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Shana Murray and Clare O'Brien granted Kathy Barnett Memorial funds

Recipients plan to further their studies to benefit the organizations they work for

The two people who are going to benefit from the Kathy Barnett Leadership Grant this year had no idea they were being honoured at the annual Kathy Barnett Leadership Luncheon.

Shana Murray and Clare O’Brien knew they were shortlisted for financial support to further their educational pursuits but they didn’t learn of their good fortune until their names were called at the luncheon.

Murray works with the Howe Sound Women’s Centre and she 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 to take courses in management, leadership and fundraising.

“I’m pretty humbled,” said O’Brien in a question and answer session with reporters. “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.

Sophie Lui of the Global BC Morning News hosted the leadership luncheon. The guest speaker was Theresa Laurico. The title of Laurico’s presentation was Empowering For Change. She talked about her shift from working in video production to more meaningful entrepreneurial ventures. She is the founder of the SociaLIGHT Conference in Toronto. The conference is set to make its debut in Vancouver on June 7.

Laurico told the audience gathered for the fourth annual Kathy Barnett Leadership Luncheon that her business ventures are inspired by the triple bottom line of people, planet and profits.

“I had an out-of-body experience,” said Laurico.

She asked herself if what she was doing with her life was worth her life. She concluded the answer to the question was no.

She set out to find more meaningful endeavours and launched her own entrepreneurial career.

The luncheon on Friday, March 7 at the Westin Resort and Spa attracted more than 200 people. The first three Kathy Barnett luncheons raised more than $65,000.