The eleven amazing Woman of the Year 2016 Nominees were:

PHOTO CREDIT: Ashley Duggan of Keylight Photography (for all attached photos)

Juliette Cunningham WOY2016_050

Juliette is the owner of Carousal Consignment clothing store since 1990 and is a past board member of the Downtown Vernon Association.  Juliette has been politically active in serving the community, both as a School District 22 trustee from 1996-2005 and currently as a three term Vernon city councillor.  Juliette advocates for social policy by being a supporter of affordable and accessible housing.  She is passionate about children’s rights having hosted the Cities Fit for Children provincial summit.  A long time Vernon resident, Juliette has raised four children and is a proud grandmother of five.


Benita Elliott

VWIB_April_04Benita, known as “B” by those who love her, has worked 23 years for Kindale and was promoted to Executive Director in 2013.  Kindale assists over 400 people yearly and Benita works tirelessly to improve the lives of those with diverse abilities.  Benita frequently gives both her own time and resources to advocate and support those individuals who are often marginalized by society.  Benita’s leadership has been recognized by Community Living of British Columbia as a nominee for the Hero Award.


Janice Foster WOY2016_002

Janice is a long time resident of Lumby who worked many years in the telecommunications sector.  Since 2008, Janice has been a School District 22 Homestay Coordinator, helping over 200 international students connect with suitable families and personally opening her home to 14 students.  Janice has been involved for 20 years with NONA Child Development Centre, leading the $2.5 million Tree House Project.  Janice has been an active Vernon Rotarian since 2009 and is currently secretary for the BC Liberal Vernon Monashee Riding Association.


Niki Knight


Niki worked for 20 years at Interior Health as a social worker, mainly for the Women’s and Children’s unit at Vernon Jubilee Hospital, before venturing on her own in private practice at Balance Natural Health Centre.  Niki assisted families with guidance and support while dealing with a stressful health crisis and created the annual Walk to Remember for parents who have suffered infant loss.  Niki’s caring nature extends to the furry four legged friends as she volunteers with local animal agencies.  Niki has had to find balance in working full time and completing her master’s degree.



Sherry Lukey WOY2016_016

Sherry is an Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) practitioner who operates Infinite Tapping Potential.  Sherry’s work has been described as life changing, helping other’s to overcome obstacles and build their self-esteem.  Sherry has volunteered countless hours with her two daughter’s activities, from serving on Coldstream PAC to coaching volleyball and soccer.  Sherry has also been an active member of Vernon Women in Business serving as both secretary and treasurer, and is currently chairing the upcoming 2016 VWIB Leadership Conference.


Becky Martselos

WOY2016_045 Becky is the owner and teacher of Accentz Dance Studio.  She has mentored over 300 students, both young and old, in the previous 10 years of operation.  Becky makes time for community events that request dance performances such as the Queen Silver Star Excellence program and Schubert Centre.  Becky is passionate about dance, often working 60 – 80 hours a week, but also manages to maintain a busy household with two young boys.


Sareena Nickoli WOY2016_036

Sareena is recognized as the “voice” of City Furniture, her family business she has worked at for over 15 years.  Sareena has been a fitness and Zumba instructor since 1999 and recently launched her own dance studio, Soul Studio.  Sareena has hosted several Zumbathons to raise money for Vernon Jubilee Hospital and Habitat for Humanity.  Sareena has volunteered her time and talent with Vernon Hospice – Dancing with the Vernon Stars and the Queen Silver Star Excellence program.


Sandra Patterson

WOY2016_022Sandra has worked for 15 years at Vernon Battery, moving up from bookkeeper to manager.  Sandra volunteers her time with the Royal Canadian Army Cadet program and has spent 12 years mentoring these young men and women into well rounded and respectful leaders of tomorrow.  Sandra’s leadership and professionalism with cadets was recognized with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.  Sandra is also an inspiring mother and grandmother, as she was nominated by her daughter.




Caroline Radics

VWIB_April_01Caroline is an independent financial advisor with Investia Group.  She currently is president of the Advocis –  Thompson Okanagan chapter, part of the Financial Advisors Association of Canada.  Caroline has served as director for the Vernon Chamber of Commerce, a trustee with the Downtown Vernon Association and board member of Vernon Winter Carnival.  Caroline is a long term resident of Vernon whom as a single parent raised four children and now enjoys four grandchildren.



Jennifer Thompson

WOY2016_008Jennifer works full time at the Salvation Army and is the head elder at her church.  Jennifer managed the Talkin’ Donkey coffee house to raise funds for the Salvation Army.  Jennifer is the Integrated Mission Coordinator administering several women’s outreach programs.  Jennifer finds the resources and support for clients who are facing challenges in life, offering assistance with empathy and no judgement and has been recognized for her work with a Hero award.  Jennifer is also a busy mother raising four young boys.


Karla Ziegler WOY2016_058

Karla has worked for the last eight years, most recently at Click-@-Geek Tech Support, while balancing her family and many volunteer commitments.  While raising her three children, Karla ran a website called Vernon Moms Meet ‘n’ Play.  Karla was president of Silver Star elementary PAC and instrumental in fundraising and organizing various programs and purchasing new playground equipment.  Karla is an active member of JCI Vernon, helping fundraise for the VJH Gala and has been a Vernon Winter Carnival Director for many years.



Vernon Women in Business PO Box 1572, Vernon, BC V1T 8C2


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