Awarding Achievement

The Don & Norine Lowry Award for Women of Excellence Fund offers new avenues for women in leadership roles.

Don Lowry remembers the trials and tribulations inherent in several years of ascending the corporate ladder. It wasn’t so much the vertical mobility surrounding his career, but the more horizontal trajectories that involved relocating his family between jobs in Edmonton, Ottawa and Calgary while his two daughters were in school.

We moved a fair amount in their developing years,” recalls Don. “The adjustments they had to make in terms of schools, friends and so forth were albeit challenging at the time, but have strengthened their characters. Our children learned to work with what they had and overcome adversities, and that’s what made them great, and that’s the type of people who build up our society.”

Evidently, the kids endured those disruptions quite nicely. Today, they’re grown-up, responsible citizens with successful careers in Edmonton. Kathryn’s a chartered accountant at PwC, an organization that provides tax services, while Jennifer works for Capital Power as a senior community relations manager.

Don – who retired earlier this year from his president and CEO post at EPCOR – and his wife Norine are very proud of how their daughters fared. But despite their success, their abilities to come to terms with change also reminded Don that many aspiring women professionals struggle with getting a toehold in the workplace. During his executive years, he especially noticed the lack of women in high-ranking roles from managers to presidents.

“There are all kinds of opportunities for guys and yet we didn’t see the predominance of support for women, so we figured we’d step up and make an investment and help make a difference.”

Those adaptability skills demonstrated by the Lowry daughters and the need to create new avenues for women to advance in leadership inspired the couple to create the Don & Norine Lowry Award for Women of Excellence Fund made available through Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF).

Officially established in 2012, the fund is designed to help Edmonton women pursue their post-secondary education in a number of fields including disciplines associated with water, power and energy resources as well as professions involving finance, accounting, safety, health or community relations.

“As we transition to our next phase, my wife and I want to invest back in Edmonton and in one of the strongest areas of future opportunities in the city.”

Don and Norine started their venture almost two years ago, socking away at least $75,000 for a fund, a modest sum according to Don. But the process which ensured the money would go to the appropriate recipients, turned out to be a cumbersome task.

Fortunately, the couple had plenty of help. First, EPCOR matched the funds the Lowrys put into the initiative. And second, when the company’s Community Essentials Council looked for more efficient ways to handle the funding, they came across some working models being used by ECF.

“ECF had the right system,” Don says. “They shared some great ideas and it has evolved to the point where it is now administered by ECF, pooled with other funds and professionally managed to ensure the fund is known to communities to which it’s applicable.”

Applications are currently available with award announcements, and presentation slated to take place in the third quarter of 2014, just in time for recipients to care of their tuition. Don hopes the funding will address the needs of up to five winners by the time the first year of awards wrap up. For now the Lowrys are happy that their goal of giving back will become a reality.

“Edmonton has been very good to me in my year’s of business here,” Don says. “As we transition to our next phase, my wife and I want to invest back in Edmonton and in one of the strongest areas of future opportunities in the city.”

If you would like to contribute to the fund and help women pursue post-secondary education visit our secure CanadaHelps page.

If you know someone who would like to apply for an award, visit our application page.