Each week we will showcase more of our BDO Top 40 Over 40 Honourees. Be sure to check back regularly!
We also want to thank community sponsor Pushor Mitchell LLP for their support.
Heather Sharpe “The Event Coach” powered by Sherpa Group Events Inc. is a multi-award-winning Event Producer with many years of experience leading corporate and community strategic initiatives. She has twice produced the largest public event in BC (Honda Celebration of Light 2014 & 2015) as well as the largest New Year's Eve event in Canada (Vancouver 2015).
She is now The Event Coach and an independent Event Producer operating Sherpa Group Events Inc. serving clients around the Central Okanagan, Vancouver or where ever she is needed. She is also an Instructor for the Event Management and Promotions program at the Centre for Arts and Technology Okanagan in Kelowna - passing on her contagious enthusiasm and passion for the industry to the next generation of event planners.
As a member of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, she focuses on elevating the event guest experience for corporate, community and charitable organizations in and around the Okanagan.
Heather’s work with Sherpa Group that most demonstrates her ability to learn from challenges with fortitude and grace, while leading through empowerment and inspiration. At the beginning, forming Sherpa Group was a risky decision for Heather. Going from a position where salary and work were mostly guaranteed, to one where the entirety of responsibilities falls on your shoulders is challenging – particularly when moving to a new city. But with her penchant for time and energy management, the risk has paid off and the growing pains of business ownership have subsided. Now that they have, Heather has set her sights on leading the next generation of event planners through her teachings at Kelowna’s Centre for Arts and Technology (CATO). At CATO, Heather takes the lessons she’s learned throughout her time in the industry and shares her inspirational message with the students, encouraging them to connect, collaborate and celebrate to the best of their abilities. While the classes’ scopes focus mostly on topics such as "Sales, Negotiation and Sponsorship", "Digital Marketing" and "Event Planning", there is an underlying current of conversation about the impact that the spirit, success and empowered leadership of women can have on the world around us.
As the Founding Director for the Okanagan Chapter of eWomenNetwork and through her participation in Kelowna Women in Business, Vernon Women in Business and the West K Women of Influence, Heather has helped local women entrepreneurs in need find the resources to improve their networking, marketing and promotional skills. These entrepreneurs are then encouraged to share their extraordinary stories with others. After all, there’s nothing that empowers one’s self more than the ability to empower others.
There are few tighter knit groups than that of women in business but that group is oftentimes not listened to or respected to the level deserved from the world at large. Heather has seen this first hand and believes that providing a platform for the women in her community to share their thoughts and visions will contribute to a society where the empowerment of women is the norm. Heather realizes that to reach that norm for future generations, it is best to grow support at the youth level through events like United Girls of the World Society’s G-Day – a day long, educational opportunity for young girls – in which she played an integral role.
Along with 3 decades of experience, Heather has the Certificate of Event Marketing (Honours) from BCIT.
2017 winner Smart Women in Meetings Award - Entrepreneur
2017 winner MPI BC Chapter Event Planner of the Year
2013 ISES Spirit of Excellence winner for Education and Programs
In the Media:
Leah’s parents immigrated to Vancouver from Israel in 1968, and she was born in 1969. After a tough start at school, she began Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing at 9 years old and attained World Kick Boxing champion status at age 17. She then enlisted in the Israeli Army and struggled in a male dominated climate to become Israel's first female Elite Commando Instructor. Leah became a specialist and trainer in Krav Maga (the lethal training in self defense with your bare hands). From there she served in an undercover anti-terrorism unit. When half her team was lost in the line of duty, she was released to return to Canada and pursue a pro-cycling career. She settled in Vernon where she could train in hilly terrain. She began winning ultra endurance and professional races in B.C., Canada, the states and the World. After a life-threatening cycling crash in 2005, she came back to win the most gruelling single stage, a 3000-mile cycling race - Race Across America in 2012. Returning to Vernon and her personal training clients she began a career in keynote speaking and self defense training. Now she volunteers, mentoring youth and women in need and travels to speak & train. Her autobiography "No Limits" was published in 2015. Leah has entered Race Across America 2019. Her goal at 50 years old is to break the all-time record.
While training Israeli Commandos, Leah often created scenarios in which failure was imminent. Whether running through the desert, orienteering through a city, or contending with an obstacle course, soldiers were often forced to contend with much more. They would be sent off course and kept awake for 2 days. They would run out of food and water. They would suddenly have to carry 2 more soldiers. As a trainer, Leah knew that facing adversity would build them into a team. Militaries around the world utilize these leadership methods to create the strongest units possible.
Leah’s life in sports has also provided some incredible experiences in leadership and teamwork. Great cycling teams need many roles filled: climber, sprinter, time trialist, and many workers. Individuals never win races (although only one rider appears on the podium); races are won by a diverse team of people all working toward the same goal. The sport requires strategy, humility, trust and an ever-present atmosphere of ‘team first’. As team leader one must learn to use each individual’s strengths to pull everyone toward a common goal.
Leah’s work and life experiences have taken her to many places around the world. In doing so she has been exposed to many cultures, diverse groups of people and as a result witnessed incredible joy in circumstances, but also extreme injustice and poor treatment of people in others. As a result, her heart lies with youth, the under-privileged and women in trauma groups and that is where she most often volunteers her time. She visits monthly at Community Futures North Okanagan in Vernon and has developed long-term relationships with the youth. She shares stories of her journey through competitive sports and the anti-terrorism organizations she worked with. She tries to instill the knowledge that success can be achieved even in the face of incredible suffering and dysfunction. She shares strategies to find inner strength and push past perceived boundaries. She regularly volunteers her time speaking at Women of Worth events. She has partnered with Venture Training in Vernon as her charitable cause of choice for the 2019 Race Across America. They are an extraordinary organization committed to supporting adults with developmental disabilities with social, educational and vocational skill building and she is proud to be teamed with them.
In the Media:
Angela Gordon completed her BA from Simon Fraser University and her MBA from the University of Liverpool.
Spread across Canada, the United States and Western Europe, Angela’s 20+ years career began in the financial services, pivoted to customer service and has since pivoted back to financial services since she arrived back in the Okanagan two years ago. With her range of operational- to-project based leadership experience, Angela has worked for start-ups, experienced IPOs, mid-sized companies through to large global organizations like Accenture, the latter of which recognized her as an outstanding People Developer.
Since moving back to the Okanagan, Angela has embraced being an active member in my community. She serves as a Board member for the Kelowna Women in Business not-for-profit organization and actively volunteers with Soup Sisters, Karis Society and CRIS Adaptive Adventures. Angela joined Odlum Brown Limited as an Investment Advisor as she recognized alignment between her personal core values and those of the company.
Angela says she's learned along the way is you can’t manage change - you need to lead with change. A good leader is one that walks the floor, talks to people at all levels and demonstrates on a continuous basis the core values and forward-facing strategy.
She's particularly proud of her EU citizenship, obtained after 4 years of night school to learn Dutch and a two day government exam to demonstrate fluency. In fact, a VP level Director from ING Bank once asked her – after a one-hour program update – what part of the Netherlands she was from. According to Angela, you know you've done well when you can fool the native speakers.
In the Media:
Mark Fry has been a Superyacht Captain and entrepreneur for more than 20 years. He is a Master of Yachts instructor and examiner, marine surveyor and a boat designer. He is the founder and managing director of International Yacht Training Worldwide Inc. (IYT), a global leader in Superyacht marine certification, operating 300 nautical schools in 58 countries. In 2008, Mark brought his expertise to Kelowna, moving the IYT's world headquarters from Florida to Kettle Valley.
In 2017 Mark started The Templar Marine Group, a company with a unique concept of electric boat building and manufacturing. Boats are designed and built in Kelowna for the national and international market. There are currently two models available, a cruiser and a water taxi, with a further three models under development including an ambulatory care vessel. Boats can be used year-round and do not require winterizing as the motor is completely electric.They are almost completely silent when running and are exceptionally easy to operate.
Mark has logged over 300,000 miles logged at sea. He is a member of the British Marine and Coastguard Agency Yacht Qualification panel since 1997, a Life Member of the Navy League of the United States and small ship surveyor with the Society of American Marine Surveyors.
Mark is an author and co-author of 28 nautical books, 6 of which are registered in the U.S. Library of Congress. He is also a freelance writer for numerous nautical publications.
In the Media:
Peter has practiced as a lawyer in British Columbia for 17 years, primarily in the Central Okanagan with Farris, Vaughan, Wills & Murphy LLP. Peter’s clients include several high-profile institutions, private corporations and individuals in the region and involved him with some of the more impactful commercial and real estate development transactions in recent years.
Peter is also a dedicated member of the community. He is the director of the Kelowna General Hospital Foundation, where he has been involved in the creation of meaningful community projects, most recently the Interior Heart & Surgical Centre, Foundry Kelowna, and JoeAnna's House. Peter has also acted as Chair of the Board of Directors of the United Way of the Central and South Okanagan/Similkameen. In leading both boards, he has had the opportunity to work alongside Central Okanagan business and community leaders and help direct the critical work of each organization.
Peter previously served as a volunteer director of the United Way of the Central & South Okanagan/Similkameen (6 tears), director of the Kelowna Estate Planning Society (5 years, including 1 year as President), director of the Kelowna Visual & Performing Arts Centre Society (4 years), director of the Okanagan Science & Technology Council (2 years) and director of Project Literacy Kelowna Society (3 years). He has volunteered as a coach with Kelowna Minor Hockey Association and Central Okanagan Youth Soccer Association, for the past 6 years, coaching youth sports teams.
He holds an LLB degree (Bachelor of Laws) from the University of Victoria, and a BSc (bachelor of sciences) degree from the University of British Columbia.
In the Media:
Over the past three decades Treena’s professional career has been in community development, professional fundraising, marketing and administrative management. Just over a year ago Treena and her husband Aaron purchased a Real Property Management franchise and moved to Kelowna from the lower mainland to open an office in the Okanagan. In the short time they’ve been here she has been completely devoted to building their business and finding their places in the community. Within a few months she was invited to sit on the Board of Directors of the Kelowna Women in Business in the role of Sponsorship Director and she has been an active participant in the Kelowna business and professional networking community.
Whether it's managing a political campaign or being the school PAC president, devoted hockey wife and ball/hockey/band mom Treena is always busy in the community. She has always gravitated to leadership positions and to environments that involve action. She has run for public office, organized municipal capital project fundraising campaigns, chaired numerous boards and committees, and managed a large provincial event that involved working with over 500 volunteers. Her nature is to get involved, contribute, volunteer, inspire, and do whatever she can to evoke positive change in her community.
She’s an extremely strong advocate of community involvement and engagement, and her business (Real Property Management Executives) has sponsored many causes and organizations over the past seven months such as Kelowna Minor Hockey Association, Kelowna Women in Business (as co-host event sponsor), the VW Das Autoshau (founding the Children's Choice Award) and the 2018 Bushnell IPGA Tour. She also initiated a fundraising campaign for Inn from the Cold over the holiday season. Real Property Management Executives is a strong advocate of corporate community involvement and are very proud to be a registered "Do Some Good" company.
She’s also an active member in the Kelowna Business Professionals Network and proud season ticket holder for the Kelowna Rockets.
In the Media:
An energetic and passionate professional, Mary has lived in the Okanagan since 1996 and holds over 20 years of Kelowna-based experience in education, technology, and business. Her current focus revolves around her role as the CEO of Agents of Discovery - an innovative Software as a Service (SaaS) company developing a gaming platform that enables educators to create augmented reality, move-to-learn mobile games. They have sites at some of the world's most famous locations, including near the Hollywood sign and around the White House, and are now at over 200 sites worldwide.
Prior to founding Agents of Discovery in 2015, she was the President of Morningstar Enterprises for 17 years. This company created cross-platform mobile apps and websites, developed a wide range of online marketing tools, and coordinated major marketing and public relations campaigns in both the U.S. and Canada. The national PR campaigns she managed included The Trudeau Family Kokanee Glacier Alpine Campaign (1999-2001) and The Canadian Centennial of Flight (2002-2003), and notable local work was done with FortisBC sustainability programs. Concurrent to this, she worked alongside internationally renowned wildlife artist Robert Bateman for over a decade as the Founding Executive Director of the Get to Know Program - an international initiative aimed at meaningfully engaging youth with the natural world through the creative arts.
Mary's previous leadership experience also had education, social welfare, and sustainability currents. She worked as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Kids Kottage in Edmonton. Kids Kottage is Edmonton’s only crisis nursery, offering vulnerable families a safe and nurturing home-away-from-home for their children in times of stress, illness or hardship. She also taught for several years with Edmonton Public Schools - and can't imagine a more important role than teaching the next generation!
She has been a vocal proponent of the urgency with which society must connect youth with natural spaces. She played a leadership role on the Mission Creek Greenway Project, including engaging youth from all over the Okanagan in embracing one of their local wild spaces. Her passion continued with the Robert Bateman Program, as well as her current work using technology to engage kids in learning about natural phenomena.
She holds three degrees. Most recently, she earned an MEd at the University of British Columbia's Okanagan campus.
In the News:
In his nearly 30 years in the financial service industry, Kendall Gross has led major projects, sales teams, branch teams and districts. Three years ago he joined Valley First as the Vice President of Retail and Business Banking.
Central to Kendall's leadership style is ensuring his branch teams stay motivated and inspired. He has found it critical to be available, to listen and to follow through. Creating strength internally has allowed Valley First to be effective as an organization not only socially, but also has had an impact on the professional lives of all employees. The result has been great performance that not only benefits the credit union's members and employees but also the community as there are more resources to give back.Those resources include employees’ time to focus on local causes close to their hearts.
Kendall has led Valley First to a strengthened identity in the community, which has allowed it to adopt and achieve a social change focus. Whether it's working with the Central Okanagan Food Bank, PacificSport Okanagan, YMCA of Okanagan or Purppl, he has been able to mobilize their teams and focus their efforts to have meaningful impact in the region.
For the last 15 years, Kendall has been a volunteer coach for various youth sports. This has led to his involvement on different boards to help support these associations. Currently he is coaching high school football at Kelowna Secondary School. In addition, he volunteers time to coach football at a provincial level with two U16 teams representing BC at inter-provincial competitions throughout the summer
Volunteering in youth sports has also been part of his leadership experience. Starting with younger, children his role was to help them discover and develop their talents and skills. He wanted to keep them motivated and focused to have fun and confidence. Now that he is coaching at a high school level he finds that he is a mentor, helping them solve problems, stay positive and increase their performance and success.
Kendall has found the benefits of volunteering substantial not only to his own goals, but also to those of his family and community. Over the years volunteering has helped him to reduce stress, find friends, connect with the community, learn new skills, and even support career growth.
Over the last 3 years he has also had the opportunity to give back at the Central Okanagan Food Bank in different ways. Each Christmas he volunteers as a driver with his son to help with their Christmas Hamper program. He has also led two separate project teams which have helped the Food Bank as they have settled into their new space on Enterprise Way. These projects have led to a more dignified experience for Food Bank clients and improved work environment and flow for staff.
In the News:
Dr Ross Halperin is the Regional Medical Director, responsible for overall medical leadership for oncology services in BC’s interior. His clinical and research work has focused on the care and treatment of patients with lung cancer, prostate cancer and more recently has focused on health services research.
Originally from Ontario and having studied in Alberta, Dr Halperin moved to Kelowna in 2003 to join the BC Cancer - Kelowna Radiation Oncology department where he commenced the first regional prostate brachytherapy program in BC to complement the Vancouver program.
In 2005 he was appointed Regional professional practice leader of Radiation Oncology at BC Cancer - Kelowna, and served in that role until 2013 when he was appointed to a provincial VP leadership position. He served three years as Interim Vice-president responsible of Radiation Therapy, Functional Imaging, Surgical and Oral Oncology at BC Cancer and in this capacity was responsible for the distribution, quality, timeliness and innovation for radiation therapy and functional imaging services through the breadth of the BC Cancer including its six regional cancer centres.
Between 2003 and 2009, Dr Halperin worked actively alongside the BC Cancer Foundation to lead a fundraising initiative to raise enough money to purchase equipment and open the first brachytherapy suite at the Centre for the Southern Interior in 2009. The convenience of brachytherapy is such an important benefit to prostate patients because many do not actually live in Kelowna. Having the ability to go home after treatment and recover there, surrounded by family, is an advantage he’s proud to be a part of.
Dr. Halperin spent six years actively involved in the Canadian Association of Radiation Oncology Board of Directors as president-elect, president and past president and is still a Director on the CARO Foundation board. He is a regular participant in their annual run/walk and an active donor. During his time as president he brought the Radiation Oncology Patient Charter to life. The charter was about the organization shifting its focus to more patient input and patient centeredness.
In 2018, he received the BC Cancer Excellence Award for teamwork and collaboration for his part on the 2017 Emergency Response Flood and Fire Team.
Dr Halperin comes from a family of medical professionals. His father, Dr. Mitchell Halperin, has been appointed as a member of the Order of Canada for his research and work in kidney disease. Ross’s brother, Dr. Frank Halperin, is a cardiology medical director at Kelowna General Hospital. His mother and sister are both nurses. In fact, his family has had a medical legacy since arriving in Canada in the late 1800s - his grandfather was a doctor and a dentist and his great uncle, Dr. Sidney Halperin was a physician during the First World War.
Dr Halperin is married with three children. Despite his years of formal education and training, he says it's his spouse who has taught him the most in life.
In the News:
Ingrid Dilschneider has spent over 35 years in hospitality, most recently as Director of Business Development for Predator Ridge. During her eight-year tenure at Predator, she also took on community work as the President of the Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Vernon Tourism Council, Director for the Tourism Association of BC, and Director for the Provincial Destination Marketing Organization for Tourism Association of BC, among others.
Ingrid left Predator Ridge to start her own company, Matrix Marketing, with the goal to provide affordable marketing solutions for small business. In the last two years, she's assisted fifteen companies with successful campaigns, including some on a pro bono basis.
When the Thompson Okanagan Tourism Association came calling, Ingrid found their offer - to help with travel trade, and marketing their commitment to responsible tourism – ticked all the boxes of continuing to bring the community together for the greater good.
Ingrid says she feels that her commitment to mentoring young professionals in the community has been her greatest achievement: helping the next generation reach their potential is of paramount importance and a priority.
Her other accomplishments include:
In the media:
Currently the Executive Director of the Kelowna Foundation, Ginny Becker’s career has been a unique and exciting combination of professional sales, business development, corporate event and conference design management, marketing, leadership, fundraising, project management and non-profit work.
After completing university, Ginny and her husband returned to the Okanagan. She set out to start working in a locally relevant industry and found her footing within the wine industry. Working in an industry so integral to the local economy was a game changer for her. It instilled a desire to work in areas where she could see the impact and feel connected to the community. She had the opportunity to work in a number of roles throughout the tourism industry, which was followed by a 15-year path through the healthcare sector. Each of these roles was based in Kelowna and afforded her the opportunity to build a strong professional network throughout the community.
Three years ago, Ginny made the jump into the non-profit sector. Ginny says she's truly found her purpose in an environment that has allowed her go home at the end of the day knowing that her efforts had somehow improved the landscape of the community. As the Executive Director of the Kelowna Foundation, an organization dedicated to doing project-based work that directly benefits community, her current priority project is the development of the Child Advocacy Centre of Kelowna.
Over the years, Ginny has had the opportunity to lead many projects and teams. She believes in a collaborative leadership model and that her strength as a leader lies in her ability to find amazing individuals and then empower them to do extraordinary work. Building confident and loyal team members is how she approaches creating efficiency and high functioning teams. She has led teams through some very high-pressure, time-sensitive projects and in each case, success came as a result of trusting that the people that you are surrounded by are capable and dedicated.
The work that she gets to do today on the Child Advocacy Centre is a great example of this formula. The team dedicated to seeing this project come to life is a group of impassioned professionals who are deeply dedicated to their roles in making this project a reality. Guiding the collaboration and stakeholder relationships is the best part of this work, she says, as it affords her the opportunity to work with individuals who are passionately committed to the work of improving the lives of children.
Giving back has always been part of her personal work-life balance. Not everyone is in a position to give back financially but everyone can find a way to give back through the valuable resource of time. Alongside her sister, Ginny has been an active supporter of the work of Diabetes Canada since 2005. Over the last three years, they've combined forces to fundraise and advocate for this important work, participating in two international marathon events as Team Diabetes Ambassadors(with their third coming in May) and raising almost $60,000 towards furthering research and care for this deeply personal cause.
Ginny has always tried to connect to community as often as possible by volunteering at events like the United Way breakfast preparation, ringing the bells for the Salvation Army at Christmas time with her children and getting connected through her kids school and extra curricular activities.
Especially as a parent, it is very important, she says, to set an example for her children on the value of giving back and the personal feeling of reward that comes with getting involved.
Ginny has always been motivated to continue evolving her education and has always sought opportunities to continue to advance professional development. Over the years she’s secured post-graduate training in business and marketing as well as in economic development, personal wellness and sales proficiency. You will often find her attending local seminars and community-based education opportunities offered through organizations like Chamber and AFP. According to Ginny, nobody is ever really done learning.
In the media:
Myron Campbell is an Educator, Media Artist and Designer from Kelowna, BC.
From 2001-2008, Campbell worked with the Trailer Park Boys in Halifax and spent 2 years at the Banff Centre For The Arts as Lead Designer for the online digital arts + culture magazine, Horizon Zero and 1 year as an Interactive Consultant for visiting artists and writers.
In 2008, after several years of freelance interactive design and animation, Campbell joined Switch United as their youngest Art Director at 28 years old. He co-created interactive installations for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and in December 2010, he was awarded Best Interactive Designer at the Canadian New Media Awards in Toronto, Ontario.
After 4 years of teaching in the Digital Design Program at the Vancouver Film School, Campbell has joined as faculty at the University of British Columbia Okanagan where he teaches digital media in the Creative Studies department.
Since 2014, Campbell has worked locally with clients such as BNA Brewing and Cannery Brewing and has collaborated with several local non-profits on promotional projects and/or hosting community engaged events.
He’s worked with hundreds of students in the past decade during his career as an educator which he describes as an incredible learning experience which allows him the opportunity to share his experience with others. He says that mentoring students and assisting them in their pursuit of a creative life is incredibly rewarding and is a role he will continue.
As an Art Director, he has led teams on several large-scale projects, most notably large interactive installations during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. Myron has directed film and animation as well as promotional campaigns and branding projects.
Myron's volunteer work includes “Draw By Night”- a collaborative and social drawing party that involves faculty, students, industry and the community. Each event asks the participants to experiment and draw in collaboration while engaging in a night of networking. In the past 5 years, there have been 30 parties in collaboration with several community partners including the Kelowna Art Gallery, Kelowna Museums, Downtown Kelowna, Cool Arts Society and the Alternator Centre for Contemporary Art.
Myron was part of the Board of Governors at the Alternator Centre 2014-16; and collaborated with the Kelowna Art Gallery on the first annual Canada Day painting event in 2016 and curated an exhibition in February 2017 which showcased student work.
Myron also coordinated student group projects to create promotional video for several non-profits such as Cool Arts Society, BC Cancer Agency, Crime Stoppers, The Bridge Family & Youth Services, Unicef and Tetra Society.
He curated an animation festival for 3 years in a row as part of the Living Things Performance Festival and hosted 4 years of the Student Okanagan Film Festival
Myron completed a Masters of Applied Arts with distinction at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design in 2012, where he received the Governor General’s Gold Medal for Academic Excellence.
Additional accolades include:
Rosalind Neis is a 22-year resident of West Kelowna, serving as a nurse, city councillor, mayor, volunteer and is now an entrepreneur.
Rosalind began her career in the medical field, working for 17 years as an operating room nurse at Kelowna General Hospital. She is one of 200 Nurse First Assists in Canada, which requires an additional two years of training. She continues to work as an RN doing locums throughout BC, as well as with the Canadian Red Cross on international missions, serving in Nepal after the devastating 2015 earthquake and more recently with the Rohingya in Bangladesh. She works to teach new nurses through mentorships and has given two lectures to nursing students at UBC Okanagan and Thompson-Rivers University regarding her experience global nursing with the Red Cross.
In 2007, Rosalind successfully ran for Mayor of West Kelowna and later served on council for two more terms. Rosalind says she believes as a resident and member of West Kelowna council that her impact on the community was to strive to listen to the citizens and provide the best possible representation using a common sense approach to administrative issues and financial issues. She works to show by example - she drives a smart car, installed solar panels on her house, uses clothes lines, does not not use plastic and regularly uses rain barrels. She believes that citizens need to take pollution seriously and all work together for a healthier planet - the precious Okanagan lake and the valley way of life must be preserved and everyone needs to start living smarter and wiser.
Last year Rosalind, along with business partner Michelle Rochon, started Ecostraw Products Inc. to sell their invention - the world’s first two-piece personal drinking straw as an alternative to help eliminate single use plastics straws.
Whether as a nurse, as a mayor and member of council, as a director for the West Kelowna Board of Trade and the Central Okanagan Regional District, Rosalind says she always did her best to offer guidance and leadership. She believes leadership comes in many forms and styles - the environment is a great passion and concern of hers, and she provides leadership by how she lives her daily life.
Rosalind previously volunteered as treasurer of the Lakeview Heights Community Association back in early 2000 and worked to support her local neighborhood through fundraising and increase membership drives of this organization. She was a member of the PAC at Constable Neil Bruce middle school and assisted with information and fund raising for the school. As a director of the West Kelowna Board of Trade she worked with the Board to assist local businesses in West Kelowna access needed resources and network to improve their reach. She believes she can make a positive impact by showing her community how lucky Canadians are, and to keep informing people that everyone can make a difference when they know what is happening globally.
Rosalind fostered a child some years ago, striving to provide the best example of a loving family and warm environment to someone in need.
About Michelle Rochon, Co-Founder Ecostraw Products Inc.
Michelle Rochon came to the Okanagan from Peace River (Alberta) in 2017. Captivated by the beauty and warmth, she never left. Rochon is a world traveler, having been to more than 50 countries in 25 years. She has lived in New Zealand, France and China. In her travels, she discovered that all the countries had a common denominator – pollution.
In 2017, through a friend, Rochon met Rosalind Neis who shared that same discovery. As they began to travel together, they noticed that many countries were aware of the problem and are taking steps to eliminate pollution as best they can with their resources. Just one year ago, as they sat overlooking a foreign sea, they discussed how they, as Canadians, could make a difference. Ecostraw was conceived at that moment. Back home, with the help of family engineers and a friend who specialized in metals, an engineered drawing was developed. Rochon and Neis sourced local and overseas manufacturers and quickly received prototypes. With a little tweaking here and there, they had a product ready for mass production. Their first order arrived in May 2018 and they began to spread the word to eliminate single use plastic.
In a short time Ecostraw has grown: 30+ distributors across Canada, as well as the Dominican Republic and Mexico. The numbers continue to grow. Both co-founders feel fortunate for the ongoing support of family, friends and customers.
Michelle Hewitt’s career in education began in England and continued at Lester B Pearson United World College of the Pacific on Vancouver Island, before she moved to the Central Okanagan, to School District 23.
Just over ten years ago, Michelle was principal of Oyama Traditional School when she was diagnosed with an aggressive type of Multiple Sclerosis. Within six months the disease had advanced to such an extent that she became a full-time wheelchair user and unable to work. Her severe fatigue means that she spends at least 16 hours a day in bed. Michelle now devotes her time to disability advocacy, hoping to improve the lives of disabled people in the Central Okanagan by refusing to allow their lived experiences to be invisible in our communities. Through advocacy with the MS Society, Michelle has worked to highlight the need for age-appropriate care for those severely disabled with MS while under the age of 65 and living in long term care facilities. Michelle has worked with the City of Kelowna to create the Accessible Transit Working Group to advance the needs of all disabled people in the Central Okanagan for reliable, effective transportation. Michelle also formed the Central Okanagan Disability Coalition as a vehicle to disseminate information on disability matters to all members of the local community through a quarterly newsletter.
As a teacher, school administrator and musician, leadership has been an integral part of Michelle’s life, culminating in her work in the Central Okanagan as a Vice Principal at Kelowna Secondary School and Principal of Oyama Traditional School. When MS ended that career, Michelle used her leadership skills to advocate for disabled people. Within the MS Society, Michelle has had a myriad of volunteer leadership roles, from Chapter Chair to Walk Chair, to her current role, volunteer lead of the Government Relations Community for the BC and Yukon division of the MS Society. Aside from the MS Society, Michelle has used the skills she developed as a leader to advocate to the municipal, provincial and federal elected officials in our community for improvements to the lives of disabled people.
Michelle’s current volunteering and advocacy takes place within the limits of her disability, demonstrating that much can be achieved from bed, through email and by phone call. Her current advocacy concentrates on improving the lives of disabled people in the Central Okanagan, through advocating for improved care, improved transportation and ensuring that the voice of disabled people is heard. For example, 2018 saw Michelle initiating considerable advocacy about the need for some disabled people to have access to plastic straws while dining out. As well as volunteering with the MS Society of Canada in a variety of roles, Michelle is also a board member of Disability Alliance BC, a founding member of the City of Kelowna’s Accessible Transit Working Group, the founder of the Central Okanagan Disability Coalition and a member of the Patient Engagement in Research committee with Interior Health.
Hewitt holds two Masters degrees, and last year was awarded with the 2018 MS Society of Canada B.C. and Yukon division’s volunteer impact in advocacy and awareness award.
Darcy Nyrose has been in the real estate business for over 20 years with 10 of those years in Kelowna. His firm, Nyrose & Associates, primarily works with real estate developers to help plan, create, sell and complete new home developments in the Okanagan. As well, they work with buyers and sellers in the resale business. Nyrose & Associates has eight licensed Realtors and four administrative staff and has achieved the award for Top Ten Teams in Canada every year; most recently, they received the Top Team for Ultimate Survey from past Clients two years in a row for their work with Coldwell Banker Canada.
Prior to moving to Kelowna, Darcy was Vice President of both Polygon homes and Solterra Developments. During those tenures, he mentored a sales team of over 35, creating work processes and an environment to help them grow and flourish in the real estate business. In Kelowna, he created Nyrose & Associates and has helped mentor over 15 Realtors to gain confidence and grow their brand alongside his company’s. In the development field, he’s been able to guide and lead developers to better understand what the market in Kelowna wants and to help convince them to build product and housing to reflect those needs.
Volunteering and advocacy is important to Darcy and his family. His wife Shauna works at the Kelowna Hospital Foundation and oversees a charity she created with others. Having lost a brother to suicide many years ago, Darcy and his family are advocates for mental health and the hospital foundation. The Nyrose team has also volunteered for Habit for Humanity.
Darcy frequently volunteers for his children's school and sports programs. He has a diploma from the Sauder School of Business at UBC for SMEI (Sales and Marketing Executive International) in additional to having completed the real estate course from the Sauder School.
Born and raised in Kelowna, Coni Grande enrolled at the Kelowna School of Hairdressing located down the street where she grew up. Originally drawn by competing in hair competitions, Coni found personal satisfaction working in an industry helping individuals feel and look their best. She worked at a salon for three years right out of hairdressing school before purchasing an existing salon in the Town Centre Mall in 1997. Originally called Sheer Impressions, Coni renamed the salon Amici's Hair and Body Spa after a couple years; largely because amicis translated to "friends" in Italian.
Starting with an existing staff of five in a ten-station salon, Coni was determined to expand to full capacity by the next year. She hired talented stylists, added a nail technician, and built an aesthetics room and a tanning room.
By 2000 she was confident with the feedback on her positive reputation, great staff and full service salon spa concept. That led Coni to envision one of Kelowna’s first two-story salon spaces of over 3000 square feet with a salon on the main level and spa on the second level, in the heart of downtown Kelowna. Since the day the new location opened, she has prioritized a work-life balance, continued to offer great customer service and has been fully committed to community involvement where possible.
When Coni originally decided to purchase her first salon in 1997, she made a promise to herself that she would embrace her late father’s customer philosophy. Peter Grande ran a successful and reputable downtown business for over 30 years: a tailor and men's wear shop. He inspired his daughter to respect customers who walk in and offer them over and above customer service and to give back to the community that supports your business.
Coni says she also believes business owners should always respect and treat staff fairly and remind them how much they are appreciated. She still follows this philosophy today, after 21 years. When staff experience positive leadership, they are empowered to best assist guests and clients. It’s a mutual support system - leading and supporting one another is a very powerful gift to give
Coni's community support includes fundraising or volunteering at events whenever possible or donating gift baskets for raffles to help any corporate, non-profit, or even an individual who is asking for a donation.
Recently Amici’s participated in the COHA Swinging with the Stars, volunteering their time and talents to the many dancers who are also volunteers for the event for the local hospice. Amici’s also conducts its own Food and Toy Drive annually, collecting goods or financial donations for the Central Okanagan Food Bank and Kelowna Santas, two organizations helping assist individuals and families in need in the Okanagan.
Coni graduated from Immaculata High School, and then completed a Business Administration diploma at Okanagan College, plus her BC Licence for Cosmetology. She competed in hair competitions provincially, nationally, and internationally including the 1995 World Hair Olympics. She was honoured in 2004 as a Nominee for the YMCA-YWCA Women of Distinction Award in Career Leadership; also nominated for Best of the Okanagan; and nominated and won Best of Kelowna Salons.
Karen Erickson has been with IG Wealth Management for over 21 years, starting as a marketing assistant. She continued to climb the ranks, working as an executive assistant then pivoting to a Consultant role, not letting the typically male-dominated financial service industry deter her from climbing the ladder.
Karen would eventually become a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), charged with acting in the best interest of her clients. From there she moved into the Division Director role and was responsible for her consultant's professional development. Five years after that role, she moved into the most senior role of the Okanagan, Regional Director. She took all of the Okanagan offices to new heights by creating a supportive culture and focusing on community service.
Karen is now part of a mother-daughter team built up of all women and three CFPs. Using the same core beliefs, she transfers those skills into the community. She has served on the board of the United Way for six years. She is active in organizing the Alzheimer’s Walk and has inspired many women as a senior woman in leadership. She is a part of the Women in Leadership Foundation, helping empower the next generation of leaders. She was a part of the launch of the Kelowna chapter of WIL, currently working towards increasing jobs for Indigenous women, women with disabilities and encouraging every work force to increase their diversity and inclusion efforts.
Karen co-runs the event Swing Away for United Way with her daughter. Together they raised over $2000 last year from this golf swing clinic for women. The clinic is designed to be a non-pressure way for women to ask questions of a golf pro and increase their skills. She has been involved in SD23’s grad transitions for several years, preparing grade 12 students for the real world with an action plan and a goal.
She holds the highest accredited Financial Planning designation from the Financial Planning Standards Council, the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. She also holds a Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC) designation. Karen has received four CFP, RRC, Business achievement awards (known as the pillars).
During the weekdays Paul Nesbitt designs award-winning luxury homes with his company Nesbitt Originals, but on weekends his goal is working with Canadian Designated Driver Dads Inc. and getting volunteer dads to go out to the parties, bars, and night clubs to give the people of this community a safe option to get home with their vehicles if they’ve been drinking or doing drugs.The service rolls every Friday and Saturday night and is offered strictly on a “donations only” basis.
Nesbitt describes himself as a servant leader by nature. He doesn’t ask his volunteer dads to do anything that he wouldn't model or do himself. Serving the youth of Kelowna is an honour and a huge responsibility. In ten years of going out twice each weekend, Nesbitt says he has seen many guys come and go as they try to help youth stay safe. The volunteer dads that have stayed long term are the ones that make it about the people they serve rather than the loss of sleep and fatigue the next day, or the dangers that are involved in being out late at night. Keeping guys focused on the bigger picture has been his ongoing mandate as a leader. Nesbitt tries to lead by encouragement as most volunteers respond to praise. He says that the fact that other men come out to volunteer to help drive the kids of the city home safe is amazing in itself.
Nesbitt attended Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in Edmonton, but says his real education came after working for B. J. Wensley and Associates.
He won the City of Kelowna's Fred Macklin "Man of the Year" award in 2012. In 2012, he also won the Diamond Jubilee Award from the Queen for community service. He also was awarded the Capital News Community Leader: "Above & Beyond Award" for Designated Driver Dads. Nesbitt Originals Ltd., his design company, has won over 30 Local Tommie, Provincial Georgie, and National Sam awards for the houses that he has designed and built since 1994.
Growing up, Marylyn Needham would often travel to Kelowna to visit her great uncle Austin Willett, a Kelowna pioneer, on his orchard on what is now Gordon Drive. "I loved Kelowna and knew it was where I wanted to call home and build a career,” she says. After high school, she accomplished her goal, completing the Okanagan College Business Diploma programme, then transferring into the CGA, then CA programme while articling for Snowsell, Jennens & Carter (which became the CPA firm MNP).
In 1991, Marylyn joined Carruthers & Meikle in Kelowna and Locations West Realty in Penticton as their joint Controller; and became the CFO of Royal LePage Kelowna when the real estate brokerages merged in 1998. During this time, Needham got married and raised two great kids while immersing herself into the world of Parent Advisory Councils and soccer coaching. She takes pride in knowing that through these leadership roles in the community, she was able to touch hundreds of lives in the Central Okanagan.
In 2010, Marylyn left Royal Lepage to become the CFO and one of the principals in the management of a mortgage investment corporation, which in 2017 was involved in a corporate reorganization and Three Point Capital was born. Needham says she loves being part of a team, working with colleagues to manage Three Point Capital’s $75M mortgage fund. Helping Three Point Capital’s shareholders, most of whom live in the Central Okanagan and have been with the company for over 24 years, is her favourite part of the day.
“If you are going to do a job, any job, don’t bother unless you are going to do it to the best of your ability”. This was the mantra that she was taught by her parents and hopes she instilled in her own kids and business associates. As past CFO of brokerages, each with well over 100 agents, and now as CFO of a company with over 400 shareholders, there are opportunities to lead every day. Whether trying to accomplish a large project with multiple team members, presenting to 150 shareholders at an AGM, or leading eight year old girls on the soccer pitch – the basics are the same. Needham thinks that you must be passionate, care, listen and demonstrate in order to be an effective leader. And then, don’t micro-manage, but offer support if needed. She has managed many teams in her career as well as volunteering when she was PAC President for Rose Valley and CNB Schools.
Marylyn's volunteerism and advocacy is shared between the community and her industry. While her kids attended school, she had several volunteer roles in the school district. She was a parent representative on school planning councils and team parent on many sport teams. Not being a soccer player, she joined a ladies’ soccer league so that she could actually walk the walk. She coached pretty much the same girls for five years. Today, she loves running into one of those now 21-year-old women.
Professionally, her industry is in constant flux and she values her long-term seat on the Board of the BC MIC Managers Association since 2012. As Treasurer, she directs the Board on all financial matters and reports quarterly to the BC membership. As an organization, they manage over $3 billion in mortgages in BC. Marylyn says that it is an honour to hold this volunteer/advocacy position and help shape the future of the industry.
Marylyn's designations include: Chartered Professional Accountant (CA, CGA) of BC; Business Diploma from Okanagan College – 1983. She was proud that in 2016 Three Point Capital was awarded the Kelowna Mentally Healthy Workplace Award (small business division) by the Canadian Mental Health Association Kelowna. She was moved that one of their employees was behind the nomination. And she was awarded the Coach of the Year by Westside Youth Soccer in 2008.
With more than 37 years working for Coast Capital Savings in Financial services, Bonnie Kilistoff was selected to open the Kelowna branch of Coast Capital Savings in November 2016, giving her the opportunity to fulfill one of her life dreams – to live, work and play in the Okanagan. Most of her career has been in Coast Capital's retail branches, helping members and leading teams (from 5-30).
Bonnie has built a team of exceptional financial professionals who have a passion for supporting their communities and improving the lives of members. She previously led a two-year project in ITG to implement a loans origination software program, she realized that her heart and soul belonged in the retail branches where she could fulfill her purpose - to create an environment where people thrive, grow and are inspired to work together to make a positive impact on the lives of those around us and the communities they serve.
During her years leading retail branch teams, Bonnie has excelled in hiring right, training well, developing and promoting staff. For many years she was responsible for mentoring new leaders in the organization and is proud of this legacy. An opportunity as Implementation Manager for a loans origination program that affected hundreds of staff across the organization was an amazing challenge. As a change leader, she worked with diverse teams to ensure the roll-out of the program was successful. In this new market branch, with a ground-breaking model of delivering service she’s been able to experiment and adapt to a fast growing member base and changing member needs. Brand awareness has been a major focus through building relationships in the community by supporting and engaging in community events and initiatives.
Bonnie has held many leadership positions in Community Groups that she has served over the years including Girl Guides of Canada, and various Parent Advisory Councils. She believes volunteering is important; after being on PACs, she went into the classrooms and provided financial literacy workshops to grade 10 students. Soon she was presenting workshops to hundreds of students at three different high schools. Junior Achievement was a natural fit for her passion for youth financial literacy. She helped grow the program in Langley and recruited volunteers to meet this growing need. Junior Achievement was one of the first organizations she connected with in Kelowna, where she regularly volunteers as a facilitator and helps recruit others.
She also works with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Foundry. She has helped secure a number of grants for the Foundry as well as participating as a sponsor and rider in the Ride Don’t Hide and hole sponsor at their golf tournament each year. Coast Capital also supports the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, MBA and CHBACO tournaments as hole sponsors. Cruz the Blues at Big White is a Corporate sponsorship, and the local staff are on mountain at each event handing out Coast swag and -Tshirts.
Bonnie is an avid learner and loves to challenge herself to learn new skills and develop leadership skills. Bonnie says not a day goes by where she doesn’t learn something new. This is one of the things she loves about her job. She has been honoured as Leader of the Year three times by Coast Capital Savings, the first to do so in the company's history.
Peter Boyd’s years of experience and career as a grocer started in Vancouver more than three decades ago. Exactly 30 years ago on January 1st 1989, Peter move to Kelowna to open and manage the then Extra Foods.The opportunity presented itself four years ago for him to be an owner of his own grocery store when Loblaw’s decided to turn the store to a franchise.
Through owning and operating his own store Peter has been able to influence the types and quality of products that enter through his doors, giving him the opportunity to source and buy locally. He can confidently explain to his customers so they can understand how and where their food is being produced. Artisto Gelato was his first local vendor and still holds the same spot in his store today and in his freezer at home.
Peter believes that leadership requires effective communication and the ability to guide your staff and those you come in contact with to improve their performance and to even help them actualize their dreams. Peter is proud to say he has motivated, encouraged and helped at least three of his former employees to their goal of managing their own grocery store.
For the past few years he has also had the honor of sitting on the board of Kelowna Community Resources. Through this partnership, he has been able to meet many new Canadians and provide them the unique opportunity of their first Canadian job. Peter's mother’s always believed that nobody should be left behind, and providing newcomers their first job helps Peter fulfill that vision.
Peter's leadership experience has taught him that effective leadership requires daily learning and improving in weak areas so that employees or people in general can be motivated and encouraged to carry out their best. He is happy that he has had the opportunity to give his time and resources to help in areas that are of interest to him and to those who require assistance. By sitting on the board of KCR, Peter volunteers his time to a not-for-profit organization that helps and matches families and individuals with services for their unique needs. He is a firm believer that basic education opens doors of opportunities and he is a regular supporter of Project Literacy. He also supports, volunteers with and donates to these organizations; Heart & Stroke, Canadian Mental Health Association, Gospel Mission, Food Bank, National Volunteer Week, Okanagan Volunteer Opportunities Fair and the Central Okanagan Hospice.
The diversity of cultures in Kelowna makes it such a wonderful city and Peter supports this unique and beautiful characteristic through organizations such as the Annual Okanagan Caribbean Festival and the Metis Community Services.
He is very proud of the work his staff, family and he himself does with local schools. All give their time to help with their breakfast program, join them numerous times for their reading times and donating wherever possible with the different needs the schools might have.
Peter graduated high school and then went straight to life experience and on the job training – all of which are invaluable.
Peter has received, with humility, the following awards:
Dana Sutton was formerly the Business Manager at Aberdeen Hall Preparatory School for five years. While there she ran the accounting department with the support of the Treasurer of the board while also helping the school grow in many other roles. In 2014, she bought White Business Services and has been focused on developing young bookkeepers to move up in her company and take on more responsibility, while providing excellent and accurate services to their clients.
White Business Services has grow to a team of eight staff that works together cohesively to achieve great results. Dana says that her senior account managers are a huge part of their success.
Although she is proud of the business experiences she’s had, Dana thinks the biggest impact anybody can have is on the young people around them. Helping teenagers and young adults to step into the real world and achieve success is what she’s most proud of. In the past she has instructed Ladies Self-Defense courses locally with a friend. She’s coached softball, held coaching seminars for parents wishing to coach, and taught power-skating and beginner skating courses.
Dana is also past-president of a local Business Referral group and is currently the treasurer, and has been on the board for several sporting organizations when her children were participating in local sports including the Okanagan Wrestling Association and the Ogopogo Swim team. She has been a local tutor of all grades from primary through to first/second year university and college for 25 years. She’s involved in Futurepreneur as a mentor, and supports a youth in her home on a young adult agreement with the Ministry of Children and Family Services. White Business Services also takes practicum students from local college programs every year.
Dana's educational achievements include: Bachelor of Arts, Major in Political Science, minor in Accounting Certified Professional Bookkeeper, IPBC. Aberdeen Hall named the Senior School Math Award after her. Okanagan College has given White Business Services Acknowledgement Certificates for supporting their programs.
Dana has also raised two amazing children to be positive, hard-working, contributing members of society.
Since moving to Kelowna in 1995, Todd Cashin has worked in the forestry, transportation and municipal sectors and has developed a strong background in environmental, agricultural and subdivision planning, stream hydrology, river restoration and emergency management. He currently has over ten years of municipal management experience, over 15 years experience in land use planning, as well as 20 years of environmental planning experience.
Todd is currently the Director of the Community Services Department with the Regional District of Central Okanagan. As the Director of Community Services and member of the Senior Leadership Team at the RDCO, Todd is accountable for the overall management and performance of the services in the Division which include: Planning Services, Inspection Services and Police Services. He says the main challenge of the position is leading the evolution of the division, in one of the most desirable places in which to live in Canada, while achieving the Region’s Strategic Priorities Plan and the Regional Growth Strategy Priority Projects Plan. He adds that his position requires strong leadership skills and the ability to communicate complex technical and non-technical issues and to sometimes offer solutions in difficult situations. This requires regular interaction with politicians, senior leadership teams, staff, the public, developers, non-government organizations, consultants and the media.
Todd previously spent over ten years with the City of Kelowna as an Environment Manager, Planning Manager and as a Subdivision Approving Officer. As an Environmental Planner, Todd led one of the first sensitive ecosystem inventories in BC and conducted the first comprehensive habitat inventories for streams, wetland and foreshore in the Central Okanagan. He was a leader on numerous initiatives such as the Mission Creek Restoration Plan, Official Community Plan, Agriculture Plan, Pesticide Bylaw and assisted with many impactful projects such as the development of Stuart Park, John Hindle Drive, Glenmore Recreation Park and the City’s Knox Mountain Management Plan, Parkland Acquisition Guidelines, Sustainable Urban Forest Strategy and Linear Parks Master Plan.
At the Emergency Operations Centre, Todd led Advanced Planning on the West Kelowna fires in 2009 and Mission Creek flooding in 2013. Since 2013, he’s worked in the role of Planning Section Chief dealing with emergencies the last two springs as well as recent wildfires such as the Okanagan Centre fire in 2017 and the Mt. Eneas fire in 2018.
As a volunteer, Todd’s been involved with Trout Unlimited Canada (TUC) since 1994. He was the Provincial Resource Board Secretary from 2000 until 2003, Community Liaison Officer for the Okanagan Region from 2000 until 2005 and is a founding member of the Okanagan Chapter. The Chapter raises money for restoration projects on Mission Creek and the Kettle River annually. This year marked the 10th Annual TUC Fly Fishing Film Festival held in Kelowna.
Todd's been involved in environmental and agricultural planning in the Okanagan Valley since the late 1990s. He’s been the staff liaison for the Environmental Advisory Commission and the Agricultural Advisory Committee whose primary objective is to advocate for the protection, management and appreciation for environmental and agricultural sustainability. He’s also participated in advisory committees at the local, provincial and federal levels advocating for things like the Okanagan Wetland Strategy, better Wildfire Communications in the Okanagan, Species & Ecosystems at Risk and for better Land Development in BC. Todd has also a proud member and volunteer with the Big White Ski Club since 2009. The club recently hosted the Western Ski Cross Finals for the second year in a row at Telus Park.
He received a Diploma in Environmental Science in 1994 and a Certificate of Specialization as a Fish & Wildlife Technologist in 1995 from Lethbridge College. He also attended the Universities of Brandon, Lethbridge and Montana enrolled in geography, biology and forestry programs. More recently, he received his Subdivision Approving Officer certificate from the Municipal Administration Training Institute (2014) and has participated as an instructor in subsequent years. He’s a member of the Association of BC Forest Professionals, BC College of Applied Biology and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC.
Prior to working for the City, he was nominated for the Mayor’s Environmental Achievement Award twice (2002 & 2005) and was subsequently awarded the Mayor’s Environmental Achievement Award in 2006 for work with the Regional District’s Environmental Advisory Commission. While at the City of Kelowna, he was awarded the first City Manager’s Sustainability Award for Performance (2010) and in 2017 was presented a peer award by the BC Task Force on Species & Ecosystems at Risk for the Mission Creek Restoration Initiative.
Margaret Wort started her business in women’s foundation garments in 1975. She pursued the designer she heard about on CBC-TV, flew to Toronto, and became a local consultant for the garments. Crash courses in fitting, visits to a lawyer, and withdrawing and re-investing her savings followed. She started selling door to door, set up a home office, and soon was able to rent downtown retail space.
About fifteen years on, daughter Susan joined the company as bookkeeper and stock controller. After several retail location moves, Margaret found a successful location on Lawrence where the company stayed for 19 years. Fashion Foundations are now located in Spall Plaza.
Margaret employs seven women who keep meticulous records of customer needs and results of personal fittings. Over the course of her life she has been actively involved in many groups – Toast Mistress, Business & Professional Women, Kelowna Little Theatre, Theatre Kelowna, Kiwassa Meals-on-Wheels. She also volunteered at the KGH Gift Shop & New Horizons Seton Centre for Seniors. She’s currently active with the Okanagan Historical Society, the Okanagan Heritage Society and the Catholic Women’s League of Canada.
Susan Wort was born and raised in Kelowna. She started her working career at 16 as an inventory clerk at Mitchell's Auto Parts, before a promotion to Telex Operator, where she says she was very fortunate to have great mentors.
Several general office jobs followed until she was hired on as a bookkeeper working in a small office of a lumber mill in Winfield with the owners. After 13 years, her mother reached out from her thriving home business and asked Susan to join in to help her expand.
Susan jumped in, and 25 years later they have six staff; 2000 square feet of approachable, broad-based inventory in a lingerie boutique. As they both say, they turned out to be a pretty good team. Susan says that happy and satisfied customers are their benchmark, and their impact has been just that.
Steve Harvey is the CEO and founder of Business Finders Canada. As a full service Commercial Real Estate Brokerage, Business Finders helps connect buyers and sellers of businesses and commercial properties. Harvey has been a leader at Business Finders since 2009 and a leader in the community. He is also a director on the Downtown Kelowna Association and the President of the Okanagan Chapter, Entrepreneurs Organization. Business Finders Canada has delivered consistent results over the years as they demystify the business buying and selling process. The company recently celebrated the opening of their first franchise brokerage in Edmonton.
Harvey and his team are seasoned veterans when it comes to commercial real estate and business transactions. His own expertise encompasses many fields over several industries, as he has owned multiple businesses, managed businesses, and been on both sides of franchising. Harvey says he and his staff are proud to be part of Kelowna and proud to be part of their community. Since 2009, the company has completed over 1000 transactions across BC and Alberta; there is an ongoing demand for businesses in Kelowna and in the Okanagan.
When it comes to leadership, Harvey believes in keeping things as simple as possible. A streamlined management structure gives the company the opportunity to focus on what is working and what is not and a short time frame to correct any downward trend before it becomes an issue. Monitoring and measuring results and behaviours is key to performance management. Harvey’s leadership style incorporates living up to and by their core values.
As a board member of the Downtown Kelowna Association, Harvey advocates on behalf of downtown business owners and landlords. Strong leadership and the ability to negotiate successfully for others have earned him his title as “The Dealmaker.” He wants to positively impact the community. Helping business owners overcome obstacles and show growth is something he does for a living, day in and day out.
Harvey’s background includes: Graduate of Mount Royal College 1992, Aviation; Commercial Trading Services License; Graduate of Business Broker Training Centre; Commercial Zone Full member; Board member of the Downtown Kelowna Association; President of the Entrepreneurs Organization; Member of the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce since 2010.
Graduating from the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine, Alexandra Deliyannides is now a decade into her career as a Family Physician in Kelowna. She considers it good fortune to have moved here in 2009; she calls the move extremely satisfying and rewarding.
Alexandra took an interesting route to becoming an MD. She started her career in Fine Arts, attending the Alberta College of Art and Design where she earned a Bachelor of Arts (Jewellery & Metalsmithing). Later, she received an Honours degree in Psychology (Neurosciences) at the University of Calgary. She moved to the University of Alberta, where she took her Doctor of Medicine degree. Her residency was in Rural Family Medicine, also through the University of Alberta. Deliyannides received a number of academic awards during her university career, including a Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada award in 2002.
Providing general medical care to patients at her family practice, currently Centuria Medical Clinic, has given Alexandra the opportunity to build positive relationships and enjoy the privilege of supporting people through challenging times in their lives. And by getting involved in aspects of medicine outside of her practice, she has the chance to help vulnerable people in the community as well as teach the next generation of doctors. Alexandra includes in her most interesting and rewarding experiences a provincial government appointment to the Mental Health Review Board, which works to safeguard the legal rights of some of the most vulnerable members in society. She has also attended to victims in times of extreme trauma as a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team. Through her most recent role as assessor and provider of Medical Assistance in Dying, she’s been inspired by the patients she meets and cares for at this last stage of their lives.
Alexandra leadership experience encompasses her role at the Faculty of Medicine, Southern Medical Program through the University of British Columbia. She was granted Clinical Instructor status in 2012. In her role as preceptor, she works together with medical students to assess and treat patients with the goal of quality patient care and great learning opportunities for the students. She also instructs annual suturing seminars and evaluates students during their clinical examinations. It is very rewarding, she says, to teach medical students as most are highly inquisitive and filled with enthusiasm. In her spare time, she is an active community member and enjoys opportunities to build connections and support. She calls her most valued volunteer position one she took with the non-profit group Little Warriors. She worked as a facilitator with this organization for five years, from 2010 to 2015. She presented hundreds of adults, both parents and child care providers, with seminars in prevention of childhood sexual abuse. She also trained other facilitators to provide the course in other communities in the Central Okanagan.
Alexandra lives in Kelowna with her two children. She’s organized the annual neighbourhood barbecue since 2017. This has proven to be an invaluable springboard for bringing families together and building friendships and support networks within their community.
Linda Bauer is the well-recognized voice at the other end of the phone for Kelowna residents calling their Member of Parliament for assistance. Linda has been the senior constituency assistant to the Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country since 2006 and, in her words, “I have had the privilege of supporting constituents, their families, and businesses on behalf of their federally-elected MP.” She also represents the Member of Parliament at community events, government announcements, and ceremonies both with the MP and when the MP is not available. On top of that, Linda describes part of her job as “…having had the great honour of welcoming Prime Ministers, cabinet ministers and caucus members when they visit the beautiful Okanagan Valley.” Truly a source of information on many fronts.
While Linda says that she doesn’t think of herself as a leader, after 13 years of working as a constituency assistant she’s developed an extensive understanding of how to support people in the Okanagan with most federal issues. From Agriculture to Immigration to Veterans Affairs, and issues in between, it is gratifying she says, to be able to share the knowledge she’s accumulated, and guide constituents through the maze of federal departments and agencies to get them the help they need.
Through her role as a Member of Parliament’s constituency assistant, Linda has been able to support and advocate for people and organizations in the community. Constituents who contact the office need help with various federal issues including help getting their benefits or employment insurance, getting in touch with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), or helping family members start a new life in this amazing country so they can become contributing members of the community. Linda says it is heart-warming to be able to assist them on behalf of the Member of Parliament knowing that, even when they feel they have exhausted all avenues, the MP Office can get them back on track. Mostly, she enjoys the spontaneous interaction with constituents. When she leaves for work in the morning, she says that she never knows who will walk through the door. Everyday is a new and interesting day.
Linda describes her education as experiential and not formal. She worked in a successful family business prior to moving to Kelowna, and also worked as a Medical Office Assistant for four years. Linda completed various courses at NAIT, University of Alberta computer programing, and other business and government courses, all of which have helped her in her career. Meeting people, having great listening skills, super sleuthing through the maze of government offices, and always getting back to people is her great strength. Linda says that it’s an honour to be working at a Federal level and be recognized for 12 years of service.
Alan Wilson is a Senior Design Specialist for TELUS. He has 28 years of technical experience designing telecom structures such as conduit and pole lines, copper, and fiber PON systems. In regular speak, that’s a passive optical network: it reduces the amount of fiber and central office equipment required compared with point-to-point architectures. It is also described as a form of fiber-optic access network. In most cases, downstream signals are broadcast to all premises sharing multiple fibers. Make sense?
Alan manages workload for TELUS’s Southern BC Region (approximately 400 sq kms) and provides technical support. As well, he manages teams within BC and Western Canada, to deliver service and designs for customer build requirements. Alan’s work covers single family homes, large multifamily developments and businesses requiring services. He’s also involved in services to local schools, wineries, community businesses and residential subdivisions.
Some of Alan’s projects have encompassed the PON systems for entire cities in the Okanagan and Kootenay region, responding to municipal and local government requests as well as high profile government contracts for the western Canada Region (BC/AB).
Alan has been a manager at TELUS for seven years. He describes his management style as taking a collaborative approach and mentoring to provide support to his team. Innovative solutions, says Alan, have helped him succeed – he calls it out of the box thinking to find customer solutions. He also believes that anything worth having is never easy.
He and his wife and are helping their two children with their involvement in pipe bands. Currently, they are both playing in the Robert Malcolm Memorial Band RMM3 with Simon Fraser University Pipe Band, an international award-winning group. They warmed up to that experience playing in the Kalamalka Highlanders Pipe Band from Vernon and the Kelowna Pipe Band.
Alan and his family have supported many local events ranging from local parades to KGH Fundraisers, the Kelowna Yacht Club, the Fat Cat Festival and supporting various food banks. They also volunteer at the Penticton and Kamloops Highland Games; Piping and Drumming-Highland Dancing for West Kelowna Remembrance Day Ceremonies; at various Legions and senior care facilities.
In their spare time, the family is involved with the Okanagan YMCA: they’ve been at many events such as Cycle for Strong Kids, Healthy Kids Day and other community events at H2O or the Kelowna Family Y. Alan also volunteers through TELUS for JDRF Walk to cure Diabetes, Food Bank events and local charity barbecues.
Before all this, Alan attended Lethbridge Community College; he is a Certified Civil Technician (CTech) and registered member of the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of British Columbia. He says that he’s honoured to have been nominated for the 2019 BDO Top 40 over Forty Program presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
Rob Ewanuk graduated from the University of Alberta in Physiotherapy in 2003. He worked in rural Alberta for five years before moving across the country to Halifax. In Halifax, Rob worked in private practice for two years and with the Canadian Forces for two years. Rob moved to Kelowna in the summer of 2012 and has never looked back. He started to work at Kelowna General Hospital and in a short period of time he noticed a gap in the system. To fill that gap, Rob created New Leaf Physiotherapy, a mobile physiotherapy business that assesses and treats people at either their home or place of work. His business was designed to break down barriers to accessing physiotherapy and give back to the local community. To date, Rob has donated over $5,000 back into the local community charities.
Rob is currently on the executive committee of the Kelowna Running Club as well as running his own business with two employees. Rob likes to lead by example, whether it be training for a running race or coaching his employees on how to assess and treat their clients. In addition, he holds monthly staff meetings to review the month and help his employees with their clinical reasoning skills to be even more effective with their clients.
Rob also believes in lifelong learning and strongly encourages his employees to take courses not only related to their career but also their passions outside of work.
He created the “Turning Over a New Leaf” fund, where a portion of every client visit from his business gets donated back to the community. He has given to the YMCA, Habitat for Humanity, Central Okanagan Food Bank and Foundry Kelowna among others. He is currently working with Hungry Half Marathon, in Kelowna, trying to boost their registration numbers to help donations the Central Okanagan Food Bank.
Rob has also volunteered for the past three years as a running coach for the Kelowna Sun Run clinic. He helps the runners train towards achieving their goal of participating in the Sun Run in Vancouver. After the Kelowna Sun Run clinic is over, in mid-April, Rob helps to coach ‘The Next Step’ put on by the Kelowna Running Club. This is a weekly workout at the Apple Bowl that allows runners of all abilities to participate to improve their strength, skills and endurance.
Rob holds a couple of Bachelor of Science degrees, one in chemistry and the other in physical therapy (physiotherapy). In addition, he has a Diploma of Manual and Manipulative Physical Therapy. He is an instructor with the Canadian Physiotherapy Association’s Orthopaedic Division, helping teach their curriculum to new graduates of Physiotherapy to develop their manual (hands on) skills.
He is a Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapists, FCAMPT (this is an internationally recognized level of post graduate training).
He has been a member of the medical team for the Summer and Winter Canada Games from 2005 - 2017.
He was a Finalist in the 2018 Social Leadership Award, given by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.
After working at a couple of consulting firms as a professional engineer, Ken Langedyk started teaching full time at Okanagan College in 2001 and has been there ever since. He currently teaches several Civil Engineering Technology courses at the college as well as being the Chairperson of the Civil Engineering Technology program. He also works part-time as a Senior Engineer for a couple of engineering consulting firms in Kelowna.
Ken is part of the second generation in his family to be born at Kelowna General Hospital and he was raised in Kelowna. His mom has lived in Kelowna for over 80 years and lives close to where Ken’s work. Ken describes the changes to Kelowna and the region since his childhood as "significantly positive."
He went to Springvalley Elementary and High schools and rode the Rutland BMX track as a kid and ate burgers and fries at Burger Baron on Rutland Road. During and after high school, he went on to various training opportunities and ultimately finished with an Engineering degree and started working in Kelowna as a Professional Engineer.
As a College Professor and Chairperson of the Civil Engineering Technology program at Okanagan College, Ken finds that he is molding young (and older) minds in a positive way. He says he really loves teaching and the rewards that it offers. To be able to teach theory to a class and then to follow it up with some real-world applications from projects he has been involved with is fulfilling. To see the students’ eyes light up or the change in their facial expression when they get it, that ‘aha’ moment, is, he says, awesome.
Ken has also led numerous engineering teams on various engineering projects ranging from houses to bridges. All these projects were unique and challenging and impacted the Central Okanagan area and made him use my leadership skills.
Ken’s family keeps him grounded. His two teenage daughters keeps him in check for his fashion style and his girlfriend takes extremely good care of all with healthy cooking and smoothies that sometimes have some additives that Ken would rather not know about. His mom and dad live close to where he works all go out for lunch and excursions on a weekly basis.
Ken volunteers for numerous functions in the community from assisting with his daughter’s dance class to hosting Experience OC events at Okanagan College and volunteering at his daughter’s school. His main volunteer commitment for the 2019 year is the Kelowna Father Daughter dance which was on May 5. For the last number of years, he has been the head organizer of the dance and worked with three other dad volunteers to make this dance a success for many fathers and daughters.
The highest level of education Ken has achieved is a Masters in Engineering from UBC Vancouver. Along the way he has collected a Heavy Duty Mechanics certification, Civil Engineering Technology and Forestry Technology Diplomas and other various certificates and short courses. As he tells his daughters, you never quit learning and you will always be doing some form of professional development.
Since he’s into professional development, Ken is always learning as well as participating on various committees. He also amassed a couple of achievements in his career with the most recent being an award from Okanagan College for the Service Excellence Award for my work on the Sexual Violence Committee.
Deren Sentesy was born and raised in Perth, Ontario. Woodworking and construction are deeply rooted in his family - his father is a traditional furniture builder near Ottawa and his uncle ran a successful construction company restoring heritage buildings throughout eastern Ontario, including Parliament buildings. Throughout high school Deren studied math and sciences, as his career goal was Engineering & Architecture. He loved design.
In 1994-1998, he made a change of focus and enrolled at Wilfrid Laurier University to study Business Administration. After graduating in 1998 he moved to Japan and taught English for more than three years, exploring the shrines and mountains of rural Nagano. In 2003 upon returning to Canada, Deren settled in the Okanagan and found a rewarding career building custom homes with an group of colleagues he really enjoyed.
In 2008, he experienced another life-changing moment: experiencing an aneurysm which, he says, should have killed him. It was then he decided there was no time to wait for the world to change, so he devoted himself to his family, and to Deep Green building.
A year later in 2009, Deren started En Circle Design Build - a company dedicated to small- and medium-sized renovations and Deep Green building. Since then he has taken time to visit Seattle and Portland, where he learned Deep Green building techniques and techniques from experienced local builders and architects.
In 2015, he completed the first and only Living Building Challenge Registered residential project in the Okanagan. A documentary was shot tracking the progress of the work and the family who would occupy the home.In 2017, Deren joined back with his original amazing group of builders to build super efficient net zero energy homes.
Moving forward Deren is focused on designing and constructing Net Zero Energy Buildings. He’s excited about educating prospects, clients, suppliers, trades people, and city building departments up and down the Okanagan on this technology.
Outside of building, since elementary school he has captained soccer teams, led and participated in leadership camps, and mentored youth at school. At Wilfrid Laurier University he was chairperson of an IT service group, he organized business conferences and took part in ultimate frisbee leagues.
In Japan, Deren planned group vacations, gathered local sports enthusiasts, led English camps for high school students, and taught martial arts. After he moved to the Okanagan he started a martial arts dojo, chaired the local Cascadia’s green building council branch, gave Living Building Presentations to church groups, city councillors, and concerned citizens. In his spare time, Deren is organizing a solar home tour for Kelowna, starting up green geeks night for building enthusiasts, as well as leading the coaching team for the youth program at Telemark Nordic.
Some of his volunteer time is spent with the Cascadia Green Building Council: he has chaired the local branch since 2010. Since joining he has conducted Living Building Challenge Presentations all over the Okanagan. He has worked with UBCO and Okanagan College on sustainable initiatives; and registered and built a Living Building Challenge project in Kelowna. Since joining he has been a Living Building Challenge Ambassador.
Deren is a husband and the father of a daughter 12 and son 9.
James’s career in sport and exercise science started at Douglas College in 1998. Prior to Douglas College, James grew up in Kelowna, and graduated from Mount Boucherie in 1995. While in high school, he swam with the Kelowna Aquajets and played a multitude of sports. By 2003, he had graduated from UBC Vancouver with a Bachelor of Human Kinetics (BHk) and went on to pursue graduate work in exercise and respiratory physiology.
Today, James is running a few different businesses in Kelowna: The Athlete Den; Road to Health, and some other related interests. He sits as a Director at Large on the Kelowna Yacht Club Board of Directors and as a Director on the Canadian Kinesiology Alliance Board, the national body for Kinesiologists in Canada.
With The Athlete Den James has created a safe, collaborative space that acts as a hub or incubator for trainers or therapists to create their own health-fitness-therapy business and grow it. James and his staff are supporting the community by educating those that lead the health of others.
Jame is a serial entrepreneur, having owned, operated, and built six different businesses to date. From a Whistler gym, to the Peak Centre Vancouver, to Kinesiologists.ca, his role has been one of leadership his entire life.
James is a fervent believer in the development of everyone who is around him, putting personal benefit aside. Teaching, collaborating, inspiring without expectation, and seeing those he works with succeed is his goal.
James achieves his stellar results through empowering others to be their own success and allowing them to risk and grow without judgement or fear. He manages all this by focusing on the individual and their unique skills.
In addition to his board duties, he is a volunteer mentor with Futurepreneur locally and provincially. One highlight of his workweek is conducting volunteer open learning sessions every Tuesday at 8:30 am at The Athlete Den. In the words of one of his colleagues, “James has always given selflessly. The Athlete Den is a collaborative and cohesive space where trainers-therapists come together to be mentor or mentee and grow-develop their own craft and business. He builds community by helping others succeed in their industry.
James gives freely of his time to mentor UBCO students; he helps them create ten-year plans; he provides free education and hands-on training every Tuesday morning to therapists-trainers which counts toward educational credit at the BC Association of Kinesiologists. Additionally, he donates free space for Mamas For Mamas Kelowna and often helps rehab their members who can’t afford services, for free.
Angela Quinn landed her first professional job in the film and television industry at the age of 17, before she was out of high school. Now, 25 years later, Angela is thrilled to still have a career in the Motion Picture Industry while living in the beautiful central Okanagan since 2015.
Starting out with a principal acting, dancing and singing role in an ABC movie of the week in 1995, her career has included work both in front of and behind the camera on over 160 productions to date as an actor, dancer, singer, choreographer, movement coordinator, photo double, stand-in, director, voice actor and background performer. She is a full union member with the Union of BC Performers (UBCP) and the Alliance for Canadian Cinema, Television & Radio Artists (ACTRA). She is also a voting member with the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television (ACCT).
After two decades of being on film sets in various capacities, she unexpectedly fell into a new department within the industry that is not only challenging but, surprisingly, also extremely rewarding. She is grateful to now be immersed in the world of casting where she is a dedicated casting director and casting assistant for the acclaimed Deborah Green of Deb Green Casting. She’s thrilled to see the film industry continue to grow in the Okanagan and couldn’t be more appreciative to have the opportunity to grow with it through her deep involvement in casting.
One aspect of the entertainment industry that she’s enjoyed the most is having the opportunity to teach and help other aspiring actors and performers reach their own professional goals. After having trained and competed – extensively – in dance for most of her life, she has enjoyed teaching, choreographing and adjudicating throughout the country each year. Additionally, she’s had the opportunity to direct several musical theatre productions since moving to Kelowna in 2015. Having seen the need for more professional training opportunities for local film actors, Quinn recently developed an Actor Development Program alongside a stellar faculty of industry pros to help educate and mentor local talent as they work toward pursuing a career in front of the camera.
One aspect of Quinn’s working life that she wants to grow is finding more time to volunteer in the community. Since moving to Kelowna three years ago she has given time: first, toward an annual event called Angel Award which is in support of Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis; also, supporting the Canadian Mental Health Association through their 'Faces of Kelowna' campaign. She has a personal connection to the wonderful group of women at the Central Okanagan Elizabeth Fry Society and wants to give back to that organization in any way that she can.
After knowing what she wanted to do for a living from an early age, Quinn counts herself as fortunate to start working professionally in her desired profession before high school graduation. Although she won a business scholarship and was an honours bilingual high school graduate, she chose to forego the traditional college-university route and studied at acting schools in Vancouver instead. As a scholarship recipient to the EDGE Performing Arts Center in Hollywood, California, she chose to educate herself with practical working experiences. Those, she says, provided her with more opportunities than she could ever have imagined.
Angela is a crowned winner of the ‘USA Dance Classic’ competition as a teenager. For one year, she held the title of Miss USA Dance Classic, and was a top finalist in the Can-Am International Actor & Model Search in Vancouver shortly after moving there to pursue her career in film and television. She’s won over two dozen choreography awards throughout the competitive dance circuit in Canada and is continually proud of the ongoing professional achievements of her current and former dance and film students.
Michael Neill moved to Kelowna in 1995 after building an eight-store chain of independent bookstores in Vancouver’s lower mainland with his mother and sisters. He had also developed inventory control software for the stores that eventually became the most widely used system in bookstores across Canada. To continue software development in Kelowna, Michael and his wife purchased long-standing Mosaic Books and later expanded and relocated it to the heart of downtown. At this point, Michael became an advocate for the fledgling downtown core. Having lived in the ever expanding and increasingly congested Vancouver area, he was most interested in making Kelowna a better medium-sized city with more emphasis on amenities, lifestyle and families. Population growth was inevitable but secondary to ensuring the community first made the best of living along this magnificent lake surrounded by agriculture.
The bookstore has grown its role as a downtown destination and the software company, with offices above Mosaic Books, is serving more than 350 independent bookstores across Canada and the US. Michele and Michael are happy to have both their son and their daughter taking on lead roles in both businesses.
Over the years Michael became known in the community for being a champion of trying to balance the city’s charm with the intense pressure for growth. Michael wants his employees to enjoy what they do. He likes opinions and ideas. He expects hard work when it’s needed. He wants to be fair with remuneration and he recognizes that family outside of work is important. Trust and honesty are essential. A sense of humour helps. Many of their employees have been with him a long time.
Leadership in the book industry has also been important to Michael. He works one-on-one directly with many independent booksellers. Mutual trust allows for discussion of sensitive and important business issues and keeps the book industry relevant to Canadians. Bookmanager – the Neill’s proprietary software - is holding its third Bookmanager Academy this fall of 2019 in Kelowna where about a hundred booksellers will attend their education seminars and meet their peers. Michael thoroughly enjoys mentoring people.
Michael has been involved in community activism, opposing the redevelopment of the areas near the downtown waterfront with a series of highrises. Michael says that today, we have many highrises being built further away from the lake, which has allowed the city to grow but preserved the character of the downtown waterfront and shopping and dining.
Michael graduated from high school, was disillusioned with university and had a short stint at British Columbia Institute of Technology. He preferred to be educated by working in the areas he found most interesting (and he reads many books). His mother taught him bookkeeping, He learned how to negotiate leases from business friends. He loves retail, serving customers and he has a sound understanding of economics. He is self-taught in computer programming and that eventually became his most valuable skill: software design and development.
His most satisfying achievements have been within the book industry. In addition to developing inventory control for bookstores, he pioneered the sharing of inventory between publishers and bookstores and the collection of book sales and ordering patterns to allow the independent bookseller to compete against the physical and online corporate stores that have eradicated so many small shops. He has always been a champion for the little guy and encouraged people to build friendships and community.
Tim Watson received a Bachelor of Music degree in Performance (Trumpet) from the University of Toronto. He worked for many years as an arts administrator (primarily in operations) for the Vancouver, Winnipeg and Edmonton Symphony Orchestras and Sunshine Theatre Company.
Since 2006 Tim has freelanced as a stage manager / personnel manager / contractor / concert coordinator for many Okanagan arts organizations including Okanagan Symphony Orchestra (currently Orchestra Personnel Manager & Operations Manager), Okanagan Symphony Youth Orchestra (currently Stage Manger), Upstage Kelowna Show Choir (formerly Celebration Singers), Aura Chamber Choir, the Early Music Society and Opera Kelowna. Tim teaches trumpet for the Kelowna Community Music School and has served as President of the Kelowna City Concert Band since 2008.
Having been involved in the administrative end of professional performing arts organizations since the mid-70's, Tim finds that his experience is appreciated by many Okanagan arts organizations. He is a detail-oriented person who is good at herding cats (the human kind) – he is also a great communicator when dealing with artistic temperaments. And, that is a real thing, and not everyone can do it – or wants to. Tim says his secret for success is..."anticipation". He organizes productions, organizes people, all while keeping a sharp watch on financials. He works in an area where costs can escalate quickly, and often at the last moment, and it’s a core skill that can’t be underestimated. It’s also an attribute that is not often found alongside the ability noted above, of managing artistic temperaments.
Tim also looks ahead and anticipates needs and situations in the areas of personnel management, front-of-house management, backstage management, planning and implementation. One of his greatest challenges – and there have been hundreds - was to figure out how to shoehorn a choir of 180; 62 orchestra musicians; 5 soloists and one conductor on to stages in Kelowna, Penticton and Vernon for the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra's Carmina Burana blockbuster presentation in 2016. All different stages, all different sizes and sound requirements, all different equipment. Tim’s reward? It worked.
When it comes to volunteering, Tim doesn’t have many spare hours in 2019 – a lot of the time, his contract jobs include more hours than he is paid for. His primary volunteer commitment for many years has been to the Kelowna City Concert Band, of which he has been president since 2008. For many years he served on the ARTSCO board (Arts Council of the Central Okanagan). Over the years, he’s also given untold hours to his family’s personal community and school commitments and projects. For years, he hauled Chilliwack corn up to Kelowna from the coast in a big truck to sell on the weekends as a City Band fundraiser.
Tim’s education includes a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Trumpet), University of Toronto, 1976;
Management Development for Arts Administrators Seminar, Banff Centre School of Management 1978;
Business Plan Development Program - Community Futures 2006. And lots of on-the-road driving rental trucks up and down the Okanagan corridor to concerts, school performances, and handling music librarian and general manager duties for music groups as they evolve and transition through their business plans.
When it comes to receiving awards, Tim says he is rewarded by the thanks he receives at the end of concert productions, and by renewed contracts and return engagements. Some of his clients ask him for his availability before booking their concerts which leads him to believe that he is valued as a manager.
Alexandra Babbel, Opera Kelowna’s founding artistic director, brings to the organization years of proven artistic vision. Babbel has demonstrated a keen eye for identifying new talent and providing a sound educational environment in which artists can fully develop their craft.
Babbel has enjoyed an operatic career with multiple leading roles as an operatic and concert solo performer. She also holds a BA in Choral Music Education, University of Michigan; an MA in Opera Performance, University of Alberta; and Post-Masters Certiﬁcate of Performance, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois including doctoral studies. Before relocating to Canada, she held the position of Voice Department Head at Trinity International University in Deerfield, Illinois.
Babbel has a keen ability to create an environment in which others succeed and envisions a professional opera company that will take its place on the national scene based in Kelowna, BC. As the founding artistic director of Opera Kelowna, Babbel has worked closely with the Society’s board of directors to successfully nurture the organization into a solid strategically positioned company embracing program content and initiatives. Babbel and the Society’s directors have determined and implemented key policies and programs to stabilize and grow the company and have set company goals with tangible activities and meticulous financial budgets.
Babbel’s experience is broad-based and includes: conducting music ensembles for youth, children, women, and mixed chorus for 26 years; direction of CANDESCA (music ensemble) including eleven international tours; founding a not-for-profit Opera Company 2015 (Opera Kelowna); establishment of a Summer Intensive Training Program (2016) for Young Opera Singers (ongoing) which is now conducted on the Okanagan campus of UBC; travel as Lyric Soprano presenting concerts for the Slavic Hope Mission to Russia and Ukraine, 1998 and 2000.
Born in Vancouver, Simone Orlando completed her dance training at Canada’s National Ballet School in Toronto and subsequently joined The National Ballet of Canada in 1989. She joined Ballet BC in 1996 where she danced for thirteen years as one of the Company’s most celebrated principal artists.
Orlando’s choreographic explorations began in 1997. Praised for her mature and sensitive ideas, vision, musicality, and delineation of movement and space, she has received numerous commissions including assignments from Ballet BC, Toronto Dance Theatre, and Ballet Kelowna.
In June 2014, Orlando graduated with distinction from the Business Management program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology and was appointed Artistic Director and CEO of Ballet Kelowna effective September 1, 2014. During her five years at Ballet Kelowna, Orlando has brought over 25 new works into the Company’s repertoire, moved the Company into its own designated office and studio space, launched the IN MOTION Adult Ballet program, toured the Company to Beijing and Toronto, and secured core operating support from the Canada Council from the Arts, among other accomplishments.
Founded in 2002, and under the leadership of Artistic Director and CEO (Artistic Director/CEO) Simone Orlando since 2014, Ballet Kelowna presents compelling and inspiring dance to regional, national and international audiences. The Company presents numerous styles of dance from Canada’s finest emerging and established choreographers, as well as embracing the precision and elegance of ballet technique when creating original new works that captivate and engage today’s diverse audiences.
Simone is committed to encouraging and developing a younger generation of dancers in the Central Okanagan. She volunteers over 1200 hours to Ballet Kelowna annually. The dance training opportunities that she has initiated at Ballet Kelowna (Okanagan Summer Dance Intensive, Dance Break, and master classes) are designed to expose young students to the professional dance environment in an effort to encourage more young people to pursue a career in professional dance. These programs address the barrier of geographic access to a professional dance company and industry professionals, improving opportunities for emerging dancers to establish their respective careers in dance.
Simone was appointed to the BC Arts Council's Board of Directors in August 2018, a prestigious appointment, and represents the Okanagan region on the Council. She sits on the Program Committee and advocates for artists. She volunteers approximately 20 hours per month through her Council work.
Simone is also the recipient of a 2004 Vancouver Arts Award; the 2006 Clifford E. Lee Choreography Award; a 2009 Fellowship Initiative Grant from the New York Choreographic Institute; and the 2013 Pretty Creatives International Choreographic Award. She was the recipient of the City of Kelowna’s 2017 Honour in the Arts Award and she was recently appointed to the BC Arts Council’s Board of Directors.
Terry is the Director of Sales & Operations for the GSL Group that includes Prospera Place, Save On Foods Memorial Arena in Victoria, The WHL Victoria Royals, Officepools.com and many other businesses and real estate developments throughout BC.
Terry came to GSL after a long and distinguished career in print media. His first print sales position was Auto Trader Sales Rep for the Okanagan region – it’s where it all began, says Terry.
Later, he was recruited by The Daily Courier and from there he developed his 32-year media career at The Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group where he held several different positions. He started as an advertising rep with the Westside Weekly, then moved on to Advertising Director with The Daily Courier. From there, he moved into an office with a window, as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. He ended up in the corner office (it had a window, too) as Publisher. He capped his newspaper career when he became Group Publisher/VP of the newspaper group where he was responsible for all aspects of their Okanagan operations including The Kelowna Daily Courier, Penticton Herald, Okanagan Saturday, Westside Weekly, Icon Magazine and many other publications. He retired from the newspaper in August 2017.
Terry says that relationship building and sales management have been the cornerstone of his career in media. He has worked closely with, and has developed strong relationships with local and national businesses; with members of government at local municipal, provincial and federal levels; and with local non-profits. Terry has been hyper-active in the community, for many years serving as President of the “Be an Angel Foundation”, a foundation dedicated to helping the less fortunate in the local Kelowna and Okanagan community. He was involved in its inception back in 2000; it’s still going strong.
When it comes to leadership, Terry says that leading a team of over 100 employees at The Okanagan Valley Newspaper Group for ten years as Publisher and Senior VP was the most challenging but also the most rewarding leadership experience he has had, career-wise.
Community leadership on volunteer boards has been a large part of his life for the past 20 years and together with hockey, skiing and softball coaching were some of the most memorable leadership positions he had the pleasure of enjoying. A short list included:
• Board Director on the KGH Foundation since September 2013 and just now completing a 6-year term
in June 2019
• 2020 Memorial Cup Host Committee: Sponsorship Chair
• Board member, Telus-Thompson Okanagan Community Board. Completing a 6-year term in
• Director, Central Okanagan Community Food Bank Board
• Trustee, Printing Industry Health & Welfare Plan
• Past Board member, Canadian Newspaper Advisory Council
• Board member, Kelowna International Major Midget Hockey Tournament
• Board director, Kelowna Community Resources 1999 - 2004
• Past Coach: Westside Minor Hockey – 2005-2012
• Past Coach: Westside Minor Softball - 1983-1992
Terry had great answers when it came to education and achievements.
“High School,” he said, “highest level”. He says he self-studied the science of sales & marketing and has had many formal sales training courses over the years. No formal education credentials; it has been a lifelong learning journey through work experience. Stepping up at the right time and having determination have been his best career boosters, he says.