Sally Ng, Chief Operating Officer for newly created BIPOC industry group Tribe Network, has been nominated for the Women of the Year award from Ryerson University startup incubator the DMZ.

New this year, the award will honour International Women's Day on March 8 and has a 32-person shortlist that also includes Martha Casey, CEO of Halifax startup hub Volta.

Ng is a serial entrepreneur and former Senior Partner at Toronto venture capital firm Highline Beta. There, she specialized in coaching and developing training programs for “intrapreneurs,” who are the heads of innovative teams within larger, established organizations.

She started at Tribe two weeks ago and part of her mandate is to help encourage innovative companies to create corporate governance structures that are more welcoming to the BIPOC -- Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour -- community. Informing that work is Ng’s forthcoming Institute of Corporate Directors certification.

“I've been fortunate enough to sit on the board of a couple of national charities, but also witnessed a number of boards in Atlantic Canada that haven't been operated well,” said Ng in an interview.

“And so as a relatively young person, I'm like, ‘What does it actually mean to be a director of an organization? And how do you bring the most value to it?’”

Ng has finished the coursework required to earn her ICD.D designation -- the accreditation offered by the Institute of Corporate Directors -- and will be able to use the title as soon as she passes her certification exam.

She was valedictorian of the ICD.D class and used her speech to advocate for better accessibility to the program for people with limited financial resources. She said earning the ICD.D designation costs about $26,000 all in, which makes the prestigious certification out of reach for many.

Ng was previously the founding Executive Director for Fredericton startup hub Planet Hatch and was hired by Innovation PEI to help launch the Startup Zone incubator in Charlottetown.

Her stint in Toronto at Highline Beta lasted just under three years. During that time, she also became an angel investor, backing two startups and eventually joining East Valley Ventures as Executive in Residence last November. The New Brunswick angel group is part of Gerry Pond’s Mariner Partners.

There, Ng said she is interested in investing in more startups, but she described her work at East Valley as being “on the side of her desk,” compared to her COO role at Tribe. She also advises and mentors startups, but said that work is usually informal.

Based in Halifax and created in March by social entrepreneur Alfred Burgesson, Tribe’s goal is to help people from marginalized groups gain more of a foothold in the innovation community.

Much of its programming will be based on a report called Inclusive Entrepreneurship: Exploring the Barriers Facing Black Entrepreneurs in Canada that Burgesson co-authored last year with Senator Colin Deacon and David Coletto, CEO of Ottawa polling firm Abacus Data.

“It’s ensuring that all, especially BIPOC individuals, have that network and help that they need to build their businesses and grow the talent pool,” said Ng.

So far, Tribe has two full-time employees, Burgesson and Ng, but two additional staffers are joining in the coming weeks. Ng said she and Burgesson are also preparing to announce the members of their board of directors and will provide more detail about future program offerings in the coming weeks.