Each week we'll be showcasing more of our BDO Top 40 Over 40 honourees. Be sure to check back every Thursday!
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.