Board Members

Kennedy Stewart

Chair of the Board & Mayor of Vancouver

Mayor Kennedy Stewart serves as Chair of the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Board of Directors. He is an SFU policy professor, specializing in cities and housing, and holds a PhD from the London School of Economics. Known for his commitment to cross-partisan work, he has published research on government, citizen participation and democratic reform. He is the first Independent Mayor of Vancouver to be elected in 30 years.

Mayor Stewart was elected as a Member of Parliament for the ridings of Burnaby—Douglas (2011-2015) and Burnaby South (2015-2018), first elected alongside Jack Layton’s NDP. During this time, he served as the official opposition critic for science and technology, and as a member of the standing committee on industry, science and technology. He also introduced the Parliamentary Science Officer Act, and his Private Members’ Motion brought electronic petitioning to the House of Commons.

A native of Nova Scotia, Mayor Stewart has lived in Metro Vancouver since 1989.

Mayor Kennedy Stewart serves as Chair of the Vancouver Economic Commission’s Board of Directors.

Jill Tipping

President & CEO, BC Tech

Jill Tipping is President & CEO of BC Tech, an organization dedicated to making B.C. the best place to grow a Tech Company. For 20 years, BC Tech has provided high-impact growth, talent and funding programs as well opportunities for networking and collaboration.

Previously, Jill was VP Operations and CFO with Schneider Electric Solar, the Burnaby-based global supplier of solar power conversion solutions and a leading player in B.C.’s CleanTech sector. She started her career as a director with Deloitte in London, U.K. specializing in technology and growth companies.

Jill holds an MA in Economic History from St. Andrews University and an MSc in Management from Stanford.

Denise Williams

Executive Director, First Nations Technology Council

At the intersection of Indigenous sovereignty, technological advancement and a rapidly expanding technology and innovation economy, in demand of new ideas and new skills, Denise has the privilege of working with Indigenous peoples, governments, academics, technology futurists and social change makers to map the ecosystem that will result in fair and equitable access to the tools and education required for success in the digital age. Denise leads a theory of change that will not only ensure Indigenous peoples are competitive in BC’s technology and innovation sector, but leading in unprecedented ways and growing local digital economies.

With a passion for contributing and volunteering in initiatives and organizations that influence real change and the advancement of truth and reconciliation, Denise proudly serves as the President of the Urban Native Youth Association, member of the Premier’s Technology Council, advisor on innovation to the Governor General of Canada, Vancouver Economic Commission, Minerva Foundation board of directors and on the Simon Fraser University Board of Governors as Alumni-in-Order, where she earned her masters degree in business administration in 2015.

Denise always wanted to be an astrophysicist, so she strongly believes that one should always shoot for the stars. She is motivated by a desire to open doors for future generations of Indigenous leaders and is immensely grateful for the opportunity to honour the work of previous leaders and serve the future generations that will carry it forward.


Catherine Winder

CEO/Partner, Skybound North Entertainment

Catherine Winder is the CEO/Partner of Skybound North Entertainment in partnership with LA-based Skybound Entertainment (The Walking Dead). She is also the CEO of Wind Sun Sky Entertainment, a Canadian content and multi-media production company. She is heavily involved in the production and development on a slate of film, and TV projects including Super Dinosaur (SpinMaster/Skybound), My Singing Monsters (Big Blue Bubble/Wind Sun Sky), Summoners War (Come2Us/Skybound), The Angry Birds Movie 2 (Sony/Columbia), and Fathom for the recently announced Mythos Studios. She is also co-author of the industry handbook, Producing Animation, which is undergoing third edition.

She set up a studio and produced the global event film The Angry Birds Movie for Rovio. As Lucasfilm Animation Executive Producer for George Lucas, she produced the highly rated television series and film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars. In her capacity as Rainmaker’s Entertainment President/Executive Producer, she produced Escape from Planet Earth. She also oversaw production of Oscar®-nominated film Ice Age as Fox’s Feature Animation Senior Vice President.

Additional Credits include: Robert Kirkman’s Secret History of Comics, Luna, Spawn the Animated Series, Aeon Flux, Spicy City, and What a Cartoon!

Catherine is looking forward to collaborating with the VEC to take Vancouver’s highly successful sub-contracting entertainment business industry to the next level – via the adoption of a new content ownership model that will ensure long-term sustainability, talent retention and globally commercial content.

Joel Calvo

CEO, Calvo Capital

Joel Calvo is an active board member and trustee, leadership mentor, strategic investor, and keynote speaker, whose career spans 30 years as a C-level executive in the financial services industry. His exceptionally broad range of experience across the financial services industry includes CEO and Board Chairman roles with national mutual fund companies, broker/dealers, municipal finance, commodity firms, hedge funds, insurance companies and real estate partnerships.
Joel has served as the President, CEO and Board Chair of a broad range of financial services institutions including roles as Chairman and CEO of Washington Mutual’s WM Group of Funds, WM Financial Services and Washington Mutual Insurance; President of PNC Investments; PNC Capital Markets; and President of Main Street Trading.

Joel served as Chairman and CEO of the WM Mutual Fund Complex encompassing WM Advisors, WM Distributors, and WM Shareholder Services. During his tenure assets under management grew by 110% to $28 billion in under 5 years; the fund’s net sales grew by 400% in 3 years; and was chosen by Barron’s as a top 10 performing mutual fund complex nationally moving from #61 to #5 in just 3 years.
He served as Chairman and CEO of WM Financial Services (a national broker/dealer) where he directed 3500+ employees and more than 2,000 licensed brokers. In this role he implemented a combination of innovative and broad-based distribution strategies along with disciplined financial management, and as a result it was ranked as a top 10 performing bank broker/dealer nationally.

He currently serves on the Board of the Vancouver Economic Commission, and has served as a Board of Director, and Executive Committee Member for several civic organizations including the University of California-Irvine School of Business and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Karri J. Schuermans

Owner/CEO, Chambar Restaurant Corp.

Karri was the Director of the Peninsula Community Internet Network which went on to become CitySearch, and the Editor for Northern Beaches Magazine in Australia; both lending her valuable experience in advertising, publishing, tourism and internet marketing. Karri worked for the Manly Chamber of Commerce before taking over the Publishing Department at the City of Sydney to rebrand the city services. She was part of the competitive tendering process which put the City of Sydney services up against the private sector, resulting in a profitable corporation owned by the City of Sydney and run predominantly by public sector executives.

Karri then became the Marketing Manager for these diverse group of services. Her reputation at the City of Sydney brought about an offer to work for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games as the International Film Liaison Manager where she was charged with ensuring positive exposure for Sydney’s attributes and defining Sydney as the business centre for Asia South Pacific.

Upon moving to Vancouver Karri started an organic fashion label, then went on to open and operate Chambar Restaurant, Cafe Medina and The Dirty Apron Cooking School with Chef Nico Schuermans.

Mischa Steiner

CEO, Awesense

Mischa’s honed his product development and management experience in the embedded electronics, wireless, and software industries at organizations such as ECO Fuel Systems, Newpoint Thermal and the Okanagan Research & Innovation Centre.

Mischa is a frequent speaker and panelist at industry conferences, university programs and government events on the smart grid and the innovation potential of technology to transform business and society. He represented Awesense as a voting and participating member during the inception of the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) led by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He is a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and an active volunteer at Science World to encourage school children to pursue careers in math, science, and engineering.

Mischa holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Victoria and Wireless, Electronics, Engineering Technology from the British Columbia Institute of Technology after leaving a Ph.D path at Simon Fraser University in Mathematics.

Jennifer Podmore Russell

Senior VP of Operations and Strategy, Rennie Group

Jennifer Podmore Russell is the Senior Vice President responsible for Operations and Strategy at Rennie Group. Jennifer oversees Operations for Rennie to ensure the smooth delivery of services by its 200 advisors and head office team members.

She is passionately involved in her community having previously served in board roles for NAIOP, ULI and the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund Capital Campaign. She is also an incoming board member of the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation and recently served on the Atira Housing Society and Development Boards.

Patrice Impey

General Manager, Finance, Risk & Business Planning/CFO for the City of Vancouver

Patrice Impey oversees all aspects of finance, treasury, risk, supply chain, and business planning for the City of Vancouver.

Patrice holds a bachelor’s of science and master’s in business administration, and has over 20 years’ experience in senior financial and operational management positions in the private and public sectors.