YWCA’s Women of Distinction awards recognize women who have made significant achievements in their fields. Here are this year’s winners:

Andrea Maunder (Business)
Ruth Lawrence (Arts & Culture)
Mackenzie Dove (Young Woman of Distinction)
Clara Rendell (Public Affairs)
Holly Foley (Wellness & Active Living)
Jillian Hand (Mentorship & Education)
Helen Murphy (Community & Social Development)

Restaurateur Andrea Maunder is best known for her restaurant Bacalao, and her role with the Restaurant Association of NL. The award ceremony spoke of her dedicated support of the provincial economy “by buying everything from garlic to game and seafood to spirits from local businesses and suppliers,” and how she promotes the best of Newfoundland and Labrador to tourists,” especially when she travels internationally for food events and public appearances, “using every opportunity to spread the word about our province’s unique gifts.”

Ruth Lawrence is an award winning actor, writer, and filmmaker. “Ruth embodies a powerful combination – a passion for the arts, community, and activism which makes her a women of distinction, and a powerful force for change.” She was credited this year for the protest that saw the city’s arts funding restored. “Her leadership has inspired others to get involved – from organizing a community demonstration against cuts to the arts, to organizing a fundraiser in support of women’s programming.”

Twenty year old Mackenzie Dove served as President of Newfoundland and Labrador Youth Parliament for 2015, where “she helped to bring forward the first Session in 51 years which had more women than men participate. In high school, she encouraged and acted as a role model for young women to get involved with underwater robotics and helped to lead her team to an International victory.”

With 32 years clocked on the job, Clara Rendell is “a female pioneer in the largely male world of Corrections,” who has risen from a Parole Officer to Area Director for this Province. Her effective approach to her work has attracted national attention. “She inspires very capable and grounded females to enter this difficult field,” while educating the Canadian Corrections system on the unique circumstances of this province. “Clara ensures that both staff serving offenders and the offenders themselves are not compromised by the challenges they face within this province.”

Holly Foley “is a proud and empowered feminist who reaches out to other women and girls, and who knows we become more powerful in collaboration with one another. Her work directly impacts women, as evident in the creation of the GIRL Run Club, co-founding of a women’s spirituality group Feminine Arising, co-creating of Redefining Self-Care, a women’s retreat.”

Eight years ago, Jillian Hand became the first DONA certified doula in our province. “Fuelled by a passion for supporting women and their families and making a positive difference for families in their birthing experiences she dove into this role, inspiring so many others around her that the doula community in St. John’s today is about 40 strong.” She was instrumental in founding the Doula Collective in 2008 and has held executive positions since its inception. Additionally she is the Eastern Canada Director for DONA International.

Helen Murphy is a long time community developer, chorister, piano teacher, and mental health advocate, best known as the volunteer choir director for the Stella’s Circle Inclusion Choir, which includes adults who face many barriers such as mental health issues, addictions, homelessness, poverty, and unemployment. She selects songs with positive messages relevant to choir members, including songs of social justice, inclusion, relationships and trust.