“Our charity is called Butterfly Effect because it’s a small movement that can have a profound effect on lung cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment.”
Award-winning entrepreneur, Joyce Usher-Mesiano, was born in Dublin, Ireland, and immigrated to Canada as a young girl. After graduating from university, Joyce thought she’d take the summer to try the insurance business, but summer became longer and within eighteen months, she was promoted and continued to forge ahead. Initially, Joyce and two female business partners formed National Brokers Insurance Services Inc. (1998). She is President and co-founder of National Union Insurance Group Inc. (1998) and Monarch Intermediaries Inc. (2011), with the latest acquisition of Grant, Jones and Stuart Insurance Brokers Ltd. (2013).
“I love the insurance business. I love helping individuals and businesses, and seeing policyholders feel comfortable and taken care of.”
Joyce lives in Vaughan with her husband and son, and is passionate about her vision, direction, and community. Although she is a hockey mom and spends many hours at the arena, along with being a business woman, Joyce makes time to volunteer. The causes which are particularly close to her heart are ones born out of tragedy. Joyce helped her brother-in-law, who was suffering from ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), to raise funds by organizing golf tournaments, accumulating thousands of dollars for ALS research at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
When Joyce’s sister was diagnosed with lung cancer, the prognosis wasn’t good. Her sister was preparing to become a mother. Joyce was there for her sister all the way, accompanying her to all of her hospital appointments. Joyce watched in awe as her sister became an advocate for other patients in the lung cancer unit, including letting her doctors know a beverage station was needed in the unit. After getting a second opinion, the diagnosis and prognosis was changed. As a result of the advice given, and treatment adjustments made, her new prognosis gave her more time and quality of life than originally stated by the doctors, enabling her to enjoy that precious time with her family.
In 2013, Joyce visited the doctors, and the lead oncologist put her in contact with the Princess Margaret Foundation, saying, “This is what your sister wanted; let’s get it done!” Joyce, as the co-founder of the Butterfly Effect in her sister’s memory, is spearheading this initiative. Her sister was a non-smoker, and most patients Joyce had come across were non-smokers. The Butterfly Effects committee decided to go further and run a campaign against the stigma attached to lung cancer. They also plan to raise much needed research dollars to bring lung cancer to the forefront of public awareness, so individuals are educated about the disease’s early warning signs. Their intentions include funding a full scale renovation of Princess Margaret Hospital’s Lung Cancer Clinic, implementing a Patient Navigation Program at the hospital, and launching a Media Awareness Campaign.
“People heard of my sister’s story and asked for help themselves. We thought that if we were able to help her, we could help others. We asked my sister what her favourite symbol was so we could name the company after her. That is where Monarch Intermediaries came from.”
Joyce launched Monarch Intermediaries Inc. in June 2011, connecting individuals diagnosed with a serious illness with a second medical opinion within five days without leaving their home. This has been helpful to many Canadians. The symbolic meaning of the logo speaks of the monarch butterfly; the wings represent her sister’s children. The wings are made of stepping stones, a picture of the legacy going forward. The setting of Joyce’s portrait is at her office in Vaughan, and the canvas depicts butterflies in vibrant pink, blue, and purple, with splashes of gold. The purple butterflies are reminiscent of her sister’s most loved colour and the Butterfly Effect logo.
Prompted by the Government of Canada campaign “It Starts with One, Be Her Champion,” an initiative through Status of Women Canada, Joyce mentors three women in business. She continues to contribute her time and expertise to numerous causes, including her involvement as a member of the Women Presidents’ Organization, insurance councils, and the Toronto Construction Association. Joyce also serves on the executive board for the Vaughan Chamber of Commerce.