2017 VCLA Winners

Food Security and Social Justice Leadership Award- sponsored by  Vancity 



Esquimalt Farmer’s Market, Vanessa Pattison, Katrina Duwilt, Lise Richards, Emily Cheevers, Michael Dillistone, Mirella Colagrande

Shelbourne Community Kitchen, Kim Cummings

Katrina Duwilt spearheaded the creation of the Esquimalt Farmer’s market. The six members of the board lead a year-long event with monthly indoor markets in the winter and weekly outdoor markets in the summer. Kim Cummins cares about good food just as much as she cares about access to good food. As the program coordinator at the Shelbourne Community Kitchen, Kim accomplishes her passion for food security and access to food.  

Little Free Libraries, Stephanie Ferguson & Teale Phelps Bondaroff

Shoebox Project Victoria, Linda Ferguson

In collaboration with the Victoria Placemaking Network, Stephanie and Teale completed their mission. Harnessing the power of social media, the pair connected with key stakeholders to effectively map out the little free libraries. Little free libraries are a part of a shared and growing economy to build a resilient and sustainable community.

Following a trip to Vancouver, Linda left inspired by the Shoebox Project, a project that consists of filling and wrapping up a shoebox with items for a woman living in a shelter. Linda started the Shoebox Project here in Victoria where the initiative attracted volunteers to fill and distribute shoeboxes of items and gifts for women in shelters for Christmas. 

World Refugee Day, Sharmake Dubow

Our Place Society, Don Evans

Having lived in refugee camps in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Egypt, Dubow realized there was little to no action toward raising awareness in Victoria for World Refugee Day.  With the help of the Greater Victoria Public Library, Dubow successful began raising awareness in the community and he is currently involved with several organizations and boards pertaining to immigrants and refugees.  

In his five years as Executive Director of Our Place Society, Don Evans has increased its residence and program capacities made meaningful connections with community organizations and governments and gave it a positive reputation once more.  Collaboration with the community at large has given Our Place the resources to contribute help and support with ongoing events, such as Tent City and the current drug crisis. 



Healthy Lifestyles and Community Spaces Leadership Award - sponsored by BC Transit


Melanie Mahlman, Victoria Hospitals Foundation

Susan Simmons, MS Awareness

Melanie Mahlman transformed the leadership of Victoria Hospitals Foundation with her vision and drive to uphold the high-quality care that Island Health was known for.  In 2013, the VHF was named as a top 10 health charity in BC, and in 2016 was identified as one of Canada’s top 10 corporate cultures.   When Susan Simmons was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) at age 30, her doctor told her to avoid exercise. In her 40s, Susan decided to begin a swimming program to restore her health, her confidence, and her life. Swimming from Port Angeles to Victoria is a way to push her limits and raise awareness about MS and the needs of the people who live with it.

Cycle of Life Tour for Hospice, Beth Turner, Graham Robertson

Westshore Sooke Parent Education and Support Group, Karen Laharty, Pam Bell, Linda Nehra, Holly Sneddon

Since 2011, Beth and Graham have been organizing the Cycle of Life Tour to raise awareness about hospice care as well as raise funds for the Victoria Hospice. The Victoria is an important service that was not being recognized prior to the Cycle of Life Tour.  With Turner and Robertson’s leadership, the Cycle of Life Tour is a legacy that continues today in the hands of the Victoria Hospice.  Faced with a dire need for mental health support for Westshore and Sooke families, four moms got together and decided to organize the Westshore Sooke Parent Education Group’s monthly mental health workshops series. The workshops are led by mental health experts and cover a range of support for mental health needs. 

Erin Long, The Mistletoe Project

Gerald Harris, The Ecosystem Restoration

The Mistletoe Project began in Erin Long’s own home, a simple holiday event where friends brought food to share as well as donations for the Mustard Seed Church. Following Donald Peterson’s advice, Erin turned the gathering into an annual gala that supported a different organization each year, which include Big Brothers Big Sisters, MS Society, and Help Fill a Dream Foundation.   In his 40-year career, Gerald worked with fisheries and the environment. He also taught for the visually impaired and deafblind. Upon retirement, Gerald made a difference as a community leader in several habitat restorations and public greenspace projects throughout the Victoria region, most notably in the Bowker Creek watershed. 



Sustainability and Life-Long Learning Leadership- sponsored by Royal Roads University 



Laurel Collins, Divest Victoria

Paul Latour, HeroWork Society

Unless we’re involved in municipal finances, we know very little about where our local funds are invested. Lauren Collins know that some of it are in funds that support the fossil fuel industry- and she wants to change that. Lauren was contacted by councilors of the City of Victoria after she raised the question of divestment. Divest Victoria was organized and gained traction across other BC towns to put pressure on the Municipal Financial Authority to provide fossil-free investment funds for municipalities.  The idea of HeroWork is simple: bring together a few hundred volunteers and a few dozen companies to renovate the building of a not-for-profit organization. Infrastructure is a costly item for most not-for-profit organizations, and there is little support for keeping buildings well maintained.  

Bary Gray, Keith Jones, Jennifer Rowan, Carol Carman, Greater Victoria Community Literacy

Frances Litman, Creatively United for the Planet

In 2015,  Bary, Keith, Jennifer, and Carol- the organizing team members- put together the Greater Victoria Literacy Initiative after consulting with various literacy groups in Victoria. The long term project brings people together for a more integrated literacy strategy in the region. Bringing together these organizations under the leadership of the organizing team members has already forged new relationships, raised awareness, and contributed to the development of an integrated literacy strategy for the benefit of all Greater Victoria.   From a reporter at the Times Colonist to a political candidate in the last federal election, Frances Litman has been involved in the region’s community life for a long time. Her flagship project, called Creatively United for the Planet, is an active year-long event that seeks to raise awareness about environmental and social justice issues from the grassroots.  

 Shellie Gudgeon, Community Building

Leslie Campbell, David Broadland, Focus Magazine

Shellie Gudgeon credits her experience in the hospitality industry for her ability to bring people together and find common ground. She helped facilitate the creation of Begbie Park, but it was the neighborhood who made it happen. A meaningful community building is messy. It takes patience, time and understanding, yet it is long-lasting.    30 years ago, Leslie and David created Focus on Women as space where local women could tell their stories and empower themselves and the community. In 2004, the magazine became Focus and began telling other stories too: local politics, the environment, and the arts. Focus has always differentiated itself by its long-form investigative journalism. To understand a complex issue, readers need a long, complex story that not only delivers facts in context but also provides an avenue for change.  

Child & Youth Quality of Life Leadership Award - Sponsored by Coast Capital Savings


 Rebecca Kirstein, Summit @ the Pier

Tracy Kendrick, Lisa Hoskins, Adrienne Else, Susie Jones, Greater Victoria Public Library Books For Babies Team

When Rebecca saw renowned educator Sir Ken Robinson eight years ago at a conference in New York, her thoughts about education changed and she realized that did not work for her and how she might make a shift for the better for today’s youth. Rebecca figured she could bring Sir Robinson’s message to Victoria by organizing Summit at the Pier, an event to spur creative thinking, leadership, and collaboration in high school-aged youth and as a catalyst for stronger communities.   Since 2009, Tracy and the Books for Babies team at the Greater Victoria Public Library have distributed thousands of bags to new parents, filled with books, music, and everything they need to know to give their kids a good start in literacy. With the help of Island Health and neighborhood outreach, the program gives about 2000 bags a year.  

Renee Sala, Bringing Art to Schools

 Taylor Mahovlich, Lajah Warren, Markus Meye, Kiera Tomalty, Christine Camaso, Emily Rasmussen, Westshore Youth Health Advisory Committee

As a teenager, Renee already knew she loved working with kids and art. After graduating from Camosun, Renee began applying for grants and working with local schools, on large-scale projects that would involve everyone: kids, staff, teachers, and parents.  Renee loves to talk to the children about real issues such as the environment and showing them how to express their ideas about the topic visually.   After a survey of high school students in the Westshore-Sooke District revealed that 40% of them didn’t have a primary care doctor, Jen Harrison was given the responsibility to plan and open a health clinic in each of the three high schools. She connected with six youth leaders- Taylor, Lajah, Markus, Kiera, Christine, and Emily- over the summer to guide and inform the services that would be offered at each clinic. 

Troy Wilson, No Child Left Uncut

Kelly Tilsley, Victoria Walk so Kids Can Talk

Troy Wilson knows that a haircut can improve a child’s self-esteem and this is the reason he started his non-profit No Child Left Uncut. Through his business, Status Barber Shop, Wilson provides free or discounted haircuts for any child who needs it. Clients can contribute as well by donating to a pooling fund for these haircuts, or by donating clothing and school supplies that are distributed to local families. Troy also contributes to local cancer fundraising drives by providing haircuts, supplies, and tools for those who want to cut or shave their hair for cancer.  Kelly Tilsley is an alumnus of the Leadership Victoria program, and currently chair of Victoria’s “Walk so Kids Can Talk”, a benefit for Kid’s Help Phone. Kelly volunteered often with the Kid’s Help Phone and was offered the Chair position in 2012 after the previous Chair fell ill. When he took over, the event was on the verge of being canceled due to a lack of participation. In 2016, the benefit raised $21,000 with the help of hundreds of participants and sponsors. Tilsley and his team of volunteers also raise awareness about Kid’s Help Phone at several events during the year, including Teen Fest, Fern Fest, and Food Truck Fridays.  

From us at Leadership Victoria, congratulations to the individuals recognized and celebrated for their acts of leadership in our community.