Five Surrey women, one from Delta, up for YWCA Women of Distinction Award

Penny Priddy, Joanne Curry, Sunpreet Bains-Dahia, Jude Grass, Nicole Steffinelli and Sandra Hentzen all nominated for prestigious awards.

Three people from Surrey have been nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.

Three people from Surrey have been nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Award.

Six local women have been nominated for prestigious YWCA Women of Distinction Awards.

The YWCA has announced the 71 nominees for the 29th annual Women of Distinction Awards, recognized as one of the country’s most notable awards for women.

Local nominees include five from Surrey including Penny Priddy in the Community Building category, Joanne Curry, nominated in Non-profit and Public Service, Sandra Hentzen in Business and the Professions, Jude Grass, for Environmental Sustainability and Sunpreet Bains-Dahia in the Young Women of Distinction category.

Priddy, who held office in every level of Canadian government, is being recognized in part for her role as vice-president of Children of the Street Society, the only provincial organization solely dedicated to preventing the sexual exploitation of children and youth.

“Penny has built her own business, bridged government and community organizations and worked on significant social issues to better the community of Surrey,” her nomination says. “She has made it her mission to serve as a mentor to hundreds of women, encouraging them to find a place in the political system.”

Last year, Priddy won a national award from Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization whose goal is to advance the role of women in our political systems.  She is also on the board of Port Metro Vancouver.

Curry is the founding director for SFU Surrey and is described in her nomination as a “committed City of Surrey champion.”

Curry understands the power of collaboration and fosters an environment where all ideas are valued, her nomination states.

“Concurrently with leading SFU Surrey, Joanne supported a university-wide and community consultation that resulted in a new strategic vision for SFU,” it states. “Joanne’s visionary thinking inspires others to engage with their communities, both locally and globally. An entrepreneur at heart, Joanne co-founded SFU Venture Connection, a program that supports student entrepreneurs from initial idea to business validation.”

Grass is an award-winning naturalist and has been “volunteering for nature” for the past 40 years. Her love of nature led her to join Nature BC in 1974 where she held several roles. She is currently the president of the B.C. Field Ornithologists and has dedicated more than 20 years organizing the Ladner Bird Count for hundreds of birders.

And in the Young Women of Distinction category, Sunpreet Bains-Dahia has been nominated for her natural leadership.

Currently enrolled Doctorate of Dental Medicine Program at UBC, she tenaciously pursues her values of service and academic excellence. Selected as a British Columbia Ambassador, she has traveled across the province speaking out on motivation, education and self-esteem.

She co-founded High School 101, a peer mentorship program that serves to ease the transition of youth entering high school.

As Miss White Rock, she co-founded the Semiahmoo Mosaic Workshop Society, a non-profit group that promotes the unification of people of all ages and races through art projects that beautify the city. In recognition of her achievements Sunpreet was honoured as a winner of the Surrey Top 25 Under 25 Award.

Surrey’s Sandra Hentzen was also named for her role as Executive Vice-President of TransLInk.

She led the transition towards centralized processes and continues to advocate for ongoing change, according to her nomination. She supports an aligned, accountable customer-focused team of people and she challenges herself and her staff to design and deliver programs to reflect best practices.

Hentzen shares her expertise on various human resources committees and volunteers her time with several organizations including Commissionaires BC, where she is the Chair of the CEO Succession and Compensation Committee. She was nominated by her staff and was recognized by her human resources peers as the winner of the BC HRMA Award of Excellence in 2008.

From Delta, Steffinelli, CEO of Urban Impact Recyclers has been named under the Entrepreneurship category.

She is described as having pioneering spirit in the sustainability sector, and introduced the first multi-material recycling companies in Metro Vancouver. She has proven a commitment to zero waste is financially and environmentally possible.

In 2011, Urban Impact diverted more than 95 per cent of the 100,000 metric tonnes of materials collected and processed from landfill. Active in the community, Steffinelli leads school tours to inspire environmental stewardship, mentors women entrepreneurs in the environmental sector and serves on multiple boards, including as President of the Waste Management Association of B.C.

YWCA Metro Vancouver’s 29th annual YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honours women whose achievements contribute to the well-being and future of our community. The Awards also honour the businesses and organizations that support the wellness and diverse needs of their employees.

Since 1984 the YWCA awards group has paid tribute to more than 300 deserving women and workplaces. In addition to recognizing the nominees, this event raises funds for that help improve the lives of more than 50,000 women and children each year.

For more information about the awards, the nominees or to secure tickets for the May 24 ceremony, visit