A Chartered Engineer, Professional Geoscientist and Program Leader in Vale’s Digital Mine Transformation, mother of five, campaigner for gender equity as a member of the Mining Industry HR Council’s Gender Equity in Mining Task Force would be enough to recognize Helen Francis’ role as a leader in our community. But her passion for active living, sport, inclusion and diversity led to her nomination in the Sport and Active Living category of Women of Distinction Awards. Helen is a committed volunteer at all levels of the YMCA. She has instructed “killer” workout classes at the Sudbury Y, been involved in the YMCA Strong Kids Campaign raising much needed resources that reduce financial barriers to children’s participation in Y programs, served on the Northeastern (formerly Sudbury) Y Board of Directors in several executive positions and was instrumental in the amalgamation of Sudbury and North Bay Ys, a move that enhanced programming at both locations. Since 2015, Helen has been a Director on the YMCA of Canada National Board and is currently Vice-Chair, and Chair of the World Relationships Committee which provides connections to the YMCA’s World Alliance. Internationally, Helen was involved with the YMCA in Khartoum, Sudan, the former international partner of the YMCA of Northeastern Ontario, where she encouraged the inclusion of women in governance. Her efforts contributed to the creation of a women’s committee to work on education and health care issues for women and children. While in North Africa, Helen worked with youth displaced by the war in Darfur, mentored youth leaders and worked to support a cultural youth exchange between Sudbury and Egyptian youth at YMCA camps. When she isn’t volunteering her time for the YMCA, Helen can be found training for her favourite sport: Ultra Trail Racing – a blend of marathon and cross country running. She has a long list of 1st and 2nd place accomplishments in distances up to 80 km. This year, she is planning her first 100 mile race.
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