Stories of 2018 VCLA Winners

2018 Victoria Community Leadership Award Winners

Siobhan Robinson and Denis Donnelly

The Gettin’ Higher Choir, co-directed by Siobhan Robinsong and Denis Donnelly  are retiring after 20 years’ of building and directing this community choir. Siobhan and Denis are an exemplary team, who model inclusivity, collaboration, and inspire excellence in others. Each year 200-300 people come together in the spirit of creating community through music. For thousands of people who have been choir members over the twenty years, it has been a rewarding, transformative experience of singing and service through semi-annual fundraising concerts and SWATs [Sing When Asked To] for hundreds of other organizations and causes. 

Dr. Lara Lauzon

Dr. Lara Lauzon has contributed to a healthier Victoria. She has worked as a municipal and provincial Fitness Coordinator, and as a Co-producer and host of an internationally syndicated television health and fitness show produced by CHEK Television – Body Moves.

For the past 11 years, as an Associate Professor at UVic, she has inspired and educated thousands of students to understand how health and wellness contributes to a stronger community. Her students get out of the classroom and collaborate with local non-profit agencies on Community Group Legacy Projects. Laura has also championed the STEPS Forward program, which supports students with developmental disabilities to pursue post-secondary education. Dr. Lara Lauzon has shown exemplary leadership through her commitment to and modeling of, community-engaged and inclusive learning.

Dr. Bruce Wallace

Dr. Bruce Wallace is an Assistant Professor at University of Victoria’s School of Social Work and a Collaborating Scientist with the Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research (CISUR). He was the founding Executive Director of a local non-profit agency addressing homelessness that engaged the street community in service provision and policy evaluation. He has a decade of involvement with the Movie Monday Society using media arts to educate about mental illness and stigma, and with the Society of Living Intravenous Drug Users (SOLID). Bruce Wallace helped to improved access to dental care for people in Victoria with low or no incomes in collaboration with Cool Aid Society. The Cool Aid dental clinic books more than 5,000 visits each year. With four chairs and two dentists working daily. He is now the principal investigator of a CIHR funded project “Closing the health equity gap: Implementing health equity in harm reduction responses to the opioid overdose crisis”.

Dr. Jessica Rourke

Dr. Jessica Rourke is a Case Manager at Restorative Justice Victoria. Jessica embodies the leadership qualities recognized by this award. She has taken on several leadership roles in restorative justice.; She makes things happen; for example, securing funding and desiging various advanced trainings that enable Restorative Justice Victoria to respond to incredibly challenging cases referred from Crown Counsel and probation. The cases often involve serious offences, vulnerable individuals, mental health challenges, multiple victims, and other complicating factors. These cases have a huge impact on the community and all affected and require an incredible amount of skill, sensitivity, and time to resolve. Jessica’s deep commitment to people’s dignity and humanity; has provided opportunity for healing between those who are victim and those convicted. Her personal integrity, diligence, and skill have truly changed hundreds of lives.

Kate Longpre  

As the Community Integration Coordinator in the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria Kate Longpre approached Google Translate with the idea for the We Speak Translate project. The project utilizes the Google Translate App as a tool for refugee resettlement and integration. Since the project launch last fall, over 1700 community members and stakeholders have received the 40 minute Google Translate training. While the project focus started in Victoria, interest in the project has expanded across Canada and beyond. We Speak Translate webinar training are now available globally. The We Speak Translate project is a first of its kind collaboration globally between Google Translate and Inter-Cultural Association. Now when new immigrants see the “We Speak Translate” sticker in a window, they know that people want to speak with them and get to know them.

Lori McLeod

Lori is the Executive Director of the Greater Victoria Eldercare Foundation.  She is the mastermind behind Embrace Aging Month (in its 13th year). She is a key player and stakeholder behind Raising the Profile, a provincial network started in 2016. Raising the Profile’s goal is to highlight the key role played by non-profit and municipal community-based seniors’ services in supporting seniors to build new social connections, remain physically and mentally active, and retain their independence for as long as possible.  Lori is a change maker, community builder and elder supporter.  She began her career at CHEK TV as Director of Promotions and Marketing, carving a path for community awareness for thousands of non-profits and charities. 


Deb Alcadinho

Deb has tirelessly been a strong leader and been of service to her community (the Westshore and Greater Victoria area) for more than 25 years.  She offers herself and her leadership every day in so many ways.  Deb's focus is the economic empowerment of women, through education, mentoring and the development of a strong and supportive community.  Deb freely offers advice and leadership in business development, marketing, branding to female business owners - all with the goal to help women succeed.  She has created economic impact by guiding and coaching fledgling business women to create viable, sustainable, impactful businesses that support themselves and their community.


100 Women Who Care Saanich Peninsula

100 Women Who Care Saanich Peninsula is led by the team of Debra Bartlett, Shelley Mann, Sandy         Webb Kim Sabourin Lynn Henshaw and Catherine Mustafa. The program is based on the 100 Women program started in Michigan in 2006. 100 Women meet four times per year, for one hour and committing to a $100 donation per meeting.  In just 12 hours or 12 meetings, 100 Women Who Care Saanich Peninsula has raised $163,000. This group held their first meeting with 84 members in May 2015 and raised $8400 for The Cridge Centre for the Family.  The group had grown to 162 women, and $16,200 was raised for the Women’s Transition House Society. All monies go directly to charities in the Greater Victoria area.


Shazia Rashid

Shazia Rashid has been the BC Muslim Associations’ Youth director for close to four years.  In the Muslim community in the Victoria region, there are many immigrant and refugee families who turn to the mosque first when it comes to activities for their children. Shazia started a youth activities program also known as the YAP!  in which she created a safe space for youth girls in the community to meet with their peers monthly and to socialize and interact with each other along with providing a leadership training and an opportunity for youth. 


Robyn Quinn

Robyn Quinn is a leader with the Island Women in Science and Technology (iWIST). Women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) here in Victoria, as well as around the world, face very real obstacles to fulfilling their potential. Robyn took what began as a casual bi-monthly meet-up group, just for women in technology, to a dynamic community of over 400 members. There are now four events each year, a STEM Crawl taking participants on a fun tour of STEM companies and the annual Geeky Girls Patio Party that attracted almost 100 women to network and share strategies in 2017. In November Robyn launched a leadership conference focusing on women in STEM and featuring high profile speakers and a program that provided plenty of action! Robyn is always coming up with new partnerships and extra events to support such as science fair judging, outreach for co-op and intern placements, STEM for girls activities and joint events with many educational institutions.


Estelle Paget

Estelle Paget is the founder and executive director of KIDCARECANADA. KIDCARECANADA’s focus is social and emotional health for infants and toddlers. KIDCARECANADA has built a solid reputation among health care professionals, educators and parents. And it is changing lives.

Long before it became fashionable to speak about social and emotional health, Estelle championed this concept and figured out a way to make it accessible and inclusive for parents, especially the most “at-risk”. It is her leadership that encourages families to participate in film shoots and demonstrate how to nurture children so that other parents can learn. It is her leadership that inspires world-renowned experts to donate their time so that all families can benefit from their research!

Lee Herrin

Lee Herrin has been the Executive Director of Fernwood Neighbourhood Resident Group for the past 10 years. During that time, Lee has provided leadership to the neighbourhood organization by providing innovative services to benefit the local community. Those services include: Good Food Box, expanded childcare services, affordable housing, neighbourhood economic development and community gatherings such as Fern Fest. Lee is a regular fixture in the neighbourhood, easy to recognize by his black vest and Fernwood Neighbourhood Resident Group lapel pin. For the past 2 years, through the Scale Collaborative, Lee has been sharing with and supporting other non profit leaders to build diverse and resilient non profit. Lee has been instrumental in the Thriving Non Profits program, a partnership between Scale and Victoria Foundation.


Kristi Fairholm Mader

Kristi is one of the co-founders of Scale Collaborative, an organization dedicated to helping non-profits diversify their revenues and scale their impact. Within her work, with Scale, Kristi has been the driving force behind the Social Enterprise Catalyst events over the past few years, including awards galas, days of learning, and other collective actions to increase the visibility and improve the practice of social enterprise across the region. She also initiated the Social Enterprise Incubator, the Social Venture Bootcamp program, and the Thriving Non-Profits Program (formerly 21st Century Non- Profits) and is seen as the go-to person in the region for social enterprise advice.


Cathy Armstrong

Cathy Armstrong has been the Executive Director of The Land Conservancy of BC (TLC) since 2015. Cathy joined TLC in May of 2014 at a time when TLC was undergoing a creditor protection process She brought a background knowledge of real estate, conflict resolution, political experience, business acumen and team building. The Land Trust movement was impacted by the successful completion of TLC creditor protection process. The process concluded in March of 2017, and TLC emerged stronger, and more focussed. Cathy brings her compassion and thoughtfulness to every situation she faces, whether a tense meeting with creditors or a gathering of the organization’s volunteers. She listens to the needs of others and executes the responsibilities of Executive Director with integrity and consideration.


Dr. James Tanaka

Dr. Jim Tanaka is a Professor in the Psychology Department and Neuroscience Program at the University of Victoria and the Director of the Different Minds Lab. He is an internationally recognized expert in the psychology of visual perception. Much of his work has focused on autism, as many individuals on the autism spectrum have difficulty recognizing facial expressions. In 2011, Jim established the Centre for Autism Research, Technology and Education (CARTE), dedicated to the development of technology to enhance the social and emotional skills of children and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Through CARTE, Jim engages with the community to ensure that parents, teachers, practitioners and children play an active role in shaping treatment programs. Jim’s leadership, with his collaborators, have not only developed fun, low-cost technologies—computer games and apps—for improving face recognition but have also improved the everyday lives of individuals with ASD and their families.


Vince Greco

Vince has been involved with the Vancouver Island Soccer League since 2000 and for the last 7 years he has been the league President. His desire to have people active in sport, particularly soccer, is what drives him. He has increased the awareness of men’s soccer in the region and around the whole island. He is responsible for having like-minded business’s sponsor the league and has taken social media to a new level. Under Vince’s’ leadership the League has grown in stature and is a part of the weekly reporting from both print, radio and social media.


Lynn Thornton

Lynn has been the Executive Director of Victoria International Development Education Association (VIDEA) for 16 years. Under her leadership, she has made the organization a hub for youth engagement by working with over 230 non-indigenous and indigenous youth interns, program participants, and practicum students. Through her guidance, youth have built cross-cultural competency, learned about social justice, activism, garnered confidence and leadership skills. No matter the program, Lynn’s mentorship always transcends the end of projects. Thanks to Lynn’s direction, VIDEA feels like home to many of the interns and youth participants, who remain connected to the organization and to social justice work for years to come.

Colleen Hobson

Colleen is the Executive Director of Saanich Neighbourhood Place is the embodiment of a community leader. She has built strong partnerships with various stakeholders such as municipalities, VIHA, child & youth mental health, MCFD, and other neighbourhood houses and non-profits; all for the purpose of enhancing services to families in the community. She has helped to create services and programs that impact families’ lives while being approachable, empathetic, and filled with humour. It is not uncommon to arrive at Saanich Neighbourhood Place to find Colleen stirring soup in the kitchen, moving tables, or rocking a fussy baby.

Beangka Elliott

Beangka Elliott is from the Tsartlip Community. Her vision and leadership are the foundation of Project Reclaim. Project Reclaim is a youth-driven, land-based project that will engage youth from the Tsartlip Nation to lead their community in healing from, resisting, and preventing violence. Beangka’s commitment to this work comes from her personal experience and deep commitment to her community. Beangka created Project Reclaim as a vitally needed way for Tsartlip youth to build strong, respectful relationships with each other, elders, and their community while developing a deeper connection to their lands.

Dave Friend

Dave is the leader of Friendly Organics and founder and former Executive Director of Growing Young Farmers Society, organizations committed to food security and community education. He has worked with the Cridge Centre and the students at James Douglas Elementary School to develop their gardening skills through the community garden space at Government House. Dave’s goal is to increase the amount of food being grown on Vancouver Island and has set his sights on educating the youth on the importance of gardening and local food security. His programs and networking has positively impacted communities all over the Island and he is a strong advocate for increased sustainability and incorporating a lighter ecological footprint.

Lindsay Shaw

In November 2017, Lindsay recognized that menstrual products are too expensive for many people. She saw a young person asking for money and wondered how this person was able to access menstrual products. She then reached out to the Cool Aid Society and founded Period Posse. She began to fundraise menstrual product and cash donations to benefit people who access social service organizations in Victoria. In just four months, Lindsay, as a volunteer, has led Period Posse in raising over $25,000 in menstrual products and cash donations for people in the greater Victoria community. Through menstrual product and cash donations, Lindsay has helped to improve the health of many people in our community.

Nicole Chaland

Nicole founded the Cook St. Village Residents Network. Nicole believes in sustainable and inclusive communities directing their own social, economic and environmental futures and walks the talk to make it happen wherever she can. Nicole is a social entrepreneur, an educator, activist, who generates and actively contributes to a vision of community vitality, engagement, equity and sustainable development. She has been the Director of SFU’s Centre for Community Economic Development and an active community member in many community initiatives in Victoria. Nicole’s work will have a profound effect on the future of Cook St Village, and beyond. Nicole has led people to follow guiding principles of: inclusivity, respectful dialogue, collaborative decision-making, and curiosity. She is leading through action, and demonstrating how to do positive, progressive community conversations.


Congratulations to all this year's winners!

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