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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.

Chad Saunders

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 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.

David Allwright

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 Barlow

Renae Barlow is the VP, Tecconnect & Business Development, Economic Development Lethbridge/Tecconnect.

As the VP Tecconnect & Business Development, Renae’s roles and responsibilities include planning, directing and evaluating activities aimed at the attraction of new business investment as well as the development and expansion of existing businesses. She leads and manages Tecconnect by overseeing the operations including facility management, coaching entrepreneurs to develop their companies and facilitating community partnerships.

Renae is a 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’s connections to the Canadian Association of Business Incubators and the National Business Incubator Association keep her current with the latest incubator and accelerator best practices from around the world. She also works to build and nurture relationships with key influencers in the national and international geospatial industry including those in government and private industry.

At Tecconnect, Renae works with startup companies to help them connect to resources they need, such as marketing, legal or financial advice, to successfully launch and commercialize their products and services. Her goal is to support entrepreneurs to achieve successful commercialization in the shortest time possible with the maximum impact. Whatever a company needs, she seeks and connects the companies to the resource that fits the best and brings a solution to the table.

Sherri Chisan

Sherri Chisan is serving as President at University nuhelot’įne thaiyots’į nistameyimâkanak Blue Quills.  She joined the team in 1998 and has worked as a coordinator for the development and delivery of the Leadership & Management Program, the first degree from an independent Indigenous institution in Canada; the development of the Indigenous Artists Program, grounded in ceremony and discovery learning methods; the design of a new campus; and the doctoral program, iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskeyihtamowin. She also worked as the Director of Programs, responsible for academic leadership.

Before joining Blue Quills, Sherri worked with the Saddle Lake Education Authority and the Assembly of First Nations. She holds a Bachelor of Management degree from the University of Lethbridge, a Master of Arts degree in Educational Leadership from San Diego State University, and a Doctorate in iyiniw pimâtisiwin kiskeyihtamowin from Blue Quills.

Chris Izquierdo

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.

Angus Ng

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.

Marie Soprovich

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 Stein

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.

Chantelle Svensen-Lewis

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, sits 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 Therrien

Government Representative

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.

Roger Kramers

Government Representative

Roger Kramers is the Executive Director of Entrepreneurship and Regional Development within the 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 looking forward to the challenge of looking at activities 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 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 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 been actively involved in their lives as they grew up, he now takes stays actively involved in the sport community through volunteer work in a variety of capacities.