Business Link’s Board of Directors serves to support our endeavour to be Alberta’s entrepreneurial hub. The board provides governance to Business Link, ensuring we are accountable to our funders and entrepreneurs across Alberta. Hailing from communities across Alberta, they bring expertise in small business, innovation, economic development, education, and Indigenous sectors.
Dr. Chad Saunders has served on Business Link’s Board of Directors since 2014 and is the current Board Chair. Chad is an Assistant Professor in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at the Haskayne School of Business, University of Calgary, and holds an adjunct appointment with the Cumming School of Medicine, where he is the eHealth Services and Strategy Lead with the healthcare innovation incubator w21c.org. Chad’s research interests include the support that entrepreneurs draw upon in starting and scaling their ventures and the role of universities and government policies in enabling entrepreneurship. Before joining academia, Chad worked for an incubator for rapid-growth enterprises.
Dr. David Allwright is the Dean of Business and Technology at Bow Valley College (BVC) in Calgary and has served on Business Link’s Board of Directors since 2014. In June 2019 he stepped down from his role of the Chair of the Board of Directors.
Before joining BVC, David was the Associate Dean of Business at Mount Royal University and also taught undergraduate and graduate courses for the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary.
David also has extensive management and business experience going back to his early days in the Canadian arctic as a Hudson’s Bay manager and fur trader. David’s current mandate is to grow the schools of business and technology and enhance the entrepreneurial outreach BVC.
In his spare time, David is an avid landscape and wildlife photographer.
Renae joined Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) in January 2010. As a past member of the EDL Board of Directors and the Executive Committee, Renae brings over 30 years of senior management expertise in small business and non-profit management to her role. She has experience launching national new initiatives, project management, strategic planning, organizational development, and motivational team management. Renae is a proven leader in creating business and community partnerships, business development, program development, and project management. Renae also has entrepreneurial experience having launched three companies providing a variety of consulting services including business coaching, organizational development, and diversity training. Renae was awarded the 2018 YWCA Woman of Distinction for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Renae is a founding member of the Regional Innovation Network of Southern Alberta (RINSA) connecting her to other service providers who support entrepreneurial expansion and commercialization. She works with these regional partners and others to further develop Lethbridge as an anchor location for innovation and technology. Renae also created and implemented Tecconnect+ED entrepreneurial education programs that provide technology and Women in STEM entrepreneurs with training, workshops, and business advice from ideation to commercialization. Renae successfully secured a $1.68M grant to provide supports to Women entrepreneurs in STEM related companies throughout Southern Alberta including rural areas and First Nations.
At Tecconnect, a center of excellence for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Renae created and implemented incubator programs to work with high-growth early-stage companies to help them connect to funding, business coaching services and government programs, to successfully launch and rapidly commercialize their products and services. Her goal is to support entrepreneurs to achieve successful commercialization in domestic and international markets in the shortest time possible with the maximum impact. Tecconnect has a reputation as the anchor to a growing technology sector in Lethbridge.
Chris Izquierdo is the founder and CEO of DevFacto Technologies, a software development and consultancy company headquartered in Edmonton with offices in Calgary, Regina and Toronto. Chris works with the DevFacto team to help clients throughout North America to digitally innovate and transform their organizations. Chris enjoys spending quality time with his wife and two children, exploring the world, hiking, biking, surfing, and volunteering with various community and charitable organizations.
Roger Kramers is the Executive Director of Tourism and Economic Capacity within the Tourism and Economic Development Division of Alberta Economic Development, Trade and Tourism.
Roger has been with the Government of Alberta for close to thirty years. Having spent the majority of his time involved with recreation, physical activity and sport he is enjoying the challenge of looking at communities from a different perspective. Through this involvement in the recreation field, he learned much about the value of community development. The passion for community development has expanded through his work in the tourism, and now the broader economic development, world.
There are a great number of cross overs between the recreation world and the tourism and economic development world. In many ways, recreation provides opportunities for residents, while tourism provides those same opportunities to visitors. These experiences all contribute to the economic development of the communities which benefit the lives of their citizens in many ways. A community that has solid and sustainable economic development, is then able to put in place the other supports to enable the various mental, emotional, and social supports that make communities attractive to both current and future residents and companies alike. It is because of these positive benefits of the work being done at the provincial level that Roger has continued to strive for excellence in program delivery and policy advice.
Roger holds a BA in Recreation Administration and an MBA degree in Public Administration from the University of Alberta. Roger proudly hails from Edmonton where he continues to watch his two sons develop into fine, young men (fatherly bias acknowledged). While having previously been involved in coaching as the boys grew up, Roger now works as an off-ice official for the Western Hockey League and U-Sports (with the University of Alberta) as well as being involved as a scout for the AJHL’s Drayton Valley Thunder.
Melanie is a Chartered Financial Analyst with a diverse finance career and deep experience in investment valuation. Melanie became a product manufacturing entrepreneur, launching a self-designed, Canadian-made clothing label. She gives back to two segments of SME businesses as a volunteer: to women-led ventures as an Activator with the SheEO Venture Fund; and to arts and crafts creative enterprises as founder and Chair of the Calgary Stampede Maker Market subcommittee of the Western Showcase. A born connector, she connects people, capital, and ideas to help Canadian entrepreneurs get things done faster.
Angus has been a long-time supporter of Business Link, ever since the early 2000s when he was an entrepreneur with a multimedia startup. He was so wowed by the good advice and support Business Link offered him (and all aspiring entrepreneurs who walked through its doors), he wanted to give back, first as a seminar presenter and expert advisor, being a member of the then Advisory Committee and then finally on the Business Link’s Board of Directors.
Along the way, Angus gave up the glamorous and sometimes stressful life as an entrepreneur for the unexotic and always stressful life as a lawyer.
Angus has had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of Business Link for almost 20 years. And while he is happy to be the voice of historical insight for the Board of Directors, it’s the forward vision of Business Link to reach entrepreneurs of all backgrounds across all of Alberta that makes him want to continue to be a part of it.
Michael Oshry is a life long entrepreneur who co-founded FIRMA Foreign Exchange, which has grown to be Canada’s largest privately-owned financial services company. FIRMA has multiple locations in five countries, all while being based in Alberta.
Michael was elected to Edmonton City Council in 2013 representing Ward 5, and served a four-year term, during which he spearheaded the Edmonton Made initiative and was on the boards of the Edmonton Police Commission, Northlands as well as a variety other city committees.
Michael is currently on the board of FIRMA, as well as various non-profit organizations, and mentors business people through the Venture Mentoring Service at the University of Alberta. Michael holds an ICD.D designation, has won the Entrepreneur of the Year award, and FIRMA has been recognized multiple times as one of Canada’s Best Managed companies, and one of Canada’s top 50 employers.
Roy Pogorzelski is Metis from Saskatchewan and his family comes from the communities of Green Lake, Meadow Lake, and Batoche in the north. Roy spent 4 years with the City of Lethbridge as the inclusion consultant representing the Canadian Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination (CCMARD) initiative and the Vibrant Lethbridge’ s poverty reduction initiatives. Roy represented Lethbridge at the Cities for All Woman’s Initiative and assisted in collaborating on the creation of a National Equity and Inclusion Guide for Municipalities, which turned into an Inclusion Policy for the City of Lethbridge in 2016.
Roy also co-chaired the Reconciliation sub-committee and was instrumental in the creation of a Reconciliation ImplementationPlan (2017-2027) for the City of Lethbridge in response to the TRC Calls to Action. Roy was also selected to represent UNESCO Canada at the International Coalition of Cities Against Racism and Discrimination(ICCAR) for meetings on inclusion in cities in Nairobi Kenya.
Roy is also very involved in the community sitting as a former member of the U of L Senate, as a Board Member with the YMCA Lethbridge, Past President for the Rotary Club of Lethbridge Mosaic, member of the Board of Directors with the Chamber of Commerce, past member of the Board of Directors for Economic Development Lethbridge, appointed the first Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council and is an appointed Board of Director for the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) and sits as the CRRF advisor to the National Coalition of Inclusive Municipalities (CIM) committee.
Roy is also very involved in business owning and operating a Good Times comedy Club in downtown Lethbridge, an entert ainm ent company Pogo Bros Inc, which operates the Oktoberfest YQL fest ival and his own consulting company RWP Consulting.
In 2016, Roy received a Human Rights Champion Award from the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights, in 2016 his business Pogo Bros Inc took home an award for best event/festival of the year for Oktoberfest YQL from the Best of Southwest Tourism Awards, in 2017 Roy was awarded a Friends of Diversity Award from Diversity Magazine in Calgary, in 2017 CMARD Lethbridge was awarded a “Fro m the Heart Award” from the Downtown Awards for their work in creating a welcoming and inclusive downtown, Roy was named the overall winner of the Top 40 under 40 by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and in 2018 was awarded an outstanding dedication award to students by the University of Lethbridge Student’s Union.
Roy has worked in business, non-profit, government, internationally and as a consultant. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies and a Bachelor of Human Justice from the University of Regina and a Masters of Science in Cultures and Development Studies at the Katholieke Universiteit of Leuven in Belgium. Currently, Roy is enrolled in a Doctor of Philosophy in Culture, Social and Political Thought PHO program at the University of Lethb ridge campus where he is also a sessional instructor for the Dhillon School of Business and Indigenous Studies Faculties.
Clinton is the Co-founder & COO of Influencive which is an online media platform that teaches and inspires millions of people around the world about entrepreneurship, success, and technology. He’s the CEO of Senkow Ventures which is a digital consultancy focused on building and growing online businesses through business development and partnerships. He is a writer on Forbes.com, a member of the Forbes Business Development Council, and also an international speaker & trainer. He’s also been named a top G20 Young Entrepreneur for Canada.
Marie has over 34 years of teaching/leadership experience in the education system, with both Bachelor and Master’s of Education degrees. She founded and ran her own business, Aquarian Renovations, for over 27 years. During her role as CEO at Aquarian, she led an award-winning company built on strong entrepreneurial principles and grew a culture that supports growth, excellence and diversity. Her current role with Aquarian is in Business Development and involvement with committees and organizations within the building industry.
Marie has been at the board level with Canadian Home Builders Association Edmonton Region (CHBA ER) for several years and is currently the incoming President for the 2020 term. She also serves her community as Incoming Chair of the Synergy Business Network, Founding member of Dickens Fest Edmonton, and Board member with Business Link. Her leadership goals in the residential housing industry included improving meaningful quality education that supports growth, collaboration within the industry, and professionalism.
Marie is a strong advocate for women and their power to impact the world through effective communication and leadership. She is actively involved in many other committees and organizations including WPO (Women President’s Organization), GIFEW (Global Institute for Evolving Women) and has served at a leadership level in her community league as President of the Laurier Heights Building Society. Her most recent achievements include the BMO Celebrating Women Award for Expansion & Growth in Small Business 2017 and the Professional Trades Award 2018 Superlative – Womanation.
Colleen graduated with a BComm from the University of Calgary. Her career began in corporate finance at TransCanada Energy. Since then, Colleen has owned and restored multiple investment properties, as well as started a variety of small businesses ranging from hospitality to business training and development. She was a founding partner of Breakwater Venture Capital in Toronto, a business acceleration and financial consulting firm, but has recently returned to Alberta. Her latest venture includes hemp fibre processing, with keen interest in building a strong, sustainable Hemp industry throughout the province.
After spending ten years in advancement and development, dedicated to raising funds for post-secondary education, Chantelle decided to pursue her ambitions as a small business owner. She put her entrepreneurial spirit, dedication, and passion for recruitment and team building to work as partner at Svensen Neighbour Recruiting. Here, she now provides a multi-faceted approach to her clients and finds the best employees for their business needs.
When she is not working with her clients, Chantelle continues her commitment to education by teaching and volunteering. Chantelle teaches management and HR courses at the NAIT JR Shaw School of Business as a sessional instructor and volunteers as Vice-Chair of Business Link’s Board of Directors, is a Venture Mentor with the University of Alberta, sat on the 1000 Women Advisory Committee with NorQuest College, and volunteers with Junior Achievement Edmonton. Chantelle is a dedicated and supportive leader who contributes not only passion and experience but a wealth of knowledge and commitment. She holds a Master of Business Administration, an undergraduate degree in Political Science, and an honours Marketing diploma. She is a certified DISC and 12 Driving Forces® and Acumen professional through TTI Success Insights.
Bev joined Western Economic Diversification Canada in 2003 and has held a variety of policy, program, and operational positions within the department. Currently, Bev is the Manager of Business Development and Partnerships and leads a team of six professionals to support economic development in Alberta. Bev holds a BA Honours and an MA in Political Science, with a focus on Canadian public policy from the University of Alberta.