Page 1


Basil: The Royal Herb “A man taking basil from a woman will love her always.” ~Sir Thomas Moore

B and trivia.

asil is one of my favourite herbs in my cooking for its delicious, distinct flavour. Discover its balancing health benefits, its amazing history


Did you know there are 35 types of basil? One of them, the holy basil, has been proven through thousands of years of applied use and recent research to offer a host of health benefits. In addition to being a very good source of iron, calcium, potassium and vitamin C, basil: • Is a powerful anti-inflammatory: The enzyme-inhibiting effect of the essential oil eugenol can help with rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel conditions; • Offers DNA protection: Two watersoluble flavonoids (orientin and viceninare) were found to help white blood cells protect cell structures as well as chromosomes from radiation and oxygen-based damage; • Promotes cardiovascular health: High levels of magnesium help muscles and blood vessels relax, improving blood flow; • Has anti-bacterial properties: Inhibits the infectious bacteria, Shigella, that trigger diarrhea. This is why it’s a good idea to include basil and thyme in your salad dressings. ~ Food Microbiology, February 2004; and • Stimulates the appetite and helps curb flatulence: Basil tea is said to help with nausea and stomach distress due to gas.



• Basil has always been a token of love in Italy. • When a Romanian boy accepts a sprig of basil from his girl, he is engaged. • Basil was used to embalm ancient Egyptian mummies • In India, every good Hindu goes to rest with a Basil leaf on his breast as a passport to Paradise. • Sweet basil herb is known across cultures to naturally increase sex drive and fertility by fostering a feeling of total relaxation in the body and muscles while increasing circulation. • Basil is native to tropical Asia and India and has been cultivated for more than 5,000 years. • Its name is derived from the Greek basileus which means king. 


Organic is best and, of course, it must be fresh. Grow a variety of perennial basil plants in your garden for fresh leaves whenever you need some. For the tastiest basil, look for vibrant, deep green leaves without darks spots or yellowing. Store fresh basil, wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel in the refrigerator or in a glass of water at room temperature out of direct sunlight. Basil may be frozen in airtight containers. Also, you can freeze the basil in ice cube trays covered with fresh water to be used when preparing soups or stews.


This is fresh and delicious. Toss with pasta or serve with bread or crackers for an appetizer.

Diana Herrington Ingredients:

1 cup olive oil 3 cups fresh basil 1 2/3 cup pine nuts, plus 1/3 cup 1 – 5 cloves garlic (optional) 1/4 cup nutritional yeast or parmesan, grated 1/4 - 3/4 teaspoon Himalayan or sea salt


Put olive oil into the blender; then add basil and blend until smooth. Add pine nuts and garlic; blend until they are ground. Add sea salt and nutritional yeast; pulse. Pesto is best when not completely smooth—a little texture is good. Add 1/3 cup pine nuts and mix in. Adjust amounts to your own taste. Pine nuts have become very expensive so substitute walnuts or cashews in place of the pine nuts. Pesto keeps very well; it is delicious the next day, and can be frozen.


Good for nausea and flatulence. Ingredients: 1 Tbsp fresh (or 1 tsp dried) basil 1 1/4 cup of water


Chop the basil into small pieces. Bring the water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Put the basil into the water and let it steep for five minutes. Strain out the leaves. Enjoy. √ Diana J Herrington is the founder of RealFoodforLife.com and author of the GREEN means LEAN e-book. She turned a debilitating health crisis (Fibromyalgia) into a passion for helping others with healthy eating and cooking, and developed simple powerful principles which she shares in her e-books.


12851 - 56 Street, Edmonton, AB T5A 0C9

Tel: 780.454.3444 Fax: 780.454.3222

www.edmontonians.com Published by: Cedar Publishing Corporation President Moe Najmeddine moe@edmontonians.com Editor Barb Deters bdeters@edmontonians.com Sales Manager info@edmontonians.com Columnists Jey Arul • Ben Block • Linda Bodo Cheryl Croucher • Marty Forbes • Lynn Fraser Diana J. Herrington • Nejolla Korris Shawn Moore • Barbara Ashley Phillips Erin Rayner • Mark Wardell FEATURE WRITERS Barb Deters • Paula E. Kirman PHOTOGRAPHERS Bruce Clarke • Cheryl Croucher Quincey Deters • Tracy Kolenchuk GRAPHIC PRODUCTION Rage Studios Inc. All rights reserved by Cedar Publishing Corporation. Reproduction or transmission of all or any part of this publication by any means whatsoever is strictly forbidden without prior written permission from the publisher. Although great care is taken to avoid errors in the preparation of advertising material and editorial content, any errors or omissions on the part of Cedar Publishing Corporation are limited and dealt with solely by printing a retraction statement and or correction in the following issue. Edmontonians Newsmagazine is a product of Cedar Publishing Corporation.

in this issue...

Volume XXVI Number 2 Fall 2015


Marty Forbes extolls the benefits of being a Sizzler................................................................................ 4

Sizzling In The City

Erin Rayner updates readers on Ben Block’s latest venture..................................................................... 8


Mergers & Acquisitions Jey Arul shares tips on improving the value of your business................................................................ 7

You & The Law

Ben Block offers more cautionary tales................................................................................................... 6


2015 Sizzling Twenty under 30

Paula E. Kirman profiles 20 men & women in this 14th Annual tribute.......................................... 10-21

LIVELY LIFESTYLES Canadian Publication Mail Agreement # 40041145 If undeliverable, please return to:

Cedar Publishing Corporation 12851 - 56 Street Edmonton, AB T5A 0C9

www.cedarpublishing.com EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

Real Food For Life

Diana J. Herringtonis a fan of the Royal Herb ........................................................................................ 2


Cheryl Croucher focuses on three Sizzling innovators.......................................................................... 22


Marty Forbes


With Marty Forbes

’ve been giving advice to an Edmontonians’

Sizzler for the past 27 years. I’m so proud that my daughter Rayanne was designated in 2013, a recognition that has helped springboard her on to bigger and better things in life. For all 260 young men and women who have been named Sizzling Twenty under 30s since 2002—and those in the future—I’m happy to share some of the wisdom that Rayanne, and her sister Lauren, received from good old Dad over the years.

First off, enjoy the accolades.

Hang around successful people

That was the same advice that was given to me by my father, Jerry, when I was just 14 years old and wanted to get into radio. Forty-four years later, I still work and hang out with some of Edmonton’s finest leaders, most of whom have opened doors for me or a family member, in part, due to the type of person at I am: involved in the community. So…

In this fast paced world, where we seldom slow down to smell the roses, being recognized by your peers is extremely important. It is indeed nice to know that you can make an impact at what is generally considered a very young age. Rayanne, for example, was motivated to continue her work in public service (she’s at YESS) by establishing the Graves Disease Foundation of Edmonton and is now assisting more than 50 members in this group with both advice and financial support. Just a few months ago, as reported in the summer edition of Edmontonians, she was recognized, again, with a YWCA Women of Distinction Award—joining a very prestigious group of women—for her Foundation work. As an Edmontonians Sizzler, remember that this is the beginning and not the end. This is an award that people respect, and Sizzler Rayan most good organizations will honour Lauren at the ne Forbes, and her sister the award and help you further your 2012 Sizzling opportunities because of it. Reception. Be proud! Use this recognition in your resume… in your e-mail tag… on your Facebook and Twitter headers… well, wherever you can possibly display it.

Involve yourself in public service

Volunteer for an organization and get your hands dirty. Help the needy. Pay some of your success forward to others. Deliver presents for Santas Anonymous (started by my late father in 1954). Direct some money toward a good cause. Giving back to the community is integral to being selected as a Sizzler These activities will be among your most rewarding experiences. And, you’ll meet many other successful people in these organizations.

Learn from others

Learn from everybody. Ask questions. Make mistakes and don’t be afraid of it. You’ll learn more from doing something wrong than doing something right.

Schedule fun

I love that phrase. Many of us get too busy in our careers and lose touch with good friends and even family, because work comes first. So schedule some fun with your family and friends, and leave the work back at the office for a while. Often with social media that office just doesn’t seem to close; turn that cell phone off from time-to-time and smell the roses.

780.940.1288 www.momentsindigital.com 4


Stay in shape

Walk. Ride. Exercise. Ski. Bike. Yoga. It doesn’t matter what your preference is, but clear your head for a while a few times a week to keep the body in good shape… because the mind will follow.

Find a mentor

Find somebody who can tell you the harsh truth when you may need some constructive criticism. Find someone who’ll make you feel good about yourself, and help broaden your horizon of knowledge. There’s nothing nicer than receiving a compliment from somebody you respect.

Mentoring works both ways, too

Teach your mentor something, and talk about why your world may be different from their world. Mentors also like to learn from others.

And yes… Learn something new every year

Read good books—both fiction and nonfiction. Biographies can be gold mines for knowledge and self-development.

Take pictures, Lots of pictures

It’s the one regret from my life at work as I simply didn’t take enough pictures of coworkers and more so my own family. There’s nothing more wonderful than looking back and reflecting on T Y O your F Byouth U S Ibecause, N E S Sbelieve I N me, T Hit E Afaster P I T than A L you R Ethink. GION goesCby

Heartfelt congratulations to Ashley Callingbull Burnham

who was recently crowned Mrs. Universe in Belarus. With the win, she became the first First Nations woman and the first Canadian to take top honours at the pageant which started in 2007. Ashley graced the cover of the 2012 Edmontonians’ Sizzling Twenty under 30 issue. A member of the Enoch Cree Nation, west of the city, she is a professional actress (notably Blackstone and The Dream Catcher Diaries), trained dancer, model and role model. The theme of the pageant, centred on battling domestic violence and child abuse, held particular appeal to Ashley who is a survivor of sexual and physical abuse. She saw it as a chance to help others dealing with that kind of pain, saying “I thought this is a perfect platform to share my story… to be a success story for them.” It also was an opportunity to showcase her culture. She proudly wore a jingle dress for one aspect of the competition, and a white buckskin dress when she sang a traditional song for the talent portion. That’s what I’m talking about, folks! Ashley is doing all the things I would advise all Sizzlers and other young people to do. √ Marty Forbes was recognized in 2012 with a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Gold Medal for his work in public service. He wrapped up his career in 12851 - 56 Street, radio by being inducted into the Western Association of Broadcasters Hall Edmonton, AB T5A 0C9of Fame. Since semi-retiring in 2008, Marty has been part of groups that have raised close to Tel: (780) $22701-3715 million dollars for charities across Canada. He is president of Radiowise Inc. Follow him on Twitter @mjforbes

Fax: (780) 454-3222

VERTISING PROOF Finally, put a few bucks away for travel

Travel is simply awesome. Go see Europe. I’ve stood on the top of a mountain in Switzerland. I’ve ridden motorcycles through the Black Forest. I’ve walked the streets in London, Paris and Rome, seen Date: world-class art, and sipped some of the finest wines in the world. Prague is an eye opener. The real Oktoberfest in Munichin: will blow To Appear you away. A river cruise down the Rhine, with stops in France and Germany, is so historically amazing it is hard to describe. Seeing the difference on how others live first hand makes you a more rounded person and definitely more tolerant of those differences. Well rounded people travel, learn and enjoy the “sizzle” that this wonderful world provides us. So, best wishes to the Sizzling Class of 2015—and beyond. I hope there’s a tip or two here that just might benefit you down the road. I’m pretty sure Rayanne Forbes and her sister Lauren will agree.




with Ben Block



Cautionary Tales n the last issue, I shared a

few cautionary tales, or what not to do in starting or running your business from a legal perspective. The response was very positive, so I thought I would share a few more ways I have seen things go awry and how they might be avoided in your business.

“I incorporated at a registry, I’m all set.”

Although most Alberta registry agents do provide corporate registry services, including the creation of a new company, registration is only part of the process. While this will formally create your new entity and you will have a Certificate of Incorporation to prove it, quite often a minute book is not created. Inside this binder (where it usually is kept) are items like organizing bylaws, election of directors, share subscriptions, share certificates, and so on. These seemingly “technical” items can become very important if you plan to sell your company, seek financing, or bring on an investor. You need to properly establish the operating parameters of your company, issue shares to the owners (who likely assume they already have them by virtue of registration), and generally attend to the formal establishment of your company. This is where your lawyer will be able to add value to the process, and why you will find the fee to incorporate through a law firm to be higher than those advertised by registries. What you save today will likely cost you more if you have to retroactively create these items down the road.


“My staff know what they’re doing, I don’t need to micro-manage.”

This one isn’t purely a legal issue, but I have seen instances where overwhelmed entrepreneurs have followed the advice of management experts and delegated tasks to trusted staff, assuming everything is being done properly. I agree, as a business owner, you can’t wear all the hats forever and have to have some trust in your team, but be careful. Passing off responsibility without systems, monitors and even written policies can be dangerous. For example, by putting your employees in positions of apparent authority to deal with third parties— whether they have actual authority or not— you can be bound to their commitments. Be clear with your staff on what they can and cannot do, be cautious of the titles and appearances you cloak your staff in, and establish the checks you need to ensure procedures and limitations are respected. Without these, I have seen otherwise promising companies nearly bankrupt by well-meaning, but very mistaken, employee decisions. The growth of your business will eventually require you to leverage the skills and abilities of your team, but do so cautiously and avoid “delegation by abdication”.

“We just need something simple, this isn’t a complicated deal” Often, people get excited about a new business relationship or source of financing and just want “something simple” in terms

of documentation. I am a big believer in not spoiling a promising deal with too much paper, but it is important to adequately document what has been agreed to. You might be surprised just how differently each can view seemingly simple terms. And what happens when things don’t go quite as planned? Does the simple document explain what rights each party has to remedy an issue before legal action occurs? What exactly constitutes a breach anyway? If you borrowed money for your business and quit making your payments, that’s obvious enough. But, what if you sell some of your company assets, or transfer your shares to your spouse? Is that permitted? Or, from the investor’s standpoint, what if the management or ownership of the company changes? Is that really who you intended to finance or otherwise work with? The desire for simplicity and speed is understandable, but it is a good idea to talk through the different angles and “what-ifs” with your lawyer. There is no shortage of lessons we can learn from other’s mistakes. So, if you have questions or a situation you would like to see addressed here, please drop me a line at ben@blocklaw.ca. √

Ben Block recently started his own firm, Block Law, focusing on business, Internet and real estate law. Ben was named an Edmontonians Sizzling 20 under Thirty in 2007. Call 780.628.0638 or e-mail ben@blocklaw.ca EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015


with Jey Arul

5 tips

to help improve the value of your business


ne of the key things

to remember when selling a business is that the “market” is the barometer of value. Regardless of the amount of blood, sweat, tears and money invested into the business over its history… regardless of how much you feel you deserve for your life’s work, the people who will decide what you’ll get for your business are looking with very critical eyes at your entire organization, as well as all their other options. They want to have an understanding of their opportunity costs before they trade their hard-earned cash for the product of your hard-earned success. It therefore becomes the entrepreneur’s job—your job—to arrange your affairs in such a way as to advertise the greatest possible value to prospective buyers. Ideally, this principle should guide the business’ development right from the beginning and shape the way it is organized from the bottom up. The end goal should be for the business to be able to function just fine without you. Keep these points in mind as you plan your exit strategy: 1. Understand what it means to build a desirable business. Building a business with the intent of later selling it is an intensive process. Every policy, work process and employee position needs to be created with consideration for the owner/manager who will eventually replace you as the head of the company. You should read Built To Sell, by author and entrepreneur John Warrillow. It chronicles the trials and tribulations faced by a business owner attempting EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

to reshape his organization in order to boost its market value in the eyes of his prospective buyers. If you’ve never sold a business before, let alone structured one for sale, the book will really highlight just how pervasive the necessary changes often are. I view it as a sort of literary pep talk to get your management and leadership juices flowing. They will definitely come in handy throughout the transition process! 2. Make your business less dependent on you. After all, you plan to leave the business. What kind of value can you hope to get if your prospective buyer expects the whole thing to fly apart once you’re gone? Establishing effective, easy-to- follow work and management processes will go a long way to improve perceived value by standardizing your day-to-day activities and making them more teachable for employees and the next owners. Plan with the intention of reducing future headaches for the incoming manager, and be prepared to stick around for a while after the sale as a trainer and consultant while the new owner(s) get situated. 3. Don’t rely on only one client for a significant portion of your revenue. Opinions vary, but 15 percent is a decent benchmark to aim for. If your revenue picture depends too heavily on one specific client, a prospective buyer might get nervous about the company’s income situation—especially if they think that customer’s loyalty is based on the relationship with you. I’m reminded of the old adage involving eggs and baskets.

A diversified income stream reduces perceived risk for the buyer. 4. Create incentive plans to keep your key employees around during and after the transition period. An effective management team is something you can advertise to your potential buyers and is a big feather in your cap if you can guarantee they’ll stick around when the new owner takes possession. “Turn-key” businesses can demand a premium compared to other businesses on the market. 5. Find a good business broker. For me, this definitely goes without saying. As business brokers, we are capable of leveraging numerous assets to better promote your business. Brokerages maintain inventories of businesses for sale and are thus destinations for prospective buyers. This means we can shop your business around to a far wider audience than you could probably hope to manage. Because we are capable of generating more chances to attract the right kind of buyer, brokers are more likely to find the right fit within a specific timeframe. Not only that, by doing what we do best—selling your business—we can take a load off your shoulders and let you keep doing what it is that you do best—running your business. √ Jey Arul is president of VR Business Sales in Edmonton, AB. He started the mergers and acquisitions company in 2007 after leaving his position as a senior commercial banker for a Canadian Bank. Jey holds a BA in Psychology and an Executive MBA. Visit www.vralta.com


What around comz around…

with Erin Rayner

Ben is still Sizzling


ast summer, before a

road trip with my tent trailer in tow to attend a conference in Seattle, my dad insisted on teaching me how to change a tire. The year before, he had shown me how to change the oil in my lawn mower, explaining that “These are important things independent, self-reliant people (not just women!) should know.” Wouldn’t you know it? Two hours after my dad made me take off and replace the trailer tire—on my own, in my driveway—I had the chance to put my new-found knowledge to the test—in the dark, at midnight, on the side of the QE2 just outside of Innisfail, AB. I had passed over some type of wire that shredded one of the tires on the trailer. Thankfully, within 20 heart-pounding minutes, my girlfriend and I were back on the road with the spare perfectly in place. It would’ve taken AMA more than 20 minutes just to arrive! My dad’s desire to make sure I have all the tools, resources and knowledge to get myself out of sticky situations has often come across, to me, as parental paranoia. However, I’ve often wondered what people do who don’t have the luxury of a paranoid parent/friend/family member teaching them the ropes or offering assistance when it’s needed. In this age of YouTube videos and Google, how does one get hands-on, one-on-one help learning to change a tire or complete small household fixes or even move a couch without paying for it? 2007 Sizzler, entrepreneur and lawyer Ben Block had an idea for just such a karma match-making tool rolling around in his head. He wanted to find a way to match helpers with the would-be-helped. While there are sites like Kijiji for people looking to buy, trade or give away items, and there are sources such as the City of Edmonton’s 311 phone number to find volunteer


opportunities, Ben found that there wasn’t one, on-line place to find all such possibilities. “There’s a general appetite for contribution and wanting to get involved but also a strange barrier in how accessible those opportunities are, in that there isn’t really a known go-to for that.”

But Ben isn’t just interested in connecting volunteers with fund raising events and charities, he’s also looking to fill a bigger, community-based need. A spot that may have once been filled by family or neighbours but now seems to be a connection in our hyper-connected day and age that is lacking. “Interesting to me also Ben sizzled and won was this idea beyond big at Thunderbolt in formal volunteering, I think there is this circle Beverly Hills of people out there who have a need for something that maybe you or I could do easily but to them is a huge big deal. It doesn’t have to be a hard luck story, it could just be ‘geez I wish I knew someone

His new venture GozAround.com is a social networking website that matches volunteers with opportunities as well as the general helpful public with others in the community who may need their help. Essentially, whether you want to volunteer as a cat cuddler with a local rescue group… or assist a senior with leaf raking this fall… or simply take 30 minutes to teach someone how to change a flat tire, you can find the chance to give-back on the GozAround site. “We live in this world where access to information is expected. You shouldn’t have to look that hard to find things. We have Uber if you need a ride and Air BnB if you need an apartment, and all these social marketplaces but nothing really in (the giving-back) world.”

GozAround went to the Juvenile Diabetes Walk who could teach me how to change oil’ but you just don’t know anyone and there’s probably someone out there who would.” (Pssst….Dad, that was for you) It’s been just over a year since the site has been taking posts and connecting people looking to help each other or volunteer for organizations. Already, the idea has received a lot of media attention. In early 2015, Ben received an e-mail EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

from a friend based in Los Angeles, encouraging him to pitch his GozAround idea at the Thunderstruck Start Up competition hosted by Thunderbolt Studios out of Beverly Hills. Originally Ben planned to pitch his start-up over Skype from home in Edmonton. After all, his top priority is spending quality time with with wife and accomplished 2007 Sizzler Krista then Turko, and their not-quite one year-old daughter, Ava. However, with encouragement and support from Krista, he made the last minute, game-changing decision to attend the competition and pitch GozAround in person. “I thought forget it, I’m going down to LA. I’m not going to win if I’m not there. I’m not going to build any relationships or meet anyone if I don’t go down and pitch. So I went down and pitched.” It was the right choice. He won the competition and GozAround had offers of mentorship, public relations support, and its share in the grand prize of $250,000 U.S. in marketing, design and development from Thunderbolt Studios. A big win for a small but dedicated team out of Edmonton. But the winning hasn’t stopped there. In early July, Ben received a call from Venture Out NY, an international passion project, focused on helping entrepreneurs starting ‘disruptive companies’ in the technology industry

around the globe access investors, networks and connections in New York and other American markets. It hosted a five-day hyper accelerator immersion program in NYC in early August and Ben was invited. The program brings start-ups from all over the world to the same table as tech elite and venture capital firms. This time Ben didn’t hesitate, with Krista and Baby Ava (future Sizzler for sure!) holding down the home and office, he boarded the plane for an intense week of meetings with lawyers, marketers, tech wizards and potential investors. Ben networked with a slate of start-up contacts, met with four venture capitalist firms, and pitched the virtues of GozAround in the Trump Building at 40 Wall Street. He may have even come out of the week with an interested investor! With all of this time spent on what is very obviously an important project for this experienced entrepreneur, I was curious about what tough choices had to be made. Being at the helm of a start-up company built on karma and well wishes is a place that fills the heart, but how does all of that

goodwill translate into revenue? Ben recently opened Block Law which serves a diverse group of clients who understand that his entrepreneurial experience helps to make him a better lawyer. He shares his expertise with Edmontonians’ readers through his You & the Law column. Clearly, the lawyer in Ben won’t be going away any time soon, but neither will the enchantment of being an entrepreneur; it will take focus on both sides of his career to make it all work. Next up is monetizing the GozAround model. Currently, the team is testing a corporate model that will help community service minded companies build internal leadership through volunteerism. The details are still being worked out and a few local companies are on standby, ready to be the first to test the system. You can check out his NYC interview with Forbes which aptly describes his plans: www.forbes.com/ sites/helainahovitz/2015/08/31/this-man-ishelping-businesses-turn-good-karma-intocapital/ What I like about GozAround is that it crosses generations, income brackets, genders and cultures. You don’t need to have a ton of time or money to contribute to the circle. Whether you’re like my dad, a retired baby boomer with a lot of knowledge and some free time to share on topics from oil changes to home maintenance… or a newto-Edmonton student seeking a partner to practice your English… or a single mom looking for a babysitting-share partner… or a charity hosting an event… or even a company seeking a way to formalize and reward volunteerism as a corporate value, GozAround helps bring people together. √

Erin Rayner is president of ED Marketing and Communications Inc. Contact erayner@ edmontonians.com


2007 Sizzlers Ben and Krista with Ava and her puppy pal




elcome to the

14th annual edition of Edmontonians Sizzling Twenty under 30! Each year, we have proudly showcased 20 dynamic young women and men from the Capital Region since 2002—260 to date. The Sizzlers represent the best of the best of young adults who are as

dedicated to causes as they are to careers. They are the products of our colleges, universities and life’s experiences—driven by the need to succeed and to give back. The final Sizzling Twenty are selected from among nominations submitted by business leaders, mentors, co-workers, clients, educators and interested individuals—including proud parents and significant others.

Our thanks to profile writer Paula E. Kirman, photographers Tracy Kolenchuk and Bruce Clarke, and designer Shane Hill whose combined talents enable us to introduce our readers to these impressive men and women. It is our hope—and intention—that Edmontonians Sizzling Twenty under 30 will encourage more young Albertans to reach beyond their grasp. √




Manager, Health, Safety & Environment Standard Scaffold & Insulation Inc. 3704 - 56 Avenue Edmonton, AB T6B 3R8 780.238.0153 780.628.6484 whitney@standardscaffold.ca www.standardscaffold.ca https://ca.linkedin.com/pub/whitneyallen/24/93a/448


Senior Manager Grant Thornton LLP 1701 Scotia Place 2 10060 Jasper Avenue NW Edmonton AB T5J 3R8 yuri.broda@ca.gt.com https://www.linkedin.com/pub/yuri-sbroda-ca/7/188/428


Auto Body Refinisher Baker Boyz Design Inc. 9345-45 Avenue Edmonton AB T6E 6S1 780.413.9488 bakerboyzdesignsinc@facebook.com


Owner & Creative Director Cory Christopher Design Studio 10914-105 Ave (back lane entrance) Edmonton, AB T5H 0L3 780.447.3325 design@corychristopher.ca www.corychristopher.ca Facebook: Cory Christopher Instagram: @CoryChristopher Twitter: @artdesignliving


Daycare Director Starbright Daycare (on leave) 780.695.0657 sailormoonm14@gmail.com www.facebook.com/MichelleDucharme


Owner/Chef LaOliva: Gluten-Free Kitchen 10575-114 Street Edmonton AB T5H 3J6 780.292.4167. info@laoliva.ca Facebook La Oliva: Gluten-free Kitchen. Twitter: Laolivayeg Instagram: laolivacatering.

Regional Director Rayacom Print & Design 10529-116 Street Edmonton AB T5H 3L8 amerino.gatti@gmail.com www.rayacom.com www.propello.ca


Social Media Communications Specialist NAIT/LindaHoang.com Website/blog: http://linda-hoang.com Twitter.com/lindork Instagram.com/lindork Facebook.com/lindahoangblog


Communications Coordinator College & Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta Twitter.com/crystalkpr ca.linkedin.com/in/crystalkomanchuk


Exercise & Wellness Associate Servus Place Recreation Centre 400 Campbell Road St. Albert AB T8N 0R8 mlauer@stalbert.ca Instagram: kiss_n_lift


TYLER MCNAUGHTON Lead Architectural Designer Aquarian Renovations 11428-142 Street Edmonton AB T5M 1V1 780.481.7671 tyler@aquarianrenovations.com www.aquarianrenovations.com


President, NAIT Student Associatiom Owner, Ashna Decor 780.257.1390 Justin.Nand@hotmail.com Linkedin ca.linkedin.com/in/jnand Twitter @Justin_Nand1 http://ashnadecor.com


Co-Founder & Creative Director Flavor Video Productions 780.246.1817 brendan@edmflavor.com www.edmflavor.com Instagram: @flavorvideoproductions @bryder


Co-Founder Rapid Boost Marketing 9850 33 Avenue NW Edmonton AB T6N 1C6 587.708.5050


ali@rapidboostmarketing.com https://ca.linkedin.com/pub/alisalman/12/413/8a1 Twitter: @Canadianlmpro


Owner Donewell Property Services Co-founder Salt and Tickle 780.906.9495 mail@donewell.ca www.donewell.ca www.saltandtickle.com Instagram: saltandtickle


General Manager Henry Singer Fashion Group 160 Manulife Place 780.423.6868 780.966.7771 sekhonsonny@gmail.com, ssekhon@henrysinger.com, twitter/instagram: sonziemaaaan


Humanitarian/Writer Marketing & Communications Director Benefit Strategies ms.chelseysmith@gmail.com twitter: @chelseysm1th https://ca.linkedin.com/in/chelseysm1th

TRISHA VERGO Entertainment Personality/Panelist trish.vergo@gmail.com Twitter: @TrishaVergo Instagram: TRISHA_VERGO

MELISSA WARTENBERG Owner/Head Designer AtticRaiders melissawartenberg@hotmail.com www.AtticRaiders.etsy.com facebook.com/LadyWartenberg instagram.com/melissawartenberg AtticRaiders.deviantart.com tumblr.com/melissawartenberg

MIKE ZOUHRI CEO EyeDentifyIt SHAVE (digital Magazine) Amadeo (menswear stores) 780.707.6134
 Mike@eyedentifyit.com Facebook: Mike Zouhri
 Twitter @mike_zouhri
 Instagram: mikezouhri



Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

lisha Duret’s life changed

in 2012 when she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. What did she do? She started La Oliva Gluten-Free Kitchen, Edmonton’s first 100 percent gluten-free catering and cooking-class company. “I opened my business to be able to help others with dietary restrictions be able to enjoy food in a social setting without feeling like they are a burden. Every day, I get to share my passion for healthy and delicious food with others and this brings me a tremendous amount of joy.”

collaboration with the Conseil de développement économique de l’Alberta. “I am francophone and try to be an active member of that community.” The 28-year old holds a Bilingual Bachelor of Commerce (2010) from the University of Alberta, Campus Saint-Jean where she founded the Student Entrepreneur Club. She offers healthy cooking classes to high school students who participate in the French for the Future Forum. Running her business takes up much of Alisha’s time, but she still volunteers whenever she can and is generous with her products and catering services.


Specialty caterer... cooking instructor



Within months of starting La Oliva, Alisha was asked to do a cooking demonstration on Breakfast Television on City TV. She has also hosted training events for dietitians and for other key players in the food industry. A short time ago, she began supplying SPUD, Transcend and Coffee Bureau with a selection of gluten-free products. “I also am continuously busy with catering and, most recently, started selling products at the Salisbury Farmer’s Market.” For her efforts, Alisha received the Most Promising Small Business award from the Fernando Girard Foundation last year, which is an awards ceremony presented in

he expansion of the Rayacom Group

of Companies can be pegged to the management and leadership skills of Amerino Gatti. Since he joined the company, the number of stores has tripled. Amerino, who graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from MacEwan University in 2010, describes being named a Sizzler as “fantastic. For me, this award serves as a reminder that I’m nowhere near the finish line; this is just the beginning.” As regional director for the print and design company, he is responsible for franchise and corporate store development, standardization of services, and preparation of training manuals and programs for all its representatives. “I first started working at Rayacom five years ago, and we had four locations. Today, we have 12 locations across Canada, and are about to launch our 13th… with more expansion plans for 2016.” However, Rayacom is not the only place where the 28-year old practices his entrepreneurial savvy. Amerino has joint ventures in commercial real estate, partnering with franchisees and leasing the space to their businesses. This year, he launched Propello Delivery

AMERINO GATTI Growth expert... proud Edmontonian

Services, a courier service that specializes in same day express deliveries around Edmonton and the surrounding area. “Dealing with couriers on a daily basis, I saw a need for a modern delivery service, and designed Propello to meet those needs. Starting a company is no easy task, but so far it’s been incredibly gratifying and I’ve learned a lot.”


“I often donate baking trays or gift certificates for silent auctions for various organizations. I used to be a member of Big Brothers Big Sisters and still love supporting them when I can. I also recently joined the Consultative Committee of the Campus SaintJean that meets five times a year to discuss projects that the Campus Saint-Jean is undertaking.” Alsiha is also actively planning for the future. “I would like to expand my cooking class side of my business and eventually would like to open a small dessert tapas bar. I am also very passionate about bread making so a bakery would be fun! “There are endless opportunities, I am happy with how things have progressed in the past year-anda-half… and am excited to see how my business continues to flourish.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

The same passion Amerino has toward his professional work is also seen in his volunteerism. He has been actively involved with Dreams Take Flight since 2006. The national non-profit organization partners with Air Canada to take children who are mentally and/or physically challenged on a trip of a lifetime to Disneyland. “I’m so lucky to be able to help such deserving children take a break from their troubles for a day, and provide them with special memories to last a lifetime. You’d be amazed by how much of a difference it makes; there’s nothing better than seeing those results first hand—but Disneyland is pretty fun too.” Whatever he decides to do next, Amerino will definitely do it here. “I’m a proud Edmontonian, born and bred! My family and friends live here, and this is where I would like to raise my family, too. The potential in this city is tremendous—we’ve really got something special going on here.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

NATION-WIDE Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk



hree years ago, Ali Salman

and his business partners started a company with no clients and no cash flow. Today, Rapid Boost Marketing helps service-based businesses with traffic, online conversion, sales, lead generation, business development, and on-line marketing. The company’s clients include Fortune 500 companies in addition to start-ups. “Being a strategist and partner at Rapid Boost gives me a lot of peace and makes me happy because I get

improve their lives, but also help under-developed regions prosper.” His professional networking affiliations include membership in the Advertising Club of Edmonton, About Leaders, Agile Edmonton, and B2B Connect Edmonton. Ali earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing from Wilfrid Laurier University in 2010. He is currently enrolled in the Management Graduate Program-Digital Communication and Media/ Multimedia through the Harvard Extension School, which he expects to complete in 2019.


Multimedia marketer... website developer to work with business owners directly and learn about their businesses, struggles, successes, families, etc. This excites me besides providing my skills and expertise to them,” says Ali. In addition, the 29-year old has launched the Rapid Growth Podcast, where he and his team will help service-based business owners grow, optimize and systematize their business through weekly podcasts. He is also a senior partner with DenStack, a business focusing on marketing websites for dental practices which is expected to launch soon. Ali’s interests in website design and marketing carry over into his volunteer life. “I am actively involved in creating a personal development website for emerging South Asian countries, where youth between 18 and 30 years of age can access free resources on selfimprovement and time management. With the help of these resources and technology they can not only


“I would love for everyone to understand that hard work and dedication go a long way. “Opportunities come to you at every doorstep. We have to learn to recognize that by taking chances, we can create an optimistic future for ourselves.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

Rapid Growth for


he auto body industry is largely

a male-dominated field. However, Cecile Bukmeier is emerging as one of the top car painters in Canada. It is actually Cecile’s determination and ground-breaking work in a non-traditional occupation that should encourage other young women interested in going into the trades. She entered the industry in her final year of high school, and got the top student award in her auto body class in 2012. Her hallmark year was 2013: She received her Auto Body Refinisher Inter-Provincial Red Seal Certification, and also earned an Advanced Collision Estimating Certificate and a 3M Polishing Certificate. She was the only female invited to compete in the Skills Canada Provincial Competition for car painting. Cecile placed first and was invited to the National event in Vancouver, where she took gold for Alberta. “I had always been told that I wouldn’t last working in the back of a shop, that I was too ‘girly’ to handle the demanding industry. Winning against the other men really uplifted me. It proved to not only myself but to everyone else that I could succeed in the auto body industry. It also proved that women in the trades can do just as well, if not better, than men.”

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

Cecile confidently demonstrates her considerable talents at Baker Boyz Designs Inc. The custom paint shops specializes in fine art detailing, pin striping and airbrushing eye-catching features and murals on motorcycles, cars, trucks, trailers and boats… helmets and masks… even fridges. The 23-year old says, “Being honoured with this year’s Sizzling Twenty under 30 award is a huge accomplishment for me. It means that I am making a difference and people are noticing. All of the extra hours and duties that I have taken on are paying off. I never expected to get an award, but knowing that people believe in me and what I pursue is very encouraging.” Last year, Cecile began volunteering for Skills Canada on the provincial technical committee, helping to organize and judge the provincial event, so future tradespeople would have the same opportunity she did. This year, she joined the National Committee and travelled to Saskatchewan to help prepare for the competition. She also became chair of the Provincial Committee and encouraged locating the Alberta competition on-site at the Expo Centre. This was a big step as it had always been held at NAIT, and had very little exposure. The event was a success. “Thousands of students got a chance to see not only my trade, but 46 other trades up close and have a chance to try them out. I was awarded with the Skills Canada Alberta Alumni of the Year award this year for my continued efforts in helping Skills Canada events.” Cecile hopes to inspire young tradespeople, especially women, “to show [them] that they can overcome stereotypes in a maledominated trade.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

Photo by Burce Clarke

Trailblazing in the Trades EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

CECILE BUKMEIER Gold medalist... talented detailer



rendan Ryder is making a name

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

for himself in both the fashion and video production industries with his company, Flavor. When Brendan, now 23, finished his first year at MacEwan University in the Design and Photography program in 2011, he started a clothing company. “After a lot of thought, I decided not to continue with my schooling and to put all my time and money into starting my own business with my business partner Wade Tompkins. “It’s been a crazy ride ever since and we have changed a lot since then.” In fact, Flavor’s focus switched from clothing to video production. “We were always taking pictures for promotional material but we wanted to try doing some videos as well. Since we couldn’t find anyone to do what we had wanted, we decided we should just try and do it ourselves… We started making more videos for our clothing as well as doing some music videos and dance videos on the side. Eventually, we had people wanting to hire us to make videos for them and, as this demand continued to grow, we made the decision to

Photo by Flavor

BRENDAN RYDER Designer... producer


move away from clothing and make video the main focus of our business.” The company has now produced more than 150 videos. “Early on we came up with a little slogan: ‘Always Learning, Always Growing’—and that has really stayed with us over the years. It doesn’t matter how big or small the project is, we are always trying to find ways to improve ourselves and our craft. There’s no better feeling than having a client be ecstatic over how well their video turned out.” Brendan has been heavily involved in the local dance and music scene, sponsoring and co-managing events; he also has provided support to YESS. This past summer, Flavor was chosen as one of 10 teams from Alberta to receive a $10,000 grant from Telus and Storyhive to produce a music video with local artist Arlo Maverick—aka Marlon Wilson, a 2008 Sizzler. “We wanted to make something that would stand out and was different than your average music video. The music video is a short story based on a young artists encounter with his schoolyard bullies and the chain effect it has on the people within his community.” Currently, Brendan is applying for grants with Telus and MuchMusic to fund more story-based videos. “We’re living in a very digital age and video is more important than ever. I love the challenge of trying to create something interesting that will stand out and captivate the audience.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


ot surprisingly, Justin Nand

considers his birth date—July 1st, 1990—the

“best Canada Day ever!” Having earned a diploma in Finance in 2013, he is currently enrolled in the Bachelor of Business Administration-Accounting degree program at NAIT, and is working his way through the ranks of student governance while running his own business. Voted on to the NAIT Board of Governors in his second year on campus, he “…was able to represent the student body and sit with industry leaders to look over the long-term goals of NAIT.” Last year, he was elected VP External of the NAIT Students’ Association. Justin represented students’ needs on a municipal, provincial and federal level. As a former Sheet Metal Fabrication

with Flavor

was a NAIT Campus Ambassador, a CPA Ambassador, a Supplementary Learning Leader, and a Case Competition member. He has been actively involved in fundraising campaigns for the United Way, NAIT-It-Forward, and Essential. He has been instrumental in expanding the reach of the on-campus food bank program. “I helped with the structure of the Investment Club at NAIT and… In Toastmasters, I was able to help students from a variety of program areas improve their public speaking and leadership skills.” Justin owns Ashna Décor, a company he started with his family in 2012. “We have decorated weddings, engagements and reception parties across Edmonton… halls that seat anywhere between 100 to 600 people. Due to the workload of my current position as President of NAITSA, I have taken a step back… and

Rising to the challenge Apprentice, he reached out to the satellite campuses “…to make sure our apprentices felt they were part of NAITSA.” Justin was successful in his bid for student president this year. “Being voted to represent students and in a position where I can help students on a daily basis is an amazing opportunity that I am thankful for.” He is responsible for providing direction to the vice-presidents, representing the student body to all levels of government, and fostering relationships with internal and external stakeholders. “I’ve built and maintained relationships with staff at NAIT and external stakeholders. This network will help future projects that NAITSA pursues and solve the dynamic issues our Student Association faces.” Justin has been a member of five NAITSA clubs, and


my parents have taken over during this time… I still help out when they need me for larger wedding jobs.” Justin plans to finish his BBA next year, and to return to the trades industry as a means to further his education. “I used to be a Sheet Metal fabrication apprentice for three years. While working on the industry side of accounting, I want to pursue my Masters and CPA designation so I can come back to NAIT and teach in about 10 years. I want to make sure I have the experience to help make teaching at NAIT even better.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


Student leader... active volunteer Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk



helsey Smith is a passionate

advocate for social change, both locally and

globally. She worked to support the rights of children in Ghana in 2008, and to combat gender-based violence in Swaziland in 2013 where, according to a UNICEF Report, “approximately 1 in 3 females experienced some form of sexual violence as a child.” Chelsey is committed to creating awaremess and fundraising for The SOS Children’s Villages, The Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, Light for Children, Red Cross, The MS Society of Canada, Greenpeace, The Indo Canadian Women’s Society, CEASE, and YWCA Edmonton. She hosted a film screening for International Women’s Day 2014 and drew hundreds of people together to celebrate the courage of girls and women, and the need for equality and education. Her campaign “Girl

in new social movements, and used #BringBackOurGirls, the movement against the abduction of the Chibok girls, as a case study.” Chelsey’s achievements include being listed as one of Canada’s emerging leaders with the Gen Y Talent Network, and receiving the Dr. Nicholas Rubidge Award for contributions to student life as president of the Royal Roads University Student Association. Over and above hosting educational and charitable events, her volunteer involvements range from speaking to youth about goalsetting and self-esteem to teaching yoga with BGCBigs to organizing rallies against hate crimes and homophobia. “I am the marketing and communications director for Benefit Strategies, and have enjoyed working casually as a reporter and production assistant for Alberta


Humanitarian... advocate... communicator

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

Rising” addressed serious issues that girls face to become educated. For International Day of the Girl Child 2014, Chelsey hosted a community gathering to celebrate women and focus on barriers in our local and global communities. In September, Chelsey worked in partnership with MEN Edmonton and the YWCA Walk a Mile in Her Shoes campaign to engage Edmontonians in discussing and learning about healthy and harmful masculinities, and positive male role models. “I am dedicated to my work and leadership in the city and abroad, and delighted to join the ranks of other inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs in Edmonton,” says Chelsey about being named as a Sizzler. The 27-year old recently completed her MA in Intercultural and International Communication at Royal Roads University. “My thesis research explored the role of digital communication


hen it comes to public


Putting the

in Activism Photo by Burce Clarke

relations and communications, Crystal Komanchuk is emerging as a leader in her field. She earned her public relations diploma from MacEwan University in 2011. “I was fortunate to get a wide variety of experience at the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation during a two-month practicum before beginning my career at the Leduc Nisku Economic Development Corporation as the Marketing and Communications Coordinator. I continued my education with graphic design and economic development courses.

writing, editing, website updating, and more.” Crystal, 25, says that being named a Sizzler is a huge motivation. “Being recognized by peers in the Edmonton professional community is humbling. The work I have put into my path has been based on passion and interest, so much so that it’s hardly felt like work! Being a recipient motivates me to keep learning and growing.” She is particularly proud of her work as a Board Director with the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Edmonton, from which she received an Award of Excellence while a student, and the Canadian Public Relations Society (CPRS) Edmonton, which recognized her efforts with the Areté Award. “I started as a volunteer, became a director on each board and grow the portfolios I am responsible for as best as possible.” This year, Crystal was a judge for the CPRS National Awards of Excellence. She frequently travels to conferences to expand her knowledge and network.

“After a year, I switched gears and moved into a health-care organization, the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta. I manage an annual awards program for nursing excellence and coordinate an annual gala. I’m also responsible for social media strategy, media relations, sponsor relations,

“I would like to continue to learn and grow professionally. I will keep saying yes to new experiences and continue networking via IABC and CPRS to develop new professional relationships. I will work to ensure my decision-making is based on research and strategic planning to spotlight the Edmonton public relations and communications industry.” Crystal also provides her expertise as a social media and website manager for two of her family’s businesses, Stephen Yettaw International Stone Sculptor and Flying Rabbit Fruit Farm. √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

CRYSTAL KOMANCHUK Motivated communicator... dedicated professional


Primetime on CTV Two. My freelance media and communications work includes grant writing, and resource mobilization for nonprofits, and digital and social strategy for small business. “While academia and activism have been my focus, I have entrepreneurial energy and aspirations: I think big! I am excited to carve out a career in communications and culture. “My advocacy work is neverending, but I am optimistic. I will push boundaries, break ground, and work towards a world that is more peaceful, equitable and just.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

Passionate about PR


trail in the fitness world. An exercise and wellness specialist at St. Albert’s Servus Place, she is a trainer and group exercise leader focused on strength and conditioning—an area that is dominated by men. The 27-year old is passionate about fitness, health and sports, and is intent on elevating the importance of developing core strength, particularly among women. “I encourage women to challenge their own fears, or preconceived notion that ‘if I lift, I will get bulky’. With the fitness trend at a peak right now, I am happy to say that fewer and fewer women are against picking up a weight or entering a gym. I love being able to promote healthy body image and encouraging active lifestyles for all.”

and Conditioning Association coach certification, and won its Women’s Scholarship for her essay about female strength coaches in a male saturated profession. Megan not only teaches, but also competes. This year, she is Alberta’s #1 ranked 69kg-female, and won the western Canadian championships in the 63kg category in 2014. “I now monitor our Olympic lifting program at Servus Place, and ensure that the quality, safety and education of the area is of utmost importance.” She is a member of Farm Strong Athletic, an Olympic lifting club which has three females in the top 10 rankings in Alberta. Megan currently sits at #9, but is looking to move up this fall. Megan writes a fitness column for the St. Albert Gazette, and has been a featured trainer on the Nourish Move Thrive website. Megan has three brothers: Braden, a law student at UBC, recently won Canada’s Smartest Person on CBC… another is a police

Lifting more than

weights Not surprisingly, many of Megan’s volunteer pursuits have been sports-related, volunteering her expertise to floor hockey and rugby teams and coaching staff. For a couple of seasons, she assisted with the Edmonton Eskimos’ pre-season fitness testing and medical screening. Megan graduated from Red Deer College with a diploma in Kinesiology and certificates in group exercise and as a personal trainer. “This enabled me to start my professional training career where I was hired at Servus Place Recreation Centre in St. Albert. My graduation from U of A with a Bachelor of Physical Education enabled me to bring my training game to the next level.” She achieved National Strength


ost entrepreneurs are lucky if they

have one successful venture in a lifetime. At 28, Mike Zouhri has already had several. Success and business savvy come naturally— and frequently. On a whim, he created SHAVE, a monthly digital magazine, aimed at affluent males in the 25-40 age range. Then, he struck his first major content-sharing agreement with Microsoft/MSN (when he was 23), followed by expanded syndication deals with Match.com and Disney Pulse. SHAVE consistently averages in excess of 75 million readers worldwide. Along the way, he launched Amedeo Exclusive, a menswear brand that is now in 22 countries, and has a prominent retail space in City Centre Mall.


keen competitor

officer… the youngest is in elementary school. Having just accepted a new position as Exercise and Wellness Associate, Megan is looking forward to more of a front line leadership role. “It’s essentially a full-time trainer position, and there are very few opportunities like that in our industry. I would say Servus Place is trying to lead the way in changing the fitness industry to be looked at more professionally, and less as a part-time casual job. “Fitness and health promotion is important and it, unfortunately, has so many bright minds leave the industry because it’s not always sustainable for the long term. Creating positions like this will help the industry grow. I’m so excited to be a part of this new path and to help carve out what it looks like.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

young and inexperienced leader… still unsure of myself and my abilities… so even though I seemed outwardly confident in our success and even though I was impassioned and knew the work was important, I was also secretly nervous and apprehensive. We had recruited a lot of volunteers—over 60 people—and I felt the pressure that comes with leading a group that size. “It obviously all worked out… we caught national attention and some high profile awards which taught me that I can make a large impact… I can shape the world around me. I’ve never looked back or doubted myself since.” Mike is a champion of dozens of causes and charities, raising tens of millions of dollars and fostering change. He

Eyedentifying opportunities Mike is currently focused on his latest project: object detection, recognition and identification software called EyedentifyIt. “We have a small but ingenious team which includes one of the top CS experts in computer vision, and have patents pending on our system. My partners and I have already received some big-name attention, and are excitedly gearing up for our invitation to Silicon Valley later this year, courtesy of some major players in the area.” Instinctively, Mike has applied his entrepreneurial skills to improve his community. “I’ve been actively involved in volunteerism ever since I was a teenager for many various causes, but the one that stood out the most for me was the first non-profit I created and ran.” he says of Action ALS. How it came about is most interesting. As part of his Biological Sciences studies, Mike assisted in the ALS Clinic at the University of Alberta. Seeing first-hand the inevitable devastation of the disease motivated him to create Action ALS to raise funds for research, treatment and care. The experience was a turning point in his life. “In university I galvanized and coordinated my peers but I was a

MEGAN LAUER Wellness proponent...

MIKE ZOUHRI Serial entrepreneur... decorated humanitarian

has shown extraordinary commitment to fight social injustices, poverty, homelessness, youth crime, AIDS, ALS and more. His long list of awards includes the FRS Business Competition, Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Medal, Edmonton’s Salute to Excellence Award, and induction into Alberta’s Wall of Fame. Mike graduated with his degree in Biological Sciences in 2009, which was initially meant to be the first step toward a career in medicine. Obviously, he got sidetracked by his entrepreneurial endeavours. He looks forward to continuing on his successful path. “Right now I just want to keep growing and expanding. I suppose at some point I will rest and enjoy the fruits of my labours but, for now, this is fun and exciting. In the immediate future, I’m very excited about bringing EyeDentifyit to Silicon Valley and growing it.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk


egan Lauer is blazing a new



inda Hoang is a local on-line

sensation who is well known for her social media prowess and highly regarded food blog. The 26-year old has more than 10,000 followers on Twitter and is popular on a number of other social

networks. By day, she is a Digital Communications Specialist at NAIT where she manages the social media channels, delivers training, and contributes as a staff writer to internal and external publications. “I just say I am the social media lady,” explains the graduate of Radio & Television Broadcasting at NAIT, and Journalism at MacEwan University. Linda regularly appears on a pop culture panel for Alberta Primetime on CTV2. She has worked for many media outlets including Global, CTV, Metro and the Edmonton Sun. In her spare time, Linda spreads the word about her love of food, Edmonton, and cats. Especially cats. Linda is intensely proud of creating the Edmonton International Cat Festival—“the only festival of its kind in Canada that celebrates cats, cat culture, and cat people! “It started in 2014 and, to date, we’ve raised $39,000 for local cat rescue organizations including the Edmonton Humane Society, Little Cats Lost, and SAFE Team Rescue. The festival is 100 percent not-for-profit! I get no money out of it. I am just

really passionate about Edmonton and really passionate about cats—obviously. I’ve always wanted to do something to give back to the community in a way that made sense for me.” The success of Cat Fest is amazing, especially given that Linda did not previously have any event planning experience. The last one had about 1200 people in attendance, with lots of “paw-sitive” (her word) feedback. “I am excited to see where the cat festival goes. I would eventually like to expand it into Calgary so we have really strong presence in both of the major Alberta cities. Right now, it’s also just a one-day event, so it would be great if it expanded to a full weekend.” In the future, Linda might have to do more than just blog about food. Her parents own the popular King Noodle House in Chinatown and, as they get older, there is talk of her possibly taking over the restaurant. “I’d also love to grow my family! Right now it’s full of fur children—two cats and a dog: Thor, Loki and Olive— but my husband I would like to have a family with real kids soon too.” Linda invites readers to connect with her on social media. “I hope anyone reading this chooses to follow me and get to know me better and, in turn, let me learn more about them and what they like about this city.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

Purrrr-fect Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

Social Media Skills


onny Sekhon is a perfect example

of a young person working his way up the corporate ladder. He began his career with the Henry Singer Fashion Group as a part-time sales associate during university. However, he noticed the iconic menswear retailer was losing its market share, and became determined to turn things around. In April 2011, he led his first store and, shortly thereafter, the five-year slide in sales stopped. Sonny had found a way to inspire his team and work on building relationships to drive business to the West Edmonton Mall store. In recognition of his talents, the Singer family made Sonny the Sales Manager at their flagship location in Manulife Place in 2013. He diversified the sales team with

SONNY SEKHON Intuitive retailer... consummate volunteer


Social media maven... cat fancier

to the community… and my bosses Fred and Jordan Singer who honour their father and grandfather Henry by embodying his belief that even a little guy can make a huge difference and that one has a duty to their community.” Sonny has earned several sales-related corporate awards, such as the President’s Award for achieving his personal sales target every year, and the Henry Singer Fashion Group Leadership Award at the age of 27, the youngest recipient in its history. Among his numerous volunteer activities are the United Way and the Brick Invitational Novice Hockey Tournament. He plays on several men’s ball hockey teams and, thanks to his efforts, Henry Singer is a sponsor of the Punjabi Ball Hockey League. As the co-founder of North of Lipsky, one of the top Movember fundraising teams in Edmonton, he devotes hundreds of hours of time to ensure its success.

Selling his way to new hires who became “fashion ambassadors” to their respective communities—communities to which Henry Singer previously had little ties. Sales spiked, and Sonny was promoted to General Manager, a position he relishes. Being named a Sizzler “… is wonderful but the reality is that I try and follow in the footsteps that were laid down by important figures before me: My parents, Nindy and Petra Sekhon who always found time to work hard and to give back



Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

Sonny, who holds a BA with a double major in Political Science and History and almost went to law school, is someone who does not subscribe to the idea of a fixed path. “I am a passionate comic fan with a huge comic and toy collection. I grew up wanting to make a difference like some of the super heroes, in my own way. “My best prediction for what the future holds for me is that whatever I do—professionally, personally and on a community level—I will do to the absolute best of my ability to ensure that I can continue to help the maximum number of people. “Henry Singer has been around for 77 years and. at the ripe old age of 29, I hope to stick around with them and help the company grow into a fashion house recognized world-wide.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman



elissa Wartenberg is living

proof that triumph can come out of adversity. A crippling accident left Melissa, now 28, with one working arm and leg, requiring the permanent use of a flame cane to assist her mobility. However, she has overcome her physical limitations to create a successful, full time design business that takes her across Canada. Her business, AtticRaiders, is Steampunk-themed. Steampunk is a blend of Victorian science fiction and fantasy, incorporating industrial elements with aesthetic designs. Melissa works out of her home studio—soldering, sewing, cutting and hammering unique, hand-made accessories including clockwork-themed jewelry and custom vintage eye glasses.

left hand. Relearning how to do so many basic things in order to live was challenging—none more so than the fridge door. Professionally, and most recently, I was featured in the New York Times, woo hoo!” She is also the founder and leader of the Edmonton Steampunk Group. “My volunteer hours are spent keeping the Facebook group page active and up-to-date with content about the style and genre we are so passionate about, as well as organizing and hosting themed events for its members. “Over the past five years that it’s been in operation, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing it become the third largest Steampunk group in Canada… one of the most welcoming, engaging and active groups in operation. I’m proud that my time and efforts are being rewarded with such loud enthusiasm from its members…We are very excited to be hosting the third annual Steampunk Ball on November 7th, and greatly looking forward to guests arriving from all over Canada and the USA.”

Overcoming Adversity

with creativity

MELISSA WARTENBERG Steampunk enthusiast... gifted artisan

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk


“Being recognized for my trailblazing design work is not only cool to me but it is also cool for the folks who are a part of the alternative style that my work is so much inspired by: Steampunk. It’s confirmation that it’s cool to be a nerd.” Melissa is a self-taught professional artist, photographer and model with an inspiring backstory. “Truthfully, the first achievement that pops into my head is the day I successfully relearned how to open the fridge door with my now handicapped

ichelle Ducharme has a passion

Nurturing and


development, create welcoming play environments, and teach them sign language. With staff, I role model proper interactions, encourage team building, assist in daily activities, and encourage them to further themselves professionally.” Michelle has presented at the Child Care Conference at MacEwan, was a finalist of the Alberta Child Care Professional Award of Excellence, and attends many conferences. Her volunteer efforts deal with a number of health-related causes. “I first got involved after high school with the Weekend to End Breast Cancer and made many friends. Ever since then, I have volunteered at as many events as I can. I love giving back to my community especially for causes like breast cancer and juvenile diabetes.” Michelle and Patrick welcomed their son Zachary into their lives in late July. “I am enjoying every aspect of my motherhood journey so far, and can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. “As for my plans, I would like to either be a daycare licensing officer, so I can stay in the childcare field. Or, possibly now with my human services degree, maybe explore a new field and expand my skills by trying my hand at something new!” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


Early learning specialist... caring educator EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

for nurturing infants… for teaching and mentoring young children. The 29-year-old has been in management positions in her chosen field of daycare and pre-school since the age of 18. For eight years, Michelle worked at MCHB Daycare & OSC as assistant director and program supervisor “…where we had 65 children and 17 staff. Parts of my duties were to monitor the staff and children to ensure that we were providing quality childcare, and were supporting the families using our services.” While working full time, she earned her Early Learning and Child Care Diploma from Grant MacEwan University, attending classes two nights a week for four years. Michelle took “…on new challenges, such as learning how to do subsidy, calculating staff and child hours, doing registrations, helping organize fundraisers, staff scheduling, and menu planning. I wanted to become well rounded and be able to do all tasks related to childcare from being in the classroom, to managing budgets… this is why I chose to continue my education and get my degree in Human Services Administration.” She graduated last year. “I am one of the first people in my family to attend university,” In 2012, Michelle made the difficult decision to leave MCHB to be nearer her Carvel area home west of Edmonton. She joined Star Bright Daycare in Stony Plain as a director and pre-school teacher. “I program activities for the children, monitor their

In addition, Melissa founded Crafter’s Alley, a project that offers an inexpensive opportunity for emerging crafters to sell at a few shows while networking with other artisans. She credits her accident for the resilience that has made her the artist and entrepreneur she now is. “I’ve been handicapped for almost 10 years now and, what could have been a life-changing event for the worst, was instead one of the best. I would not be the entrepreneur that I am now if it wasn’t for that literal bang to the head 10 years ago and, most definitely, would not have been able to continue with my work if it wasn’t for my amazing fans, friends and family who have supported me from the beginning.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


yler McNaughton, 29, is doing

precisely what he was hired to do. When he joined Aquarian Renovations in 2007, after earning his diploma in Architectural Technology from NAIT, it was open to new ideas and procedures. Tyler’s job was to move it forward… to incorporate 3-D design models, and to replace hand-drawn blueprints with CAD-drawn construction plans. Aquarian’s owners credit Tyler’s drive, artistic abilities and leadership for much of their success, growth and national attention. The company has won Renovator of the Year from the Canadian Home Builders Association multiple times, as well as “Best” awards for Exterior, Kitchen Renovation, Website, and Design Centre/Showroom.

We purchased our first home at age 21 and lived in the basement for the first few years while renting the main floor as a separate suite in order to live mortgage-free and save for our next property investments.” As a member of Celebration Church (formerly known as Church on 99th), Tyler has used his skills as a musician, sports advocate and mentor to interest teens in participating in the youth and worship ministries. “Over a period of four or so years, I was able to watch a small youth group of 40 or so students grow into a popular destination for youth, attracting up to 500 youth every Friday night.” Tyler and Katrina welcomed their first child in July 2014. Since then, he has made spending more time with his family and focusing on developing their


comes of age Tyler meets with homeowners to discuss their needs, wants and budgets; his follow-through and attention to detail are evident in all his design work. “When I can create and bring to visualization a dream renovation for a customer, I take great satisfaction in the work I do.” Success in their respective fields is something Tyler shares with his wife, Katrina, who works in real estate. “She has achieved top 25 in sales at a brokerage with over 200 agents several times. She is also under 30 and started her business just three years ago. “We also work together investing in real estate. In our portfolio, we now have three rentable properties that we manage ourselves.


business a priority. “One small problem about being so busy with family and work is that I don’t get to golf and play music as much as I used to. Maybe, in time, that will change. “Right now, I am just a hardworking, creative family man kind of guy… I guess that might make for a little sizzle in some people’s eyes!” ~ Paula E. Kirman

ou know those kids who go

around their neighbourhoods offering to shovel walks during the winter? Steven Scoby was one of them. This in-born entrepreneurial spirit formed the groundwork for his successful landscaping company. In fact, he began Donewell Property Services at the age of 11 when he cleared walks and driveways for $20 per snowfall. “Growing up, my parents valued the life lesson: Work hard to earn your own money. At this time, I was a 14-yearold boy, who just received his learner’s license, trying to save money for a truck! My parents bought me a lawn mower and helped me make flyers. That’s where my ambition and passion towards lawn care and snow removal stemmed from.” After Steven landed his first commercial job, he was able to expand beyond solely providing residential-based services. “My proudest professional achievement is transforming Donewell Property Services from a one-man show to a successful business that employs a dozen or more staff year round.” Steven and his employees regularly

STEVEN SCOBY Accomplished entrepreneur... emerging designer

TYLER McNAUGHTON Architectural designer... property investor

Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk

demonstrate an incredible work ethic. Five years ago, when the city had one of its biggest snowfalls, his crews were responsible for snow removal at over 200 properties—sometimes working more than 24 hours straight. What about the future? The 27-year old would like to see the company expand throughout Alberta. Its rapid growth leaves Steven little time to volunteer as he has in the past, but he does make several donations to support great causes around the city such as The Firefighter’s Burn Treatment Society, The Multiple Sclerosis Society, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, and The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. During his teen years, Steven travelled to Europe and the United States as a model, and developed a keen interest in men’s fashion. In the past year, he partnered with two of his close friends, Nolan Paquette and Dan Matishak, to design a unique, classy dress shirt. Salt and Tickle offers an array of fun patterns from animals to food to plaid to flowers—take your pick on-line. “Yes, shockingly enough, I am a tradesman who loves fashion—not too many people own two companies on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. “And hey, I would not mind seeing a celebrity wearing a Salt and Tickle shirt on the Red Carpet.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

From driveways

to runways Photo by Tracy Kolenchuk




risha Vergo has competed in

beauty pageants on the national and international scene, and is using her acclaim to benefit others. Trisha, 29, was a runner-up on the Bachelor Canada television program. Most viewers knew her by her tagline as the “Beauty Queen.” She earned that title after having competed in Miss Universe Canada and at Miss Global.

Salvation Army and ring the bell to raise money for the homeless. It’s really easy and anyone can do it! I am also a member of OneMatch—OneMatch Stem Cell and Marrow Network coordinates the collection and delivery of stem cells in Canada, and works with registries all over the world to help patients access the stem cell treatments they need. I also help regularly at the Pleasant View Lodge retirement home. After the Bachelor, I joined MTV and The Jed Foundation in sharing an anti-bullying message through the Love is Louder Campaign.” On the pageant

A platform to inspire


Pageant contestant... TV panelist


“What most people don’t know is that I work for a not-for-profit organization facilitating professional development for educators. My biggest achievement was partnering with Edmonton Public School Board Foundation to organize the Norlien—The Importance of Early Childhood: Socio-Emotional Development and Early Intervention Conference. I was the head coordinator and we had over 1200 attendees at the Shaw Conference Centre.” Volunteering is also a huge part of Trisha’s life. “Every Christmas, I volunteer with the

hen it comes to managing health

and safety, Whitney Allen is already a leader in her field. Whitney became a Health, Safety and Environment Manager at the age of 24 and is currently with Standard Scaffold and Insulation Inc. “I am proud to have had an opportunity to continue this career path with another company and manage my own division and have a great team working for me.” She holds a BSc in Kinesiology & Exercise Science from the University of Lethbridge. In 2012, she received the Alberta Construction Safety Association Pacesetter award for her contributions to moving the bar forward in health and safety, and won its Gary Wagar scholarship in 2013. At the University of Alberta, she completed her Occupational Health and Safety Certificate and OHS Technology Technician programs. Whitney serves on both the Edmonton Regional Safety Committee and the Industrial Occupational Safety and Health committee. “I have also had the opportunity to sit on numerous sub-committees which have produced industry-recognized safety videos, conducted presentations in schools to the next generation of workers.” She has also provided time and donated items to the YESS, and participated in and raised money for the Steps for Life charity walk. As well, she is a big sister/mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters. However, Whitney considers her greatest

circuit, she has been involved with the Soi Dog Foundation and the American Red Cross. Trisha, who loves to be active and used to teach a dance fitness class on weekends, is currently an entertainment panelist on CityTV’s Dinner Television. “I love being in front of the camera, as well building the content we talk about on the show. I am hoping to delve deeper into the world of television and become a reporter!” Her experience as a beauty pageant contestant has fueled Trisha’s ability to reach out to others. “I feel as though pageants have a stigma about them for being sexist and demeaning to women. “In my experience, they are a platform to boost self-confidence and inspire others. While speaking on the Miss Universe Canada Inspirational Tour, the message that I liked to share with young students was be yourself, love yourself, and always grow.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

volunteer achievement as being the organizer for the annual Day of Mourning ball hockey tournament that commemorates workers who have died due to workplace injury. This event raised more than $10,000 this year for the Threads of Life charity. “I am very honoured and excited to have been selected as the Volunteer of the Year for Western Canada by Threads of Life charity… “My goal for the future is to become a CEO in my current company or a related venture, and be a recognized female business leader. I would like to start my own charitable organizations for kids and animals, as well as continue with supporting Threads of Life as I believe they are doing it right when it comes to supporting workers and families… who have been affected by workplace tragedy.” Most of all, Whitney would like to effect change for many. “I have a passion for learning and volunteering and would do anything to help support a worthy cause. “I believe that one person has the ability to affect change and, if I can help change a youth’s life for the better or prevent one family from losing someone due to a work related incident, it’s worth it.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman


WHITNEY ALLEN Industry advocate... fundraising organizer



hat Mozart could do with a

symphony, Cory can do with flora and fauna.” Could a designer ask for a better review of his work? For someone of Cory Christopher’s talents, such praise is welldeserved. The graduate of Queen’s University with BA-Honours in Theatre Studies has a flair for the dramatic and the artistic ability to stage any room for any occasion. Whether it’s a stunning floral arrangement that makes statement, or an elaborate production that transforms a hall into a wonderland, attention to detail is at the forefront. At his studio, he regularly shares his expertise at workshops and seminars on a variety of design elements, from table-scaping to mood-setting.

partnerships that would see us grow across the province and potentially across the country. We are also in conversations to increase our media presence nationally, and we will always look for ways to continue to be a part of the fabric and culture in Edmonton.” He is appreciative of being named a Sizzler. “It is such a pleasure to be recognized as someone who is having an impact in our community. Community is something that is very important to me… I try to take every opportunity to sponsor events, give of my time or connect with others who are making Edmonton a fantastic place to live and work.” “Rooted in Creativity” is an apt slogan for everything Cory does. “Growing up as a farm-boy, and now being a design entrepreneur, there is so much that I am proud of. I am

“Rooted in Creativity”

Photos by Tracy Kolenchuk

Cory intertwines his commitment to community and philanthropy with what he does. One example is the Christmas Wreath project, an on-line fundraiser where local celebrities create wreaths to be auctioned off for various charities. “So much of what we do at Cory Christopher Design is linked back to building community in some way. From my work on boards like Apricity [a local philanthropic organization] to being involved with Sorrentino’s annual fundraiser for Compassion House, Fashion with Compassion, volunteerism is just a part of who I am.” He has participated in the Festival of Trees and, on a very personal level, launched the Loving Hearts campaign in support of the Mazankowski Alberta Heart Institute, The 29-year old is hoping to expand his services beyond the Capital Region. “We are exploring some really exciting brand


incredibly proud of the brand and the team behind Cory Christopher. I would not be able to do what I do without the support of so many dedicated people. “I am also proud of the relationships I have built within the community, from our friends in the media to our partners on the Christmas Wreath project— everyone helps raise the profile of the brand, and I am thankful that I get to do what I do every day.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

t 27, Yuri S. Broda has been

involved in all aspects of his Ukrainian community since childhood. For him, volunteerism is a way of life. “I’ve had several strong mentors along the way—role models who have demonstrated the value of giving back to the community.” In 2012, Yuri received the Hetman Award from the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress – Alberta Provincial Council, in recognition of his outstanding volunteer contributions and exceptional leadership skills. Past recipients award include Premier Ed and Marie Stelmach and numerous other prominent Albertans of Ukrainian heritage. Yuri is proud of his lifelong involvement with the Ukrainian Youth Association, an international organization operating in more than a dozen countries. He is serving his fourth term as president of the Edmonton branch, and has participated in a variety of projects and conferences at the local, national and international levels. In 2014, he became treasurer of the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute of Eastern Christian Studies, a charitable foundation supporting its work at St. Paul University in Ottawa. “I’m very excited by these roles as they allow me to bring my professional talents to my volunteer work, and have given me

YURI S. BRODA Leadership role model... financial advisor


CORY CHRISTOPHER Dramatic designer... community supporter

the opportunity to work with some of the most prominent and successful people in our community from across North America. The skills developed there, including fundraising and knowledge about the non-profit sector, benefit me in my professional and other volunteer endeavours.” Equally accomplished in his professional career, Yuri graduated from the University of Alberta in 2010 with a Bachelor of Commerce with distinction. He completed his Masters in Professional Accounting at the University of Saskatchewan in 2011, followed by his Chartered Accountant designation a year later. He has been with Grant Thornton LLP for almost four years, and is a manager in its Independent Business Group. “I work with privately-held small-and medium-sized businesses to provide financial reporting, tax planning and general business advice. What I enjoy most is working with owners to learn about their businesses and what drives them. This allows me to understand their vision for their companies and strategize on how to help them achieve their goals.” Grant Thornton is the fastest growing global accounting organization, and Yuri plans to progress with the firm. His commitment to his heritage will remain a constant in his life… and he hopes to take on even greater leadership roles. “I want to combine my professional experience with my passion for community activism and politics to help keep my community strong and vibrant.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman

P ride of Heritage 21

With Cheryl Croucher

Innovative Sizzlers re-visited

computer or mobile device. This alerts the nursing staff to change the soiled brief. ncontinence management captured “At the beginning of this journey 16 the day at the 2015 TEC VenturePrize months ago, none of the co-founding team Business Plan Competition. even knew what incontinence meant. But we Winner of the $100,000 Grand Prize got in the room with different stakeholders, in the Fast Growth category is Sensassure, whether it be nursing staff to geriatricians an Edmonton start-up determined to make to administrators at some these homes, and a difference in the overlooked elder care asked them about their biggest pain points. market. Incontinence management kept Sameer Dhar coming up as one of them, is its co-founder which is how we arrived at and CEO. “We this as a problem.” are developing Given the 22-year old’s a smart patch background, elder care may that sits on the seem a strange industry outside of any for the recent finance commercially graduate from the University available diaper of Alberta. Sameer was or incontinence named one of Edmontonians product. It tracks Sizzling Twenty under 30 in moisture levels 2012. He was cited for his on the inside of extraordinary achievements in SAMEER DHAR that product to launching projects to relieve the outside and the burden on underprivileged then relays that fellow high school students information and their families. Through through to because GEOMEER, which he cocaregivers and community founded with his teacher nursing staff George Heidt, more than matters so they know $250,000 were raised and when to change activities expanded provinceresidents. So it’s for use in long wide. In 2011, he was among Canada’s Top term care and institutional settings where 20 under 20. we’ve got elderly folks with incontinence.” “I thought I was going to be an investment According to Sameer, the sensor patch banker. But, you know, I summered there will cost about $50. It has a long life and is and didn’t necessarily think that was the best designed to withstand the rigours of daily place for me. And I wanted to make a big, use and abuse. “These briefs are very hibig impact. That’s been my theme along the tech and made to hold moisture. There’s a way. I think entrepreneurship now is really moisture barrier on the outside. But, in the the best avenue to achieve that.” event that they do get soiled—because they Sameer sees elder care as a huge emerging inevitably will—we’re planning to make market given our aging population. There’s this machine washable…” As well, briefs plenty of room for companies to be creative, can be sprayed and wiped with the existing and it is an area that fits with his passion to chemicals that are used now. The reusable sensor patch detects moisture make a difference. The journey, as he calls it, has been quick levels on the inside and communicates the and intense, but not easy. data wirelessly to the cloud where the care Six months ago, “we were actually facility can download the information to looking into the abyss because we realized

Sameer Dhar—2012



ameer Dhar is an extraordin student with a 4.0 average. ary 19-year old. He’s entering his third year as a Bachelor of Commerc Impressive, yes—but that’s It’s his compassion for e underprivileged families… not what makes him “extraordinary”. inspire others to take up his determination to ease the cause. their burden… his ability While still in high school, to Sameer initiated a blood in less than two weeks donor clinic, for earthquake relief in Haiti, and launched Helpinga campaign which raised $14,000 in goods for needy families. Hampers which collected $16,000 Baccalaureate Program— But that was just the start. In Grade 12—he was enrolled in the Internatio he foundation was intended established GEOMEER with his teacher and nal to co-founder, George Heidt. poverty in their communi expand the efforts of Helping Hampers by engaging youth in recognizi The ties and in actively supportin ng Sameer motivated fellow g students to work in groups families in dire financial need. family’s needs for two to collect specific to three months; each hamper is valued at approximdonations that would support a efforts were focused in Edmonto ately $2000. Although initial the province and, during n, campaigns have been very successful, operating the past holiday season, in 77 schools across raised approximately goods. School principals $150,000 in monies and identify one struggling anonymity of recipients family and deliver the hampers to ensure the . Last year, a second program was launched. Suit Up! Working with Edmonto addresses back-to-s n gave the identified childrenPublic Schools and Old Navy South Edmonto chool clothing needs. n Common gift cards , GEOMEER and arranged for two hours pick their own clothes. of shopping so the kids could Overall, in the past two goal is to try and overcomeyears, GEOMEER has raised approximately $250,000. “The foundatio the n Sameer still runs GEOMEE band-aid solution,” Sameer says. R and has a large team of running the foundatio behind him. He does n and being a student at the University of Alberta concede that the task times. He is working toward has becoming been difficult an investmen at Management Corporati t banker and interned on—AIMCo—for a few with another managem months, before spending at Alberta Investment ent corporation. In typical the walk the day before he “Sameer style”, he participatsummer in Toronto left. ed in a fundraisin g In June 2011, he was named one of Canada’s recognizes young people Top who have demonstrated 20 Under 20, a national competition that achievement. a significant level of innovatio n, leadership and

Inspirational student, foundat

ion founder

While admitting, “It makes me feel great for the recognized,” Sameer is adamant that GEOMEE work being R’s co-founder be given credit for his role. “George has Sameer humbly focuses always been a big part of the initiative.” on what he can give back on what he gains from and rarely being foundation. “It’s fulfilling part of what is now an Alberta-wide to see the impact of what does, and know that I GEOMEER have the ground up.” He has seen this organization being built from mobilized a dedicated team that has connected schools, clubs, businesses and communi work together on projects ty leagues to with a common goal. “Because community matters” is the motto of the foundation, and Sameer plans to continue to be for that reason. √ very involved

~ Erin Cripps-Woods

Photo by Tracy Kolenchu



the Canadian healthcare market was not a good one for our technology to be introduced into, and that’s just based upon the way things are funded here in Canada. We are flat on our faces trying to figure out our next move, right. I believe we’ve found our initial market in the United States because the market fundamentals…are far more conducive to innovation or adopting innovation.” In fact, just days after winning the VenturePrize, Senassure moved its operations to Maryland for six months to work on further refining the incontinence sensor patch. Getting involved with TEC Edmonton helped the young company focus. “TEC Edmonton has been a great supporter and resource for Senassure… making introductions, and providing us with a host of different advisory services. I think it was a really worthwhile experience, not just because we have nice big fat cheque there, but because we took a step back, thought about where we are really going to be in five years. As a start-up, things change day-to-day. So it’s good to take the time out and think about what the future is going to hold.” The $100,000 prize package gives Sensassure some cash and various services to help attract investors and take those crucial steps toward commercialization. √

Jan Kowalczewski—2011


o tell you the truth, being called a Sizzler was a bit of a surprise. It was very nice.” In the four years since Jan Kowalczewski, PhD, was named by Edmontonians as one of its Sizzling Twenty under 30, he has continued on the amazing trajectory he set for himself as a researcher, inventor and entrepreneur. Jan is currently a researcher in the lab of Arthur Prochazka in the Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta where he focuses on biomedical engineering and neuroscience. EDMONTONIANS FALL 2015

While there, Jessica won two of the largest ReJoyce is among his early successes. The of the Sizzling Twenty under 30 in 2013, awards at the conference. Rehabilitation Joystick for Computerized she had already distinguished herself as the One was the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Exercise is a a high-tech medical device best top high school student in Edmonton. She Award for her oral presentation on the use of described as a smaller version of the spacecontinues her extra-curricular work as coaged “Canada Arm”. It is founder and co-president 2-Methoxyestradiol (2ME2) as a hormonal based therapy in cardiac surgery to promote used to help patients of Be Your Own Kind immune-modulatory effects for transplantation. of Beautiful. Since of stroke, brain or The second award was for an essay she wrote spinal cord injury organizing a mental on Sir William Osler, an historic Canadian health conference on regain use of their physician who is often referred to as the bullying and selfhand, arm and shoulder father of modern medicine, and is known for esteem, her group has function. what Jessica calls his humanism. The 21-year hosted a fashion show As Jan recounts, old is working with a new method to repair to raise awareness of “The ReJoyce became and improve otherwise unusable organs for eating disorders and a successful medical transplant. promote the message device and it is now “I linked ex-vivo organ profusion to the of Be(You)tiful, along used worldwide for humanistic ideals that Sir William Osler with establishing a neuro-rehabilitation.” s itie bil ssi po A mouthful of encourages in that you treat the patient, not the bursary to promote He did receive a JAN KOWALCZEWSKI disease. In ex-vivo organ profusion, you are these efforts in other full patent on another tailoring your treatment to two people, because invention, the Zip countries. you can modulate things on Cuff, but that has that organ ex-vivo to tailor it to yet to be marketed. the patient. So you are looking Funding for the full at both the recipient as well as commercialization the donor in trying to improve of the implantable that match.” device appears to be Jessica has her sights set the stumbling block on being a research scientist. there. When another project called HealUp A pivotal “I’m hoping to go into cardiac proved inconclusive in trials, Jan set it aside moment in JESSICA GY LUC surgery and do my PhD during and transferred its tools for use in medical Jessica’s life residency. and start up my own education. came between lab so that I can do both research But ever the inventor, Jan’s ideas keep Grades 11 and That’s coming. “Since the Sizzlers award, I T H E P E12 sheA L I T Y O F B U S I N E S S I N T H E and R when SON C surgery. A P I TA L RtheE plan G I right ON now.” launched a successful ski company via worked for Jessica acknowledges the Kickstarter based on some of the ideas I several weeks people who have helped guide had in medical device manufacturing. The in a research her through her training. “It’s company is called Templarskis. I also lab at the a lot of mentors along the way. filed for protection of a new idea using University They all have something to add graphene to help ski racers go faster with a of Alberta Attention: as part of Date: and they are really devoted to local company called Graphene Leaders your success. Seek themin: out and Canada. We will be launching a new the Heritage Fax: To Appear learn as much as you can from product this up-and-coming ski season.” Youth them.” √ Along with his research career, Jan splits Research Student program, sponsored by Date Purchased: his time between the ski company and Alberta Innovates Health Solutions. helping a pharmaceutical start-up get into “That was the game-changer, the turning Cheryl Croucher hosts Innovation Anthology Canada. point, because back then had I no clue which is broadcast on CKUA Radio at 7:56 am Jan credits his drive and success to a what research was and I didn’t know what Tuesdays and Thursdays with rebroadcasts on strong work ethic, passion and a bit of luck. university was like. I just had a passion for the weekends. Download the podcasts at www. He was named a finalist for the Ernest C. science. I applied and I got a position, and I innovationanthology.com and follow Cheryl Manning Innovation Foundation Awards was matched to a wonderful mentor. She’s in on Twitter @CherylCroucher. Listen as well to in 2014 and was introduced to the Alberta obstetrics and gynecology with a mix of heart CKUA Radio for Aboriginal Pathways. Legislature that spring. research. And that’s where I got my passion In mentoring young people, Jan offers for research on the this bit of wisdom. “The first bit of advice heart.” I tell a young inventor is to learn to hone Now four years into the skill and their environment, both mental her academic career, and physical… and to find enjoyment in Jessica continues to the process, as my belief is that most of add to her long list your work is overcoming your past failures. of accomplishments. And, most importantly, it is key to learn to She has moved from question everything others tell you.” √ chemistry into medicine where she is already distinguishing herself as Jessica Gy Luc—2014 a researcher. This past essica Gy Luc is one of those rare spring, she and another individuals who comes at life with the medical student won energy of a house on fire. Nothing is Badlands: Mile Zero Dance trips to the National going to stop this incredible young Student Research woman from achieving whatever it is she sets her mind to... yet she does so with grace and a Forum in Galveston, Texas to represent the very positive attitude. University of Alberta. When Jessica was first recognized as one

A cut above


designed to aid ReJoyce is a joystick t’s his flagship product: g mobility. Dr. Jan arm damage in regainin patients with hand and excited about its success. r so a patient can Kowalczewski, 29, is it works with a compute It is impressive in that Users don’t even a game through the device. actually interact with effort they put in is more the it’s fun. But, in reality, they can do that at home, . think of it as rehab, because a physical therapist. “And explains helpful than having just this field has been extremely lacking,” Jan the in that g ” so they could develop which is somethin Antoni, to “drop his ventures He convinced his brother, es. tests and computer games themselv able to do a whole bunch of hand function plays “The idea is that we are collects data while a patientmore The program actually need device.” areas this what on s exercise s to analyze reports for the therapist the game, and creates k Photo by Tracy Kolenchu work.

Neuro-rehabilitatioN? r

Neuroscientist, invento

of “There’s a whole body designed to aid in rehab. means the games are well as best as we can.” this device,” admits Jan. plasticity specific disorders,” which really passionate about he happily announces, and sort of induce that “We’re training for very the world right now. “I’m to trick the brain to adapt in 2009. After a long wait, literature on how best ReJoyce devices in clinical trials all around and to try is VP of clinical studies, of his PhD which he received There are about 40 emed.com where Jan which works in collaboration with the ReJoyce was a part Hometel 2004; in through patent the It’s available r Solutions Inc. He applied for this device commercially.” gy officer at Angeltea “We’re just launching tation Hospital. He is also chief technolo points out they can often cuffs out there,” but hean hour to around five out at Glenrose Rehabili and development. a whole bunch of nerve half Rehabtronics in research pending on a Zip Nerve Cuff. “There’snerve cuff.” It changed implant rates from As well, Jan has a patent “I sort of invented a zip tie... but for a years before it’s available. including aid. thought he would enter, another few cause more injury than jurisdiction, it will be him to places he neverAngeltear developing the ReJoyce and and taken testing have of ent n at developm minutes. Because research, and downtow ion research and product Jan’s neuro-rehabilitattime at the University of Alberta, conducting it and some really bad ideas make he is enjoying marketing. He splits his breaks my heart. Some admits really Jan it used, ideas.” devices. get ng business doesn’t other stimulati is if they’re really good come up with and that make it in society now “Any research that people with cerebral the only way they really it to be used with children really good ideas don’t...side of things. there’s a huge push for but injury, business cord the in is dabbling ation applications. used with stroke and spinal who has a similar issue,” the device to other rehabilit problem for everyone The ReJoyce was initially to expanding the use of can potentially solve the palsy. Jan is committed one person’s problem… and then you ~ Carrie Robinson “When you have solved √ Jan. motivation enough for


n 2012, Jessica GY Luc—t he

top Grade 12 graduating from Edmonto Mental Health Research n Public Schools—entered student Symposium at the Universi of Medicine Program that is focusing on eating at the University of Alberta. the Doctor disorders, bullying and ty of Alberta she has received more Since then, illnesses.” Papers and other related mental than a dozen scholarsh speeches presented at thousands of dollars, as ips worth tens of the symposium are being compiled into a book, well titled Eating Disorder: further illustrate, her Sizzler as awards too numerous to mention—to A New Perspective, and a documentary is being nomination was a whoppin filmed for distribution long! g seven pages free to local schools as preventative tools. By any measure of assessme Like her scholarships, nt, Jessica is a remarkab her involvements with young woman. She is le 20-year old not-for-profit not only interested in healing organizations are too numerou determined to heal social physical ills, she is children through Big Brothers s to list here but include mentoring ones as well. After being awarded a Big Sisters Boys and Canada; and founding prestigious stipend through a Youth Action Crew which, Girls Club of Youth Research Summer activities, hosted a Battle Program, Jessica’s project the Heritage among other against of Cardiac Surgery led in the department YESS. As executive vice-pres Youth Homelessness benefit concert for to her on abstracts she presented receiving first authorships ident of the Heart and Stroke Foundation at the Student Canadian Associat Society ion, Transplantation, the Internatio she helped of Wellness Initiative Conferenorganize the first High School and Lung Transplantation, nal Society of Heart ce, awareness about cardiova a one-day conference to raise Congress. She is currently and the World Transplant scular illnesses and fostering writing her heart-hea first a authored lthy lifestyle at a young research paper for submissi age. on to the Journal of Immunology. “It is my dream to contribute to the scientific community and, part of a series of stepping by doing so, I may be discovery that can change stones towards a major Medical student... researc individuals in the global the lives of many her... advoca te commun In addition to being a medical ity.” “My actions in the commun Jessica is a pharmacy technicia student, ity are aimed to target n-inmy goal: to improve the training, assisting health access care care which all-encompasses and quality of health in compounding, packagin professionals the improvement of the well-being of individua pharmaceutical products g and labelling ls. My . As well, she is the activities are geared towardsvolunteer and leadership CEO and founder of Luc the improvement in Web Design, education and commun managing four designers ity development, and my who create research in three labs in affordable websites. She three teaches are geared towards improvemdifferent fields piano at Dauk Music School, and ent in scientific development.” approximately 80 percent of her students have received Somehow, Jessica makes First Class soccer in the Indoor Women’time to play Honours—many with Distinction, Community League, and s Competitive like herself—in Royal Conservatory to be a member of the Varsity Rowing Team. of Music Practical and She does hip hop and Theoretical cultural dance. examinations. There is absolutely no As if she is not busy enough doubt that Jessica with her work and academic is determined to make a difference in s, Jessica devotes much of lives and attitudes. “I feel her time that my biggest to charitable and social accomplishment can be causes. summari She co-founded the Be words: breaking new ground. zed in three Your Own Kind of Beautifu “I dream of a society with l Student no stigma Association to raise awarenes against mental illness. I dream of a society s of the challenges some that endorses a healthy people body image so that face… and to create a no one feels the need to new conform to society’s definition of beauty: Be expectation of the size You 0 beauty standard. I (tiful). “As co-president dream of a society without this year, I initiated and hosted the of support for youth and child poverty… First Annual a heart-healthy/bodyhealthy world.” √ ~ Paula E. Kirman



ADVERTISING PRO A powerful force Photo by Burce Clarke



Tracy O’Camera Photography www.tracyocamera.com




Profile for Edmontonians Newsmagazine

Edmontonians Fall 15  

Edmontonians Fall 15