Recognition is the art of actively looking for efforts that make a difference every day.
BDO's Top Forty Over 40 program celebrates remarkable individuals in our community over the age of 40 as a means to showcase mentors, champions and role models who encourage and foster the future leaders of our community. Partnering with the media in the valley, the Kelowna Chamber highlights 40 Honourees. Each year the program alternates between Over 40 and Under 40 Honourees. In 2023 we celebrate the Top Forty Over 40.
Managing Lawyer and Business Owner - Kimmitt Wrzesniewski
Joanna, JD 2000, BSc. 1996, is the principal lawyer at Kimmitt Wrzesniewski. Joanna has worked for over 20 years assisting her clients with Real Estate and Development Law, Incorporations and Corporate Law matters, Wills and Estates, and Technology and Privacy Law. As a small business owner, Joanna is acutely aware of the demands and pressures of today’s competitive and ever-changing market.
She is likewise involved in her local and professional community, having served Kelowna as a former Board President of the Kelowna Art Gallery and past board member of Central Okanagan Hospice Association and by being part of Accelerate Okanagan, the Canadian Bar Association (past section Chair) and the American Bar Association - (past section Vice Chair). Joanna is a Fellow to the American Bar Foundation, a guest speaker at various events and conferences and a member of many professional and business organizations including the Urban Development Institute (UDI), the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, the Kelowna Bar Association and Atlantech Partners (technology law group).
Chief Medical Director - Tranq Sleep Care
Dr. Wayne Lai is a distinguished sleep medicine specialist based in Kelowna, BC. With over 15 years of experience in the field, Dr. Lai is recognized as a leading expert in the diagnosis and treatment of sleep disorders. He is the founder of Tranq Sleep Care, which has won business of the year awards at both the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and the Grant Thornton awards, and operates at 7 locations around BC, where his team provides compassionate and personalized care to patients struggling with sleep-related issues.
Dr. Lai holds an appointment at the University of British Columbia as a Clinical Assistant Professor and is an active member of several medical associations, including the Canadian Society of Clinical Neurophysiologists and the Canadian Sleep Society, and is committed to advancing the field of sleep medicine and improving patient outcomes through advocacy, research, and policy development. Dr. Wayne Lai has made a significant impact on the lives of countless individuals struggling with sleep disorders.
Member of Parliament Kelowna-Lake Country, Government of Canada
Tracy Gray is a Member of Parliament Kelowna-Lake Country, Government of Canada. Prior to entering public service, Gray worked extensively in the BC beer and wine industry in senior management roles for many wineries and breweries. Gray launched Discover Wines BC VQA wine stores, where the Kelowna store was the highest ranked wine store in British Columbia for BC VQA wine sales for thirteen years and where she won several local and national entrepreneurial business awards.
She was an elected board member for Prospera Credit Union for ten years and served on the boards of BC Passenger Transportation, Central Okanagan Regional District, Okanagan Regional Library, Okanagan Film Commission, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce and Okanagan Basin Water Board. Gray was elected to Kelowna City Council in 2014 and was the first female to be elected as a federal Member of Parliament for Kelowna-Lake Country in 2019. She has served as a leader in the Conservative caucus in four Shadow Ministry roles and as Vice Chair of two parliamentary committee. Gray advocates extensively in Ottawa on issues important to the community and does extensive community outreach and volunteering.
Chief Marketing & Sustainability Officer - INCA Renewtech
Camille is Co-founder and Chief Marketing & Sustainability Officer of INCA Renewtech, a Kelowna-based manufacturer of bio-composites for Toyota, Winnebago Industries and Swiss-based Gurit. She is Co-founder and General Partner of OKGN WMAN Angel Funds, and Board Member and Secretary of the Kelowna Art Gallery.
Previously she was President of MD Revolution, where she raised $10M in equity, and led development of a SAAS application now monitoring 70,000 US patients with chronic disease. She also served as President of Malama Composites, which produced a full line of bio-composites to replace petroleum-based insulation foams in everything from movie sets to medical devices and as President of CONNECT, the organization credited with building San Diego’s leadership as one of the top tech clusters in the world. Prior she led two award winning, multi-million-dollar marketing agencies with clients like Siemens, Callaway and Ford. Camille has held board roles with Tony award winning La Jolla Playhouse; globally recognized La Jolla Music Society; BIOCOM, California's pharmaceutical and biotech trade organization and was Vice Chair of EvoNexus, California's telecom/digital technologies organization.
Director, Western Canada - WSP Canada
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Rob finally figured it out and moved to BC in 2005 and has called Kelowna home since 2010. He has worked with WSP Canada for the last 10 years and leads the global company's National Landscape Architecture and Urban Design practice. He has contributed to dozens of pubic and private projects throughout the Okanagan and continues to be an advocate for the betterment of livability within the City of Kelowna. Along with his partner Cadre they are raising their three children, Enzo 18, Alba 16 and Milo 10. When he is not at work Rob is busy attending dance recitals, ski races, track meets and soccer matches. Any spare time in-between he can be found working in his garden or modifying his pop-up trailer for the next weekend camping excursion.
Lawyer, mediator, arbitrator and parental coordinator - Martin Estate & Injury Law
Angela Price Stephens is a British and Canadian Lawyer and Mental Health Professional who dreamed of relocating to the Okanagan more than 25 years ago. A family lawyer at Martin Estate and Personal Injury Law she is unique in being the only family lawyer in the Province who also practices as a Registered Clinical Counsellor. She supports the low-income couples’ counselling program at Connect Family Law & Therapy in Kelowna. She has provided thousands of hours of volunteer first responder assistance on national and local 24-hour distress, suicide, and child help lines.
Former President of Brain Trust Canada, based in Kelowna, Angela continues her commitment as a Director of this amazing organization supporting those in our community with acquired brain injury and their families. She is also on the Board of Canadian Mental Health Association, Kelowna and Hear the Child Society, a non-profit dedicated to giving a voice to children caught in family dispute. Angela is also a trained volunteer with the Restorative Justice Program, Kelowna diverting youth from the criminal justice system, where appropriate.
Partner - MNP
AJ Gill is MNP’s B.C. Agriculture Services team leader, supporting agriculture advisors in MNP’s 23 offices across B.C. Based in Kelowna, AJ is a seasoned leader with a lifelong passion for helping farmers. He moved to Canada from India in 1988 and grew up in a farming family. His hands-on agricultural background has given him deep insights into farmers’ issues, challenges, and opportunities.
With nearly two decades of experience in the federal and B.C. governments, AJ was instrumental in the transfer of the federal government’s AgriStability program to the B.C. Ministry of Agriculture. He previously represented the Province of B.C. on the National Program Advisory Committee, providing advice to federal, provincial, and territorial governments on the delivery of the AgriStability and Agri Invest programs. His most recent role before joining MNP was General Manager, B.C. Ministry of Agriculture. A strong believer in giving back to the community, founding director of the Hope and Heal Foundation, that raised over 100k for BC Cancer and 100k for KARIS society.
Lead Consultant - Love HR Inc.
Shawnee Love is the owner of LoveHR, an Okanagan based consulting practice specializing in people, culture, talent management and HR. Since 2009, the LoveHR team has been helping clients hire and manage their people, developing and delivering skill development training, and providing coaching, advice and creative and practical HR solutions and strategies to organizations on culture and effective people management. Shawnee is also well known for her speaking, training, and blogging on topics relevant to business owners and leaders of teams. She is a proud mom of two teenage sons and for fun can be found outside in the forest and by the lake enjoying the beauty of the Okanagan.
Associate Wealth Advisor - Benewealth Strategies Inc.
Danica Dutt, Okanagan-raised, is a Mom, Wife, and Associate Wealth Advisor here in Kelowna with Benewealth Strategies. Danica is an expert in organizing and simplifying your financial house, growing and protecting your money, and working with the team at Benewealth Strategies to teach their clients to build wealth through real estate and business ownership. Her passion has always been to give and make impact in the community.
She is honored to be President of Kelowna Women in Business this 2022- 2023 term as well as President of the local referral networking organization BNI Business Builders 2022-2023. Growing local business and leading a community of passionate women who lead by example and advocate the values of diversity, inclusion, and community over competition.
President - GeoUtility
Stuart Yanow is a Certified Geothermal Designer who has dedicated much of his time as an engineer to the advancement of Geothermal systems. He is responsible for the design of some of the largest Geothermal systems in Canada and the United States. He is currently the President at Geotility and Orca Energy.
Stuart oversees operations and engineering of Geotility’s branches in Canada and the United States. Two areas where Stuart has focused on in his leadership role are creating a mentally healthy workplace and a company that supports the families of its workforce. GeoTility has an outstanding record of retention with its staff, all have been with the company for over 15 years. They are all very proud of this and will continue to foster growth, development and community.
President & Director, Walk Around Lake Country and Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail
Dev moved to Kelowna in 1964 and graduated from Civil Engineering at UBC in 1978. Dev and his wife Wendy have been very involved in the community for many years, and he became the President of Walk Around Lake Country in 2008. As a former project manager and builder, he is an active volunteer for Friends of Okanagan Rail Trail and a founding Director.
Dev was recognized by the Government of Canada in 2017 with the Senate of Canada 150 Award for volunteering and championing trails in the Okanagan. He has 3 sons and 3 wonderful daughters-in-law who have given him and Wendy the greatest gift of 9 grandchildren. He thoroughly enjoys being able to give back to our community, using some of what he has learned throughout his career.
President, Okanagan College
A thought-leader, collaborator and visionary, Dr. Fassina holds one of the region’s most influential roles as President of Okanagan College, where he leads education and training of the next generation of skilled professionals. He arrived at OC in April 2021, after five years as head of Athabasca University, and over 15 years of experience in academic leadership. Since then, his collaborative approach and visionary leadership is energizing and inspiring the College, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year.
He is an advocate for increasing access to post-secondary education and lifelong learning, specifically through collaboration and partnership with communities, business and industry, and the public sector. Dr. Fassina holds a PhD in Management from the Rotman School of Business, a BSc in Psychology from the University of Calgary and was named a Fellow of the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources in 2023. As an active researcher, he has authored or co-authored several refereed articles and texts, and pursues research interests in negotiations, applied decision making, and the role of education in shaping societies.
Owner, Naughty Girls Essentials Lingerie
Founder/CEO, Do Gooders
Kathleen Lemieux is passionate about meaningful work. She is a high-impact fundraiser with over 20 years of experience in the not-for-profit sector. She has experienced repeated success strategically developing and executing fundraising plans of action. She is a digital marketer, certified fundraising professional, a 20-year member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, and VP of Membership for the AFP BC Interior Chapter. She completed the Boston University Professional Fundraising Program and earned her CFRE designation in 2015. Kathleen spearheaded fundraising and awareness programs for Habitat for Humanity Okanagan, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter, and Pacific Riding for Developing Abilities Association.
She is the founder of Do Gooders, a social enterprise that offers a variety of fundraising, marketing and support services for not-for-profits across Canada.
Executive Vice President, Pacific Quorum Properties
Since joining Pacific Quorum Properties in 2014, Mark has been instrumental in growing the PQ Okanagan market into the top property management company in the Okanagan region. Due to his success in the Okanagan and other markets, Mark is now the Executive Vice President of Pacific Quorum Properties and subsidiaries, supervising all day-to-day operations across 14 offices. Mark is very proud to be nominated as a finalist for this award as he was also awarded top 40 UNDER 40 with Business in Vancouver at the age of 39. Despite traveling more frequently, his heart remains in Kelowna. Mark credits the entire PQ team for his success and is thankful for the opportunities and leadership presented to him by John Peccia, PQ’s President/Owner.
Owner, Strut Footwear & Apparel
Shandi is passionate about shoes and people, and loves that she gets to combine those two worlds into her magical shoe store, Strut Footwear & Apparel. Shandi spent over twenty years in education as a high school teacher and counsellor, which was great training for leading a staff of 8 to be their very best. Together they have created the warm and wonderful place called Strut, where relationships are the foundation of their success. Shandi remains committed to her educational roots and to this community by supporting the Central Okanagan Bursary and Scholarship Society, as well as several other not-for-profit organizations in our community. Shandi would like to thank you for this acknowledgement; she is truly grateful. She'd like to leave you with this one very important piece of advice. Always remember this... if you give a girl the right pair of shoes, she can change the world!
Shauna Harper is the CEO of WeBC, a federally funded not-for-profit organization that provides thousands of women entrepreneurs across BC with business loans, expertise, training, resources, and peer support to help their businesses grow and thrive. Shauna joined WeBC in Feb. of 2022, drawing her to the Okanagan. She is an impact-driven leader, community champion, speaker, mentor, and connector in the entrepreneurial ecosystem.
She is a nationally-recognized advocate for women entrepreneurs, gender equity, and a champion for increased access to services, training, support, and funding. Prior to coming to WeBC, Shauna was an entrepreneur for 22 years. She owned a manufacturing company that created and sold inspirational glass stone magnets globally, and a marketing and communications company that helped small businesses and not-for-profit organizations by offering marketing strategies, project management, team support, and marketing training.
Realtor, Century 21 Assurance Realty
A long time resident of the Okanagan, Lani Rae's in-depth personal knowledge of the area coupled with her confidence and skills as a Certified Negotiation Expert (CNE®) have garnered her a successful career as a REALTOR®. Early on, Lani was recognized by Century 21 as the 'Rookie of the Year'. She has continued to reach milestones, numerous outstanding achievement awards, as well as the prestigious CENTURION® status which is only presented to a small percentage of top performers worldwide. It is the benchmark for true professionalism and performance.
In her early years, Lani served as an ambassador for her community and was able to travel throughout BC and Japan. She's done respite work with local foster children, and takes pride in knowing the positive impact she's made on their lives. Lani helps annually with raising funds for the Easter Seals which sends kids with disabilities to camp. She volunteers with the Kelowna Legion's annual poppy campaign, and has spent years in the past supporting BC Children's Hospital Bats for Cause softball tournaments.
Cultural Development Coordinator - District of Lake Country
Ryan is a musician, former politician, and runs the Creekside Theatre. One of Ryan’s personal volunteer highlights was raising $20,000 for the Bridge Youth and Family services in 2019, which was to not only raise funds but raise the profile to advocate for more funding and support from the Province.
Some of Ryan’s achievements include 2008 Group of the year for the BC Interior Music Awards, and the 2022 Queen's Platinum Jubilee Medal. He lives at the farm with his loving wife Kimberly and two teenagers Lyla and Isabella.
Marketing Director, World Financial Group
Denise is a financial professional and entrepreneur who has dedicated over 11 years to helping families achieve their goals and dreams. She found her passion for helping others while advocating for her son, realizing a strong financial foundation, including access to the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) would enable him to lead a full inclusive life in the community. Her personal experiences, post-secondary teaching, and Certified Education Assistant backgrounds have been invaluable in helping with her success. She is committed to promoting safe & secure futures for people with disabilities through financial education, estate planning and implementation of the RDSP program.
Denise is currently a Marketing Director with World Financial Group. Her family moved to Kelowna 44 years ago, she enjoyed many outdoor activities including organized sports such as softball & skiing then was fortunate to attend & graduate from KSS before moving on to her post-secondary studies. When she is not working you will find her enjoying time with her family and dogs, walking the trails, and exploring the many comforts of the Okanagan.
Marshall Group of Companies – Owner/CEO
Brent Marshall’s meteoric rise has been no coincidence. His disruptive approach to marketing, development of the latest technologies, thorough mastery of process efficiencies and philanthropic drive enabled him to build and operate the #1 Automotive Dealerships in Canada for many years while also owning multiple other successful companies. Brent's has had many endeavors in auto, aviation, real estate, film production, construction, and health, to name a few, but it is his philanthropic work benefitting children and the community that is the most fulfilling. He’s owned more than 40 successful businesses and franchises, and through each one, he’s given generously to charities that help children in need. “I believe it's socially responsible for every successful business to give back to their community in some way and help support others. Whether through money, services or time, we all have the ability to give." ~Brent Marshall
Regional District of Central Okanagan
A former instructor at the University of Calgary where she completed her PhD in English, Isabella moved to Kelowna in 2017 to spearhead the RDCO Parks Visitor Services program. Being the lone female voice in the male-dominated park management field, Isabella exercised her passion for equity and inclusion. She leads a team in the Environmental Education Centre for the Okanagan and ensures that district programming reaches both the larger central Okanagan community as well as under-served populations. In addition to offering a plethora of public programming year-round, Isabella and her team work with community partners to offer Indigenous programs led by Syilx knowledge keepers, low-income families and Community Recreational Initiatives Society to ensure barrier-free park program access, offer programs in other languages, and even connect with senior citizens in care homes to bring meaningful nature connections indoors. A certified International Dark-Sky Advocate, Isabella championed the creation of a dark-sky preserve in the Okanagan, and her dream and legacy will reaches fruition May 2023 with the creation of Canada’s third nocturnal preserve, right here in Kelowna.
Dr. Christopher is the Regional Lead for Surgical Oncology with BC Cancer in the Interior of B.C. and the Division Head of General Surgery at Kelowna General Hospital. Dr. has been practicing in Kelowna for 17 years, striving to provide the best care possible for all patients, both with and without cancer. While individually striving to provide leading edge care, he is also interested in helping other surgeons across the to provide the best care possible to their patients through communication and education. While being a full-time clinical surgeon, specializing in endocrine surgery, he is also active with medical leadership and cancer surgery outcomes research. He has a very supportive wife and three children ranging from high school age to early university, themselves embarking on non-medical careers. He enjoys running, biking, and red wines from the region.
Internationally trained as a Food Scientist, Dobrila Braunstein has been using her natural leadership skills to not only forge her professional path, but also to serve in the community and help other women. Dobrila was 12 when her family moved to Winnipeg from the war-torn Bosnia. She quickly adapted to her new environment and began to excel academically, with a pronounced interest in sciences, writing, and a talent for languages. Dobrila engaged in numerous extra-curricular activities, such as team sports, school committees, and community volunteering. Dobrila’s passion for food led her to study Food Science in London (ON), Winnipeg, and Italy, building her career in the alcohol beverage industry. She landed in the Okanagan wine industry in 2018 and has supported a variety of community events through corporate sponsorships. In 2019, Dobrila joined Kelowna Women in Business as a board member and in 2020 took over as President, successfully leading the organization through the pandemic. Dobrila is currently in the Past President role with KWIB and continues to advise and support women in the community.
Jude immigrated from the UK to Canada in 2000 and she’s been in Kelowna since 2003. Since then, she has been an entrepreneur in the food & beverage industry, co-owing Globe Cafe & Tapas Bar at Big White for 15 years, as well as working with United Way in fundraising and community investment. She joined in April 2020 and is now their Impact Manager. Alongside running her own restaurant business and opening several restaurants, she’s also enjoyed fundraising and community building with several other major non-profits in both the UK and Canada. Jude is incredibly proud of her two sons, who grew up on the ski hill and outskied her when they were three and a half years old. Now 19 & 21, both are forging their paths at Okanagan College.
Troy Martin is a passionate engineer who is a builder of people in the energy business in the Okanagan. He is a mentor and mentee to is insanely curious about people. You have heard it said that business is always about relationships...Troy lives that out through his love to tell and hear stories and use his gift of asking questions to help make things better. He has been on the witness stand for regulatory hearings and understands all aspects of the electric utility. He has been the Engineer-of-Record including operations and asset management for three municipal utilities. Troy is passionate about holistic Net Zero solutions and a natural pathfinder, bringing solutions to reality.
Chic Studios + The Chic Experience
Amy is an entrepreneur and beauty expert, and the CEO and Founder of Chic Studios School of Makeup. Amy began with an outpost in NY and then quickly grew her studios to include Los Angeles and a pop-up in Denver. Amy regularly facilitates masterclasses for aspiring artists and is the driving force behind numerous women’s networking events, bringing together small businesses and energizing women toward growth and success. Amy launched The Chic Retreat, under 'The Chic Experience' umbrella in 2022 to connect and inspire like-minded women and creative entrepreneurs worldwide, and in March 2023 kicked off the first of many larger scale events, with 220 women who came together for the Chic Retreat.
Amy started her very first makeup school business in 2009 in her New York apartment, and has been growing since, with 3500+ graduates from all over the world. Amy is a regular speaker on panels, and contributes to the learning and growth of numerous small community-based nonprofits and small businesses.
"I was born and raised in Cheshire, UK, later moving to the South of England. My father's family had a Naval background so it was expected that I would do the same. I enjoyed my Naval career before joining the world of civil aviation. Both careers provided me with extensive opportunities to live and work overseas and I had the pleasure of doing that, mainly in UK, Hong Kong, New York and Geneva. I have been extremely lucky to have thoroughly enjoyed every work experience I have had able to help young people achieve their goals. I enjoy being a decision-maker and able to influence the path of organisations I have belonged to. I particularly enjoy coaching, in many fields, not only business. I write extensively, mainly on technical matters, though there may be a novel or biography produced one day! I am a great fan of the Kelowna Chamber and pleased to be able to contribute in a small way to its leadership in the Central Okanagan business community.”
Pushor Mitchell LLP
Magda Kapp has 30 years' experience in marketing, public relations, community development and business development, in both the corporate and not-for-profit sectors. She is a natural connector. Through her passion and hard work, she has brought together companies, charities and individuals to make a difference for our amazing community. Magda is currently the Manager of Business Development and Marketing at Pushor Mitchell, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year. She says this organization is a perfect fit because one of their key tenets is giving back to community. She lives by the philosophy that 'life is all about relationships - building them, but most importantly maintaining them'. Magda believes 'we all need to give back, in whatever way we can - it is a vital part of being human, and it feels good.' Magda lives on a small acreage with her husband Carey, golden retriever Chase, ginger cat Willow. She feels lucky to be living and working in our beautiful Okanagan Valley.
Director of Leasing and Marketing for Cogir Real Estate BC, proud owners and management of Regency and Lakeshore Place Retirement Resorts
Blaine Melnyk comes from a family of educators in Saskatchewan. He grew up in curling rinks and swimming pools and found his passion in swimming and triathlon. He competed at the university and national level and still coaches swimming today with masters' swimmers. As a teacher for over 20 years, he is passionate about giving back to the community, and to lead by example. Alongside his wife of over 25 years, they have two children who are very active in the sports community; their daughter attends university next year and will continue her sports career by playing womens soccer for Capilano University.
It is Blaine's hope to be remembered as someone who looks out for and helps others in the community. He works to recognize others for the great work they are doing in the community and finds ways to celebrate the accomplishments of others through volunteering, community involvement, and coaching them to find something to be passionate about.
Impact Events + Brand Management
Christina Ferreira founded Impact Events in 2008 and has grown the business from a solo side hustle to a small but mighty agency. Christina radiates a positive enthusiastic energy. With her talent, charm and knowledgeable experience she easily develops solid relationships with her clients, colleagues and vendors. With more than 20 years of experience in producing events, communications and marketing in hospitality, Christina brings experience and awareness of growth in the events industry. In addition to an impressive client portfolio, Impact Events also owns five large community festival style events. When not working you will find Christina exploring the region’s local wineries, restaurants and lakeside adventures with her dog Penny.
Boys and Girls Club
For the past ten years, it Coco’s highest honor and privilege to walk alongside clients, providing outreach services and support. her work in human service, Coco was a dance teacher for many years and remains passionate about learning and teaching humans of all ages and abilities. She was a single parent for 21 years and understands the innate challenges and rewards of that path. Currently, she closely with the local street-entrenched population who are experiencing homelessness, often expectant mothers, seniors, and veterans. She is committed to engaging in comprehensive and collaborative conversations as to how our community can navigate the housing and opiate crisis. She is devoted to seeking out innovative solutions regarding the epidemic we find ourselves in as Canadians. In alignment with her values of compassion and clarity, she will continue to offer her services and supports.
TELUS / Greater Westside Board of Trade
Amber Hall is a passionate community builder, dedicated to connecting people to drive results and elevate success. She truly believes that when we work together we can accomplish greatness. A proven sales professional and leader, her authenticity and gregarious personality move her through each and every opportunity she is presented with enthusiasm and joy. A true ally and advocate, Amber works to elevate the voices of those who have been marginalized and create spaces of connection and community.
TMG Search Canada
With 20 years in the recruiting industry, Emily Phair brings a diverse skill set, deep knowledge and perspective to talent attraction and retention. Her career spans internationally where she has worked in executive retained search, led corporate talent strategies and owned her own firm.
Currently, Emily is President, TMG Search Canada where she leads the expansion of executive search into Canada, focusing on serving starts-ups and growth stage organizations across all industries. TMG Search Canada strives to support local communities while leveraging their highly experienced global expertise to attract and identify the right individuals for critical and tough-to-fill roles.
Tia Graham is an international speaker, author and consultant on positive psychology. She has worked with dozens of global companies such as Goldman Sachs, Hilton Hotels and Hewlett Packard to elevate employee engagement and drive bottom line results. Prior to founding her company, Arrive at Happy, she led teams at luxury hotels in the United States and Europe for brands such as W Hotels, Westin, and The London. With multiple certifications in neuroscience, positive psychology, and employee retention, and over 14 years of leadership experience, Tia is widely regarded by business leaders in her field. Her insights have been featured in major media such as CNN, Forbes, and Fast Company to name a few. Her new book, Be a Happy Leader, teachers her proprietary 8-step methodology on driving productivity and business growth through a culture of happiness.
After moving to Kelowna in 1981, Chuck set his goals on becoming an architect. After two years of school, he realized that sitting behind a desk wasn't for him. So instead of designing structures, he decided to build them. He went to work for Team Construction and achieved his red seal in carpentry. He joined Gord Wilson at the table of the Canadian Homebuilders Association of the Central Okanagan and started volunteering on the Okanagan Housing Awards. In 2019 Chuck received a gold seal in project management from the Canadian Construction Association.
Serving two terms as president of the CHBACO and volunteering for different organizations such as the Salvation Army, Habitat for Humanity and Mamas For Mamas, as well as sitting on the boards of the Program Advisory Council for the trades at Okanagan College and the Sector Advisory Group for Trades Training BC, has taught Chuck that giving back is as important as accepting opportunities. Chuck also spends his time in local secondary school math and shop classes speaking to students about going into a career in the trades. Many years and much education later, Chuck has decided to re-focus his interests and is currently looking for new opportunities.
CEO & Designer, Erikka believes in supporting local artists and businesses and creating long-life fashion in an eco-conscious way. She completed her Diploma in Textiles from Kootenay School of the Arts. As well as 2 years at Selkirk College, 1 year at UofC and most recently her Entrepreneurial Studies at Mount Royal University. Over the past decade Erikka has been featured in 4 publications. Erikka has worked wardrobe and costume for some of the legends of the music industry. Erikka is passionate about her community and giving back to those within it. Mental Health is a platform important to her & she donates $2.50 per AesthetiKs hat sold to KCR - Crisis line. During COVID she began Mending Heart Masks a project that donated homemade masks for free to frontline workers. In Spring 2020, AesthetiKs mentor program was launched, which is a guiding light for high-school students. In November 2021, AesthetiKs LAB Kelowna’s inclusive & affordable non profit creative Clubhouse opened. “I want to inspire others to dream big and help motivate them to make those dreams become realities.”
He Changed It Enterprises Inc.
Candace has long worked in the health and wellness industry by way of a business in coaching through physical and mental wellbeing. Starting in 1999, before the onslaught of the internet, she saw a definite need to take a approach to mental health, feeling like the burden on the health industry would only get greater. Now, she has taken that same passion and drive for change to the world of tech, creating the first, Men's Mental Health app in market. She is looking to revolutionize the way we approach preventative medicine, using community and support with lived experience to be normalized especially in communities with generational imprinting and toxic approach. Above all, Candace is a wife, mom to 2 amazing men, and a grandma to a superhuman baby that defied the odds. Her word for 2023 is "propel" and that's exactly what she's doing in her company, her learnings and her life. This year she started body building and has added a new love and passion! No wasted moments!
Accessible Okanagan and Praxis Spinal Cord Institute
James serves as the President & Co-founder of Accessible Okanagan, a non-profit which encourages people with to reach their full potential. The non-profit helps create and promote exciting inclusive opportunities such as camping, fishing, entertainment, and recreational events for the SCI community. James has instilled a commitment to help people living with SCI improve their quality of life and create an active and thriving community filled with opportunities to network, learn, and encourage in social participation.
Rio Branner Milliner & Merchant
After high school Rio Branner worked at a high-end retail shop by day and created fashion accessories by night. Rio's supportive boss recognized her sensational instincts and offered valued mentorship. Meanwhile, sales of her handmade goods took off, and in 1998, Rio quit her job to become a full-time designer and maker. By 2018 a determined Rio began a substantial investment into the tools, rare vintage hat blocks and materials required for the specialized millinery trade. In 2020, she registered with the Hat Academy of Australia and began her formal training in millinery. After receiving her completion certificate in early 2021, Rio set her sights on the next goal—a hat shop of her own. Rio Branner, Milliner & Merchant opened its doors in Spring 2022. Located in downtown Kelowna, the boutique is the culmination of Rio’s decades as a successful designer, artisan and businesswoman.