Pacific Blue Cross celebrates International Women's Day by recognizing trailblazing leaders

Friday, Mar 8, 2024

Through partnerships, products and recognizing the nominees of the Women of Distinction, we’re excited to honour extraordinary women leaders and organizations dedicated to improving the lives of thousands across Metro Vancouver each year.

We are proud to announce that our President and CEO, Sarah Hoffman, has been nominated for the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards in the Business and the Professions category.

The YWCA Women of Distinction Awards honour remarkable women and businesses whose outstanding activities and achievements contribute to the wellbeing and future of our community. Nominees in the Business and the Professions category have made a significant and sustained difference in Metro Vancouver while leveraging their achievements, commitment to excellence and business acumen to facilitate change and create opportunities. They demonstrate respect for, and engagement with their community, clients and colleagues.

Under Sarah’s leadership, Pacific Blue Cross (PBC) collaborated with BC Women's Health Foundation for a personal health plan covering fertility treatments and adoption, a first in Canada. She led PBC to partner with Women's Health Research Institute to research the health experiences of midlife women, and her expertise in disability benefits is helping address challenges in equitable disability management. Sarah also led the implementation of an award-winning DEI strategy, completed an Indigenous Works audit to become an employer of choice for Indigenous Peoples and introduced transition guidelines, supporting staff in their gender identification journeys. In 2023, Sarah helped PBC introduce two innovative employee benefits: annual leave for domestic or sexual violence survivors and gender-affirming care leave.

Community Champion Award Nominees

In total, 106 women were nominated across 12 different award categories. As a legacy sponsor, Pacific Blue Cross will present the Community Champion award. The 2024 nominees for the Community Champion award are:

  • Carmen Stossel, Regional Director, Community Marketing & Corporate Citizenship, RBC and Chair of the Boca Del Lupo Board, aims to expand diversity on arts boards and the arts.
  • As the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the charity Employ to Empower, Christina Wong leads the charity supporting Downtown Eastside residents with business skills training and mentorship.
  • Irene Dorsman, CEO at Angel Forum, volunteers her time as Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Women’s Equity Lab to increase women’s participation in angel investing.
  • Joanna Jagger has led research and advocacy, resulting in policy changes and increased pay transparency, through her work as the Founder of WORTH Association (Women of Recreation, Tourism & Hospitality)
  • Me-An Laceste, as Owner of Me-An Poppins' Practically Perfect Manpower and Philippine Cultural Dancer, has dedicated over three decades to connecting diverse communities, fostering cultural assimilation and celebrating Philippine traditions.
  • Michelle Di Tomaso, Co-Founder, Dense Breasts Canada, spearheaded the Tell Me My Breast Density campaign, resulting in BC becoming the first province to notify women of their breast density.
  • Raheil Moradi, Founder of Pay It Forward, leads a grassroots initiative she has grown from seven to 115 volunteers, serving over 500 meals bi-monthly to individuals in the Downtown Eastside.
  • Sobhana Jaya-Madhavan, Associate Vice-President of External Relations at Simon Fraser University, works with the Office for Aboriginal Peoples, co-leading the Moose Hide Campaign and co-facilitating the Aboriginal Strategic Initiative.
  • Vivien Jean Symington, Founder, President and Owner of Club Aviva Recreation Limited, a gymnastics facility where she pioneered the Empowering Steps Movement Therapy Program, serving 150 young people with neurodevelopmental disabilities weekly.

The 41st annual awards will take place in-person this year on May 13, 2024.