Meet the Winners of the 2018 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards!

“I’m sorry your salad is a little dry, we’re having a hard time getting oil into the province right now,” emcee Sophie Lui joked to a crowd of over 1,200 giggling guests at the 35th annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards, hosted at the JW Mariott Parq Vancouver on Thursday, June 7th. Premier John Horgan, joining the group in laughter, stood up, walked up to the stage and high-fived the speaker, and the crows roared with laughter.

Premier John Horgan high fives Sophie Lui

This set the tone for the evening – a fun-filled event full of inspiring speakers, and world-class women, joining together to celebrate the evening’s honourees.

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honours individuals and organizations whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community.

The winners of the 2018 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards

The event featured special guest speakers, including Kim Campbell, former Prime Minister of Canada (and still the only woman to have held that position), who was recognized as the recipient of the Icon Award. A silent auction was held, as well as a live auction featuring amazing prizes such as an exclusive Italian wine getaway package which sold for nearly $9,000.

Fred Lee was the auctioneer for the evening

The event raised over $115,000 towards supporting programs offered by YWCA, exceeding the goal of $100,000 that was originally set by the event organizers.

Below is a complete list of the winners who were chosen for each of the 13 categories:

Arts, Culture & Design – Mary-Jo Dionne – Principal, Mary-Jo Dionne Productions
Mary-Jo Dionne, an award-winning writer, performer, podcaster and Principal of Mary-Jo Dionne Productions, has done everything from copywriting to keynote speaking, while giving generously to the community.

Business & the Professions
– Kirsten Sutton – Vice President and Managing Director, SAP Labs Canada
As Vice President and Managing Director of SAP Labs Canada, Kirsten Sutton facilitated SAP’s adoption of the Autism@Work initiative and advocates for girls in tech by supporting initiatives like Templeton STEM and GIRLsmart4tech.

Community Champion
 – Andrea Thomas Hill – Founder and Board Chair, Cause We Care Foundation
Andrea Thomas Hill founded Cause We Care Foundation to realize her vision of supporting single mothers and their children to lead more fulfilling, empowered and independent lives through opportunities for positive change.

Premier John Horgan poses for photos with kids in attendance

Education, Training & Development – Leila Rahemtulla – Instructor, SFU and BCIT, Consultant and Author
Instructor, SFU and BCIT, Consultant, and Author, Leila Rahemtulla has championed accessible education through online learning at both schools and excellence in workplace and community training through her consulting and volunteering.
 
Entrepreneurship & Innovation – Bonnie Foley-Wong – Chief Investment Innovator, Pique Ventures
Bonnie Foley-Wong founded Pique Ventures, an impact investment and management firm, to challenge the status quo and create an investment environment that promotes gender equality, diversity and inclusion.
 
Environmental Sustainability – Vanessa Timmer – Executive Director, One Earth
Co-Founder and Executive Director of One Earth, Vanessa Timmer co-developed “Disruptive Imaginings,” a global learning community of futurists, designers and storytellers who create powerful images of life in sustainable futures.

Health & Wellness
 – Christine Loock – Developmental Pediatrician, Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC
Christine Loock is a Developmental Pediatrician at Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of BC and am internationally recognized clinician and researcher in the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.
 
Non-Profit – Teri Nicholas – President and CEO, BC Children’s Hospital Foundation
President and CEO of BC Children’s Hospital Foundation, Teri Nicholas successfully completed a $200M campaign and while at Family Services of Greater Vancouver, established the first safe house for homeless youth.

Public Service –
 Zulie Sachedina – Vice President, Human Resources and General Counsel, Providence Health Care
As Vice President, Human Resources and General Counsel for Providence Health Care, Zulie Sachedina advanced a constitutional challenge for the right to prescribe medical-grade heroin to drug users, thus supporting patients.

Research & the Sciences – 
Gina Ogilvie – Senior Advisor, Research, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre 
As Senior Advisor of Research at BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, Gina’s research has focused on how to use HPV screening and the HPV vaccine, the two biggest breakthroughs in preventing cervical cancer since the pap smear, to eliminate cervical cancer. The WHO adopted her recommended protocol.

Young Woman of Distinction –
 Miranda Andersen – Founder, Enufsaid
Miranda Andersen is a filmmaker, speaker and blogger whose educational website, Enufsaid.ca, features her own films and lesson plans to inspire youth to engage and connect with the natural world.

The 2018 nominees

Outstanding Workplace – BCAA
BCAA is committed to promoting work/life balance with flexible working arrangements, Employee and Family Assistance and in-house executive coaching. Its Best Doctors program gives employees access to expert medical advice from 53,000 physicians worldwide. BCAA was recognized as a 2018 Aon Best Employer.
 
Connecting the Community – Mary-Jo Dionne – Principal, Mary-Jo Dionne Productions
Mary-Jo Dionne, an award-winning writer, performer, podcaster and Principal of Mary-Jo Dionne Productions, has done everything from copywriting to keynote speaking, while giving generously to the community.
 
In addition, the YWCA Metro Vancouver Women of Distinction Awards recognized The Right Honourable Kim Campbell as recipient of the Icon Award. Selected internally by the YWCA, the Icon Award recognizes an extraordinary woman for her achievements throughout her lifetime.

Interested in attending next year’s event? Check the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards website for news and updates throughout the year. Interested in donating? Visit the YWCA website to learn more about how you can help.

 

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