YWCA Toronto announces ‘Women of Distinction’ 2018

Zanana Akande. the first Black woman to be elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario,  is one of seven ” Women of Distinction” whose  achievements were recognised by the YWCA Toronto in celebration of  International  Women’s Day 2018.

An educator and “pioneering activist,” Akande served as a cabinet minister in the New Democratic government of Premier Bob Rae.

After leaving politics, she served as president of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, the Canadian Alliance of Black Educators, and the Toronto Child Abuse Centre. She continues to advocate for women’s equity and is active in various social justice initiatives.

Toyo  Ajibolade , another  member of Toronto’s Black community, is this year’s recipient  of the  YWCA Toronto’s “Young Woman of Distinction” award.

Ajibolade who founded the Lady Ballers Canp for young girls facing financial barriers to playing baseball, is described as an “inspirational student, role model and coach.”

The YWCA Toronto, Canada’s largest multi-service women’s organization,  announced the names of this year’s  ” Women of Distinction ” on Thursday.

“We are celebrating the achievements of women who have shown an unwavering commitment to helping other women and girls,” said YWCA Toronto CEO Heather McGregor.

The six other “Women of Distinction” are Pat  Armstrong, Julia Deans, Lynne Factor,Margaret Hancock, Marcia Ponte and Milica Radisic.

Dr. Armstrong is Distinguished Research Professor in Sociology at York University and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.

Deans is the CEO of Futurpreneur, a national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to aspiring business owners aged 18-39.

Factor is a child welfare activist and philanthropist.As a social worker, she has devoted over 35 years to improving the lives of vulnerable children and youth

Hancock  is the first woman appointed Warden of Hart House at the University of Toronto, the Executive Director of Family Service Toronto, and Oxfam Canada’s Board Chair.

Marcia Ponte served as the Executive Director of the Working Women Community Centre for almost two decades where she leads programs to advance the interests of immigrant women.

Dr. Radisic is a leader in the field of cardiovascular tissue engineering.. She advocates for gender equity in her work and mentors young women pursuing careers in science.

The seven ” Women of Distinction”  and  the  “Young Woman of  Distinction” will receive their awards at a ceremony at the Fairmont Royal York hotel in Toronto on May 24.