Connecting the Community Award

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Voting for the Connecting the Community Award is now closed.


Yasmin Abraham 

I support affordable housing for single mother-led families because a home is so much more than four walls. Safe and affordable housing can change someone’s life – and change the trajectory of the lives of future generations. As a mother myself I believe it’s a cause that can have a great impact on the overall health and wellness of our communities. 

Tracy Antoine  

As an Indigenous woman and business leader working closely with Indigenous governments and organizations, I know the many challenges faced on the delivery of affordable housing for single mother-led families. I raised my daughter as a single mother and know the value of affordable housing, as it changed our lives. I continually support programs that make lives better for current and future generations. 

Stephani Baker  

Safe and affordable housing is a basic human right and is particularly crucial for mother-led families. I regularly witness the hardships that single moms face as they decide between food and shelter, sometimes living in their cars with their children. Through delivering affordable housing for single mother-led families, the YWCA ensures that these women and children experience stability, security and bright futures. 

Sarah Blyth  

As a former single mother with a limited education and ADHD, I know how hard it is for single mothers juggling work, childcare, housing, food... It is almost unimaginable to be a single mother, especially these days when housing is so hard to find. I support affordable housing for single mother-led families and thank the YWCA for raising awareness on this issue. 

Donna Chang  

Universal child care provides the opportunity for all children to have healthy, early learning opportunities in the most important times of their lives. I believe that when all children have access to affordable and quality early learning and child care programs, we build strong and compassionate communities. Alongside the YWCA, I champion universal child care

Gigi Chen-Kuo  

Freedom to live without fear of violence is a fundamental human right that eludes so many members of our society, solely due to their gender. As we work toward solutions, we must advance our understanding of the complex causes and far-reaching impacts of gender-based violence. YWCA ’s thoughtful, multi-pronged approach toward ending gender-based violence really resonates with me on a personal level. 

Kristin Cheung 

The complicated colonial legal system is unfair for many Black, Indigenous and communities of colour. The system is built on exploitation and can be difficult for many who have language barriers, technological barriers and other forms of social exclusion. That's why I choose to support access to justice because the YWCA helps women in need of legal support through their many initiatives. 

Queenie Choo 

As a strong advocate for advancing gender equity, I support women with a range of integrated services including housing, childcare, mentorship & employment. I also call for actions on gender equality on issues including gender care gaps among immigrant women, girls, indigenous and racialized communities. 

Leslie Cliff  

For 32 years I have been committed to advancing gender equity by providing investment opportunities and financial education that encourages women’s economic empowerment through my asset management firm Genus Capital. Financial firms have among the largest gender pay gaps because of the scarcity of women in leadership.  Genus values and nurtures women leaders and currently includes 67% women on our leadership team. 

Angela Cooke 

As a former teen sole parent. I choose delivering affordable housing for single mother-led families. I had the benefit of a safe and stable place like the YWCA provides to call home, where I finished my education. Today, I have the ability to impact and continue to change women’s lives through progressive social policy reform in British Columbia and across Canada. 

Radha Curpen  

As a lawyer, access to justice is paramount. Knowing what tools and services are available, how to access them, and knowing how the legal system works and what your rights are within that system. I support access to justice because YWCA Vancouver is enabling women of all backgrounds to understand legal tools and services available to them and empower them for change. 

Libby Davies  

Advancing gender equity is key to my work for 5 decades. It’s a long haul, but determination, solidarity, and supporting one another, is what we do. I love to help mentor and support women who seek transformative change individually and systemically, to dismantle sexism, racism, and homophobia that still try to shut us down. I believe in our power to make change! 

Kim Dent Wilder 

I consider the advance of gender equity a life-long mission after growing up in a patriarchal family where I learned at an early age how to speak up for myself. As the Executive Vice President of Mainframe Studios, one of my great joys is mentoring other women and nominating colleagues to the Women in Animation’s ACE program to further their careers. 

Jill Earthy  

I have dedicated my career to the advancement of women in leadership and entrepreneurship. Yet many inequalities persist, which is why I choose to support advancing gender equity. The YWCA does important work through education, advocacy and empowerment alongside women, families, Two-Spirit and gender diverse people. Together, we can create an inclusive future. 

Zahra Esmail  

I strongly believe we deserve a world without gender based violence. Through my work overseas and in Canada, I have witnessed the harm GBV causes victims and their children who observe violence at home. I support ending gender based violence because this is an area where the YWCA can and is making a significant difference by offering counselling, housing, and other important services. 

Norah Flaherty  

Within the disability community, single parent families, often led by mothers, are overrepresented. Many must stay home to support their loved ones, reducing income and access to safe and affordable housing. This contributes to poverty and psychological stress/trauma. As a disability advocate and family member, I am grateful for YWCA Vancouver's focus on delivering affordable housing for single mothers-led families

Nicole Geyer  

YWCA's affordable housing for single mother-led families provides vulnerable families with a safe and stable environment. I have witnessed firsthand through my work with the Take A Hike Foundation that if youth have a stable environment and the tools to succeed, they become productive members of our society. When mothers and children reach their full potential, we all benefit! 

Devinder Gill  

I look to set a path forward and shape the culture of inclusiveness by leading by example and being an agent of change. I choose to support advancing gender equity because YWCA Vancouver promotes and encourages women to share stories, mentor, challenge all levels of bias, and be an ally to drive and support a culture where all feel valued. 

Dr. Sharlene Gill  

As a minority woman in science, educator and physician, I support advancing gender equity.  I see this challenge across multiple roles - professionals, leaders, patients, caregivers - further amplified by this pandemic. The impact of gender inequity is not limited to women - it affects our families, communities and our ability to fully leverage the skills and talents that women offer. 

Jillian Glennie 

As a supporter of the Self-Advocates of Semiahmoo (SAS) and UNITI team member, I choose to support the YWCA’s work to advance gender equity. My colleagues and I share a held belief that gender equity is a basic human right. I continually promote a community that is inclusive of everyone and gender equity is an important part of that. 

Swelchalot Shirley Hardman 

Indigenous women and girls too often experience violence in our everyday lives…sometimes it costs us our lives.  My walk on Mother Earth has taught me to use opportunities to educate all of us to see the beauty in all people. YWCA Vancouver educates, reminding Sons, Brothers, and Fathers that they can end gender-based violence against Mothers, Sisters, and Daughters. 

Hebah Hussaina 

Gender equity is a basic human right, however, women still face barriers to pursuing success. It is integral to empower girls and women to achieve their full potential through supporting diversity and inclusion efforts. As a woman devoted to creating equal opportunities for girls to explore their interests in STEM, I support the YWCA’s goal to advance gender equity

Gul Kiit Jaad 

As an Indigenous Woman, activist, advocate and survivor of gender-based violence, I have lived experience & expertise in supporting women in trying to find safe spaces to thrive in. I choose to support ending gender-based violence because YWCA Vancouver continuously works to create inclusivity in acknowledging the systemic challenges and barriers impacting all Women. In Peace, Gul-Giit-Jaad (Golden Spruce Woman).

Cheyenne Johnson  

To me, supporting access to justice is rooted in repairing the harms of drug prohibition in this country, a policy that harms many women and families and is key contributor in the ongoing overdose emergency. The YWCA is working in many areas to advance women’s access to legal supports and services, which have the capacity to transform families and create safer, healthier communities. 

Karen Joseph  

As the CEO of Reconciliation Canada, I am deeply committed to bringing our children home and preparing pathways of transformation towards a new way forward that restores the dignity and care for our children and mothers, the fabric of our families and communities.  I lift up YWCA Metro Vancouver in delivering affordable housing for single mother-led families

Dr. Jennifer Kramer  

As a settler scholar, I see strong Indigenous women lead as community matriarchs modeling care and kinship as they fight to protect their children, lands, waters, cultures and languages from the ongoing violence and dispossession of colonial patriarchy. For these reasons, I stand in solidarity with the YWCA Vancouver’s advocacy efforts to advance gender equity

Dr. Carmen Lansdowne  

Working on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside, I see firsthand the deep need for so many people to navigate society's bureaucratic systems, and how many barriers are put in their way. I choose to support access to justice because YWCA Vancouver is a partner organization that is working to provide legal services specifically to women who so badly need someone in their corner. 

Dr. Janessa Laskin 

I strongly support advancing gender equity because I believe that there is a collaborative mindset that women can bring to science which enables a mutually beneficial environment in which there is room for everyone to thrive. To demonstrate this approach in my own work, I actively mentor young researchers and provide leadership that encourages inclusivity, diversity, and curiosity. 

Judith Law 

Gender equality is good for everyone and absolutely essential if we want a society that is safe, healthy and prosperous. During my career I've seen how gender discrimination has impacted women's access to reproductive health care and education thereby continuing a vicious cycle of poverty. I support advancing gender equity because, with the YWCA, we can take action and make a difference. 

Jessie Kaur Lehail 

My work focuses on centering women's' voices, particularly, Indigenous women and women of colour. I choose to support advance gender equity because YWCA Vancouver is doing incredible work to build opportunities for women to share their stories, journeys, struggles and triumphs in ways that propels them forward, yet remain deeply committed to their own personal values. 

Dr. Andrea MacNeill  

Affordable housing is an important determinant of health, providing safe spaces for families to grow and thrive. I support the YWCA's efforts to deliver affordable housing for single mother-led families so that all children can experience the comfort and security of home. 

Patience Magagula  

As an activist, advocate for women and girls living with HIV, I look at gender-based violence as a pandemic in my community - especially for newcomers and women living with HIV coming from refugee camps. I am a survivor of gender-based violence LWHIV. That is where I got my strength. I support YWCA in fighting a good fight to end gender-based violence

Katie Manning  

As Director of Programs at the KidSafe Project, I am passionate about ensuring that children have safe, accessible, and welcoming environments. I choose to champion universal child care. In my work, I see the need for accessible child care and after-school programs in Vancouver. This need continues to grow rapidly with more families finding themselves without this essential service for their children. 

Dr. Jennifer Marchbank  

As a professor researching, teaching and publishing, and a community activist (Network to Eliminate Violence in Relationships), on intersectional interpersonal violence I support ending gender-based violence as a vital human rights issue that affects us all but some victims are doubly hidden, hence my work on LGBT elders. YWCA Vancouver recognizes these intersections and provides services to support and eradicate GBV. 

Lisa Martella  

As someone who is committed to and cares deeply about our community; from my experience working with marginalized groups, I'm familiar with stories of abuse, isolation and fear where violence has occurred. I support ending gender-based violence because of YWCA's programming to support survivors and advocate for changes to the justice system to better serve people who have experienced violence. 

Salima Mawji 

As a cis-gender woman of colour, I’ve seen how women have been harassed, and physically and emotionally abused.  I feel that by demonstrating kindness and respect to others, it’s a sign of how you feel about yourself. It is those lacking self-respect who act in violence. I support the YWCA’s work to end gender-based violence, provide safe housing, and influence policy. 

Marina Melanidis  

Women, girls, non-binary, two-spirit, and trans folks are always leading the fight for climate justice, despite being on the frontlines of climate impacts globally. Yet, those that hold power to shift our planetary trajectory are often men. I choose to support advancing gender equity because as a young climate activist, I know there is no climate justice without gender justice. 

Karla Mundy  

As a song leader and community organizer, I feel passionate about women finding their strength, power and joy. I support ending gender-based violence because this work is critical, inspiring and can change many lives. YWCA Vancouver is advocating for women's rights, is providing critical supports and services and is helping women and children to establish a safe, just and brighter future. 

Dr. Gail Murphy  

I support YMCA Metro Vancouver’s commitment to advance gender equity as in academia and the tech industry I have experienced the importance of changing policies and practices to increase equity, diversity and inclusion. Removing existing obstacles and inequities ultimately benefits everyone as bringing together multiple perspectives and valuing different viewpoints allows us to truly think about problems in new ways. 

Cybele Negris  

As a woman founder & CEO in tech, I’m acutely aware of hurdles faced by girls and women in STEM. I’ve committed two decades to advance gender equity through building family-friendly policies at Webnames.ca, as founding visionary of The Prosperity Project, in advocating for Girls & STEAM at Science World. I look forward to working with YWCA Vancouver to further these objectives. 

Raveena Oberoi  

As a brown-skinned woman in an industry stereotypically outside of a cultural status quo, I didn’t see women that looked like me celebrated in creative spaces growing up and going through my journey. This is now changing. I choose to support the continuous growth and catapult in representation in a variety of spaces, contributing to advancing gender equity

Niki Oveisi  

As an advocate and researcher of sexual and reproductive health, I've spent years looking into how women and gender-diverse folks face inequalities in their health outcomes. I choose to support advancing gender equity as YWCA Vancouver is a leader in this realm through their advocacy and programming.   

Krystal Paraboo 

As an advocate for Black artists in Vancouver, I have both endured and witnessed how systemic racism within arts institutions actively tries to disempower Black leaders, artists and communities; especially Black women. I choose to support access to justice to raise awareness around inequitable power structures, and of working towards providing support services for queer Black women to thrive in these spaces. 

Amber Price  

As an LGBTQ2+ female entrepreneur, community leader and engaged activist, I am well aware of the under representation and discrimination that both women and LGBTQ2+ individuals experience in business and leadership settings. I choose to support advancing gender equity because YWCA is working tirelessly to create opportunities that foster economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities for women and their families. 

Dr. Jerilynn Prior 

As a physician-scientist, I see bias against breakthrough concepts about ovulation and progesterone hindering the advancement of gender equity for women, whether brown or white, gay or straight, old or young. I work to learn and share knowledge about menstrual cycles, fertility and perimenopause. Equity means accessible, evidence-based research provided by the Centre for Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation Research. 

Natasha Questel  

As a single immigrant mom, raised by a single mom through years of financial struggle, I know firsthand the challenges single mothers without income or social support face. I choose to support affordable housing for single mother-led families because the YWCA is creating solutions to protect our mothers in a city where housing is expensive but shelter for their families is invaluable. 

Stephanie Quon  

Accessible, inclusive, and high-quality child care can lead to improved social development and educational outcomes, and supports women in their ability to enter or return to the workforce. I choose to support championing universal child care as the YWCA advocates for public investment and mobilizes public support for child care. 

Dr. Gilly Regev  

As a female CEO of pharmaceutical company, every day I witness the persistent lack of diversity in the industry, especially among executives and board members. I choose to support the advancement of gender equity. I am proud to be associated with YWCA Vancouver and their efforts to raise awareness by giving women an opportunity to share their experiences. 

Salima Remtulla  

The equal partnership between my husband and me makes it possible for both of us to have rich three-dimensional lives, and for each of us to provide our children with strong emotional, developmental, and financial support. I support advancing gender equity, which I see as equally serving the interests of men and women. 

Olivia Reshetylo  

As noted by the IEA, the energy industry remains one of the least gender-diverse sectors. Over the last 7 years, I have seen the lack of representation across the industry, particularly in leadership positions. I support advancing gender equity because we need to see more diverse and underrepresented genders in leadership with the ability to drive a sustainable &equitable energy transition.   

Pam Robertson  

Parents face significant obstacles as they strive to raise healthy children equipped for a successful future. This is especially so for women raising children on their own. I select deliver affordable housing for single mother-led families as YWCA Vancouver is working hard to provide much needed long term and emergency housing, foundational to family well-being. 

Charlene SanJenko  

Life is such a gift! Everyone deserves the opportunity to access all of its opportunities, possibilities, and gifts. My work, advancing gender equity through impact media amplification, mirrors human potential - activating greatness, advocating for a clear path to realize all that is possible, while holding space with elevated hope for regenerative healing and expansion for all our relations. 

Dr. Laura Sauve  

In my work as a pediatric infectious diseases specialist caring for children and families affected by HIV, the importance of safe and affordable housing is a critical issue that we see families struggling with on a daily basis. I support affordable housing for single mother-led families because affordable housing is so critical to support the mental and physical health of all families. 

Dr. Jacqueline Saw  

As a physician and cultural minority, I’ve encountered many women who have suffered from emotional and physical gender-based violence, with long-term psychosocial and intergenerational impacts. I advocate to end gender-based violence, for changes in government legislations and justice to better serve women, and support organizations who raise awareness and help women who have the right to live free from abuse. 

Jessica Schellenberg  

Early Childhood Education and the passionate Educators who guide children is one of the most underestimated and powerful resources. Children flourish when in a dedicated learning environment. Championing universal child care has been in the forefront of my work alongside and with families for quite some time. We will continue to push on this basic need for a long time to come. 

Jill Schnarr  

Throughout my career, I have been passionate about advancing gender equality, personally mentoring more than 200 women and launching Connections, the TELUS women’s network, supporting networking and career growth across our organization. Why? Because women need a seat at the table, we need multiple seats, and if we can’t get a seat, we need to create our own table! 

Dr. Carolyn Shiau  

The pandemic has shown us the value of trauma-informed care. There are so many talented women leading the evolution of our health care system, and many more who simply need support to rise to their full potential. Access to child care allows more women to pursue career opportunities while caring for their family and community, so I champion universal child care

V. Victoria Shroff  

Access to justice is a fundamental right.  It's the very foundation of a just society.  We all play a part in ensuring that our legal system is inclusive, so that everyone is served and empowered.  I've devoted much of my career as an educator and animal law lawyer increasing access to justice for all.  I encourage you to join me. 

Juggy Sihota  

I have built a purpose-led business division where 73% of my team identifies as female and 47% identifies as BIPOC. That is through deliberate intention. We are the fastest growing, highest patient rated Consumer Health company in the country. I choose to support - in both words and action - advancing gender equity, because without this we cannot progress as a society. 

Jaswinder Sodhi  

As a high school teacher, I believe that girls’ education and the promotion of gender equality in education are critical to achieve peaceful societies, with full human potential and sustainable development, thus underlining the need to broadly address gender disparities. I choose to support advance gender equity as YWCA Metro Vancouver is working hard to promote gender equality and eradicate gender bias. 

Maureen Steltman  

I'm committed to advancing gender equity to ensure pay equity amongst workers and fair gender representation in leadership roles. The YWCA not only supports women and girls, but people of all genders, and engages many diverse organizations to achieve their goals. 

Brandy Svendson  

For me, advancing gender equity means listening, leading, and doing the work. It's not always easy, but it is that simple. I proudly align with YWCA Vancouver because it does this: hearing and validating people's experiences; inspiring so many to prioritize gender equity; and offering women and girls real, practical support—not just to survive but to grow, lead, and thrive. 

Dr. Anna Tinker 

Ensuring safe, affordable housing gives single women and their families the space and time they need to heal and rest. It also forms the foundation from which women can move towards independence and personal success. I would like to advocate for affordable housing for single mother-led families, giving them the chance they deserve. 

Vedanshi Vala  

One in two women in BC have experienced violence. That's one too many. As an advocate for safer and equitable communities, I firmly believe a better community starts when we end gender-based violence. I wholeheartedly yield my support for this particular YWCA Metro Vancouver program, knowing it can exert a positive influence on millions of people. 

Dr. Yanet Valdez Tejeira 

My passion for helping vulnerable people, particularly women, is a driving force in my life. I faced many challenges in my career as an immigrant and mother in science. Now, as a seasoned scientist, I work towards eliminating the structural barriers to women's success in STEM, so that future generations will not face the same adversity. I choose to advance gender equity

Dr. Fiona Whittington-Walsh 

As an advocate for inclusive education, I recognize the importance of starting this in the early years. We know families need access to affordable, quality childcare that is also fully accessible and inclusive. I commend YWCA’s commitment to advocating for public investment in childcare. What better way to create more inclusive and accepting communities than to champion universal child care

Nancy Wilhelm-Morden  

Not long after settling in Whistler in 1973, I came to see firsthand that housing, in particular affordable housing, was an issue critical to the well-being of a community. Throughout my career it has been an over-riding focus culminating in being a founder of the Whistler Housing Authority. That organization has delivered stable, affordable housing to single mother-led families, and others, for decades. 

Lorelei Williams 

As a single mom who has been homeless twice, with my very young children, I see firsthand the challenges faced by women as they try to rebuild their lives, especially when fleeing abusive relationships. Being homeless with my two young children was one of the worst times in my life. I support delivering affordable housing for single mother-led families

Christy Wyatt 

We’ve witnessed a staggering increase in the interconnectedness between pursuing careers and lack of childcare. With so many women juggling working from home and family responsibilities, it’s not surprising we saw more than 50% of them leave the workforce. Being able to both provide and care for your family needs to be a critical priority, so I champion universal childcare