Meet your 2023 Women of Distinction Winners!

Quick escape link leading to Weather Network websiteQuick Escape From left: YWCA Hamilton CEO, Medora Uppal, 2023 Honorary Women of Distinction, Tamika Tulloch, 2022 Honorary Women of Distinction, Charaya Thach

What a night, Hamilton and Halton!

On Thursday, March 2, the community came together to celebrate exceptional women and girls at the 47th annual Women of Distinction Awards, presented by ArcelorMittal Dofasco!

This year, 65 nominees were celebrated for their incredible achievements by over 1,100 guests – the largest Women of Distinction Awards gala in the event’s 47-year history! Guests were led through the evening by our emcee, Cable 14’s Val Cole, and were given greetings by Hamilton Mayor Andrea Horwath, Burlington Mayor M

ayor Meed Ward, YWCA Hamilton Board Chair Terri Johns, and YWCA CEO Medora Uppal – as well as a special appearance by crowd favourite Layne the Auctionista!

At our awards ceremony, five trailblazing women were recognized with a Women of Distinction Award for their unique contributions and achievements. Two special recognition awards were also presented this evening: Young Trailblazer, for a woman under the age of 25, and Lifetime Achievement, for a woman 55 years old and above.

We were also incredibly proud to name Tamika Tulloch as the Honorary Woman of Distinction for 2023. This award is presented each year to a woman who life has been touched by a YWCA Hamilton program who has distinguished herself through exceptional dedication and passion. Tamika is a graduate of YWCA Hamilton’s Construction Craft Worker Pre-Apprenticeship program, along with being a strong single mother to Quevo, age 2. She is a role model and a powerhouse woman ready to make her mark in the construction industry. Congratulations, Tamika!

At the gala, we were thrilled to announce the successful completion of YWCA Hamilton’s #WOMENBUILDHAMILTON fundraising campaign. This campaign was launched at the 2022 Women of Distinction Awards with the bold goal of raising $5 million to help cover the costs of the new Putman Family YWCA on Ottawa Street – YWCA Hamilton’s largest ever fundraising campaign. Over the past year, we achieved our fundraising goal and are proud to provide 50 women and women-led homes with a beautiful, safe, affordable home at the Putman Family YWCA.

Thanks to the generosity of our attendees, sponsors, and donors, we are thrilled to share that the gala raised $315,000 and counting to help power YWCA Hamilton’s life-changing programs and services. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you for your support – and thank you for a fantastic party!


The distinguished list of 2023 Women of Distinction Awards winners are:

Shaila Jamal
Shaila is a Ph.D. researcher at McMaster University with training in geography and planning, and a STEM enthusiast who loves to teach data science to the Hamilton community. She is a volunteer researcher, an educator, and a mentor to women in her field, including through YWCA Hamilton’s own Uplift Data Science training program.  She is also passionate about advocating for the South Asian community, seniors, and newcomers to Canada, including advocating for menstrual justice for young women in her country of origin, Bangladesh.

Victoria Mancinelli
Victoria is deeply committed to advocating on behalf of women and racialized people in construction and the skilled trades. Through her work as the Director Public Relations, Marketing, and Strategic Partnerships at the Labourers International Union of North America (LiUNA), she has helped to ensure that women have the support they need as they navigate a male-dominated industry. As an an Advisor to LiUNA’s Indigenous Relations Department and the Chair of LiUNA Central and Eastern Canada Women in the Trades Department, Victoria has been a leading voice in calling for more equity and diversity in the field. She is also an avid volunteer and philanthropist who has also helped mentor and empower women who have experienced violence, abuse, and trafficking.

Dr. Sonia Anand
Sonia is a ground-breaking researcher, clinician, mentor and advocate for women in medicine, particularly in the area of women’s cardiovascular health. As a McMaster University professor of medicine and epidemiology and senior scientist of the Population Health Research Institute, Sonia has earned a global reputation for prioritizing research into women’s cardiovascular health, identifying health risk factors in diverse ethnic groups and for developing new therapies that benefit high-risk patients across the globe. She champions equity and inclusion within academia, healthcare, and the broader Hamilton community, and has focused much of her career on improving the health of women, racialized people, and vulnerable communities.

Marybeth Leis Druery
Marybeth has spent her career challenging traditional stereotypes of women in leadership. Marybeth spent her childhood in a strict Mennonite community, separated from society, where she was told that her only possible role as a woman was as a wife and mother. Despite the disapproval of her family, she studied math at University of Waterloo, independently financing her education, and went on to teach high school Math and Science. From there, Marybeth co-founded the charity Student Open Circles, where for over 20 years she has facilitated and mentored McMaster University students from diverse backgrounds to explore self-awareness, values, leadership development, and volunteer with Hamilton’s underserved communities.

Dr. Natasha Johnson
Dr. Natasha Johnson is a pediatrician and Adolescent Medicine Specialist. She is a champion for adolescent sexual health – specifically for marginalized, historically oppressed youth, and equity-seeking populations. Her ground-breaking work has ensured that trans and gender diverse youth can access life-saving, wholistic medical services – the first interdisciplinary service of this kind in the region. Natasha is the medical co-director of the Eating Disorder Program at McMaster Children’s Hospital – a position she held throughout the pandemic when volumes of youth were requiring urgent care at unprecedented levels.  She is also a leader in anti-racism, equity, and inclusion within pediatric and adolescent medicine and academia.

Young Trailblazer Award – Shayna Earle
Shayna Earle is a fourth-year student in McMaster’s integrated biomedical engineering and health sciences program (iBioMed) where she focuses on Chemical Engineering. She is also shattering barriers foe women in her field as the passionate Co-President of the McMaster Women in Engineering society. She is a leader, an advocate for women in engineering, and a mentor to girls considering STEM. Even at this early stage of her career, she is an accomplished researcher who is omitted to bettering the world around her through her work – including her ground-breaking studies in cancer immunotherapy.

Lifetime Achievement Award – Janice Shearer
Janice is a philanthropist, athlete, and a proud grandma who has worked tirelessly for decades in many non-profit boards and organizations across the community. As a strategic professional with over 30 years of experience in consumer products marketing, post-secondary education and not-for-profit fundraising, she is currently serving as Board Chair of Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice, consults in the non-profit sector offering grant writing and communications expertise to local non-profits, volunteers actively with a number of charities, and is one of the three Canadian authors on the best-selling marketing textbook used in college and university classrooms across Canada. Janice leads by example and has inspired countless others to lead, mentor, and shine.

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