The Team

The staff at Grow Trade Consulting Inc. is one of our key strengths. Our dynamic team brings a wide range of experience in trade and business development from a variety of global markets – Canada, United States, Asia, and Central America.

Nancy Ward


Nancy Ward established Grow Trade Consulting Inc. in 2004 after a successful six-year career with the Canadian Trade Office of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers (formerly the Council of Great Lakes Governors). Since 1998 she has helped thousands of U.S. and overseas SMEs understand the nuances of the Canadian market, connect with Canadian partners, and identify business opportunities in a broad range of industry sectors. She has also coordinated numerous inbound trade missions involving various industries across Canada.

Nancy’s role has also focused on business development and foreign direct investment in the U.S. and abroad. She has successfully executed business development and attraction strategies for two U.S. states, assisting Canadian companies seeking guidance on market entry, sales growth, and business operation set-up in the United States.

Prior to working with the Canadian Trade Office of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers and establishing Grow Trade Consulting, Nancy held positions in retail sales, adult education, and sales and marketing (the latter while working with the Canadian subsidiary of a U.S. automotive parts manufacturer).

Nancy holds an honours degree in Political Science and a postgraduate designation in International Business. She is a past president of the International Trade Club of Toronto and was also the Vice President of Communications for the Organization of Women in International Trade – Toronto for three years. Nancy was the recipient of the 2011 Joanna Townsend Award for an Export Champion, recognizing an outstanding woman in Ontario who – through her business and personal networks – created opportunities to actively support Canadian women entrepreneurs and helped them succeed in international business.

Chris Leslie

Senior Manager Trade, Technology & Administration

Chris joined the Grow Trade Consulting team in 2008 and has spent the last twelve years in a business consultancy capacity, helping American SMEs find opportunities and partners in the Canadian market. With expertise in a variety of industries including oil and gas, clean technology, transportation, manufacturing and processing technologies, industrial products, and hands-on knowledge of the construction materials sector, he continues to assist clients in understanding the Canadian business landscape, conducting market research, and facilitating business-to-business trade in various industries across Canada.

Chris is also Grow Trade Consulting’s technology and administration manager, overseeing various operating activities including client intake requests, reporting, inbound trade missions, and database management.

Since 2006 Chris has been involved in his local community, serving as the Vice President of Operations for the Optimist Club of Rouge Valley, a member of Optimists International. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration, a diploma in Finance, and a postgraduate certificate in Project Management.

Charlotte Robertson

Senior Market Access Consultant

Charlotte Robertson has more than 20 years of business experience in international investment and trade. As the former director of the State of Pennsylvania Canadian Investment Office, she worked extensively with Canadian companies expanding their operations to that state. Her past position as director of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Governors & Premiers (formerly the Council of Great Lakes Governors) Canadian Trade Office, required both economic development and trade promotion with various U.S. states on an ongoing basis. Charlotte has hosted many governors’ missions to Canada and has assisted many Canadian companies in their efforts to set up subsidiaries in the U.S.

Charlotte is a past president of the Council of American States in Canada (CASC). She has an M.A. in English Literature.

Kirsten Ross

Communications Manager & Market Access Consultant

Kirsten began her career as a reporter/photographer in southwestern Ontario, covering everything from municipal politics to criminal trials. She later transitioned to creating print and digital communication and marketing materials for a variety of industries including hospitality, IT, engineering, documentary film, and the healthcare sector. She joined Twitter in 2008 and has spent the last decade learning a multitude of digital platforms and contributing regularly to the online world.

Kirsten’s role at Grow Trade Consulting is two-fold: assisting clients with export facilitation, and print and digital communications management, ensuring Grow Trade’s clients are highly visible, particularly during key trade events in the Canadian market.

Kirsten has a Bachelor of Arts Degree (Political Science) from Carleton University, a Journalism Diploma from Canadore College, and recently earned an Art and Design Studio Certificate from the Ontario College of Art and Design University. She is a past president of AFCA Toastmasters, where she previously served two terms as club secretary and mentor to new club members.

Joanne Walsh

Market Access Consultant

Joanne joined Grow Trade Consulting in 2017, where she continues to gain professional experience facilitating successful business relationships between U.S. companies and organizations with Canadian partners.

As a former International Trade Specialist for the State of Illinois for eleven years prior, Joanne has worked extensively with international companies to develop exporting initiatives to Canada, resulting in many receiving a Governor’s Export Award for exceptional success.

Although many assignments have crossed her desk in multiple sectors, Joanne’s passions are in food and beverage, natural health products, industrial biotechnology, and tourism. Her areas of expertise include trade and export development, and spearheading inbound trade missions to Canada.

Shari Stancer

Market Access Consultant

Shari Stancer comes to Grow Trade Consulting with more than 15 years of business consulting experience in the human resources recruitment industry. Her experience includes working with a variety of small- to large-sized companies with many specializing in the manufacturing, import and wholesale apparel sector and retail markets. Her retail market commodity experience includes hardware, footwear, sporting goods, home fashions, grocery, health and beauty, accessories, and apparel. She approaches her work with professionalism and integrity, drawing on previous business experience and strong customer relations, communication and sourcing skills to successfully meet our clients’ needs.

Shari holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Certificate in Communication Studies. She is an active community volunteer, having held several senior leadership roles with various portfolio responsibilities, and is a Past President with a not-for-profit organization.

Laura McLeod

Market Access Consultant

Laura immigrated to Canada from El Salvador as a child and grew up in the Niagara Falls region, where she spent 10 years working in the tourism industry while completing her high school and undergraduate education. Laura began her career in International Trade by completing an internship opportunity with the U.S. Commercial Service Office of Toronto. There, she gained experience helping U.S. businesses with export development opportunities within the Canadian market. In 2013, Laura won the Student of the Year Award on behalf of the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT) for her contribution to the field.

Laura is fluent in Spanish and English, and is pursuing a French-as-a-Second Language Certificate. After spending three years in Far East Asia, Laura also has a basic level of understanding of the Korean language.

Laura completed her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Brock University and a Graduate Certificate in International Business from Sheridan College.

Note: Laura is currently on sabbatical, and will return in the fall of 2020.

Susan Baka

Bay Communications & Marketing Inc.

Specializing in marketing communications and international trade, Bay Communications & Marketing Inc. began partnering with Grow Trade Consulting Inc. in 2016 to provide market research, market entry strategy, and distributor search support. Bay has worked with clients in Canadian, U.S., and international markets. This has included writing trade reports, case studies of successful exporters and communications materials, as well as spearheading trade missions and organizing trade-related events and business matching. Clients include trade departments and agencies, financial institutions, corporations, and organizations.

A subject matter expert in global trade, owner Susan Baka has a deep network of trade contacts in business, industry, and government. She is a prolific writer and frequent speaker on the benefits of going global, and served on the Canadian Minister of International Trade’s SME Advisory Board (2008-2011).

Susan is one of the founders and VP International of the Canadian chapter of the Organization of Women in International Trade in Toronto (OWIT) and has sat on its International Board since 2000. She has spearheaded countless communication initiatives as well as trade missions, and has mentored the start-up of international OWIT chapters. Susan is also active in government stakeholder consultations on free trade agreements, representing the interests of small and medium enterprises.

She has been honoured with four international awards as a woman entrepreneur. Susan has a journalism degree.

Allyson Warden

Bay Communications & Marketing Inc.

A marketing writer, content developer and researcher, associate Allyson Warden’s experience has encompassed trade assignments for a variety of corporate, association, and government clients. Her background includes 14 years with a public relations and communications consultancy, marketing for a national software consulting firm, and product coordination for a major mutual funds company – a wide-ranging experience base that provides her with an agility to learn quickly and manage numerous projects simultaneously. Ms. Warden has completed projects for the Japan External Trade Association (JETRO), the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), the Organization of Women in International Trade (OWIT), and numerous government trade departments.