Top 40: Justin O’Connor
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 20 - Columnists

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This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Justin O’Connor of Sothebys International Realty Canada.

Justin O’Connor realtor and former publisher hired by Sothebys International Realty Canada four years ago to launch their brand in Kelowna.

Since that time, he has progressed to operating his own Sothebys office in the city, and also sits as the current president of the Canadian Home Builder Association for the Central Okanagan.

O’Connor holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in marketing from Okanagan University College, and is a certified Chartered Strategic Wealth Professional.

He also earned his real estate licence from the Sauder School Of Business.

Along with his work in the real estate market, O’Conner also owned and operated Okanagan HOME magazine for six years, prior to selling the publication to Black Press in 2016.

He ii also involved in the new publication Okanagan Home Boulevard, penning his own column called “Inspired Interiors.”

O’Connor also started the Ride to Reach charity 6 years ago. Ride to Reach is a motorcycle ride fundraiser aimed at helping various charities each year. So far, it has raised $70,000.

Union president investigated
Colton Davies - Oct 12 - BC Biz

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Gayle Duteil

The president of the B.C. Nurses Union announced on Wednesday she has been placed on an administrative leave by the union, following a complaint filed against her she is calling “false allegations.”

Gayle Duteil has been off work since May, originally going on a medical leave while she was being treated for breast cancer.

Duteil said in a Facebook post she was eager to return to work after being granted medical clearance, but wasn’t able to after a complaint was made against her in June.

Since then, she has been barred from the union’s office or attending any event sponsored by the union, while the investigation into the complaint goes on.

“Even though it has been over three months since the complaint was made, I have not been provided with the details of the complaint, or any explanation as to why I cannot attend union events, communicate with union staff, or perform my duties,” Duteil wrote online.

She added that she has filed a complaint to the B.C. Labor Relations Board and the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.

“My role as president is extremely important to me, and I want to continue working on your behalf as your president. I feel that members of the executive and the executive director have made decisions that are not in the best interests of the union,” Duteil added.

Umar Sheikh, the union’s chief executive officer and executive director, said the “numerous” allegations received by the union’s council against Duteil are “very serious,” but he asserted they are only allegations at this point.

“While the investigation is occurring, and we expect it to conclude very quickly, Gayle Duteil is on a fully-paid administrative leave,” Sheikh said.

He went on to say he couldn’t comment on the specifics of the allegations, noting an obligation of privacy for Duteil and that it would be improper with an independent investigation ongoing.

Duteil is from Osoyoos and worked as an acute care nurse at the South Okanagan General Hospital in Oliver, prior to becoming president of the B.C. Nurses Union in 2014.

von Mandl’s honorary degree
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 11 - Biz Releases

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Anthony von Mandl

A renowned, local wine-industry entrepreneur is being recognized with an honorary degree from Thompson Rivers University on Friday.

Anthony von Mandl is the founder of Mark Anthony Wine Merchants, but is best known as the proprietor of Mission Hill Family Estate Winery.

At TRU’s fall convocation ceremony, von Mandl will receive an honorary doctor of laws, before delivering an address to the school’s new crop of graduates.

TRU president and vice-chancellor Alan Shaver explains that an honorary degree is the university’s highest form of recognition, and is awarded for “demonstrated excellence” in the fields of public affairs, the sciences, arts, humanities, business and philanthropy.

The honour is given to people who have excelled in their field, and whose dedication continues to make a difference in the lives of all Canadians.

“Mr. von Mandl’s impact in B.C. and on Canada’s reputation around the globe are worthy of TRU’s highest honour,” Shaver says. “As our graduates celebrate their achievements and prepare to make their own mark on the world—many of them in tourism and business—they will be inspired by Anthony’s vision for the Okanagan and what it took to achieve his dream.”

von Mandl graduated with a degree in economics from the University of British Columbia, and went on to take an apprenticeship in the European wine trade.

He got his start in the Canadian wine industry as an importer and merchant of fine wines. Recognizing what he believed was a premier wine-growing region in the Okanagan, he later established his own winery here.

Many see von Mandl as a passionate champion of Okanagan Valley wines, who has dedicated much of his life to producing world-renowned wines in the Okanagan.

His pursuit of that dream has seen him appointed as an Officer of the Order of Canada and awarded the Order of British Columbia; the Okanagan Wine Festival Society’s Founders Award; and The Warren Bennis Award for Leadership Excellence, among others.

von Mandl has also served on the Advisory Boards of the Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario and the Sauder School of Business at the University of British Columbia.

Top 40: Andrew Brunton
Okanagan Edge Staff - Oct 06 - Columnists

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This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Andrew Brunton, a real estate lawyer at Pushor Mitchell LLP.

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Andrew Brunton moved to Kelowna  2008, when he first joined Pushor Mitchell; by 2014 he had become a partner at the firm.

Prior to starting with Pushor Mitchell, Brunton earned a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University, along with a law degree from Osgoode Hall.

According to Paul Mitchell, Brunton is “a leader within our firm and in the community.”

At Pushor Mitchell, Brunton served on the management committee, and is the chair of the solicitors group. He’s the past president of the Downtown Kelowna Association, and served on its board for six years. He is also a past director of the United Way.

Mitchell says Brunton encouraged the firm to take part in the United Way Day of Caring, closing the offices for the afternoon so employees could volunteer in the community.

Brunton is also an entrepreneur. As a partner at Pushor Mitchell, he is part owner of a business with more than 100 employees. He chairs the firm’s business development committee, and has led efforts to expand its geographic reach.

If anyone deserves to be the in the Top 40 Under 40, Mitchell says, it’s Andrew Brunton.


New head of Penticton chamber
Colin Dacre - Oct 03 - Biz Releases

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The Penticton and Wine Country Chamber of Commerce has announced Kim Kirkham as its new executive director.

Kirkham is a senior personal banking officer at Valley First Credit Union and community engagement coordinator at the South Okanagan Similkameen Volunteer Centre, according to her LinkedIn profile.

She is also host chair for the 2018 Scotties Curling Championships.

“The amount of impact that the chamber is committed to generating for our business community requires an executive director to have the skillset to hit the ground running,” said Neil Wyper, president and chair of the hiring committee.  “The board is confident that Kim will be able to do just that.”

She also previously served terms as the chamber’s finance committee director.

“We (the board of directors) are always looking for ways to develop and expand the impact of the chamber while serving the business community of Penticton,” said Wyper.  “Kim has the ability to take programs and put them it into action while keeping our members needs at the forefront.”

The chamber’s previous executive director, Brandy Maslowki, stepped down to become the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s new emergency operations supervisor.

Merrifield this year’s leader
Trevor Nichols - Oct 02 - Biz Releases

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Lane Merrifield has been named the 2017 Business Leader by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce.

The award is the top honour given out through the chamber’s Business Excellence Awards. Merrifield received the 2017 award for his “outstanding contributions to the business community in the Central Okanagan.”

Merrifield is probably best known as the founder of Club Penguin, the online virtual world for kids that Disney bought in 2007 for $350 million.

More recently, Merrifield co-founded FreshGrade, a learning assessment and portfolio tool that creates more efficient ways for parents, students and teachers to engage and update one another on progress at school.

The Business Excellence Awards selection committee said it was “particularly impressed” by the leadership Merrifield demonstrated as he lead the charge to create the newly opened Okanagan Centre for Innovation in downtown Kelowna.

The centre represented a milestone for Merrifield, who had dreamed of creating an entrepreneurial technology community in Kelowna since founding Wheelhouse in 2013. Wheelhouse is an organization that supports early-stage technology companies and entrepreneurs as they develop and grow their businesses.

Along with his work on the Innovation Centre, Merrifield also served on several technology boards, the University of British Columbia’s Board of Governors, and was most recently appointed to the Premier’s Technology Council.

His teams have won dozens of awards including a BAFTA Award and a Webby Award. He was also given an Honorary Fellows Award, several leadership awards, and was listed as one of The Hollywood Reporter’s Top 35 Executives under 35.

The Business Leader award, along with the rest of the Business Excellence Awards, will be handed out Oct. 12 at the annual Business Excellence Awards gala, at the Delta Grand hotel.

A full list of this year’s nominees is available here. Tickets are on sale until Oct. 6, and can be purchased here.

New CEO at Tourism Kelowna
Trevor Nichols - Sep 28 - Biz Releases

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Lisanne Ballantyne

Tourism Kelowna has tapped an Alberta-based manager to be its new CEO.

Lisanne Ballantyne will step into the role at the end of October, bringing her years of experience in communications and management to work for Tourism Kelowna.

Ballantyne takes over for Nancy Cameron, who stepped down as the organization’s CEO in June.

Cameron resigned after a 17-year run as chief executive, moving to Vancouver Island to pursue other opportunities.

Daniel Bibby, the chair of Tourism Kelowna’s board of directors, said Tourism Kelowna sifted through 90 applications from across the country to find Cameron’s replacement.

“The Board recommended Ms. Ballantyne based on her broad range of experience and proven record in delivering economic impact, remarkable growth and operational excellence,” he said.

Before accepting her new job, Ballantyne spent the majority of her career in Alberta, most recently putting in six years as the general manager of the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton.

Ballantyne’s CV also includes four years as an assistant communications director with the Government of Alberta; two years as the communications manager for the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation; and a stint as the director of marketing and communications for the Alberta Conservation Association.

She is accredited by the International Assembly of Venue Managers and Canadian Public Relations Society, and is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration’s Senior Executive Symposium.

“I am delighted to be joining the Tourism Kelowna team. This is a privileged opportunity to build on the legacy of excellent work that generated a sixty percent increase in the number of annual visitors to the region,” said Ballantyne.

“We have such a unique and exceptional visitor experience to offer. Together with our industry partners we will move forward to leverage the extraordinary tourism potential of Kelowna and the Central Okanagan.”

Top 40: Lauren Meads
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 22 - Biz Releases

Image: Contributed

This year, Okanagan Edge and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce have partnered to showcase some of the Okanagan’s most exciting entrepreneurs, through the Top 40 Under 40 program.

Sponsored by BDO, the Top 40 Under 40 recognizes innovative young professionals in our community, and showcases their accomplishments.

Okanagan Edge will feature a new honouree each week, so check back often.

This week we recognize Lauren Meads, the executive director of the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC.

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Lauren Meads has always been passionate about animals, but became fascinated with animal behaviour and conservation during her university studies.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Science in biology from Simon Fraser University, she went on to earn a Master’s degree in applied animal behaviour and welfare from the University of Edinburgh.

Her studies, along with a range of hands-on experiences with a variety of different animals in labs, zoos, animal rescues and the wild, all built to her current commitment to animal conservation and welfare.

Meads started volunteering with the Burrowing Owl Conservation Society of BC when she was working on a breeding program for the Northern Spotted Owl.

In 2009 she spent two seasons working with Burrowing Owl in the grasslands of the Okanagan, and in 2011 was asked to set up the newest facility in Oliver. She has been managing and breeding in that facility now for six years.

In 2015 Meads became the field manager for all of the release sites across the province, and this year was named the executive director of the Burrowing Owl Society of BC.

Along with managing breeding activities, Meads works with other volunteers, organizations and local schools.

“This is definitely not your typical job, that you would think has a place in the entrepreneurial world, but it is,” Meads says. “Even with a cute owl by my side I need to convince others of conservation through presentations, fundraising, grant writing and media.”

Meads adds that the release program isn’t just helping an extirpated species, but also bringing to light the grasslands of B.C.

“I am so thrilled to be part of a program that is rooted in volunteer and community support,” she says.

Harding comes home
Okanagan Edge Staff - Sep 19 - Biz Releases

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A new executive director has stepped in at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

Vernon local Jim Harding has come home to kick off the 2017/2018 season, bringing a mix of theatre knowledge and executive chops to the centre.

Harding returns to Vernon after a 13-year run as the big cheese at Theatre BC, followed by 12-year stint as the executive director of the BC Museums Association.

Harding has been a theatre geek for most of his life, first submitting a one-act play to a Victoria community theatre group, and later making a splash with his play Bookends.

As the executive director for Theatre BC he rebranded the annual provincial “Mainstage” festival, and worked to  emphasize the educational value of Theatre BC’s longstanding tradition of adjudicated festivals.

He also founded the Intrepid Theatre Company, which hosts the Victoria Fringe Festival.

Harding says he’s excited to take on the challenge of the Vernon facility, and looks forward to an “exciting” season of theatre, dance, and more.

Proulx back to chamber
Trevor Nichols - Sep 18 - Biz Releases

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The Greater Vernon Chamber of Commerce has a new membership and marketing coordinator.

Dan Proulx, who served as the chamber’s membership and events coordinator in 2015, will take on the role, assisting and recruiting new members and working with current members of marketing and promotions.

Proulx takes over for Jamie Morrow, who worked as the chamber’s sales and business development manager before leaving to take a full time position at Okanagan College.

Along with his previous work with the chamber, Proulx was president of the Vernon chapter of Junior Chambers International, and according to chamber general manager Dione Chambers, “has a thorough understanding of the Chamber movement and the many benefits available to members.’

“With his strong relationships with the business community, and his knowledge of the chamber of commerce, it can only mean incredible opportunities for the chamber membership,” Chambers says.

“I am extremely excited to be returning to the Chamber. There are a lot of positive thing happening that I am thrilled to build upon, and new ideas I can’t wait to share. As always, I am focused on bringing value to the memberships,” Proulx said..

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