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Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta’s 8th Woman of Inspiration 2014-2015 Presented by Syncrude Announced

January 2015

(Fort McMurray) Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude are proud to announce the 8th nominee for the Women of Inspiration series 2014-2015:

Ana Maria Mendez

Over 5 years ago, Ana Maria Mendez moved to Fort McMurray from Peru with her husband. Shortly after her arrival, her background as an artist and a teacher allowed her to step right into the role of promoting arts and culture at the MacDonald Island Park, now known as ONE Rec or the Regional Recreation Corporation of Wood Buffalo. During her time at MacDonald Island Park she has moved from working as a coordinator to now operating as the Manager of Arts & Culture, all the while continuing to have a huge impact on our community in the area of arts.

Ana Maria has been involved in multiple art events during her time in Fort McMurray. Most prominently she runs the MacDonald Island Community Art Gallery, which has showcased artwork from artists all around the world, including our best Wood Buffalo painters and photographers, young up and coming artists, as well as amateurs and hobbyists in our community. She has played a key role in coordinating events that add vibrancy to our city, one of which is the YIVIM Art Fest, and she is also a part of the coordination for the Alberta Culture Days. This year, Ana Maria is a part of the Canadian Mosaic Project, an event which will celebrate the multiculturalism of our community, and will include 2,000 images of people living in the Wood Buffalo region.

Ana Maria has done much to influence women in our community. One key program that has impacted local women is the Artists in Residency program. This program is coordinated by the Municipality and was formed to address the lack of dedicated individuals and collaborative studio space for artistic development in the region. This program allows for artists from across our region to have a space where they can be creative and develop their artistic abilities. Without the dedication of individuals like Ana Maria, these female artists would not have the accommodations or resources to develop their craft. Ana Maria also makes a great effort to develop youth interest in the area of arts. She is constantly doing school visits, hosting high school art shows and more, all to encourage our young people to pursue the arts.

Not only that, but Ana Maria has found innovative ways to use art to support our Social Profit sector. She has coordinated Charity Art shows, where individual artists can donate their artwork to be auctioned off, with the proceeds going towards a specified charity in the area. She also facilitates the Time Raiser event, where instead of bidding on art with money you bid with your time, and the time you commit will be used to volunteer with local non-profits. These initiatives help organizations to thrive by offering continued support through time and money.

Ana Maria dedicates her time and energy to making Wood Buffalo a better place through the arts. She encourages our young people and women in our community to believe in themselves, and in their abilities.

Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude will honour Ana Maria and 11 other nominees, at the Women of Inspiration Celebration which will take place June 13th, 2015 at the Sawridge Hotel.

The Women of Inspiration is a partnership between Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta and Syncrude, with a goal to recognize women throughout the Wood Buffalo region who inspire others, break new ground or old barriers and help create change. The series also aims to show local girls positive role models who live right here.

To nominate a woman of inspiration, please visit our website at www.girlsincofnorthernalberta.org or contact the Girls Inc. office at 780-790-9236.

For more information, please contact:

Ann Dort-MacLean
Executive Director
Girls Inc. of Northern Alberta
Phone: 780-790-9236
Email: girlsinc@telus.net