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Kathy Barnett Leadership luncheon raises over $20,000

Auction of Whistler leaders sees a bidding war for mayor



A spirited bidding war broke out for the chance to go Ziptreking with Whistler's mayor, Nancy Wilhelm-Morden, at the second annual fundraiser luncheon for the Kathy Barnett Leadership Endowment Fund at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler on Friday, March 9.

Over 250 people packed the Frontenac Ballroom at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler and watched as bids for Wilhelm-Morden topped over a thousand dollars; the event was part of a live mentor auction that saw five leaders from Whistler's business and political community offer their time to the highest bidder.

In the end, doctor Doug Barnett, father-in-law of the late Pique co-founder and entrepreneur, won with a bid of $1,050. Wilhelm-Morden immediately offered the second bidder, Michelle Kirkegaard of the Adele Campbell Gallery and principal of Whistler's Waldorf School, the chance to go for a second day out at Ziptrek Ecotours day out if she agreed to honour her final bid of $1,025. Kirkegaard readily agreed.

Darren Roberts, Pique Newsmagazine's chief operating officer and an organizer of the luncheon said they expected to raise over $20,000.

"One of the amazing things is that we wondered what the support would be this year because of the economy, and to see the auction items go for close to $1,000, to see our mayor step in and say 'I'll do it twice!' I think that is amazing," he said.

The endowment fund provides leadership grants to women living the Sea to Sky Corridor who are looking to improve their skills for the betterment of the community. To date, there have been four Kathy Barnett Memorial Leadership Grant recipients:

Shannon Ellis, 2011, the director of the Pemberton Library, who used the support to take a course entitled The Confident Facilitator: essential skills for great meetings;

Kim Slater, 2010, the Environmental Coordinator for Whistler, who attended the Summer Institute in Sustainability, a five-day professional development program at the University of British Columbia; and

Sheila Allen, 2010, the executive director at the Howe Sound Women's Centre, who completed her Provincial Instructor Diploma with a grant from the endowment fund.

Kari Gaudet, 2009, of the Whistler Children's Centre.

The call for grant applications for 2012 is scheduled to take place in early May.

Other leaders "auctioned off" by master of ceremonies and auctioneer Chris Quinlan, former Whistler councillor and current general manager of Black&'s Pub, included Stuart Rempel, senior vice president of marketing and sales at Whistler Blackcomb, who went to Don Brett of RBC Dominion Securities for $625; Nancy Richardson, the director of digital and brand experience strategy at lululemon athletica, who went to Suzanne Johnston of Avello Spa for $850; RD Stewart, executive chef at La Rua, who went to Lesley Byford of Peak Performance Massage and Marianne Wade for $850; and Chelsey Walker, the executive director at Whistler Adaptive Sports, who went to Theresa Walterhouse of BDO Canada LLB for $550.

Funds were also raised from a silent auction at a reception following the luncheon.

Faye Wightman, President and CEO of the Vancouver Foundation, gave the address at the luncheon, on the theme what she has learned about the important things in life from her children and grandchildren.

"Faith's message was really important... the whole idea about the Kathy Barnett Endowment Fund is to empower people to improve their lives," Roberts said.

Kathy was killed in 2008 after being struck by a car during a bicycle trip in New Zealand. Shortly afterwards the fund was set up in her name through the Community Foundation of Whistler.

As well as her work with the Women's Enterprise Centre, Kathy was a founding member and former director of the CFOW in 1999. The CFOW now manages over $3 million in funds, which provide support to local non-profits, scholarships, environmental grants and more. Kathy was also a past chair of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, the Chamber's Business Person of the Year in 2002, board member of the Women's Enterprise Centre of BC, and appointee to the provincial Ministry of Small Business and Revenue's roundtable on small business.