From left: Acting Surrey Mayor Vera LeFranc; Christine Day

Surrey women in business honoured

Board of trade hosts seventh annual awards luncheon recognizing outstanding leaders.

On Tuesday, March 8, the Surrey Board of Trade hosted the seventh anual Surrey Women in Business Awards luncheon, with presenting sponsor Vancity Savings Credit Union. The event recognized the hard work of Surrey’s women-led or owned business and organizational leaders, with more than 300 guests in attendance.

“Women entrepreneurs and leaders are a dynamic and growing segment of the global ecosystem. Canada’s theme for International Women’s Day was that women’s empowerment leads to equality. This includes access to education, financial independence, living free from violence, participation in government processes. Surrey’s business women have developed a strategy, created a vision and marketed this vision culminating in their recognition at the Surrey Women in Business Awards program,” said Anita Huberman, CEO, Surrey Board of Trade.

Master of Ceremonies Steve Darling of Global BC led the afternoon’s program. Keynote speaker Christine Day, CEO of Luvo, spoke about her journey as a young CEO at Starbucks for 20 years, taking time to be with her family, becoming CEO of Lululemon and now CEO of the frozen food health company Luvo Inc. Her career choices were always about being involved in connecting with the consumer.

Excitement was contagious throughout the room as winners were announced in five categories, including the new Social Trailblazer Award.

The winners are:


Sara Hodson – LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic

Hodson is founder and president of LIVE WELL Exercise Clinic in South Surrey, delivering clinically supervised exercise and education to prevent and treat chronic disease. Hodson lives to maximize clients’ health, in spite of their health issues, and has fun while doing it.

LIVE WELL’s three pioneering clinics (two in Surrey) specialize in helping sedentary people with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease overhaul their lifestyle by offering medically designed, customized fitness programs, nutritional counseling, goal-setting and habit formation in a safe, supportive and supervised environment. She and her staff work in the emerging field of exercise medicine, to help people live healthier, more active lives while reducing the burden of chronic disease on the health care system.



Amanjit Lidder – MNP LLP

Lidder is a partner in the MNP’s Surrey office and the regional taxleader for the Lower Mainland region. Lidder provides specialized tax services to small and medium-sized organizations in a variety of industries, helping her clients pursue attractive tax opportunities.

Working one-on-one with clients, she provides advice and strategies for corporate and personal tax planning, estate and succession planning, and corporate reorganizations, as well as mergers&and acquisition planning.

She is currently on the British Columbia Tax Conference Program Committee and is a former member of the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants Income Tax Education Committee. She holds  Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Accountant designations, qualifying in 2001.

Not-for-Profit Leader:

Melanie Houlden – Surrey Libraries

Houlden is the chieflibrarian for Surrey Libraries and is responsible for planning, leading and delivering a range of library services to meet the evolving needs of Surrey residents.

She recommends and implements strategies, policies, and plans to achieve the vision, mission, goals, and values of Surrey Libraries. She helps create an organizational culture that is energetic, achievement-oriented and client service-focused, achieving the highest professional standards in the management and delivery of library services. She works with senior staff at the City of Surrey to deliver aligned and seamless services in accordance with Surrey council priorities.

With more than 32 years of progressive public library experience, Houlden has served as a role model for hundreds of women in the profession and in Surrey.



Janice Comeau – LMS Reinforcing Steel Group

Comeau has been the chief financial officer of LMS Reinforcing Steel Group since January 2013 and has 33 years of experience as a chartered accountant.

Comeau demonstrates her ability to drive financial results at LMS through strategic financial planning and execution; building a motivated, skilled professional team; and implementing business controls across all financial functions.

At any given time, LMS has 200-plus projects underway and 650 employees on payroll. At the time Comeau was hired, there were significant issues related to working capital management. Under her leadership, LMS has achieved greater project profitability, enhanced communication with clients, earlier detection of issues and has greater insight into team performance.

Social Trailblazer:

MaryAnne Connor – NightShift Street Ministries Society

Connor is founder and president of NightShift Street Ministries Society, based in downtown Surrey. Her vision for NightShift continues to grow. Originally a nightly service to feed the hungry, the ministry is now an all-encompassing centre of caring, a place for all people to find purpose.

Connor continually ensures that services are relevant to people in need and easily accessible to everyone. In addition to supporting the mission of the ministry, she created a clothing donation program that operates through Sisters Thrift Boutique. Not only does this ensure a supply of clothes and blankets free of charge to those who are in need, but work experience for those who seek employment in the mainstream. One of the first apps for an online thrift store was created for Sisters to help drive revenue to support the operations of NightShift.

Nominations for these awards were submitted in five categories and judged on the nominee’s work in Surrey, business acumen, leadership, balanced lifestyle and community involvement and service.

For more information regarding the Surrey Women in Business event, contact Anita Huberman at 604-634-0342 or


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