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It was an evening of laughter, tears and celebration to recognize eleven outstanding women. At the Vernon Women in Business Gala Thursday evening, the Woman of the Year was awarded by Dr. Shannon MacNeill, event chairperson, who made the announcement to a full ballroom at the Prestige Hotel, “we are thrilled to be awarding the 2016 Woman of the Year to Juliette Cunningham.”

All of the remarkable nominees were honoured at the award ceremony for the incredible contributions they have made to our community. “Vernon Women in Business takes great pride in ensuring that each nominee receives the praise and accolades they deserve,” said MacNeill.

Juliette was nominated by Lynne Reside who referred to Juliette as a “tireless community supporter. She has served the City of Vernon very well in a multitude of capacities. She has run a successful business that supports the need for affordable professional clothing for woman and employs women in her store. She has served on too many committees and advisories to count because of her passion for the rights of women, children and vulnerable populations. She does it all with energy, grace and charm. She has made Vernon a better place to live and constantly advocates for better support for all citizens, even when it is a sometimes unpopular issue. She has personally supported me in my professional and personal advocacy and commitment to social justice as she has done for so many others. She is highly respected and is friendly, kind and giving in everything she engages in. I cannot think of a more deserving person with a longer history of giving back to her community.”

In addition to being honoured with the 2016 title, Juliette received an exquisite handcrafted pearl necklace set donated by Barrita Durward of Sweet Smiles Society, a two night stay at Prestige Ocean Front Resort in Sooke, BC, Vernon Women in Business membership, City of Vernon parking pass and a beautiful bouquet of flowers donated by Safeway. Each nominee received a basket full of donations by area businesses designed to pamper and indulge. Event platinum sponsors include Telus and By Inspired Design (responsible for the sparkling transformation of the ballroom).

Vernon since the early 1990s. She is a certified early childhood educator, Parent-Child Mother Goose facilitator and is trained in Kindermusik. She facilitates the Strong Start program at Okanagan Landing Elementary School, which promotes early literacy for children up to age 5 and helps prepare them for learning in a classroom setting. She also works at Ya Ya’s Play Centre and the Family Resource Centre Society for the North Okanagan.Anne is a true champion of families. She has created and facilitates a number of programs that provide an opportunity for parents and children to make new connections and engage in new activities and adventures. These programs include Parenting Isn’t Easy (a support program for parents with children under 6), Little Owl Family Circle (a venue for parents to discuss a variety of parenting topics, learn more about what the community offers and play with their child), Natural Connections (a free weekly nature walk in local parks, complete with songs, snacks and socializing) and Playful Art (a free art/craft drop-in group). Anne spent considerable time finding funding for all these projects, which are offered through the Family Resource Centre.

Joanne Kineshanko proclaimed 2014 Woman of the Year!

In 2014, the award honoured Joanne Kineshanko for her contribution to the community. Kineshanko is president of Kineshanko Logging and a director of Canadian Women in Timber. She has also been on the Vernon Jubilee Hospital Foundation board for 17 years. Joanne was presented with the award at the Gala event held in May of 2014 at the Prestige Inn.

Ruth Hoyte proclaimed 2013 Woman of the Year!

Ruth Hoyte was proclaimed “2013 Woman of the Year” before 165 guests attending a Gala celebration Thursday evening, May 9th, at Vernon’s Prestige Hotel.

Nominated by Lorna Robb – Cheek to Cheek Dance Studio

Ruth Hoyte is a “Wonder Woman” whose seemingly boundless energy and dynamic devotion to family and community is applauded locally, regionally and provincially. A successful Oriental dance instructor and founder of “Desert Moon Dancers”, Ruth was recognized in 2013 by the Okanagan Arts Council. Her exceptional contributions were celebrated in both 2000 and 2004 as a Woman of the Year Nominee.

Ruth has volunteered her leadership skills as president for Vernon Women in Business, Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Vernon Association, Vernon Dance Society, and North Okanagan Employment Enhancement Society. She has served as a director on Centreville Neighborhood Committee for Gateway Shelter, Queen Silver Star Excellence Program, Vernon Winter Carnival Society, and the Vernon Art Gallery Board. She is a strong advocate for economic development in the Vernon city core, serving on numerous municipal committees. Provincially, she serves on the Insurance Brokers Association of B.C.

Ruth is a “bigger than life matriarch, business colleague, community advocate and patron of the arts. Her smile lights up a room, her passion swirls around us like one of her colourful belly dancing scarves,” says nominator Lorna Robb.

2012~ Mary Williamson    *     2011~ Min Sidhu     *     2010~ Shelley Haslett
2009~ Barrita Durward     *     2008~ Carole Wutzke      *     2007~  Michele Blais 
     2006~ Val Heuman     *     2005~ Carole Benz
2004~ Marlene Stark     *     2003~ Carol Williams     *    2002~ Phyllis Simon
2001~ Marie Fleming     *     2000 ~ Ann Powter     *     1999~ Betty Selin
1998~ Liz McArthur     *     1997~ Jane Lister     *     1996~ Joan Jacobi
1995~ Ruth Wolfe     *     1994~ June Rigby     *     1993~ Donna Mihalcheon
1992~ Colleen Vollan     *     1991~ Hedi Lattey     *     1990~ Claudette Everitt
1989~ Daphne Thuillier     *     1988~ Jean Koening