Chief Executive Officer
Living and working in Canada, the US, UK and Europe, Warren has served as a C-suite executive for publicly-traded companies, academic institutions and government-business enterprises.
Most recently, as Chief Executive Officer of Vancouver Economic Commission, she led the team in attracting $3B in foreign direct investment to the region, with a portfolio including the Vancouver Film Commission, the world’s largest animation and visual effects sector, smart cities technologies such as AI, 5G and quantum computing and the green and impact economies.
In more than two decades as a tech advisor, Warren’s track-record includes mergers and acquisitions for digital distribution and digital IP, raising capital and liquidity events for tech companies, consulting to national media funds, hedge funds, crowdfunds and coaching executives on strategic growth and monetization. Earlier in her career, she was the start-up COO of a broadcast software company that she and her partners took to the Nasdaq and grew to a $300M market cap.
Warren has a bachelor’s degree in physics from Reed College in Portland, Oregon, with a focus on climate change, and a master’s degree from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York, where she did her original thesis work onsite at MIT covering the launch of its digital Media Lab.
Kris Cotter, CPA, CMA
Director, Finance & Administration
Kris is responsible for providing leadership and direction for the Corporate services functions for the organization including Accounting and Finance, Human Resources, IT, and general administrative services, as well as providing strategic and business guidance to the organization. She oversees both an internal team and third-party partners to provide direction, vision, and overall accountability for their deliverables, and establishes innovative practices to improve the long-term and day-to-day value, quality, and effectiveness of business processes for the delivery of policies, programs, systems, and value-added services.
Kris is a mission-oriented, strategic leader with experience managing finance and operations in high-growth organizations and has spent the last several years providing CFO consulting services. She brings over 20 years of senior finance experience in both publicly traded and privately owned organizations spanning a diverse background of industries including private investment, specialized industrial services, industrial construction, and biotechnology. Her background includes extensive work in financial management and reporting, policy and procedure development, and IT management, and has had direct reporting responsibility of revenue volumes across North America from $2 million to $200 million. Kris completed her CPA (CMA) designation in 2002, and has volunteered extensively for the profession, first as an Evaluator in the Strategic Leadership Program for CMA Alberta, then with the CPA Western School of Business as an Evaluator for the Professional program. Kris is currently volunteering as a mentor in the CPA Alberta Professional Program.
Director, Marketing & Communication
Erin is responsible for building and executing marketing and communication strategies that align with the overall Innovate Edmonton business strategy, from branding and promotion to market intelligence and innovation placemaking. She oversees both an internal team and third-party partners to drive growth and awareness of Edmonton as a leading innovation capital.
Erin is a business strategist, with a drive to take on large organizational challenges. She has a track record of delivering exceptional results while focusing on strategic planning, client experience, research, marketing, brand, communications, sponsorships, fund development and product management. Her efforts have directly contributed to positive brand value and exceptional stakeholder experiences during her senior leadership and executive roles in the financial services, non-profit and charitable sectors.
In 2021, Erin completed the Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree from Royal Roads University, with a focus on leadership, culture, and communication. She also holds a Graduate Certificate in Values-Based Leadership and a Graduate Certificate in Professional Communication Management also from Royal Roads. She is a purpose-driven leader that connects with others through values to mobilize collective success.
Darrell Petras, PAg
Director, Community & Business Development
As the Director, Business & Community Development, Darrell works with individuals, start-ups, scale-ups, and the corporate sector to develop strategies and programs to support innovation-intensive entrepreneurship and bolster the commercialization of innovation arising from the Edmonton region.
Darrell is a business development and technology transfer leader with nearly two decades of experience facilitating the commercialization of innovation and managing innovation-based businesses. Much of his career has focused on realizing economic value from innovation generated by universities and private companies working in all facets of the agricultural, energy, IT, and health sectors. Commercial success includes partnerships related to energy distribution, communication technologies, newly registered plant varieties, clean technology, and animal health. Numerous closed commercial deals have generated a strong return on investment for stakeholders, including start-ups and multinational companies.
As a founder, business owner, and business coach with years of experience as a service provider focused on growing start-ups, Darrell has extensive knowledge of programs that accelerate the development of early and growth-stage companies. His background is complemented by years of not-for-profit and for-profit board experience working with technology companies and a small investment fund.
Barbara Engelbart McKenzie
Director, Strategic & Operational Growth
Barbara Engelbart McKenzie is a leader, entrepreneur and has held numerous executive roles at government, not for profit and for profit organizations. She is also in business with her husband in their venture, DB McKenzie,a visual and spatial data company that utilizes unmanned vehicles to provide data imaging services in remote locations.
Barbara’s experience is a senior leader in a corporate, not for profit and government roles in leadership and organizational transformation, strategy, human resources, finance, marketing, communications, fund development and business development. She has an EMBA from Qunatice School of Business and Technology, a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Alberta School of Business, as well as a diploma in marketing from NAIT and several designations in project management, communications, and economic development.
Barbara has won awards for her work in marketing, communications, economic development and project development. She has done numerous speaking engagements. She currently sits on the boards of the Edmonton Regional Innovation Network and the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton.
Head of Accelerate Edmonton
Dawn Newton is a business leader and community builder with twenty years of business experience in project management, stakeholder engagement, and public affairs.
Dawn recently worked with CN Rail as Executive Director to build a new CN Community Board program to involve diverse community leaders across Canada in CN’s community outreach. Previously she worked with TELUS Communications as Senior Regional Market Manager in Edmonton for the launch of a $1B infrastructure project to connect homes and businesses directly to the TELUS fibre optic network. Her experience at TELUS also included working as Senior Manager of Community Affairs leading diverse community outreach initiatives. Prior to moving to Edmonton in 2008, Dawn worked in Calgary and Ottawa consulting with Global Public Affairs providing strategic advice on communications strategies and government relations for a wide range of clients.
Dawn is a passionate community builder. She is past chair of the Zebra Child Protection Centre, served on the board of the iHuman Youth Society, was a co-founder of the Ladies on the Green Golf Classic, and an inaugural member of the Women’s Advocacy Voice of Edmonton (WAVE) Committee reporting to City Council. Dawn believes in the power of mentorship and volunteers her time alongside other business leaders as a mentor with the Peter Lougheed Leadership College and has supported students with the NorQuest College Youth in Transitions Program. Her passion for community is shared with her family as she and her husband raise two children in Edmonton.
Head of Scaleup Edmonton
Chloe Chalmers is a committed community builder with over a decade of experience in the public sector. She thrives on creative problem solving and building consensus around complex ideas. Chloe’s educational background includes a Drama and Comparative Literature degree from the University of Alberta, a certificate in Arts and Cultural Management from MacEwan, and - in 2022 - she will have completed a Master’s degree focusing on the decolonization of sport through skateboarding (it’s a thing!). Chloe’s career began in the Arts sector where she worked for the Fringe, the Citadel Theatre, and The Works Art & Design Festival. She comes to us directly from the U of A, where she launched two flagship portfolios for the Alumni Association as part of their leadership team. Chloe is the part owner and worst employee of Rumor Boardshop which just opened its second door in Edmonton’s Ritchie neighbourhood.
Government & Agency Liaison
Heather is responsible for developing positive intergovernmental relationships and communications, collaborating with internal stakeholders to align with, and inform on government policy, and monitor performance measures related to government funding. At Innovate Edmonton, the ability to engage, translate, and activate in the innovation ecosystem is based upon sustainability, ingenuity, and communication.
Well-known for her advocacy work with non-profits across Alberta, especially in the arts community Heather is an authentic leader, strategic communicator, and a published writer. Her focus through community connections has been on fundraising, governance, reputation management, and crisis communications. Elected as MLA for Edmonton Glenora from 2008 to 2015, she proudly served as a Minister the entire time with Service Alberta, Culture and Human Services.
A long-time volunteer, commitments include Director positions at Alberta Ballet, Varscona Theatre, Taste of Edmonton, and the Gene Zwozdesky Capital Campaign Cabinet. Heather is a Mentor at Peter Lougheed Leadership College with the University of Alberta and supports ParityYEG and AskHerYYC, through gender parity.
Heather holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Alberta. Early in her public service career she worked as a writer for Premier’s Peter Lougheed and Don Getty.
Relentlessly positive, a midnight gardener, and voracious reader, Heather constantly celebrates those little moments!
Shalon has extensive experience in technology commercialization, innovation, and technical communication. For over 8 years she has been assisting researchers, local entrepreneurs, and SMEs in the greater Edmonton region with their intellectual property and business development needs: everything from evaluating technologies for their patentability and commercial potential, formulating commercialization strategies, supporting grant applications, performing market intelligence research, and negotiating commercial agreements.
Shalon has a strong scientific research background; she obtained her BSc with a specialization in Physics in 2010 before completing her MSc in Experimental Condensed Matter Physics in 2012, both from the University of Alberta. Shalon enjoys spending time doing anything fitness-related, is a nationally ranked powerlifter and a very active volunteer for the Alberta Powerlifting Union.
Manager, Brand & Digital Presence
Shamelle has a hands-on role in developing the brand for our new organization and is responsible for leading the brand planning, curating the digital experience through website and social media channels, and launching our public image. As a marketing strategist, her efforts directly contribute to the brand experience for Innovate Edmonton and its programs and services, in support of Edmonton’s ecosystem. Shamelle stays informed on emerging digital media trends to build innovative, share-worthy campaigns, both online and offline.
Shamelle is a collaborator and seeks to understand organizational needs and actively identifies and tackles opportunities for greater success. She achieved her B.S. in Marketing and Public Relations as well as her M.Ed. in Human Relations from Northern Arizona University. She brings marketing and visual storytelling experience from various industries including financial services and the non-profit and charitable sector. Shamelle enjoys teaching spin classes, catching up with family and friends, and coaching young track and field athletes, a sport she competed in for over 15 years.
Manager, People & Culture
James is responsible for enhancing the staff experience by linking HR goals to business outcomes. He plays a hands-on and strategic role in handling the day-to-day HR functions and implements programs and processes to develop a high-performance team culture to drive operational excellence. As a trusted advisor and business-focused contributor within the organization, he liaises with a variety of stakeholders, including senior management and C-suite, to understand business needs and outcomes.
James is an organized and responsible professional who provides direction, oversight, and support to teams within challenging and dynamic work environments. He brings 9 years of Human Resource experience from various industries such as construction, industrial manufacturing, retail, and automotive. He achieved his Bachelor of Science from UBCo and is a member of CPHR, as well as received “Crucial Conversation” training from Vitalsmarts.
Jaime is responsible for maintaining day to day accounting functions and ensuring both internal and external compliance is achieved. She assists in implementing internal controls and accounting policies, and performs additional analysis and reporting to help Innovate Edmonton make decisions and continue to grow.
Jaime graduated from NAIT in 2016 with a Bachelor of Business Administration. She went on to earn her CPA designation while working at a midsize accounting firm. During her 5 years in public accounting, she gained experience working with clients in a wide range of industries such as construction, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, hospitality, and professional service organizations. She prides herself on her ability to build strong relationships with clients and colleagues and looks forward to her future with Innovate Edmonton.
Nevin is the voice behind Startup Edmonton’s social media presence. He ensures our platforms are relevant, up-to-date and of course, witty. Nevin holds a Business Management degree from NAIT, with a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Before working at Startup, he combined his two passions — entrepreneurship and weather forecasting — to create a subscription service for custom forecasting. Nevin sits on NAIT’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation committee, which is tasked with giving feedback and insight on the program. He also teaches the Grade 5 weather unit at schools in and around Edmonton. When he's not tweeting, Nevin is chasing storms across the Canadian Prairies as part of the Prairie Storm Chasers (where he handles the social media.) In the winter, he enjoys skiing and curling. Ask Nevin about: Twitter, weather & forecasting, supercells, curling.
Marketing & Communications Specialist
Cory supports marketing, content, and digital activities that align with the marketing and communication strategies of Innovate Edmonton. From web content to video, he helps with the storytelling of local innovators. He holds a Radio and Television diploma from NAIT. Cory previously worked as the full-time videographer with Edmonton’s Food Bank. His endless curiosity has exposed him to esports, social media, and podcasting opportunities with organizations including the Alberta Esports Association, Digital Alberta, and LitFest Alberta. When not at work, Cory can be found binging new TV shows on the many different streaming services, listening to a new vinyl, or playing video games. Ask Cory about: Star Wars, Apple, and his growing vinyl collection.
Seanna Baxter is a meticulous, task-driven administrative professional with over a decade of experience. In her role at Innovate Edmonton, Seanna has the unique privilege to work closely with the Directors providing administrative assistance. Seanna supports the day-to-day administrative, financial, and operational functions by working collaboratively with management. Seanna keeps an open channel of communication within and between departments. She also provides technical and logistical support to special projects and brings a ‘can-do’ attitude to her job.
Before joining the team at Innovate Edmonton Seanna has provided high-level administrative support in the Edmonton region. Seanna believes an administrative profession must model diplomacy, adaptability, and professionalism as a trusted partner to senior executives. Seanna has managed fast-changing schedules, coordinated travel logistics, created professional correspondence, planned events, and handled sensitive information with a high level of confidentiality. Seanna is upbeat, energetic, and highly motivated. Seanna’s hobbies include cooking, gardening, and camping.
Adrienne is a high-performing, results-driven Executive Assistant with over 20 years’ experience in supporting C-Suite executives. She is known for quickly grasping complex concepts while working in fast-paced environments to seamlessly and effortlessly insert herself into any project to deliver results. She is not afraid to color outside of the lines and is always ready for a new challenge.
Adrienne is passionate about new startups and admits that Dragons’ Den is one of her favorite tv shows.
In her free time, she enjoys travelling, music, shopping at local boutiques and markets, movies and fashion.
Head of Startup Edmonton
Christian is responsible for the leadership of Startup Edmonton initiatives by contributing to the development and growth of the startup community and fostering the growth of tech-enabled companies in Edmonton. He has a passion for the city's vibrant startup and innovation community and is driven to build bridges between the community and industry by fostering a culture that grounds itself in the strength of diversity and inclusivity.
Christian brings with him 10 years of experience working in healthcare varying from front-line support to strategic leadership. Most recently, he has worked as the Corporate Lead of Executive Services at Covenant Health, ensuring the effective functioning of the Office of the CEO and the Senior Leadership Team, while also coordinating key strategic initiatives meant to create vibrant communities of health and healing. As well, Christian has a passion for academia developed through his experience as a technical writer in the Department of Engineering and a Lab Instructor in the School of Business at the University of Alberta.
Not afraid to think outside of the box and take on new and challenging opportunities, his favourite motto is “Building the Plane While Flying It”. Christian is a strategic leader whose greatest joy comes from helping others grow and succeed in their endeavours, be it personal or professional.
At the end of each day, you’ll find Christian taking care of his pets: a dog, a cat, and two snakes. A house isn’t a home without having a zoo of animals greet you at the door. You'll also find him dedicating his summers to floating down the North Saskatchewan river in his Kayak.
Lead Program Manager
Nathan brings over a decade of leadership experience in community development and the social profit sector. As an experienced program manager, Nathan has led various provincial and national initiatives in areas of mental health, youth engagement, and social equity. Since 2013, he has served as an elected school board trustee where he regularly collaborates with community stakeholders, elected officials and other orders of government to advance the interests of Edmonton students.
Nathan is passionate about social innovation and the intersection of business and community. He is excited to bring a community-focused lens to his role as Lead Program Manager and looks forward to supporting the local innovation ecosystem. He is an avid shower singer and can play a mean game of monopoly.
Skye Kihara is Startup Edmonton’s Community Coordinator who combines years of community building and passion into the work of building a community for Startup Edmonton members in the physical workspace and at external events. She actively leads community outreach to build awareness about what is happening in the Edmonton tech ecosystem and how people can access resources and support! She also acts as a point of contact for individuals looking to engage with the Startup Edmonton and broader tech/innovation community. She is passionate about global connectivity in the tech ecosystem and is excited to see the continual move toward a more integrated and diverse tech community.
As a program facilitator, Tristan helps deliver our curriculum in an engaging and passionate way. He brings 12 years of experience in facilitating adult learners, namely in a social work context. Most recently, he co-created an 18-week course that taught programming languages to unemployed students looking to find full-time employment in the tech industry. Tristan has managed various teams in both Canada and Australia, which specialized in creating out of the box programs for children with complex diagnosis. He also holds a diploma in Theatre. When not at work, Tristan can be found spending time with his family or enjoying a film. Ask Tristan about: Star Wars, Star Trek, Sci-Fi, TV & Film.
Allan loves kick-starting ideas — from dreams to programs. He brings experience in not-for-profit and cross-cultural educational leadership to Startup Edmonton, where he is responsible for delivering our curriculum in a dynamic and thoughtful way. Allan has experience leading workshops around the world and is excited to sit down with founders and establish their next steps. He is equally passionate about giving back to the community and has been involved in many humanitarian projects over the years. Currently, he teaches citizenship classes to help prepare immigrants to become Canadians. When Allan is not coaching basketball with his son, you will find him playing touch football or cheering on the Edmonton Football Team with his family. Ask Allan about: humanitarian work and issues, the world, geography, culture.
As the Program Coordinator, Anna ensures all of our programs run smoothly and plays an important role in the logistics of each of our workshops. You can catch Anna facilitating the occasional Business Model 101 workshop or book a Get Started meeting to learn how you can get a jump start on your idea. With a background in tourism, Anna joined the Startup Edmonton team in August 2020 and hasn't looked back. Since then, Anna has loved getting to know the startup ecosystem and meet the founders that make up this fun community. When not at work, Anna can be found in the mountains; hiking, rock & ice climbing, backcountry camping, and more.
Public Relations and Executive Advisor
Consultant - Keill & Company Inc.
Catherine Keill has more than 25 years of experience in strategic communications, public relations, government relations and policy development in private, public, and not-for-profit sectors.
Catherine has been at the helm of Keill & Company Inc. since 1999 and her client work spans across the strategic communications spectrum from speechwriting, to market lead for product launches, to change management and issue management, to government and media relations training. She has built Keill’s body of work based on her extensive experience.
Catherine is excited about the diversity of the work her clients bring to the Keill team, and she prides herself on her deep relationships she builds with clients through all her projects.
Stakeholder Engagement Advisor
Chris Henderson is Chief Strategist & a founding partner of Y Station Communications & Research. Having worked in strategic communications, planning, and stakeholder engagement & outreach in some form since 2004, Chris works with a talented team to connect and listen to diverse audiences in nearly every sector in Western Canada, with a focus on resolving complex challenges and building internal strategic capacity. Some of Chris’ recent work includes stakeholder engagement and authoring of Edmonton’s most recent 10 year cultural plan; connecting with Edmonton’s innovation community around its potential future directions; and the development of public engagement frameworks for new affordable housing initiatives.
Business Planning Strategic Advisor
Toby Lennox is providing strategic and business planning advice to Innovate Edmonton. Toby has a background in corporate law, strategic planning and was most recently the CEO of Toronto Global, the Toronto Region’s international investment attraction agency. Toby also recently received the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors of Canada.