Top 40 under 40: Kayla Caruana
Contributed - Jul 13, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Kayla Caruana was raised in the Okanagan and co-runs an award-winning financial planning practice with her mother. Kayla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business (BBA) specializing in finance, is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and at the time she wrote the exams she was the youngest CFP at IG Wealth in the country. She is a Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC) and is enrolled in the Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) designation trending to become the one of the youngest CLU’s in Canada. Kayla gives back to the community through her advocacy work with the Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis) as well as her work with the Lake Country Rotary.

Kayla and her mom (her business partner) run seminars in the community for financial literacy for seniors. They were recently honoured by the not for profit Women In Leadership (WIL) and in November of 2019 they spoke at a WIL event on the topic “Women in Wealth” that empowers women to take control of their finances. Kayla has also spoken to the Women in Science and Engineering students at UBCO where she talked about financial literacy to over 150 female students. Kayla is apart of the leadership council at IG Wealth Management. She was chosen (as well as 15 others in the country) to be interviewed by the Senior Vice President of IGM on her thoughts on the industry, the IG Wealth Management’s direction, and what they can improve on. In 2019 Kayla was named Young Entrepreneur of the Year by the Lake Country Chamber of Commerce and was United Way’s honoree at the philanthropy day lunch that recognizes donors who make an impact in the community.

The industry uses a lot of paper which Kayla finds quite wasteful, so she created a sustainable initiative where when she takes on a new client, she plants two trees. Kayla is the 2021 President Elect for her Rotary Club in Lake Country. Kayla currently sits on the board for United Way’s GenNext as past chair. She has been working with the United Way since 2010 where she was Miss United Way that year. She currently runs a yearly golf clinic called “Ladies Swing Away for United Way” that draws nearly 40 women, the event donates over $3,000 to the United Way each year. Kayla also works with United Way on their strategic charitable giving and was on the panel to help choose who would receive the Youth Initiative Grant from the Okanagan Foundation. Kayla is also on the board for Advocis as the Advocacy director, her role entails a lot of travelling to Victoria, Saskatoon, Toronto and Calgary to rally the B.C. government to get behind protecting the title “Financial Planner” as currently in Canada there are no rules around the title and anyone can use it. She wants to raise the bar for the financial planning industry to hold everyone to a higher standard in educating themselves before giving financial advice as consumers are confused on who they can trust with their entire life savings.

Kayla has achieved the distinguished Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation. The process in which it takes to complete the CFP typically takes three to four years, whereas Kayla finished in two years and became the youngest CFP at IG Wealth in Canada and 22nd youngest in the industry.

Kayla has won six awards in her first two years of business. In her first year she won the “Practice Growth Award” twice, that is given to a tenure Year 1- 4 consultant. She also won a “Spirit Award” twice that was voted on by her peers. This award is given to the person who helps grow the culture within the workplace and Kayla has shown tremendous leadership and has stuck to her values in doing so. Her team this year was No. 1 in British Columbia.

Q&A with Kayla Caruana

How are you currently approaching the current situation?  

Client meetings are done virtually or over the phone now and this seems to work for the time being. We are extroverts and we like hugs, so it has been tough. We have been running educational webinars to help enhance clients plans and offer value since we can’t meet face to face.

Where are you now? Are you still working, at home or at work? How is the business you own/work for currently?  

Our team has always pivoted well when things change. We have all decided to work from home for the time being and it works really well for us! Our existing client relationships and the work we do for clients has strengthen through this pandemic as we have had more time to call and converse with them. Clients, especially during times of uncertainty, look to their financial planner for guidance and assurance, and because we are Certified Financial Planners (which is rare in our industry), they know they can trust us and we can help guide them.

What is your favourite quote?  

My favourite quote comes from a writer, Mary Jo Putney “Competence is a great creator of confidence”

Top 40: Garrett Jones
Contributed - Jul 10, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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Garrett has been fortunate enough to grow up in Kelowna and when he left in 2004, he knew he would come back. In late 2016 Garrett took that opportunity to come back and work with Valley-First as the Regional Manager of Commercial Insurance. In late 2019 Garrett was offered a position with the Valley First Commercial Banking team has a Sr. Commercial Account Manager; this has given him an exciting opportunity to learn a new side of the business.

Garrett has been a member of influence on the OYP for almost two years and officially joined the COEDC Connector program in 2019. The OYP inspired him to create a similar group within Valley First, (VF Community Collective) last year they hosted/co-hosted 6 events, the goal, networking with a twist! They teamed up with local businesses and partners (Ex: OYP, Impulse Escape Room) to introduce Mystery Networking events that incorporated an experience with the hope to deepen connections and relationships. Garrett is also the Regional Leader for BC Young Leaders; his group consists of 40 plus members from various credit unions across the Okanagan. The goal is to help enrich, engage, and inspire young leaders with skills and development that will grow and strengthen the BC Credit Union system.

In Alberta, Garrett was a Lions Club Member (VP of his chapter) but was looking for a new NPO/Charity to get involved with when he came across the Bridge Youth and Family Services. The work they are doing and their goal of bringing a youth recovery center to the Central Okanagan inspired Garrett and ever since he has been an advocate and strong supporter of trying to bring this goal to reality.

In 2019 Ryan Donn teamed up with Garret and the Valley First team to create the Valley First for the Tribute for Teens fundraising concert for the youth recovery center, this amazing show raised over $20,000. Valley First is a strong supporter of the Central Okanagan Foodbank, and last year Garrett helped co-lead a group that did Kaizen (A Lean Methodology) for them. The goal was to provide create efficiencies and provide advice allowing them to maximize efforts for their clients. The team spent three full days in the foodbank, breaking down, reviewing and revamping their process of bringing food from the warehouses to their market, allowing them to serve more clients. Most of the Valley First Community Events that have been hosted were also fundraisers for the Foodbank, which saw them raise almost $1,500.

Garrett is currently attending UBCO at the Faculty of Management working towards his Masters. In 2018, he received the Top 10 under 40 Award from Canadian Underwriter Magazine. He was an Emerging Business Award Finalist, Airdrie Business Awards. In 2016 he received the Community Hero Award Regional Winner from Allstate and in 2012 the Community Spirit Award from RBC.

Q&A with Garrett Jones 

How are you currently approaching the current situation? 

I am staying informed and optimistic and doing my part to limit contact, but stay connected. I want to thank all the essential and frontline service providers – from health care, financial services, grocery store, and truck drivers, to all the other amazing individuals doing their part. This is an important time to remember that we are all in this together and although it may seem like we are becoming less-connected, we actually have a terrific opportunity— through technology— to build partnerships and connections unlike any other time in history. Look no further than the recent Kelowna Stay at Home Gala presented by Valley First to the upcoming National Stay at Home Gala on May 2nd. Innovative and creative events like this are rallying and connecting communities like never before.

Where are you now? Are you still working, at home or at work? How is the business you own/work for currently? 

I am fortunate to be working from home in my role as Sr. Commercial Banking Advisor at Valley First. We know the COVID-19 situation has presented many financial challenges and unexpected hardships. I’ve been working with our team at Valley First to provide financial relief and solutions for members (both retail and business members) who find themselves unable to meet the terms of their loans or mortgages. In the last 4 weeks, we’ve been able to help over 2,000 members with financial relief. Local businesses play such a key role in our local economies, so it’s so important that we continue to find ways to support them through this storm.

What is your favourite quote? 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

Top 40: Kate Snowsell
Contributed - Jul 08, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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Kate Snowsell’s entire legal career has been spent at Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP. While she attended law school in Edmonton, she was born and raised in the Okanagan and knew she would return home to practise here.

Snowsell began as an articled student at Doak Shirreff in 2009, in 2018 she joined the partnership and somewhere in between she had two incredible children, who are now 5 and 8.

When Snowsell first started at Doak Shireff she was practising primarily in litigation focused practice areas. When the chance to practise in estate and incapacity planning and estate administration came up, she jumped at the opportunity. This area brought together the two aspects of law that she enjoys most: interacting with clients and drafting documents. The subject matter can be really heavy, but Snowsell is passionate about making sure people have their estate and incapacity planning in place so that their loved ones’ grief is not worsened by situations that could have been avoided had their affairs been in order.

Snowsell is also passionate about educating individuals on issues related to wills and incapacity planning. To achieve this, she enjoys partnering with other professionals to deliver seminars on the topic.

When she is not delivering seminars, Snowsell enjoys her position on her firm’s in-house marketing committee and has been a member of the board of directors for the Kelowna Estate Planning Society since 2017.

Snowsell is a past member of the board of directors for the MS Society of Canada’s Okanagan chapter and has been involved with not-for-profit organization Mamas for Mamas since it was a small grassroots organization in 2014. Snowsell is extremely proud of the national charitable organization it has become in such a short period of time. Snowsell also provides pro-bono legal services to Mamas for Mamas on an ongoing basis, both as a not-for-profit organization and to the mamas in the community who reach out through Mamas for Mamas and are in need of legal advice or services. Mamas for Mamas is doing incredible work in its fight against poverty, in our community and beyond, and she is grateful to be even a little part of their huge success.

Doak Shirreff strongly supports local community initiatives and fundraising, and for the firm’s 50th anniversary it ran a 50 Good Deeds campaign, where it gave back to the community in 50 different ways over the course of 2018. Snowsell also volunteers her time as both a volunteer and a participant in numerous community events, including the MS Walk, Sugarplum Ball, Cycle for Strong Kids and various Mamas for Mamas fundraising events.

Snowsell has a bachelor of arts degree with a major in psychology and a minor in sociology from UBC Okanagan and a bachelor of laws degree from the University of Alberta.

Snowsell loves being a mom. While it might sound cliché, being a mom to two wonderful kids is her greatest achievement. She doesn’t know that there is any greater honour than being called “mom.”

Top 40: Russ Latimer
Contributed - Jul 06, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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After earning his business degree in from Wilfrid Laurier University, Russ Latimer started working in the insurance industry but quickly realized it wasn’t for him.

Prior to moving to Kelowna and working at Gallagher’s Canyon, Latimer started his career in the golf industry at Whitevale Golf Club in Toronto as an assistant professional. Latimer then accepted the head professional position at Black Mountain Golf Club, where he was promoted to the general manager position in 2014 at the age of 32. Latimer is now in his seventh season as the general manager at Black Mountain, where they were awarded the 2018 PGA of BC Golf Facility of the Year.

Latimer is also the co-commissioner of the Interior PGA Tour, which is a small professional golf tour for PGA of Canada professionals in the Thompson Okanagan.

Golf is a huge part of the tourism industry, and Latimer is proud to be a part of it. He is also extremely proud of the amazing management team he has helped put together. When you’re in charge of everything, you’re not really in charge of anything, so you need to have great staff in each department who can get the best out of their respective staff members. Latimer attributes his leadership style to ensuring he puts all his staff in a position to succeed, then sitting back and letting them do their thing. It’s important that your staff enjoy showing up to work and working for you, as that positive attitude will increase their productivity and will be passed on to the customer.

Melcor and Black Mountain Golf Club support countless community fundraising events by donating rounds of golf and hosting charity events. They also host more than 20 golf events, during which the main purpose is to raise money for certain charities; they help raise more than $100,000 each year.

Latimer holds an honours business administration degree from Wilfrid Laurier University. He has also won four professional golf events and has placed well in many others.

Q&A with Russ Latimer (conducted May 27)

How is Black Mountain faring during the pandemic?

Now that the golf course is open for business, we are extremely busy. We began the year with 15-minute tee time intervals and will be moving to 12-minute intervals soon in order to get more people on the course. We have dozens of new protocols and procedures that staff and customers must follow in order to keep everyone safe and healthy. Overall, the start of the season has been a big success compared to what we thought it may have been. We look forward to a prosperous season.

What is your favourite quote?

“People are here to have fun. Let’s not (mess) it up.”

Top 40: Tyler Robson
Contributed - Jul 03, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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Tyler Robson went to the University of Saskatchewan on a football scholarship in his early 20s. Now he has been pursuing his passion for the cannabis industry for the last decade with a focus on research and development, proprietary extraction processing and life sciences.

Robson’s forward-thinking mentality took what was originally going to be a cultivation facility in 2013 to an extraction-focused operation by 2017. This was a crucial shift in strategy; while waiting for their license to come through, Robson saw the space was getting flooded with producers and recognized there was an opportunity for a niche business in the extraction sector. Knowing the hardships and intricacies of the extraction process, he had a hunch that companies would need to outsource these types of services. Positioning Valens as the clear leader in the space.

Robson’s success is rooted in his humble approach. He is very reflective and is well attuned to recognizing his shortcomings and areas in which another individual could complement his skillset to get the right balance of talents to get organization to the next level. Building a strong and complementary team around him, creating an environment in which everyone can thrive and feel enabled to shine is one of Robson’s greatest strengths. The autonomy and sense of ownership that Robson instilled right from the get-go, be it to an employee on the production floor or a senior director, plays a pivotal role in how the company operates and enables others to carry the vision. One of the key elements of Robson’s culture is family and team mentality, and for Robson it’s not just a concept, but a reality that he lives by every day. No task is too small or “unfit for his title.” He is always ready to lend a helping hand and a listening ear to anyone in need. The approach not only unified the employees around the shared vision but enabled Valens to reach all its operational milestones to date. This transitions into his daily life also.

Robson is always looking for ways to contribute to the community, while there are currently strict regulations on what Valens can do as an organization in terms of community outreach events, Robson continuously donates to local charities from a personal side. Charities and initiatives he has supported include August Motorcars Toys for Kids, KGH Christmas toys for sick kids, local families through a church to supply Christmas dinners, Gibsons Gala, Okanagan Sun, Rutland Secondary School football program, Central Okanagan Food Bank, SPCA and BC Children’s Hospital.

Robson’s highest level of education achieved is a bachelor of science degree. Robson has also kept up to date with trends, technology and information in the industry by taking several courses and supportive training.

Robson was named to the Top 100 Healthcare Leaders of 2019 list by the International Forum on Advancements in Healthcare, and that same year he was was recognized as Young Entrepreneur of the Year and Large Business of the Year by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce. He was also honoured in 2019 as one of the top 50 Most Influential Canna Chiefs by cannachief.ca.

Q&A with Tyler Robson (conducted May 27)

How are you currently approaching the current situation? 

We acted quickly upon government and public health officials’ recommendations and immediately removed all non-essentials employees from our facilities, prohibited visitors and staggered employee shift times to limit contact. These physical distance precautions are in addition to the already robust measures of sanitation that are always in place at our production facilities, being a Health Canada approved and GMP compliant facility.

We have also taken a very proactive approach to provide relief where we can. Immediately after this crisis began, we shared all available gloves, gowns and sanitizing wipes with our local health centres and have put in another order of vital PPE that we look forward to donating soon. Our production teams also quickly pivoted to begin producing hand sanitizer that we have begun donating to health centres, community organizations and essentials services across Canada. We are doing our best to contribute as much as we can as a company to help alleviate the situation.

What is your favourite quote?  

 “If it were easy, everyone would do it.”

Top 40: Navjot Takhar
Contributed - Jun 30, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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As a visible minority, Navjot Takhar acknowledged that she was different and set out from a young age to inspire other youth to have confidence. Takhar feels very fortunate that her parents chose Kelowna to settle down and begin a family, where she was born and raised.

Takhar’s parents began the family business of Evergreen Building Maintenance Inc. more than 30 years ago. Evergreen operates in various municipalities throughout B.C. and Alberta, and employs 234 individuals. Takhar is proud to be furthering their vision as an accounts manager and oversees client relations within the corporation. She has seen her parents go through a great deal of struggle to build the foundation of this company and later saw her brother play a significant part in growing their vision. After graduation Takhar became more involved with her parents’ company and is grateful to be a part of a business that contributes to the community and to local charities.

As a previous Miss Kelowna Lady of the Lake and British Columbia Ambassador, Takhar has had the opportunity to truly immerse herself in community service and learn from people from all walks of life. Through these platforms she was able to use her charisma to inspire the youth demographic to pursue post-secondary education and set their goals into plans. Takhar was proud to be the first B.C. Ambassador from Kelowna to take home this provincial title.

Takhar played in both indoor and outdoor field hockey leagues during high school and wanted to give back as a leader. She was a volunteer field hockey coach and taught the Grade 7 girls team at Chute Lake Elementary School. The importance of teamwork and working co-operatively are skills that she was happy to teach young athletes.

Takhar began volunteering at KGH when she was 15, and she has documented more than 550 hours working in several departments. The closest to her heart was the “patient tea and delivery cart.” This was a service implemented in the dementia ward. It was heartbreaking to experience how the aging demographic is neglected; often the patients’ only social activity in the day would be seeing the volunteers drop in with tea and a newspaper. Because of her hard work and dedication, Takhar was selected to be in the promotional Kelowna Hospital Auxiliary video and recruited many peers to give back.

The roles of Miss Kelowna and BC Ambassador entailed extensive volunteer work in various charities, including helping out at fundraisers, walks and retirement homes. Since high school, Takhar has been a math tutor, field hockey coach, science kids camp leader and orientation leader at UBCO to give back her time. Being a part of Evergreen has also allowed her to give back. Evergreen provides numerous scholarships to several different universities through COBBS. It is also proud to financially support several charities each quarter, including the BC Cancer Foundation, United Way and the BC Children’s Hospital, to name a few.

Takhar has a bachelor of science degree from UBC Okanagan, where she majored in microbiology and immunology. She received the Chancellor’s Scholar Award and the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Scholarship during her four years of studies. Takhar hopes to further her education by obtaining her doctor of dental medicine.

Q&A with Navjot Takhar (conducted May 20)

How are you currently approaching the current situation? 

I am optimistic, as B.C. has done well to flatten the curve. As a microbiologist, it has been interesting trying to understand the mechanism of action of this virus. I have been primarily working from home and attending sites as required to meet with clients. To make the most of social distancing and time at home, I have used this as an opportunity to spend more time with my family and further develop my hobbies. I love to go for hikes with my dog, Byron, play piano, tennis and have begun taking golf lessons.

What is your favourite quote? 

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” — Mahatma Ghandi

ALS walk raises $412K
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 26, 2020 - People in Business

Image: Contributed

B.C.’s Virtual Walk to End ALS raised nearly half a million dollars last weekend.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, participants were asked to walk around their neighbourhood with those in their “bubbles” and to share pictures on their social media accounts.

The virtual walk, which took place on Saturday, has raised $412,000 so far across the province. Proceeds support the best ALS research in the country (40% of proceeds) and enable ALS societies to provide community-based support (60% of proceeds) to people and families living with the disease.

Donations are still being accepted here.

Top 40: Sarah Dow-Fleisner
Kirk Penton - Jun 26, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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Sarah Dow-Fleisner’s research career began in 2007 as a clinical research co-ordinator in the Massachusetts General Hospital, Center for Addiction Medicine where she worked with adolescents in outpatient addiction treatment and was part of a research project examining pathways to recovery for youth.

Dow-Fleisner then began her graduate education at Tufts University, which included working with the Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation study, a mixed methods research project focused on coping among at-risk young mothers. These experiences led her to pursue her doctoral degree, which culminated in her dissertation examining resilience among children experiencing maternal depression.

Dow-Fleisner is currently an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at UBCO, where her research explores positive adaptation in the context of adversity, and the interplay of risk and protective factors. In the Central Okanagan, she is working on a number of projects, including co-leading a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant with Dr. Susan Wells that is focused on the organizational climate, approach to practice and outcomes for youth involved with delegated Indigenous child welfare agencies.

Additionally, Dow-Fleisner is co-leading a Canadian Institutes of Health Research grant that is partnering with a local school district to better understand how programs and polices can reduce vaping among youth. These projects are aimed at providing actionable evidence that can be used to improve efforts that support effective practice supporting youth.

Dow-Fleisner currently co-leads a major SSHRC and CIHR grant, under which she provides mentorship to multiple undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to this, Dow-Fleisner co-supervises three graduate students on various projects and is involved on two additional thesis committees. As an assistant professor, Dow-Fleisner has had the privilege of teaching two master of social work graduate courses at UBCO, where she led two cohorts of 30 students to better understand the importance of research and evidence-based practice.

“Prof Dow–Fleisner is an excellent teacher and a passionate researcher,” one student said. “Her high expectations were refreshing and motivating. I learned so much (by doing, rather than observing) in this course. This allowed me to generate work I can feel proud of, and to feel more confident in my ability to read and apply research to my future practice.”

As a leader in the classroom, Dow-Fleisner’s goal is to provide a foundation from which students can take ownership of their learning and strive to become autonomous, life-long learners.

Dow-Fleisner currently sits on the Canadian Underage Substance Use Prevention Trial Local Advisory Group, which provides feedback for a CIHR funded study to prevent adolescent risk behaviours that can lead to drug and alcohol misuse. She is also part of the UBCO Centre for the Study of Services to Children and Families, which is a Canada Foundation for Innovation-funded centre that is dedicated to identifying the differential effectiveness of child welfare interventions for diverse Canadian populations and supporting the implementation of these services.

As part of the UBCO School of Social Work, Dow-Fleisner volunteers for a number of community projects, including a yard revitalization for a local recovery centre in Kelowna. Along with students, staff and other faculty, they reach out to a local centre and help to refinish a patio deck, plant new trees and provide landscaping.

Dow-Fleisner holds a PhD in social work from Boston College, a master of arts in child development with a focus on clinical developmental psychology from Tufts University, and a bachelor of science in child development and a bachelor of arts in psychology from Colby-Sawyer College.

Q&A with Sarah Dow-Fleisner (conducted May 20)

How are you currently approaching the current situation?  

As a social work researcher, I’ve turned to the evidence to manage the current situation. While our knowledge of COVID-19 is constantly emerging, the research on positive adaptation, or resilience, in the context of disaster has a lot to offer. Maintaining social connections, establishing routines and engaging in positive health behaviours like hiking or baking are important for ongoing health and well-being. This means I spend quite a bit of time video conferencing with family and friends, eating a lot of homemade baked goods and enjoying the Kelowna hiking trails.

What is your favourite quote?  

One of my favourite quotes relates to my working examining adaptation in the context of adversity, but also fits well given the impact of the pandemic.

“An abnormal reaction to an abnormal situation is normal behaviour.” — Viktor Frankl

Young banker making strides
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jun 25, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

A Kelowna banker has been honoured with a national award for those under the age of 35.

Garrett Jones, who is the regional manager of business banking with Valley First, was recognized recently with a Canadian Credit Union Association National Young Leaders Award. It is given to business people under the age of 35 who have made significant contributions to Canada’s co-operative banking movement.

“Throughout this journey, I learned so much about myself and the credit union system, and this knowledge has made me a stronger community leader,” Jones said in a press release. “I was fortunate to have a remarkable team of individuals who assisted me along the way with feedback, advice and encouragement.”

Jones, who was nominated for the award last November, was one of only five winners across the country.

Top 40: James Littley
Kirk Penton - Jun 24, 2020 - People in Business

Photo: Contributed

Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce are partnering to showcase some of the region’s most exciting entrepreneurs through the “Top 40 Under 40” program.

Sponsored by BDO, the “Top 40 Under 40” recognizes high-achieving professionals in our community and showcases their accomplishments. This marks the sixth year the chamber has conducted a “Top 40” showcase. Honourees will be featured throughout the year on Okanagan Edge.

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James Littley’s first career was with the B.C. Dragoons Army Reserve Regiment. He joined at 18 as a private and retired 14 years later as a captain. As a reservist, Littley was put on alert after 9/11, served as the liaison officer for the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps and twice for visits by the Chief of the Defence Staff, deployed for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, and served on the standard party for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee visit in 2002.

In 2012, Littley started working for the Okanagan Basin Water Board, taking over management of the valley-wide control program for invasive milfoil. The program, which began in the 1970s, was facing increasing pressures from environmental regulations, old equipment and increased shoreline development, creating operational challenges that needed to be solved. Around 2013, OBWB also became highly concerned about the threat of invasive zebra and quagga mussels. As the “staff lead” on this file, he worked to form partnerships with other organizations, lobby senior governments for more funding and create action items for all levels of government.

Much of what Littley has helped to accomplish in the management of the milfoil program and the prevention of invasive mussels has come by helping to develop strong relationships and partnerships, which he considers part of leadership. This was most apparent to him when, after several months of work, developing partnerships and meeting with provincial staff and ministers, the premier came out and announced improvements to the invasive mussel prevention program, which were, almost point for point, the action items called for by his board and their partners.

In the Canadian Forces, as an officer Littley held several formal leadership positions during his career. The most prominent position was as the operations officer for a 200-person company during the Vancouver Olympics. This meant leading a small team of specialists to ensure that the troops had the resources and communications to maintain security for an Olympic venue.

Littley is a member of the British Columbia Dragoons Regimental Council Society and served as its treasurer through 2019. He also represents the Okanagan Basin Water Board (advocacy) on the BC Water Funders Collaborative Steering Committee and as a board director to Environment Funders Canada—a national network of philanthropic foundations and other organizations that support efforts to transition toward a more sustainable world.

In early 2019, at a meeting of the BC Water Funders, Littley advocated for the first ever Western Canada AquaHacking Challenge to be brought to the Okanagan. He is now the project manager for the event, engaging post-secondary students and young professionals from across Canada to solve Okanagan-focused water issues. Littley believes one of the best ways to advocate for the community is to raise the profile of this beautiful place and highlight the work that is being done here.

Littley has a master of arts degree from UBC Okanagan, looking at local government sustainability policy. He also has a bachelor of arts degree from UBCO with a double major in human geography and political science, and a certificate from Capilano University in local government administration. Littley is continuing his education and is currently working on a diploma in local government administration through Capilano.

In 2012 Littley received an undergraduate research fellowship from UBCO, and he is a recipient of the Canadian Forces’ Decoration.

Q&A with James Littley (conducted May 14)

How are you currently approaching the current situation?  

I believe we all need to be flexible and adaptable in this time when members of our community all need to help each other. I am following public health guidance, helping my kids learn from home and trying to buy local as much as possible when I do make a purchase.

What is your favourite quote?  

The most profound quote I have heard recently came from a student participating in our B.C. AquaHacking Challenge about public engagement. “The public want to be the protagonist of change, not just the subject of change.” — Keyvan Khadem, UBC Okanagan

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