YWCA Women of Distinction Nominees

Two well-loved members of the Vancouver School Board community have been nominated for this year's YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. They join 67 extraordinary nominees in 10 categories that will be honoured at the 27th annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards on June 1.

Lora Bird, Kindergarten teacher at Tecumseh Elementary Annex, and Iona Whishaw, principal of David Thompson Secondary, are nominated in the Education, Training & Development category.                   

This year, each of the nominees were asked to select a YWCA program area they were enthusiastic about for an online contest. The public is encouraged to support their nominee by voting for them in the Connecting the Community award. The nominee with the most votes by May 28 will receive the Connecting the Community award and Scotiabank will designate $10,000 to the YWCA program area that she chose.


Read about our nominees:

Lora Bird

Lora Bird
With immense heart and passion, Lora inspires and challenges young learners to transform their worlds with love and respect for themselves and others. As a deeply cherished kindergarten teacher at Tecumseh Annex Elementary, Lora encourages her students to speak up for diversity, resolve conflict and stand up to bullying.  

As a presenter and leader with the C.A.R.E. Program-Challenge Abuse through Respect Education-and a contributor to the Vancouver School Board's Social Responsibility and Diversity team, Lora utilizes her training to benefit the entire school. Lora is also a gifted songwriter and has written songs for children to teach them-through music-how to deal with issues such as discrimination and boundary setting.

 "Connecting the Community Award"quote: 

"The beginning is formative and childhood experiences weigh with heavy impact on human development. There's no better way to support a child than to support their mother. Crabtree Corner provides the most basic of needs: safety, food, shelter and respect which is why I choose to support reducing child poverty. Everybody deserves respect and this program delivers it where and when it counts."


Iona Whishaw

Iona Whishaw
An accomplished and long-serving educator, Iona is the principal of David Thompson Secondary and a champion for all learners and sees potential barriers as opportunities. While principal of Sir Charles Tupper Secondary, she was the catalyst for positive transformation, creating a safe and supportive school climate and a lasting legacy of accessible community learning and genuine student leadership. She embraced new and alternative approaches that would allow all learners to not only succeed, but to flourish. In 2008, Iona was featured in Principal Leadership as one of six principals in North America who exemplify ethical leadership.

Connecting the Community Award quote:

"I support healthy choices for youth because youth choice is highly correlated with engagement and agency by youth in their own lives. Adults need to value the crucial role they play in this. When relationships with youth are centered in kindness and based on a generosity of expectation then there is a creative open space in interactions where new and empowered choices can be born."

The Women of Distinction Awards began in 1984 to honour, encourage and recognize women whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the health and future of the community. Since then, YWCA Vancouver has honoured more than 200 deserving women and workplaces.

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