"Helping build a better future" MicroSkills 13th annual Gala celebrates women
entrepreneurs, women leaders, youth and corporate spirit

TORONTO, May 26 /CNW/ - Once again MicroSkills is recognizing outstanding women entrepreneurs, women and youth leaders, and generous corporate spirit at its 13th annual Gala Celebration and Awards Banquet on Thursday, May 27, 5:30 pm to 10:00 pm at the Pearson Convention Centre in Brampton.

"This gala is a rare opportunity to honour the real MicroSkills heroes. People who have been brave enough to transform their lives and, in the process, all those they come in contact with," says Kay Blair, Executive Director of MicroSkills. The gala is sponsored by The Co-operators and Woodbine Entertainment Group.

This year's Margot Franssen Leadership Award will be awarded to Ann Buller, president and CEO of Centennial College. Ann is being recognized for her leadership in supporting access to opportunities for women in the skilled trades, for her dedication to empowering women to champion meaningful changes in their chosen careers, and for her role in creating systemic changes within institutions that demonstrate commitment to social justice and social responsibility.

Each year MicroSkills pays tribute to women who have overcome serious challenges to pursue their dream of becoming self-employed. Three graduates of MicroSkills' Women's Self-Employment Program will each receive the MicroSkills Entrepreneur of the Year Award for their achievement of successfully launching their businesses.

Nancy Allen founded Cosmyc Vybes - a yoga and fitness business that offers a variety of classes for adults and youth. Nancy is a role model and active volunteer who is "paying it forward." She speaks to women in the self-employment program about the importance of using a business plan as a guide. She also gives back by volunteering for the World Wildlife Fund, and leading fitness events for the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Persistent, clarity of vision and enthusiastic all describe Nancy. Her award is sponsored by Toronto Hydro.

Sasha Allison's Living Legend Entertainment provides a variety of public relations services to her market niche: small arts organizations, art businesses and professional artists. Sasha focused her energy to complete many projects, such as establishing the African Canadian Children's Literary Festival. As the significant adult and role model for her two daughters, they are learning that what they can conceive they can achieve. Her award is sponsored by Alterna Savings.

Sharon Lucas's Nothing but Sweetness is a home-based West Indian-style bakery specializing in cakes, pastries and catering. Sharon has been cooking since the age of 9 and it is her passion that she bakes into her business. Her culinary skills, her natural ability to establish relationships, and her knack for balancing work and family responsibilities prepared her for the challenges she now faces as a new entrepreneur. Her award is sponsored by ScotiaBank.

The Youth Leadership Award is presented to young individuals who have made an excellent contribution and who are role models to other youth within MicroSkills' programs and the community. The award embodies the drive, determination and concern for at-risk youth. The 2010 recipients of this award are Omar Goodgame and Rachita Monga.

Omar grew up in a single-parent household in Rexdale, where he faced many challenges before he found MicroSkills' North Albion Boys Club. Omar went on to complete post-secondary education at Humber College, graduating from the Social Service Worker program. His award is sponsored by Humber College.

Rachita came to Canada four years ago, shy and unsure of herself. She joined the Girls Club and became a peer tutor. Over the years she made a lot of friends, contributed her talents to many charities and became a confident young woman. Rachita has succeeded not only in her academics - she is in her second year of university - but also achieved her dream of becoming an artist. Her award is sponsored by the Certified General Accountants of Ontario.

The MicroSkills 2010 Corporate Spirit Award honours IBM Canada, a company that has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to the community through programs, projects and initiatives that support and develop employment opportunities. It demonstrates commitment to good corporate citizenship by creating innovative opportunities for immigrants, visible minorities, low-income women and/or youth. It fosters diversity in the workplace with programs that maximize the potential of all its employees.

MicroSkills is a multicultural, non-profit, community-based organization committed to assisting the unemployed, with priority given to women, racial minorities, youth and immigrants through settlement, training, employment and self-employment services throughout the GTA and Peel Region. For more than 25 years, MicroSkills has empowered women, youth and newcomers to build better lives and careers. With an innovative and holistic approach unique in its sector, MicroSkills trains, guides and mentors more than 20,000 adults and youth annually - one life at a time.

SOURCE MICROSKILLS

For further information: For further information: MicroSkills website: www.microskills.ca; Annette Heatherington, Director Resource Development, (416) 247-7181, cell: (416) 729-9592; Kay Blair, Executive Director, (416) 247-2114; Charles Seiden, Manager, Resource Development, (416) 247-7181 ext. 2324

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