Rani Wong, President
Rani Wong has traveled and lived across Canada and around the world, returning to her native Alberta in 2005 to raise her 3 children. Born and raised in Edmonton, she earned her B.A. (Honours) in Economics at Queen’s University and her joint LL.B. and M.B.A. from the University of British Columbia. Rani practiced corporate and commercial law with a focus on financial services with Canada’s top national law firms, including Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP and Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto and Calgary. She also practiced with the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley & McCloy LLP in their Singapore office, acting for multinational corporations and financial institutions throughout Asia. Rani is now focused on bringing her wealth of experience and knowledge to her own family law practice, in association with Calgary Family Law Associates.
Rani has a passion for adventure, having summitted Mount Kilimanjaro, kayaked the Queen Charlotte Islands, camped in the wilds of Alaska and Mongolia, snorkeled with sharks in the Galapagos Islands and Sulawesi, Indonesia, and climbed the cliffs of southern Thailand and France, among many other adventures. Closer to home, Rani enjoys alpine and Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, and rock climbing with her family and friends. She is also an avid nature and travel photographer.
Melanie Gaston, Vice-President
Originally from Ontario, Melanie obtained her B.A.H at Queen’s University and moved to Calgary to obtain her LL.B from the University of Calgary. Through an international law school exchange, she completed a semester of law school at the University of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. Melanie is now a litigation partner at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP after working as an articling student, associate and becoming a partner at another national firm in Calgary. She specializes in complex commercial litigation, with a particular emphasis on construction and energy disputes and restructuring and insolvency matters. She also advises clients on matters involving insurance law, class actions, product liability and commercial landlord disputes.
In addition to serving on the board for AWL, Melanie is also on the board of directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Calgary and Calgary Rotary Clubs Foundation, and is a member of the Calgary Rotary Club. In her spare time, she enjoys being with her family, including her husband and 3 young daughters.
Alison Gray, Treasurer
Originally from Winnipeg, Alison obtained her B.A. at the University of Manitoba, and moved to Montreal to attend law school at McGill University, where she obtained her LL.B. and B.C.L. degrees. After articling at the Attorney General of Ontario, Alison completed a 6 month internship at the University of the Western Cape in Capetown, South Africa. Upon return to Canada, Alison completed her LL.M. at the University of Toronto. Alison is currently a partner in the Advocay Department at GowlingWLG (Canada) LLP, where she specializes in complex commercial litigation, including energy and fraud disputes. In addition to serving on the Board of AWL, Alison is a member of the Board of Calgary Legal Guidance, and is a member of the Legal Program Committee of the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund (LEAF) and has undertaken pro bono mandates on their behalf.
Melissa Burkett, Director
Melissa is Legal Counsel (Litigation) with Alberta Justice, Legal Services Division, where she represents and advises the Crown, government departments and boards in litigation, administrative and regulatory proceedings. Originally from Winnipeg, Melissa earned her B.A. (Adv.) in Political Studies from the University of Manitoba, her LL.B. from Université de Moncton, and her LL.M. from New York University. Melissa is called to the Bars of Alberta and Manitoba.
Prior to joining Alberta Justice, Melissa articled and practised civil litigation with a large regional firm in Winnipeg, and commercial Litigation with a national firm in Calgary. She has also interned with the International Arbitration group in the
Paris office of a large international firm.
In addition to serving on the AWL Board, Melissa volunteers with Calgary Legal Guidance, the Advocates’ Society, and the Canadian Bar Association. When not working or volunteering, Melissa enjoys travelling, craft beer, learning new languages, and supporting Liverpool FC (preferably all at the same time).
Kara Davis, Director
Kara Davis is a commercial litigation associate at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP. Kara joined the AWL Board in 2019. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta and a J.D. from the University of Calgary.
Outside of the office and volunteer work, Kara enjoys heading to the Rockies, travelling, and playing soccer.
Sandy Gill, Director
Sandy is Senior Legal Counsel at Trican Well Service Ltd. She has been a member of the AWL board since 2010 and has been an active member of the Women in Law Leadership Awards Committee since its inception in 2011. Born and raised in beautiful British Columbia, Sandy has made Calgary her home since 2010. Sandy completed her J.D. in 2004 at the University of Toronto and previously practiced corporate and commercial law with a focus on securities and M&A at McCarthy Tetrault LLP. Sandy also serves on the Board of the In-House Counsel Network and is the President of the Board of Rosedale Playschool, where her two young daughters attend.
Sandy believes strongly in the power of community, networking and mentorship in the careers of women lawyers. In her spare time, Sandy enjoys running and recently completed the New York Marathon in 2014.
Noren Howg, Director
Noren Howg is an Associate at Bennett Jones LLP where she practices in intellectual property law advising clients on patent, trademark and privacy matters as well general corporate matters. She joined the AWL Board in 2014 and was a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Young Women Lawyers group within the AWL. She is also the Equality Committee Chair for the Canadian Bar Association, Editor for the Law Matters Magazine, and member of the Association des juristes d’expression française de l’Alberta and the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada.
Noren graduated from the French Common Law program at the University of Ottawa. She also holds an MSc. in Chemistry from University of Alberta and a BSc. in Chemistry from the University of Ottawa. Before law, Noren was a chemist and has over 5 years of experience working in academia, the pharmaceutical industry and for Health Canada.
Travelling to experience the way that others around the world live is a great privilege for Noren and day-to-day she enjoys morning dance parties, running and weekend brunching!
Marianne Panenka, Director
Marianne was admitted to the Alberta bar in the year 2000. She graduated with her L.L.B. from the University of Alberta in 1999 and prior to that with her BA in English and Psychology from the University of Calgary.
She is currently litigation counsel in the Aboriginal Law section of the Department of Justice Canada, in their Calgary office. Her practice focuses on aboriginal land claims and rights litigation, oil and gas and administrative law.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Marianne worked with a small personal injury boutique firm, Hanson Associates, where she had the privilege of working with a great team on matters that significantly contributed to the field of personal injury law. Marianne has experience at all levels of court in Alberta, including at the Albert Court of Appeal, and with leave applications to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Wilma Shim, Director
Wilma is a Barrister and Solicitor with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Originally from Edmonton, she moved to Calgary in 2003 after being awarded the Chancellor Club Scholarship from the University of Calgary. She holds two degrees from the University of Calgary- B.Sc (2007) and J.D. (2010). In 2010, she received the President’s Award for Excellence in Student Leadership and was inducted into The Order of the University of Calgary.
Wilma summered and articled with Alberta Justice and Solicitor General. Following her Articles, Wilma worked as a Crown Prosecutor before accepting a position in the Civil Litigation Department with Alberta Justice. Currently, Wilma is a Barrister and Solicitor with the Social Enhancement Legal Team.
In 2007, Wilma represented Canada at the World Junior Powerlifting Championships in LaGarde, France and won Bronze in the deadlift competition. She has coached powerlifting with Special Olympics Calgary since 2007. She is the past-Chair of the Board of Directors for Special Olympics Alberta and is a Board member of the University of Calgary Alumni Association. Wilma founded the Mothers in the Law group within the AWL in 2017. She is part of Avenue Magazine’s Top 40 under 40 Class of 2015.
Melissa Tennison, Director
Melissa Tennison joined the Board of the Alberta Association of Women Lawyers in November 2015. Professionally she is a commercial and civil litigator and has over 13 years of experience in litigation matters. Melissa most recently was a litigation associate at DLA Piper (Canada) LLP. She is currently working through her professional corporation on legal writing and research projects.
Melissa holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a LL.B. from the University of Alberta and has been a member of the Law Society of Alberta since 2003. In a volunteer capacity, Melissa is a volunteer with Canadian Diabetes and the Heart and Stroke Foundation in her neighbourhood and volunteers with Pro Bono Law Alberta.