YWCA Women of Distinction 2017: Education, Training & Development

Sarah Lubik, Director of Entrepreneurship
Nancy Olewiler, Professor, Public Policy
Michelle Pidgeon, Associate Professor, Education

March 08, 2017

Three SFU leaders in Education, Training & Development have been recognized as nominees for the 2017 YWCA Women of Distinction Awards. They are among 85 outstanding nominees to be honoured at the annual YWCA Awards Gala event on May 29th, at which this year's Awards recipients will be announced.


Named by the federal government as one of Canada’s 10 Innovation Leaders, SFU’s Director of Entrepreneurship, Sarah Lubik, is focused on enabling young Canadians to gain the skills and connections they need to become empowered creators of economic and social value. A household name in Vancouver’s innovation ecosystem and a female face of entrepreneurship, Sarah inspires and mentors women to participate in innovation programs and encourages youth to pursue university education to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. In 2015, Sarah was appointed SFU’s first Director of Entrepreneurship, tasked with aligning and accelerating entrepreneurship education across all disciplines and bringing students out of classrooms to drive positive economic and social change in their communities. Her vision is to create a seamless continuum of experiential entrepreneurship education and support—from early childhood education through to university.


A series of firsts characterize Nancy Olewiler’s lifelong commitment to education. She was the first female professor to join Queen’s University’s Economics Department and later the first to receive tenure. She remains the first and only female Chair of SFU’s Economics Department and created the field of environmental economics at two Canadian universities. Today, Nancy is founding Director of SFU’s School of Public Policy, where she shapes the policy discourse on civic issues. Her teaching and mentorship has inspired countless students to support their communities in public service, from improving public transit to addressing climate change. As one of a handful of women economists on boards and at policy tables, Nancy is helping to change the face of public policy locally, provincially and nationally.


“What makes a university a successful place for Indigenous students?” This is the question driving Michelle Pidgeon, Associate Professor with SFU’s Faculty of Education. Michelle has devoted her career to promoting Indigenous-friendly learning environments and calling attention to the responsibilities of Canada’s post-secondary institutions to employ innovative strategies that honour diversity and empower all learners. As an Indigenous scholar, Michelle takes evidence-based action to transform Canada’s post-secondary landscape, encouraging respect for Indigenous knowledge systems and experience. Michelle’s research, teaching and advocacy are aimed at building capacity and leadership across British Columbia’s post-secondary institutions and transforming the cultures, policies and practices that continue to hinder Indigenous student success in higher education.


Winona Bhatti, President of Enactus SFU, has also been nominated under the Young Women of Distinction category.


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Sarah Lubik is a lecturer in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Beedie, Co-Champion of the Technology Entrepreneurship@SFU Program and was appointed SFU's first Director of Entrepreneurship, aligning, supporting and accelerating entrepreneurship education and early stage incubation at SFU under SFU Innovates. She is also a certified expert business coach and a mentor at SFU's Venture Connection incubator. In 2016, Dr. Lubik was named one of ten Canadian Innovation Leaders assisting with the Government of Canada's Inclusive Innovation Agenda.

Nancy Olewiler was Director of the School of Public Policy since its founding in 2003 until September 2014, and was Chair of SFU's Econonomics department from 1995 to 2000. Nancy has held a number of positions serving many communities, locally and internationally.  These include being a member the Board of Directors of BC Hydro from 2001 to 2010 and TransLink from 2008 to 2013 (where she served as its Chair from 2010 to 2013).  She is a member of the National Statistics Council and Chairs the National Accounts Advisory Committee for Statistics Canada.

Michelle Pidgeon's research agenda is located within the areas of higher education and Indigenity. In particular, she is interested in the intersections between student affairs and services, recruitment and retention, Indigenous peoples, and student success in post-secondary education. She is also passionate about expanding understanding of Indigenous research processes and research ethical protocols. Theoretically, her work is influenced by Indigenous theory, social reproduction theory, and retention theories. This research agenda with the goal of empowering Indigenous success focuses on university and college responsibility and accountability to Aboriginal higher education from policy to practice.