The 27th annual YWCA Women of Distinction awards gala dinner will be held on
March 13 at the Keystone Centre’s UCT Pavilion.
The Brandon Sun is pleased to be a sponsor of the event and presents the nominees below.
• Donna Anderson: Rapid City
Donna Anderson lives in Rapid City with her husband Wallace. She has three daughters and two grandchildren. Donna has been the consummate volunteer in her community taking leadership roles in many activities including the 125th anniversary committee, chair of the library board, treasurer of the nursery school, co-treasurer of her church and a member of the Rapid City Co-op Board.
Donna has an ability to get everyone on the same page, which can be a difficult task. She served as CAO for six years with the Town of Rapid City and is now CAO of the RM of Cornwallis, where she has earned the respect of those she works with.
• Patricia Boguski: Roblin
Patricia Boguski was raised in Roblin and received her education at the same schools in which she now works to encourage student’s participation in sporting events. Patricia holds a degree in recreation management and community development from the University of Manitoba, and is the recreation director for the Town of Roblin.
Patricia is a board member, volunteer and advocate for many local, regional and provincial organizations including the Parkland Healthy Child Coalition, the Parkland Association of Recreation Directors, Recreation Connections Manitoba, the Manitoba Games Council, High Five and the Roblin Centennial Committee. Patricia is committed to keeping people in her community active.
• Samantha Boychuk-Dellezay: Brandon
Samantha Boychuk-Dellezay grew up in Brandon. However, she recently returned from Fort Portal, Uganda, where she completed the practicum component of her MA in human security and peacebuilding degree from Royal Roads University.
Her passion is educating others on the importance of global citizenship and women’s rights. Samantha is excited for the next steps in her academic and professional career.
• Tami-Rae Clements: Brandon
Tami-Rae Clements is a woman with a passion for business and has been a part of growing several successful high-tech companies in Brandon. She has been a part of I-Net Link since its inception in 2001 and has grown the company to more than 4,500 customers, 150 towers, 65 staff. It has become one of the largest WiMax networks in the country.
Tami-Rae is a wife and the mother of two sons. She has volunteered her time with Brandon Crime Stoppers and the Brandon Humane Society and fosters animals in need. Tami thinks women deserve to believe that anything is possible and that they should not let their fears and insecurities define them.
• Gail Cullen: Brandon
Gail Cullen has lived in Brandon all of her life. She has one son and is the grandmother of two children. Gail has worked for the Brandon Friendship Centre since 1984 and is currently the executive director. In addition to her duties as executive director, over the years she has found time to volunteer with more than 20 organizations in Brandon and across Manitoba.
Gail struggled with and overcame breast cancer two years ago, and her determination and dedication did not go unnoticed by those around her. She is an inspiration to her family and others, and she will continue to dedicate her time to them and to the community of Brandon.
• Verna DeMontigny: Brandon
Verna DeMontigny grew up in a traditional Métis community known as Fouillard’s Corner. She has one daughter, four sons and 10 wonderful grandchildren, and is a big part of their lives. Verna worked for the Manitoba Métis Federation in the southwest region until her retirement in 2011.
She is one of the fluent Michif speakers in the province of Manitoba and is dedicated to teaching, promoting, protecting and preserving the Michif language for future generations. She shares her knowledge and passion for the Métis culture with many and is recognized in the community as a Métis elder.
• Viola Fleury: Brandon
Viola Fleury is a strong leader, not only in the aboriginal community, but in the community at large as well. She is and has been a source of motivation for many who would otherwise be unheard or overlooked. This includes the many young aboriginal students she has helped who are now successful professionals in their chosen fields.
Viola has touched the lives of the many people she has come into contact with including the Aboriginal Community Development students at Assiniboine Community College many of whom she is still in close contact with and continues to mentor even years after their graduation.
• Colleen Gareau: Brandon
Colleen Gareau supports and helps people whether it is as a pastoral care worker, an educational assistant, a Welcome Wagon hostess or as the founder and leader of TNC — The Next Chapter, a very successful and growing support group for women living through the loss of their husband. Colleen is also an incredible advocate for students with special needs and she assists them with the transition to adulthood and independence.
She treats all people with compassion, dignity and respect and consistently demonstrates this in her daily interactions with people. She has an amazing ability to see a need and the drive to fill it. A genuine person with a caring heart!
• Donna Hamm: Brandon
Donna Hamm has been an amazing contributor to our community. This busy wife, mom, friend, grandmother and businesswomanhas devoted her time to Valleyview Community Centre, the Walk ’n’ Roll for the Canadian Paraplegic Association, the Wheat Kings reunion and the list goes on.
Donna’s business, Caring Companions, assists people to be independent and to enjoy a high quality of life. She loves her clients and is a businesswoman with a big heart.After battling ovarian cancer, Donna raised about $5,000 for Murray House through a celebration of life party. Donna has given much to our community and she continues to give in new and meaningful ways even when faced with adversity.
• Laurie Jackson: Brandon
Laurie Jackson has had a 35-year career in child welfare, most recently as the director of programs at Child and Family Services of Western Manitoba. Laurie has had the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of innumerable children and families as well as to be a mentor to dozens of social workers.
Laurie was chair of the Brandon Healthy Families Team for seven years, volunteered with the Kidney Foundation for 20 years, and currently volunteers with Meals on Wheels and serves as chair of the Westaway House project. She serves on the executive of the Brandon-Souris Liberal Association and was campaign chair for the Rolf Dinsdale campaign in 2013.
• Shirley Kernaghan: Waskada
Shirley Kernaghan was born in Melita and has lived her entire life in the Coulter area. She was a dedicated school teacher in the area for 38 years working with both academically challenged and gifted students and in the Reading Recovery program.
Since her retirement Shirley has been instrumental in the establishment of the restaurant and the grocery store in Waskada, both of which were needed to keep the village viable. Shirley recently organized a rally at the Manitoba legislature to bring attention to the collapsed bridge on Highway 251. Shirley’s longtime motto or words she lives by are: “I want to make a difference!” and she never quits until she has!
• Verna Lenton: Brandon
Verna Lenton is the general manager at CKLQ and Star FM radio in Brandon. She takes pride in mentoring her team of sales professionals. The results of this mentorship are demonstrated by seven consecutive years of substantial revenue growth at the stations. Verna also loves to give back to her community. She is past chair of the Brandon Crime Stoppers Board (1992-2002) and past board member of the Broadcasters Association of Manitoba (2003-13).
She is currently a board member of Westman Dreams for Kids (2002-present) and of the Western Association of Broadcasters (2013-present). Verna leads through example in empowering women to excel in the workforce.
• Lois MacDonald: Brandon
Lois MacDonald is the manager of Brandon Riverbank Inc. and Brandon Tourism, a position that she has held for 14 years. In this capacity Lois oversees capital development and programming of the riverbank, and her focus over the past three years has been on rebuilding the Assiniboine River Corridor after the 2011 flood. She oversees the delivery of tourism services at the Riverbank Discovery Centre and promotes our amazing community at every opportunity.
Lois is a founding board member of Brandon First, past president of Tourism Westman, was the event manager for the 2010 MasterCard Memorial Cup, and currently sits on the Travel Manitoba board.
• Lois McRae: Brandon
Lois McRae has been “co-boss” in Mar Mac Farms with her husband Blair since 1983. She has balanced raising her children, Brett and Melissa, with operating a mixed grain farm and a purebred cattle business. Lois has 25 years of management experience in marketing, sales, product promotion and production in the agriculture industry. She has invaluable knowledge and experience in the development of youth programs focused on encouraging young people to follow career paths in agriculture.
Lois is an outstanding team player with strong organizational and people skills making her a proven people motivator in agriculture and the community.
• Jaime Pugh-Clemmensen: Brandon
Drive, determination and hard work have led Jaime Pugh-Clemmensen to achieve success in her business, family life and as an active community volunteer. Jaime graduated from Brandon University, obtained her chartered accountant designation and has been working at MNP since 2006. Jaime enjoys volunteering with Westman Dreams for Kids on their advisory committee, and at the children’s country fair.
Jaime began her volunteer work with the Brandon and District United Way by running the MNP office campaign in 2007, and joined the central campaign team in 2011. Serving as the 2013 campaign chair, Jaime was the youngest woman to be chair and succeeded in reaching the United Way fundraising goal.
• Adela Solis: Brandon
Maria Adela Solis Cordoba was born in Mexico City in 1971. She was a 16-year-old Girl Scout when a major government organization named Integral Family Development, invited her to volunteer in a group home for babies and children. She immigrated to Brandon in 2003. Adela has volunteered at Samaritan House Ministries, Aboriginal Day, the Brandon Folk Festival, the Women’s Resource Centre, and the 7th Street Access Centre.
She has also assisted many Spanish immigrants feel welcome in Brandon, helping them as an interpreter and finding them the resources they needed. Adela is a single mother of three children and believes in serving her community.
• Valerie Soltys: Erickson
Val Soltys began her career as a teller at the Erickson Credit Union in 1972 and progressed to the position of general manager. She is mayor of the Town of Erickson, is directly involved in municipal politics and is committed to the community’s well-being.
Valerie has been a passionate lifelong volunteer for various community boards and committees including the Erickson Flying Club, Kiddie Kollege, the parent council, the rec. centre, the Erickson and District Chamber of Commerce, and a dedicated member of the Erickson Legion. Valerie has truly led by example and has been a respected role model in her community for more than 40 years.
• Gwen Tripp: Killarney
Gwen has helped her community flourish and grow. She operates her own business, is a dedicated and hard-working Councillor for Killarney/Turtle Mountain, and never turns down the opportunity to raise money for a good cause. She has volunteered since she was a small child and learned early from her parents that “your family and your community are what matters.”
Gwen has volunteered with youth hockey and ball, the Killarney and District Chamber of Commerce, was chairperson of entertainment for the provincial Scottie’s in 2010, and as deputy mayor on council. Gwen is not afraid to take on contentious issues or difficult tasks for the betterment of her community.
YWCA Young Woman of Distinction
• Kalena Green: Carberry
Kalena Green is a multi-talented young woman who gives freely of her time in her community. She has volunteered with the Canadian Blood Services, organizing a student blood drive, and helped to provide meals to seniors in Carberry. Kalena was also a member of the Brandon University Physical Education Club, a group that organizes events around the university.
Kalena is physically active and has played soccer and baseball, and is a lifeguard and swimming instructor. She received her bachelor of physical education in 2013 from Brandon University. Kalena was one of 10 recipients of the Premier’s Healthy Living Award in 2010 and in 2011 was awarded the Carberry Chamber of Commerce Youth Volunteer of the Year Award.