Foundation adds six directors
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 28, 2024 - People in Business

Photos: Contributed
(Clockwise, from top left): Mark Brade, Andrew Greer, Daryl Hooley and Doug Rankmore.

Central Okanagan Foundation has added six professionals to its 11-member board of directors.

The foundation, which was created in 1977 and has distributed more than $30 million in grants, has welcomed the following six members to its board:

• Mark Brade, Pushor Mitchell
• Andrew Greer, PURPPL
• Daryl Hooley, KPMG
• Kim Logan, consultant
• Anita Parker, entrepreneur
• Doug Rankmore, retired non-profit executive

They join the five returning members of the board: chairperson Dustyn Baulkham, Karen Hill, Graham Moir, Marni Adams and Kim Inglis.

“Each new member brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective that is vital for our continues growth and commitment to the community,” Baulkham said in a press release. “Their collective expertise will undoubtedly propel us forward in our mission.”

New leaders at immigrant society
Chelsey Mutter - Feb 20, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: LinkedIn
Martin Friedrich

Vernon and District Immigrant and Community Services Society has welcomed two new members to its leadership team.

Martin Friedrich has been appointed executive director, and Harriet Gutang is the new manager of operations.

VDICSS said Friedrich and Gutang both bring leadership skills and related experience to their roles. Both have previously worked for the society, giving them an understanding of VDICSS’ programs and services.

“We wish Martin and Harriet the very best in their new positions as they take on the responsibilities of running VDICSS as well as leading the organization in new and exciting directions,” the society said in a press release.

Friedrich said his vision for VDICSS is increasing community awareness and doing more with community partners.

Gutang said moving to Canada and making Vernon her home in 2021 gave her a sense of commitment to helping newcomers.

“It’s a privilege to welcome and serve newcomers and immigrants in our community, as I was in the same boat not too long ago,” Gutang said. “I am thrilled to continue to help formalize thorough and supportive programs for them.”

VDICSS also expressed its gratitude to Amelia Sirianni, the organization’s most recent executive director, for her vision and contributions to VDICSS.

The Vernon & District Immigrant & Community Services Society offers services for newcomers, immigrants, refugees and naturalized citizens, helping with settlement and integration into Canada and Vernon.

Ex-CFO returns to Avant
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 07, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: LinkedIn
Jeremy Wright

What’s old is new again at Avant Brands.

The Kelowna cannabis company has brought back Jeremy Wright to serve as its interim chief financial officer. He is replacing Miguel Martinez, who has resigned to pursue other opportunities. Martinez will remain in his role until March 19.

Wright was the CFO at Avant between September 2017 and August 2019, when the company was known as GTEC Holdings.

“On behalf of the company’s board of directors and management team, we would like to thank our outgoing CFO, Miguel Martinez, for his many contributions to Avant,” Avant founder and CEO Norton Singhavon said in a press release.

“Miguel’s experience in agriculture and cannabis added significant value and insights over the past few quarters. We wish Miguel all the best in his future endeavours.”

Wright comes back to the company he helped grow, as he was deeply involved in the company’s initial long-term strategy. That included playing a role in the company’s raising of more than $45 million during his two-year tenure.

“As the founding CFO for Avant, Jeremy is ideally suited to assist the company on achieving its global objectives,” Singhavon said. “Jeremy’s expertise in financing, along with his contacts in the global capital markets, will play a pivotal role as Avant seeks to establish itself as a dominant operator within the ultra-premium cannabis segment.

“We are excited to have Jeremy rejoin the team and look forward to working with him again.”

New boss at Innovate BC
Okanagan Edge Staff - Feb 01, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: Innovate BC

Innovate BC has found the replacement for Raghwa Gopal.

The provincial tech incubator has hired Peter Cowan to become the organization’s next president and CEO. He will take the reins on Monday.

Gopal, who helped create Accelerate Okanagan and became its CEO in 2015, resigned from the top job at Innovate BC last spring to become CEO of M Square Media in Vancouver. He left Accelerate Okanagan to join Innovate BC in February 2019.

Cowan comes to the role from Ontario, where he was the startup CEO for Intellectual Property Ontario. He developed and launched innovative IP programs that helped researchers and companies maximize the value of their IP, and strengthen their capacity to scale and compete in a global market.

Cowan has experience in the province, as he worked for the BC Innovation Council between 2012 and 2021, and got his master’s in business administration from the University of Victoria.

Accelerate Okanagan is a partner of Innovate BC and works hand in hand with the organization to foster technological business in the province.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead this vital organization that drives long term economic prosperity for British Columbia,” Cowan said in a press release. “Innovate BC has a proven track record of strengthening our innovation ecosystem and creating opportunities for innovators, industries and other stakeholders.

“I look forward to working with such a dedicated team to build on this success and to make further progress on our mandate from the province.”

Oliver golf GM nation’s best
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 30, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: Fairview Mountain Golf Club

The boss at a premier South Okanagan golf course has been named the best at his position in Canada.

Brian McDonald, who is the general manager and director of golf operations at Oliver’s Fairview Mountain Golf Club, won the PGA of Canada’s 2023 Dick Munn Executive Professional of the Year Award last week in Orlando, Fla.

In addition to overseeing golf operations, which includes the golf shop, food and beverage, and grounds department, and mentoring senior staff, McDonald goes above and beyond in role, according to the PGA of Canada. That includes project management, interior and exterior design, financial planning and club advocacy. He is also big on including the business in charitable community events.

“It was extremely humbling,” McDonald said in a press release. “I have been in this industry for a long time. To be recognized by your peers for your work within the industry means a lot. My approach over my career has been genuine and honest. I think people want to connect with like-minded, passionate people.

“I would guess anyone who knew me when I started in the industry would say that I am the same guy today as I was then—good or bad—but that is something I take pride in.”

New faces on advisory board
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 24, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: Tourism Kelowna

Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission has added a wide range of professionals to its 45-member advisory committee and announced its new executive for 2024.

The committee, which supports and nurtures the business community, has welcomed seven new faces. The new members are Vitalis revenue vice-president Carla Berrie, Northside Industries president Mark Burleigh, Impact Events owner Christina Ferreira, The Valens Company ex-COO Chantel Popoff, TigerCat Industries general manager Robert Selby, Wolf Medical Clinic physician Mike Wolf and Unrooz Solutions owner Sepideh Rezania.

Janice Larson will serve as committee chairperson this year, with Sharon Hughes-Geekie as vice-chairperson. Other executive committee members are James Calissi, Paula Quinn and Angela Nagy.

“As the 2024 chair for the COEDC advisory committee, I am pleased to welcome our new members to the committee and our shared mission to advance vibrant economic development in our region,” Larson said in a press release. “With the collective expertise of our committee members and our talented COEDC staff, the COEDC brings good energy to our role driving economic development in the Central Okanagan region, and I look forward to working with them in the year ahead.”

The advisory committee provides insight to the COEDC and consists of industry leaders, elected officials, local government staff and community organization members from various industries. The committee meets monthly to share information and work together towards sustainable economic growth.

Image: Contributed

Locals reach partner status
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 19, 2024 - People in Business

Photos: LinkedIn
Sandra Blair and Tyler Krenz

Grant Thornton LLP announced its new partners and principals earlier this month to kick off the new year, and a couple of its B.C. Interior employees made that next steps in their careers.

Kelowna’s Tyler Krenz and Kamloops’ Sandra Blair are both new partners at their respective local offices of the Canadian accounting and business advisory firm.

“Congratulations to our new partners and principals for reaching this significant milestone on their career journey,” Grant Thornton LLP executive partner and CEO Kevin Ladner said in a press release. “Each of these leaders will play an important role in the future of our firm and the value we provide to our clients, colleagues and communities.”

Krenz and Blair were two of six B.C. employees who achieved principal or partner status to kick off the new year.

Fruit Growers hires new boss
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 12, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: LinkedIn

BC Fruit Growers’ Association has found the replacement for its retiring general manager.

Melissa Tesche will take over from Glen Lucas, who will call it a career on March 4 after 25 years as BCFGA’s GM.

“We are very happy to welcome Melissa to the BCFGA team,” president Peter Simonsen said in a press release. “It is a great advantage that past general manager Glen Lucas has developed a transition plan, which started last March, and that Glen has agreed to support Melissa in her new role.”

Tesche has served as general manager of the Kootenay Sterile Insect Release Board since 2015 and also has experience with Okanagan Water Basin Board. She has degrees in conservation biology, secondary sciences and biological sciences.

Tesche grew up in northern Alberta and had grandparents who were grain farmers, and aunts and uncles who raised cattle. She also spent a year in Australia visiting farms, working on apple and tomato lines, and picking apples, cantaloupe and watermelon.

“While I will miss my position and colleagues at SIR, I am energized for the tasks and challenges ahead,” Tesche said. “I’m not a grower myself, but I’ve watched my family experience the joy and the heartbreak that comes with producing food. I understand the critical role that farmers play.

“I am excited to work for the BCFGA to make sure that the government and the public understand the importance of the Southern Interior tree fruit sector as well.”

New boss at women’s shelter
Madison Reeve - Jan 11, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: Kelowna Women’s Shelter

Kelowna Women’s Shelter has found its new executive director, and it didn’t have to go far.

Michelle Dickie accepted the role on Dec. 13, and took on the role immediately. She joined KWS in February 2022 as director of programs before stepping into the role of interim executive director in September 2023.

Her career began in early childhood development, where she provided support to children and families. Over the past 20 years, Dickie has continued her work in the social service sector, including as executive director of Childhood Connections and centre manager for WCG Services.

“Having grown up in the Central Okanagan I have seen first-hand the changes to our region and the increase in demand for programs and services such as those offered by the Kelowna Women’s Shelter,” she said. “I am beyond thrilled to move into the position of executive director and continue to collaborate with our dedicated board of directors, team and volunteers, and the community.”

KWS says it has several focuses in 2024:

  • Increasing collaboration and partnerships with other community organizations, including businesses, not-for-profits, health, and local government, to help increase access to domestic abuse services
  • Supporting the opening of West Kelowna Transition House and continuing to welcome families to second stage housing
  • Serving more women and children in the Central Okanagan area through the planning and development of a second stage program in the Rutland neighbourhood of Kelowna
  • Identifying growth opportunities for the KWS Thrift Store, which is outgrowing its current space.

To learn more or to support the work of Kelowna Women’s Shelter, visit

Beem hires new tech boss
Okanagan Edge Staff - Jan 10, 2024 - People in Business

Photo: LinkedIn

Beem Credit Union is building up its staff.

The new organization, which consists of the merged Interior Savings, Gulf & Fraser and North Peace Savings, has hired Dave Colic to be its new chief technology officer. 

“Dave has an impressive track record of technology and data transformations which will be invaluable in our goal to build a flexible and responsive ecosystem of technology partners to deliver exceptional member experiences across every point of interaction,” Beem chief executive officer Brian Harris said in a press release.

“Dave’s focus on member needs and transparent communication style will be a fantastic addition to our leadership team.”

Colic, who is coming to B.C. from Toronto, will be in charge of leveraging technology to blend digital ease with human connection. He also has hands-on merger experience and has worked collaboratively across organizations to support integrations.

“I’m extremely excited to join a talented and passionate team and organization that embraces change and challenges the norm to deliver technology solutions,” Colic said. “The financial services industry continues to transform and technology can serve as a powerful connector.”

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