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Driving B.C. Forward Presented by Dueck GM: Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia brings vision and passion into all of her business and charitable initiatives

In 2015 Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia received the Order of BC in recognition of her amazing work in the community as both a leader and philanthropist

Wendy and her husband, Sergio Cocchia, established the Pacific Autism Family Centre

Through this 12-part series Dueck GM proudly features B.C.’s entrepreneurs who are driving growth and innovation in the local business community. This month’s game changer is leader and philanthropist Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia.

Wendy Lisogar-Cocchia is the chief executive officer of the Century Plaza Hotel & Spa and Absolute Spa Group, and co-founder of the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation. Wendy is known not only for her entrepreneurial drive but also for her philanthropic endeavours. Holding a long list of local, national and international recognitions, Wendy was most recently honoured with the Order of British Columbia and was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100.

What do you love about your Escalade?
We have a pretty active lifestyle, with two kids and two dogs. I definitely feel safe when I’m behind the steering wheel. It’s also very sleek and fun to drive, and I love how it’s rounded in certain areas. It’s a good looking piece of machinery.

Why did you choose Dueck GM as your preferred dealership?
We’ve had a long relationship with the Keith family and the Dueck team. Moray leads an incredible team of experts who work hard to ensure you get the best vehicle for your lifestyle. They’re very reliable; you know if you leave a message for them Sunday night, you’ll get a return call on Monday.

What are your three must-have items for a road trip?
First is Fruit Loops. Yes, Fruit Loops! It’s a fun family tradition. The second is spare car keys, just in case I lose my set. Although, if my keys are locked in the car I can always get in by calling OnStar. And third is my copy of BCBusiness—it’s not often that I get time to read and relax.

Where are your favourite spots to eat in the city?
I have to say C|Prime, our new modern Italian steakhouse [at the Century Plaza Hotel]. I’m an Italian fanatic, and not only because I married one. I love pasta and I love steak. They also have amazing sides – asparagus, cauliflower, mushrooms. It makes you want to eat your vegetables! I also absolutely love any Cactus Club. They have great salads and yam fries.

What’s your favourite music to listen to while driving?
Anything upbeat and that gets me energized. I particularly love anything by the Black Eyed Peas.

What charity is closest to your heart?
The Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation (PAFCF). PAFCF is a first of its kind in North America. It is a centre of excellence for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and related disorders, as well as their families.

Why was it important for you to get involved in this cause?
My husband and I started this charity in 2007 to address a lack of resources and information. We realized that B.C. families needed one website, and one phone number, as a place to start facing the challenges of an autism diagnosis. We’ve gathered more than 60 organizations—including resources for research, information, assessment, treatment and support—to collaborate on the Good Life Fitness Autism Family Hub, a 60,000-square-foot facility in Richmond, opening this October. There will also be three spokes, or provincial centres, opening this fall, along with the hub.

How can the community help support the foundation?
We’re always looking for volunteers and donations. We would welcome donations of goods and services to help with outfitting the Richmond hub—anything from paper clips, paper, furniture or computers to landscaping services. We also have the Women’s Media Golf Classic, which benefits the foundation, coming up June 13. To learn more I encourage everyone to visit or find us on Facebook and Twitter.

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