The 2023 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards Presented by Scotiabank Recipients
YWCA Metro Vancouver is pleased to announce the recipients of its 40th annual Women of Distinction Awards presented by Scotiabank.
In the interest of fairness and transparency, nominees' biographies have been written by YWCA Metro Vancouver staff, with information retrieved from the nomination packages.
Arts, Culture & Design
Carrie is Founder and Artistic Director of the Vancouver Youth Choir, a performance group that reaches across generational and cultural lines and that has 400+ singers, staff and volunteers. In 2021, Carrie created the Kindred program, where newcomers to Canada are immersed in a free, six-week choral experience, learning music and culture from Indigenous mentors. She also founded and chairs the BC Choral Mentorship program, is frequently invited to perform and collaborate with professional ensembles and has guest-conducted and adjudicated at events across BC and the world. Carrie is also Associate Conductor of the Vancouver Chamber Choir. Carrie’s natural role-modeling and inclusive leadership style is wide-reaching and non-hierarchical, impacting in equal measure her peers, collaborators, publishers, mentees and most importantly the local youth in whom she so firmly believes.
Business & the Professions
Upon joining Acuitas Therapeutics as Chief Legal Officer and Senior Director, Business Development in 2022, Miranda began establishing the first all-female legal team at the company and supporting women and other equity-seeing groups in biotech. She has mentored countless law students and young lawyers, particularly BIPOC professionals. While an equity partner at law firm McCarthy Tetreault, Miranda advocated for diversity, equality and inclusion and was the first National Gender Equality lead for their Inclusion Now priority. She spearheaded initiatives to increase the number of women in the partnership, and designed and spoke on panels across the firm on racialized experiences and career development, championed unconscious bias training and organized the first “men and masculinity” allies group for gender equality. In 2018, she was named the first female Board Chair of Vancouver Foundation.
Lauren is a Self-Advocate with Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo, with a drive to bring housing to all. Lauren advocated for the inclusive and affordable Harmony Apartments project; when it was rejected by Council, Lauren’s advocacy, through a documentary she starred in called Lauren’s Story, initiated meaningful change that influenced Harmony Apartments being brought back and approved. Lauren served as a Community Ambassador for the Surrey Housing Needs Report, where she took the City of Surrey’s survey and transformed it to plain language so it would be accessible by all. Lauren attends conferences, meetings, housing forums, committees and other events to speak, educate herself and better support others. As a person with Down Syndrome, her work has impacted people within the intersection of mental health, disability, seniors, women and poverty.
Connecting the Community
Adebukola, or Bukkie, Vice President of Finance & Business Intelligence at Prospera Credit Union, is committed to advancing opportunities available to immigrants and minority groups. Bukkie helped lead the first Black Business Expo, which provided support and business networks for black entrepreneurs in the community from various organizations including the Surrey Board of Trade. Bukkie also organized a vocational skills program last summer through her tribal society. Focusing mainly on hair making sessions, it was designed to support women to pursue this vocation as a way to financially empower and integrate into the economy. Bukkie designed and delivers an initiative to assist new immigrants and new moms with visitations and household essentials; she does this with her own resources to ensure they have the necessary support to settle into the community.
Education, Training & Development
Margot is a Professor at the UBC Peter A. Allard School of Law and a leader in social justice and equity initiatives. She advocated for and taught in the Indigenous Settler Legal Relations course. Margot initiated a Social Justice Community Scholar program and has led student field trips to places such as the supervised injection site, the Community Court and the Dr. Peter Centre. As Chair, Status of Women Committee, Faculty Association, Margot established women faculty mentor programs, successfully pushing for improved sexual violence policy, pay equity and gender leadership initiatives. In her board work with the David Suzuki Foundation and Justice for Girls, and as Director of both the Allard Centre for Feminist Legal Studies and the Social Justice Specialization, she is active in decolonization and human rights initiatives.
Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Jennifer is President and CEO of Everything Podcasts, which she founded to set the standard for innovation and creativity in the podcast space. Jen prioritizes opportunities for crews and creatives who identify as Indigenous, Black, People of Colour and 2SLGBTQIA+ to build awareness of important causes through the wide reach of the podcasting platform. Since the start of her career, Jennifer has been dedicated to providing platforms for underrepresented voices and creating positive impact. Jennifer held the first female seat on the BC Broadcast Board and was on the strategy team responsible for winning the world's first 2SLGBTQIA+ television network license, launching the world's first gay and lesbian television network, OutTV. A fierce advocate for women, Jennifer has remained committed to leadership and mentorship at all stages of her career.
As CEO of Foresight Canada, Jeanette’s leadership has driven the company from a small Vancouver-based accelerator to a nation-wide organization that is propelling critical climate solutions forward and establishing Canada as a global leader in cleantech innovation. Jeanette spearheaded an Innovation Challenge program to connect industry and governments facing sustainability hurdles with market-ready Canadian cleantech solutions; Foresight has now successfully run 55 Innovation Challenges. Jeanette’s initiatives have supported 900+ companies, created 7,000+ Canadian green jobs, with projects projected to remove nearly 69 Mt of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere. A multi-award-winning sustainability champion, Jeanette also leads an annual Women Leading Cleantech campaign that highlights the success of women in the cleantech sector across Canada and the enormous impact women are having on the fight against climate change.
Health & Wellness
As a psychologist and advocate for youth health, in 2015 Dr. Karen Tee helped launch Foundry, where she is Associate Executive Director, transforming access to mental health services for youth and families in BC. Under Karen’s leadership, Foundry grew from a prototype to a sustained, province-wide initiative that is embedded in public policy and that has supported over 32,000 youth with mental health, substance use, primary care, social services and other supports. Karen was instrumental in initiating and growing the Early Psychosis Intervention program in Fraser Health, now provided by all health authorities with provincial standards. She also helped establish an outreach crisis intervention service reaching all communities in Fraser Health, and was a leader in establishing the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Stabilization Program, a highly specialized inpatient unit based at Surrey Memorial Hospital.
Azra Hussain is the Chief Operating Officer of Surrey Hospitals Foundation. Dually certified as a Chartered Professional Accountant and Certified Fund Raising Executive fluent in five languages, Azra brings a holistic lens to her work with her unique skillset. Utilizing the power of community collaboration, Azra spearheaded multiple projects to support families in their healthcare journeys, including a new pediatric outdoor play space, an Augmented Reality Virtual app to orient families at Surrey Memorial Hospital, and Surrey’s first ‘Mini-Med School’, a free event to engage local youth with Surrey’s top healthcare professionals. Azra sits on the boards of Elizabeth Fry Society and AFP Vancouver, Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s Committees and Faculty, and created ‘Role Models in Resilience’ to inspire other women’s professional endeavours and advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion.
Reconciliation in Action
Ginger is a Nisga'a and Kwakwak'awakw woman and the first Indigenous Fellow with the SFU Morris J. Wosk Centre for Dialogue. Ginger focuses on decolonization and urban Indigenous policy and planning, bridging Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in developing public policy and advancing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. In this role, she is creating pilot projects to determine how Indigenous knowledge can be incorporated into urban planning and capital development projects. Ginger’s ground-breaking research resulted in the Environics Urban Aboriginal Peoples Study, the pivotal source of data on urban Indigenous communities. She created the City of Reconciliation Framework which guided all City of Vancouver departments in incorporating Indigenous relationships, culture and identity, and engaged decision making, resulting in over 75 new initiatives and policy changes that advanced reconciliation.
Reconciliation in Action - Indigenous Ally
Jean is a Shareholder at Boughton Law Corporation and chair of Boughton's Indigenous Law group (BC), practicing in Indigenous Law with an emphasis on First Nations economic development. Jean has contributed to many successful outcomes for her First Nation clients, including the conversion of provincial land to reserve land for housing and development projects; establishing a correctional facility, the first Indigenous-owned winery, a destination resort and residential developments on reserve land; the resolution of longstanding encroachment of reserve lands by provincial roads and highways, resulting in compensation to First Nations; and the adoption of Land Codes by First Nations, empowering First Nations to assume management of their own lands. Jean has also been actively involved in one of the biggest real estate projects ever undertaken by a First Nation.
Research, the Sciences & Technology
Dr. Connie Eaves
Connie is a Distinguished Scientist at the BC Cancer Research Centre, a UBC Professor of Medical Genetics and a world leader in cancer stem cell biology. Dr. Eaves is best known for her discoveries of methods to detect and characterize blood and breast stem cells published in more than 500 papers in leading scientific journals. In 1981, Connie and her husband responded to a request from BC Cancer and UBC to create a new research group using a shared $1M donation from the BC government in the name of Terry Fox, now with 40 years of sustained international recognition. An advocate and mentor for women, over half of the 107 postgraduate trainees she has supervised have been women, many of whom are now independent principal investigators in leading centres.
Young Woman of Distinction
Sang co-founded Peko, Western Canada's first delivery service for “imperfect” and surplus groceries to fight food waste and improve access to healthy diets. Through Peko, Sang has helped feed almost 11,000 people, while saving more than 150,000 lbs of food from the landfill and $500,000 in grocery bills. In other projects, Sang convinced LinkedIn and UBC to partner up and provide e-learning access for students, creating educational equity across faculties. Sang also led the marketing portfolio to promote free academic support for more than 5,000 students through the UBC Commerce Mentorship Program. Sang moved to Vancouver in 2017 for university and has been involved in the Canadian start-up ecosystem, consulting for companies on marketing and go-to-market strategies through the Creative Destruction Lab and the UBC Strategy Consulting Initiative.
Grosvenor has been an active property owner and developer in Vancouver for over 70 years, focusing on vibrant urban locations, while making positive contributions to communities. The company completes an annual gender and fair pay review and is committed to increasing diversity at the senior level. Employees are offered up to $10,000 annually via an education tuition reimbursement program and market-leading maternity and parental leave with up to six months full pay. Grosvenor’s health insurance plan covers prenatal testing and breast pumps while returning mothers are offered Milk Stork services and all offices feature a mother’s room. Grosvenor offers internal employee-led volunteer Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Groups to empower staff to bring forward initiatives and ideas to foster a diverse and inclusive workplace; 34% of employees are involved.
The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honour individuals and organizations whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community. This year, we are proud to celebrate our 40th year of the Women of Distinction Awards. Since 1984, YWCA Metro Vancouver has paid tribute to more than 352 award recipients and 2,100 nominees.
Award recipients were announced at the Women of Distinction Awards Gala at the Westin Bayshore, Vancouver on May 9, 2023.
The 2023 Awards are presented by Scotiabank. Our sponsors this year are BC Housing, BCAA, CKNW, Clio, CN Transportation Service, Global TV, Herbaland, iA Financial Group, Imagine That Events, Lawson Lundell LLP, MDA Space, Miss604, Natures Path, Pacific Blue Cross, Reciprocal Consulting, SAP Canada, SayLove Projects, Scotiabank, Seaspan Shipyards, Showkraft, Teck Resources Limited.