Each week we will showcase more of our BDO Top 40 Over 40 Honourees. Be sure to check back regularly!
Matt Stewart is a Community Cultivator, ‘Den Mother’ and Executive Coach to entrepreneurs. After a diagnosis of leukemia, Matt left his coaching practice in Canada’s Financial district and moved to the Okanagan. Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Matt has been living here for four years now with his husband and 10-year-old dog.
His "YES, AND..." approach has been fostered & developed over the past 20+ years from coaching, collaborating and advising Senior Leaders across North America in a variety of industries including: Healthcare, Global Finance, Major International Sport Events including the Olympics, Paralympics, Pan Am Games and Film Production. Matt co-facilitated the Volunteer Leadership Training sessions for the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games with Michael Pinball Clemons.
Matt’s leadership experience includes leading the Venue Specific and Job Specific training team for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, where he was responsible for the development, on-boarding and training for the 50000+ strong workforce. During the operational phase of the Winter Games (last 4 months), Matt was the Mobile Operations Supervisor for the City Based Venues - which was basically a fancy title for the leader of the cavalry. He had a team of 50 volunteers who had the responsibility to back-fill any role, any time, at any of the venues in the city of Vancouver. If you watched Curling, Speed Skating (Short & Long), Figure Skating, Hockey, or the Opening and Closing Ceremonies – you may have seen him and his team in action.
Matt volunteers his time serving on the BC Cancer Foundation Committee for the 2020 Discovery Luncheon and is the Executive Director of the Not-for-Profit Okanagan Society of Independent Filmmakers (OSIF).
Most notably, Matt has given 3 International TEDx Talks, you can check them out here: https://www.ted.com/profiles/7280183
25 years ago Paul and his business partner started OK Communications Ltd, they were hopeful the new era of cell phones was going to be a lucrative endeavor. They soon found that as a dealer, the profit sharing wasn't in their favour and they needed to adapt quickly. After an unfortunate event sparked the need to install pinhole cameras at their shared workspace, their security business was born and they rebranded as Spy vs Spy.
Leadership is many different things to different people. As a member of the Kinsmen Club of Rutland and the Kinsmen Club of Kelowna, he has shaped his leadership skills with the training offered from the community organization. Paul ran volleyball leagues for 22 years and was the softball chairman for 6 consecutive years. While running his business full time, Paul found the training invaluable and the networking allowed his business to thrive through the ups and downs the entrepreneurial world presented. Paul owes his successes to the training he gathered through serving his community.
Paul volunteers his time to various organizations and believes that serving the community is everyone's duty. “We live here, we play here...this is us”. As a member of the Kinsmen Clubs in Kelowna he has served on the executive team and was the President, along with serving as the Deputy Governor 5 times. Paul has also participated in cooking and serving meals on Christmas Eve for Inn from the Cold.
Paul graduated from CDI Institute as a computer technician and continues to be involved with various manufactures training for both office and surveillance equipment.
Paul has attained many awards throughout his career, however the one that stands out the most to him is receiving the Lizard radio stations citizen of the month award which recognized his contribution to making the community a better place.
Mark Tompkins is the Owner of BUZZ Marketing, one of the premier digital marketing companies in Kelowna. Buzz helps many local businesses thrive, even during COVID. Mark also helped create the Trailer Park Boys Board Game and Vikings Board Game at High Roller Games.
Prior to starting BUZZ, Mark was the Community Relations Coordinator at the City of Kelowna where he managed high profile events such as Wakefest, Center of Gravity, Canada Day etc. Mark also formed and worked closely with the Mayor on Kelowna’s Centennial Celebrations Committee, where he created various legacies for the city including the apple time capsule outside the Orchard Park Mall.
Being a former JCI member and the past Secretary-Treasurer of his BNI Referral group, Mark thrives on helping businesses and individuals with their social media presence. He believes this is a space where many people lack confidence in themselves and their business and that people want to hear what they have to say. Mark always makes himself available and free of charge to those who are looking for social media help, he believes that being a leader of social media can help impact more people on a much wider scale.
Mark personally volunteers his time by being a leader in the community and sits on various council committees and has introduced multiple community gardens and new on/off leash dog parks within Kelowna. BUZZ Marketing volunteers their time by providing free photography/3D Video Tours for local non-profits (Habitat for Humanity, SPCA and the Cancer Society), trying to help with technology in a unique way. On behalf of his dad, who rings the bells every Christmas for the Salvation Army, BUZZ and Mark’s BNI Group help raise money for the charity.
Mark has his Hospitality Management Diploma and his Bachelor of Human Kinetics from UBC Vancouver.
Buzz Marketing has received over 110 Google reviews, the most out of any marketing company in the Okanagan.
Potentia, is the Latin root word for Potential, translated as “the power of possibility”. Tanja Halsall launched Potentia HR with the mission of helping people and organizations reach their potential through progressive people and culture practices. In addition to supporting businesses, Tanja works within the Faculty of Management at UBCO as an Adjunct Professor and previously a Personal Development Coach and Instructor within the Masters of Management program.
Tanja volunteers her time graciously, currently she is a Board Director with Accelerate Okanagan and is a member of their Executive Committee. From 2011 to 2017, she was a Director on the KGH Foundation board and was actively involved in many committees. Within her business, Tanja supports many charities and not for profit organizations. With a passion for giving back, she provides charities with a nfp rate, and donates 10% of fees back to their organization.
With a Chartered Professional in Human Resources designation (CPHR), a Senior Certified Professional designation with the Society of Human Resource Management (worldwide), Masters of Arts in Leadership (MA), Post- Diploma in Human Resource Management, and having completed a coaching program certificate by the European Mentorship and Coaching Council, Tanja is committed to lifelong learning and striving for excellence.
During her time with Grant Thornton LLP, Tanja received a Community Service Award for Western Canada. In a letter written to support her nomination, Doug Rankmore, CEO KGH Foundation wrote: “I think it’s important to say that there are few volunteers who have contributed so widely and so deeply to an organization. Tanja has left her mark on the KGH foundation and in doing so has created a legacy of impact in Kelowna.” Tanja has also had the honor of being featured in the cover story of People Talk Magazine, but she believes the recognition from clients and referrals is the best honor.
There is a moment driving home on the Connector that takes Trisha Miltimore’s breath away....every single time. That moment when the mountain road crests and opens to the gorgeous landscape vista of Okanagan Lake sprawling across the valley. This moment is always when Trisha knows she is home. The Okanagan Valley has been a part of her family for generations (there is a lovely Miltimore Ave in Summerland).
Trisha loves working and being an active part of the community. Trisha has spent 15 years in radio, part time on-air at Power 104 as well as the opening and running of the retail music store for over 5 yrs. As a Mom of 4 and working professional she also enjoys the support and connection of groups like KWIB and Women Enterprise Centre. Trisha’s work as a speaker and corporate trainer, via Contagious Leadership Training, has her working with business leaders, companies and organizations throughout the Okanagan.
Trisha is privileged to be a part of a community that provides so many opportunities to be involved. She has been involved in various initiatives in the community, such as; Mentor with Women Enterprise Centre and Futurepreneur, Volunteer/Fundraising with Central Okanagan Food Bank, Supporter and volunteer for Relay for Life and Emcee/facilitator for Leadercast Community Events. Trisha also hosts Passion for Impact Podcast--conversations with CEO's and leaders of social enterprise who are making impact in their organizations and communities. Featured Okanagan Companies include: PELA, Portia Ella, Staples, Mango + Moose and more.
Trisha has her Events and Conventions Management Diploma from Thompson Rivers University.
In 1997 when Trisha was 17, she was named a Paul Harris Fellow from Rotary International for the appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for the furtherance of better understanding and friendly relations among peoples of the world. Truly one of the biggest honours of her life! Trisha was also nominated for the Gert Beadle Award in 2011.
Scott Chambers moved to the Okanagan in 2017. He wasn't quite sure how or why he ended up here, but he attributes it to fate. Scott took a job at Doak Shirreff, where he was attracted to the firm's approach to law, which was very different than what he was used to. Scott has been at Doak Shirreff for 3 years now, in which time he has made Partner and established a defined Employment & HR Law practice. Prior to moving to the Okanagan, Scott lived a fast-paced lifestyle in Toronto for 13 years where he was a partner at a Bay Street law firm. Moving to the Okanagan was a huge change of pace for him, which he doesn’t regret.
Since moving to Kelowna, Scott has been a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of MADD Canada Central Okanagan Chapter and was elected Treasurer of the Board in 2018. He was also involved as a volunteer member of the Board of Directors of Ozanam Recovery House in Kelowna, elected President in 2018 – 2020. Ozaman is an 18-bed recovery home for men battling addiction and mental illness. Scott also provides free Employment and HR Law Lunch and Learn Seminars for local businesses and HR Professionals to help educate employers on the potentially costly employment law mistakes that can happen.
Scott completed his B.A. in History from the University of Calgary in 2001, his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Western Ontario in 2004 and was granted the CPHR (Chartered Professionals in Human Resources) designation in 2020.
Scott has been published in the Advocates’ Quarterly legal magazine and written hundreds of online articles on Employment and HR. In 2019 Scott was recognized by MADD Canada for Outstanding Volunteer Leadership.
Andre Brosseau is President of Innov8 Digital Solutions in Kelowna. Innov8 is one of Canada’s largest privately held providers of business technology. Andre graduated from the University of Alberta in 1991 with a Commerce degree, believes in shopping local and started his career in Edmonton with Minolta. He partnered with Digitex in 1999 and in 2013 sold out; moving to Kelowna when his wife’s health encouraged him to focus on the family. He kept the small Kelowna operation and has since acquired five BC companies, and recently brought business back to Alberta.
Andre describes himself as determined and outgoing, hockey team captain, emcee of school events, and learned to listen and lead by example. He is proud of meeting federal ministers in Ottawa three years ago to talk to government about including small business in the procurement process. In addition to wanting to shop local, Innov8 supports numerous community ventures. He calls his highest honour his father telling him that he was proud of him for doing many of the things that he wished he had done. And his great partner is his wife Katia.
Melissa Hunt has been Executive Director of Childhood Connections – Okanagan Family & Childcare Society for three years. She supports the organization as it continues to offer high quality referral services, training, early childhood developmental support and guidance to families and childcare providers in the Central Okanagan.
She chairs three community tables to do with early childhood education, literacy, and poverty reduction. The tables’ grassroots work helps ensure community members and agencies work together. She is passionate about early years education and ending the stigma around mental health.
Melissa managed and coordinated projects in an adult literacy organization in northern Alberta where she was Executive Director. She also held a senior position in the Community Learning Network there. She’s a leader with her volunteer service clubs: West Kelowna Daybreak Rotary and is President for this year.
In addition, she has been a Rotarian since 2009, holding several leadership roles. In her spare time, she is a volunteer coach for her children’s soccer teams and has been a volunteer tutor for Project Literacy Central Okanagan, as well as being a Director of their Board, and currently sits on the Central Okanagan Partners for Literacy.
She holds a Master’s in Education from UNBC. Her greatest achievement so far is raising her children in a blended family that boasts four children all within three years of one another. She also holds a first-degree black belt in Taekwondo, and is active in sports, fitness and nutrition.
Kray Mitchell is working for Shopify in Kelowna, helping build community around entrepreneurship while also providing free business coaching and consulting services. Those services help launch, grow or scale a business, whether or not one which is situated on Shopify.
Kray defines his goal as helping local merchants succeed in their business : to help guide people down the right path to success and to raise awareness for "support local" campaigns.
He is a former IT Manager for five years in the Film / TV Industry, and was a member of several business groups in Calgary: Ladies Learning Code and Chic Geek.
In 2017, Kray was Volunteer of the year with the Kelowna Women's Shelter, playing Santa at their annual Christmas party for the past five years. When not dressing up as Saint Nick, he continues to offer guidance in regards to online technology. Kray has also helped other local organizations such as Hope Outreach (he built their first website for them at no cost) and Special Olympics Okanagan . Named Volunteer of the Year in 2017 by the Kelowna Women’s Shelter, Kray studied multimedia design and communications.
Jean Watson is a founding owner of Vision Mechanical Ltd. In Kelowna, along with her husband John. Their company is family run, becoming established in 1986 as a plumbing company. They moved to Kelowna from Vancouver in 1990 and opened Vision Mechanical then.
In the past thirty years, they have grown and added services, including HVAC to their business model. They provide their customers with service and construction, evolving from a mom and pop shop to a mid - size business with 30 employees. Jean describes their growth as resulting from adopting new technologies, and the ability to offer better practices working with clients. The owners, she says, care about the community – working for and supporting The Bridge for youth.
Jean, John and team are excited to see how they can continue to service Kelowna and area for 2021; they are proud to say they have clients that keep coming back after many years, always a sign of success and trust. Jean has changed along with the company, moving from being the point person at the end of the phone, the accountant and general office factor to helping run the company – that’s when growth really began. She is always looking for ways to better staff and client experience – and looks after HR, and has teamed up with daughter Brandi to continue to grow the business, and to implement continuous improvement. Vision won Gold medals two years running in Best in Kelowna, Plumbing. Their giving profile includes the Bridge, schooling of several children in Kenya, and supporting local not for profits both through donations, and discounts for services. They also support small business through a networking organization. And Jean is a big believer in on - the - job training and fostering excellent relationships with her employees.
Melanie Greenough has been a small business owner for the past 20 years – in her words, rising from homeless single mom to now Successful Online entrepreneur. I have coached hundreds of women in the Okanagan to build a business, brand and bank account that they love while building a team of 100+ Certified Coaches who are training thousands of women globally.
She has recruited, trained and led teams in the thousands by developing online systems, leadership development paths, skillset training and coaching and support. Her company raises awareness and collect donations for the local foodbanks, does street outreach, and education.
Melanie was nominated for the YWCA Women of distinction award, and was featured in Success from Home Magazine, and Your Business From Home.
Beloved & Bespoke curates handcrafted gift boxes with love for individuals and corporate clients to feel good about themselves, trusted and appreciated. Becky’s impact on the Central Okanagan has been significant. The company has been able to support over 25 different small businesses in and around the Okanagan. Starting a business during the pandemic was significant to her because they were able to support so many other local companies right here in the Okanagan.
Becky says they put forth a true effort to sustain and help other small businesses. And that helped create a sense of security as well as a light at the end of the tunnel. Becky was passionate about being able to make a difference and support others. As her business grows, so do the other companies that they continue to partner with and support right here in the Okanagan. During these unprecedented times she is passionate about her community. Definitely, she says, she is looking for unique ways to support the community and companies around them. She feels fortunate and looks forward to what 2021 has in store.
Becky joined the CANAAF (Canadian Alopecia Areata Foundation) back in 2016. Her daughter suffers from a condition called alopecia which is an autoimmune disease that causes hair to fall out. When her daughter lost all her hair four years ago, Becky educated herself regarding the disease. While leader in the Okanagan of the help group, she also took on a leadership role in her daughter’s dance studio.
Becky volunteers for a range of projects from donating clothes to the women's shelter; at the Distress Centre crisis line; and as an advocate for Canadian Alopecia Areata Foundation.
Duane has worked for IG for 13 years as Senior Financial Consultant and as a Division Director for 10 years. As a Consultant he works with individuals and families to help them achieve their current and future financial goals.
As a Division Director he hires, trains and coaches new advisors in the Kelowna area. Duane says he finds this very rewarding to get new people into what is an interesting and fulfilling career: seeing someone build a business from scratch and helping people in the Kelowna area
In terms of volunteerism, Duane is a member of the Rotary Downtown club; they give back to the community on many different levels. He’s also sponsored families in need at Christmastime and donates to the local foodbank throughout the year.
Duane graduated from SFU with a joint degree in Marketing and Economics; he also holds the certified financial planner designation as well (CFP).
His big enjoyment is as a husband (10 years) and dad to his nine-year old daughter.
Over the span of her professional career, Pardeep has had extensive experience in forming and leading teams, while creating a collaborative family culture wherever she’s worked.
With a background in operations, marketing, health, and fundraising, she uses the skills she has acquired to bring the best out in herself and others, while producing world-class results.
In her current role as Executive Director, BC Cancer Foundation - Interior, it is imperative to listen to the community, she says, and work together to raise critical funds to enhance research, outcomes, and care for those facing a cancer diagnosis.
Pardeep emphasizes the importance of community, the great work of BC Cancer staff, stakeholders, and supporters. Cancer doesn’t stop, she says, and neither will they.
She is happy to live in Kelowna, and call the Interior home.
Pardeep describes herself as a charismatic, transformative leader who builds collaborative teams who perform with autonomy within boundaries.
She strongly believes that the culture which is built at work should reflect that of community and family; after all, many hours are spent in work environments, together, and being in each other’s corner goes a long way.
Pardeep takes pride in working with others to achieve common goals, and also in helping people achieve their potential as well.
Her mantra is to be driven and focused on results, while never forgetting the enjoy the process, and appreciate those who have played key roles along the way.
Bucket list? She believes in filling your bucket with gratitude, and working together to achieve great things.
Without community and people pulling the rope in the same direction, it is very difficult to move the dial. Together, we can!
Volunteerism includes: Future of Health Care Forum w/ UBCO, Accelerate Okanagan, BC Cancer; and volunteering at her children’s school and in their extracurricular activities. She holds a BA from UBC and a Financial Management Designation from BCIT.
Prior to joining RBC Dominion Securities, Patrick gained experience working directly with clients in different capacities at such firms as HSBC Canada, Sun Life Financial, and some accounting firms during summers as a student in Vancouver.
In his spare time Patrick is committed to making his community a better place. He sits on the board of directors for the KGH Foundation and The Third Space Life Charity, as well as being actively involved in working with the Kidney Foundation of BC & Yukon, and volunteering his time with the Interior Health Renal steering committee.
He’s also a proud corporate sponsor of the Okanagan College basketball program, and a strong supporter of the Kelowna Art Gallery and emerging artists in the Central Okanagan.
Much of Patrick’s leadership experience stems from his interest and involvement in causes that he holds near and dear to my heart. When he was suddenly diagnosed with CKD (Chronic Kidney Disease), his personal beliefs were challenged, and the need to do more, give back, and help promote change became a top priority.
He quickly reached out to the KGH Foundation and the Kidney Foundation of BC, to get involved and take on a leadership role to help promote, raise awareness and fundraise. He was also asked by the Interior Health Renal Steering Committee to join their group as a former and current patient, and help plan for improved patient care and support.
He accepted an invitation from Ken Stober to join his Third Space Charity board after their organization helped Patrick deal with the most difficult time in his life. Additionally, Patrick has always been a big fan of sports and art, and he found sponsoring and supporting the OC basketball program, and the Kelowna Art Gallery fulfilling and good for the community. He’s been a supporter of the Kidney Foundation of BC & Yukon for four years, jumpstarting a local chapter in the Okanagan; he helped fundraise $23,000, a first for the region and a record.
Through his work at Third Space, he helps raise awareness for mental health issues, organizes events, and works broadly across the Charity. Patrick was the first corporate sponsor for the OC basketball program – a pleasure he says, as an alumnus. He holds a BA from UBCO in International Relations, is a licensed investment advisor, and keeps getting new accreditations. He’s proud of recognition from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, from the KGH Foundation and others.
His proudest moments include personally donating a new ultrasound unit to the hemodialysis lab in KGH, and raising a record amount of awareness and funds for the kidney walk in the Central Okanagan in 2020. Also annually supporting the Kelowna Art Gallery is something he is very passionate about. Patrick loves all kinds of art!
Lisanne is proud to serve as President and CEO of Tourism Kelowna, the lead destination marketing organization for the Central Okanagan that helps attract two million visitors and two billion dollars in economic impact to the region every year.
Born in Montreal, she graduated university and began her early career in Winnipeg in print and television media before moving to Alberta in 1995 for what would become a 25-year career in successful business and marketing leadership roles in economic development, the provincial government, Indigenous relations, the technology sector, arts and culture sectors and major event production.
Prior to joining Tourism Kelowna in 2017, she worked with Edmonton Economic Development as the General Manager of the Edmonton Convention Centre, overseeing a team of 400 event experts, hosting 650 events and half a million guests annually, generating $30 million in economic impact.
Her focus upon arriving at Tourism Kelowna was the successful construction and opening of the new downtown visitor centre on time and on budget. Since then her team has expanded Tourism Kelowna’s marketing to a four-season strategy and implemented a collaborative Major Events program responsible for securing new, city-wide events like the Memorial Cup.
Combined with building a values-based service organization, a high-achieving team and best operations and professional practices, this led to recognition in 2018 for Tourism Kelowna as Destination Marketing Organization of the year among our provincial counterparts. Lisanne volunteers her time and support for a variety of local community groups and organizations, including the Kelowna Art Gallery, Cool Arts Society, the SPCA, and Rotary Clubs. She is proud to serve on advisory councils for both Okanagan College and the COEDC. She privately coaches and mentors fellow executives as well as young students and those just beginning their careers.
She has always been an active supporter of post-secondary education, arts & culture and women in business, prior to her time in Kelowna serving as:
- Chair of Alberta Women Entrepreneurs
- Chair of the IAVM Senior Executive Symposium Board of Governors
- University of Alberta Senate Executive
- Chair of Edmonton’s Homeless Connect program
- Board member of the Nina Haggerty Center for the Arts and the Alberta Jubilee Society
She is a graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration’s Senior Executive Symposium and has achieved national accreditations from the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) and the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM). Lisanne holds undergraduate degrees from the University of Manitoba (Organizational Psychology) and the University of Winnipeg (Public Relations) and has proudly served on the University of Alberta Senate Executive
She is personally proud of the two national accreditations that she achieved as listed above and professionally proud of leading award-winning teams such as:
- Tourism Kelowna, DMO of the year
- Edmonton Convention Centre, recognized as one of North America's top five performing venues
- Red Deer's annual Fair & Exposition, three-time national award-winning marketing campaigns
In 2016 she summitted Africa's Mount Kilimanjaro, perhaps her favourite achievement!
Brendan has worked with Raymond James as a financial advisor for the last 15 years, half that time as branch manager in Kelowna. He has grown from 21 to 42 staff, and together, they have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local charities through their Christmas in November event. In 2019 they were recognized with the Corporate Community of the Year award for medium to large sized businesses.
He’s also volunteered as the President of the Kelowna Curling Club for the last five years and recently transitioned to governor at large for Curl BC. For the last few years his branch partnered with the KGH Foundation for their annual Homebase charity tournament as presenting sponsor, volunteering for the event as well. Lastly, as a cyclist he has raised money for local charities through various rides. Outside of Central Okanagan he completed the Ride to Conquer Cancer and has raised money for local charities cycling across BC and Alberta.
Brendan is a born leader: first, when building golf courses at 16, he led an older crew; at OUC he was on student council as treasurer. As a professional curler, he has been a leader on all his teams. Getting to three national championships means that leadership works!
In January his advisory team at work joined two other practices and Brendan is the leader. He’s also helping a local start-up company in a leadership role.
Brendan holds a diploma in business administration from OUC, as well as a certificate in financial planning from the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning. He’s licensed as a Financial Management Advisor, Certified International Wealth Manager and is a Fellow of The Canadian Securities Institute.
Brendan is a “Top 40 Under 40” Grad from the Kelowna Chamber, as well as sporting curling awards in the National Juniors plus co-chairing various Curling championships.
Brian describes himself as determined (and a wee bit stubborn), going after what he wants with decision and vigour. His career began as a commercial pilot—a dream since being a young boy—but he returned to school wanting to be successful in business. Brian has since served thirty-five+ years in senior leadership roles for a variety of organizations, most recently as AEM's VP of Operations and now CEO.
On weekends, Brian spends the endless joys of summer relaxing on the Kettle River with family, friends, and his dog, Noki. He hopes to one day ride some of the best roller coasters in the world.
"Life is a lesson. Take it all in while you can. Have a willingness to recognize that you can always do better tomorrow than you did today."
Brian draws from the leadership lessons of Patrick Lencioni, John Maxwell, Marcus Buckingham and the inspiration of his family as he quarterbacks AEM’s cohesive team. Ultimately accountable for the successful and profitable growth of the organization and its people, Brian challenges his team to do good and be meaningful in everything they do.
"I believe in putting employees first. If employees aren’t supported to be the best they can be, customers and the success of the organization are just a dream."
In the 90's he was provided the opportunity to give back, he says, “to this incredible community we all live in as a member of the RCMP Auxiliary and was proud to represent, at that time, the largest volunteer police group in Canada. This led to a voluntary contribution of 400-600 hours per year.”
Most recently and currently, he gets to meet some incredible individuals that have relocated to Kelowna and are currently seeking insight and knowledge of opportunities that exist here in the Central Okanagan. This program is supported and provided through the Connector program under the direction of the COEDC.
Brian concludes, “My desire to become a commercial pilot saw my education go from high school to flight school. Then, after flying commercially for a number of years I went back to OUC at the time to study business and the last 35 years have provided by a lifetime of learning.”
Dave arrived in the Okanagan in 1998, and in his first job, the company managed the largest transaction in software in the Valley in history to that point, $150 million, in a sale of Workfire Technologies to Packeteer Canada. That transaction launched the software industry in Kelowna and many of those who were a part of it are still a part of the community today, and have gone on to their own endeavours.
Since that transaction in 2000, he has been part owner in Tree Brewing. He also was part-owner in an airline in Terrace; and he founded several technology start-ups, and started a public company called Decisive Dividend, which went from a value of zero to $50 million in five years. Decisive purchased four Okanagan companies and brought investment and management expertise that kept jobs in the Okanagan that might have gone elsewhere, had the businesses sold to foreign entities. He is proud that they kept a large number of jobs in Penticton with two acquisitions.
Dave has been the founder, controller and/or CFO, partner and/or director in many companies in Kelowna including:
Workfire Technologies - Founder/Controller
Itiva Development Corporation - Founder/CFO
Hawkair Aviation - Director/Shareholder/Partner/CFO
Itiva Development - Founder/CFO/Director
Poyoville Technologies - Founder/CFO/Director
Irok2 Technologies - Founder/CFO/Director
Decisive Dividend Corporation - Founder/CFO/Director
RWT Growth Inc. - Partner
He always wanted to be in a position in the companies that he gets involved in to be an influencer on policy and an advocate for sound business practices and strong corporate governance. All employees have to be treated fairly and equitably in his view. While not all of his companies have been successes, no employees were ever treated unfairly or went unpaid for services provided.
At Decisive Dividend, he was personally responsible for the acquisition of five companies, and also was primarily responsible for raising $22 million to fund these acquisitions. His shareholders were happy with his leadership and were always appreciative of how hard Dave worked to provide them with value for their stock.
Kevin arrived in the Okanagan in the fall of 2010. He lived in Edmonton for almost 40 years. He owns a large transport company in Edmonton which gave him the opportunity to move to the Okanagan. There, he was fortunate enough to raise his children through junior high and high school while living in Peachland. They went to Glenrosa middle school and Mount Boucherie high school. During the last 11 years Kevin opened multiple businesses within the Okanagan Valley: Indulge Beauty Lounge in West Kelowna; Cibo & Vines in Peachland; Dakota Towing in Kelowna; Aquatech luxury flooring in Kelowna and Eagle Eye holdings in West Kelowna. Kevin feels both humble and proud to say that the community support he, his family and his businesses get in the Okanogan Valley is absolutely amazing and none of this would have been possible without such a strong community.
In terms of leadership, Kevin says that his leadership is more about goals and direction, how people should show respect and be considerate of one another. He has had the opportunity to employ several hundred people so far in his businesses, and he says that he has always based his opinions and direction onto those employees, while at the same time, mentoring by teaching people – how to have patience and understanding for one another, knowing that not everyone is the same. He believe that most want to help one another. He believes in always keeping yourself humble and respectful.
Kevin has been a part of many fundraisers and events for many different causes and organizations.
For the past four decades Kelly has been involved in the hospitality industry, initially to fund her Education Degree and then realized her passion lay in the opportunities hotels offered. Once she became involved with Sandman Hotel Group in the lower mainland, she was offered the opportunity to transfer to Kelowna 15 years ago and participate in expanding the Kelowna hotel from 120 rooms to 220. Following this expansion she became Regional Director overseeing the six properties in the Southern BC Interior.
Kelly has had the pleasure of working in one of the most beautiful and enticing parts of BC, as well as having, in her words, the honour of working with amazingly committed hospitality and tourism professionals from front line guest service teams and management to the passionate fellow board members of Tourism Kelowna. All, she says, a wonderful part of the 100% Canadian owned and operated Sandman Hotel Group. This has never been more inspiring than in the past year with what everyone has been challenged with. She hopes to continue to help grow this economic driver in the region.
Kelly has been extraordinarily fortunate to have learned leadership skills from many leaders with a wide range of styles that have been her mentors and role models as well as the teams she has been privileged to lead. The everchanging landscape of leadership in the hospitality industry keeps her challenged and growing all the time. Recognition and appreciation of the teams that represent their companies in daily operations is the most rewarding leadership opportunity. From leading restaurant, bar and banquet teams of up to 200 employees to senior leadership of hotel General Managers and their respective teams, the challenges of reaching out to encourage passion and engagement are varied and always evolving. Always keeping a "guest obsessed" perspective and setting that example is a key component.
Being involved in the community both from a tourism industry perspective and as a committed resident is both rewarding and educational. Her time in the Okanagan has given her the opportunity to participate in Tourism advocacy and development while currently serving on the Board of Directors for Tourism Kelowna, and past service on the Board of Directors for Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association and the Kelowna Hotel Motel Association. With the support of KHMA she is proud of helping bring about the Annual Heart of Hospitality Awards for front line hotel employees. She’s also had the rewarding experience of leading teams annually in the Kelowna CIBC run for the Cure and volunteering for Ironman Canada in Penticton for many years before it relocated. She plans to be back at the Ironman Canada when it next takes place in Penticton again! Kelly also holds a Bachelor of Education degree from SFU, and is currently, Vice Chair of Tourism Kelowna.
Trent was born and raised in Kelowna, in 1979, and attended KSS (1997). He played Baseball for Team Canada and was drafted by MLB (1997); was NCAA student athlete (2001). MBA graduate Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario in 2007.
Founder of Saxx Underwear (2007), sold business ultimately in 2016, financial terms not disclosed as private business. Co-Founder of Doja Cannabis Company, (CSE:HIKU) sold to Canopy Growth (TSX:WEED) in 2018 for approximately $630m CAN. Co-founder of Kitsch Wines in 2015 and working with wife Ria to build the brand. Co-founder of Stately Capital Corporation, amalgamated with Gold Flora in 2021.
Father, Husband, Optimist and believes anything is possible.
Trent has been a leader and member of teams and has benefited from those experiences. He believes one doesn’t need experience in any given field to start a business in that field. He believes a leader is someone who makes 3-5 good decisions a year and sets the vision for the future. A person who has strong values and those values show in the brand.
He doesn’t believe there is a substitute for hard work and dedicated focus. Leadership is part hard work and exampling that focus, and part being different than typical. He has found that setting the sail and the direction of the company is something to know before you set off on the adventure of starting a business.
In terms of volunteerism, Trent asks for abundance to help others; he says, some things we do publicly and some things we do privately. Some examples are giving to Mamas for Mamas both personally and through Kitsch Wines as well as the Kelowna Women’s Shelter. Locally he also coaches in KHMA and Kelowna Minor Baseball.
More widely he is a part of Baseball Canada as a member of their advisory board. He often donates his time to help aspiring entrepreneurs and also dedicates his speaking time and donates his fee, for example Restore international speech where he donated $5,000 as well as speaking for free; over $50,000 was raised here locally.
Trent is a co-founder of "founders hike" a weekly hike where entrepreneurs and founders connect to help each other.
Lastly he’s a proud Kelowna person and part time historian who advocates for the future of the Okanagan.
He received his MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business in 2007. He got his real world education from starting Saxx from an idea to coming full circle and executing the business plan.
Christine had the honour of serving within the Personnel Support Program with the Department of National Defence for more than a decade, holding the positions of Fitness Instructor, Health Promotions Manager and Fitness, Sports and Recreation Director. She spent the next several years working with the City of Cold Lake, Alberta as the General Manager of Community Services before making Kelowna her family’s forever home. Upon arriving in Kelowna, she supported Project Literacy Kelowna Society as their Executive Director where she worked collectively with other literacy organizations in development of a Community Literacy Plan.
However, her passion for work in the public service eventually won and she joined the City of Kelowna in late 2017. These days, she has the privilege of supporting the development of the creative sector of Kelowna on a daily basis. As Cultural Services Manager, along with the creative community, she launched and is now working hard on the implementation of the 2020-2025 Cultural Plan.
She considers her leadership to be in service to the community and others. Throughout her career and personal life she seeks out opportunities to learn, to grow and support the development of herself and her community. She believes that the role of leader is earned through hard work, consistency and commitment to doing the right thing even if it’s not the easy thing.
Every day Christine says she is honoured to be able to serve the numerous artists, organizations and community members who are working tirelessly to make the community an amazing place that everyone can be proud of.
It is an honour to be considered for the Kelowna Chamber Top 40 Over 40.
Lucas Griffin, Owner and Founder of Secure-Rite Mobile Storage was born and raised in Kelowna, BC and launched Secure-Rite Mobile Storage Inc. in 2005 The company arrived in Calgary in 2009, and then in Surrey in 2020. He has been closely involved in the startup of all five Secure-Rite locations in BC and Alberta, and is excited to establish more in the future. Lucas is passionate about business excellence, exceptional customer service, continuous improvement, and known for his community involvement. He is also an advocate for innovative container modifications and his team has created many unique container structures.
Lucas has led the company through significant growth over the past sixteen years, starting with only a few staff members to over 30 employees today. Lucas has strategized and facilitated the opening of 5 locations with no signs of slowing down and has become a recognized leader in the industry, speaking on a variety of panels, participating in case studies, and is an active member of TEC Canada.
Community is a core value at Secure-Rite Mobile Storage – Lucas believes in giving back to the community through donations of time, products, and finances. Secure-Rite holds many social issues near and dear, including ending homelessness by working towards an affordable housing solution, minimizing the carbon footprint on the environment, providing experiences and opportunities for students and younger generations to learn applied skills, and creating access to resources or commodities for those in need. Secure-Rite works with countless values-based organizations to help them create smart space, including the Animal Food Bank, the Central Okanagan Food Bank, Salvation Army, United Way, Kelowna Women In Business, Calgary Humane Society, and many more. Lucas also volunteers a lot of time in various Children & Youth Programs through his church and plays a role in his Church Leadership.
Lucas received his Bachelor of Business Administration degree and graduated with distinction in 2000 from OUC.
Secure-Rite Mobile Storage achieved the 2007 Rising Star Business Excellence Award from the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. In 2013, they won Small Business of the Year after being competitively judged by the same organization. In 2018, Secure-Rite received the Corporate Community of the Year Award. In 2019, they received the City’s Corporate Citizen of the Year Award. In 2020, Secure-Rite was awarded Mid-Sized Business of the Year and the Social Leadership Awards. Secure-Rite has received countless nominations for the Best of Kelowna, and is the Title Sponsor for the second year in a row.
Ewan Lilford, President and founder of Kelowna House of Floors Ltd. has been in the flooring industry since 2009 as well in the construction industry since 1997. Within a short period he gained a reputation for great attention to detail, solid work ethics and dedication to excellence in customer service. He excelled In the tools of the trade and had the business acumen and desire to expand his career into flooring sales in 2013 where he has built a solid client portfolio in the commercial and residential construction communities. Kelowna House of Floors Ltd. was incorporated in 2017. They specialize in project management and installing tile and flooring products for large scale residential developments, commercial developments, commercial renovations, and single family custom builds. Their projects are located within the Okanagan region and throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Their portfolio includes many of the valley’s largest developers and GC companies including Mission Group Construction (all 14 Builds over the past 5 years), Edgecombe Builders Group, Sawchuck Developments, TKI Construction, Plan B Constructors, Team Construction, Chriscan Construction
Ewan found great satisfaction working on larger scale construction projects where he could express his natural ability to project manage and ensure client satisfaction. With 9 "in house" staff members, and over 30 "sub contract" Installation crews, KHOF provides employment for many trades and families within the Okanagan.
Outside of work, Ewan has coached rugby for many years, most recently acting as coach for the Kelowna Men's Rugby Football Club. Ewan also leads his staff in participating in many community volunteer programs and to think of giving back to the community which supports them all. He is a natural leader and is eager to step in where needed to provide leadership and direction on many levels of his personal and professional life.
In 2019 he led his team to be the number one fundraiser in Children’s Hospital Foundation Bats for a Cause.
Ewan & his wife Jaime help to sponsor & volunteer for the YMCA Charity Golf Tournament to support the local YMCA Strong Kids Campaign, the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, HER International helping to empower women + girls through education, STARLIGHT Foundation providing sick kids who may be awaiting treatment or feeling lonely.
Part of giving back is bringing a little fun into people’s lives: that’s why they are the major sponsor for three local sports teams -- House Of Floors Installers Men's Fast Pitch Baseball Team, House Of Floors Installers Men's Soccer Team, and the Kelowna Crows RFC.
One of his most enjoyable volunteer gigs is participating in the annual Motion Ball Event supporting BC Special Olympians and the Bats for A Cause Softball Tournament.
Bachelors Degree in Business, Trent University.
Red Seal Certified Motorcycle Mechanic.
Consistently taking educational courses pertaining to the Building and Flooring communities.
He is the proud recipient of numerous CHBA Silver and Gold Tommie Awards over the past 8 years. They were recognized for excellence for participation on the Child Advocacy Centre Kelowna with SICA (Southern Interior Construction Association).
Dan built Care Dental, establishing the first post COVID hospital operating room air exchange system in a dental office, in BC.
Over 20 years plus, he has built five dental offices, working with many team members.
His community support includes the establishment of Care Kids through Care Dental, a program through Mamas For Mamas, designed to help children in need, to handle one child's dental needs per month.
Dan is a DDS, Doctor of Dental Surgery.
And when it comes to receiving other honours, he says number one is the honour of working with the best dental team ever.
Lane started a "little" IAQ (Indoor Air Quality) company here in Kelowna in 2001.
In 2005, he read a story about a "junk removal" company that franchised and sold out all of North America.
And he thought - why couldn't we do that? Become the only coast to coast Indoor Air Quality service provider? And so the journey began.
They named the company Modern PURAIR, "Clean air we live and breathe it" became their positioning line, and they set out to create an amazing franchise system with its head office here in Kelowna, BC.
Next step saw them opening their in-bound call centre, (here in Kelowna) that answers all of the incoming calls for their franchise partners, trademarked their cleaning process, and they awarded their first franchise in 2008.
Their PURKIDS foundation, changes lives - as 1% of our entire system sales goes back to help kids in every franchise community they service.
Lane has built sales teams in regional, B2B, B2C, and now leads his entire franchise system, as Modern PURAIR continues to grow exponentially across Canada.
He believes it's all about the people: PURAOR invests heavily in their people. Personal business coaches for the management team, personal business coaches for the franchise partners, training, and scaling/building of systems.
People don't fail. Systems do. Lane says that he always looks to the system for a solution.
And, he speaks from experience. If he can't, he finds someone who can.
His company’s "Vivid Vision" shows exactly how the company will look/act and feel three years from the date it is written. It is shared with all team members, vendors, and within the system. It’s the "blueprint" for company growth, and helps all its team to see the "vision" in Lane’s head.
One per cent of their system sales goes towards the PURKIDS foundation.
This one per cent then goes back into each community that their franchise system services.
A year and a half ago, they aligned with "Mamas for Mamas" as they have branch offices in each city PURAIR has a franchise partner in.
Lane is pleased say that tey have already donated over $80,000 to Mamas for Mamas and the entire franchise system gets to see the impact this contribution is making to help those families that need help the most.
The Child Advocacy Centre is also near and dear to their hearts - PURKIDS donated all of the toys for this amazing facility in Kelowna.
Most recently they aligned with the Bridge Youth and Family services here in Kelowna - and their new youth recovery home. PURAIR is helping them ensure the youth that utilize the facility are looked after.
When it comes to describing his education, Lane says he is a graduate of the School of hard knocks – his company was also named the 2008 Small Business of the Year - Kelowna Chamber of Commerce Business Excellence Awards. They were they a 2018 Finalist - Medium Sized Business of the Year.
Most recently - an amazing award - Lane received the 2020 Mamas for Mamas Honorary Mama - the award given annually to someone who they felt had the most impact to their organization that year. That was amazing!
PURAIR is now the largest IAQ franchise system in Canada, and Lane loves it that they get to showcase Kelowna to each of their franchisees.
Gurinder built ElectricGo from the ground up and has now partnered with the some of the larger education institutions and chains including Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Waves Coffee. Gurinder has grown ElectricGo through partnerships in cities throughout North America including Orlando, Florida. His energy and resilience is contagious, and he delivers excellence each time he engages with a new partner.
ElectricGo has recently expanded to Kelowna and region, taking advantage of the pandemic’s effect on entertainment to offer alternative pastimes.
Related information includes his battery saving tips, YouTube videos and customer reviews. Outside of work, Gurinder’s community service efforts are varied. He has supported a number of community centres and worked with community art projects in parks. His accountancy background helped a not for profit community centre, helping out with bookkeeping, payroll and events management. His efforts with this group, he says, helped them achieve long-term sustainability. He holds both a BComm (UBC Honours) and a Chartered Accounting Designation; he has competed in professional power lifting, winning a gold medal, and a bronze in natural body building.
After her first Master's degree, Tessa worked in financial services recruiting as a consultant for many years in NYC. She then decided to return to grad school and earned a Master's of Divinity studies degree. She worked as a chaplain in a hospital part time and was licensed as an EMT and an emergency medical dispatcher. The diversity of the work that she has done combined with her studies, gave her the courage and foresight to invest in her own dreams as an entrepreneur. She currently owns two businesses here in Kelowna--Your Laundry Fairy, which is a laundry pick-up and delivery service and Your Food Fairy, a new venture not yet opened, which will offer curated produce boxes for individuals and families at an affordable price point in the Kelowna area. She is always thinking of the best way to innovate and improve the way people do the essential things in life.
Tessa describes herself as an outspoken advocate for BIPOC persons and an unapologetic LGBTQ2s+ advocate. She has been an active part of the Truth and Reconciliation work of the United Church of Canada in Brandon, MB, and also helped lead her church to become an Affirming Congregation. She then continued that work in Kelowna with First United Church downtown.In past years, Tessa was an active PAC volunteer (less so this year with three children doing E-School). This year she was the COVID Safety Officer for the Kelowna Ringette Association, helping get the season running safely in coordination with the Board and the PSO (BC Ringette). She was also the Safety Officer and Web Administrator for the Thompson Okanagan Ringette League (TORL). She is a fighter for justice and a certified "Train the Trainer" graduate for anti-racism training sessions.
Her leadership experience most likely started back in high school in her very first run for student council president, which she subsequently lost due to a poorly run campaign. Since then, she says she has learned a lot about leading and empowering others. In graduate school, she was a teaching assistant, orientation advisor and President of a 600+ membership student association. In every facet of her life, Tessa says, “I believe that we lead by example, sometimes more successfully than others. Owning a business in this community is another way that I lead by example as one of many in the growing diverse pool of local Black female entrepreneurs.”
Her two graduate degrees are in English Lit and Divinity Studies.
Her honours received include as a graduate student, she was honored to receive an academic scholarship for full tuition as well as an award for academic recognition. She graduated Cum Laude from Drew University Theological School. In 2013, she was awarded a certification as a certified Emergency Medical Dispatcher, one of only several hundred in the world to complete the program at that time. She has also received numerous awards and recognition for her volunteer work over the years both as a parent volunteer and as a professional.
Blair began his career as a dish washer at the KEG while attending university. He articled at Clarkson Gordon where he obtained his CA designation before starting his own CA firm. His first client was a man who had one pizza restaurant in Poland. Blair accepted the engagement and soon found himself in Warsaw negotiating a lease on the company’s second, third, and fourth locations before becoming Pam Smak’s CFO and board member. This company went on to raise over $8MM on the TSX and expanded operations in Poland to include extensive real estate holdings. Blair returned to Canada to start a new software firm where his team introduced him to triathlon racing and shortly thereafter Blair competed in his first Ironman Canada and two years later finished his second. Blair and his family moved to Kelowna ten years ago and purchased a 20-acre apple orchard and RV Park. Four years ago, they expanded the property to include a distillery, tasting room, outdoor patio and outdoor picnic area and Forbidden Spirits Distilling Co. was born.
As an entrepreneur, Blair has demonstrated strong leadership in founding, building, and leading many businesses both internationally, from pizza in Poland to cosmetics in the Philippines, to locally, from apples into vodka in Kelowna. In all aspects of these ventures strong leadership was critical to their growth and their success. Blair spearheaded the growth of Forbidden Spirits Distilling Co working closely with wealth advisors, corporate finance departments, lawyers, accountants and investment bankers to raise over $5MM privately and $3.6MM publicly on the TSX Venture Exchange. Blair also led Forbidden’s brand expansion and worked with international food and beverage brokers, importers, distributors, shippers and merchandisers to expand the sale of its brands outside of Canada and into new markets like the EU and China.
Blair is a strong supporter of his community and his country having sat on numerous committees and advisory boards including formulating and coordinating the 2010 Rally on Robson Street which led to the formal approval by the IOC to accept and approve Canada’s bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Blair and his team at Forbidden Spirits were instrumental in planning and executing ten successful back-to-back Sanitizer Saturdays where they gave away over 5,000 litres of free hand and surface sanitizer to the local community and front-line workers, as well as donating over $3,000 every Saturday to ten different local charities plus the food bank.
Blair was born and raised in North Vancouver where he attended Blueridge Elementary School for seven years and Windsor High School for five years. Blair attended the University of British Columbia and earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Victoria in Political Science. He went on to article at Clarkson Gordon, which later became Ernst & Young in Vancouver and obtained his Chartered Accountant CA designation. Blair later went on to complete his level II CFA in Ontario before branching out into private industry.
Blair was elected as the Member of Parliament for West Vancouver Sunshine Coast Sea-to-Sky County in 2006 when the Rt Hon. Steven Harper won a minority Conservative government. Blair served as the Associate Critic for Finance as well as the Revenue Critic before crossing the floor to serve as the first Green Party MP in Canadian history.
Scott moved his career in an entirely new direction, and now thoroughly enjoys his time as a Commercial Account Manager with RBC. His industry focuses include working with the region's wineries, vineyards, and tree fruit growers. Scott says he has been fortunate enough to be a part of the Kelowna business community for over 23 years. Seventeen of those years have been in the banking or professional services sectors.
During his ten years as a marketing professional with a large local credit union, and five years as a marketing and proposals professional with a national accounting firm, his roles included leading corporate social responsibility and community engagement efforts which allowed him to be hands-on in the interconnectivity between the business community and the organizations, charities, events and initiatives that shape the fabric and health of the local region. In addition to the brand activation aspect, Scott found great fulfillment in being able to direct financial support to the not-for-profit organizations and events that make this community stronger.
During his career, he has had experience managing an advertising sales team of 5-8 people, and has been privileged in working with a number of talented managers and leaders who employed a coaching, participative or strategic style of leadership. These are all styles that resonate with him and from which he has extracted various approaches and best practices that he is now implementing in his work with RBC, and with his commercial clients.
Today, Scott says, I am lucky enough to work with an organization in RBC that is dedicated to the career and professional development of all its people. RBC's Leadership Model includes a culture of continuous learning, adaptability, and fostering an inclusive culture where everybody feels safe to speak up for the good of our colleagues and our clients.
Scott believes strongly in the importance and value of volunteerism throughout one's life. It allows individuals to give back to the community in which they live, and provides people with mental and physical health benefits, as well as a sense of connection and accomplishment.
In the late spring and early summer of 2021, he volunteered his time delivering meals as part of the Nourish Families Initiative benefitting the wonderful not-for-profit organization Childhood Connections as well as several area restaurants which have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. When his son was younger, he also volunteered for a season as a minor hockey coach with Kelowna Minor Hockey Association.
Over the years, he has also enjoyed taking part in many yearly community fundraising events including the YMCA's Cycle for Strong Kids, the United Way Bus Pull, the 24 Hour Relay, BCCH Bats for a Cause, the Pride Parade, and many more. Scott's education includes an Associate of Arts Diploma, Business Administration, Marketing. He also completed and received his Credit Union Institute of Canada Fellowship Designation.
Mario came to Kelowna about five years ago and launched the Boulevard Magazine in the Okanagan. He has extensive international business development knowledge and experience, and a history of introducing new products into the marketplaces via numerous media vehicles. His Boulevard Magazine has been recognized as a staple in the Central Okanagan Community and he plans to continue to highlight the Okanagan and its lifestyle in various beautiful ways.
Colleen Fitzpatrick is passionate about her role in bringing arts and cultural experiences and education to the Kelowna community as the Rotary Centre of the Arts as Executive Director – a role she has held since joining in March of 2020. She has nearly 30 years of experience in public relations as a “doer” and is a strong community engager building teams, connecting communities, volunteering, and organizing impactful community events. Colleen loves to travel and has visited 42 countries before recently choosing to make Kelowna her home. She hails from Waterloo, Ontario, and is the proud mother of three young adults, Patrick, Meaghan, and Liam, who have now launched their own educational and professional careers.
In her previous leadership roles at the University of Waterloo as the Director of Convocation and the Associate Director of Community Relations, she oversaw all events for the President’s office and created a meaningful convocation day for 8,500 graduates and 25,000 proud family members annually in 12 back-to-back ceremonies over 5 days.
Colleen’s non-profit management role at an international relations think tank included ten years of progressive performing and visual arts leadership experience. Colleen led 300 community events that attracted sold-out audiences including a documentary film series, a community partnership with the KW Symphony, an art lending partnership with the KW Art Gallery, a community arts award program, lectures paired with visual art, and student learning and experiential programs. Colleen also curated an exhibition and a lecture by American artist Daisy Rockwell, the granddaughter of famous illustrator Norman Rockwell. She also spearheaded a two-day Global Youth Forum on Climate Change and Sustainability for 350 high school students, created the first Waterloo Region High School Model UN, and led an inaugural Province-wide essay challenge on climate change for Grade 12 students for Canada 150 with the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario. One of her favourite projects was organizing a 400-delegate three-day conference on Climate Change in Uganda for policymakers, NGOs, and influential African government representatives.
As a community engager and life-long volunteer, Colleen has led and supported numerous initiatives on issues she is passionate about from youth engagement and homelessness to supporting the arts in the communities she serves.
Although new to Kelowna in 2020, she is already an active member of 100 Women Who Care Kelowna, a volunteer and member of the Kelowna Newcomers Club, a regular blood donor for Red Cross Kelowna, and a strong advocate for Kelowna’s Arts and Cultural District. In her role as Executive Director of the Rotary Centre of the Arts, she has stewarded new community collaborations with the Central Okanagan Food Bank, UBCO, Okanagan College, Downtown Kelowna, Kelowna Pride, OSIF, and Festivals Kelowna to name a few.
Before her move to Kelowna, Colleen served on the Boards of IABC Waterloo and One Roof for Youth Homelessness; Chaired the Public Relations Advisory at Conestoga College; founded a STEM Scholarship for high school grads; and fundraised for the 2020 Provincial Spring Games for Special Olympics Ontario.
Colleen’s academic focus is Public Relations, Communications, and Business Management. As Chair of Conestoga College’s Public Relations Program Advisory Committee, she contributed her field experience as a public relations practitioner to help advise the College on program excellence and mentor students.
Colleen holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree and a Communications Certificate from the University of Guelph and a post-graduate diploma in Public Relations from the University of Victoria.
University of Victoria, Post-Graduate Diploma: Public Relations
University of Guelph, Post-Graduate Certificate: Communications Program
University of Guelph, Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Honours)
Wilfrid Laurier University, Undergrad courses: Business and Arts
Colleen has been previously recognized for community excellence by the following:
• Rogers and K-W Oktoberfest, Woman of the Year, Professional Category (nominee) 2016
• IABC (International Association of Business Communications) - Grand Valley Chapter,
Recipient of the International Chapter Management Award 2012
• Community Involvement for "Gift of Communication Symposium" 2010
• K-W Oktoberfest, President's Award - Recognition for Outstanding Volunteerism 2008
• City of Waterloo Intelligent Waterloo Committee Member - Successful Bid for
"Most Intelligent Community in the World" 2007
A recap of Rosemary’s current and recent position includes:
Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (OSO) Music Director & Conductor (2007-present)
Opera Kelowna Artistic Director (2020 - present)
OSYO (Youth Orchestra) - Co-conductor (2012-present)
OSO Chorus - Founder and Conductor (2009-present)
Calgary Philharmonic Resident Conductor & Chorus Master (2002- 2006)
Winnipeg Symphony Resident Conductor (1997- 1999)
Canadian Opera Company Assistant Conductor (1998 - 2004)
Continuum Contemporary Music Ensemble - Conductor (Toronto) (1994-2008)
Opera Nuova - Conductor/Faculty (Edmonton) - (2005-present)
At the OSO which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2010, Rosemary has provided programs for all ages from Symphony Storytime (preschool); Symphony at the Library (families/seniors); Middle School Band Clinic; OSO Youth Chorus; Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (OSYO); OSO Chorus; and the Chamber Salon series for seniors as well as the Heartstrings initiative funded by a generous donor which allowed the OSO to provide tickets to those for whom finances may be a barrier.
As the most vocal of seven children, Rosemary says that as long as she can remember, she has been organizing groups of people to do things together. She loves to be able to go from the visioning, brainstorming stage to the actual stage and she gets her best ideas when collaborating with others. She goes all out to lead in a way that brings out the best in people, and she has been described as being “demanding, but really nice about it”. Rosemary has had strong mentors along her journey, both personally and professionally, and she endeavours to be able to pass on what she has learned, now that she is a mentor herself.
Two years ago, she was diagnosed with ADHD - attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This diagnosis has been revelatory and as she discovers the myriad ways in which her brain is unique, it is opening her eyes to the multiplicity of perspectives that each individual has to offer her team/family/community. If, she says, “we can truly empower others to lead with their strengths, I have no doubt that we will build more inclusive communities for all.”
Rosemary wants to create accessibility and celebrate the diversity of the Okanagan. The organizations which she is privileged and grateful to lead are born out of a colonial heritage. She believes that to be relevant to the whole community, it is time to examine all barriers of access and work to create bridges and celebrate the symphonic artform as it evolves to be a true reflection of both the current time and place reflecting the whole community. To this end, she has worked to learn about the Okanagan and the people who live here, especially the people of the Syilx First Nation. She’s proud of the collaborative show Tmixw, curated by Cori Derickson and featuring Syilx performers and the OSO. It was a privilege to curate Kelowna’s contribution to Mysterious Barricades, a national performance bringing solace and awareness on National Suicide Prevention Day. She also volunteered with the Wildcats and Wild, special hockey teams celebrating neurodiversity and co-led the committee which organized a provincial tournament in 2019, hosting 200 players with autism and their families in Kelowna. In May 2021, Thomson was named as a Recipient of a BC Achievement Community Award from the BC Achievement Foundation, one of 25 individuals so honoured for service to the province.
Undergraduate Degree Bachelor of Music University of Toronto/ Graduate Diploma program in Conducting University of Toronto
Contemporary Opera Studies Banff Centre for the Arts
BC Achievement Community Spirit Award 2021/ Kelowna Civic Awards - Honour in the Arts 2016 / Okanagan Arts Awards - Music 2011 /
Named one of two mentors for the inaugural national program "Women in Musical Leadership" 2020 run by Tapestry Opera (Toronto), the Toronto Symphony Orchestra & Pacific Opera Victoria / Dora Mavor Moore Award - Nominated for Music Director 2019
Grant was invited to Kelowna in 1996 by Riverside Forest Products to take on the position of HR Supervisor, bringing his previous forestry and tourism management experience to the position. He was promoted to HR Manager in Armstrong to address labour issues, and then to Regional HR Manager responsible for people, payroll, labour relations and contract negotiations.
During the Tolko buy out of Riverside, Grant returned to working in Kelowna and learning a whole new industry (aviation) as Director of Human Resources for Kelowna Flightcraft. Kelowna Flightcraft became KF Aerospace in 2015. He was promoted to Vice President, Corporate Services in 2018. In that role, he is responsible for HR, Payroll & Benefits, Organizational Development, Information Technology, Training, Communications and Facilities.
These two companies provide solid, long term, well paid jobs to thousands of staff and their families across the Okanagan and support many community groups. Grant calls himself fortunate to have a leadership role in shaping the People Practices now used by KF and other companies in the valley.
He also says he has been fortunate to have had many excellent leadership challenges in his career. By far, COVID has been the most challenging, requiring KF to ensure that their one thousand employees are safe, that their operations remain open, and staff have a job. Grant spent the last few years leading a $40M investment in facilities in in their Hamilton (Ontario) operation. They have excellent partnerships with Okanagan and Mohawk Colleges to support students and provide jobs.
In 2015 KF lost a major contract that directly impacted over one-third of their one thousand staff requiring many innovative and compassionate HR solutions. They pivoted the business from flying to maintenance-focused, growing their aircraft maintenance capabilities by nearly 50% since then. In 2005 KF won a major contract requiring them to staff and stand-up a new facility and operations in less than eight months for the Department of National Defence. An earlier leadership challenge was in 2004, when Grant was part of the main table bargaining team in forestry and led initiatives at Riverside to reduce injuries by 50% and improve labour relations.
Grant holds a Bachelor in Business Administration (B.Comm) with Honours and is a Certified Professional in Human Resources. He also holds certifications in Leadership, Change Management and Labour Relations. He was a finalist for Human Resources Professional of the Year in 2015 with the Certified Professional Human Resources Association of BC. And he has presented at various conferences, seminars, and classes on human resources, aviation, training, organizational development, and labour relations. Kelowna Ringette received Association of the Year recognition while he was President.
After 25 years of entrepreneurial endeavours, Ashbury Bridal is the dream come to fruition. Shilo has worked in the wedding industry for over 15 years in Kelowna, opening Ashbury Bridal in 2012. Filled with treasures that she's collected over the years, Ashbury Bridal caters to anyone who is eco-friendly, cost savvy and committed to supporting the local economy. Shilo and her team strive to provide a full service, unique experience, that will leaves customers laughing with tears of joy...while saying "yes" to the dress!
Shilo is a leader in communicating the environmental impact of the wedding industry. Shilo feels good knowing they are helping exquisite items find beautiful brides, all based on a quality-over-quantity mentality. She is the first to encourage women to make a responsible choice when choosing their wedding attire, while enjoying the savings by purchasing a consigned dress.
Shilo is also an advocate for the importance of mental health and selfcare. She is educating every bride about their part in lessening their environmental impact. With every dress that is brought in on consignment and sold, is one less dress is made overseas. By keeping these dresses out of your closet, out of storage areas, out of landfills and oceans, Mother Earth says ‘thank you’.
Shilo has post-secondary education focusing on the creative design and small business industry.
Brian’s dad operated a successful plumbing & heating business in Radville, Saskatchewan until he fell ill. He sold the business and eventually recovered so that he could return to his trade; that’s when he decided working as a plumber in Kelowna would be much better than in Saskatchewan.
After completing high school at KSS, Brian was hired by a neighbour who was the Superintendent at Crown Zellerbach plywood plant on Ellis. And, his dad started his own business again in 1978 with the name Ace Plumbing which he bought from a friend for $1. Brian became his apprentice in 1979. Work was slow so the company did anything and everything to keep busy, including pounding sand point wells by hand on Benvoulin Road.His father lost the sight in one eye and decided to open a repair shop on Asher Road in Rutland. He was nearing retirement and decided he would sell the business and work for someone else. Brian and his wife Corallee decided that they should own the business so they bought out his dad out in 1985.
When they purchased Ace the economy started to take off and Brian sold his services using his dad's policy of always looking after your customers.
He soon had almost a dozen plumbers and apprentices working with him. Ace was doing the refurbish of the Eldorado Hotel when was rear-ended on Pandosy Street. The seat of the truck broke and his back was severely injured, not allowing him to work on the job. So, he went into the office and developed plans on how to do more quality work and train great employees without him being on site to guide them. Keeping quality control and maintaining a profit were challenging, he says, in that he had no business education. They struggled through attending the "School of Hard Knocks" and have grown to serve Kelowna and area operating three Divisions: Residential/Commercial Service; New Housing; and Commercial Construction. They now have 90 employees and 55 trucks on the road. And, they are in the process of building a 26,000 square foot facility on Pier Mac Way in the Airport Industrial area.
Brian, as part of Ace, has found time for volunteerism along the way, including:
Co-ran the Okanagan Mechanical Association for 10 years
Supported Inn from the Cold
Supporters of Rotary Club of Kelowna
Supporters of Okanagan Hospice
Supporters for Arion Therapeutic Farm
Supporters of OC Coyotes Basketball teams
Supporters of Kelowna Rockets Triple A Girls Hockey Team
Supporters of Kelowna Sun Devils Baseball Team
Supporters of Okanagan Firestorm Cheerleaders
Past supporters of multiple other school and team sport events and charities
He’s a graduate of Kelowna Senior Secondary, 1977
Red Seal: Journeyman Plumber and Gas Fitter, 1982
Graduate of multiple courses” School of Hard Knocks” Continuing EducationAce has been named Kelowna's "Best Plumbing Company" several years running
Lenetta Parry learned at a very young age to always be listening for an opportunity to be a blessing in someone's life. She learned that no act of kindness is too small and that each person can truly make a difference.
As an adult she is still living with the same passion and desire to make our community a better place. Parry worked with our local Food Banks for over 14 years, where her leadership played a major role in the amalgamation of the Westside and Kelowna Food Bank to create the Central Okanagan Food Bank.
In March 2020, Parry and her mother were preparing to celebrate ten years in business as the owners of Curves for Women, then COVID-19 hit the fitness industry hard and they were forced to close their gym. The mother-daughter duo made the difficult decision to not re-open, however, they kept all their equipment and continue to evaluate the situation.
Armed with an extraordinary record of serving clients, building highly productive teams, and increasing non-profit revenues, Parry joined the Management team at the Westside Salvation Army, helping the organization build stronger community partnerships by strengthening donor, volunteer, customer and media relations.
Parry is also the Immediate Past President of the Rotary Club of Kelowna and although it was a chaotic year full of change, Parry managed to find a way to keep members engaged and doing what they do best - Service Above Self. With Parry at the helm, the Rotary Club was able to raise nearly $115,000 at their virtual "Stay at Home Vegas" Night in support of Phase II of the Bridge Youth Recovery House as well as other local causes.
Parry was the third female President of the Kelowna Rotary Club. She has been named one of the Okanagan's Top Ten Most Influential Women, she was a Top 40 Under 40 recipient and presented with a parliamentary pin & Certificate of Appreciation "in recognition of outstanding contributions made to our community" by MP Dan Albas. In her spare time, Parry enjoys travelling, visiting local wineries with family and friends and enjoying all that the Okanagan has to offer.
Nataley Nagy has served as the Executive Director of the Kelowna Art Gallery since 2010. During her tenure she oversaw numerous exhibitions, publications, and community-based projects that celebrate the work of local and regional artists, while bringing important national and international art to the people of the Okanagan. Her many initiatives have led to innovative and groundbreaking collaborations with First Nations artists and communities, and helped foster greater awareness of the histories, cultural legacies, and continuing vitality of the visual arts.
In all of her undertakings, Nataley works to promote understanding that art is not only important in itself, but that creativity is a universal human inheritance. She believes that fostering the creative potential of everyone is the best means of creating mutual understanding and developing collective and sustainable solutions to contemporary challenges.
Nataley brings nearly 35 years experience in the visual arts sector to her job at KAG. Before assuming her position at the KAG, she was the Executive Director of the Textile Museum of Canada (2002-2009), and oversaw the digitization of a 12,000 textiles. She also served as Executive Director of the Art Gallery of Windsor (1993-2001), where she was responsible for fundraising, planning and construction leading to a new purpose-built $27 million facility and she’s also a former Board member of the British Columbia Museums Association, the Canadian Museums Association, past president of the Ontario Association of Art Galleries, a current member of Canadian Art Museum Directors’ Association (CAMDO) and a Board member on the Board of Tourism Kelowna.
This Top Forty Honoree has been actively contributing to the community, since her move to Kelowna in 2010. She’s volunteered and participated in a number of community events and is currently a member of the Ogopogo Rotary Club and serves as a Board member of Tourism Kelowna.
Nataley is a graduate of the Getty Museum Leadership Institute (2007), and was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Human Sciences from the University of Windsor (1998). She is also a graduate of the Arts Administration Training Program at the Banff Centre for the Arts (1986), and holds a BA in Law and English (honours) from Carleton University (1984).
Jean Lee is the 40th Honouree in the 2021 Top 40 Over Forty Program presented by BDO LLP for this year’s program. In April of this year, Project Literacy Central Okanagan recognized Jean as their longest-serving volunteer with a reception at the Bertram Street facility. One of the teaching rooms has been named for Jean, who volunteered with Chamber member Project Literacy for 27 years until the pandemic drove her home. She helped children and new Canadians with their reading skills, a central need as the Okanagan welcomes more and more new immigrants for all that time.
Dan Rogers, Executive Director of the Chamber, expressed his thanks for Jean and all that she has done to welcome and incorporate these new residents into our area. “As a Council Member of the Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership,” said Rogers, “I see firsthand the importance of opening our local society to newcomers. Getting started with literacy, both linguistic and financial, in which Project Literacy is a central player, is key to our newest residents starting out right. The central tenet of our ‘Top 40 over 40’ Program is the recognition of mentors; Jean embodies mentorship in every way.”
Jean taught in Michigan and California before starting with Project Literacy in 1992 in Kelowna. She says her goal in life is “to teach her children how to grow old.” At the age of 94, she continues doing this; her grandson Nathan is a teacher in Kelowna in SD23. When asked why she chose Project Literacy to work with as a volunteer, Jean said “The learners at Project Literacy are motivated and genuinely want to improve their lives. And, many are immigrants who want to become Canadian citizens.”
Jean wanted to change the world, by helping one person at a time. She enjoyed the fun, caring atmosphere at Project Literacy, where there is always strong support from wonderful staff. She calls literacy a path for opportunity.
Project Literacy in Kelowna celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. Jean says that volunteering at PL “was a great opportunity to keep using my teaching skills.”
Over the years, Lee's clients included air traffic controllers, a priest, and a boat manufacturing executive who was fired after it was discovered he could not read. At the height of her volunteering with Project Literacy, she would help as many as seven clients a day to improve their reading, writing, math, and computer skills.
After the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic early in 2020, Project Literacy closed for a few months but reopened with mainly online services. In-person tutoring has resumed under public health protocols. The group has about 150 volunteers helping about 400 clients annually. Paul Zuurbier is the Executive Director.
The Top 40 Program is fortunate to be able to honour such an outstanding mentor in our community.