Diane Shannon honoured at VIP Red Carpet Reception


United Way volunteers were in the spotlight at last night’s VIP Red Carpet Reception, the annual volunteer recognition event held in the Shell Place Ballroom. Members of the Board, Community Investment Committee and Workplace Campaigns in attendance were presented with a thank you plaque featuring the iconic HOME image created by hundreds of citizens at the kick-off of the 2016 Community Campaign.


“Keep that passion,” said Colin Hartigan, 2016 Community Campaign Chair. “Keep that commitment.”

The VIP Red Carpet Reception was the final event for outgoing Executive Director Diane Shannon. She received three standing ovations as part of a closing tribute that included a heartfelt speech from Mayor Melissa Blake.

“Diane, your achievements are some the greatest in this community,” she said. “The passion comes from what you stir in people.”

Congratulations were sent in from a number of key partners in Diane’s journey with United Way including Cathy Glover and Kim Nordbye with the Suncor Energy Foundation.

“You have helped build a foundation on which the community will continue to grow,” they wrote in a joint letter. “You demonstrate that Fort McMurray is strong, and it is back and it does care.”

Leroy Van Wieren was President of the Board early during Diane’s tenure as Executive Director and noted her impact.

“You are the embodiment of optimism and hard work,” he wrote. “Thank you for inspiring us – all of us – all the Board members you trained over the years, all the staff and all of the agencies throughout our great region.”

Cliff Dimm, President of the Waypoints board of directors spoke of Diane’s drive and passion and Maryellen Fenech, Finance and Operations Manager, thanked Diane on behalf of the staff.

“I asked everyone in the office to describe Diane in one word,” said Maryellen.


Among those words were authentic, engaging, sunny, supportive and fearless.

“For me, I would like to add inspirational, mentor and friend.”


For her part, Diane expressed deep gratitude for her time with United Way in Fort McMurray.

“I realize how welcomed and connected within this community I have become,” she said. “What we have built together has exceeded my wildest expectations.”


Author: Russell Thomas

​Russell is a marketing and communications professional who has spent 20 years in Wood Buffalo working with the OK Radio Group, Keyano College, Arts Council Wood Buffalo, and now with The United Way of Fort McMurray. A regular blogger, Russell's writing can be seen online (www.middleagebulge.com) and in multiple publications. His paintings can be seen in homes and businesses throughout the community. Married to Heather and "Papa" to Dylan and Ben, Russell is a passionate spokesperson for United Way.