International Women’s Day Feature: Ottawa Women’s FILO

Last week I attended a wonderfully presented event for the Ottawa Women’s Filo, and was so impressed with that community that I’ve invited Angela Ierullo to talk with Sister Leadership in marking International Women’s Day, by sharing about the feelings evoked when a group of passionate women gather to support one another.

Mona LisaBut of course, the interview wasn’t quite that simple.

As you know, we’re sharing lessons from Da Vinci on Sister Leadership, and so I put the question to Angela (who was totally game to play, and for that she deserves a huge #SisterNod!):

“If Leonardo Da Vinci had been commissioned to paint the 11th anniversary FILO award event, what would he have captured on the canvas?”

Angela began by blending the old with the new, saying:

“My first thought was, ‘Well he’s so famous for his Last Supper, and his Mona Lisa, and depicting beautiful women, and that really links to our FILO.’ It’s a beautiful supper, it’s a gathering of family, friends, and women.”

“Then I thought, ‘If Da Vinci were to paint it today, I would pick him because he was such an innovative person. He wasn’t just a painter. He was a man of many gifts. He was a sculpture, a mathematician, a scientist, an inventor’ . . . I think today, he would blend the old with the new. He would look at the past and see what he has done, but I think it would have evolved.”

So what would the painting look like?

“He would have used a lot of beautiful broad strokes – not in a negative way, but to blend the colours and the people, the very diversity of the FILO gathering itself, and it would probably be colourful, and show women connecting and supporting each other and being strong – using very strong colours.”

By describing the painting, Angela has tapped into some strongly visual triggers with the broad strokes and bold colours, which brought her deeper into the meaning of the painting. As our conversation continued, Angela began to evoke not only the senses, but the emotions of the FILO. Adding that the painting “would show the joy along with suffering, and the love that they have for each other in respect.”

“I think it would show that these women have made a difference in every field. It would show that it was in their  faith – because all these women have great faith, great belief, great values. Many of them are very involved in politics one way or another. They all have strong families, and that’s where they believe their roots are in building their families, and their community. So I think his painting would capture all of that. To show the women together . . . they speak of equality, making a positive change, justice and fairness, of deep faith. When you look at what links them together, it is that strength.”

“I think that is what Da Vinci would paint. Strong, caring, loving women of all ages of all paths of life – be it that you’re a professional, retired, we also have a lot of young people coming too  everyone gathers to support women.”

Can you imagine that painting in your mind? Can you pull from her description to understand not only the FILO event with its place settings, awards, microphone for presentations – to get deep down to the real meaning of success for the Ottawa Women’s Filo?

It’s a really interesting exercise in capturing the essence of what matters. So today, on International Women’s Day while we meet, greet, and cheer in women coming together, being strong, and making differences – take a moment of pause to reflect on your personal successes. If Da Vinci were commissioned to paint a portrait, sculpt a statue, compose some music, (etc) – what would that look like, feel like, be like?

Take a few minutes to imagine. See what images arise. And then, as you move deeper into the Da Vinci creation, pay attention to how that feels. Chances are, you’ll be examining the core of what success means to you.

Happy International Women’s Day!

Till next time,


Camille Boivin is founder of Sister Leadership, bringing her knowledge of resilience, perseverance, and changing perception to others. Camille is currently accepting applications for the Women’s Executive Network  Senior Executives Wisdom Peer Mentoring program. Applications to this exciting and knowledge-sharing program are available here.

Read more from Camille as she aspires to  help women explode their success. For more posts and experiences, join Camille at her Sister Leadership page, connect on Twitter, and follow on Facebook.


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