Paula Howley, President
Paula Howley has been self-employed for most of her adult life albeit in unusual walks of life. She started as an exotic dancer at 18, working as a headliner for several years, and quit the business at 34. She volunteered as the chair of the Exotic Dancers’ Alliance of Ontario, and helped draft Toronto by-laws that made strip clubs safer for women.
Upon entering the civilian world, she worked in the hospitality industry for several years and began attending Toastmasters. Paula won numerous public speaking contests, including being in British Columbia’s top 10 twice.
In 2011, after a brief span as a gymnastics coach, Paula began giving public speaking workshops for kids. She began her business, Head Start Public Speaking For Kids in 2013. Paula is the author of “Strive! A Handbook for Awesomeness”, a guide for young people to address their fears and challenge themselves to greater heights. She is also working on her memoir and is finishing up “How To Get Out of The Business- 9 Sex Workers Reveal Life-Changing Strategies”.
Her goal is to integrate these two separate worlds so she can help as many people as possible learn to step out of their fear and into their confidence as they share their stories.
Amelia Foster, Vice President
Growing up and living most of my life in a developing country (South Africa), I learned to be humble, patient, compassionate, tolerant, accepting, and grateful in life. I moved to the Coast from Vancouver in 2009, because it reminded me of the Garden Route in South Africa, which I love. I decided to run my First Aid Training company from here, while continuing to provide services in Vancouver as well.
I have been a humanitarian worker most of my life, in the medical profession as a paramedic, and as a teacher of first aid and safety programs. I have also been highly involved in the liberation of South Africa country, through the Free Nelson Mandala campaign, and as a member of the Woman’s Movement.
Being passionate about what I do, I have taught first aid to thousands of people over a period of 25 years, both here and abroad. I also have the privilege of running workshops for many new immigrants and refugees for the Red Cross. The feedback I receive is always very positive and appreciative. It seems that just as I am always close by when first aid is required, many of my students have also had occasion to use the skills they learned, which is extremely rewarding.
I have two successful sons and three adorable grandchildren who live in Cape Town. In my free time, I love to be outdoors, kayaking, hiking, and biking.
Joining SEWN has been on my agenda for a long time, so now that I am a member, it will be wonderful to meet women from various walks of life, and develop new relationships. I look forward to sharing my knowledge with other SEWN members and the community, and to learning from their skills and knowledge in return.
Elaine Connors, Treasurer
Elaine brings almost four decades of business experience to her position as Financial Director for the SEWN board. She has been self employed since 1988, and has held diverse titles such as President, CEO, and ‘bringer of donuts’. Since 1988 Elaine has run her own business selling water and wastewater treatment equipment to municipal, commercial and industrial users in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, YT and NT, all while living on the Sunshine Coast.
Marisa Hudson, Secretary
Marisa has been a member and employee of Sunshine Coast Credit Union since 2009. In the past nine years she has worked in member services, personal loans and most recently the Commercial Lending Department, where her passion for small business financing began.
Marisa believes that shopping, banking and investing locally are essential to the sustainability and longevity of our community. Born and raised on the Sunshine Coast, Marisa strongly believes that small business makes up the backbone of our town and she enjoys working with local business owners and entrepreneurs who have a similar passion.
A believer in life long education, Marisa recently obtained her Business Administration Certification at Capilano University and is an Accredited Business Lender by the Credit Union Institute of Canada. She is currently working on her Business Administration Degree.
“I truly believe SEWN is vital to local entrepreneurs, not only as a networking opportunity to create stronger connections and mentorship opportunities, but to share the knowledge and skills that we’ve gleaned through so many years of hard work, careful thought and tried and testing solutions. Women helping women builds a stronger community and a stronger economy and I hope to support this in every way I can.”
While working in the Financial Industry by day, Miranda needed a creative outlet and so she started a side business leading creative group experiences such as Paint Parties and Spa Parties in the evenings and weekends. Available for both adults and children alike these experiences have been Miranda’s way to help others tap into their artistic side all while providing new social activities for Sunshine Coasters. Whether its a birthday party at home, a stagette, a team building activity with coworkers, or just a night away from the kids at a local pub with your best friends, these parties are fun!
As a relative newcomer to the coast it can be hard to meet people. Miranda recognizes how vital it is to be involved in community in order to both network, gain business skills, and feel connection. Being a solopreneur can be a little daunting but Miranda has been amazed at the encouragement and passion that SEWN women bring forth. This passion is the reason Miranda has joined the SEWN board and she’s committed to building her community by keeping our dollars local by supporting local businesses.
Prior to becoming a personal trainer and group fitness instructor (specializing in Pilates and Osteofit), Sandra worked for many years as an Occupational Therapist. Bringing her rehabilitation background into the fitness world has been a valuable asset. Through her company Suncoastfit, Sandra works with older adults, people who have had past injuries or medical conditions, and those who have been sedentary for an extended period, designing individual programs to bring fitness into her clients’ lives.
Sandra discovered that being self-employed and a solo entrepreneur has unique challenges, including steep learning curves and feelings of isolation. Being a SEWN member has benefitted her in gaining practical knowledge about self-employment. Monthly meet ups are an opportunity to compare notes about struggles and successes with women who are having similar experiences, and to have the team experience which can be missing as asolo entrepreneur.
Telling Your Story – through media or to audiences of any size
Joanna is a long time radio and television journalist turned trainer, consultant and coach. She is passionate about helping other people thrive and succeed by telling their stories better. In the course of her consulting career she has trained or coached literally thousands of people to be more engaging and more persuasive in interviews, in meetings, or on the speaker podium. Clients have included NHL players, actors, CEOs, cabinet ministers, Premiers, nuns, lawyers, physicians, nurses, accountants, engineers and all things in between. She is very proud to say that all five of her children are talented public speakers and presenters.
A relative newcomer to the Sunshine Coast, she managed to meet 95 people in the first six weeks and has volunteered to provide support to a variety of organizations and causes. This is not to say that she’s given up working for actual money! She does believe in balancing for-profit work with community service and is at a point in her career to make that balance work.
Christina brings her passion for inclusion and diversity in the workplace as well as her human resource leadership skills in learning and development, recruitment, engagement, communications, and operations to the SEWN Board. As Managing Partner of Praxis Performance Group, a human resource and recruitment firm on the Sunshine Coast, Christina is delighted to be able to help business leaders grow and develop their teams through recruitment, training and team building.
A practiced believer in life-long learning, Christina has a Chartered Professional in Human Resources (CPHR) designation and a certified facilitator for Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) training. Her HR experience is also backed by numerous certifications within the financial, business and journalism sectors.
Christina adores living on the stunning Sunshine Coast where her life is balanced between her family, her work and her community. Her passions are the growth and development of women and girls, raising her young children, hiking with her dogs, providing time and energy to her community and when all else is complete, curling up with a good book. She is an articulate communicator, a vocal supporter of gender diversity in the workplace and a consummate client service professional.
Jen studied at Simon Fraser University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and a Certificate of Innovative Leadership. Jen has over 7 years of experience in Marketing and Project Management where she oversees the execution and launch of branding and design projects for multiple clients, specializing in real estate marketing initiatives. Collaborative by nature, Jen enjoys building sustainable working partnerships and has experience in creative, high-volume and results driven environments.
Are you looking to make a difference in our local community by supporting entrepreneurial women on the Sunshine Coast?
SEWN actively seeks women who are interested in offering their unique leadership, skills and expertise on our Board and Committees so we can support all the self-employed women of the Sunshine Coast. If you’d like to discuss how you may be a good fit for supporting SEWN please contact us and we will connect to discuss the opportunities available.
** If you interested in applying for a SEWN Director or Committee position you must be a SEWN Member in good standing.**