In honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, we’re celebrating several female Dal grads whose leadership, innovation and advocacy are empowering others and helping to build a better world.

Sara Austin’s (BA’98) leadership has impacted the lives of millions of children. For years, she has been advocating for children through her overseas work with World Vision and as founder of Children First Canada. Austin’s passion and dedication for children’s rights led to the Third Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which allows children to appeal to the United Nations if a country that has signed onto the protocol doesn’t provide a remedy for a rights violation.

Last fall, the protocol was put to use by climate activist Greta Thunberg and 15 other children who allege that the governments of Germany, France, Brazil, Argentina and Turkey have violated human rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child by not taking necessary action to address the climate crisis.

Learn about Austin’s landmark cases on the climate crisis.


In July, Candace Thomas (LLB’95), a Halifax lawyer and community leader, became the first woman—and first woman of colour—to chair Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors. Chatelaine magazine recognized the historic appointment by naming Thomas Woman of the Year 2019. Described as a passionate advocate for Dalhousie and its students, Thomas served eight years on the Board (including one as vice-chair) before her appointment to chair.

A member of Stewart McKelvey’s Business Law Group, she focuses her practice on corporate-commercial law, advising clients on matters ranging from mergers and acquisitions and banking to corporate governance. She was selected by her peers to be included in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 editions of The Best Lawyers in Canada for her work in corporate law.

Read about Thomas and her appointment to the board.


A shift in public discourse around equality, diversity and safety inspired Sage Franch (BCS’16) to begin her journey from Tech Evangelist at Microsoft to start-up founder. Franch created Crescendo as an anonymous online tool for employees to report sexual harassment in the workplace. The platform has expanded to support all forms of harassment and developed into a resource that acts as much more than a reporting tool for companies. According to Franch, it’s morphed into a “training” tool that workplaces can adopt to become more inclusive. It uses social media style content rather than traditional training modules to share perspectives and individual stories.

Discover Franch’s inspiration to help organizations become more exclusive.


Sura Hadad (BSc’98, DDS’03) demonstrates a level of community involvement that truly exemplifies the spirit of going above and beyond. Dr. Hadad gives back through her dental practice as well as to communities at home and abroad. She has provided free dental care at her clinic to Syrian refugees, who are new to Canada, and seeking oral care. In 2018, Dr. Hadad and her daughter went to Kenya to help build a dormitory for a girls’ college as volunteers with One Woman, a Halifax-based global social enterprise dedicated to helping women and girls reach their full potential.

Dr. Hadad’s spirit of generosity also extends to Dalhousie through the establishment of a scholarship for second-year students in the Doctor of Dental Surgery Qualifying Program.

Get to know Dr. Hadad’s motivation and community impact.


Christine Chambers (BSc’96) is an international leader in the study of children’s pain. In January, Dr. Chamber’s became the Scientific Director of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Institute of Human Development, Child and Youth Health (IHDCYH) where she will work with her community to identify research priorities, develop funding opportunities, build partnerships, and translate research evidence in policy and practice to improve the health of Canadians and people around the world.

As the Canada Research Chair in Children’s Pain, and a Killam Professor in Dalhousie’s Departments of Pediatrics and Psychology and Neuroscience, Dr. Chambers examines the role of developmental, psychological and social factors in children’s health.

Find out about Dr. Chamber’s support for childhood growth and development.


Naiomi Metallic (BA’02, LLB’05) has dedicated her research and legal work to ensuring the welfare of Indigenous children is protected by law. When Bill C-92, an Act Respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis Children, Youth and Families, became law in June of 2019, Professor Metallic saw that her years of research and advocacy into improving the welfare of Indigenous children in Canada were finally crystallizing. The Bill, which Professor Metallic refers to as an important step forward for Canada, is the first time the federal government has exercised its jurisdiction to legislate in the area of Indigenous child welfare.

Follow Professor Metallic’s advocacy for Indigenous children in Canada.