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Past Award Winners

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Celebrating the women and girls who build Hamilton and Halton

In honour of International Women’s Day, YWCA Hamilton will celebrate the trailblazers that build our Hamilton and Halton community. Because women build leaders, opportunities, innovation and each other up.

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Meet the 2021 Award Winners and Nominees

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2021 Women of Distinction Winners

Meet the 2021 Women of Distinction – Courage of Covid award winners.

Hamilton Winners

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Olivia Mancini headshot

Olivia Mancini | Frontline Worker Winner

Olivia Mancini brings her passion, dedication, and expertise to six positions across various organizations providing housing, addiction, and harm reduction supports to Hamiltonians. Olivia is a Harm Reduction Worker at the AIDS Network, an Addiction Attendant at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Men’s Addiction Services, a Withdrawal Management Worker at St. Leonard’s, a Research Assistant at McMaster University for the school of Social Work, an Outreach Worker at Wesley Day Centre, and a Case Manager at Salvation Army Booth Centre. When she’s not on the frontline, Olivia is a strong advocate for harm reduction, affordable housing, the right to housing, and trauma-informed care. Olivia is also a Bachelor of Social Work post-degree candidate studying at McMaster University.

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson headshot

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson | Health Care Hero Winner

Dr. Elizabeth Richardson is Hamilton’s Medical Officer of Health (MOH), having held the role for over 25 years. She is a graduate from Western Medical School and completed her Master’s of Health Sciences, Community Health & Epidemiology, and her residency in Public Health & Preventative Medicine at the University of Toronto. As the MOH, she provides public health expertise to support health surveillance, and also leads community health planning, research and program development. For more than two decades, she has ensured Hamiltonians are cared for through her focus on population health, health integration and disease control initiatives. Now more than ever, as the pandemic continues, Elizabeth’s role is essential to protecting  the  wellbeing of our community and saving lives.

Andriana Lukich headshot

Andriana Lukich | Pandemic Innovator Winner

Andriana Lukich is the Director, Digital Solutions at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. She holds a HBSc Kinesiology and an MBA from McMaster University, a PMP certification and is Prosci Change Management certified. Throughout her decade of healthcare experience, she has held multiple roles all focused on leading change initiatives and supporting staff through transformational projects. The digital projects she has championed include enabling virtual care between patients and providers; rapidly developing a COVID-19 screening tool for staff, patients and visitors; creating a city-wide patient self-scheduling tool to support booking of COVID-19 tests; and supporting the implementation of COVID-19 Assessment Centres. Andriana’s commitment to digital transformation has attracted support and spurred innovation across Canada.

Lisa Nussey headshot

Lisa Nussey | Community Champion Winner

Lisa Nussey is the Program Director for HAMSMaRT and the Co-coordinator for Keeping Six. Lisa relentlessly defends the rights, dignity, and humanity of people who use drugs (PWUDs). Lisa represents the voice for PWUDs at many stakeholder tables, attempting to manage and overcome the drug epidemic, while respecting PWUDs’ right to self-determination. Throughout the pandemic, Lisa has been committed to mobilizing mutual aid projects to support PWUDs and those experiencing homelessness. Lisa is a profound example of what it means to be a fierce agent of change and a true model of what one person can achieve through influential leadership, selfless dedication, and passionate advocacy efforts that have enriched the lives of people in the community.

Joelle Kabisoso headshot

Joëlle Kabisoso | Young Trailblazer Winner

Joëlle Kabisoso is a Congolese born Canadian and graduate of Western University. She is the founder of Sisters In Sync (SIS), a non-profit organization with a mission to support girls and women in education, mental health, financial literacy and day-to-day challenges. Joëlle started SIS as a response to her own experience as a sexual assault survivor and her commitment to supporting individuals with lived experiences of abuse. For her advocacy work, Joëlle has received many awards and recognition, such as CIBWE Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada, Afropolitan Canada’s “2020 Leadership Award”, Regroupement Affaires Femmes “2020 New Generation Award” amongst others.

Halton Winners

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Christina Mulder headshot

Christina Mulder | Frontline Worker Winner

Christina Mulder has been the Director of Programs and Partnerships for Open Doors at St. Christopher’s for three years. She oversees the development of new programs, as well as the adaptation of approximately a dozen others. With a small staff team and a large contingent of volunteers, she delivers programs to a diverse group of people, supporting their well-being and navigating them through challenging times. The joy of feeding people has always been at her core and in her current role, she is able to focus on providing dignified, equitable access to healthy and delicious food for the community. With Christina’s dedication and commitment to her values and the community she serves, Open Doors food programming has thrived under her leadership.

Andrea Pohl headshot

Andrea Pohl | Health Care Hero Winner

Andrea Pohl has dedicated her life to supporting our most valued and vulnerable residents – our seniors. She can be described as passionate, authentic, inspiring, and a true champion for her staff and residents, As Halton Region’s Services for Senior Director, Andrea is responsible for providing a range of services that meet the needs of the Region’s three accredited long-term care homes, their 572 residents, three Adult Day programs and four assisted living sites that enable older adults to maintain their independence. She holds an MBA from Athabasca University, a BA from Carlton University, and a Long Term Care Management diploma from the Canadian Healthcare Association. Andrea has extensive experience in long term care and has worked for several homes over a span of more than 25 years.

Lisa Lunski headshot

Lisa Lunski | Pandemic Innovator Winner

Lisa Lunski, coordinator for the Friday Night Community at Wellington Square United Church in downtown Burlington, has been an active community leader  for decades. Lisa has spent the last ten years growing a community that fosters positive relationships and decreases isolation for those most vulnerable, while also providing a hot meal once a week. Leveraging her relationships built within the community, Lisa advocates for affordable housing, food security and positive social change. During the pandemic, Lisa has adapted and inspired a team of 50 volunteers to coordinate a Meal Bag Program, which continues the vision of the Friday Night Community, despite the COVID-19 constraints. Lisa is a true community champion at heart and embodies a “nobody left behind” philosophy.

Julia Hanna headshot

Julia Hanna | Community Champion Winner

Julia Hanna began her journey into the restaurant world at the age of 26 when she opened her first restaurant, Café Galleria in Downtown Oakville. She has gone on to conceptualize, open and sell seven restaurants in Oakville. Her latest restaurant venture in North Oakville is Ritorno, which is a return to Julia’s Italian roots. Ritorno invites guests to bring photos of their mothers and grandmothers to place on the Nonna Wall, in celebration of these remarkable women. Julia’s most passionate undertaking is her not-for-profit initiatives. In 2013, she launched HealthyFam, helping children, families and seniors build a foundation for healthy living. Julia was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and is also a Paul Harris Fellow recipient in recognition of her commitment to healthy living in Canada. Julia’s lifelong philosophy has always been “Family is whoever sits around the dinner table.”

Ashwini Selvakumaran headshot

Ashwini Selvakumaran | Young Trailblazer Winner

Ashwini Selvakumaran is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto. She has lived in Malaysia, Kazakhstan, Yemen, New York and Canada. Ashwini’s valuable lived experiences solidified her passion to mobilize youth into tangible action and become a lifelong advocate for social justice.

For the past five years, Ashwini has been a Youth Ambassador for Plan International Canada. In this role, she utilizes her voice to represent women and youth across Canada. Recently, she was named the Young Director on the Iroquoia Bruce Trails Board by G(irls)20 and is the Chair of the Halton Newcomer Youth Steering Committee. Ashwini is also the author of “COVID-19 Perspectives – a book detailing the impact of COVID-19 on the global student community.

Lifetime Achievement Winner

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Colleen Mulholland headshot

Colleen Mulholland | Lifetime Achievement Winner

Colleen brings over 28 years of experience to her current role as CEO, having previously held executive positions with Canadian Diabetes Association, Ontario Chamber of Commerce and the Ontario Centres of Excellence.

Under her leadership, Burlington Foundation’s impact on the Halton Region community continues to grow through meaningful granting, increased assets under management, and important community facilitation.

In 2014, Colleen led the $2.7M Burlington Flood Disaster Relief Program, a critical response to a record rainfall of 191mm in 8hours that caused extraordinary flooding to homes and infrastructure.

Honourary Woman of Distinction

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Abrar Mechmechia headshot

Abrar Mechmechia | Honourary Woman of Distinction Award Winner

2021 Women of Distinction Nominees

Hamilton Nominees

Amanda Nagy
Angela Jaspan
Danielle Pinto
Diana Abdulrahman
Elizabeth Cronk
Jacqueline Haynes
Naomi Henderson
Natalie Teal
Riana Kruger
Sandee Green *
Victoria Young

Halton Nominees

Maha Tawadrous
Michelle Collins

( * Nominee of Lifetime Achievement Awards)

Hamilton Nominees

Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud *
Diana Wetherly
Doris Ciardullo
Erin Mitchell
Dr. Frances Lasowski
Karen Mossman
Leanne Sneddon
Marla Robinson *
Dr. Rosa da Silva
Tracey Taylor-O’Reilly
Vicki Gruber

Halton Nominees

Elise Naccarato
Hayley Harlock
Renee France Boudreau
Stephanie VanderLingen

( * Nominee of Lifetime Achievement Awards)

Hamilton Nominees

Abygail Montague
Blerina Ago
Jessica Anderson
Madison Ladd
Negar Balouchestani-Asli
Nicole Crimi
Oyinloluwa Aderibigbe
Sarah Bayliss
Susanne Nyaga

Halton Nominees

Gabrielle Warren
Rachel Shadid

Hamilton Nominees

Amanda Weatherston
Dr. Cheryl Van Der Mark
Dawn Martin
Dr. Erica Roebbelen
Heather Harvey
Jessie Mason
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar *
Kathleen Leach *
Dr. Sarah Khan
Vanessa Jarusauskas

Halton Nominees

Anna Policelli
Madison Brydges

( * Nominee of Lifetime Achievement Awards)

Hamilton Nominees

Alexis Wenzowski
Amanda DiFalco
Andrea Pohlmann
Anna Di Carlo
Ashleigh Montague
Brenda Duke *
Camy Hand
Dallas Lombardi
Gina Robinson *
Jeannie Howe
Julie Freeman
Karol De Stefano
Kathryn Clewley
Kofo Owolabi
Lohifa Pogoson-Acker
Melanee McAulay *
Meltem Fidan
Paula Laing *
Perihan (Peri) Eid
Rachel Braithwaite
Robin Lacambra
Sabrina Jaspers
Samantha Mercanti
Sandra Jenkins
Serena Bufalino
Dr. Soumeya Abed
Theresa Horak
Whitney McMeekin

Halton Nominees

Amber Rushton
Honourable Anita Anand
Colleen Mulholland
Gabriela Covaci
Jacqui Cronin
Maria Locker
Nancy Romic
Shannon Tobin

( * Nominee of Lifetime Achievement Awards)

Women of Distinction Award Recipients
2006 – 2021

Hamilton Winners

Olivia Mancini | Frontline Worker Winner
Dr. Elizabeth Richardson | Health Care Hero Winner
Andriana Lukich | Pandemic Innovator Winner
Lisa Nussey | Community Champion Winner
Joëlle Kabisoso | Young Trailblazer Winner

Halton Winners

Christina Mulder | Frontline Worker Winner
Andrew Pohl | Health Care Hero Winner
Lisa Lunski | Pandemic Innovator Winner
Julia Hanna | Community Champion Winner
Ashwini Selvakumaran | Young Trailblazer Winner

Lifetime Achievement Winner

Colleen Mulholland

Honourary Woman of Distinction Winner

Abrar Mechmechia

Diana Weir: Arts | Culture | Design
Emily O’Brien: Business Leadership | Entrepreneurship
Monique Lavallee: Community Leadership
Alfredine (Linda) Plourde: Education | Mentorship
Dr. Audrey Hicks: Health
Blueberry Therapy: Outstanding Small Business
Dr. Heather Sheardown: Science | Technology | Trades
Chyler Sewell: Young Trailblazer
Kayonne Christy: Young Woman of Distinction
Lena Sutton: Lifetime Achievement
Selbina Mwendwa: Honourary Woman of Distinction

Lisa Pijuan-Nomura – Arts|Culture|Design
Tammy Hwang – Business Leadership|Entrepreneurship
Clare Freeman – Community Leadership
Dr. Anna Moro – Education|Mentorship
Louisa Drost – Health
Col. Marguerite Ward – Lifetime Achievement
Maddie Brockbank – Young Woman of Distinction
ArcelorMittal Dofasco – Outstanding Workplace
Jamie McMillan – Science|Technology|Trades
Candace Gagne – Honourary Woman of Distinction

Marlaise Dawson – Arts|Culture|Design
Erin Dunham – Business Leadership|Entrepreneurship
Grace Mater – Community Leadership
Dr. Kimberley Dej – Education|Mentorship
Jill Wiwcharuk – Health
Anju Joshi – Lifetime Achievement
Chelsea Mackinnon – Young Woman of Distinction
Alectra Utilities – Outstanding Workplace
Kathy Lerette – Science|Technology|Trades

Diana Panton – Arts|Culture|Design
Amy Back – Business Leadership|Entrepreneurship
Nancy Smith – Community Leadership
Emily Ecker – Education|Mentorship
Dr. Carys Massarella – Health
Anne Tennier – Lifetime Achievement
Shruti Ramesh – Young Woman of Distinction
REfficient Inc. – Outstanding Workplace
Deborah Sloboda – Science|Technology|Trades

Patti Cannon – Arts, Culture or Design
Dr. Brenda Vrkljan – Business, Education & Mentorship
Sarah Glen – Community Leadership
Dr. Maroussia Hajdukowski-Ahmed – Lifetime Achievement
Rachael Finnerty – Health
FirstOntario Credit Union – Outstanding Workplace
Alba Guarne – Science, Technology or Trades
Rebecca Babcock – Young Woman of Distinction

Kaime Woody Sherman
Lenore Lukasik-Foss
Ann Herring
Laura Michele Fortino
Brenda Symons-Moulton
Annette Hamm
Dr. Joanna Wilson
Louise Noel-Ambrose
Myriam Builes Lopez
Zaynab Al-Waadh
Romita Sur

Alexis Fletcher
Alyssa Lai
Astrid Hepner
Bernice E. Downey
Debbie Bang
Hailey Milligan
Juliet M. Daniel
Katherine Kalinoski
Maggie Steele
Mannat Malik
Nancy McMillan
Patricia Akers

Colina Maxwell
Maxine Carter
Emily Hart
Helen Martin
Helen McLeod
Jan Park Dorsay
Julia Scozzari
Karen Shea
Kim McCarthy
Laura Babcock
Sharon Babineau

Cheryl Jensen
Jan Lukas
Jeanette Eby
Krista Warnke
Loretta Hill-Finamore
Lorna Zaremba
Lucene Charles
Marni Flaherty
Mary Koziol
Patricia Jordan
Linda Dayler

Anna Sponer
Casey Johnson
Diane Chiarelli
Dr. Cheryl Ann Levitt
Leah Schwenger
Lisa Hepfner
Lorraine Chapman
Medora Uppal
Susan Tian

Donna Skelly
Dr. Jean Clinton
Emily Clark
Janice Locke
Kathy Archer
Queen Cee
Sally Palmer
Sandy Shaw
Sharon Marafon
Taunya Laslo
Woman Abuse Working Group

Barbara Milne
Emmaline Houston
Florence Sicoli
Jennifer Powell-Fralick
Joe-Anne Priel
Linda Ense
Mildred Gould
Ruby Amog
Shirley Elford
Hamilton Police Services 50th Anniversary Steering Committee

Debbie Crickmore
Dr. Alexandra Papaioannou
Joanna Chapman
Judith Bishop
Karyn Callaghan
Lynda Lukasik
Nomi Cuneo
Sandie Heirwegh
Susan Fowler
North Hamilton Community Health Centre

Ardyth Webster Brott
Betty Ann Bushell
Cathy Ferreira
Elizabeth Beader
Jessie Stoneman
Lauren Wallace
Madina Wasuge
Nancy DiGregorio
SACHA- Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton and Area)

Annette Brennan
Betty Mullin
Carole MacVicar
Elize Hartley
Krys Croxall
Krystena Wan
Nathalie Xian Yi Yan
Patricia Daenzer
Susan Clairmont
The Robert Land Mom’s Group

Women of Distinction Award Recipients
1975 - 2005

Brandy Gowling
Geraldine Voros
Judi Patridge
Mary Lamb
Renee Simone Wetselaar
Ruth Greenspan
Sara Lukacin

Betty Bechtel
Elizabeth Weaver
Hillary Smith
Joanne Ruggieri
Lyla Miklos
Mary Pocius
Melanie McFarlane
Myra James

Carolann Fernandes
Dr. Marie Bountrogianni
Elham Farah
Eva Marsh
Laura Ludwin
Mary Lou Weir
Renate Manthei
Shelley Scott

Barbara Jane Cowan
Dr. Lori Whitehead
Jean Yvonne Miles
Joyce Oliver
Margaret Warriner
Pamela Tracz
Pat Mandy

Andrea Henry
Connie Smith
Elizabeth Latner
Katie Alexandra Hui
Kelly Hayes
Ollie Thompson
Phylis Tresidder
Rhona Trott
Sura Abdul-Razzak

Antoinette Mongillo Howson
Barbara Patterson
Caroll Wiggens (nee Montag)
Carrie Bell
Esther Pauls
Gillian Leek
Patti Beckett

Anne Bain
Aznive Mallett
Bonnie Stayzer
Jasmine Kaur Aujla
Jill Rumble
Mary Gallagher
Sharon Easton

Carrie Sinkowski
Carron Barbas
Ceed Stapleton
Charlene Lockhart
Cumuli Arcand
Dr. Irene Turpee
Eleanor Rodney
Hilena Zylstr
Judy Kloosterman
Kelly Heaney
Lana Lowe
Linda Jacobs
Magenta Chernets
Marie Tuttle
Marjory Nairn
Mary Kiss
Mary Long
Meghan Burke
Odette Clarke
Pat Coward
Patricia Naber
Stephanie Morrison

Andrea Lynne Horwath
Ann Sloat
Anne Vallentyne
Dr. Barbara Gowitzke
Joyce Brown
Paulina Veronique Cote
Sunni Genesco
Vincenza Travale

Birgitt Williams (nee Bolton)
Candace Malott
Evelyn Myrie
Irene Stayshyn
Joyce Caygill
Leonor Sorger
Marlene Thomas Osborne
Sheila Copps
Virginia Binko

Doris Sanchez
Dr. Heather Johnson
Janice Brunet (nee Freckleton)
Marie Peebles
Sharon Bonham
Sr. Agnes Ward

Angela Maloch
Catherine Gibbon
Christine Silverberg
Denise Giroux
Patricia Kozowyk
Ruth Williams
Therese Quigley
Wendy Moore Spors

Doreen Johnson
Jude Johnson
Lydia Coy
Priscilla De Villiers
Shameela Karmali-Rawji
Thelma McGillivray

Doris Clark Ludwig
Florence Irvine
Gwen Lee
Jacqueline Pearce Harbour
Joan Bean
Shirley Turkstra
V. Jane Gordon

Basanti Majumdar
Denise Davy
Gwynneth Hawse Cook
Hoda El Maraghy
Patricia Wallace
Shirley Elford

Joan Coldwell
Joan Rapsavage
Marietta Pupo
Marion Farnan
Marnie Paikin
Sister Joan O’Sullivan

Barbara Chambers
Dr. Gene Sutton
Eleanor Morrow
Eunice Swanborough
Jeannette Walkem
Joy Warner

Brig. Elizabeth Peacocke
Diana Stewart
Elizabeth Holbrook
Lesley Russell
Marjorie Baskin
Shirley Molot

Alvina Werner
Betty Lou Lee
Irene Pearce
Judith Bishop
Mary Chantrell
May Cohen
Sheila Davies

Cecelia Carter-Smith
Eileen Morrow
Heather Murphy
Lynn Marie Spencer Duncan
Pat Ford
Patricia Rolston

Edith Schooley
Hanna Newcombe
Joan DeNew
Jody Orr
Mary Keyes
Olive Newcombe

Christine Hamilton
Emily Smith-Cain
Grace Harris
Joan Berta
Lynne Powell
Muriel Beatty

1983 – Joan S. McKee
1982 – Dorothy Thomas
1981 – Gloria O’Connor
1980 – Ruth Cornwell
1979 – Joan McKee
1978 – Mary Gibbon
1977 – Norma Berti

Dolores Marks
Doris Short
Elizabeth Lee
Elizabeth MacKay
Flora Nicholson
Jenny Hilstead
Joan Balinson
Mildred McGilivray
Nib Johnson
Patricia Lopresti
Shirley Gibbon

Dr. Roberta Bondar
Elizabeth Page
Carmeta Gentles
Roberta Jamieson
Anne Jones
Ellen Fairclough
Gwendolyn George
Patricia Wallace
Karen Cimba
Phylis McAvoy
Irmagard Westman
Denise Roger-McQuilkin
Bettina Campbell

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