This award honours a woman who is 55 years or older who has made significant and varied contributions to the community in any of the Women of Distinction award categories (with the exception of Young Trailblazer). She is a role model who has tirelessly contributed to the community in many ways, for many years, as an advocate, volunteer, and/or mentor. In response to the pandemic, she exhibits strength, wisdom, and character that serve as an inspiration to those around her. Nominees across all categories will be considered for the Lifetime Achievement Award should they opt-in. Nominees may only win in one category.
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.
Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud
Dr. Alison Fox-Robichaud is a Professor of Medicine, an Intensivist, & Director of Medical Education. She holds a BSc in Biology and Chemistry, as well as a MSc in Medical Sciences at McMaster University. She completed her MD at the University of Ottawa, followed by Internal Medicine, Critical Care and Postdoctoral training at the University of Calgary. Her research interests include the pathophysiology of sepsis and how evidence is transferred into clinical care. She is the Scientific Director of the Canadian Sepsis Research Network, with over 95 peer-reviewed publications and has been the well-deserving recipient of numerous awards. Her medical expertise, collaboration with community, medical, and academic stakeholders has been integral to leading and standardizing therapies in critical care settings during this pandemic.
Community engagement began in 2015 with founding a community planning team to help residents improve Gibson-Landsdale neighbourhoods. Brenda started a community newspaper, initiated pollinator gardens, adopted three parks, revitalized local community garden and is the visionary of Beautiful Alleys.
During 2020 community engagement changed. She still arranged for traditional events (Easter treats) to be delivered, organized volunteers for the gardens and to prepare planting and care of community food garden, distributed supplies to clean their alleys and parks.
Recipient : Forty over Forty, Women Who Rock and the Order of Hamilton. Beautiful Alleys has earned Community Builder Award/Environment Award of Merit.
Brenda’s goal is to ignite passion, motivate and support the actions of residents to better their community and lives.
Gina Robinson is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) and ha has held various leadership positions in addition to role model and mentor. In 1999, Gina joined McMaster and was appointed the first Assistant Dean of Student Affairs (2012). She has brought vision and innovation, spearheading new programming (Women in Leadership Summit), developing new partnerships (City of Hamilton), member of the Hamilton Financial Empowerment Strategy Group, and ensuring equitable and inclusive program design. Throughout her tenure, she has served the community and McMaster on boards/committees such as Hamilton Community Living, YWCA, Graduate Student Association, and McMaster Alumni Association. Gina is most passionate about financial literacy, has used her knowledge/skills to educate students and the community about important money matters and taxes.
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar
Dr. Karen Trollope-Kumar is a family physician with extra training in psychotherapy. For over 30 years she has been a healthcare hero, dedicating her time and energy working at community health centres as well as 18 years in full-service family practice in Hamilton. Before that, she spent 10 years offering healthcare in the remote Himalayas. In 2017, she co-founded Body Brave, a Hamilton charitable organization that offers free treatment to people struggling with devastating eating disorders. Karen volunteers as the full-time Medical Director. In just 3 years, she has built a small but mighty clinical team that has supported over 1600 people as well as educating over 1000 healthcare professionals. Karen has become a lifeline for many during the pandemic.
As a Hamilton pharmacist and small business owner, Kathleen Leach met the challenges presented by COVID-19 and went above and beyond for her staff, patients, and community. At the beginning of the pandemic, Kathleen worked alone for months, to protect the health and wellbeing of her staff. She also went to great lengths to serve her patients, personally dropping off prescriptions to her most vulnerable clients after hours. Kathleen also managed and mitigated prescription shortages, driving out of the city to find her patients’ needed medicines. She provides a continuum of care for our community, administering flu shots, running educational webinars, and keeping a strong volunteer presence serving as the President of the Board of Directors for St. Leonard’s Society.
Marla Robinson has been with Mohawk College for 20+ years in a variety of leadership roles, including faculty, apprenticeship research and more recently industry consultation and program design. As one of the first women to graduate from Mohawk College’s Mechanical Engineering Technician program, Marla has broken stereotypes and encouraged women to consider trades and technology as viable career choices. While completing her graduate program in Educational Leadership, Marla joined the Community Partnerships and Learning team as Special Projects Academic Coordinator to share her expertise in designing and delivering innovative employer-informed programs within the City School by Mohawk mandate. With a focus on creating employment and educational solutions amidst a pandemic crisis, Marla is a leader in supporting community change initiatives.
Melanee McAulay has been a leader in Hamilton’s non-profit housing sector for nearly three decades, serving currently as Executive Director for Sacajawea Non-Profit Housing. Melanee has led teams in supporting tenants of all ages to achieve their best potential through providing stable, affordable, and appropriate homes. This includes leading Sacajawea’s evolution as needs emerged, becoming a multi-residential housing developer with the recent Onkwanónhsa – Ezhi-Mina-Giiweng project that opened in 2019. Melanee’s commitment to pursuing co-operation is demonstrated both within the Indigenous community where she has served on numerous boards, networks, and associations, as well as in tireless efforts to bridge Indigenous and mainstream organizations towards greater friendship, unity, and reconciliation.
Paula Laing is Kanienke’ha’ka (Mohawk) from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and belongs to the Turtle Clan. Laing started her advocacy work when she was at McMaster University in the Social Work program. She continues to speak up regarding challenges and barriers that our Indigenous communities are experiencing . Her grandmother was a survivor of residential school and Laing witnessed and experienced first-hand the effect this had on her family across generations. Despite this painful history, Laing’s mother instilled in her daughter a deep pride of her Indigeneity as a young girl, and through her own passion inspired Laing to choose a career focused on advocating, supporting and empowering Indigenous communities, especially Indigenous youth.
Sandee Green is a dedicated Developmental Service Worker (DSW) who has supported people with developmental disabilities in Hamilton for 40 years. While working full-time and active SEIU involvement, Sandee is also a Mom mother of a son proudly serving in the Canadian Army. Her passion for the health and wellness of her colleagues working in residential settings and long-term care facilities, put her on a path of hard work and dedication to effect an important change. COVID-19 has not slowed her down, what it has done, is highlight the essential service DSW and Retirement Home Workers provide the Hamilton community.
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 7 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.”
Nancy Romic is the Executive Director of Shifra Homes, a maternity residence for young, homeless, pregnant mothers and their babies. Under Nancy’s care and guidance, Shifra’s programs have grown and expanded to provide a complete wrap around service to ensure the success of these young women. She continues to support these mothers even after they transition out of the Home. Nancy works tirelessly, always putting others first. Nancy has continued to change the lives of many women, including helping them recover from abuse, neglect, addictions, continue their education, while successfully breaking generational cycles. She is a nurturer and giver and continues to be the reason these women and babies have a happy story written in their book of life.