We are a non-denominational, registered charitable organization in Canada. Our purpose is to empower young women, primarily from the Global South, to become the next generation of leaders in their communities. We achieve our purpose by providing scholarships and ongoing personal support to ensure that every student succeeds at university and is equipped to become an outstanding leader.

The biggest gender inequality issues that we face today, such as legal discrimination, unfair social norms and attitudes, decision-making on sexual and reproductive issues and low levels of political participation, are better resolved in societies where women and men are equally educated.

We strongly believe that better education not only gets women out of the cycle of poverty and develops the next generation of women leaders, but also makes them more resilient in vulnerable situations such as economic, social and environmental shocks and disasters.

By working closely with our on-ground partner in the student’s country of origin and our university partners, we help these young women secure all the funding they require to pursue university programs at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and PhD levels.



We aim to lift young women, their families and their communities out of the cycle of poverty by igniting a spark of hope. We believe that empowering young women, especially those from countries in turmoil, strengthens local communities and is key to creating long-term transformational change.


Over the next 10 years, our goal is to support an additional 500 young women leaders to achieve university education, at the Bachelor’s, Master’s, Professional and PhD levels. We’d love your support in making their dreams come true!



We are delighted to support the Foundation as it enables young women from the developing world to achieve their dreams and aspirations of getting an excellent university education. It is heartening to see these young women already becoming leaders in their communities and countries.

Leila and Sheraz Datoo, Toronto, ON

Even though tuition fees are heavily subsidized by UCA, it is still a challenge for many students. SoHF scholarships help selected students graduate debt-free and reduce their personal financial commitment.

Nasir Pirani, University of Central Asia

My support for Spark of Hope is an investment in the world’s future and the belief that positive, high-impact change will come from young women leaders as role models and educated professionals.

Marion MacKenzie, Dartmouth, NS

Educating young women is one of the most effective ways to break the cycle of poverty, leading to healthier families. The Spark of Hope Foundation’s mission to lift young women, their families and their communities out of the cycle of poverty is commendable and their achievements over a relatively short period of time has been remarkable. We are privileged and pleased to support the work of the Spark of Hope Foundation, and as a family look forward to continue with this support for many years to come.

Parviz and Mohamud Zaver, Calgary, AB

Education is the foundation upon which societies are able to progress. Empowering young women to become leaders of tomorrow by providing scholarships uplifts communities and makes the impossible, possible. I am proud to support this organization and help young women achieve their dreams.

Zahra Nurmohamed, Toronto, ON

We are delighted to have a collaboration agreement with the Spark of Hope Foundation. By working together, the University’s and Foundation’s financial assistance has made it possible to support bright female leaders from the Global South at the PhD and Master’s level over the past four years. We look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship, and to the deep impact that we are confident these students will have in their communities, countries and in the world.

Prof. Richard Poulin, Director of the International Office/Assistant to the Vice-Rector, Université Laval

I am impressed with the results that the Spark of Hope Foundation has been able to achieve – one girl, one placement at a time – in such a short period. The impact these girls are making in the world is not measured in dollars but in generations to come. They will be mothers to the world. We need to nurture them so that they in turn nurture the world we are leaving behind. Well done!

Yasmin Virani, Mississauga, ON

Unite Lebanon Youth Project has had the pleasure of partnering with the Spark of Hope Foundation since its inception in 2014. The Foundation’s support, often as a funder of last resort, has been crucial to enabling bright young women in Lebanon, often from refugee camps, pursue their dreams of becoming doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals at prestigious universities in the Middle East and abroad. It is heartening to see the product of our collaboration begin to make an impact in diverse fields of endeavour.

Melek El Nimer, Unite Lebanon Youth Project

The Foundation’s passion for helping young women achieve their potential resonates deeply with us, and we are delighted to offer our support in honour of our niece, Naina Dossani, and our daughters.

Rozina and Akber Dewji, Toronto, ON


Our Board of Directors provides governance, oversight and long-term strategic guidance. They bring different external experiences, from a wide variety of fields and with broad business and not-for-profit experience.

Cora Di Pietro
Cora Di PietroBoard Chair
Tanneke Heersche
Tanneke HeerscheBoard Director
Shairoz Kherani
Shairoz KheraniBoard Director

Cora Di Pietro is Vice President, Global Trade Consulting at Livingston International, pursuing strategic opportunities to grow the business with clients engaged in international trade, helping them minimize risk and achieve higher levels of regulatory compliance. Highly knowledgeable in all areas of valuation, tariff classification, free trade agreements, security regulations, marking rules, export controls and tax, Cora has played a key role in helping large companies around the world expand their business into international markets. Cora has had several success leadership positions since joined Livingston in 1997, including consulting director for Ontario and head of the eastern region in 2004, responsible for both consulting services and business development.

Prior to Livingston, Cora held progressively senior positions in the area of commodity tax with two major accounting firms.

Cora holds a B.A. from York University in Toronto and is an active member of numerous trade and industry associations while also frequently serving as a speaker and lecturer on global trade.

Tanneke is a partner at Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP with a focus on natural resource project development in emerging markets. Tanneke is highly regarded for her expertise and experience in the mining industry where she is recognised as a leading legal advisor. Her extensive experience includes advising on all aspects of the development and financing of mining and other natural resource projects in emerging markets, with an emphasis on African markets.

Tanneke’s practice also encompasses advising and representing clients on significant cross-border investments and investment protections in natural resources, infrastructure, and other sectors in various emerging markets. She regularly advises major international mining companies and international financial institutions as well as governments in numerous countries around the world.

Shairoz comes with a 25 year progressive career in a variety of leadership roles across teaching/academic and community hospitals in both an adult and pediatric settings at St. Michael’s Hospital, Cancer Care Ontario, Hamilton Health Sciences and currently as Director, Diagnostic Imaging and Laboratory Medicine at Halton Healthcare.

Having completed her Master’s in Healthcare Quality in 2016, Shairoz has embraced the opportunity to drive quality improvement and best practice across her program areas, and beyond. With a leadership track record, Shairoz has built strategic partnerships within and external to the organizations where she has worked. Shairoz also comes with a strong business and financial acumen. She holds a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) and a CPA designation. This has helped the hospital manage budgets effectively, develop sound business cases and create value for money. She has held board positions as Chair of the Governance committee and previous to this as Chair of the Finance committee at the Bob Hemp Hospice in Hamilton. She has also contributed as a member on the Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences board whose mission is to provide advocacy, support and service for Technologists in Radiation Sciences and Ultrasound.

Meera Sharma
Meera SharmaBoard Director
Cassandra Dorrington
Cassandra DorringtonBoard Director

Meera is the Vice President, Global Project and Portfolio Management at Livingston International, where she is responsible for strategic planning and overall project management for multi-year capital projects. Her experience includes automation opportunities, digital capabilities, regulatory impacts, product expansion, development of service offerings and evaluation of international opportunities. She is an influencer who works across all divisions of Livingston to maximize the company’s return on investments.

Meera has a MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario as well as a HBA in Economics from the University of Toronto.

Cassandra Dorrington is currently the President of the Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC), a non-profit organization dedicated to the economic empowerment of Aboriginal and visible minority communities through business development and employment. Its mandate is to identify and certify Aboriginal and minority-owned businesses, and facilitate their access into the supply chain of major corporations in Canada. Ms. Dorrington was formerly the president and owner of Vale & Associates Human Resources Management and Consulting Inc., a company specializing in providing human resources management and consulting services to public and private clients nationally and internationally. From 2001-2004, she worked with Deloitte as part of their people practice.

Building on her national and international work linking SMEs to procurement professionals, Ms. Dorrington sits on the National Advisory Committee for the PSPC, and is a founding member of both Supplier Diversity Alliance Canada (SDCA) and Global Supplier Diversity Alliance (GSDA) to facilitate collaboration and connection while driving a more inclusive procurement. In addition to sitting on Dalhousie University’s Board of Governors, Cassandra also sits on the Black Business Enterprise Board as past Chair and is currently a member of the departmental Audit Committee for the federal department of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Cassandra’s past interests have included Chair of CPA Canada, member of Saint Mary’s Business School Advisory Board, Mount Saint Vincent University Board of Governors, Treasurer of the Atlantic Provinces Chamber of Commerce, and Treasurer of Techsploration (an organization that works to promote young women in non-traditional roles in trades and technologies). A graduate of Saint Mary’s University Executive MBA Program, Ms. Dorrington also holds a Bachelor of Commerce and a CMA/CPA designation.

Founder and CEO


Narmin Ismail has always been passionate about empowering youth with the skills, experience and aptitudes to become leaders.

In 2014, she decided to tackle the huge funding and accessibility gap at the university level for young women, especially in the Global South in areas of conflict and remote and under-served areas. So she established The Spark of Hope Foundation to provide university-level scholarships to young women with a mission to help develop the next generation of women leaders.

Narmin has a B.A. in Psychology from York University and an M.B.A. from Athabasca University, and is the recipient of multiple awards and honours, including the Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal (M.S.M.).