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Empowering women in finance in B.C. at the 2024 PEAK Awards

The Association of Women in Finance (AWF)’s signature annual awards event on May 8, 2024 will recognize the achievements of exceptional women in B.C.’s finance industry
Mary Vellani, winner of the 2023 PEAK Awards Lifetime Achievement Award. Photo provided by Association of Women in Finance.

In a time when gender equality and diversity are at the forefront of societal discussions, it is crucial to support women in entering, excelling in, and advancing in traditionally male-dominated fields.

Recognizing the outstanding achievements of exceptional women in the finance industry, the Association of Women in Finance (AWF)’s PEAK Awards celebrates the accomplishments of women who have demonstrated excellence in their respective fields.

The 26th annual PEAK Awards gala on May 8, 2024 at the Fairmont Waterfront promises to be an evening filled with inspiration, empowerment, and celebration. Attendees will have the opportunity to witness the achievements of remarkable women in finance and hear their stories of triumph and perseverance. The event will feature keynote speakers and networking opportunities, providing a platform for attendees to connect with industry leaders and gain valuable insights.

The awards also serve as the primary fundraiser for AWF's scholarship program, which supports the next generation of female finance professionals through financial assistance for students pursuing finance-related studies.



Nominations for the 2024 PEAK Awards are due Dec 15

Are you interested in supporting an increase in diversity and encouraging more women in finance? Do you know any hard-working individuals who are influencing females in the finance industry?

Consider the people in your network who could be nominated for one of the five PEAK award categories, which each represent a specific area of expertise within the finance industry. These categories include Excellence in Industry, Rising Star, Champion, Significant Board Contribution and Lifetime Achievement.

Both women and men are also invited to apply as champions, and all nominees must work and reside in British Columbia. The deadline for applications is December 15, 2023. Nominations may be submitted via the AWF website.

Nominees in each category will be evaluated based on their professional achievements, community involvement, and commitment to advancing the role of women in finance.

2023 PEAK Award Winners


Excellence in Industry: Maria Pacella

Maria Pacella has over 23 years of investing and operational experience in emerging growth companies, with a focus on technology businesses. She currently heads up Pender Ventures, the private technology investing arm of Pender, and serves on a variety of boards in the areas of enterprise software, health-tech, and non-profit.

Pacella is involved in the CFA Society Vancouver’s Mentorship Program, mentoring young women who seek to develop their careers in the financial field. In 2019, she was recognized as one of British Columbia's Most Influential Women in Finance by BC Business Magazine.


Rising Star: Amina Valli-Hasham

With over a decade of experience in the financial services industry, Amina Valli-Hasham is currently Director, Commercial Banking, leading the largest team in Western Canada for Scotiabank.

Valli-Hasham is passionate about supporting diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace through her involvement in the Scotiabank’s Women in Commercial Banking network group and the South Asian Network mentorship program. She stays active in her local community as Finance Chair of the IgniteExchange Canada Conference, Taskforce Member with the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, and volunteering with Dress for Success.


Significant Board Contribution: Catherine Heath

Catherine Heath is a Principal, Portfolio Manager at Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd., an independent money manager based in Vancouver.

Heath has an extensive background of serving on not-for-profit boards. She currently chairs the Investment Committee of the University of Victoria Pension Plan and serves as a long-standing trustee on the Simon Fraser University Academic Pension Plan. 

Heath is a co-founder of the Vancouver chapter of Women in Capital Markets, is a member of the Portfolio Review Committee for the Beedie Endowment Asset Management (BEAM) program at Simon Fraser University, and sits on the SFU Business Dean's Advisory Board.


Champion: Dale Telfer

Dale Telfer has enjoyed a diverse banking career spanning 36 years, including 25 years with HSBC, where he currently leads Commercial Real Estate finance business in Western Canada.

Telfer is increasingly committed to, and passionate about, team building, talent management, and helping people reach their own career objectives. Telfer’s career constant is his passion for mentoring, including with the Beedie Luminaries initiative. He believes that mentoring, talent development, and helping colleagues and clients with ideas, growth opportunities, and people issues are the ingredients that lead to success.


Lifetime Achievement: Mary Vellani

Vellani has been in the financial services industry for over 36 years. As a Senior Manager of Cash Management, Commercial Banking, TD Bank, Vellani is responsible for a team that supports medium to large companies.

Vellani has served on the Port Moody Police Board, the Tri-Cities Chamber of Commerce Board, the Port Moody Economic Planning Committee, the BBOT Women's Committee, the RMA Women's Committee, and the BC Economic Planning Board of AKDN.

Vellani is a founding member and Secretary of the Professionals Alliance. She is currently Vice Chair of the ONE TD Committee for Burnaby/Tri-Cities and on the ACT2 Child & Family Services Board.

The PEAK Awards is made possible with the support of their fantastic sponsors. If you and your organization are interested in sponsorship opportunities for the PEAK Awards, reach out to [email protected]