Backgrounder: Winners Of The 2013 Victoria Leadership Awards

A full list of this year's nominees is available on the Leadership Victoria website:

The following provides biographical details for the winners in each category:

For over fifty years, Bob Harman has served as a passionate champion and ambassador for Boys & Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria and recently was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his tireless enthusiasm, generosity, and dedicated community service.

Bob was born and raised in Victoria, attending Monterey school, Shawnigan Lake School, Victoria College, and the University of British Columbia where he completed a law degree. After articling in Vancouver he returned to Victoria in 1960 and joined the law firm, Harman, McKenzie and Murphy (which later became Crease Harman). He practiced law for thirty years, retiring in 1991 to focus more on the interests close to his heart. These include the Boys & Girls Clubs and the Vancouver Island Retriever Club. He supports several community projects by donation including the United Way (he was a workplace fundraiser), The Mustard Seed, Operation Eyesight, Victoria Hospitals Foundation and many others.

Bob has a very long history of serving Boys & Girls Clubs Services in Greater Victoria, first joining their board in 1962 and serving until 1975. In 1979 he rejoined their board and serves to this day. Bob was also was instrumental in establishing the Boys & Girls Club Services of Greater Victoria Foundation in 1991. On more than one occasion he has served as board president.

His personal determination and commitment saw the Boys & Girls Clubs through a very difficult period in its early history. Not only did he bring the organization out of a near demise, he has continued to provide support and wisdom to generations of staff and volunteers. Bob counseled the board and executive directors through many turbulent times and has never lost his passion for the cause. He has tremendous commitment to assisting disadvantaged youth.

At a recent function where he was presented with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, Bob reflected on what his father had told him many, many years ago. That advice? You will have much greater impact if you focus your efforts and supports in one or two areas rather than scattering your energies on many different pursuits.

Bob was one of the founding members of the Vancouver Island Retriever Club in 1964 and has been involved in all aspects of the club and associated clubs from 1961 to the present time with no plans to "retire" anytime soon. He has acted as mentor, advisor, judge, and treasurer and has used his legal training and logical mind to re-organize the rules and regulations regarding retriever trials. For many years he served as the B.C. Lower Mainland and Island field representative.

UNIVERSITY OF VICTORIA COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD (two recipients) — Dr. David Chuenyan Lai and Ana Maria Peredo

Dr. David Chuenyan Lai is Professor Emeritus with the University of Victoria, and research affiliate with UVic's Centre on Aging. His research interests and passion for preserving local heritage have greatly benefitted our community. His efforts led to the City of Victoria's Chinatown Rehabilitation Program and its designation as a National Historic Site. He is an inspired promoter of diversity and multicultural understanding. Recently he championed and was the lead author of a pamphlet and walking tour map of Victoria's Chinatown. Dr. Lai continues to work with UVic and the Royal B.C. Museum on the Centre for Arrivals exhibit.

Ana Maria Peredo, Professor in the Gustavson School of Business and Director of the Centre for Cooperative and Community Based Economy, has linked the University and the community through her teaching, her research and her leadership. Dr. Peredo has created opportunities for graduate and undergraduate students, to benefit community individuals and organizations. Her research has reclaimed the ecological, social and cultural dimensions of economics; and, in so doing, she has motivated businesses and programs to address these dimensions.

ROTARY COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AWARD (two recipients) — Gordon Harper and Colin Smith

Gordon Harper is a long time social activist with a particular interest in addictions, mental health and homelessness. Fueled by his personal experience of recovery, Gordon has been providing his knowledge, compassion, kindness and most importantly, his time to people struggling with addictions and mental health issues in our community. Gordon has served on many regional committees, several boards and initiatives concerned with the interconnected issues of addictions, mental health and homelessness. Gordon was the recipient of the Unsung Hero award in 2009 and the recipient of the United Way Spirit Award in 2011.

Colin Smith’s career includes operations and corporate management, private practice consulting , entrepreneurship, and over 15 years of public service. Throughout his lifetime, Colin has engaged himself in the leadership of numerous community service endeavours. He is currently an active Harbourside Rotarian, Director of the Victoria Airport Authority, Trustee of the BC Government House Foundation, Chief Warden of Iron Ring Camp 23, Chair of the VI Branch of the Engineering Institute of Canada, a UVIC Engineering Associate, Canadian Private Sector Lead with PNWER and a Founding Member of the UBC Alumni Victoria Leadership Council, amongst several other organizations.


Rupinder Prihar was born and raised on Vancouver Island. In 2003, Rupinder moved from Duncan to Victoria where she attended the University of Victoria. After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Rupinder pursued a career in the public sector and is currently a Research Analyst with the BC Ministry of Health. Her passion for being actively engaged in her community began during her volunteer work in high school at the Cowichan District Hospital. Rupinder has found numerous ways to give back since then, from being a UVic model United Nations Club member to a primary school healthy eating educator with Lifecycles, to a founding member and Chair of the young adult group, United Now, with the United Way
of Greater Victoria. Now, as a member of the United Way of Greater Victoria Board of Directors, she continues to provide a strong youth voice to local community issues. In her spare time, Rupinder enjoys playing tennis and biking.


Shawn Steele was born and raised in Victoria and he is passionate about positive community development. Shawn founded the Prodigy Group, an emerging professionals group affiliated with The Chamber. Shawn founded the Prospect Lake Preservation Society, a non-profit focused on improving the health of Prospect Lake and educating local residents about environmental issues. Shawn has lead fundraising events for Leadership Victoria and many other charities, served on many Boards including The Chamber, and he is a nominee for this year's Top 20 Under 40 awards. Shawn is also the General Manager at Prospect Lake Golf Course.


Jean McRae is Executive Director of the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria. She has worked in the field of immigrant services since 1982 in BC and Central America. Jean has served on many boards and committees concerned with the issues of immigrant integration, and is past president of the Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies of BC. She currently serves on the Vancouver Foundation's Health and Social Development Community, is co-chair of the National Working Group on Small Centre Strategies for the Attraction and Retention of Immigrants, and sits on the Executive Committee of the Canadian Council for Refugees.


Dianne de Champlain, M.A., is an adult educator and lifelong learner. Dianne developed a mentorship certification program, and facilitated training for mentors and mentees. She has facilitated hundreds of educational sessions on topics of leadership, communication and public speaking. As Education Coordinator at Victoria Women's Transition House, she used innovative approaches to assist women who have experienced abuse to envision a new future. As Volunteer Program Coordinator she has mentored over 300 volunteers. She has been active on several boards and committees, coordinated the Victoria Community Response Network (CRN), and initiated many projects that support individual and community development.


Victoria Cool Aid Society has been building homes, lives and community in the Capital Region since 1968, through a wide range of programs including supportive housing, community health and dental services, emergency shelter, mental health and employment services, and the Downtown Community Centre. Cool Aid focuses its services for adults who are homeless or in need of help and provides assistance to over 10,000 individuals every year. The Society's primary mission is, in partnership with others, to end homelessness in Greater Victoria by
2018, while improving client quality of life.

Media contacts

Ivan Watson (Communications Director, Leadership Victoria) at 250-418-0700 or

Kate Mansell (Chair, VLA Steering Committee) at 250-478-3872

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Keywords: Victoria Leadership Awards, award

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