Last year, when the YWCA Hamilton/Halton Women of Distinction nominees were announced, everyone was hoping that when the following year announcements were rolling, COVID would be over.

It is not finished. Just different. Thus, the prizes, awarded on March 3, will be online again.

Other things haven’t changed either. Women are still overrepresented in the jobs most needed and also most at risk during a pandemic. Health care, personal support work, nursing, cleaning, caregiving. Given that they are the most needed and the most vulnerable, shouldn’t these workers be among the highest paid? Closer to the opposite.

Even if it takes (too) long to fix gender pay gaps, at least we can – until then – celebrate women with gratitude, honor and a fun night out. Or rather, in, but with take-out options (food side).

“We honor these trailblazers from Hamilton and Halton across eight categories,” said Denise Christopherson, CEO, YWCA Hamilton, of the Women of Distinction Awards.

“This year, in these broad categories, we are recognizing women who support each other in science and technology, entrepreneurship and around issues of activism, homelessness and encampments.”

Guests can enjoy a meal prepared by their choice from several local restaurants (to be delivered or picked up), a gift box and access to raffles, raffles and a virtual auction. Host Victoria Mancinelli; appearances by Terra Lightfoot and Layne The Auctionista.

The nominees are:


Hamilton—writer Jaclyn Desforges; actress Karen Ancheta; music and children’s researcher Laurel Trainor; cultural consultant Leah Faieta; cantor Paula Baruch; Shelley Falconer, CEO of the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

Halton — fashion artist Anu Raina; hobby programmer Elaine Delsnyder; singer/songwriter Suzie McNeil.


Hamilton — Cathy O’Donnell, Director of Mohawk Security; Julie Schaafsma, founder of Voices Against Bullying; mental health and crisis consultant Kelly Lazure-Valconi; library program director Lisa Radha Weaver; educator Mary Ann Starcevic; social worker Myrtle Greve; Peer Support Activist/Counsellor Renata Hall; the scholar Rosa da Silva; professor of psychiatry Susan Denburg.


Hamilton — Cathie Puckering, CEO of Hamilton International Airport; hospitality professional Heather Kemp; Tim Hortons franchisee and philanthropist Kara Alicia Kennish; Karena Osborne, founder of The Witch’s Inn; Kristine Leadbetter-Gold, founder of the Women’s Network; Tracy MacKinnon, director of the BIA.

Halton — Anita Lloyd, director of STRIDE; Julie Cole, director of Broadcast Services International, co-founder of Mabel’s Labels; real estate agent Maude Leger.


Hamilton – police officer Alexis Petrovic; Anabelle Ragsag, organizer and social work student at McMaster; Bernie McCarter, CityKidz volunteer; Jessica Compton, founder of Tree of Stars; Project First To Respond founder Jo-Ann Savoie; Kathy McKeil, director of Breakwater Investments; public safety professional Kelly Tobin; real estate agent Krysta Boyer; Sarah Jama, co-founder of the Disability Justice Network; Vandana Verma, founder of One Wish Kindness; critical needs worker Vanessa Henry; native studies professor Vanessa Watts; investment advisor Wendy Tompkins.

Halton — community relations manager Glenda Lloyd; Yellow Robot co-founder Kimberly Calderbank; domestic violence survivor/speaker/consultant Lorraine Rollo; maternity director Nancy Romic; Shann McGrail, Regional Director of Innovation at Haltech.


Hamilton – Mac prof Dawn Bowdish; physician Dr. Kerry Beal; intervention coordinator Marcie McIlveen; social worker Sarah Adjekum; Veronica Sola Hispanic Voluntary Fraternity.


Hamilton — program manager Carina Andreatta; IT author Debra Christmas; professor of medicine Dr. Karen Mossman; Skilled Trades Ambassador Shannon Tymosko; engineering researcher Zobia Jawed.

Halton — Applied Researcher Jennifer Jahnke; refugee/homeless advocate Navita Dyal; Chief Financial Officer Susan Kilburn.


Hamilton – Dr. Abi Kirubarajan, Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology; Organ Transplant Ambassador Courtney Gibson; Mac student union associate vice president Hargun Kaur; limited hand mobility innovator Lianna Genovese; Peace Prize Laureate Raagavi Ramenthiran; Salsa Sarhan, labor studies student; Sarah Gonder, materials engineering student; Shania Bhopa, co-founder of the Canadian Courage Project; community service worker Zainab Khodr.

Halton – singer-songwriter Hayley Verrall; fundraising for the Lauren Cutaia Food Bank.


Hamilton—Bernie McCarter; Cathie Puckering; Debra Christmas; Jo-Ann Savoie; Kelly Lazure-Valconi; Dr. Kerry Beal; Laurel Trainor; Myrtle Strike; Paula Baruch; Susan Denburg.

Halton—Anita Lloyd; Elaine Delsnyder; Glenda Lloyd; Lorraine Rollo; Nancy Romic.

For more information and tickets:

Jeff Mahoney is a Hamilton-based journalist and columnist who covers culture and lifestyle stories, commentary and humor for The Spectator. Contact him by email: