YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012: Live Blog

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards are being held tonight at the Westin Bayshore to recognize outstanding women who have contributed to a variety of professional fields and communities around Metro Vancouver.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
2012 Business & Professions recipient Patricia Graham of Pacific Newspaper Group

For the third year as a sponsor, I am presenting a live blog tonight that will include photos, quotes, and Twitter updates from attendees, nominees, and esteemed presenters.

Please check back after 6:00pm Pacific Time for the live coverage to begin and follow @Miss604 on Twitter as well as the official account @YWVanWODA (updated by Hailey Flynn) or the tag #WODA (for Women of Distinction Awards).

In the meantime, check out the full list of nominees for tonight’s awards ceremony.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012

Update 6:25pm: We have arrived at the awards for the evening and the reception is hopping. Silent auction items are out on display and the WestJet prize table is busy. Anyone in attendance can enter to win a trip for two anywhere WestJet flies — and the best part is that proceeds support the programming of the Metro Vancouver YWCA.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012

Tonight’s program will begin in a few minutes, once the nominees have their photos taken up on stage. Dinner will be served and awards will be handed out in the following order:

Arts, Culture & Design
Business & the Professions
Community Building (Sponsored by Industrial Alliance Pacific)
YWCA Video
Education, Training, & Development (Sponsored by Port Metro Vancouver)
Environmental Sustainability (Sponsored by BC Hydro)
Health, Wellness, & Active Living (Sponsored by Teck)
Innovative Workplace
Non-Profit and Public Service (Sponsored by BC Housing)
Science, Research, & Innovation (Sponsored by Goldcorp)
Young Women of Distinction
Connecting the Community

Update 7:15pm: Our lovely emcee, Sophie Lui of Global BC introduced all of the nominees before we all dug into our salads. While dinner begins, Premier Christy Clark takes to the stage to talk about being a past Woman of Distinction.

2009 Woman of Distinction herself, @ChristyClarkBC speaking @YWVanWODA

“Show young women the way, be a mentor,” she encourages the crowd.

Premier Clark’s message is about how important it is for women to support other women. Looking around the room, at the hundreds of women here tonight, I’d say that Vancouver has a very strong community — with mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, and spouses supporting women.

Update 8:15pm: The program is getting underway as desserts make their way to the tables. YWCA Metro Vancouver’s CEO Janet Austin provides opening remarks about the organization’s work in the community and the impact of the awards.

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012

Update 8:25pm: After thanking all of the generous sponsors (and a quick shout out to the live blog) Sophie Lui gets the awards portion of the evening underway. “The Women of Distinction Awards is one of the most distinguished awards ceremonies in Canada.”

Sophie lists off some of the criteria the judges look for during the selection process. A women of distinction “is a woman who guides, supports, and encourages development of others,” among other things.

Update 8:30pm: Here we go!
Arts, Culture & Design
Recipient: Violet Goosen
General Manager, Vancouver Chamber Choir
Acceptance Quote: “It’s been my pleasure and privilege to be part of [the Vancouver Chamber Choir] process for the last 39 years and it’s an experience I’ll never forget…” “…To paraphrase ‘I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony’ – Thank you and congratulations to my fellow nominees.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Violet Goosen

Business & the Professions
Recipient: Patricia Graham
Vice-President of Digital, Pacific Newspaper Group
Acceptance Quote: “I’ve secretly wanted one of these for a number of years!” “…I want to recognize my friends at the Vancouver Sun. They’re smart, they’re talented, and they work hard.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Patricia Graham

Community Building
Recipient: Ginny Dennehy
Co-Founder, The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation
Acceptance Quote: “Wow, all I can say is wow!” “…I am surrounded by amazing women who I believe deserve this award as much as me.” “…Since the loss of my two children, Kelty and Riley, my goal in life has been to remove the stigma of mental illness.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Ginny Dennehy

We take a quick break now to view a YWCA Metro Vancouver video. CEO Janet Austin talks about the new housing initiatives in Surrey (Alder Gardens) and Coquitlam (Como Lake Gardens).

Education, Training & Development
Recipient: Catherine Vertesi
Vice President, International, External Relations and New Initiatives, Capilano University
Acceptance Quote: “I really have to alo acknowledge my friends and my family. We have never had a Christmas or thanksgiving or celebration where I haven’t had an international student at my table.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Catherine Vertesi

Recipient: Nicole Stefenelli
Founder & CEO, Urban Impact Recycling Ltd.
Acceptance Quote: “This award would not have been possible without the unending support of a team.” “…Thank you to the YWCA for honouring all of us who have dared to dream of a cleaner, kinder, and more compassionate world.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Nicole Stefenelli

Environmental Sustainability
Recipient: Louise Schwarz
Founder, Recycling Alternative
Acceptance Quote: “I share this award wholeheartedly with my business partner Robert Weatherbe — he’s not a woman of distinction but he’s a great business partner…” “…This award is shared by all of us.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Louise Schwarz

Health, Wellness & Active Living
Recipient: Ann Meraw
Professional Swimmer & Coach, Vancouver Board of Parks & Recreation
Acceptance Quote: “It’s quite an honor be here this night. It’s the 74th award I’ve had.” “…I got hit by a car in a crosswalk that’s why I have the cane. It’s not age!”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012
Ann Meraw

Of note — Ann was the first female lifeguard in Canada in 1943! She also swam across Howe Sound in 1927.

Innovative Workplace
Recipient: SAP Canada
Nomination Quote: “SAP Canada has developed a flexible corporate culture that enables creativity and collaboration for its diverse workforce. SAP offers adaptable working arrangements that support families and work-life balance. It provides a robust portfolio of learning and career development offerings and extensive on-site health and wellness services, including a bike borrowing program. SAP encourages career growth for women through initiatives such as a Gender Intelligence workshop and the Business Women’s Network. It fosters employee-driven committees that inspire community within the workplace and afford opportunities for employees to grow, interact and pursue personal passions. Employees engage in corporate social responsibility, participate in the Green Team or spark positive energy through the FunWorks committee.”

Non-Profit & Public Service
Recipient: Wendy Au
Assistant City Manager, City of Vancouver
Acceptance Quote: “This is indeed a very humbling experience, I’m very honoured to receive this award.” “…I’m really glad to have a lot of strong women that I can learn from.”

YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012

Science, Research & Innovation
Recipient: Dianne Miller
Division Head, Gynecologic Oncology at UBC
Acceptance Quote: “It takes a team and I’m really accepting this on behalf of our team.” “…We also have other team and I’m sitting at the table with my social network that supports me at home and in the community.”

“If this is the future, we are all definitely in good hands,” says presenter Simi Sara about the next crop of nominees.

Young Woman of Distinction
Recipient: Alison Lee
Medical Student, University of British Columbia
Acceptance Quote: “I’m so honoured to be here tonight, my heart rate right now is probably 120 beats per minute.” “…I’m overwhelmed by the ability and the passion of everybody here.”

Connecting the Community
The winner of this category was selected through a public vote online of all nominees. Each nominee selected an area of the YWCA of Metro Vancouver to support and Scotiabank will in turn donate $10,000 to that area.
Recipient: Wendy Au
Assistant City Manager, City of Vancouver
Acceptance Quote: “I want to thank everyone who has believed in this cause.”

The awards have all been handed out and the silent auction is now closed. The YWCA of Metro Vancouver has not reached their fundraising goal tonight (which was $50,000) and they’re quite a bit short. If you have been inspired by the stories tonight, please consider donating to the YWCA of Metro Vancouver.

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6 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Kelly IpThursday, May 24th, 2012 — 10:35pm PDT

    Congratulations to all the recipients of the Women of Distinction Awards in all catagories especially to Wendy Au, a long time friend who has championed the cause of affordable housing for a long time. Let’s hope Vancouver will have more affordable housing in the near future!

  2. EkaterinaThursday, May 24th, 2012 — 11:47pm PDT

    Beautiful summary! Congratulations to all women!

  3. jonicaFriday, May 25th, 2012 — 9:39am PDT

    That was an amazing line up of amazing women! You did a great job of summarizing the night!

  4. MarkFriday, May 25th, 2012 — 10:40am PDT

    Thanks for your coverage Rebecca but such a shame that every award received a beautiful photo and some sort of write-up except the Innovative Workplace award winner. As an employee of SAP Canada I was immensely proud of this win but you would barely know about it based on this post.

  5. Rebecca Bollwitt, Miss604 Rebecca BollwittFriday, May 25th, 2012 — 10:46am PDT

    Hi Mark,

    My husband and I volunteered several hours of our time and have done our best to capture key points throughout the evening. While I would love to capture every single aspect of the 4-hour program, things do get missed during my process (washroom breaks are needed too).

    I did not cover any of the presenters’ talks, the talks from YWCA members themselves, and we didn’t get a photo of Alison Lee either. I am also looking for a copy of the video that was played so that I can fill in some gaps.

    I hope to complete this post as more information becomes available.



  6. Women of Distinction Awards 2012 – | Entrepreneurial Woman MagazineWednesday, June 27th, 2012 — 6:10pm PDT

    […] Photos: YWCA honours women of distinction By Fiona Anderson, Vancouver Sun May 24, 2012   YWCA Women of Distinction Awards 2012: Live Blog  By Rebecca Bollwitt, May 24, […]

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