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Shirley Elizabeth (E.) Greenberg (née Schnell) was born to George Schnell and Elizabeth Bertha Schnell in 1931, in Ottawa, Ontario. In 1959 she was married to Irving Greenberg (1928-1991); she had three children.
Throughout her law studies and professional practice, Dr. Greenberg worked for women’s legal equality through advocacy, philanthropy and education.
In the early 1970s, Shirley E. Greenberg was inspired by second-wave feminism to pursue a law degree with the University of Ottawa. She attended law school as a mature, married student and as a mother of three. From March 14-16, 1974, Shirley E. Greenberg attended the founding conference of the National Association of Women and the Law (NAWL).
Working with the University of Ottawa’s NAWL chapter, Shirley E. Greenberg helped administer the organization’s 1975 summer project, delivering programs that raised awareness of the impact of legal inequities on women’s lives.
Shelley E. Greenberg also conducted research and wrote extensively about legal topics affecting women, such as child custody, family law, pensions, and unemployment insurance. She wrote for such feminist publications as “Upstream.”
Dr. Greenberg helped found the Ottawa Women’s Centre Association—a vital resource for community women. She also volunteered with Ottawa’s Rape Crisis Centre and Interval House.
After graduating from law school in 1976, Shirley E. Greenberg co-founded Ottawa’s first all-female law practice, in 1978. The law practice hosted women articling students, helping women establish law careers in male-dominated spaces. She was awarded an honourary doctorate from the University of Ottawa in 2003.
Shirley E. Greenberg also became a noted philanthropist. In 2005, she endowed the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession in the Common Law Section of the Faculty of Law, designated for feminist law faculty members. She established the Shirley E. Greenberg Women's Health Centre at the Ottawa Hospital’s Riverside campus, in 2005. In 2013 she funded the Shirley E. Greenberg Breast Cancer Imaging Suite at the Queensway Carleton Hospital. She established the Shirley E. Greenberg Resource Centre for Women at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre.
In 2014, Shirley Greenberg was awarded the Outstanding Individual Philanthropist honour by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), in 2014. She was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2009 and awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, in 2012.
Nancy Webb graduated from high school in 1963 and immediately entered the workforce. She was employed, at age 18, as a secretary for an electronics corporation in Etobicoke, Ontario. In 1979, Nancy Webb enrolled at York University while also working full-time, and later, while parenting her daughter; she graduated from York University in 1991.
In the spring of 1985 Nancy Webb attended a Women’s Studies’ course, Social Sciences 3580.06, taught by Dr. Meg Luxton. Subsequently, Nancy Webb worked as Fundraising and Community Relations Coordinator for the Elizabeth Fry Society in Toronto, for 30 years.
From ca. 1978-1980 Nancy also volunteered with the Lesbian Organization of Toronto. In 1984, she was part of the founding collective of the Notso Amazon Softball League in Toronto.
Working Women Community Centre (WWCC) was created in June 1974 in Toronto’s West End to help newcomer women with pre-employment and employment counselling. The Centre was specifically created to help women from Portugal, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. The original name of the Centre was Women’s Community Employment Centre.
WWCC has responded to the needs of women in Toronto’s newcomer communities with creative, yet pragmatic, programs and services. In 1978, WWCC sponsored the Working Skills Centre, a mailroom on-the-job training program.
In 1984, WWCC helped develop the South Asian Women’s Centre, providing settlement services to South Asian women in Toronto. From 1985-1989, WWCC partnered with Humber College to offer the Electronics Assembler Program [Immigrant Women Into Electronics], providing immigrant women with skills for entry level electronics positions.
Since 1980, WWCC has provided immigrant women with an English as a Second Language program and a Language Instruction for Newcomers program, as well as offering computer training.
From 1980-1985, WWCC sponsored Modistas Unidas Workshop, an informal collective of skilled Portuguese-speaking dressmakers. This professional dressmaking business created an exclusive high-quality women’s clothing line.
In 2005, WWCC and its partners facilitated the Baker/Patisserie pre-apprenticeship training program. WWCC also partnered with organizations, in 2007, to provide immigrant women with pre-apprenticeship carpentry training.
As of 2014, WWCC serves all newcomer communities across the city, with office locations in the Jane/Finch, Don Mills/Sheppard/Peanut Town, Bloor West, and Victoria Village communities.