Ten young women from high schools in the Sea to Sky corridor had the opportunity to connect with a distinguished group of mentors as part of the Kathy Barnett Leadership luncheon held last Friday (March 8).
The annual International Women’s Day event is organized by the Community Foundation of Whistler to celebrate the legacy of Barnett, who was one of the founding directors of the foundation and publisher and co-founder of Pique Newsmagazine
Barnett, who committed to building support for the next generation of female leaders in the Sea to Sky corridor, was hit by a car while biking in New Zealand and died in 2008. Her commitment to the community is also recognized through the Kathy Barnett Memorial Fund, which provides leadership grants to women living in the corridor who are looking to improve their skills for the betterment of the community.
Global BC morning news host Sophie Lui hosted the luncheon and took the time to introduce the young women chosen to be part of a youth mentorship program. Afterwards they took part in a “speed-mentoring” session with 10 mentors chosen from the community and Chatelaine editor-in-chief Jane Francisco, who was the guest speaker at the event.
Whistler Secondary School student Samantha Shrimpton was one of the young women chosen to spend five minutes with each mentor and she said the experience was inspirational.
“The opportunity we had to talk to them was huge,” she said, noting the accomplishments of these professional women is remarkable. “I feel so lucky to have had the time to talk to each of them. They are taking their time to talk to us — the whole idea was so interesting.”
Shrimpton, who is interested in pursuing a career in international development, said she wished she had more than five minutes with each mentor to continue the conversations she started.
“They were so inspirational,” she said. “Basically the main theme I got from all of them, and each of them said it in their own way, is when you get an opportunity take it.”
Seizing opportunities was one message mentor Maureen Douglas with Mobilize Strategies said she tried to convey to the young women.
In addition, Douglas said the advice she gave them centred around how important their attitude is when they present themselves and that showing they have passion, commitment and even humour can be a valuable asset.
“And be nice — it is as simple as that,” she said. “Give people the benefit of the doubt and stay open to new opportunities, new people and new ideas and you will do really well.”
What also stood out for Douglas was that the tables could have been turned.
“After even meeting two or three of them, I thought we need to switch sides of the table — these kids could tell us a thing or two,” she said. “Every single one of them was quite remarkable.”
It was something Lui and Francisco also picked up on during their talk at the luncheon.
“I think as mentors and as teachers we can also learn from those who we help,” Lui said.
The other youth mentors at the event were: Sue Adams with The Grocery Store, Mercedes Nicoll with the Canadian Snowboard Team, Kasi Lubin with the Zero Ceiling Society, Kathy Creery with Whistler Accounting, Fiona Famulak with the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, Francisco, Linda Godin with Telus, Michelle Leroux with Whistler Blackcomb and Nicole Shannon with Keir Fine Jewellry.
The youth chosen for the program were: Stacey Andrew and Ruby Joe from Xit’olacw Community School, Anglea Cho and Christie Lowe from Howe Sound Secondary School, Aleea Dahinden, Jessica De Haan and Sheri Ptolemy from Pemberton Secondary School and Melanie Auger, Kerry-Anne Hamilton and Shrimpton from WSS.