U of G Well Represented at Women of Distinction Awards

May 11, 2007 - News Release

Five members of the University of Guelph community and a former student have been named recipients of the 2007 Women of Distinction Awards by the YMCA-YWCA of Guelph.

Margaret Carter, president of Local 4120 of the United Steelworkers; Jennifer Maddock, leadership education and development adviser in Student Life; Prof. Brenda Coomber, Biomedical Sciences; Heidi Smith, manager of the nutrition program at the Health and Performance Centre; Constance Rooke, director of the master of fine arts program in creative writing; and Guelph graduate Cathy Bazinet were recognized for their outstanding contributions at Thursday night’s 12th annual awards presentation at the River Run Centre.

These six were among a total of 39 women who were nominated for their achievements in eight categories: arts and culture; business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs; education and training; public service; science, technology and research; voluntary community service; wellness and health; and young woman of distinction. In addition, two women were nominated for lifetime achievement awards, including Rooke.

Rooke, U of G's former associate vice-president (academic) and a former chair of the English department, was honoured for her work in education and training. For decades she has influenced and encouraged women with her boundless energy, courage and compassion. She is an award-winning writer and teacher and has become a prominent figure in literary and academic communities. With a strong belief in equality and justice for women, she has contributed significantly to feminist literature in Canada and abroad.

“I can’t overstate my gratitude to the University of Guelph,” said Rooke during her speech. “It’s a university with a deep concern for individuals and community.”

As president of Local 4120, Carter was the recipient of the business, labour, the professions and entrepreneurs award in recognition of her efforts in empowering others. She has acted as an excellent role model to a bargaining unit made up mostly of women by showing them that their feelings were not to be invalidated in the workplace and that their voices should be heard.

Maddock was named the recipient of the education and training award for the tremendous impact she has had on students. In her role as leadership education and development adviser, she oversees more than 230 student peer helpers and serves as a resource to elected and appointed student representatives. Students don’t see Maddock as another staff person, but rather as a friend, mentor and role model.

“The one thing I try to highlight with students is to be open to receiving teaching moments both inside and outside the classroom,” she said.

The science, technology and research award went to Coomber for her role as a mentor for women in biomedical sciences. As a past member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations' Status of Women Committee, she helped implement policy matters relating to concerns of female academic staff and also evaluated equity clauses in faculty collective agreements. As a scientist, she established a cancer research lab from practically nothing and built it into one of the larger laboratories in biomedical sciences.

“I think it’s important for people to know that there is more than one type of creativity and the best scientists are very creative,” she said. “My advice to women is to embrace your inner geek.”

Smith was named the recipient of the wellness and health award for touching thousands of people's lives with her message of healthy eating, wellness and care for the whole individual. With a primarily female client base, Smith gives advice, support and encouragement around weight management, clinical disorders, sports nutrition and general health. She is involved with the local Eating Disorders Coalition and the Community Heart Health Network and has also written a number of books, guides and papers on nutrition.

Bazinet, a 2005 BA graduate of Guelph, was named the young woman of distinction for her leadership. She created the only all-female basketball camp through Guelph Catholic Youth Organization. She is also a Big Sister and has volunteered in several classrooms, spending time with young female students with special needs and helping students struggling to read.

Six other members of the U of G community were nominated for Women of Distinction Awards and recognized during Thursday's event. Profs. Kathleen Brophy and Susan Evers, Family Relations and Applied Nutrition, and Deborah Stacey, Computing and Information Science, were nominees in the science, technology and research category. Prof. Ann Wilson, English and Theatre Studies, was nominated in the voluntary community service category. Angela Orton, manager of intercollegiate programs in the Department of Athletics and head coach of the women’s basketball team, was nominated in the wellness and health category. U of G students Kira Kumagai, Brianne Dollery, Stacey Molengraaf and Stephanie Pellizzari were nominated in the young woman of distinction category.

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