Congratulations to the 2017 Women of Distinction Award winners

March 10, 2017 at 11:34AM until May 31, 2017 at 11:34AM

YWCA Hamilton's Women of Distinction Awards recognize outstanding women and organizations who are committed to the development of other women and to the overall improvement of the community. The Women of Distinction Awards are nationally recognized as one of the most prestigious awards for women. YWCAs across Canada join in the celebration each year, honouring the remarkable achievements of women.
The Women of Distinction Awards is also the biggest fundraiser for YWCA Hamilton, supporting our essential programs and services. We are pleased to announce that this year this event raised over $100,000. 
Thank you to everyone who joined us on March 9 at the Hamilton Convention Centre by Carmen's. Together we recognized the following women. 
Young Woman of Distinction: Shruti Ramesh 
An avid intersectional feminist, Shruti Ramesh employs the principles of equity into her numerous involvements. She is a fourth-year Arts & Science student at McMaster University where she has been a researcher for the CIHR chair in Gender, Work, & Health and a teaching assistant in Global Health. She strives to create safe spaces for marginalized groups through creating avenues for sharing narratives of lived experience. Shruti is actively involved with the McMaster Student’s Union Women & Gender Equity Network and as a training facilitator in peer support where she has helped to transform the way the university provides peer-led mental health services. An aspiring lawyer, Shruti hopes to advance equity by working to improve access to legal services, with a particular interest in feminist legal theory and human rights law.
Arts | Culture | Design: Diana Panton
Diana Panton is a uniquely gifted artist whose talents cover a wide spectrum of the arts. Balancing both her careers as a world-class, JUNO-winning jazz vocalist and teacher of Drama and Visual Arts, Diana Panton is an exemplary role model for young women in Hamilton’s vibrant and diverse arts scene. A proud Hamiltonian, Diana lends her voice to and supports numerous local events and worthy causes. As a leader in the jazz field, she collaborates with Canada's top musicians and performs in shows all over the world. Diana's self-produced albums have earned global recognition, including two Silver Disc Awards in Japan, and chart-topping success on iTunes and Amazon. CBC radio host, Tim Tamashiro, recently named Panton "One of Canada's Top Five Female Jazz Singers."
Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship: Amy Back 
Amy Rose Back is a visionary change-maker. With a degree in Sociology-Women’s Studies and Theatre from Boston University, Amy has merged both passions into her life's mission. Her commitment to excellence, profitability, and facilitating opportunity was first evident when she worked in sales and merchandising in New York City. For decades, Amy has championed theatrical initiatives with boundless energy and enthusiasm. She breaks barriers and facilitates change with Computer Help for Adults, which specializes in working with seniors and entrepreneurs to provide education and support and to raise awareness about internet safety. Amy is currently creating and customizing specialized programs for The Memory Project, YWCA, Dundas Community Services, and Ancaster Senior Achievement Center. She has been the driving force behind lnfoSpot Dundas, a pilot project with the Hamilton Council on Aging, Dundas 55+ Group, and Information Hamilton. 
Community Leadership: Nancy Smith
Nancy Smith started her career in 1981 in the not-for-profit sector as a residential coordinator, case worker, and program coordinator. Nancy joined Interval House of Hamilton in 1997 as the residential program manager and now serves as the executive director. Nancy devotes her time to over 13 committees, including the Hamilton Police Services’ Women’s Advisory Committee, National Shelter Association, HR Roundtable, EMS Protocol, and MentorAction. Nancy’s many accomplishments in making a difference in our community include assisting in the sustainability of the shelter and its services over the last 19 years, paving a road for collaboration between different social services within our community, and assisting in the expansion and advocacy for safe housing.
Education | Mentorship: Emily Ecker
Emily Ecker is the Manager of Community Access and Engagement at Mohawk
College. Throughout her career, she has led innovative projects such as the School
College Work Initiative, the development of Mohawk’s Community Integration through
Cooperative Education (CICE) program, and City School by Mohawk. She is a champion for making education accessible and her efforts within the college and community have been pivotal in opening a world of hope for Hamiltonians. An educator, mentor, and innovator, Emily continues to work to inspire those around her and those touched by her programs.
Health: Dr. Carys Massarella
Carys is an emergency physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton and is the lead physician for the Transgender Care Program at Quest Community Health Centre in St. Catharines. Dr. Massarella sees and treats transgender-identified clients and is a leading expert in transgender care. She is an assistant clinical professor at the DeGroote School of Medicine and also lectures widely on transgender health care. Recent appearances include TEDx: The Depathologization of Trans Identity, TEDx Hamilton: The False Narrative of Deception, and the CBC Doc Zone documentary Transforming Gender. She was the first transgendered person to be a president of a hospital medical staff anywhere in the world and was named one of the World’s 50 Transgender Icons by Huffington Post. 
Outstanding Workplace: REfficient
REfficient is a marketplace that sells refurbished and reclaimed products in the Telecom, AV and building materials spaces. Since its launch in 2010, REfficient became Hamilton’s Certified B Corp, meaning the company is for profit and for good, and was named four times to the “Best for the World” list for the company’s environmental impact. REfficient maintains a flexible work environment, promoting teleworking and launching Flex Time in 2015, a new type of vacation time that balances both the employee’s and business’ needs. REfficient employees are solicited for feedback on a range of company matters, including creating a company donation policy. In 2016, initiatives included staff volunteering for Hamilton Victory Gardens, participating in the YWCA S.I.S.T.E.R program, and making donations to two other non-profits.
Science | Technology | Trades: Deborah Sloboda
Deborah Sloboda is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Biomedical Sciences at McMaster University. Her research investigates the relationship between prenatal risk factors, including poor maternal nutrition, and long-term disease risk, with the goal of improving maternal and child health. Deborah’s research is highly cited and she is a recognized global leader in her field. She has worked tirelessly to translate her science into clinical practice and to involve community health groups that service women. She has been a mentor for young women in science at all stages of their education and works with local schools in the community to inspire young minds and to expand the visibility of women in science.
Lifetime Achievement: Anne Tennier
Anne Tennier, M.Eng. (Chemical Engineering), is a chemist and professional engineer with more than 35 years’ experience in industry. She was Vice- President, Environmental Sustainability for Maple Leaf Foods and Lead Community Liaison Officer in Hamilton. Her career has focused on researching, designing and constructing innovative solutions to complex environmental problems in various industrial sectors, and seeking ways to reduce industry’s environmental footprint related to climate change, water and waste. In January 2016, she created Anne Tennier Consulting Inc. to help new and existing companies integrate community and environmental concerns and government regulations into effective planning that benefits all. In addition, Anne’s participation on many community boards and extensive mentoring of young women leaders form a vital part of her 15- year contribution to Hamilton.