Keith Baldrey is Global BC’s chief political correspondent and legislature bureau chief and one of B.C.’s best-known political commentators. He joined The Vancouver Sun in 1984, and moved to The Sun’s legislature bureau in 1986, becoming The Sun’s legislature bureau chief in 1989. He joined BCTV (now Global TV) in 1995. He has covered 10 premiers, 10 provincial elections and 12 federal elections (along with numerous federal campaigns and party leadership races). He also writes a weekly syndicated column on B.C. politics for a variety of B.C. papers and websites, including the North Shore News and the Burnaby Now, and is a daily commentator on CKNW Radio. He has written numerous magazine articles, and co-authored (with now-Globe and Mail columnist Gary Mason) a book on former premier Bill Vander Zalm and his Social Credit government. In 2021, he was named Broadcast Performer of the Year by the B.C. Association of Broadcasters for his ongoing coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a member of the Haida Nation, traditional performer, emcee, writer and Indigenous guide, Cohen Bradley melds culture and tourism. His work is dedicated to the restoration of traditional practices in the modern context. Bradley has more than 15 years of experience in the Indigenous tourism industry. His passion for stories told in their many forms began when he was a child in the Potlatch house, and the traditions of his ancestors have guided his work since. Bradley represents ITBC in its partnership with Destination BC on the Invest in Iconics Strategy – a long-term dispersion strategy to increase responsible and sustainable tourism revenue and visitation in BC.
Cheximiya, Allison Burns Joseph is a member of the Squamish Nation and is an Ambassador at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC). When starting at the SLCC she worked in a variety of areas including the café, retail store, and guiding tours. Today she manages the Indigenous Youth Ambassador Program and oversees parts of the Cultural Growth and Sharing team. In her free time and with the youth groups, she loves to weave and create art with the skills she has been shown through working at the SLCC for the past 15 years.
Pierre Cléroux was appointed Vice President, Research and Chief Economist at BDC in 2012. Pierre leads a team of experts who analyze economic data to identify business and sector trends impacting Canadian entrepreneurs. A seasoned speaker, he helps business owners understand the risks and opportunities presented by the economic environment. Mr. Cléroux is also responsible for providing economic analysis and advice to the Bank’s senior management team, and supervises all marketing and industry research activities. Over his 25-year career as an economist, he has held several influential positions that had a direct impact on entrepreneurs in Canada and abroad.
Katrine Conroy was first elected to represent the West Kootenays in 2005. Katrine previously served as the minister of Forests, and the minister of Children and Family Development. Katrine had a varied career before becoming an MLA. She was one of B.C.’s first female power engineers and the first woman to work in the power plant at Celgar Pulp Mill in Castlegar. She also was an early childhood educator, administrator, college instructor at Selkirk College and a small-business person. Katrine has worked and volunteered in her community as the executive director of Kootenay Family Place, co-chair of the Castlegar and District Social Planning Council, treasurer of the Regional District of Central Kootenay Community Futures Board and founding board member of the Community Social Services Employers Association. Katrine lives on her ranch in Pass Creek, continuing her late husband Ed’s passion for breeding prize-winning Polled Hereford cattle. Together they raised four children and she now has nine grandchildren.
Jill Earthy is a forward-thinking business leader with a drive to create an inclusive innovation ecosystem. As CEO of InBC, Jill leads a provincial Crown corporation with a strategic investment fund of $500 million to invest with a triple bottom line approach of valuing people, planet and profit, for a more prosperous, sustainable and inclusive future for British Columbia. Jill has held multiple leadership positions, including formerly as CEO of WeBC, Head of Female Funders and Chief Growth Officer of FrontFundr. She currently serves on the Boards of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC) and The Forum.
Kevin Falcon was born and raised on the North Shore and he graduated from SFU and the Real Estate Program at UBC. Falcon was elected MLA for Surrey-Cloverdale in 2001, a position he held until 2013. When he was first elected, Falcon was one of the youngest MLAs to serve in cabinet. In his twelve years at the cabinet table, Falcon held a number of senior Cabinet roles including Deputy Premier, Minister of Finance, Minister of Transportation, Minister of Health and Minister of Deregulation. As Transportation Minister, he oversaw the completion of signature projects including the Canada Line, Sea to Sky Highway upgrades, Kicking Horse Canyon Bridge and the new Port Mann Bridge, to name a few. During his time as Health Minister, BC was recognized as a leader in wait time reduction along with shepherding a 35% decrease in prescription drug costs. After leaving politics, Falcon took on the role as Executive Vice President for Anthem Capital and served on the boards of several nonprofits including Canuck Place, Lions Gate Hospital Foundation and the Street-to-home Foundation, an organization working to house the homeless on the Downtown Eastside.
Sonia Furstenau studied at the University of Victoria, where she completed her BA and MA in History, and her Bachelor of Education degree. She has worked as a small business operator, a bookkeeper, as the National Administrator for Results Canada, and as a high school teacher in Victoria and Shawnigan Lake. Sonia’s advocacy in protecting her community’s drinking watershed led to her election in 2014 as Area Director for Area B of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. In 2017, Sonia was elected as the first B.C. Green MLA for Cowichan Valley and in 2020 was elected as the new leader of the B.C. Green Party and re-elected as MLA for Cowichan Valley.
Chris Gardner has led the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association since 2017, managing the platform through an exciting period of change and growth. Under his leadership in 2019, ICBA won the Washington, DC-based Reed Award as North America’s best trade association. Before joining ICBA, he was a senior executive at two of the largest workforce accommodation and logistics companies in North America, Civeo and Britco, and served as principal secretary to the 35th Premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark.
Barry Hartman is the Co-Founder and CEO of 505-Junk, a junk removal and recycling company with a mission to eliminate waste from local landfills. 505-Junk has removed 50 million pounds of waste from homes, construction sites, and commercial properties across BC. The company is expanding on their mission by launching a large-scale electronics recycling program and donation pick-up service in the coming months. Hartman serves as a Director and Treasurer for Small Business BC and is an advocate for small business growth in British Columbia. He was selected as Business in Vancouver’s 40 Under 40 in 2022, the same year 505-Junk was listed as one of Canada’s Fastest Growing Companies with the Globe and Mail.
Rosanne Horner is Vice President, Financing & Consulting for the South Fraser Region at BDC. Since 2006, she has worked with hundreds of owners and management teams to help them scale their businesses. She has directly worked with companies across B.C. to secure senior debt financing, mezzanine capital, and management consulting solutions to help them grow, become more efficient and enhance their management capabilities. Over this time, she has become a trusted resource for private companies that have the ambition to become best in class. Prior to BDC, she held various positions in Operations Management. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of British Columbia, a Management certificate in Human Resources from BCIT, and an MBA from the University of Hertfordshire (UH). She sits as Board Chair for the Delta Chamber of Commerce.
William is a results-driven sales leader with extensive experience in innovative technologies. As Director of Sales at Glue Up, he has led an organizational re-set of the Canadian Sales team. Prior to Glue Up, William worked at Craftbot LTD a developer, innovator, and manufacturer of 3D printers where he brought on key strategic partners in specific industries. William spent much of his career with Bombardier Aerospace with over a decade of various sales roles covering different regions around the globe. William holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Queen’s University.
Nipun is a seasoned account executive at Glue Up with over 6 years of sales and account management experience. Nipun helps businesses optimize their event planning processes and achieve their goals by developing customized solutions and ensuring customer satisfaction. Nipun holds a degree in Project Management from Centennial College and enjoys biking, traveling, and trying out new food joints outside of work.
Sheila Malcolmson was first elected as MLA for Nanaimo in 2019. She previously served as minister of Mental Health and Addictions, working to improve mental-health services and address the ongoing toxic drug crisis, and as parliamentary secretary for the Environment, working to protect the environment and clean up coastal waters. Sheila was elected four times to the Islands Trust Council, serving six of those years as chair, where she championed fair ferry service, marine safety and oil spill prevention. She signed a government-to-government protocol between the Snuneymuxw First Nation and the Islands Trust – establishing a relationship of respect and co-operation in planning, land-use management and heritage conservation. In 2015, Sheila was elected as federal member of parliament (MP) for Nanaimo-Ladysmith. As an MP, she was a leading advocate for solutions to vessel abandonment, oil spill prevention and women’s equality. Before entering public life, Sheila worked for Energy Probe and the Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy. She was a board member for the Conservation Council of Ontario and the BC Sustainable Energy Association and has also worked in ecotourism. Sheila holds a bachelor of arts in environmental and resource studies from Trent University. Sheila lives on Gabriola Island with her partner, Howard.
Vaughn Palmer has been the Vancouver Sun’s provincial political columnist, based in Victoria, since 1984. To date he has covered 11 BC premiers and counting. He also does a daily commentary on B.C. politics on radio station CKNW in Vancouver. Palmer is the recipient of the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Webster foundation, a co-winner of the Jack Webster award for reporting, and a recipient of the Hyman Solomon award for excellence in public policy journalism from the Canadian Public Policy Forum.
Mehrsa grew up overcoming challenges: whether growing up in Iran as a woman, mastering her ADHD, breaking national swimming records, or completing her Ph.D. at Georgia Tech in 3 years with 20+ publications and patents. Problem solving, adaptability and diversity became her best friends. She co-founded MintList to change the way cars are bought and sold by empowering people with data to make better decisions. Winner of Auto Tech awards next to BMW and Lyft, MintList has become Canada's fastest-growing auto marketplace.
Melanie Rupp, is the Senior Director, Loans & Advisory Services for WeBC, a not-for-profit recognizing the unique paths of women entrepreneurs by offering integrated support through capital (loans up to $150k), skills development, mentorship and advisory services to help their businesses grow and thrive. Melanie understands the challenges women experience in accessing capital and specializes in supporting them to find the right mix of funding to start, scale or purchase a business. She is also active in angel investing.
Sagar is a strong advocate for social and environmental impact, rural economic development, and sustainability. Sagar’s passion for international business led him to complete his MBA at Cardiff University. In 2009, he began Caravan O Herbs, an agriculture-based social enterprise in India. After shifting to Canada in 2014, Sagar worked across post-secondary, school districts and nonprofits toward rural economic diversification and youth entrepreneurial initiatives. In 2018, Sagar was named as a Top 40 under 40 by the Prince George's Chamber of Commerce. Sagar’s ventures include Bucky Technologies, Boreal Sierra Capital, Sansama Capital, Thought Caravan, and iCubed Summit. He plays an active role on the boards of WeBC, Our Satya Foundation, and the YMCA of Northern BC.
BUNYAAD is an award-winning public affairs firm based in North Vancouver on unceded Coast Salish territory. Principals Ash Amlani and Sherri Moore-Arbour co-founded BUNYAAD following decades of work in public health, education, strategic communication, and public affairs. BUNYAAD means Foundation in Urdu; at BUNYAAD we work with clients to build the foundations of a healthy, more inclusive society. BUNYAAD is proud to support the BC Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to “Address the Labour Market Gap”.
Dr. Ashley Spetch is WorkSafeBC’s chief mental health officer — the first position of its kind for any workers’ compensation board in Canada. Ashley is responsible for the organization’s overall strategy on mental health, and works with various stakeholders to support B.C. workers affected by psychological injury – with the goal of improving their recovery and safe return to work outcomes. Prior to joining WorkSafeBC, Ashley held progressive leadership positions in workplace mental health and psychological health and safety. Her background is in clinical and industrial organizational psychology, and she has extensive experience in helping employers develop programs to cultivate return to work, employee well-being, and a psychologically healthy and safe workforce and workplace. In her spare time, she enjoys fitness and being involved in dog rescue.
Tom Syer is the Vice President of Climate Policy and External Affairs at Western LNG working on the Ksi Lisims LNG project with the Nisga’a Nation and Rockies LNG. With over 20 years of experience in senior leadership roles in the public and private sector, he has worked in industry associations, renewable energy development, mining, and all aspects of LNG development in BC. Tom has played an integral role in the development and roll-out of numerous provincial resource policy initiatives and in the private sector, has been responsible for advancing corporate and First Nations relationships to mutually benefit from resource development.
Jennifer and her husband operate a multi-faceted farm in the Cowichan Valley. While their primary focus is on their egg layer flock of 70,000+ layers, they also operate an egg grading facility and market 100% of the eggs they produce. Before serving as BC Agricultural Council President, she served with BC Egg Marketing Board. Since 2021, Jennifer has served on the Island panel of the Agricultural Land Commission. Jennifer has a Women in Leadership certificate from Cornell Online University and an NFP Governance certificate from the Sauder School of Business. She has completed the Foundations in Agricultural Management from the University of Guelph. Jennifer has been a guest lecturer at Olds College on various topics, including layer production practices, agriculture and the media, and women in agriculture.