Erin Albanese
Genna Evelyn
Ashley Major
Tharsini Sivananthajothy

If you wish to be in contact with any of the winners please e-mail chair@soroptimistfoundation.ca.

Melinda Krynen-Hill
MEd in Counselling Psychology candidate, University of Toronto (OISE), 2017; Master's in Public Health specializing in Health Promotion, University of Alberta, 2013. Melinda founded a unique consultancy practice supporting individuals to better manage complex health conditions.

Melinda Krynen-Hill is entering her second year of a Master's in Education in Counselling Psychology at the University of Toronto's Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), graduating in the spring of 2017. Melinda pursued training in the psychology field after organically developing a consultancy practice supporting individuals with complex health conditions to cultivate skills and tools to self-regulate their challenging conditions. Her practice evolved following her own experience with a complex health condition, where she aspired to create a resource and support for others going through similar journeys. Melinda envisioned a practice that would supplement gaps in the current health care delivery system and provide needed support and encouragement for those living with complex conditions. She credits the women in her life for inspiring her to seek agency in decisions involving her health and for encouraging her to create a space for others to empower themselves through illness.

Melinda is a trained and licensed Mindfulness facilitator through the NeuroNova Centre for Mindful Solutions in Toronto, where she runs group-based courses in Mindfulness Meditation across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). In her private consultancy practice, Melinda travels to various health centres around the city to provide counselling to individuals living with a broad range of complex health conditions. At her current health centre, The Toronto Clinic, in Yorkville, Toronto, she is an integral part of their multidisciplinary team of medical professionals, facilitating superior management of complex illness and chronic pain management for patients. Her approach to counselling is holistic and client-centered, focused on strength-based approaches and with a foundation in Mindfulness Meditation.

Melinda's inspiration for her practice comes from the extraordinary women she has met along her journey. Women who have lived through unimaginable challenges, yet continue with resiliency, showing incredible will to survive and flourish. Melinda's vision and commitment for her psychotherapy practice, upon graduation, is to support women who have been marginalized as a result of complex illness experiences, and to create a supportive community where women feel empowered with knowledge and skills to self-advocate for their health and lives.

As a committed volunteer to the Toronto community, Melinda offers her knowledge in mindfulness to the Law and Mental Health Unit at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) where she applies mindfulness as a method to improve coping of complex mental health challenges among female forensic outpatients. Melinda's background is in Public Health research. She has a Master's in Public Health, specializing in Health Promotion, from the University of Alberta. Melinda worked previously as a Research Coordinator and Project Manager for the University of Toronto and as an Analyst for Cancer Care Ontario.

Christie Ulicny
MA in Community Development, University of Victoria, 2017. BEd specializing in Inner City Education, University of Toronto (OISE), 2011. BA, Psychology, University of Waterloo, 2007. Christie is also the Founder of Bridging Worlds Through Music, a music education charity operating in Geita, Tanzania.

Christie Ulicny is entering her second year of the Master of Arts in Community Development program at the University of Victoria in British Columbia. Her studies have focused on leadership, governance and developing community-based approaches to lead transformative social change. Christie is specifically interested in how international collaboration amplifies collective intelligence and leads to innovation.

The tools and methodologies that Christie has been exposed to through her studies have been supporting her in her role as Founder of Bridging Worlds Through Music (BWTM), a music education charity operating in Geita, Tanzania. In 2014, Christie worked with the local community to establish a music program to help young people gain essential skills such as self-confidence, communication and creative problem-solving. BWTM is operated by local teachers and focuses on reducing gender disparity in the region by offering equal access to opportunities for girls, mentorship programs and teacher training.

In November 2015, Christie's work with BWTM helped her secure a spot as one of eight Canadians selected to travel to Vietnam as part of Uniterra's International Seminar for Youth Leaders in Entrepreneurship. Working with other young professionals from Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Nepal and Canada, Christie joined an international network whose work focused on stimulating economic opportunities for woman and youth. This experience helped further her understanding of the role of women in diverse cultural contexts, the impact of social norms on employment opportunities and the complexity of enterprising in emerging contexts.

Prior to pursuing her Master's degree, Christie gained experience in the non-profit and political sectors. Working as a Special Assistant to a Member of Provincial Parliament allowed her to gain essential experience collaborating with key stakeholders to find solutions to community-based challenges. Her work in non-profit program management and community outreach, in inner city and rural Indigenous communities, allowed Christie to develop projects and partnerships to engage marginalized populations. Most notably, she created a youth committee where young woman mentored other musicians to develop confidence and leadership skills. Additionally, Christie managed a national music program operating in primarily rural Indigenous communities. One of her projects included working with two female First Nations musician/educators to help promote their culture through the development and distribution of educational resources sent to over 2,000 students and educators.

Christie is excited to continue her work with young women from marginalized communities to support their personal growth through music and mentorship programs. Her ultimate goal is to utilize her work to help women attain leadership positions, allowing them to become role models for other young women and gain empowerment in the process.

Laura Booi
Doctoral candidate in Gerontology, Simon Fraser University; Masters in Health Psychology, University of British Colubmia.

Ms. Booi has been an outspoken advocate, researcher and educator for dementia related issues, especially those pertaining to women and care, for nearly a decade. She serves as a co-founding member for the World Young Leaders in Dementia (WYLD). WYLD is a network for emerging leaders who share a common goal: to improve the lives of people living with dementia. Laura is entering her sixth and final year of her doctoral training at Simon Fraser University's Gerontology Research Centre, graduating in the spring of 2017.

Based on Laura's research and advocacy work, she had the privilege of participating as an invited youth representative at the World Health Organization's first Ministerial Conference on Dementia (March, 2015). Laura's advocacy work has translated into her being an invited participant, speaker and facilitator for international Young Leader in Dementia Events. Thus far, Laura has represented WYLD at events in Japan, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Washington DC, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates and Hungary.

For the past year, Laura has been working with a group of engaged community members and the Town Council in her hometown of Qualicum Beach on Vancouver Island. Qualicum Beach is a popular retirement community, and has the oldest average population in Canada. Laura is helping this town become a Dementia Friendly Community. Alongside her advocacy work, Laura is also an accomplished researcher in the area of dementia care. She has completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Vancouver Island University, a Masters in Health Psychology from the University of British Columbia and is currently completing her doctorate in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. Her dissertation research is focused on sustainable ways of improving long-term, institutional care for persons living with dementia from the perspective of the front-line care provider.

Faith Eiboff
PhD Candidate, Interdisciplinary Studies, School of Population & Public Health/Department of Psychiatry, University of British Columbia, August 2017. MSc, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University BA (Honours), Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Faith is a PhD Candidate at the University of British Columbia (UBC) completing an interdisciplinary doctoral degree. Her research bridges the disciplines of public health and psychiatry to advance knowledge of the complex inter-relationships between gender, health, and homelessness from a trauma-informed perspective. Her doctoral research is integrating mixed-methods approaches to examine the housing and health-related impacts of interpersonal violence among women who participated in the landmark At Home/Chez Soi research demonstration project - the world's largest examination of Housing First for those experiencing homelessness and mental health problems across five Canadian cities. Faith introduced measures of partner violence into the study as a unique opportunity to contribute gender-specific evidence on the cumulative effects of victimization and trauma in this population. She has also established a community advisory group of women with lived experience from the project to inform this work. She aims to address a crucial research and treatment gap in knowledge and services and explore the implications for trauma-informed responses and prevention.

Early in her Health Sciences training (BA Honours; MSc), Faith recognized the strength of combining academic practice with local community experience to address inequities in health. She integrated community-driven research into her programs and completed several community-based projects addressing women's housing and health. Her work has been recognized and supported by numerous competitive academic scholarships and community service awards at the institutional, provincial and national levels, e.g., Canadian Federation of University Women (South Delta), BCs Pacific Century Graduate Scholarship, Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Master's and Doctoral Research Awards, UBCs Four-Year Doctoral Fellowship. She was also selected for several prestigious training opportunities through CIHRs Institute of Gender and Health, the Gender Violence Health Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and two concurrent CIHR-funded Strategic Training Initiatives in Health Research PhD Fellowships: Intersections in Mental Health Perspectives Addictions Research Training (IMPART) and Population Health Intervention Research Network (PHIRNET).

Faith actively presents her work locally and at national and international conferences, and has delivered over 30 presentations to date. She has also received a number of national and international conference scholarships and awards. Most recently, Faith received the Silver Award for Best Presentation at the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER) Annual Forum as part of the European Public Health 2015 Conference in Milan, Italy for her outstanding oral presentation illustrating partner violence among homeless women as a pressing public health issue.

In May 2015, Faith was also recognized with a National Collaborating Centres for Public Health Knowledge Translation (KT) Graduate Student Award for her leadership on a community-engaged KT initiative. Faith was the nominated principal applicant on a CIHR grant to include formerly homeless participants in dissemination activities with Vancouver At Home/Chez Soi researchers to increase the impact of study findings on audiences, thus generating inclusive policy and practice discussions between stakeholders in diverse academic, policy and community settings. This initiative reflects a collaborative academic/community partnership with RainCity Housing and Support Society and the Vancouver Housing First Speakers Bureau, a peer-led homelessness advocacy group created during the At Home/Chez Soi study.

Faith intends to continue working in the field of women's homelessness research and advocacy in Canada. Her goal is to utilize her passion for community-engaged research and knowledge exchange to bring needed attention to gendered dimensions of homelessness, particularly to the profound violence, trauma and abuse experienced by this population. She is committed to advancing a more gender-inclusive homelessness research agenda which better represents the priorities of women and establish trauma-informed directions in Canadian homelessness research, policy, and practice.

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