2018 Speakers

Hon. Janet Austin

Gary Agnew
Vice President, Finning Digital

Finning is the world’s largest Caterpillar dealer, selling, renting and providing parts and service for equipment and engines to customers in various resource and infrastructure-focused industries. During his 23 year career with Finning, Gary has held progressively senior sales, marketing and operational leadership roles, before being appointed as an executive in 2010. Gary brings a thoughtful balance of respect for Finning’s past success, with the passion and desire to transform the 85 year old organization by leveraging technologies and
Innovation and focusing on showcasing Finning’s values and priorities to attract and retain top talent.

Gary’s leadership style is hands-on and empowering; valuing courage, collaboration and ownership, while embodying Finning’s commitment to build safe, talented and inclusive teams by embedding diversity in all aspects of its business. Guided by regional and global employee inclusion and diversity councils, Finning focuses on how diversity enhances the experience of employees, customers, shareholders, partners and the communities where Fining operates.
Hon. Janet Austin

The Honourable Janet Austin, OBC
Lieutenant Governor, Province of British Columbia

The Honourable Janet Austin was sworn-in as the 30th Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia on April 24, 2018. Prior to this appointment, she spent 15 years as Chief Executive Officer of YWCA Metro Vancouver, one of the province’s largest and most diversified non -profits. There she oversaw operations delivering services to tens of thousands of people annually at more than 40 locations.

Under Her Honour’s leadership, the reach and scope of services offered by the YWCA increased significantly and flourished under the social enterprise model she championed. Using solutions-oriented and collaborative advocacy, she positioned the YWCA as a leading voice on women’s equality. She fostered relationships with non-profits, business communities and all levels of government to contribute to policy changes at the federal and provincial levels to improve the lives of women, children and families.

Her Honour has actively volunteered for many organizations in commitment to helping improve the lives of others. She has served on the boards of TransLink, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, the Canadian Paediatric Society, the Council for Early Child Development, the Women’s Health Research Institute, MOSAIC and the Dr. Peter AIDS Foundation. She has been a long-time volunteer with United Way of the Lower Mainland and has served on the BC Provincial Advisory Council on Social Entrepreneurship, the City of Vancouver Healthy City for All Leadership Council and the Organizing Committee for the National Retreat for Women.

Her Honour is Chancellor of the Order of British Columbia and was invested as a Member of the Order in 2016. She holds an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Kwantlen Polytechnic University.

Raised in Calgary, Alberta, Her Honour is a graduate of English from the University of Calgary. She spent her early career in public sector roles in Calgary, working in regional planning and public consultation and communications for the Alberta government. She eventually moved to British Columbia, where she began working with BC Housing and discovered her passion and aptitude for public office. Prior to joining the YWCA, Janet served as Executive Director of Big Sisters of BC Lower Mainland.

Wyle Baoween

Wyle Baoween
CEO, HRx Technology

As CEO of HRx Technology, Wyle is focused on building diverse and inclusive workplaces. In 2016, Wyle launched HRx, which provides training, consulting and technology solutions to address bias in our people, processes and systems.

Prior to HRx, Wyle worked for over 10 years in consulting and project management, specializing in process improvement, technology and strategies for change management. He worked in the marine, transportation and construction industries with local and international clients.

Wyle holds a Bachelor of Science in Engineering, a Masters of Business Administration (MBA) and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). In 2014, Wyle was appointed to the role of Ambassador for the University of Victoria’s Business School and in 2015 he was recognized as one of the University’s 25 Alumni to Watch. Wyle is also a member of the Vancouver Board of Trade’s Advisory Committee for Women’s Leadership.

Wyle speaks regularly on the issues of diversity and inclusion, unconscious bias and technology.

Tanya van Biesen

Tanya van Biesen
Executive Director, Catalyst Canada

Tanya van Biesen is Executive Director of Catalyst’s operations in Canada. She is responsible for leading Catalyst’s growth in Canada and shaping strategies to advance Catalyst’s mission to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion with Supporters, corporate partners, professional organizations, CEOs, senior leaders, and stakeholders.

A recognized leader and influencer with deep experience in the executive search sector at the most senior levels of corporate Canada, Tanya brings more than two decades of corporate leadership and diversity experience to Catalyst. Most recently, she co-led the Financial Services Practice at Spencer Stuart and was a key member of the Canadian Boards Practice, focusing on executive search assignments at the board, CEO, and general management levels. She also led the firm’s Canadian Diversity Practice, specializing in the placement of chief diversity officers and diverse slates of candidates across all search assignments.

Tanya began her career at Procter & Gamble, working in both Toronto and Calgary in regional and national sales leadership roles. A sought-after speaker on the topic of diversity in the boardroom, Tanya has contributed to several research studies and articles analyzing leadership trends and attributes. She holds an MBA from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Business and a Bachelor of Commerce from Queen’s University, and speaks English, French, and Dutch.

Tara Bosch

Tara Bosch
Founder, SmartSweets

Tara is the founder of SmartSweets, where they are on a global mission to kick sugar, and keep candy. Tara dropped out of university at 21 on a quest to drive re-invent the $176B and are on track to exceed 15M in revenue in their 2nd year in business.confectionery industry, tackling one of the largest and most concerning problems in our everyday food- Sugar.

Today, SmartSweets can be found in 4,000 doors across the USA & Canada, with retail and corporate partners including Whole Foods, Target, Bed Bath Beyond, Google, & Facebook,  SmartSweets has amassed a kick sugar social tribe of 263,000+ and has been featured in Forbes, Fox Business, dubbed “life-changing” by PopSugar Magazine and is the winner of several entrepreneurial awards, including being named a 2017 Peter Thiel Fellow, Ryan Holmes 2016 “The Next Big Thing” Venture in Residence, and Canadian Entrepreneur’s Top 20 under 23, among others.
Kevin Brennan

Kevin Brennan
Transaction Advisory Services Markets Leader and Real Estate Sector Leader, EY

Kevin is the EY BC’s Transaction Advisory Services (TAS) Markets Leader and Real Estate Sector Leader. He has 28 years of restructuring experience and has acted for lenders and debtors in formal and informal proceedings in Canada, the United States and internationally.

Kevin has assisted debtor companies in the development and implementation of strategic alternatives. He is a Chartered Insolvency and Restructuring Professional (CIRP). Kevin is the past Chair of the Canadian Association of Insolvency and Restructuring Professionals and a member of the Insolvency Institute of Canada.

Kevin is dedicated to active development of women entrepreneurs through his activity with the Futurpreneur program. He also uses diversity in leadership as a metric of success in for the BC Transaction Advisory Services practice.

Kate Furber

Kate Furber
Partner, Audit & Assurance Group, PwC

Kate Furber is a partner within the Assurance practice of PwC. She leads the BC Region’s Technology, Media, Telecommunications & Consumer Markets group, and, in that role, oversees an experienced team of audit, tax and advisory professionals with specialized industry knowledge.

Kate has over 24 years’ experience in diverse global PwC offices including London, Frankfurt, Washington DC, and now Vancouver. As an assurance partner, she provides audit services and also assists companies with their risk assurance, controls and corporate governance requirements. She brings advice to clients regarding accounting and financial disclosure, as well as internal controls and operating efficiencies. She works with both public and private companies and is familiar with both Canadian and US regulatory requirements. Kate holds a BA from Warwick University and is a CPA, UK ACA, US CPA as well as an Internal Audit Practitioner.

Kate is passionate about diversity and community involvement. Aside from client work, she dedicates significant time to the recruitment and development of talent at PwC, with a particular focus on PwC’s Women in Leadership program. She is an active coach and mentor both within and outside of PwC. Kate is currently on the board of York House School and for the past six years, was on the board of Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

Helena Gottschling

Helena Gottschling
Chief Human Resources Officer, RBC

Helena Gottschling is RBC’s Chief Human Resources Officer (CHRO) with global responsibility for Human Resources. Together with other members of Group Executive, Helena is responsible for setting the overall strategic direction of RBC – extending to over 80,000 employees in 37 countries.

Helena joined RBC in 1985, holding progressively senior roles in Retail Banking, Human Resources and National Office, which included positions in Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto. She re-joined Human Resources in 2006 and held a number of executive roles before being appointed CHRO in 2017.

Prior to her current role, Helena was Senior Vice President, Human Resources, responsible for executive and high potential talent management, including leadership development and succession planning. She was also accountable for RBC’s enterprise learning function and organizational effectiveness centre of expertise for change management and organizational design. In addition, Helena led the Human Resources business partner teams supporting Technology & Operations and Global Functions.

In her 32 years with RBC, Helena has distinguished herself as a trusted advisor, a change champion, and a devoted employee advocate – leadership qualities that help to unlock the potential of RBCers and strengthen our brand as a top employer of choice on a global scale.

Helena was a co-chair of RBC’s record-breaking 2016 National Employee Giving Campaign, inspiring employees to go above and beyond in their personal donations to help Canadian communities prosper. She has been a longtime supporter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Ride for Research and is a past board member of The Mosaic Institute.

Helena holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Karina Leblanc

Karina LeBlanc
Head of Concacaf Women’s Football

Karina LeBlanc was 8 years old when her family moved from Dominica to Canada.  The move was challenging for her as she found herself in a new country, without friends in the community of Maple Ridge BC.

It was through her participation in sports that Karina discovered her dream – to be an Olympian!  However, when she didn’t make the cut for a provincial level soccer team, she was devastated.  But her belief in her dream to be an Olympian was so strong that she couldn’t give up on it.  So, she decided to devote an extra fifteen minutes a day to improving her skills.  With perseverance and determination, Karina went to the soccer field each and every day, to practice her skills, to be her best.  It obviously worked.  Karina played on the Canadian Women’s Soccer Team for eighteen years and is a two-time Olympian, winning an Olympic medal in the 2012 games in London.

But Karina knew that playing soccer was not what would define her future after her retirement in 2015.  She lives each day striving to be her best self and showing and inspiring others to follow their dreams, believe in themselves and make the world a better place.  She lives her life with purpose and motivates others to do the same.

Today, Karina is the Head of Women’s Football for CONCACAF, UNICEF Ambassador for Canada and a sought-after motivational speaker.  In 2017, she established the Karina LeBlanc Foundation, which dedicates time and resources to enable young women become great leaders.

And that soccer field that Karina went to every day to practice…is now called the Karina LeBlanc Sports Field.

Liz Lougheed Green

Liz Lougheed Green
Director of Community Investment, Vancity Credit Union

Liz is the Director of Community Investment for Vancity, managing a variety of teams in the impact business, impact real estate, Aboriginal partnerships, sponsorship and events and granting spaces. The 28+ member team of community economic development professionals provides critical strategic counsel to Vancity leadership about social finance and inclusion. Prior to coming to her current role, Liz was Vancity’s Impact Business Development Manager, and supported the development of impact businesses and impact in conventional businesses, with the aim of helping values-led organizations reach their full potential.

Prior to joining Vancity, Liz was the manager of strategic programs for Vancity Community Foundation (VCF), and earlier in her role as executive director, Liz led the Potluck Café Society from start-up through to sustainability. She holds a Multidisciplinary Masters in Policy and Practice, and serves on the CED Advisory of the Canadian Women’s Foundation, and the Board’s of Corporate Knights and the BC Co-op Association. In addition, she is a sessional instructor at BCIT, supporting professionals integrate an impact approach into their existing practice. She lives in East Vancouver with her husband and two children.
Don MacPherson

Don MacPherson
Partner, Deloitte

Don MacPherson is a Partner at Deloitte, responsible for its risk advisory practice in BC.

Don specializes in providing clients with risk management advisory services across a variety of data and technology domains, including project risk, cyber, privacy and data governance.

Don has assisted clients in the energy, gaming, automotive, telecommunications, data brokerage, information technology, luxury travel, retail and health sectors navigate the complex business challenges.

Don has a thirst for innovation and is constantly challenging his teams and clients to think differently around the services they provide and how they leverage advanced technologies to maximize their impact in the market.

Don is passionate about his work and leading inclusive, dynamic teams to deliver value. He loves spending time with his family and exploring BC.

Lori Mathison

Lori Mathison, FCPA, FCGA, LLB
President and CEO, Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC)

Lori Mathison was appointed the president and CEO for CPABC on August 1, 2017. She leads the organization’s Executive Management Committee and represents the province on the national Council of Chief Executives for the Canadian CPA profession.

Previously, she was the managing partner of the Vancouver office of Dentons Canada LLP, where she was a partner in Dentons’ Tax Law group.

Lori is chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the CPA Western School of Business. She also sits on the Dean’s Advisory Committee at the UBC Centre for Business Law and on the Sauder School of Business Faculty Advisory Board. In addition, she has served as a Governor of the Canadian Tax Foundation, on the board of the Vancouver Public Library Foundation, and as a trustee of the Vancouver Public Library.

Lori was recognized by her peers with a CPA fellowship designation in 2016, and as one of Canada’s leading lawyers in the area of Tax Law by the Best Lawyers in Canada publication in 2017.

Levi Nahirney

Levi Nahirney
Transgender Advocate

Levi Nahirney is an authentic, inspiring seventeen year old from North Vancouver.  Levi was an early champion and advocate for transgender awareness and rights.  He was one of the first teens to come out publicly in Vancouver as transgender and was profiled on Global News and in the Vancouver Sun with his personal story.

Levi was born an identical twin girl in Vietnam and adopted at 7 months.  At age 3 was the first time he asked why he wasn’t a boy.  He transitioned in Grade 8 and has been a role model and advocate for LGBTQ and transgender rights at school and in the community.  He volunteered with the Whatever LBGTQ Youth Group to support fundraisers and awareness, and has helped organize the annual Diverse Genders Conference.  He has received two West Vancouver Youth Community Awards for this work.  He also volunteers with the Vietnam Education Society and has helped to build schools and support anti-trafficking work in rural Vietnam.  VES was recognized with a Medal of Honour by the Government of Vietnam for helping to change the lives of youth.

Levi’s goal is to help spread awareness and acceptance of trans youth to create a more inclusive society.

Suzanne Schulz

Suzanne Schulz
Senior Vice President of KPMG Forensic Inc. and a Partner of KPMG

Suzanne is a Senior Vice President of KPMG Forensic Inc. and a Partner of KPMG LLP, and she leads KPMG’s Forensic practice in British Columbia. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CA) and a Chartered Business Valuator, and is Certified in Financial Forensics by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. She was also recognized as a specialist in Investigative and Forensic Accounting by the former Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants from 2005 to 2015.

Suzanne has more than 18 years of experience conducting investigations, quantifying economic losses and providing litigation support services. She also advises on anti-fraud programs and controls, fraud risk management, and anti-bribery and corruption. Her engagements have included assignments in Canada, the United States, China, Mexico and Australia.

Jake Sitka

Jake Stika
Executive Director, Next Gen Men

Jake Stika is the Cofounder & Executive Director of Next Gen Men, an organization creating spaces to engage, educate, and empower men and boys in conversations around gender in schools, communities, and workplaces.

Jake has earned recognition from Ashoka, the British Council, the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, and has spoken as part of the Canadian delegation at the United Nations.

Adina Williams

Adina Williams
Squamish Nation

Adina Williams is from the Squamish Nation, and she also descends from the ‘Namgis peoples from Alert Bay, B.C. She is a fourth-year student at the University of British Columbia in First Nations and Indigenous Studies and Anthropology. Adina is highly involved in the Squamish Nation, at UBC, and in the greater community as a student and youth leader, speaker, and advocate.

Tru Wilson

Tru Wilson
Transgender Advocate

Tru Wilson is a bold, articulate fifteen-year-old transgender advocate from Ladner, BC. Tru first made headlines when she filed a human rights complaint against her local Catholic school board for not supporting her transition, which resulted in the development of the first known policy in any Catholic school in North America that spoke to supporting a child’s transition in school.

Since then, Tru has become a proud and voracious speaker for trans rights, and in 2015 was recognized by Vancouver Magazine as one of the city’s 50 most powerful and influential people. In 2016 she was named Options for Sexual Health’s Sexual Health Champion, and in 2017 her entire family was nominated to be grand marshals is the Vancouver Pride Parade. Tru was also chosen to be a speaker at Vancouver’s 2017 TedX East Van event.

Tru continues to share her story to educate and inspire others and show support for members of society who feel excluded… for any reason. Tru and her family are part of BC’s SOGI123 education curriculum and is she an ambassador for Out in Schools and Big Love Ball.

With a proud voice, we expect to hear much more from Tru as she continues to inspire those around her.