OVIN Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Advisory Committee

OVIN’s Workforce Planning and Talent Strategy portfolio works to strengthen Ontario’s current and future automotive and mobility workforce, reinforcing Ontario’s position as a leading jurisdiction in the development and commercialization of next-generation electric, connected, and autonomous vehicle and smart mobility technologies.

The DEI Advisory Committee is comprised of industry professionals who will guide, inform, and support OVIN in designing and implementing initiatives to develop a highly skilled automotive and mobility workforce in the province, which includes all members of the population, particularly those from underrepresented groups.


Andrew Harkness

Director of Dealer Network Development,
Training & Corporate Strategy,
Nissan Canada Inc.

Read Andrew’s biography

AndrewHarknessis Director of Dealer Network Development, Training & Corporate Strategy at Nissan Canada Inc., a role he was appointed to in September of 2022. 

In this role, Andrewreports to Steve Milette, President of Nissan Canada Inc., and is responsible for leading the development of the dealer network for Nissan Canada as well as leading the development and implementation of corporate strategy, market intelligence and product training across the network. 

Prior to his current role, Andrew was Director of Aftersales and Quality Assurance at Nissan Canada Inc. Andrew’s tenure at Nissan Canada started in 2011 as dealer operations manager, after which he undertook progressive roles in sales operations. He also undertook roles such as Senior Manager, Chief Marketing Management for the truck and full-size SUV portfolio, as well as Regional General Manager for Nissan Canada’s Central Region. 

Andrew is also a member of the larger Nissan Executive Americas DEI Committee, ensuring that Canada is aligned and represented with Nissan’s policies across North and South America. 

He’s also executive sponsor for two employee resource groups: Gay/Straight Alliance (GSAN) and Wellness at Work (W@W). Along with the GSAN team, this year he led Nissan Canada’s first participation in the Toronto Pride Parade.  

Fully bilingual, Andrew holds a bachelor of commerce in marketing management from HEC Montréal. 

Andrew can speak to the following topics: 

  • His career as a leader in the automotive industry 
  • Changing or current trends on automotive consumer behavior 
  • Retail renovations, notably NREDI 2, Nissan’s global retail design standard which is rolling out steadily in Canada 
  • Enhancing the customer experience 
  • In-store apps and how technology has the capability to transform the automotive research and shopping experience 

Aryan Habib

Co-Founder & Director,
Empowering Auto

Read Aryan’s biography

Aryan Habib is co-founder of Empowering Auto, a not-for-profit organization on a mission to recruit, retain, and grow women in the automotive industry. Aryan’s well rounded automotive career began in 2016 through separate roles in sales and distribution. Aryan now leads connected vehicles and telematics.  

Aryan was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 by WXN in 2023. Aryan was recognized in the RBC Future Launch Future Leaders category. Aryan was also named a 2023 Notable Champion of Diversity by Automotive News Canada. In 2024, Aryan was named to The Peak’s 2024 Class of Emerging Leaders. 

Aryan is also a member of Ontario Tech University’s Women for STEM council. The Women for STEM program enable women students to fulfill their potential in STEM based fields via scholarships, mentorship, and celebrations. 

Cheryl Thompson

Founder and CEO,
Center for Automotive Diversity,
Inclusion & Advancement (CADIA)

Read Cheryl’s biography

Cheryl Thompson is the founder and CEO of the Center for Automotive Diversity, Inclusion & Advancement.  CADIA was launched in 2017 with the idea that diverse talent had long been overlooked and undervalued in the automotive industry.  A member-based organization, CADIA provides Diversity, Equity & Inclusion tools, networks, insights, and practical advice to companies in the auto-mobility space. 

A veteran of the automotive industry, Cheryl has over 30 years of experience at Ford Motor Company and American Axle and Manufacturing in positions ranging from tool and die, operations, manufacturing engineering and global leadership.  

She is a Certified Diversity Professional through the National Diversity Council, a Certified Six Sigma Black Belt and is trained in Leadership Coaching. She received her undergraduate degree in Manufacturing at Siena Heights University, and her MBA from Michigan State University. 

Cheryl has been recognized as a 2022 Automotive News All Star, 2019 Influential Women in Manufacturing Honoree, a 2019 Corp Magazine Salute to Diversity award winner, Marketing and Sales Executives of Detroit Platinum Award, and is the recipient of two Diversity and Inclusion Awards from Ford Motor Company.  

A sought-after voice and speaker in the automotive, manufacturing and aerospace & defense industries, Cheryl has performed keynote addresses, workshops, and breakout sessions for many member companies and events, including Women in Automotive, Automotive News Leading Women Conference, Beyond the Wrench, TEDx Windsor, Women in Manufacturing (WiM), the American Automotive Summit, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and CADIA’s annual Rev Up 2030 event.   

Christopher Nabeta

Executive Chairman,
Accelerate Auto and Director,
OEM Sales and Strategy Canada,
TD Auto Finance

Read Christopher’s biography

Christopher Nabeta is an automotive executive, currently serving as the Director, OEM Sales and Strategy at TD Auto Finance. With leadership experience in the OEM, retailer and automotive finance realms Christopher also serves as the Executive Chairman of Accelerate Auto, a not-for-profit geared towards increasing Black representation in Canada’s automotive sector. He leads the organization in delivering impactful programming built around its four pillars of Awareness, Development, Mentorship and Community. Christopher’s goal, as he leads Accelerate Auto, is to deliver sustainable and scalable programming that will help supplement and develop the sector’s workforce through diversification.

Katherine Mior

Manager of Human Resources and Diversity,
Equity and Inclusion,
Hyundai Auto Canada Corp.

Read Katherine’s biography

Katherine Mior (pronoun she/her) is Manager of Human Resources and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at Hyundai Auto Canada Corp. Katherine has over 12 years of HR experience, six of which are with Hyundai Canada. As the manager of DEI, Katherine works diligently to develop training, awareness and career development opportunities for under-represented groups. Furthermore, Katherine spearheads partnerships, recruitment strategies and on-going conversations, building a stronger, more diverse auto industry, with Hyundai leading by example.  

As a passionate professional about creating an inclusive and welcoming culture, as well as supporting team members achieve their career goals and dreams, Katherine ventured into co-founding Empowering Auto, a non-profit organization that attracts diverse talent and provides an inclusive supporting network to drive more women to the automotive industry.  

Katherine oversees the integration and implementation of DEI best practices across all team member levels and is a Core Value Ambassador representing Canada in Hyundai Motor Company’s Global Core Value Program. Among her many interpersonal talents, she has been driving all accountable, sustainable, inclusive and equitable corporate governance policies that help make the automotive industry a more inclusive place. Katherine is also an active member in all three of Hyundai Canada’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) Women@HAC, Inclusion@HAC and Parents@HAC. Katherine and her HR team have established an award-winning organizational culture, earning “Great Place to Work” designations for six consecutive years. 

Prior to joining Hyundai, Katherine fostered her HR career at CaTECH Systems Ltd., where she was involved in everything from health and safety; performance reviews; payroll; new hire orientation; and recruitment, just to name a few.

Mary Robinson

Associate Dean Outreach,
Equity & Diversity,
Faculty of Engineering,
University of Waterloo

Read Mary’s biography

Mary Robinson (she/her) is a settler, living and working on the traditional territory of the Attawandaron, Anishnaabeg, and Haudenosaunee Peoples in Waterloo, Ontario.  Mary is a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Chemical Engineering program with a specialization in biotechnology and food processing.  Mary is a Continuing Lecturer in the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Waterloo, teaching undergraduate courses from first-year chemistry to fourth-year technical electives. Mary’s research focuses on active learning and inclusion in engineering, building on her decade of experience as a first-year student advisor. Since 2021, Mary has held the role of Associate Dean Outreach, Equity & Diversity in the Faculty of Engineering, leading the award-winning outreach programming to under-represented communities and on-going efforts to create a more accessible, equitable and inclusive community on campus. Mary is a fellow of the Canadian Engineering Education Association (CEEA-ACÉG). 

Shannon Spano

Vice President of Sales,
Wakefield Canada

Read Shannon’s biography

Shannon joined Wakefield Canada, the Canadian Distributor of Castrol lubricants and SuperClean cleaner/degreasers in 2006 and leads the Sales organization in her role as Vice President of Sales.  She has held progressive positions within the organization, including Category Management, National Account Management, Retail Sales Manager and Vice President of Consumer Sales.

Shannon was recognized in 2018 as the Automotive Industries Association of Canada (AIA Canada) Young Leader of the Year, for strong leadership and contributions to the automotive industry.   In 2024, she was recognized as a Notable Champion of Diversity by Automotive News and Accelerate Auto for outstanding commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace and wider communities.   

Shannon joined the AIA Young Professional Association in 2014 and has also served on the Ontario Division before joining the Board of Directors in 2020.  She currently serves as AIA Chair with a passion for engaging members, listening to their unique voices and diverse perspectives, and mobilizing change and advocacy to support a sustainable and inspiring future for our industry.

Steven Majer

Vice President,
Human Resources,
Ford Motor Company Canada

Read Steven’s biography

Steve Majer returned to Canada on July 1, 2021, to serve as Vice President of Human Resources, Ford of Canada.

In this position, he leads the overall HR service delivery model supporting over 7,000 employees in Ford’s highest share market globally. He is responsible for people strategy, organization design, change management, culture architecture, talent management and employee engagement for software development, digital connectivity, manufacturing, commercial operations and retail/aftermarket parts distribution from coast to coast.

In addition, he recently served as Ford’s chief negotiator for successful national 2023 UNIFOR negotiations with salaried bargaining units, skilled trades and production employees.

Previously, Steve was Vice President, Human Resources, Ford China from February of 2019 to June of 2021. He played a lead role in the restructuring of the overall Greater China business and the associated cultural transformation. During this time, he redesigned the China organization in support the elevation of China as a distinct business unit with direct reporting to our global headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, USA.

Steve previously served as Director, Human Resources Business Operations, Asia Pacific. Based in Shanghai, he supported Greater China, Australia, India and ASEAN markets from May 2017 to January 2019.

Prior to moving to China, Steve was Vice President, Human Resources, Ford Motor Company of Canada Limited from January of 2014 to April 2017.

Steve moved to Canada from Ford in the U.S. in 2014 where he last held the position of Human Resources Manager for Ford’s Dearborn manufacturing operations on the historic Rouge Site.

He has been with Ford since 1997, when he began his career as a Labour Relations Representative at the Windsor Engine Plant in Canada. Steve has since held numerous positions in internationally and brings with him diverse HR leadership experience.

Steve values relationships and knows the importance of a fit operating model and high caliber talent in delivering business results. His extensive background with Ford has equipped him with experience and knowledge that has deepened his understanding of our consumer markets and all aspects of our business.

Steve completed his undergraduate studies with a Bachelor of Arts (Hon.) in Political Science at the University of Guelph. In addition, he received a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Political Science from the University of Waterloo and a Master of Industrial Relations (MIR) degree from Queen’s University.

Tara Willis

Senior Manager of Diversity,
Equity and Inclusion (DEI) & Philanthropy,
Nissan Canada Inc.

Read Tara’s biography

Tara Willis is the Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) & Philanthropy at Nissan Canada Inc., a position that was newly created and to which she was appointed to September 2022. Willis was also appointed Board Director of the Nissan Canada Foundation in April 2023.   

In her role, Tara is responsible for leading the development and execution of relevant DEI efforts and overseeing Nissan Canada’s Philanthropic initiatives. This includes mentoring, engaging in strategic planning, deploying initiatives based on employee sentiment, improving employee experience, & driving cultural change initiatives. 

With over 18 years of experience in the automotive industry, Tara had the opportunity to touch on DEI efforts within her previous roles. She particularly wants to focus on contributing to the people and culture of the organization by building a “Nissan for Everyone” and a place where everyone has a voice.