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Shelly Rutherford: A Champion for Grande Prairie's Community and Youth

Shelly Rutherford: A Champion for Grande Prairie's Community and Youth

Shelly Rutherford's roots run deep in Grande Prairie, where she was born and raised. Now, as a proud mother raising her two daughters in the same vibrant community, Shelly's commitment to making a positive impact is truly inspiring.

Her journey began with the influence of her parents, who were actively involved in community service. "My mom is a past president and spent years supporting local youth shelters. My dad has been involved in numerous boards as well, supporting the growth of parks and recreation facilities and programs in our great city," she recalls. Volunteering for regional events like the Canada Games and the Royal Bank Cup further instilled in Shelly a sense of purpose and a desire to contribute to the greater good.

Shelly serves on the board of the Grande Prairie Aquarians and sponsors local theatre productions such as the GPLT Shrek Production, providing rehearsal space, costumes, and financial support. Her generosity extends to other community events and organizations like the Grande Prairie Folk Festival and donations to Odyssey House, supporting women and families in need. Additionally, Shelly facilitates student performances at various community events, showcasing talent and enriching experiences. Reflecting on these experiences, she shares, "The most memorable and rewarding experiences I've had in my community involvement is the pride of watching our dancers perform at various community events. Witnessing our dancers showcase their talent, dedication, and hard work to the broader community fills me with an immense sense of pride and fulfillment.” she continues, “I also believe these experiences instill valuable life lessons in our dancers, teaching them the importance of generosity, empathy, and community engagement. As they share their passion for dance with others, they become ambassadors for positivity and inspiration, leaving a lasting impact on those around them.”

Although Shelly's resume boasts a wide array of community advocacy and generosity, she is also the dynamic force behind a thriving dance community in Grande Prairie, having built Dansconnection Performing Arts Studio with her team. Her lifelong passion for dance has not only cultivated her own love for the art but has also become a beacon of inspiration for hundreds of aspiring dancers and youth. Now overseeing a bustling dance school with over 500 students, Shelly's journey embodies the spirit of determination and resilience. Together with her team, she has fostered a nurturing environment where technique is balanced with invaluable life skills like self-confidence, teamwork, and perseverance.

As an award-winning choreographer and mentor, Shelly's dedication shines through in the achievements of her students, who consistently excel in competitions across Alberta. While her focus has shifted towards the management side of the studio, her commitment to excellence remains unwavering. But Shelly's impact extends far beyond the walls of her studio. As a respected leader in the dance community, she lends her expertise to help fellow studio owners navigate the ever-evolving landscape of dance education.

In facing the onset of the pandemic, the studio was forced to shut down abruptly. Rather than accept defeat, Shelly took action. Alongside other studio owners from Calgary and Airdrie, she co-founded Dance Safe Alberta, advocating for the safe resumption of youth activities, “Driven by a shared commitment to the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of our youth, we tirelessly attended meetings with government officials, diligently researched and drafted policy proposals, and engaged in advocacy efforts to highlight the importance of prioritizing youth activities amidst the challenges posed by the pandemic.” Shelly goes on to explain, “This experience reaffirmed my belief in the importance of community collaboration and advocacy in creating a better, more inclusive world for future generations. It served as a powerful reminder of the resilience and strength that emerges when individuals come together with a shared purpose and vision for positive change.”

Throughout her two decades of service, Shelly has played a pivotal role in shaping the lives of countless young women in her community. From their early days as budding dancers to the proud moments of high school graduation, Shelly has been a constant source of support and inspiration. Many parents have expressed gratitude for her influence, joking that she's spent more time with their children than they have. Shelly firmly believes in the proverbial saying, "it takes a village to raise a child," and she is honoured to be a part of that village for so many families. Through her mentorship, guidance, and nurturing environment, she has empowered countless young individuals to embrace their potential and pursue their dreams. Whether through dance instruction or providing a listening ear as a trusted confidante, Shelly strives to instill confidence, resilience, and a passion for lifelong learning in every young person she encounters. Her dedication to fostering a sense of community and collective responsibility underscores her belief that together, they can make a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of their youth. Shelly's commitment to nurturing the next generation reflects her belief in the transformative power of mentorship and the importance of investing in the future leaders of tomorrow. 

As part of the '30 Women for 30 Years' campaign, Shelly's message to future generations of women is to, “Be brave and resilient and to continue to Inspire future generations of women to fearlessly pursue their dreams and overcome any obstacle in their path.”



Dansconnection Performing Arts

Dance Safe Alberta



To learn more about 30 Women for 30 Years or to nominate a woman who you think has made a positive impact in the community, click here.