Our Town

Cranbrook fetes Woman of the Year

Past and present Women of the Year  gathered on Monday, March 3 in  Cranbrook at an event recognizing Gail Brown, 2014’s recipient. The award from the Canadian Federation of University Women is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Pictured, clockwise from left: Daphne Hayden, Anna Mae Gartside, Sandy Zeznik, Pat Skordal, Vicki Dalton and, seated, Gail Brown.  - Sally MacDonald photo
Past and present Women of the Year gathered on Monday, March 3 in Cranbrook at an event recognizing Gail Brown, 2014’s recipient. The award from the Canadian Federation of University Women is celebrating its 30th anniversary. Pictured, clockwise from left: Daphne Hayden, Anna Mae Gartside, Sandy Zeznik, Pat Skordal, Vicki Dalton and, seated, Gail Brown.
— image credit: Sally MacDonald photo

Cranbrook acknowledged its Woman of the Year on Monday with a touching event at the Manual Training Centre.

Early childhood advocate Gail Brown was recognized in front of a crowd of friends, family and peers on March 3.

In her 30-plus years in Cranbrook, Brown has worked as an early childhood educator, a social worker and College teacher. She was manager of Children First, and was instrumental in bringing the Kootenay Child Development Centre from dream to reality. Now a school district trustee and a member of the Safe Communities Cranbrook committee, Brown is involved in the Kootenay Children's Festival, and Friends of Children, a local non-profit that helps families with sick children pay for medical-related travel costs.

Among those gathered to celebrate Brown's accomplishments Monday was Gwen Noble, executive director of Community Connections Society of Southeast B.C.

"She is very deserving of this recognition. She has dedicated her work to the wellbeing of children in the East Kootenay," said Noble.

"We are so fortunate to have Gail in our region. She has held that vision for our region of supporting children and families and helping them reach their full potential."

It was a sentiment repeated by everyone who stood to congratulate Brown.

"She's a visionary, she's selfless, passionate and joyful, and above all she's a strong advocate," said long-time friend and colleague Denise Salanski, who made a surprise trip from Edmonton to attend the event. "When she sees something that needs to be done, she goes after it.

"I can't even imagine how many little people and their families have sifted through her fingers in her time in Cranbrook."

Patricia Whalen, who took over from Brown as manager of Children First and also sits with her on the school board, joked that she thinks of Brown as being like Google because of all the information she has to share.

Pat Chisholm, manager of East Kootenay Friends of Children, applauded Brown's empathy and compassion for families with sick children.

When Gail herself stood to accept the Woman of the Year award, she was typically humble.

"I do not work alone. It's only because of the people I work with that things get done," she said.

"I'm the one with the crazy ideas and the gift of the gab."

This was the 30th anniversary of Cranbrook's Woman of the Year award, an initiative of the Cranbrook club of the Canadian Federation of University Women.

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