YWCA Women of Distinction Award Winners 2015

May 26th, 2015 @ 6:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The 2015 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards happen tonight at the Vancouver Convention Centre as a near record-setting number of remarkable women have been nominated for their contributions to their workplace, industry, and community. Awards will be handed out during a gala dinner and as the Social Media Sponsor, I will be posting live updates on Twitter throughout the evening. These will include photos, quotes, and of course news about the award winners in each category.

YWCA-tagline

Tonight’s official tag on Twitter and Instagram is #YWCAWODA. Follow the YWCA of Vancouver on Facebook and Twitter for more information along with the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards @YWVanWODA on Twitter.

Photos and updates to follow….

YWCA Women of Distinction Award Winners

Arts, Culture & Design: Emily Molnar
Accomplished dancer and choreographer, Emily was named by The Globe and Mail as 2013 “Artist of the Year” in Dance. In 2009, she accepted the role of Interim Artistic Director with Ballet BC when the company was facing bankruptcy. Emily accomplished what some critics thought would be impossible. She turned a struggling contemporary ballet company, where she fills the role as Artistic Director, into a highly regarded and successful organization – a jewel in Vancouver’s cultural community. She has since taken on critical volunteer leadership roles with the BC Arts Council and the greater arts community that has once again underscored her strong skills in building consensus, advancing the cause and developing a sense of togetherness.

Business & the Professions: Laurie Schultz
A fearless, innovative leader in the competitive technology sector, as President & CEO, Laurie has fundamentally transformed ACL, positioning it as a leader in its market category. Her forward-thinking approach and collaborative acumen has reinvigorated the team at ACL and instilled a culture that is both success-driven and community-minded. ACL is now proud to be the 4th largest Vancouver-headquartered software company and a Top BC Employer (2014). Board member for BCTIA, Laurie is an active advocate for technology in BC, and in particular for growing BC’s mid-sized technology sector. She serves as Chair of the Board of Dress for Success Vancouver to give back to her community. She has been recognized with numerous awards, including the 2014 Women of Influence Award from Business in Vancouver.

Community Champion: Heather MacKenzie
A human rights lawyer, steadfast community volunteer and Co-Founder of The Cinderella Project, Heather pursues inclusivity and dignity for all, especially women, children and people with disabilities. One of a very small community of blind and visually impaired lawyers, she left a traditional law practice to create her own unique firm, The Integrity Group, which focuses on building inclusive and barrier-free workplaces through human rights education and mediation. Today, she is a nationally-regarded speaker and conflict resolution expert. For 16 years, The Cinderella Project has encouraged and supported at-risk youth to make healthy life choices and reach the milestone of high school graduation. Heather’s vision is to celebrate some of our most courageous citizens – at-risk youth.

Education, Training & Development: Natacha Beim
Natacha believes strongly in giving children the best possible start in life. She is the CEO and Founder of CEFA Early Learning, a full day early learning school for children aged one to five. From one school in 1998, today CEFA operates in 15 locations across BC. She also developed the entire curriculum for children, intensive specialization training for teachers and early childhood educators, and offers free parenting classes which she teaches to all parents in the community. Natacha is on the board of the Provincial Child Care Council, volunteers to help survivors of rape and single moms and mentors women entrepreneurs.

Entrepreneurship: Alexandra Greenhill
A nationally-recognized physician and the Co-Founder and CEO of myBestHelper, an award-winning technology start-up, Alexandra is a rare leader who collaborates across the business, health care and non-profit sectors. After a successful career as a physician, Alexandra Co-Founded myBestHelper to match working families with child and elder care. The service saw immediate success, with more than 8,000 users across Canada in the first few years, and Alexandra was noticed as an innovative new leader. myBestHelper has sped to the forefront of technology start-ups, including selection in 2012 as one of three Canadian companies to go to the Canadian Technology Accelerator in San Francisco. She is a mentor and role model and organized the Women Lead Tech initiative to showcase BC businesses led by women.

Environmental Sustainability: Tzeporah Berman
Tzeporah, Co-Founder, Forest Ethics Advocacy, has been an inspirational leader in the environmental community for more than two decades, beginning with an instrumental role in the Clayoquot Sound protests. With vision, courage and creativity, Tzeporah has transformed intractable environmental conflict and complexity into workable, durable solutions. After working with Greenpeace to bring international attention to BC’s old-growth rainforests, Tzeporah co-founded ForestEthics, which calls on consumers to use their market power to meet environmental goals. Her inclusive, collaborative advocacy style was instrumental in helping protect the Great Bear Rainforest. She has now joined the fight for renewable energy and strong climate leadership. Tzeporah was honoured by inclusion into the BC Royal Museum permanent exhibit as one of 150 people who have changed the face of British Columbia.

Health & Wellness: Jan Christilaw
Jan, President, BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre, is a powerhouse for advancing women’s health in BC and a global leader in maternal care. Her work in preventative health care, combating maternal and newborn mortality and promoting human rights exemplify her passion for helping others. Her more than 25 years of accomplishments include being President, Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada; Expert Advisor, Canadian Institute for Health Information for Maternity; and Founding Chair, Aboriginal Maternity Committee – all while delivering thousands of babies in BC. She has positioned Vancouver as a global leader in maternal and newborn health care. Jan has saved countless lives and has trained and mentored hundreds of health professionals globally, including establishing emergency obstetrical training in Uganda. Women and families everywhere benefit from her influence, excellence and generosity.

Non-Profit or Public Service: Krista Thompson
In serving as Executive Director of Covenant House since 2006, Krista has successfully elevated service to homeless and at-risk youth through her vision, strategic guidance and commitment to providing young people with unconditional love and absolute respect. Under Krista’s leadership, Covenant House embarked on the largest expansion in its 18 year history, more than doubling the number of crisis beds from 22 to 54. She spearheaded the Covenant House Vancouver ‘SleepOut’ event that raises both awareness and funds to help youth get off the street. Krista also provides a voice for at-risk youth at the City of Vancouver Mayor’s Taskforce on Mental Health and Addictions and the Greater Vancouver Regional Steering Committee on Homelessness.

Outstanding Workplace: GOLDCORP
A global mining company, Goldcorp treats its people as its greatest asset. With a vision to build positive social, environmental and economic legacies, Goldcorp creates careers, supports community development and contributes to employee wellness. This vision is supported by programs tailored to employees to achieve professional development, wellness and community engagement – all while keeping employee safety paramount. The company promotes family-friendly policies such as family responsibility leave and programs that foster overall mental and physical health. Goldcorp has shown leadership and commitment to develop and advance women by launching Creating Choices, a training and mentoring program created by women for women at Goldcorp. It is the first global mining company to launch a women’s program, which, since 2010, has graduated more than 1,200 participants.

Technology, Science & Research: Liisa Galea
A world-renowned researcher and award-winning Professor of Psychology at UBC, Liisa is one of the few researchers in the world to study the female brain. Her research centres on understanding how hormones influence the female brain across the lifespan and she was an early pioneer in the field of postpartum depression research. She is a truly gifted communicator whose innovative and ground-breaking research has led to numerous local, national and international awards. Liisa has volunteered countless hours to mentoring students and reviewing scientific literature. She has become a prominent scientist with a large media following in Vancouver, and she uses these opportunities to disseminate her findings to local women, with the aim of helping them improve their quality of life and health.

Young Woman of Distinction: Selin Jessa
An innovative, exceptional scientist, Selin’s natural curiosity, dedication and hard work allowed her to embrace the science curriculum and expand it far beyond the typical student interpretation. By Grade 12, she was conducting HIV vaccine design research at the HIV/AIDS Molecular Epidemiology Lab at SFU. Her research earned her international attention and ranked her internationally as the 4th place young scientific mind at the 2013 annual BioGENEius Challenge. Her natural tendency to ask questions allows her to find ways to implement positive change. She is one of the original organizers of TedXKids@BC and the first to launch a TED event in Antarctica. Today, she leads a project improving access to health care in Montreal, where she is a 2nd-year Immunology and Geography student at McGill University, supported by numerous scholarships.

Connecting the Community Award: Julie Blue
Safe and affordable housing: As a woman who has passion for creating safe spaces to encourage others to express their authentic voices, it is with great honour that I support the YWCA program to provide safe housing for at-risk women and children. It’s clear to me that to have safe housing for mothers and children is not a luxury, but a necessity.

Congratulations to all of the nominees and the recipients this year! The event was a smashing success, raising $98,639 by the end of the gala.

YWCA Metro Vancouver is dedicated to achieving women’s equality. Their mission is to touch lives and build better futures for women and their families through advocacy and integrated services that foster economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities.

Miss604 is a proud sponsor of the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards for the 6th year!

Win a FIFA Women’s World Cup Coca-Cola Trophy Tour Fan Experience Prize Pack

May 26th, 2015 @ 2:14pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Coca-Cola Trophy Tour has been making its way across the country and will make its final stop in Metro Vancouver May 29th to May 31st. This exciting family activation builds up to kickoff on June 6th where we’ll host the largest live spectator sporting event in our country’s history.

FIFAWWC-TrophyTour

The FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy Tour by Coca-Cola will unveil the FIFA Women’s World Cup Trophy from Friday, May 29, 2015 until Sunday, May 31, 2015 from 11:00am to 7:00pm at Metropolis at Metrotown (4700 Kingsway, Burnaby).

The custom-designed Fan Experience includes interactive activities such as the Coca-Cola Ultimate Goalie, foosball tables, expert freestyle soccer athletes, FIFA locker room and winner’s tunnel leading to the trophy room. All guests will take home a photo of themselves with the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy, and will cap off their experience with a perfectly served ice-cold Coca-Cola.

Win a Coca-Cola Fan Experience Prize Pack

To celebrate the trophy’s arrival, and the build up to the tournament, I have a prize pack to give away thanks to Coca-Cola. This includes one hat, one scarf and three custom specially designed, limited edition, collectible aluminum bottles of Coca-Cola (for both the winner and a guest). The winner will also receive a pair of tickets to the World Cup match on June 12th as reigning champions Japan take on Cameroon (ticket value $96.50 each).

I will be drawing TWO winners so that’s four people who will be able to benefit from this awesome prize pack. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Post the following on Twitter (1 entry)
RT to enter to win a @cocacola_ca Fan Experience #TrophyTour #WWC prize pack from @miss604 http://ow.ly/NsK8c

Follow Coca-Cola on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more information about this weekend’s trophy tour and fan experience event. I will draw two winners at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, June 1, 2015. Each winner will receive the prize pack and a pair of tickets.

Artisan Bistro in Boston

May 26th, 2015 @ 1:41pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Arriving in Boston after a red-eye flight and a train from New York we were so hungry and tired by the time we checked-in at the Nine Zero Hotel that I gobbled up a Boston Bruins cupcake that was laid out as a part of our welcome amenity. Luckily, the hockey-themed pastry didn’t spoil my appetite because we were about to have a fantastic meal at over Artisan Bistro.

Artisan Bistro in Boston

Artisan Bistro

Recommended to us by our hotel, as the Nine Zero’s Highball Lounge isn’t open on Sunday nights, we walked down Tremont Street, alongside Boston Common, to Artisan Bistro in the Ritz-Carlton. Reading up about this “Modern American” hotel restaurant, at the Ritz, we really didn’t know what to expect. Would we be underdressed? Would it be a bland lobby eatery? I put on some heels, and we both put on nice jeans (not plane/train jeans) and button-up shirts for the 8 minute walk over from the Nine Zero.

Artisan BistroWe were greeted with a smile and had our pick of table so we selected a cozy, rounded booth that looked out over the room with the bar on one side and a window view of Avery Street on the other. Our server greeted us with a handshake and a smile, and made his cocktail recommendations.

Although we were hesitant and tired, we quickly snapped out of it realizing that we were both officially on vacation for the next eight days. We picked out two drinks that perfectly fit each of us as John went for a grilled pineapple margarita on the rocks and I had the Berkshire Manhattan.

Sliding around the booth to sit practically side-by-side — yes we’re one of those couples — we slipped into “vacation mode” with each sip of our delicious cocktails.

The appetizer recommendations were next and my questions from earlier in the day about this being a run-of-the-mill lobby eatery went out the window. We were in Boston, in the spring, and the menu reflected that perfectly. Tomato watermelon salad, Blue Hills mussels, day boat scallops and New England clam chowder were among the choices listed, but when John spotted lobster tacos we were sold.

Artisan Bistro

These crisp, crunchy, deep fried and puffed up shells were loaded with smooth, creamy, lobster filling. They only took two bites each to devour and three came on the plate so we split the last one, and could have done a whole other order.

The dinner menu was more of what we could have expected from a prestigious hotel such as the Ritz-Carlton: Filet mignon, braised beef short rib, Parisian gnocchi, truffled mushroom pizza. Again, being in Boston — and appreciating coastal cuisine no matter which coast we might be on — we went right to the menu section labeled “Fish Market”.

My choice was the grilled salmon with baby kale, dill pappardelle, Meyer lemon cream, and a poached egg.

Artisan Bistro

John’s selection for dinner was the skate wing schnitzel* with salt cod brandade, cucumber salad, and caper brown butter.

Artisan Bistro

Our choices were classic dishes with noticeable Boston twists that weren’t just creative but inventive, original, and local. My first choice for an eggs benedict back home is never the smoked salmon but after having this grilled salmon with poached egg, I’m a big fan of this combination. The smokey crust of the fish, the creamy pasta and flowing yolk pierced by the fresh contrast of the kale made every bite a delight.

Artisan BistroJohn handed me a forkful of his meal and I swear Artisan Bistro used my Oma’s recipe for their mashed potatoes. There was a hearty, home-cooked feeling to his dish served up with a fresh spike from the cucumber salad.

Our dinners complete and with fresh cocktails in hand, a tower of desserts arrived to welcome us to Boston. It was reminiscent of High Tea at the Empress in Victoria with levels and layers of various confections.

The sun had gone down and the room had filled up with an after-work crowd mixed with others enjoying a date night. The New England Sports Network (NESN) caught our eye on the TV behind the bar, making us feel better about our fairly casual dress. We sipped our drinks, discussed which dessert was best — and which we had room to finish — and savoured our first night in this very special town where we first met ten years ago.

*Upon further research about skate, since it was a new menu item for us, we discovered that some do not have a favourable rating in terms of sustainability. However, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch updated its ratings in 2014 upgrading some skate from an “avoid” to “good alternative” rating.

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1

This is not a paid post. Views are my own. Our meal was compliments of Artisan Bistro.

Nine Zero Hotel by Kimpton in Boston

May 26th, 2015 @ 11:41am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Staying at the Nine Zero Hotel by Kimpton was the best reintroduction to Boston that we could have received. Ten years after visiting the city together as friends, and twelve years after I moved back to Vancouver after living in Massachusetts, John and I hauled our luggage up from Park Street station and walked over to the Nine Zero at 90 Tremont Street.

Metal lettering embossed in the sidewalk in front of the hotel read: “Relax”. After taking a red-eye to New York then an Amtrak into Boston, I stepped over the message and made my turn through the revolving door, prepared to do just that.

Nine Zero Hotel Lobby

“Welcome to Boston,” the staff at the boutique hotel greeted us and quickly followed up with: “Would you like some wine?”

We had arrived during the hosted wine hour in the lobby and although I had a computer bag on one shoulder and a carry-on handle in one hand, I freed some fingers to clasp the stem of the incoming glass of merlot. Just steps off the historic Freedom Trail in Downtown Boston, the entrance to the Nine Zero was bright and modern, with a floral scent in the air that followed us past the couches and chess pieces, down the hallway past lime green chairs, and into the elevator.

Nine Zero Hotel Lobby

Ascending to the 18th floor we turned the corner to our hotel room where it felt like Christmas morning. I opened the door to see the first piece of a trail of welcome notes and amenities, but I was soon completely distracted by the view.

“Hello Boston!” we exclaimed as we pulled back the sheers and looked out at Boston Common, the State House, Tremont Street, Back Bay, Hancock Place, the Prudential Tower, the Charles River, and Cambridge.

Nine Zero Hotel Boston

Looking out past Boston Common at the Charles River

At time of check-in, the sun was setting and reflecting off the 23 karat gold dome of the State House. This spectacle bathed our entire room in an amber glow.

A photo posted by Rebecca Bollwitt (@miss604) on

I snapped a few photos around the room and spotted the signature Kimpton leopard print robe, to which I was first introduced when we stayed in a Kimpton in San Francisco in 2009:

Nine Zero Hotel Boston Nine Zero Hotel Boston

Nine Zero Hotel Boston
I loved the Boston-themed wallpaper behind the bed.

Nine Zero Hotel Boston

Nine Zero Hotel Boston Nine Zero Hotel Boston

Then I went back to collect the welcome notes that were placed from the front door, to the desk, the bed, and the bedside table:

Nine Zero Hotel Boston
John: “I wasn’t born in Des Moines. I was born in Eastern Iowa.” Me: “Shhh! It fits with the song, it’s adorable!”. We left for dinner with Journey stuck in our heads for the rest of the night.

The Nine Zero’s Highball Lounge wasn’t open when we arrived, its hours are Wednesday to Saturday, so they made dinner reservations for us at Artisan Bistro just down the street. All of these incredibly thoughtful gestures, paired with the spectacular room views, filled us with all of the love we’ve missed from Boston during these years away, and validated our return to this wonderful city for our vacation.

What I Loved

The welcome: While our in-room greeting was very personal (complete with cheese and fruit plate, cupcakes, and a bottle of bubbly) all guests do receive a health amenity upon arrival. If your arrival coincides with the hosted wine hour, even better. You’ll get the same welcome glass we received in the lobby.

The location: We walked over to Boston Common, walked to breakfast, walked to dinner. Everywhere we needed to go, we could get there on foot from Nine Zero Hotel. If we couldn’t walk to our destination, Park Street Station at Boston Common was literally 160 meters away.

Boston Common

We purchased a 7-day CharlieTicket from an MBTA kiosk for $16 that allowed unlimited Zone 1-1A travel during that time. This included buses, and all lines of subway and streetcar. Park Street hosts the Green and Red lines, with the Red line being our main route to get out to South Station (for the train) and Cambridge (for our Harvard Square, and Porter Square adventures out to Concord), and the Green line taking us to Fenway Park for a Red Sox game.

Boston - Fenway Park

The privacy: Even though our room opened up 180 degrees to the Boston skyline, we felt like we were tucked away in our own private corner of the city. The hallways in the hotel were quiet, we couldn’t hear any street noise, and the only sound that penetrated our windows while the sun was up was the calming chimes of the 200 year old Park Street Church bell tower. We could have been more engaged with the hotel, participating each night in the wine hour or playing a game in the lobby, but since we were on a mission for romance and celebrating our 10 year meet-a-versary, we loved that it was easy to get all the quiet alone time we wanted even in the heart of the bustling city.

The Kimpton perks: Hosted wine hour in the lobby (yes, I keep mentioning it but it’s a great feature), free Wi-Fi for Kimpton Karma points members, yoga mats in your room, and activities like doing a run around the Common with the hotel GM on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7:00am. John was tempted by this but we had been so active in our exploration of the region that a sleep-in took priority.

Nine Zero Hotel Boston

One Change I Would Make

It’s not even a big one. Well, it is about size but it didn’t hinder our vacation in any way. In one corner of the room, opposite the windows, there was a very large cabinet that was round at the front. The TV sat on top, it had a shelf in the middle, and on the bottom there was a cupboard for the minibar. Since it was tucked in the corner one would think that a flat or even angled-to-the-corner cabinet would be better suited. It stuck out quite a bit into the room which already lacked floor space. We didn’t really have anywhere to put our suitcases, since the closet was also occupied by a shelf and safe, so we put our main suitcase on the stand right by the front door and my smaller suitcase stayed on a low window sill.

Nine Zero Hotel Boston

Overall

What I love about Boston was reflected in our hotel. Friendly people, down-to-earth with modern style and technology, an appreciation for history, being on-the-go but also savouring relaxation.

We sincerely enjoyed our room and everything about the hotel’s service, location, and amenities. We woke up to Boston every day together and thanks to the Nine Zero, we were able to have our little adventures around the city before coming home to a comfortable room where we fell asleep looking out at the city we love so dearly.

Follow Kimpton Hotels in Boston on Twitter and Instagram, they are also very engaging and will assist before or during your stay!

Disclosure: cmp.ly/1

This is not a paid post. I was offered and paid a media rate for our stay. All views are my own.

Community Day at Playland 2015

May 26th, 2015 @ 9:44am (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Enjoy a day at Playland this Saturday and you’ll help benefit the amusement park’s neighbourhood. On Saturday, May 30th, $10 from every ticket sold for Playland at the PNE will be donated to the Hastings Community Little League on the fourth annual Community Day at Playland.

Spin-o-rama
Photo credit: Tim Cheung on Flickr

Community Day at Playland

Where Playland at the PNE
When Saturday, May 30, 2015 from 10:00am to 6:00pm

Since 2010, the PNE has raised over $67,000 for the sports organization, which will help the Little League upgrade their facilities. This year, all proceeds will support the Hastings Little League in hosting the 2016 Little League Canadian National Tournament. Members of the Hastings Community Little League will be at the entrance to Playland thanking guests for their support, so make sure to say ‘hello’ and wish them luck in this year’s season.

Follow PNE/Playland on Twitter and Facebook for more information about what’s in store this summer.