Elegance and energy are two words that might spring to mind when you first meet Parviz Cordwell. The Tanzanian-born West Point Grey resident has sat on the West Point Grey Community Centre Association Board of Directors for the past eight years, serving on the Facilities, Operations and Fitness committees during her tenure. But her character was formed by parents with very particular personality traits, and by leading a life of focus and purpose.

Finding a new home

Parviz grew up in Tanzania – a country of lakes located beside the Indian Ocean in eastern Africa, just below the equator, and one where you will find Mount Kilimanjaro, giraffes and banana trees.

Around the time Parviz graduated from business school in Kenya, her six sisters, brother, parents and she decided to relocate. Tanzania became a sovereign state in 1964, and the nationalist movement that followed created some political strife that spurred their decision to move abroad in around the 1970s. Having heard good things about a place beside the Pacific Ocean near the US-Canadian boarder, Parviz decided to settle in Vancouver, BC.

“I was shocked that it took me a whole month to find a job,” she recalls of her then 20-something-year-old self. “In retrospect, I understand that was pretty good for a new immigrant.”

Getting down to business

Parviz worked as a business manager with a company that owned shopping centres, retirement homes and the like. It was there that she met her now husband, Robin, who was the company’s CEO. They had both been married once before, and as Robin began pursuing Parviz, a few questions arose.“I wondered: if we break up, will I get fired or what? So when we started getting more serious, I asked him what his intentions were, because I was young and had a mortgage to pay on my condo.”

To her relief and ultimate joy, all went well – the couple have been happily married for 26 years.

When the property management company they worked for was bought out, Parviz and Robin received a severance that gave them some freedom to travel to Calgary and invest in a trust company owned by one of Parviz’s sisters. Parviz took this opportunity to study modern art history through Mount Royal College. Two years later, she and Robin were back in Vancouver, this time running their own property investment/ management company.

Staying fit

Throughout all of this Parviz maintained a rigorous fitness regimen. A dedicated skier and runner, she has competed in races around the world, including finishing third in an Icelandic marathon in the ladies category. She discovered her passion for Zumba – a dance-fitness class that originated in Columbia – while on vacation in Dubai. Upon returning to Vancouver, Parviz was thrilled to find Zumba listed in the West Point Grey Community Centre Recreation Guide she received in her mailbox.

“Zumba was what got me into West Point Grey Community Centre,” recalls Parviz. “Alesya [the Zumba instructor] is so motivational and passionate about her work that I got hooked. I loved the venue and people, too, so I started to go to more fitness classes.”

These days, Parviz visits the Centre three times per week – apart from Zumba she enjoys Ball and Body Blast on Mondays, Stretch and Flex on Wednesdays and Ballet Barre on Fridays (download the Aerobics Schedule here for class listings). She also regularly runs with her dog through the nearby parks.

“People who go to the Centre are fun, and quite a few of them are my close friends now. It’s a community feeling. And also the staff members are so nice, they always greet people when they arrive.”

Giving back to the community

It was a Zumba connection that encouraged Parviz to apply for a directorship with the Association Board.

“I volunteered on the Vancouver Opera Board beforehand and was looking for another opportunity,” reflects Parviz. “Being on the West Point Grey Community Centre Association Board has been very satisfying, especially when we are able to achieve things.”

Parviz was part of the group effort to establish an accessibility ramp on the west entrance of the Centre’s gym facility, and an accessible path from the gym facility to Aberthau. She also contributed to the Youth Room renovations planning process and the purchase of new equipment for the Fitness Centre, among other projects.

“I enjoy how it’s always a group effort when making decisions on the Board. This is good because it provides oversight for the community centre, which represents the needs of the community,” she says. “I will miss the meetings and relationships I’ve honed through being on the Board.”

Parviz, who is stepping down from the Board this year, also benefited from the professional development opportunities offered to Board members, such as reconciliation training, a strategic planning session, needs analyses, an effective communication workshop, presentations by local artists and more.

“Plus, I enjoyed being part of all the events, such as the Family Day with West Point Grey [Feb 17, 2020], Point Grey Fiesta [mid-June] and the Lighting of Aberthau [mid-Nov].”

The recipe for a great life

When not volunteering and working out, Parviz and Robin enjoy seeing the world. Their recent travels took them on a cruise to Barcelona, Spain, Portugal and Miami. They visited Panama in Dec 2019, and have set their sights on a trip to Japan next.

What’s Parviz’s secret to achieving success and happiness in professional and personal relationships? “Determination and always having a plan,” she says. “My mom’s side of the family was very headstrong and my dad’s side was very polite and practical, so the two together taught me how to make a plan, and to be deliberate and thoughtful in its execution.”

Interested in becoming a member of the West Point Grey Community Centre Association Board of Directors? Visit here to learn more and fill out the application form.