More than 200 people came together under the theme of "empowering for change" at the annual Kathy Barnett Leadership Luncheon. The final fundraising amount hasn't been finalized yet, but organizers estimated the total amount raised from the March 7 luncheon would come in at about $10,000.
"We have raised over $75,000 collectively to continue to grow the endowment fund since the event inception," said event manager Heather Odendaal.
Along with being a fundraiser, the event matched 11 students with mentors in a speed-mentoring session after the event. Luncheon speaker Theresa Laurico was one of the mentors along with event host Sophie Lui from Global TV, Pique publisher Sarah Strother, Fire Chief Sheila Kirkwood, Burnt Stew Computer Solutions owner Kendra Mazzei and AWARE executive director Claire Ruddy, along with others.
"I really enjoyed meeting with the 11 local girls, it was inspiring and one of my favourite elements of the day," said Laurico in an email message to the luncheon organizers after the event.
Three students from each of the high schools in the Sea to Sky corridor attended the luncheon. Two students were also chosen to attend from Xet'olacw Community School in Mount Currie.
During the luncheon Shana Murray and Clare O'Brien were announced as the 2014 recipients of Kathy Barnett Leadership Grants.
Murray works with the Howe Sound Women's Centre and plans to resume studies in child and youth care through an online University of Victoria course.
"I started my degree and had children at the same time, so it was tricky to continue that and also work full time with the women's centre," said Murray. "It was tricky to fit it back in. Now my kids are a little bit older.
"I felt it was time to start doing that (working on her degree) again."
O'Brien is the executive director of the Sea to Sky Invasive Species Council and she will use her grant money to take courses in management, leadership and fundraising.
"I'm pretty humbled," said O'Brien. "My board nominated me for the grant so I was thrilled to receive it."
O'Brien is going to take a course through an organization called Charity Village, a non-profit online learning centre dedicated to helping other non-profit organizations train new leaders. She said her background is in mapping and biology, so the training will help her in her current role with the invasive species council.
Barnett 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 (CFOW).
As well as her work with the Women's Enterprise Centre, Barnett was a founding member and former director of the CFOW in 1999. The CFOW manages millions in funds, which provide support to local non-profits, scholarships, environmental grants and more. Barnett 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.