2014 New Volunteer of the Year Nominees

Back to Blogs By Lisa Wellbourn, IABC/BC VP, Volunteer Services Posted: May 29, 2014

Congratulations to all of the nominees for this year’s President’s Award for New Volunteer of the Year! This award is for volunteers typically in their first or second year of volunteering who have gone above and beyond expectations on a particular task, project or event.

2014 New Volunteer of the Year – Winner

2014NewVolunteer_RachelWongRachel Wong


Rachel is the Director of Professional Development, an IABC/BC volunteer position that helped her learn about the working culture in BC after moving in September from Alberta. Starting as an IABC member in Calgary but unable to volunteer due to her busy schedule, this was her first year volunteering.

Volunteering with IABC/BC allowed Rachel to learn about BC business and develop a new network. “I’ve made so many great personal and professional connections,” she explains. “It helped me settle into Vancouver and also gave me real insight into the various industries that employee communications professionals in BC.”

Rachel really took the initiative as Director by improving communications with the eight speakers for the “Switch Up” event in April. Many people might be put off by the hectic nature of event planning, but Rachel admits that she finds the “organized chaos” to be exciting. “No matter how much planning goes into the event, there’s always something unexpected that happens on event day.”

When asked for her advice for future volunteers, Rachel says, “No matter where you are in your career, volunteering is a great way to develop skills in areas you may not always have the chance to work on in your day-to-day job tasks.”

2014 New Volunteer of the Year – Nominees

2014NewVolunteer_BillieAnnWooBillie-Ann Woo


Billie-Ann joined IABC three years ago and started volunteering right away.

Her first role was in marketing communications and then she went on to volunteer with student services as Online Communications Coordinator. She managed the e-newsletter for student members.

“This year I wanted to really challenge myself and ‘give back’ in a more tangible way. The Gift of Communications project was a great opportunity to give back to the community, work with senior communicators, as well as work on skills I want to develop,” she said.

Billie-Ann led the evaluations committee with the Gift of Communications team. “Volunteering has been a great way to develop skills that I don’t get to use at work. I have been able to work on research, determine critical analysis and work with communicators from various backgrounds. It has been really beneficial in developing a well-rounded perspective and approach.”

“The whole experience of being able to help an organization like the Adoptive Families Association of BC has been truly rewarding.”

Billie-Ann works at Stenberg College as the Online Communications Specialist, managing the website, social media, email marketing, blogs and web sales tools.

2014NewVolunteer_DanaHigginsDana Higgins


Dana Higgins is the Director of Networking Events, an IABC/BC volunteer position that allows her to combine her joy of connecting people with her skills in event planning. An IABC/BC member since 2010, Dana recommends that anyone interested in volunteering should just jump in: “My experience is that other IABC/BC volunteers are eager to help out and provide advice, and it is a great way to build up your professional portfolio.”

Dana is an Event Coordinator at the University of British Columbia (UBC), a position in which communications plays a vital role. “I like the creativity required for effective communications,” Dana explains. “The rate of innovation in this field is both exciting and challenging. Finding ways to ‘stand out in a crowd’ is key and digital tools and interactive platforms create so many fun new ways of connecting with an audience.”

Dana first started volunteering with IABC/BC after participating as a mentee in the first year of the IABC/BC Mentorship program. Having had a great experience with the program, she jumped at the chance to help others through volunteering on the Mentorship Committee the following year.

During her time volunteering with IABC/BC, Dana has had the opportunity to broaden her professional and personal networks and to participate in opportunities for professional development. Volunteering has also opened up new career opportunities for her. “I also find that it is a great opportunity to pay-it-forward to people who are just starting out or are switching career paths and are eager to learn and develop their skills,” Dana says.

2014NewVolunteer_EvelynDerusEvelyn Derus

Evelyn is nominated for her hard work in her role as for this year’s Gift of Communications. Evelyn stepped in as Research Team Lead on very short notice and rose to the challenge.

She led a team of 4 volunteers, defined a process and a framework to collect data necessary for the creation of a communications plan AFABC (this year’s charity), and contributed to the team’s effort. Thanks to her dedication and vision, the charity has multiple reference documents in hand listing their activity trends, their audience profiles, their SWOT analysis and their Unique Selling Proposition.

Evelyn joined the organization as she was new to Vancouver and wanted to network with like-minded professionals to learn more about what being a communications professional looked like in Vancouver.

Being a volunteer allowed her to work more one-on-one with various IABC members and learn more about the various organizations and communication roles. “I have been fortunate enough to volunteer alongside talented professionals and had great opportunities for mentorship to help guide my career development,” Evelyn says.

If Evelyn had to give advice to someone who is considering volunteering, it would be to engage as much as you can with the members and to take advantage of all of the opportunities. “Volunteering is the best way to get involved and be hands-on to get the most out of your membership.”

2014NewVolunteer_JenniferKohmJennifer Kohm

Jennifer has been an IABC member since starting her career in communications as a Marketing Communications Student at Homewood Health Centre in Guelph, Ontario.

She has been volunteering with the Gift of Communications committee this year.

“I was inspired by the Gift of Communications initiative and the opportunity to give back to the community by contributing my professional skills. It is a wonderful opportunity to connect with fellow IABC communicators, and to develop my own skills and knowledge as a professional.

“The vision of the Adoptive Families Association of BC resonates very strongly with me: A Family for Every Child, and I appreciate the opportunity to contribute to this important organization.”

Jennifer has also held other volunteer roles, including with VANOC during the Vancouver Olympics at the Whistler Media Centre, on the Board of Directors for the Glotman Simpson Cycling Club, and as a Community Reviewer for the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

She works as the Director of Communications for the Child & Family Research Institute at BC Children’s Hospital, helping over 1,000 researchers share their discoveries with the public.

You can follow her work on Twitter at @CFRI.

2014NewVolunteer_MonicaWolterMonica Wolter

Monica Wolter starting volunteering with IABC through the Gift of Communications program in January, after joining the organization last September.

She sought out the role, keen to lend a hand to a non-profit and work with other like-minded communicators. Monica says the experience has provided a fantastic learning curve.

“I now have a better understanding of the entire process of a communications plan. Working with experienced professionals has given me hands on experience in thinking like a communicator and producing gold standard strategies and deliverables,” she said.

“Being surrounded by a great group of very skilled communicators is valuable in these initial years of my career.”

Monica works as a Development Coordinator at the Faculty of Medicine at UBC (LINK TO: http://giving.med.ubc.ca), writing on behalf of the Dean, coordinating fundraisers, creating reports and maintaining the faculty website.

She continues her volunteering with IABC, now serving on the strategic planning committee and will soon join the writing committee.

“IABC is well-respected among businesses— which means that the charity we volunteer for has a lot of confidence in our abilities.”

2014NewVolunteer_SylviaTanSylvia Tan

Twitter (@sylvia_tan) / Twitter (@districtlocal)

Sylvia joined IABC/BC one year ago and started volunteering with the Gift of Communications in January. She works on three different teams: research, analysis/positioning and evaluation.

“I wanted to take an active role with my membership. I love attending events and meeting new faces, but there’s no better way to get engaged than to get your hands dirty and work towards a cause.

“I love the idea of gifting time and knowledge – these intangibles are so valuable, and it’s so great that there are many other IABC members want to take part.”

Sylvia also credits the volunteer experience with helping with her own professional development.

“Being involved in this project has been valuable to me personally because I get the chance to work with other communications professionals with different skill sets. We are matched with roles that reflect a balance of leading and learning, which is fantastic.”

“Volunteering is probably one of the best ways to get to know other IABC members. I feel like I’ve expanded my network of peers and learned a lot from other teammates. It has been a meaningful experience for me so far!”

Sylvia works as a Communications Officer at Langara College.

2014NewVolunteer_VeroniqueStAnoineVéronique St-Anoine

Twitter / LinkedIn

As an Event Planner for the Networking and Events Portfolio, Véronique St-Anoine plays a key role in making IABC/BC social events a success. Her main focus this year was the Holiday Social in December, an event that was positively received by all who took part in the ‘North Pole’ themed evening. This is Véronique’s second year with the committee, working last year on the 2013 Bronze Quill Awards Gala. Véronique also took on a second volunteer role this year in December, as the coordinator for the Gift of Communications program.

Making connections is what drew Véronique to the field of communications. “I like connecting people. In the world we live in, there are several channels for people to communicate but to truly understand each other and accomplish things together is precious. Listening is more important than talking in communications!”

Véronique is Events and Programs Coordinator at the University of British Columbia (UBC), as well as a food columnist on Radio-Canada and a food contributor to the Vancity Buzz blog. She is currently the president of the board of Théâtre la Seizième, the only French language professional theatre company in British Columbia. Véronique has a degree in Communications from Laval University, and had the opportunity to intern with a public relations agency in Paris.

For Véronique, volunteering with IABC/BC has allowed her to expand her professional network while learning new skills. “I got to meet and work with like-minded people that I would not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise,” she says. “Everyone has a different background and sometimes work in different fields: this diversity enriches the discussions.”

Additional Nominees:

  • Patricia Zhou
    Nominated for New Volunteer of the Year
  • Eliot Dix
    Nominated for New Volunteer of the Year

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