2018 Award Winners

Rising Star: Vanessa Burnett

Vocational Support Worker, Vernon and District Association for Community Living – Venture Training, Community Living Services

In her relatively short time in the sector, Vanessa has taken on a variety of roles, from residential support to therapeutic work, leading individuals in varied activities such as art, sports, theatre production and music. Her most well-known success was creating a bike program, which encouraged participants to learn about the importance of safety, proper technique and exercise. Vanessa is known for her willingness to take on new responsibilities, often volunteering for community events like the annual Vernon Winter Carnival Parade and Special Olympics. She has a passion for empowering individuals to pursue their interests and supporting them to achieve their personal goals.

Hero: Sheena Sharp

Child Development Coordinator, The Family Education and Support Centre (Family Ed), Associate

Sheena started as a volunteer at Family Ed over 40 years ago as a way to give back to the agency for having used their services. Eventually employed on a full-time basis, Sheena facilitated programs, managed staff and collaborated with community partners. She worked under 10 Executive Directors during her tenure and remains the constant presence that staff turn to, parents applaud and individuals who she once supported return to visit with their own kids. Sheena is a tenacious advocate for children, and displays a warmth and patience that allows her to connect with them in a manner that can truly be described as special.

Leader: Shari Mahar

Executive Director, Community Integration Services Society (CISS), Community Living Services

Shari’s career at CISS spans 27 years and saw her take on a variety of roles, including Life Skills Worker, Program Supervisor, Program Manager and eventually Executive Director. Under Shari’s leadership, CISS expanded its program offerings and increased its number of staff. Perhaps her most important achievement, though, was successfully relocating the agency from Port Moody to a heritage house in Port Coquitlam, which was a challenging undertaking that required thoughtful collaboration with neighbours and a respect for the property’s legacy. Shari is widely respected for her resourcefulness, having forged important community partnerships that allowed CISS to start several social enterprises that developed individuals’ life skills and confidence.

Legend: Eyob Naizghi

Former Executive Director, M.O.S.A.I.C., Associate

Eyob spent over 25 years in various leadership roles at M.O.S.A.I.C. and served as the agency’s Executive Director for the past 16 years before retiring in June. He is passionate about the meaningful integration of immigrants and refugees in Canadian society, using his own experiences as a refugee to devise programming, advise bodies like the Vancouver Mayor’s Working Group on Immigration, and liaise directly with the community. Eyob has grown the organization from a small agency to one that now employs over 300 staff, 300 contractors and 450 volunteers at locations throughout the Lower Mainland. He was also instrumental in helping M.O.S.A.I.C. secure 23,000 square feet of rent-free community space through the City of Vancouver, which is home to 90 employees and offers a range of community services.