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Longtime Lions Bay Resident Nominated

Irene Dorsman vies for a YWCA Woman of Distinction Award

The nominees for the 41st edition of the YWCA Women of Distinction Awards were announced earlier this month, and among their number was Lions Bay's own Irene Dorsman. She is among 106 nominees this year, divided into twelve categories encompassing arts, culture and business.

The YWCA committee included Dorsman in the 'Community Champion' category for her work as CEO of the Angel Forum and with Women's Equity Lab (WEL). The category lauds women who have identified a need or initiated meaningful change within a community and who have dedicated their own time and resources to champion this cause.

Dorsman has lived in Lions Bay since 1999, when she and her husband Pieter moved here from Hong Kong. After living and working in the Philippines, Indonesia and the United Kingdom, they picked Lions Bay as a place to raise their young family. Their daughters Nora and Maeve grew up here and are now living in London, England and Kelowna.

The Angel Forum is an investment organization that pairs established investor 'angels' with founders of new start-ups. The company bills itself as "western Canada’s pre-eminent angel investor community with a focus on connecting promising tech start-ups with accredited angel capital."

Dorsman says she joined Angel Forum as one of only two or three women, and right away knew she wanted to make changes. To address the systemic under-representation of women in investing, she helped found the Women's Equity Lab (WEL), a start-up in Victoria with a focus on encouraging women investors.

Dorsman, a managing partner in WEL Vancouver, explains that in each new cohort, the organization gathers a group of 40-50 women investors who each make a $5,000 investment in a collective portfolio.

The group is encouraged to learn by investing, and by pooling their resources, the women can find opportunities they wouldn't have alone. Since its start in 2017, WEL has branched out into six chapters located in Vancouver, Manitoba, Toronto, Atlantic Canada and Silicon Valley, as well as the original Victoria location. In that time, Dorsman's work has helped build a national network of over 350 women investors who support women founders.

"Women involved in venture capital typically make up less than three percent of the industry," she says. "With WEL, we are operating at 70 percent or higher. Women make good investors, and are often more careful and thorough than their male counterparts."

The YWCA award team says that Dorsman's advocacy "has been pivotal in addressing gender imbalances in angel investing and increasing the rate of women in the angel investment ecosystem."

Nominations are currently being assessed, and the award winners will be announced at a gala event on May 13. Funds raised by ticket sales are directed to supporting vital services to women and children in Metro Vancouver. 

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Congratulations to you, Irene, for this prestigious award!

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