Recently the Past Presidents of the Kelowna Chamber got together over a nice hot breakfast at Deli-City to discuss the current initiatives of the Chamber, past accomplishments and milestones, and discussed our goals for the future. They had some great insight and advice, and reminisced about the community as it was, while they were Presidents of the Chamber.
Read on to meet some of the Kelowna Chamber's Past Presidents, learn of the highlights of their terms as presidents, and realize the changes they advocated for. You will likely recognize many of the names, as these individuals are still influential in our community, proving their leadership is not one-dimensional and that their title was well earned:
Nick Frost- President in 1983. One highlight from Nick’s time was the relocation of the Chamber from a little office building on the other side of the bridge to where we are now. The position of Vice President was also created during this time. Walter Gray was his Past President.
David McLean- President in 2005. The University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus was being launched during this time and the Chamber put in a lot of work to help make that happen. David said that Ken Bessason was his Past President and was a great mentor.
James Patterson- President in 2008 which was also the 100th anniversary of the Kelowna Chamber. A few highlights from James’ year were the opening of the bridge, passport office and the removal of the Coquihalla tolls. Laura Thurnheer was his Past President.
Laura Thurnheer- President in 2007. A highlight from Laura’s year was the passing of the second crossing. Kevin Crookes was her Past President
Ken Bessason- President in 2004. Ken was on the board for the Chamber for 6 years and was also on the BC Chamber board for a couple of years. He is now selling real estate. His Past President was Ken Ficocelli.
Steve Thompson- President in 1997 and is a current MLA. Steve said the Chamber was a great training ground and that strong advocacy is critical. He is pleased to continue representing the community. Lorne Ettinger was his Past President.
Wes Shields- President in 2010. Wes was successful in taking issues that were unpopular with the Canadian Chamber but were very beneficial for our community, to the AGM and having them passed. Norm LeCavalier was his Past President.
Lawrence Salloum- President in 1973. One of Lawrence’s main influences during his time was having the Chamber play a major role in the development of the Coquihalla.
Catherine Comben- President in 1996. Focused on partnerships during her time. She has recently been elected into UBCO Senate. John Merritt was her Past President.
Lorraine McGrath- President in 2001. Lorraine was particularly proud of the wine resolution that was passed unanimously at the Canadian Chamber Annual General Meeting during her year. Todd Sanderson and David Rush were her Past President’s and they worked on a 3 year strategic plan. Lorraine also sat on the board for the Chamber.
Paul Mitchell- President in 1988. A couple of highlights from Paul’s year included encouraging and forming better relationships with First Nations and the agreement to build the Connector.
David Bond- Past President and current Partner at KPMG.
Curtis Darmohray- Current Chamber President and Partner at Pushor Mitchell. Curtis still has a busy 6 months remaining on his term as President.
Current CEO of the Chamber, Caroline Grover thanked all of the Chamber Board Presidents for their hard work and expressed that she couldn’t imagine what life would be like if all of their efforts and accomplishments weren’t in place today. Can you?