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Community Leadership category

Community Leadership

Celebrating the women and girls who build Hamilton and Halton

Hamilton and Halton’s most prestigious event honouring women and girls

Meet the 2022 Award Nominees and Winners

Winners from the previous years

Have questions? Contact a member of our team.

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This award honours a woman who has improved and enriched the lives of others in her own community. She is an influential leader and passionate advocate through paid work or volunteerism in the private, public, or not-for-profit sector. She may work in the area of public affairs, women’s rights, intercultural relations, social justice, or peace. By harnessing her time, talent, and the capacity of others, she is a visionary trailblazer who is a source of strength for her community. She has created positive and meaningful social, economic, or political change in her community.

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Hamilton Winner:

Sarah Jama

Sarah Jama - Community - Hamilton

Sarah Jama

Sarah Jama is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO). She’s a community organizer from Hamilton with Cerebral Palsy who does work around combating anti-Black racism, policing, and housing insecurity. Through DJNO, she tackles systemic ableism by building up capacity in disabled organizers to challenge structures locally, provincially, and nationally. In her past role as Senior Program Co-ordinator at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), she ran a Civic Leadership Program to help Black and racialized youth better understand how to work inside and outside institutions to affect structural change. She also led an initiative to form HESN (Hamilton Encampment Support Network) and CareMongering (now called Roots to Justice).

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Halton Winner:

Nancy Romic

Nancy Romic - Community - Halton

Nancy Romic

Nancy Romic is the Executive Director of Shifra Homes, a not-for-profit maternity residence for young, homeless, pregnant women and babies. Her background as the owner of an Oakville nursing agency has given her the business and social service background to change lives. Nancy has been with Shifra since 2012, and under her guidance, Shifra’s programs have expanded to provide complete wraparound services to ensure the success of these young women. What makes Shifra and Nancy special is that they fight for the protection of the most vulnerable members of our community and Nancy works tirelessly, always putting others first. Nancy often acts as a matriarchal figure to the young women in her care, providing them with love and support..

Hamilton Nominees

Alexis Petrovic - Community - Hamilton

Alexis Petrovic

Alexis Petrovic was born and raised in Hamilton. Since 2009, Alexis has worked as a Hamilton Police Officer and prides herself on serving the Hamilton Community with integrity. Alexis has a Bachelors Degree in Policing. She has been involved in numerous volunteer initiatives and has mentored youth through various sports and outdoor programs. For several years she inspired other officers to participate in the “Climb for Cancer,” an initiative close to her heart, raising thousands of dollars for the Juravinski Cancer Center. In 2021, Alexis helped organize the first ever Women’s Only First 100 to Respond Golf Tournament, raising over $20,000 for YWCA Hamilton. Alexis motivates others to do well and understands the importance of giving back.

Anabelle Ragsag - Community - Hamilton

Anabelle Ragsag

Anabelle Ragsag believes in community care, shared responsibility, and holding power accountable as paths forward. These are shaped by her childhood experience in southern Philippines, which has seen armed conflicts and global economic exploitation.  Social justice has since been the focus of her work – in spaces of research, community organizing, and social sector governance. Examples are co-organizing the Filipinas of HamOnt and Hamilton Asian Alliance, to build capacities of resistance and change. Her previous impact evaluation work at UNV, ASEAN, and Hamilton’s IWC, and her volunteer positions as a member of HIPC and the Canadian Evaluation Society-ON’s Board are examples of her commitment to accountability. Educated at the University of the Philippines and Carleton, Anabelle studies Social Work at McMaster.

Bernie McCarter - Community - Hamilton

Bernie McCarter

Bernie McCarter has made a broad impact in Hamilton through her lifelong volunteerism, focused on the needs of women and children. Over the years, Bernie has dedicated her energies to supporting children’s literacy as an in-school volunteer, raising funds for City Kidz and the Parent’s Guild at Hillfield-Strathallan College. Bernie spent years supporting women living with breast cancer through Look Good Feel Better, and though donations and fundraising for women’s healthcare. Most recently, Bernie has supported the new YWCA on Ottawa Street. Bernie has co-chaired numerous fundraisers with her husband and has instilled her love of volunteering in both her children. Now as a snowbird in sunny Florida, Bernie can be found on the golf course, beach, or FaceTiming her grandchildren.

Jessica Compton - Community - Hamilton

Jessica Compton

Jessica Compton demonstrates exceptional leadership in the category of community leadership through the community engagement initiatives she provides. As Founder and Director of Tree of Stars, Jessica is passionate about “promoting mental health and addiction recovery by telling our stories through music, art and resources.” Jessica has spent many hours volunteering her time creating Wellness Events, complete with journaling, self care, music and meditation. She offers nightly Instagram interviews with others who have struggled with mental health and addiction. She is a strong advocate against bullying and has been a guest speaker for numerous podcasts and events. Jessica is a natural leader, creative and innovative. She has broken down barriers in her own life as she has navigated her journey with addiction, and inspires others through her dedication and support.

Jo-Ann Savoie - Community - Hamilton

Dr. Jo-Ann Savoie

Dr. Jo-Ann Savoie has served the City of Hamilton as a police officer since 1997 and served with the Department of National Defence prior to that. Her strong desire to serve her community is demonstrated not only through her professional accomplishments, but also through her commitment to volunteering. In 2021, Jo-Ann founded Project First to Respond, leading a team of first responders through a fundraising campaign that saw over $70,000 in funds raised in support of YWCA Hamilton’s affordable housing initiative. As the Past President, and now current Board Member of Ontario Women in Law Enforcement, she mentors and supports women in policing. Leading by example, she is a role model for those looking to make an impact within their community.

Kathy McKeil - Community - Hamilton

Kathy McKeil

Kathy McKeil, Chief of Staff at Breakwater Investments, has a 30-year track record of developing and executing meaningful campaigns that positively enhance workplace culture. A natural people person, Kathy excels at connecting people and opportunities. A passionate philanthropist, Kathy is Chair of the McKeil Family Foundation and a board member of Swim Drink Fish Canada, a non-profit organization using science and communications technology to help safeguard our water.

Kelly Tobin - Community - Hamilton

Kelly Tobin

Kelly is a public safety professional with a passion for making her community a safer place to live. While completing her degree in Crime and Intelligence Analysis, she remains dedicated to improving the lives of those around her, placing an emphasis on mentoring and guiding students, and others within her industry. A proud Indigenous woman who advocates for those facing barriers, Kelly spends her time providing food and clothing to those less fortunate while raising awareness around issues like affordable housing. In 2021, she raised over $40,000 for Men’s Street Ministry and YWCA Hamilton. Her volunteer work includes assisting several animal rescues with fostering, training, and flight coordination. Her motto is “Do good. Help Others.” To her, Hamilton is home.

Krysta Boyer - Community - Hamilton

Krysta Boyer

A long-time resident of Hamilton, Krysta Boyer has always been highly engaged with the community she loves. Her involvement includes years of Board and Committee work, including but not limited to: Hamilton Police, Keep Hamilton Clean and Green, YEP (Young Entrepreneurs and Professionals), Try! Hamilton, Hamilton Future Fund, Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Indwell and Stoney Creek Legion. She is incredibly dedicated to her community, constantly looking for and involving herself in ways to serve her community further. Presently she is a Sales Representative with Blair Blanchard Stapleton, a long-standing independent city Brokerage, where she focuses on commercial real estate. Though a Realtor, her real passion is her community, which is evident in how she speaks, acts and engages.

Sarah Jama - Community - Hamilton

Sarah Jama

Sarah Jama is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Disability Justice Network of Ontario (DJNO). She’s a community organizer from Hamilton with Cerebral Palsy who does work around combating anti-Black racism, policing, and housing insecurity. Through DJNO, she tackles systemic ableism by building up capacity in disabled organizers to challenge structures locally, provincially, and nationally. In her past role as Senior Program Co-ordinator at the Hamilton Centre for Civic Inclusion (HCCI), she ran a Civic Leadership Program to help Black and racialized youth better understand how to work inside and outside institutions to affect structural change. She also led an initiative to form HESN (Hamilton Encampment Support Network) and CareMongering (now called Roots to Justice).

Vandana Verma - Community - Hamilton

Vandana Verma

Vandana Verma is a dynamic and distinguished member of our Hamilton community. In addition to her role as an educator, Vandana is an author, illustrator, and video producer. In 2013, Vandana founded the Just One Wish Kindness Program, hoping to inspire a more positive school climate. Over the years, the program  has become so much more to every family touched by it, and it has grown to include a variety of supportive educational resources for both educators and families. In addition, Vandana has also volunteered internationally and here at home. She has volunteered with the Salvation Army soup truck, the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, and currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Hamilton Folk Arts Heritage Council.

Vanessa Henry - Community - Hamilton

Vanessa Henry

Vanessa has contributed in many ways to our City of Hamilton, including providing various programs and outreach supporting  children, youth, adults, and Elders/seniors. Vanessa honors her role and is fully dedicated to meeting the critical needs of those in the community who require assistance. Her areas of community involvement include: Education, Employment, Mental Heath Support, Cultural support and traditions Grief support, and providing necessities of life.

Vanessa Watts - Community - Hamilton

Dr. Vanessa Watts

Dr. Vanessa Watts is Assistant Professor and Paul R. MacPherson Chair in Indigenous Studies, Department of Sociology and Indigenous Studies at McMaster University. Dr. Watts is Mohawk and Anishinaabe (Bear Clan, Six Nations), a champion of Indigenous culture, history, and ways of knowing, and an advocate for women, particularly Indigenous women, collaborating with others to end violence against women. Dr. Watts brings to this work a deep commitment to collaborative community-building with Indigenous and non-Indigenous partners to further reconciliation, enhance Indigenous presence at McMaster, increase recognition of Indigenous culture and history in Hamilton, and end violence against women.

Wendy Tompkins - Community - Hamilton

Wendy Tompkins

Wendy Tompkins, an Investment Advisor and Financial Planner, has worked enthusiastically for her clients and her community for 35 years. From her start at RBC in Hamilton to her current position with RBC Dominion Securities, Wendy has demonstrated a commitment to helping others far beyond the expectations of her profession. Her community committee work is expansive, as she currently serves on 10 boards.  Wendy hosts the annual Glanbrook Community Services Golf 3 of 6 Tournament which raises money for  good causes. She also diligently prepares Lunch and Learn seminars for seniors to help them navigate retirement challenges. Her moto is to truly focus on a personalized strategy for every family and this she does with genuine care.

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Halton Nominees

Glenda Lloyd - Community - Halton

Glenda Lloyd

Glenda Lloyd is the Ontario Community Relations Manager at Cogeco. She epitomizes the ideals of enriching the lives of others in our community. She is a mentor at “Women as Career Coaches” and she has led teams in “Clean Up, Green Up” and the Terry Fox Run for many years. In her professional role, Glenda has spearheaded support of the Oakville Community Foundation, United Way, Halton Learning Foundation, McMaster Children’s hospital, and the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, among others. Glenda also sets an example with her attitude. She approaches every relationship – professional and personal – with warmth, empathy, and an incredibly infectious laugh! She genuinely believes in the causes she supports and cheers them on enthusiastically.

Kimberly Calderbank - Community - Halton

Kimberly Calderbank

Kimberly Calderbank is an experienced leader, mentor, and entrepreneur in the communications and marketing sector. As Co-founder and Director of Marketing and Communications at Yellow Robot, she has a demonstrated history of helping clients identify and achieve their goals and elevate their voices. With over 15 years of experience creating award-winning marketing content, Kimberly is a true believer in the power of community, leading the communication strategies and fundraising campaigns for many notable foundations and not-for-profit organizations. Kimberly sits on many boards and committees and in 2018, ran for Burlington City Council in the hopes of having more women represented in local government.

Lorraine Rollo - Community - Halton

Lorraine Rollo

Lorraine Rollo is a survivor of domestic violence and is a passionate advocate for ending violence against women. She is a member of the Halton Violence Prevention Council and serves as Chair of SAFE: Survivor Advocates for Empowerment. Lorraine is a public speaker and educator through lived experience on domestic violence and abuse. She demonstrates  courage, strength and drive to advocate for the others that are out there; those who have been victimized by violence. Lorraine serves as a Crisis Phone Line Volunteer & Public Educator with SACHA (Sexual Assault Centre of Hamilton and Area), and is also a sworn-in civilian with Halton Regional Police Services – Victim Services Unit.  Lorraine IS the victim’s voice; a ‘ground-warrior’ doing the underground work supporting victims of domestic violence.

Nancy Romic - Community - Halton

Nancy Romic

Nancy Romic is the Executive Director of Shifra Homes, a not-for-profit maternity residence for young, homeless, pregnant women and babies. Her background as the owner of an Oakville nursing agency has given her the business and social service background to change lives. Nancy has been with Shifra since 2012, and under her guidance, Shifra’s programs have expanded to provide complete wraparound services to ensure the success of these young women. What makes Shifra and Nancy special is that they fight for the protection of the most vulnerable members of our community and Nancy works tirelessly, always putting others first. Nancy often acts as a matriarchal figure to the young women in her care, providing them with love and support.

Shann McGrail - Community - Halton

Shann McGrail

With a collaborative and strategic approach to innovation and entrepreneurship, Shann joined Haltech Regional Innovation as the Executive Director in 2018. An alumnus of Microsoft, and the founder of Devreve Inc., Shann combines her love of people, education, and technology to support entrepreneurs in realizing their potential. Using skills and experience in coaching and mentoring, along withten years of improv training, Shann enjoys leading development initiatives with a focus on “Yes, And!” Shann is very involved in various Women in Tech initiatives, including Women in Communications and Technology. In her five years with Haltech, Shann has grown the client portfolio of women tech entrepreneur founders from 9% to 41% and supported building the Her Halton Women’s Day event and network.

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