Thursday, October 1, 2009

Two Women Make a Difference in the Lives of Penguins

Penguins and people make these birds tick

Rochelle de Kock HERALD REPORTER

TWO powerful women making a difference in the Nelson Mandela Bay community are the latest nominees for this year’s The Herald GM Citizen of the Year award.

Libby Sharwood of the South African marine rehabilitation and education centre (Samrec) and Jane Stevenson, of Jane Stevenson and Associates, and Frankly Speaking, have been nominated for their outstanding environmental work and contribution to the city’s business scene.

Sharwood was nominated by Rose von Wildemann in the environmental and tourism category for her work trying to save the African Penguin.

In her motivation letter, Von Wildemann wrote: “For years Libby has been the driving force in the rehabilitation of seabirds on the east coast.

“Through her hard work and tireless efforts she secured funds through the National Lottery to help fund the construction of a state-of- the-art rehabilitation and education centre at Cape Recife.

“St Croix Island in Algoa Bay is the home of the largest breeding ground of the African Penguin”.

Sharwood said it was important to educate the public, especially the youth, about endangered species.

“I’ve always been interested in wildlife and my family has been very supportive ... During the Christmas period my family and I try to save seal pups that wash up on the shore.

“We have under 10 years to save the African Penguin and this is all caused by over-fishing and global warming. The penguins don’t have enough islands to stay on and they like living on islands,” Sharwood said.

Stevenson has also been doing her bit for the community, to help them to realise their full potential in the workplace. Nominated by Phumeza Mgxashe in the business category, Stevenson has been instrumental in empowering women in business.

In her motivation letter Mgxashe wrote: “Currently a board member of the Businesswomen’s Association (BWA), she has been a key enabler for women of Nelson Mandela Bay and our country.

“Under Jane’s leadership the structure of the BWA committee was expanded to allow as many voices as possible to be heard, where committee members actually formed sub- committees of at least four people.

“I personally benefited from Jane’s leadership when she recruited me to join the BWA, an organisation that helped to shape my career, through exposure and interaction with various leaders of our country.

“Jane has a natural facilitation skill and is one of those people who is not scared to ask why.”

Stevenson, who has two communication companies, said she had a “passion for knowing what makes people tick”.

“My one company looks at strategies and facilitation that can help employees communicate better and help them move forward.

“Frankly Speaking looks at pulling together a host of local talent to be guests speakers at events or masters of ceremony, or voice-overs for adverts. It’s a fun, exciting job and I help to bring fun back into the workplace,” Stevenson said.


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