Recipients of 2020 Women of Excellence Awards Revealed

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation is thrilled to announce the names of 15 outstanding women from across Central Alberta as recipients of the 2020 Women of Excellence Awards.

“It was a year unlike any other,” Erin Peden, Executive Director of the Red Deer & District Community Foundation said. “This spring we were called upon to do and be all things within our households. So many of the women in our community found themselves navigating a full time job, supporting education from home, being a counsellor and a caregiver – they were being physically and emotionally challenged every minute of every day. The Foundation recognized there has never been a more appropriate time to celebrate the outstanding achievements of these women – even if it had to happen virtually.”

The Virtual Gala, which raised over $12,000, hosted guests from all over the globe to celebrate some of Central Alberta’s most significant female role models.

“That was one really special piece of hosting an online event,” Peden said. “The nominee’s support networks and family members from all over the world were able to participate in this celebration.”

The celebration included a presentation from Health and Wellness recipient, Dr. Jody Carrington, about the importance of connection during a time of disconnect, a performance by Arts & Culture recipient Laurie Maetche – and the highlight of the evening was when Patricia Arango was named this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipient.

“Every single year we are humbled by the level of devotion our Lifetime Achievement recipients commit to our communities,” Peden said. “Patricia has participated in deep-rooted work that creates a ripple of positive impact. She has selflessly reached into the heart of hard issues and continuously work to provide a stronger, healthier quality of life for all.”

The Red Deer & District Community Foundation expresses sincere gratitude to our partners, IG Wealth Management, the Red Deer Advocate, Big 105 FM, RDNewsNow and Hillberg & Berk.

The following is a complete list of recipients of the 2020 Women of Excellence Awards:

Agriculture: Sponsored by Scotia Bank

Michelle Brown

Arts & Culture: Sponsored by Pysyk Insurance Services: The Cooperators

Laurie Maetche

Athletics, Recreation and Fitness: (Two)

Kathy Lalor
Lynne Stephenson

Business and the Professions: Sponsored by Johnston Ming Manning LLP

Mary Kemmis

Community Building: Sponsored by ATCO 

Dianne Macaulay

Women of Excellence in Construction: Red Deer Construction Association

Natalie Paetz

Education and Training: Sponsored by Servus Credit Union

Jacqui Renwick

Entrepreneurship: Sponsored by TD Bank

Jenna Stubbe

Environment: Sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada

Shannon Lirondelle

Health and Wellness: Sponsored by Warren Sinclair LLP

Dr. Jody Carrington

Human Services: Sponsored by Alberta Real Estate Foundation

Raelynn Notley

Young Woman of Excellence: Sponsored by RBC

Brittany Lausen

Lifetime Achievement Award: Sponsored by Mawer Investment Management

Patricia Arango

The Women of Excellence Awards were developed to honour women in our district who have been strong role models to the women and girls in our communities. All proceeds from the evening’s ticket sales go to the COVID Community Response Fund and the raffle ticket proceeds go directly into the Women and Girls Fund, a Red Deer & District Community Foundation endowment fund geared towards supporting projects that directly benefit women and girls in our district.

Women of Excellence Committee presents Inspiration Award

An additional award was presented at the 13th Annual Women of Excellence Virtual Gala on Saturday evening.

The Women of Excellence Committee presented the Inspiration Award to Donna Bishop, who has seen such accolades as the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work in Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders within the Corrections community in 2013.

Donna was recognized by the committee as someone who “conjures inspiration amongst peers, colleagues and strangers by working selflessly to not only recognize issues, but creating strategies and actions to address them.”

Co-Chairs of the Women of Excellence Committee, Emily Andres and Jodi Neufeld, said they saw this year as an opportunity to revisit the workings of the awards program and identify ways in how it can become even more reflective of the outstanding achievements that are happening on all levels within the district.

“For obvious reasons, 2020 was an unprecedented year,” Jodi Neufeld said. “Moving this event to an online format meant our work as a committee was not to create a beautiful atmosphere within the confines of a ballroom, but rather it gave us an opportunity to ensure that every nominee felt valued and appreciated for the work they do in this community.”

“And because we were given the opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the nominees this year, it provided a different insight as to what this program is, how it serves all women in our district and how we can continue to serve our community better,” Emily Andres added.

“The committee members have a broad spectrum of experience and each one of us who had the benefit of meeting Donna prior to the event found ourselves inspired by her innate ability to bring clarity and focus into a room simply by being present.”

According to Neufeld, Bishop developed a nationally implemented Behaviour Progression Model which uses traditional teachings of the Indigenous culture to help offenders relate the sequence of events in the commission of an offence with its impact and consequences.

“It was so incredibly inspiring to see that someone within our community used tradition and culture to create a program that supports rehabilitation and reintegration – not only within our district but across our entire nation,” Neufeld said. “Her work is woven into the fibre of every community from coast to coast. If that’s not inspiring, what is?”

The Co-Chairs said they realized they stepped out of the typical process for the Women of Excellence Awards but felt passionately that they needed to show Red Deer and area the importance of shedding light on the work being done quietly within our neighbourhoods.

“Inspiration is found in all places,” Andres said. “We feel grateful the Red Deer & District Community Foundation gave us a platform to tell Donna ‘you have inspired us; we see you’.

Bishop presently serves as Team Lead of the Aboriginal Housing Team at the Red Deer Native Friendship Centre that works towards homelessness prevention and cultural connections.