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Record number of nominees for Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year Awards

The awards will be presented Tuesday, May 4
Rogers Women of the Year 2017
FILE photo from 2017 ceremony

A record-breaking 70 outstanding women from Waterloo Region have been nominated across eight award categories of the Rogers Women of the Year Awards.

The annual ceremony, presented by K-W Oktoberfest, will be held virtually on Tuesday, May 4, marking the first time the awards have been held outside the festival dates. Each of the women has been nominated by fellow residents of the Region.

"We are proud to continue our 47-year history in celebrating the amazing accomplishments of women in Waterloo Region. The women nominated are doing incredible things which help build strong communities and it is evident that their accomplishments are making a difference across the region," said Tim Beckett, festival President. "Although we are working through a global pandemic it is still important for us to take this virtual opportunity to recognize all the inspiring and outstanding achievements."

The event also welcomes internationally recognized author Samra Zafar as the keynote speaker. Zafar was named among the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada, Top 25 Most Inspirational Women in Canada, and Top 25 Canadian Immigrants. Her book, A Good Wife: Escaping The Life I Never Chose, based on her journey of escaping an abusive child marriage to pursue her education, shed light on gender-based oppression, is a national bestseller, was one of CBC's Best Books of 2019, and is being adapted to a premium TV series.

The event will also feature a special appearance by Canadian country music duo and 2021 Juno Award nominees - The Reklaws. The local music heroes will pay tribute to Jennifer Campbell of Country 106.7. Jennifer was an avid supporter and past emcee of the Women of the Year Awards. She passed away in February following a courageous battle with cancer. A portion of all tickets sold will support the Sexual Assault Support Centre of Waterloo Region.

Community members are invited to enjoy this evening with these distinguished women. Tickets are available online at

*Women of the Year are inclusive of all women, non-binary, transgender, two-spirited, women of all classes, races, sexualities, ableness, and identities. KWO Women of the Year is for ALL women

Here are the nominees in each of the 8 categories:

Arts & Culture (sponsored by Home Hardware) recognizes women for enriching the culture of our community through the creation or promotion of the arts on a volunteer or professional basis.

  • Jayme Armstrong (Kitchener)
  • Donna Dubie (Kitchener)
  • Ruppan Grewal (Kitchener)
  • Mona Mousa (Waterloo)
  • Brenda Reid (Kitchener)
  • April Bulmer (Cambridge)
  • Jennifer Farquhar (Kitchener)
  • Marcia Horvat (Waterloo)
  • Lisa O'Connell (Waterloo)

Community Service (sponsored by Rogers TV) recognizes women for generously volunteering time to programs and services that make our community a better place.

  • Lynda Abshoff (Cambridge)
  • Andrea Davidson (Kitchener)
  • Sharon Gilroy-Dreher (Kitchener)
  • Joy Huggins (Waterloo)
  • Bobbie Kennedy (Kitchener)
  • Sylvia Kolednik (Kitchener)
  • April Tu (Elmira)
  • Tammy Webster (Kitchener)
  • Siobhan Bonisteel (Cambridge)
  • Selam Debs (Waterloo)
  • Nadine Green (Cambridge)
  • Tessa Jennison (Bayfield)
  • Corey Kimpson (Cambridge)
  • Julie Sawatzky (Kitchener)
  • Shelley Uvanile-Hesch (Baden)
  • Corinne Williams (Kitchener)

Entrepreneur (sponsored by Piller's Fine Foods) recognizes women for initiating and/or administering an enterprise or business.

  • Bolatito Alawode (Kitchener)
  • Irene Divaris (Waterloo)
  • Gosia Jurgiel (Waterloo)
  • Jessica Malcolm (Kitchener)
  • Ainsley Poirier-Craig (Kitchener)
  • Jill Zappitelli (Waterloo)
  • Shelby Behling (Kitchener)
  • Sandra Gibson (Waterloo)
  • Leah Mackie (Waterloo)
  • Stephanie Melo (Cambridge)
  • Tracy Valko (Kitchener)

Health & Wellness (sponsored by Greater KW Chamber of Commerce) recognizes women for promoting and helping others achieve and promote mental, physical or spiritual well-being in her career or community involvement.

  • Dajana Beckman (Kitchener)
  • Dr. Nicole Didyk (Waterloo)
  • Dr. Linda Lee (Kitchener)
  • Michelle Wein (Drumbo)
  • Dr. Veronique Boscart (Bright)
  • Kate Elliott (Waterloo)
  • Diana Strickland (Kitchener)

Lifetime Achievement (Sponsored by Schlegel Villages) recognizes women for being role models, mentors and/or advocates for positive and social change throughout their lifetime.

  • Lynda Abshoff (Cambridge)
  • April Bulmer (Cambridge)
  • Marcia Horvat (Waterloo)
  • Patricia Polischuk (Kitchener)
  • Sherry Shannon-Vanstone (Campbellville)
  • Shelley Uvanile-Hesch (Baden)
  • Corinne Williams (Kitchener)
  • Dr. Veronique Boscart (Bright)
  • Donna Dubie (Kitchener)
  • Dr. Lina Lee (Kitchener) Laura Potje (Drumbo)
  • Lisa Toner (Breslau)
  • Tracy Valko (Kitchener)

Professional (sponsored by CHYM 96.7, Country 106.7 & 570 News) recognizes women for dedicating themselves to the pursuit of excellence in their chosen careers.

  • Irindeep Badial (Cambridge)
  • Kimberley Fowler (Cambridge)
  • Colleen James (Kitchener)
  • Patricia Polischuk (Kitchener)
  • Sandi Young (Cambridge)
  • Judy Bradford (Cambridge)
  • Jen Gordon (Kitchener)
  • Kathryn Kitchen (Baden)
  • Lisa Toner (Breslau)

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts & Math (sponsored by Enbridge) recognizes women for outstanding advancement to the field of STEAM.

  • Tereza Dan (Waterloo)
  • Angelique Mohring (Kitchener)
  • Avonwy (Avvey) Peters (Kitchener)
  • Karishma Punwani (Kitchener)
  • Komal Singh (Kitchener)
  • Christine Logel (Kitchener)
  • Olga Pawluczyk (Waterloo)
  • Laura Potje (Drumbo)
  • Sherry Shannon-Vanstone (Campbellville)
  • Leah Zhang-Kennedy (Stratford)

Young Adult (14 to 25) (sponsored by the Kitchener Fire Department) recognizes young women for leading by example and being a role model to their peers.

  • Fatima Awan (Cambridge)
  • Nikolina Lesic (Kitchener)
  • Kirsten Mosey (Waterloo)
  • Emma Spence (Cambridge)
  • Samantha Heard (Waterloo)
  • Jasmine Marinelli (Kitchener)
  • Mariko Shimoda (Kitchener)
  • Rupakeerthana Vemulapalli (Mississauga)

The K-W Oktoberfest Rogers Women of the Year awards are proudly supported by Rogers, Sherwood, City of Waterloo, Blitzen and Good Company Productions.


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