Speakers

Aaron Sumexheltza

Chief at Lower Nicola Indian Band

Chief Aaron Sam Sumexheltza is on his third term on Council and second as Chief. The programs included in Chief Aaron’s portfolio are as follows: Capacity Building, Governance, Bylaw, Chief and Council Support, Government to, Communications, Community Engagement and Nlaka’pamux Nation Affairs. He has been elected in the BC Aboriginal Justice Council this year. Aaron’s extensive education assists him in representation as LNIB Chief.

Aasa Marshall

Community Engagement Coordinator at Co-operatives First

Aasa Marshall's role with Co-operatives First is to promote all things co-op, by engaging people at events and in their communities about the co-operative business model, and through the organization's blog, podcast, and social media. She has a diploma in Journalism Arts from the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, a BA in Development Studies from the University of Calgary, and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Saskatchewan.

Alicia Woodside

Economic Development Specialist at District of Squamish

After moving to Squamish in 2016, Alicia joined the District of Squamish in 2017 as an Economic Development Specialist. New to the field, she brings fresh insights and perspective with a background in R&D and innovation at Vancouver's lululemon athletica, and later hustling in various roles at technology start-ups in Vancouver. At the District of Squamish, Alicia focuses on sector research and strategy, business development, and community economic development.

Andrea Wilkey

Executive Director at Community Futures Central Kootenay

Andrea’s background is in marketing communications with over 10 years of management experience in the tourism, ski and restaurant industries. Andrea started her career in the tourism industry shaping programs for Tourism Whistler, Sun Peaks Resort and the Canadian Tourism Commission. Andrea also spent 7 years with Boston Pizza International, providing business counselling to stores in Western Canada and building strategic partnerships to support regional initiatives. After spending 15 years in the Vancouver area, Andrea returned to rural BC in 2010. Her first role in the area was working with the Columbia Basin Trust as their Acting Director, Communications. Andrea joined Community Futures Central Kootenay as Executive Director in 2013. Andrea is a Managers Representative on the CFBC Board, the Chair of the CFBC Marketing Committee and a member of the Self Employment Committee and on the Board of Kootenay Association for Science & Technology . In her role with CFCK, Andrea has expanded their offerings to include the Basin Business Advisors Program, the Export Navigator Pilot as well as working with Invest Kootenay to expand its scope to include recruitment of a diversified workforce and to rebrand it as Imagine Kootenay.

Andrew Greer

Community Catalyst at Purppl

Andrew is a co-founder at Purppl. He’s helped to build acceleration programs for tech entrepreneurs across BC with Accelerate Okanagan and is a former top Canadian sales manager for Xerox. He’s a Director with Big Brothers and Sisters and One Big Table.

Angela Groeneveld

Owner/Consultant at Angela Groeneveld Business and Economic Development Consulting

Angela is passionate about seeing and seizing opportunities for entrepreneurs to increase their performance. As an entrepreneur herself, she has an extensive history of running small businesses in rural Alberta and British Columbia and generating results. From the Agriculture industry, to the fashion industry, to the health & wellness industry; she has firsthand knowledge of the things that can make businesses successful and the obstacles that can get in the way. Angela and her team won a prestige award for Canadian Franchise of the year with over 4000 applications and recently was part of a team winning one of Alberta’s Business Investment Attraction Awards. She loves putting her knowledge, passion and expertise into action to help businesses and their communities succeed through her presentations and coaching services. Angela also has extensive experience in Business and Economic Disaster Recovery. She has on the ground through all phases of recovery experience combined with professional education to assist local businesses to recover and rebuild after natural or manmade disasters. Some of her projects include; building Canada’s first temporary business park to house businesses that lost their storefronts to the 2013 flood; transitioning the businesses through the phases of recovery. She was then called to share her expertise in partnership with EDA and Red cross to assist in the initial stages of business recovery during the Fort McMurray fire. Angela is a facilitator for the International Economic Development “restore your economy” training. Angela currently is working with the Puerto Rico Economic Development Director on business recovery and contracts to the Town of High River on the last phase of recovery. Angela is professionally trained in Economic Development and coaching. Her PASSION is growing rural entrepreneurship and vibrant business communities. Her husband and 3 kids live south of Calgary on a ranch. As an entrepreneur herself she has walked the talk of recovery with their own business operations through both manmade and natural disasters. Angela’s energy is inspiring and she promises through her stories she will help you to grow your business, your community stronger and better after a disaster.

Bahar Afshar

Economic Partnership North Vancouver

Bahar has more than 10 years of experience in project development and management in diverse roles including municipal economic development and business coaching and consulting. She has worked with both start-up businesses through business planning and business launch phases as well as established businesses throughout different growth stages. In providing support to business owners she draws from her own experience of having owned and operated a small business. She is currently the Program Manager for Economic Partnership North Vancouver, a program of North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce.

Blair Fryer

Manager, Communications and Economic Development at City of New Westminster

Blair Fryer is the Economic Development and Communications Manager for the City of New Westminster. In this role, he acts as a central point of contact for investment and advocate for business at city hall, oversees the promotion of municipal services and the City’s social media activity, and leads the branding and marketing efforts that highlight New West as a great place to invest and do business. Prior to joining the City in 2008, Blair was a senior manager with a public relations firm and ran his own communications consultancy, primarily serving clients in the public and non-profit sectors. With a keen interest in public policy, he has worked at all three levels of government. Blair holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Victoria and a Bachelor’s degree in communications and political science from Carleton University.

Brian Coombes

President at Chilliwack Economic Partners Corp.

Brian was chosen as the Director of Tourism and Business Development for the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO) when it was created in 1998. CEPCO is an economic development corporation owned by the City of Chilliwack that is responsible for the community’s economic growth and marketing. Brian’s responsibilities included developing and implementing a wide range of programs to help strengthen the economy of the city of Chilliwack, including the management of Tourism Chilliwack, a CEPCO subsidiary. In 2006 Tourism Chilliwack was incorporated following the same model as CEPCO. Brian then moved into the position of Executive Director and worked closely with a private sector Board of Directors to develop and strengthen the tourism industry in Chilliwack. In December 2013 Brian returned to CEPCO when he was selected as the new President. Working alongside a Board of Directors that reflects CEPCO’s public-private sector make-up, Brian leads a staff team responsible for implementing a range of successful programs and partnerships that have helped CEPCO attract and facilitate economic growth in the city of Chilliwack. Successful projects include Canada Education Park, a 200 acre redevelopment of former CFB Chilliwack lands, and also the new Molson Coors British Columbia brewery, the largest private sector investment in Chilliwack’s history.

Bruce Livingstone

Business Retention and Expansion Officer at City of Maple Ridge

Bruce Livingstone is the Business Retention and Expansion Officer with the City of Maple Ridge where he is responsible for working with both new and existing businesses that are looking to expand or relocate in Maple Ridge. As staff to the Economic Development Committee, Bruce is currently responsible for managing the Innovation Forum and Technology Task Forces and managed the recently concluded Home Based Business Task Force. Prior to joining the City, Bruce worked in business development with the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC and in marketing communications with Kwantlen Polytechnic University and Douglas College. Bruce has a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo and a BBA in Entrepreneurship from KPU.

Bruce Ralston

Government of British Columbia

Bruce Ralston was first elected MLA for Surrey-Whalley in 2005. He was re-elected in 2009, 2013 and 2017. He is the Minister of Jobs, Trade and Technology. Bruce served as the Official Opposition spokesperson for Natural Gas Development, Trade, Immigration, and Multiculturalism, and also served as Opposition critic for finance, agriculture, international trade, the Asia Pacific strategy, and intergovernmental relations. He served as chair of the Legislature’s Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts from 2009 to 2017, and as a member of the Select Standing Committee on Finance and Government Services from 2006 to 2013. Bruce operated his own law firm in Surrey for many years, and continues to maintain his membership in the Law Society of British Columbia. From 1995 to 2006, Bruce was elected to four consecutive terms as a member of the VanCity Savings Credit Union board of directors. He served as a chair of the board from 2001 to 2003. In 2003, BC Business magazine recognized Bruce as one of B.C.’s five leading board chairs. From 2003 until 2005, Bruce acted as the chair of the board of VanCity Enterprises, a VanCity subsidiary with a mandate to provide innovative housing solutions throughout the Lower Mainland. Bruce also served as a councillor on Surrey City Council for 1988 to 1993, where he advocated for planned development for healthy neighbourhoods for Surrey families. He is a former member of the Boards of Directors of Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Surrey Public Library. A former president of the B.C. NDP, Bruce was born in Victoria and grew up in Vancouver. He has degrees in history and law from the University of British Columbia and a degree in history from the University of Cambridge in England. Bruce is married to Miriam Sobrino. They have three children who grew up in Whalley and attended public schools in Surrey and New Westminster. Their elder son attends graduate school in the U.S., while the other two are pursuing undergraduate post-secondary degrees in Canadian universities. The family is active in their communities through a number of community and sports organizations.

Carilynn Siemens

Project Manager - Partnerships for Municipal Innovation in Local Economic Development at Federation of Canadian Municipalities

Carilynn Siemens is an innovative leader in public engagement at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. For the past 10 years, she has managed international programs, and recently seized the opportunity to grow and strengthen the organization’s strategy for engaging Canadians internationally. Her work balances recruitment and program training for Canadians and their communities, as well as monitoring and evaluation for the program overall. Carilynn admits that her first experience delivering training in citizen engagement to government staff in China was “terrifying,” but says now that one of her work’s greatest rewards is to leverage networks and resources to meet shared objectives.

Cheryl Johnson

Executive Director at Community Futures British Columbia

Cheryl joined CFBC as Executive Director in June, 2017. Ms. Johnson has an extensive background in non-profit management, event production and marketing communications. She brings over 20 years of senior management experience working with non-profit boards and industry associations to facilitate their strategic objectives, strengthen government and stakeholder relations and enhance revenue stream opportunities. Prior to joining CFBC, Cheryl was Director of Operations of the BC Wildlife Federation, where, as senior staff officer, she was responsible for operational and strategic management of the largest conservation organization in BC with over 50,000 members and 100 affiliated clubs across the province. She was also the founding Executive Director of a regional community Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) in Metro Vancouver and prior to that managed the world-renown Vancouver International Wine Festival for several years. She established and ran a successful full service event management company and led the management of numerous international conference, trade shows, festivals and fundraisers throughout Western Canada, including the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Cheryl is an avid outdoors enthusiast who is passionate about small business. She grew up in rural BC in a family that owned and operated a successful small business. She now lives in Maple Ridge with her husband and three children.

Chief Roxanne Lindley

Chief at Westbank First Nation

Chief Lindley is the first female Chief for Westbank First Nation and brings with her a wealth of skills and knowledge

Chris Montgomery

Manager of Exploration and Production Engagement at CAPP

Chris Montgomery currently serves as the Manager, E&P Engagement for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, the voice of Canada’s upstream oil, oil sands and natural gas industry. In this capacity, Chris leads CAPP’s stakeholder engagement efforts in communities impacted by oil and gas development, outside the Athabasca oil sands region, and acts as a CAPP media spokesperson. Prior to joining CAPP in 2013, Chris spent more than a decade working in Ottawa in various roles in federal politics, most recently as Director of Parliamentary Affairs to the Leader of the Government in the Senate where he was responsible for advancing the government’s agenda through the Upper House of Parliament. He has also served the Leader of the Government of the House of Commons, a Member of Parliament and, as the Manager of Political Operations (Western Canada) for one of Canada’s major political parties. Chris is a recipient of The Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Colin Basran

Mayor at City of Kelowna

Born and raised in Kelowna, Mayor Basran, who insists on being called simply ‘Colin’, graduated from KLO Secondary School after attending elementary and middle school in the Rutland area. His family settled in the Okanagan in 1907, one of the first East Indian families to arrive in the area. In 2000, Colin graduated from Okanagan College and met his wife Leanne, now the mother of two more KGH kids, five-year-old Nyah and three-year-old Keenan. Having formerly worked as a television journalist for CHBC-TV, Colin went into business as a realtor and was elected for his first term on Kelowna City Council in 2011. In 2014, he campaigned for mayor under the platform ‘Roots Matter. A century of local history.’ and went on to become both the youngest and first non-Caucasian person ever elected mayor in Kelowna.

Corie Griffiths

Director at Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission

Corie is an executive leader in the field of Economic Development specializing in investor and government relations, workforce development (talent) initiatives and marketing of the communities in the Central Okanagan region, province and country. She creates and delivers programs and initiatives for the Commission that support economic growth throughout the Central Okanagan Region of British Columbia, including the introduction of Canada’s first Business Walk, adopted by over 75 Canadian communities and used as a best practice by the B.C. provincial government. She is a connector of industry needs and economic development opportunities by her specific roles and work on the Kelowna International Air Service Development Team, Vice-Chair on Okanagan College’s Regional Advisory Committee, and currently serves as Director on various boards including Accelerate Okanagan, B.C’s Local Government Management Association and the Economic Development Association of Canada.

Dale Wheeldon

President/CEO at British Columbia Economic Development Association

Dale joined the BCEDA team in 2007. As the President and CEO he is responsible for leading the association through the development of programs and initiatives to support communities and economic development organizations. With over 24 years of economic development experience, Dale has successfully developed several award winning economic development programs, developed strategies and other initiatives in small and large communities. His excellent working relationships with all levels of government and industry associations have helped to ensure that BCEDA is well positioned to provide member services. Dale works extensively with other organizations including the International Economic Development Council as a course instructor, and with other Provincial economic development associations developing partnerships across Canada.

Daniel Manuel

Project Manager at Upper Nicola Holdings LP

Dave Parsell

Co-Founder & CEO at Localintel

Dave is Co-founder and CEO of Localintel – an award winning technology firm whose catalog of online economic development tools makes it easier for communities to improve their website, promote local opportunities and support local business growth. Dave’s professional background includes senior roles in consulting and local government where he specialized in local economic development and strategic planning. He holds a Masters of Public Administration, Masters of Environmental Planning and Bachelor of Commerce. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dave-parsell-10b2481b

Dave Peterson

ADM, Rural Development at Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

In October 2017, Dave Peterson was assigned to his present role as the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Rural Development, Lands and Innovation Division of the Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development. Since 2005, Dave has held various assistant deputy minister positions, and also held two significant additional roles. In May 2012, he was appointed to the position of Provincial Chief Forester until December 2014. He was also temporarily appointed as the Deputy Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations from April 2013 to October 2013. In 1995, following Dave’s completion of a major land use planning exercise in the Cariboo, he moved into the private sector as President of the Cariboo Lumber Manufacturers’ Association (CLMA). Upon the disbanding of the CLMA, he took on the role of Vice-President Woodlands with Lignum Ltd. Corporate acquisitions led to positions with Riverside Forest Products, then Tolko Industries. During this period, he became the Interior industry-lead on joint industry/ministry land use planning, timber pricing, and softwood lumber technical committees until 2005 when he returned to the public sector. Raised on Vancouver Island, Dave has a Professional Forester designation, built on a degree in Physical Geography from the University of Victoria. Dave currently lives with his family in Armstrong, BC.

David Munro

Manager of Economic Development at City of Coquitlam

David Munro is the Manager of Economic Development for the City of Coquitlam. Prior to working for the City of Coquitlam, David was the Manager of Business Development with Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation. David has worked in various roles in the field of economic development for the past 8 years and previously worked in the non-profit sector for the Chilliwack Chamber of Commerce. Over the past twenty years, David has had the opportunity to accumulate work experience in a variety of areas such as agriculture, forestry, technology, real estate, tourism and non-profit. David has a Bachelor in Business Administration from the University of Fraser Valley and an MBA from the University of Guelph. In his spare time, David enjoys spending time with his family, travelling and volunteering.

Debra Arnott

General Manager at Community Futures

Debra joined Community Futures in 1992. Debra was in a business partnership with her husband Brian in the logging industry and they made the decision to close their business following the wildfire in 2017. Prior to working with Community Futures, she was the Treasurer/Deputy Clerk for Local Government including many years in the Financial Institution. Deb is a Certified Aboriginal Economic Developer through the Council for the Advancement of Native Development Officers, completed the Northwest Economic Development Course with the International Economic Development Council and Business Retention and Expansion Consultation Certification. Debra is known for her passion working with rural development, participating on the Provincial Rural Advisory Council for three years. To understand Rural, you need to live rural, she participates on many Societies in her region and was acknowledged as a recipient of the BC Achievement award.

Doug Griffiths

President & CEO at 13 Ways, Inc.

Doug Griffiths is the President and CEO of 13 Ways, Inc., a company he founded to provide consultation to struggling North American communities. He is a public speaker and co-author of the book 13 Ways to Kill Your Community, now in its second edition, and is an instructor with the Executive Education program at the University of Alberta School of Business. Griffiths is a former Canadian politician and Member of the Legislative Assembly of Alberta representing the constituency of Battle River-Wainwright as a Progressive Conservative (PC). He was a candidate for the leadership of the PC Party in the 2011 leadership election. He has since taken a step back from provincial politics, in favour of his role with 13 Ways and his teaching duties

Evan Parliament

CAO; Executive Director of DOSDC (District of Sicamous Development Corporation) at District of Sicamous

BA from the University of Alberta (1986); Certified Local Government Manager (CLGM) designation Career in local government spanning 31 years with seven rural small municipalities. Focus on Economic/Community Development and partnerships Strong relationships with First Nations; Understanding their history and respecting their culture Huge proponent of alternative revenues streams for local government Enjoys people, aviation, tennis, hockey, golf, and history Married to Joann with two lovely daughters, Brittany & Brooklyn

Geoff Millar

Principal at Millar & Associates

Geoff was an economic development professional in a number of communities, most recently on Vancouver Island. Geoff delivered both economic development and tourism services to Cowichan Valley region for over 14 years and retired in 2016. Prior to moving to Vancouver Island, Geoff lived in the Okanagan providing economic development and tourism services in Summerland. Geoff’s specialties include the tourism and agriculture sector.

Gordon Planes

Chief at T’Sou-ke First Nation

Gordon’s traditional name is Hya quatcha, named after his great grandfather from Scia-new, the salmon people. Elected Chief of the T’Sou-ke nation for the past 7 years and previously, a position of the Back country operations manager of the West Coast trail for Parks Canada. He is a Coast Salish carver, artist, traditional singer and a captain of T’Sou-ke traditional doug-out conoes for the last two decades. Gordon has previously taken a three year assignment in working with his community in bringing back their Northern Straits Sencoten language. Gordon and his wife Marcella presently reside in the village of Siaosun and have 6 children and 4 great grandchildren. He is actively working closely with the community in renewable energy, food security, cultural renaissance and Economic Development.

Grant Bierlmeier

Business Development Director at FortisBC Alternative Energy Services

Jamie McEwan

Community Development Manager at District of Lake Country

Jamie McEwan is the Community Development Manager for the District of Lake Country. His current portfolio includes economic development, tourism, business licensing, planning, and strategic projects. He was previously a municipal councillor, and a senator for UBC's Okanagan campus. He has volunteered for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on their Caribbean Local Economic Development Initiative, where he helped a number of communities start their own economic development services. Above all else, Jamie is a family man and dad joke connoisseur.

Jennifer Moore

UNBC Community Development Institute

Jennifer has a deep history in economic development and as the economic development officer for the North Peace in 2014 became the founding chair of the Spark Women's Leadership Conference, a workforce development strategy for Northeastern British Columbia. Jennifer's work in economic development has taken her from the BC Interior to the Peace Country. Working with a variety of organizations from business improvement areas and economic development commissions to healthcare charities and most recently as the senior facilitator for The Forge - UNBC's Community Development Institute office in Fort St John - the first CDI office embedded in community. The CDI works with private, public and non-profit organizations to help collectively realize the communities potential. With the CDI embedded in the community, a collective local effort will help the community understand itself; assist to address community issues and opportunities; facilitate the implementation of strategies; and allow for ongoing dialogue with community groups and leaders. Programs and services are provided in 4 areas: community transformation & renewal, education, research, and dialogue & policy discussions. In her spare time, Jennifer spends as much time with her 2 nephews as possible and volunteers for a variety of community organizations.

Jennifer Vincent

Economic Development Specialist at City of Penticton

Passionate about supporting business development and community, joined the City of Penticton's Economic Development department in 2016. I bring my 5 years of experience owning and managing a coworking space as well as my many years as a freelancer and working in small business to this role. Penticton is a growing & vibrant hub in the Okanagan. I am pleased to be part of the team supporting the way forward.

Jim Anderson

Executive Director at Venture Kamloops

Jim Anderson has been the Executive Director of Venture Kamloops since 2013. Since then, Jim has worked to make the organization a leader in economic development t5hrough innovative BR&E programs and strong partnerships. As Executive Director, Jim is responsible for developing, fostering and maintaining excellent working relationships with all levels of government, community and business groups. He maintains a strategic involvement with senior staff of key Venture Kamloops partners to develop and foster economic development in Kamloops. Jim is also responsible for the financial and administrative service delivery and provides support to the Venture Kamloops staff in order to achieve organizational goals and objectives. Jim, his wife Tanja and kids Ben & Raili chose Kamloops as the place they wanted to call home in 2004. Jim is committed to the community, serving with Rotary, the United way and local youth sports. He believes in working everyday to make his city the best it can be.

John Perrott

Economic Development Officer at City of West Kelowna

John Perrott, is the Economic Development Officer for the City of West Kelowna, managing both Tourism and Economic Development portfolios since 2010. John graduated Okanagan College with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2003 and immediately began a career in Community Development by working for the Downtown Kelowna Association (BIA). While with the Association, John worked as the Marketing Director for three years before being promoted to Executive Director in 2007. From 2006 to 2010, he served as a Director and Vice President of the Business Improvement Area Association of British Columbia. John joined the City of West Kelowna in December 2010 as the first Economic Development Officer, spearheading a number of initiatives including forming the Westside Wine Trail, Westside Farm Loop, establishing the Economic Development Committee, and managing the rebranding of Visit Westside tourism marketing cooperative. In 2015, John’s dedication to his community was recognized with two awards: 2015 Okanagan College Young Alumni & Top 40 Under 40. Outside of the office, you’ll likely find John enjoying the best of the Okanagan lifestyle: skiing, golfing, boating, wine touring, and cooking!

Karen Eden

General Manager at Community Futures

Karen came from an accounting and manufacturing company background before starting with Community Futures Cariboo Chilcotin in 1996. Since that time has held several positions with the organization including that of Comptroller and Self Employment bookkeeper instructor and since 2007 as General Manager. She has a strong back ground and extensive understanding of Entrepreneurial activities. From 2010 to 2015 Karen has served as a director for the Community Futures British Columbia Association and still is a member on many of the working committees. Outside of Community Futures she served as the Co-chair for the Williams Lake Communities in Bloom committee, the past co-chair of Williams Lake Senior Secondary School Parent Advisory Group for 5 years. Karen is a Past President and is currently an active and proud member of the Williams Lake Rotary club.

Keenan Hopson

Economic Development Officer at City of Prince George

Keenan received a hockey scholarship to the University of Maine where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in accounting. He has subsequently completed his Post Graduate Certificate in Valuation and is a member of the Real Estate Institute of British Columbia (RI). Keenan has experience in economic development, construction, real estate, accounting, and appraisals. Keenan was born and raised in Prince George and he is dedicated to growing Prince George in a way that is best for him, his family and everyone that calls 'PG' home.

Kerry Mehaffey

Chief Executive Officer at Lil'wat Business Group

Kerry Mehaffey has worked for the Lil'wat Nation for over 10 years in various capacities. For the past six years he has been the CEO of the Lil'wat Business Group, the Nation's for-profit business entities. Originally from Nanaimo, BC Kerry holds a BSc in Geography and Environmental Studies from the Universtiry of Victoria and an MSc in Public Policy and Management from the University of London. Kerry currently lives in Pemberton with his wife and two small children, and while not at work and busy with family, spends as much time biking and skiing as he can.

Kevin Gerow

Regional Manager, Interior North at FortisBC

Laith Wardi

Principal at Executive Pulse

Laith Wardi, CEcD, is president of ExecutivePulse, Inc. He has worked in the economic development profession for over 20 years. Laith has comprehensive experience in business retention & expansion that includes outreach to hundreds of value-added client companies, work as a resource provider, and 15 years of regional program management. In 1994-95, Laith pioneered the first web based system for business retention. Today, the ExecutivePulse™ CRM System is the most widely used database for business retention & expansion in North America. As a founder and President of ExecutivePulse Inc., Laith provides skills training, survey development, technology development and management consultation to clients seeking to implement a systematic and sustainable customer outreach program. He is a regular instructor on business retention for the professional certification program sponsored by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). He also is a trainer for the University of Oklahoma's Economic Development Institute (OUEDI). Laith also speaks to community, economic and workforce development audiences throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico and Europe on customer retention, one-to-one database marketing and technology assimilation. Laith is a graduate of Mercyhurst University and received his economic development certification through IEDC in 2002. In addition to his work in the field of economic development, Laith has experience in real estate management, media sales, and as a strategic planning consultant for both public and private-sector clients. He currently serves on a variety of local economic development boards and committees.

Leah Hartley

Director of Development Services at City of Williams Lake

Leah Hartley is the City of William’s Lake Director of Development Services with 25 years of experience in community and resource planning in the Interior of BC. During the 2017 Cariboo Wildfire season, Leah served initially in the Emergency Operations Center and then led the community’s recovery program. The City focused its efforts on business recovery and economic transition, eventually securing funding resources through the provincial emergency program. The lessons learned in communities across BC and Alberta, through floods or fires, are providing foundations for other communities to rebound succcessfully from a state of emergency.

Mark Lautman

Co-founder at Community Economics Lab

Mark Lautman is a founding director of the Community Economics Lab, a private not-for-profit think tank that innovates new approaches to economic development to work in a labor and capital constrained economy. His consulting business, Lautman Economic Architecture, LLC, works with community leaders to transform community economies and elevate the professional practice of economic and workforce development. Mark had a monthly column for the New Mexico Business Weekly, and is the author of a new book, When the Boomers Bail: A Community Economics Survival Guide, available on Amazon.com. Mark has three decades of experience as a professional economic developer, and has designed and managed four economic development programs having procured more than 80 corporate locations, accounting for more than 15,000 new jobs, 6 million square feet of industrial space and $11 billion dollars in new investment. Most recently, Mark was Vice President of Economic Development at Mesa del Sol where his business unit was responsible for recruiting Albuquerque Studios, Schott Solar, Fidelity Investments and several others. Mark’s previous New Mexico economic development assignments included Santa Teresa, Rio Rancho and Grants. Mark’s recent consulting projects include: Spaceport America, Live Work New Mexico, Artesia Chamber of Commerce, San Juan County, Cibola County, Rio Rancho Economic Development Corporation, WorkKeys Based Labor Market Model, New Mexico EB5 Regional Center, OKC Land Inventory Analysis, and Ft. Bayard masterplan. Mark’s recent conference speaking engagements include: Summit on the Business of Aging, NAIOP, TEDx, National Rural Economic Development Association, International Economic Development Council, UNM Speaker Series, ULI Emerging Trends Conference, National Association of Workforce Boards, EDA, National Brownfield Association, IGNITE and Business Expansion Retention International. Mark is a 1971 graduate of The University of New Mexico in Economics, Architecture and Geography, and a former Peace Corps Volunteer. Mark and his wife, Mary Anne live in Albuquerque. They have three children, two having graduated from UNM and one from NMSU, as well as four grandchildren.

Maureen Czirfusz

Executuve Director/Economic Development Officer at Houston & District Chamber of Commerce

Maureen began her career at the Houston and District Chamber of Commerce in the fall of 2007 after twelve years in the insurance industries. Her love and commitment for the community brought her to make the career change. In January 2011, her position was restructured to also include the duties of Economic Development Officer for the District of Houston. During her time at the Chamber, Maureen has worked very hard in growing the Chamber and developing a strong membership. The chamber works closely with the local merchant and successful runs their shop local program. In 2016 over $90,000 was kept in the community with this program. Maureen has been a member of the British Columbia Chamber Executives (BCCE) since 2008 and served as a member on the board of directors including President from 2012-2014. Maureen was honored with the Gerry Frederick Executive of the Year in 2013 from the BCCE. Maureen also serves as a board member for the BC Economic Development Association and several local boards in her community.

Melissa Barcellos

Manager, Economic Development at City of Prince George

As the Manager of Economic Development for the City of Prince George, Melissa’s role is to facilitate and promote economic growth and diversification in order to increase the population and tax base by providing support for business growth and attraction. Born and raised in Prince George, Melissa left the city to work internationally as a professional auctioneer and operated an art gallery as an independent contractor on several cruise lines prior to returning to Prince George where she graduated from the University of Northern British Columbia with a Commerce Degree. She also holds a Certificate in Economic Development from the University of Waterloo. Melissa began her economic development career as an intern at Northern Development Initiative Trust in 2011 and has since work for the City of Williams Lake and Initiatives Prince George Economic Development Corporation. In September 2015, Melissa was hired by the City of Prince George and led the transition of Economic Development from an arms-length organization to a division within City Hall. Melissa loves to travel in her free time and has visited over 40 countries. She is a passionate advocate for animal welfare and volunteers as the President of the Board of Directors for the BC SPCA.

Netty Tam

Manager of Business Development at Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation

Netty Tam is the Manager of Business Development for the Chilliwack Economic Partners Corporation (CEPCO), the economic development organization for the City of Chilliwack. With over 20 years of direct experience, Netty brings a wealth of expertise in the economic development and downtown revitalization field. She has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British of Columbia and a Master of Environmental Design – Planning Degree from the University of Calgary. Her areas of specialization are in strategic planning, policy development, economic development, and downtown revitalization. Currently she sits on the Chilliwack Social Research and Planning Council, and Boards of Community Future South Fraser and Community Futures Stolo.

Nordina Newton

Program Coordinator at Nations Creations

Program Coordinator for the Sto:lo Nation social Enterprise Nations Creations. Background in Marketing, sales and business development.

Patrick Deakin

Economic Development Manager at City of Port Alberni

Economic Development Manager for the City of Port Alberni for the last 10 years. Previous roles have included Manager of Partnerships & Policy Development at the OneStop Business Registry; Economic Development Officer for Oliver & District; Band Manager & Economic Development Manager for the Uchucklesaht Tribe. Have worked in the high tech, environmental, tourism, forestry, mining and retail fields.

Robert Louie

Chairman at First Nations Lands Advisory Board

Robert Louie, LL.B., OC, of Kelowna, B.C. is the former Chief of the Westbank First Nation. He is also the Chairman of the First Nations Lands Advisory Board and Chairman of Peace Hills Trust (Financial Institution). He served as a Board of Governor member with the University of British Columbia and as a member of the President’s Advisory Council of the University of British Columbia Okanagan (UBC-O). Robert Louie is also a former practicing lawyer who specialized in native law. Previously he was a member of a Task Group of the First Nations Summit, and was involved in B.C. treaty negotiations representing the Chiefs in B.C. for a period of 4 years. Robert Louie has served on numerous other boards and advisory bodies, including the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board, First Nations Finance Authority Inc., All Nations Trust Company, Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, United Native Friendship Society, and the Premiere’s Advisory Council of Aboriginal Affairs. Robert Louie has been the recipient of many awards and recognitions over the years. By far the most prestigious, was his appointment as an Officer to the Order of Canada. More recently, he was the recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from Okanagan College, the Queen’s 2nd Diamond Jubilee Medal and an Excellence in Aboriginal Leadership Award from Xerox Canada/Aboriginal Financial Officers Association. In February 2014, Robert Louie was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from the Justice Institute of British Columbia. He is also the owner of several successful businesses in the Kelowna area.

Strac Ivanov

President / CEO at Vicinity Jobs Inc

Over the past decade, Strac has been on the forefront of the technological revolution that re-shaped Canada's labour markets. After founding Vicinity Jobs in 2006, he lead the development, launch, and expansion of some of North America's earliest job aggregators. In collaboration with Canadian Economic Developers, he lead the development and launch of the Vicinity Jobs real-time hiring demand analytics platform. Built in 2006 and 2007, it was one of Canada's earliest real-time Big Data LMI solutions. Since then, he has also overseen the development of a labour supply reporting solution, and played a key role in the adoption of the technology by provincial and municipal governments across Canada. In 2017 and 2018, Strac lead the development and launch of Worxica.com - North America's first online Big Data Labour Market Information platform that is widely available to Canadian job seekers and employers. Strac holds a Master`s degree in Business Administration from Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration. He wrote his Master`s thesis on the topic of using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to retrieve and classify information from web sources. Strac is also a PMI-certified Project Management Professional. He works and lives in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Sue Kenny

General Manager Community Futures Peace Liard at Community Futures Peace Liard

In addition to her role as BCEDA Chair, Sue Kenny is currently the General Manager for Community Futures Peace Liard and Director for the Dawson Creek Chamber of Commerce. CFPL covers the northeast corner of BC including 8 municipalities, several first nations’ communities and surrounding rural areas. Her role is to ensure that business services are available to existing and new businesses in the entire region. Sue also represents this region in promoting economic initiatives as well as assisting communities in developing economic strategies and sourcing or providing resources to implement them. Sue achieves this by having a working relationship with other economic practitioners in the area, as past Coordinator for the South Peace Economic Commission, Executive Director for the Northeast Regional Community Foundation, Sue has been working in the economic field for twenty five years in the northeast region. First in several positions with the District of Tumbler Ridge and the past 18 years with Community Futures Peace Liard.

Terry Van Horn

Executive Director at Lower Columbia Initiatives Corperation

Terry proudly grew up in Mackenzie BC. She went to BCIT where she became a chemical technologist and met her husband Jim. After graduation they moved to Prince George where she worked in the brewing and pulp and paper industries for 12 years as a lab technologist. With an opportunity for her husband to establish a satellite company Terry and her family moved to Trail, BC in 2001. Using her chemical sciences background, her experience working in the industry towns of Mackenzie and Prince George, as well as her newly acquired business diploma from Selkirk College, Terry joined the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology (KAST) in 2004. During her 8 years at KAST, she learned that collaboration, team work, and relationship building are fundamental to success in rural economic development. She is proud of her work at KAST especially in establishing the GLOWS (Growing Learning Opportunities with Science) program that now resides with Selkirk College. Further expanding on her skills and knowledge in 2012, Terry joined the Lower Columbia Initiatives Corporation (LCIC), the regional Economic Development Office for the Trail area. As the Executive Director of the LCIC, she continues to promote opportunities and drive economic and business growth through strategies like the new Metal Tech Alley initiative focused on a cluster approach to marketing the region’s competitive advantages. She excels in creating strong partnerships and selling the viability of the region with a passion like no other. Terry and her family are grateful for their life in the beautiful Trail area, she plans to live a long and healthy life playing golf and will continue to champion economic growth and prosperity for the region to ensure her children stay close by.

Tom Konek

Councillor at Westbank First Nation

Born in Spokane, WA and recently relocated back to Westbank in early 2015 after graduating from Eastern Washington University with a BBA - Finance and a BSc in Economics. Worked in Accounts Payable and Taxation within WFN before being elected for the 2016-2019 Council term. I hold dual citizenship with the US and Canada and served in the United States Air Force from 2001-2005 and was deployed to Qatar in summer of 2004. I have 2 beautiful children my son Owen and daughter Tollin.

Trevor Cootes

Executive Council with Economic Development Portfolio and Employment & Training at Huuayaht First Nations

Trevor Cootes was born and raised in Port Alberni. He belongs to the ʔApwinisatḥʔ house, and is a descendant of the Dennis family and the Williams family. His mother is Patsy Nookemus (nee Dennis) and his father is the late Levi Cootes. Trevor is serving his first term as an elected member of Executive Councilor for the Huu-ay-aht First Nation. He holds the Economic Development portfolio and is also co-chair on the Cooperative Management Board for Pacific Rim National Park. With 18 years of experience in the tourism industry these portfolios are a good fit with the skills Trevor brings to the table. He has worked in various areas of tourism, including accommodations, food and beverage, adventure guiding, culture, retail and campground work, as well as being an events coordinator and educator. Trevor attended Malaspina University/College (now Vancouver Island University) and took Business Management and Hospitality Management. Trevor had an opportunity to further his skills in tourism by taking a pilot project created jointly with Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council and North Island College. The Coast Adventure Tourism certificate trained Nuu-chah-nulth members who are already interested in tourism to be outdoor guides, in fishing, kayaking, sailing and boating. As a first-term councillor, Trevor looks forward to the challenges his new role with Huu-ay-aht will offer. He brings to council a strong work ethic and integrity, as well as a 360 degree view of business and industry, which will serve him well with his economic development portfolio. He also understands individual roles within an organization and has a strong attribute and ability to be a problem solver. Trevor has a keen interest in the outdoors and sports and taking part in our Huu-ay-aht cultural activities.

Trudy Parsons

Executive Vice President at MDB Insight

Trudy has more than 25 years of expertise in sector, industry-specific, and local, regional, provincial and national workforce development. Trudy has dedicated her career to creating workforce development strategies and solutions that position communities for prosperity. She has a passion for helping people, organizations, and communities achieve success, however they chose to define it. Trudy has worked in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, including as a faculty member in the post-secondary sector, a post-secondary program development consultant, and as the lead director overseeing a robust corporate continuing education division. Before joining MDB Insight, Trudy served as the Executive Director of the Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB), a regional not-for-profit organization with a mandate for labour market planning and workforce development. As Executive Director, Trudy established the NWPB as a credible labour market information research organization. In 2011, Trudy joined MDB as Director of Workforce Development, a division established to help communities, organizations and individuals understand and respond to changing labour markets. She is the first non-founding partner of the firm. Through her work at MDB she has helped many communities to align local supply and demand, attract and retain talent, and create strategies for future success. Trudy is invited regularly to share her insights at conferences across Canada and in the United States. Born in Newfoundland and Labrador, Trudy is proud to call herself a Newfoundlander!

Zaheen Nanji

International Speaker, Resilience Champion at Shanti Wellness Centre Inc.

Zaheen Nanji is a resilience champion and a business owner in Alberta, Canada. Embracing change and fear is Zaheen’s trademark. She overcame her speech impediment in her twenties, learned to live in a new country at the age of 15 without her parents, and is a recent breast cancer survivor. Not only did her life experiences help her build resilience, but her background in Environmental Public Health and Neuro-Linguistic Programming (Study of Human Behaviour) are resources she uses to help others build resilience. Her book, The Resilience Reflex - 8 Keys to Transforming Barriers into Success in Life and Business, became an international bestseller on Amazon Kindle. Zaheen teaches people how to make resilience their first reflex using her three-step formula.