Ontario Public Services Employees (BOPSers) Network
- Dr. Vivien Brown, Award-winning Physician
- Margaret Coons, Founder and CEO, Nuts For Cheese
- Jan De Silva, President and CEO, Toronto Region Board of Trade
- Lovepreet Deo, Athlete and Disability Advocate
- Natalie Evans Harris, Executive Director, Black Wealth Data Center
- Allison Forsyth, two-time Canadian Olympian, Safe Sport Advocate, and Partner and COO, ITP Sport and Recreation
- Senator Rosa Galvez
- Haben Girma, Disability Rights Lawyer
- The Honourable Karina Gould, Minister of Families, Children, and Social Development
- Eva Havaris, Vice-President of Partnerships and Participation, Tennis Canada
- Nicole Janssen, Co-Founder and Co-CEO, AltaML
- Janet Ko, President and Co-Founder, The Menopause Foundation of Canada
- Maya Kotecha and Carly Shuler, Co-Founders and Co-CEOs, Hoot Reading
- Dr. Rachel Ollivier, Maternal and Women’s Health Specialist
- Bobbie Racette, Founder and CEO, Virtual Gurus and AskBetty
- Paulette Senior, President and CEO, The Canadian Women’s Foundation
- Domee Shi, Oscar-winning Director, Pixar Animation Studios
- Christine Sinclair, four-time Canadian Olympian and Professional Soccer Player
- Suzie Yorke, CEO and Co-Founder, The Better Chocolates
Ollivier will be honoured during the Top 25 Women of Influence Luncheon on April 4, 2023, in Toronto.