The 2023 Women of the Year Awards: Change Maker – Winner

The winner of the change maker category of the 2023 Women of the Year Awards is Amanda Shatzko, vice chair and director of the Regional District of North Okanagan.

Amanda Shatzko
Vice Chair and Director, Regional District of North Okanagan

It’s hard to pin down Amanda Shatzko. You realize you’re about halfway through scrolling down her LinkedIn profile and all the jobs still say “- Present.”

Shatzko was born and raised in the Okanagan, where she grew up doing dance and gymnastics. Eventually, she went to Emily Carr University. From there, she was recruited to work professionally as an acrobat. She also did a stint as a BC Lions cheerleader.

Through the arts and culture sector, she was recruited to join boards and to consult. “I think I brought a different perspective to decision-making tables for local governments and things like that,” she says. “The lens that I look through is what kind of collaborations can be created amongst people.”

Currently (take a deep breath and see if you can hold it all the way through), she’s a PhD student (political science and government) and senator at UBC; president of Impact Toolbox, which provides training, collaboration opportunities and ideas incubation programs to social change leaders; a board member of both the Okanagan Regional Library and the Municipal Finance Authority of British Columbia; vice chair and director of the Regional District of North Okanagan and vice-president of the BC Alliance for Arts and Culture. Oh, and she’s an internationally collected visual artist.

“It comes down to my curiosity and what it looks like to take something from one industry and blend it into another,” she says. “Sometimes, really successful innovations can come out of that.”

It’s gotten to the point where Shatzko is such a known mover and shaker that she was asked to join the Regional District by her community. In that role, she’s working on building a new cultural centre in the region, which voted to approve a $28-million-dollar loan in a referendum. “It’s interesting because it’s having a different voice at the table than they’re used to having there,” she says.

“It was mainly older males involved. Communities are made up of different people, and we all experience everything we share in society in different ways. So how do we make sure those different points of view are heard and considered? I often try to ask the question, Okay, so the decision for this policy was made 20 years ago, it might have been the right decision then, but is it still applicable now?”

Asked what she would like to accomplish in the next several years to add onto one of the province’s most diverse resumes, and Shatzko thinks for a bit before saying what feels like an inevitability now that it’s been spoken into existence.

“The Senate of Canada is interesting to me,” she says. “The idea that decisions are being made within Canada with a sober second thought, or somebody looking at laws and policy and stuff like that from different lenses, that’s of interest to me.”