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#LevelTheField: Supporting Female Leaders in Sport

Join us and celebrate International Women's Day to support and increase female leaders in sport!

The afternoon will kick off with a panel presentation sharing diverse experiences and lessons learned about developing, recruiting and retaining women leaders through proactive policy, sponsorship, advocacy, and formal and informal mentorship.

During the second part of the afternoon, participants will be introduced to the new Female Coach Mentorship Model developed by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity (CAAWS) and the Coaching Association of Canada.

The Female Coach Mentorship Model is a turnkey program designed to help create effective and sustainable mentoring relationships to support women leaders in realizing their goals. Led by Allison Sandmeyer-Graves and Allison McNeil, this session will build on the panel presentation, discussing key considerations and practical tips for mentors, mentees and organizations.

This event will provide a valuable learning and networking opportunity for all of those working within the B.C. Sport sector and for university and college students interested in a career in the sport field.



  • Panel discussion and workshop: $20  


Panel Speakers: 

Michelle Pye, FIFA Referee

Michelle Pye Headshot

Growing up in Kamloops BC, Michelle played soccer all through her youth.  At the age of 19, after seeing an ad in the local paper, her mom suggested that she take a refereeing course to help earn extra money while going to University.  After finishing her Bachelor of Science Degree at TRU, MIchelle moved down to Vancouver to pursue an Education Degree.  She continued her refereeing career that had begun in Kamloops when she moved to the lower mainland.

In 2006, Michelle was nominated to the National Referee list and received her FIFA Referee badge in 2007. She struggled through an injury for most of 2007, and in 2008 was was appointed to her first ever international game – Canada vs Brazil at BMO Field in Toronto with 15, 000 fans!

Since this game, Michelle has been blessed with many amazing opportunities from both CONCACAF and FIFA. She has been to three FIFA Youth World Cups and been part of the final games in all three.

MIchelle is most proud of the fact that she has been able to become a mother and still continue to referee at the highest level.  In 2011, she took a year off to have her daughter, and in 2013 she took a second year off to have twin boys!  Although it has been a struggle to return to match fitness, and keep up with all the expectations that come along with being a top-level referee, Michelle wouldn’t change it for the world. She is blessed with 3 beautiful children, an amazing supportive husband and a referee career that she is very proud of. 

As Michelle retired off the FIFA list in 2017, she is fortunate to have been named as a FIFA Instructor and will attend the Master Course in Doha, Qatar in February 2018.  Being able to stay an active part of this game, which has given meherso much, is an honor that Michelle does not take lightly.

Ashley Wiles, Sole Girls

Ahsley WIles Headshot

Ashley created Sole Girls after seeing Amanda Todd’s video in 2012, a program for girls ages 5-12 to build their confidence, connect with mentors and combine that with a love for physical activity. Sole Girls has empowered over 2500 girls in the past 5 years and Ashley was named top 10 young entrepreneurs to watch in Vancouver by the Globe and Mail and top 5 motivators in Canada by Impact Magazine. She also won the 2016 Brooks Most Inspiring Coach Award.

She has spoken At TedxKidsBC, Rogers Arena, SheTalks as well as schools in Canada and abroad! Sole Girls was named top 5 small business n BC with a Community Impact by Small Business BC, and has expanded to locations across the province and Calgary as well as Australia. She runs workshops across Canada, leadership summits for young women and events for moms to connect more with their tweens.

Launi Skinner, CEO, First West Credit Union

Launi Skinner

Launi Skinner is chief executive officer of First West Credit Union, one of Canada’s leading credit unions with close to $10 billion in assets, 250,000 members and more than 1,700 employees. Launi leads the vision and strategic direction for First West while ensuring the organization’s locally-led brand network—Envision Financial, Valley First, Enderby & District Financial and Island Savings—remains committed to simplifying lives and helping members and communities thrive.

Launi has more than 25 years of managing large and complex businesses in both the U.S. and Canada. Before her current position with First West, Launi spent 15 years with Starbucks where her last role as president gave her oversight of 11,300 stores, management of revenues in excess of $7 billion and leadership of a geographically dispersed management team overseeing 130,000 employees. She also had responsibility for U.S. store development, annually managing $400 million in new store builds, $300 million in renovations and global store design.  

Launi has been recognized for her leadership and business acumen numerous times throughout her career. She has been named one of “Four Women to Watch” in Fortune Magazine's 50 Most Powerful Women feature, awarded an honorary doctorate by the British Columbia Institute of Technology and named as one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women four times culminating in a Woman’s Executive Network hall of fame entry. Additionally, she received the 2011 Stevie Award for Best Canadian Executive and was named one of Business in Vancouver’s Most Influential Women in Business for 2012.

Launi holds a diploma in business from Okanagan College, received her CGA designation has and completed the ICD program. She is currently a board member for Central 1 Credit Union, Qtrade Financial Group, Rocky Mountaineer and the chair of Science World. In the community she serves as a community leader for the Minerva Foundation for B.C. Women as well as past event chair for the Vancouver YWCA Women of Distinction Awards.


Workshop Facilitators:

Allison Sandmeyer-Graves, CAAWS CEO

Allison SG Headshot

Allison is an experienced non-profit leader with a passion for social innovation that advances equity and opportunity. Having spent the past decade as a senior director with Free The Children—a leading global youth empowerment organization—Allison is well versed in the strategy and practice involved in creating a national movement that successfully challenges the status quo. With diverse experience leading innovative partnerships, programs, fundraising and operations, Allison brings a holistic perspective and ability to align activities for maximum social impact. Her past work includes designing and leading the school-based program to accompany We Day events across Canada and the US, engaging and supporting hundreds of thousands of young people to learn and take action on the issues that matter most to them. Allison’s success in forging strategic partnerships and raising millions in new funding supported the rapid expansion of the movement, while her strategic work on the organization’s theory of change and its measurement and evaluation practices advanced its capacity for impact.

Allison grounds her practice in participatory development and human rights theory via a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Alberta and Master of Arts in International Development Studies from Dalhousie University. As the CEO of CAAWS, Allison marries her lifelong passion for social justice and community development with her love of sports and physical activity. Allison believes that sport and physical activity offer powerful opportunities for people to realize their full potential, a conviction borne of her own experiences with competitive and recreational sports throughout her life. Through CAAWS, she seeks to ensure that more women, girls and marginalized Canadians enjoy these myriad benefits, bettering the sports system and Canadian society in the process.

Allison McNeill, Coach Mentor

Allison McNeill Headshot

Allison guided the Canadian Women’s National basketball team to their first appearance in the Olympic Games since 2000 and equaled the best performance ever by a Canadian Women’s Basketball team. She has served as Canada’s Head Coach since 2002 and has led Canada to two World Championship (2006 and 2010) appearances as well. After an illustrious 13-year career at SFU, advancing to 3 NAIA Final 4’s, she served as the Associate Head Coach at the University of Oregon helping the Ducks to the WNIT title in 2002 and an NCAA tournament spot in 2005.

She is currently the Head Coach of the BC Centre for Performance, the Tri-Cities Youth Basketball Association Master Coach and a sought after public speaker. The Coaching Association of Canada awarded her the Geoff Gowan Award recognizing her lifetime contribution to coaching development in Canada.


Event MC:

Rochelle Grayson, Co-Founder,

Rochelle Grayson Headshot

Rochelle Grayson is currently a Digital Strategy and Social Media Consultant, and a board member. Rochelle has worked with numerous women’s organizations over the last 11 years including the YWCA, Canadian Women in Communications and Women in Film (Vancouver and Germany). She has also worked with a number of non-profits in a fundraising capacity. For the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation’s “Awareness Day Fundraising Luncheon”, she raised over $200K. Rochelle has been on many Boards since 2009. Her appointments have been with global non-profit organizations, national industry associations, and world-class education institutions. Rochelle has also worked with senior-level executives from a variety of organizations to build, grow and monetize online communities.

Rochelle has been teaching Social Media Bootcamps & Strategy Sessions for 9 years. She has presented globally on how to leverage social media to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Rochelle holds an MBA in Finance and Business Policy from the University of Chicago. Rochelle is passionate about the benefits of movement and physical activity, especially for women as they age.


Panel Moderator:

Shaunna Taylor, PHD, Executive Director of PacificSport Okanagan

Shaunna Taylor Headshot

Shaunna has close to 18 years of experience working as a coach, researcher, educator, and athlete health services provider in Canada’s amateur sport system, including five years at the Coaching Association of Canada as a coaching consultant.

Shaunna has a Ph.D. and M.A. in (Human Kinetics) Health Sciences and currently the Executive Director for PacificSport Okanagan, and a Certified Counsellor and Co-Chair of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association and a PhD Adjunct professor at UBC. From an early age, Shaunna was drawn to sports like gymnastics, track & field, field hockey, basketball and soccer.

Her parents supported her wide variety of sports, following the "Sport for Life" model, culminating in international competition & seeing the world as an athlete. She has dedicated her life to building a healthy sport system in Canada, working with Canadian athletes and international colleagues in Olympic/Paralympic Games since 1998.


Hosted in partnership by:

CAAWS Promotion Plus      BC Soccer 


This event will be held at the Hycroft Manor in Vancouver. The adddress is 1489 McRae Ave., Vancouver, BC V6H 1V1

Hycroft Manor Google Map

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Internation Women's Day 2018 Invite

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