Top 40 Under Forty is presented by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and BDO.
These are 40 people in our community who are doing BIG things. They are thriving in business, entrepreneurship, arts, athletics or are striving to make our city and region a better place to live and work.
Have a look at our frequently asked questions!
2019-2020 Top 40 Under Forty
A belief that Lethbridge is a truly world-class destination, a place with entertainment, culture and an amazing climate. Returning to Lethbridge in late 2018, Mike has had the opportunity help re-engage Exhibition Park with the City of Lethbridge.
His main focus has been the EXolution development project and the creation of the StagEX Music Festival since arriving in Lethbridge. He believes that Southern Alberta is one of North America's best agricultural regions and as the largest agriculture society in the region; Exhibition Park has an obligation to showcase this, not just to the community and region, but to the world.
“As Lethbridge continues to grow, the importance of a world-class gathering place increases. The introduction of the StagEX Music Festival is just the first step in helping to establish Lethbridge as a marquee tourism destination.”
Growing up in Lethbridge and graduating from the University of Lethbridge allowed Mike to understand the unique sense of place that Lethbridge has.
After graduating with an MBA in Sport Management from San Diego State University, Mike returned to Canada and became the General Manager of Rexall Place for Northlands in Edmonton, AB. This experience with one of the oldest agricultural societies in Canada taught him about the importance these groups have in the community and the extensive economic impact they can produce.
During this time, Mike had the opportunity to work on and create some of the country's largest events, including Edmonton Oilers Hockey, the Canadian Finals Rodeo, the Davis Cup, not to mention countless marquee music events. In 2018, Mike returned to Lethbridge to work for Exhibition Park and has been tirelessly working to redefine how Exhibition Park serves the region.
“We’re uniquely positioned as an organization to showcase the agricultural production and processing sector, while providing entertainment, cultural and commercial opportunities for all of Southern Alberta and Canada.”
In 2018, Mike also founded Three-Sixty Leadership a predictive analytics firm focused on delivering quantitative results to the Sports and Entertainment industry.
Mike has been an active volunteer throughout his career. His passion and understanding of the importance of organized sports lead him to his current role as Vice-Chair of the KidSport Society of Alberta Board of Directors.
Additionally, the connection he feels to his alma mater, the University of Lethbridge lead him to join the University of Lethbridge Senate in 2019.
Leader, advocate, innovator, supporter and self-proclaimed closet artist. Those are all terms used to describe Katie-Jo Rabbit. She is all of these things and also passionate about enhancing the lives of Indigenous peoples in the City of Lethbridge.
Katie-Jo will support anything to do with employment and or education. She is also full of ideas that she has had implemented with various projects throughout the city. She likes to share ideas with others to develop the mandate of making Lethbridge a more inclusive and diverse place to work and live.
Katie-Jo is a strong Blackfoot woman who is living in a modern world while still upholding traditional Blackfoot values. She has been able to do this successfully while managing the only Indigenous Employment Center in Lethbridge.
After attending Kainai High School on the Blood Reserve, Katie-Jo attended Grant MacEwan College studying journalism, and the University of Calgary studying Adult Education Career and Academic Advising.
A duel citizen, Katie-Jo lived in Missoula, Montana where she attended University and was part of a non-invasive genetic study of the Grant Teton Bison herd in Yellow Stone National Park. This is where she reconnected to her understanding of why we need to maintain our relationship with the land and each other.
When she returned from school, she helped to develop and maintain the Wolf Crow Bison Ranch that is now fully functional on the Blood Tribe Reserve. This experience helped her to heal and decolonize her ideals and it reminded her of the self-sufficiency that her ancestors achieved. This is something that Katie-Jo tries to pass on to others in her work with the Lethbridge Urban Indigenous Community.
Katie-Jo is proud to have been involved with providing the Lethbridge Indigenous community with exciting and industry leading programs that enhanced the education and lives of participants.
She has performed Eve Ensler's Crooked Braid at the Lethbridge Fringe Festival, contributed to the Aboriginal Voices Column for the Lethbridge Journal, hosted a radio show of the same name on the CKXU 88.3 FM, hosted an Indigenous Arts Showcase at CASA and performed at a variety of different events as a Jingle Dress Dancer. These have all contributed to our community having a strong Indigenous voice. Katie-Jo has also traveled to various locations in Canada learning from other tribes and cities to bring back the lessons to the community of Lethbridge to implement the best practices.
Through her work with Saamis Aboriginal Employment & Training, Katie-Jo supports and sits on various committees that are doing some great work such as the Reconciliation Lethbridge Advisory Committee, LISN, Education, Employment Training Committee which she co-chaired. She is also the Indigenous Representative on the Economic Development Lethbridge Committee.
The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and BDO are proud to recognize Katie-Jo Rabbit as one of Lethbridge’s Top 40 Under Forty.
In early 2008 at the age of 23, Chris Cooke called up his good friend and said that there's more video work out in Alberta for him to handle and that they should start a company together. In fall of 2008, they incorporated Feature Productions.
Feature Productions started off doing primarily corporate work. As time went on, they slowly shifted towards live event production and that morphed into live sports production.
They are now a leader in Canada doing live video production and LED Screens for sporting events. Chris still makes nearly 100% of all of the sales calls and client relations meetings while his partner Steve manages much of the event logistics.
Chris directs many of the events that Feature Productions produce and is active in making sure each event is a success. As any successful entrepreneur understands, you have to be always on all the time in the early years to see growth in your bottom line. That's what Chris has done and continues to do.
Chris has had the great opportunity to create relationships with the management and ownership at some very high profile organizations such as the Calgary Stampede, ENMAX Centre, Lethbridge Hurricanes & PBR Canada. These relationships have turned out to be exceptional clients that know and trust that when he promises something, he will ensure that he delivers it.
During high school in the small town of Swan River, MB a teacher introduced a course called Television Production while Chris was in grade 11. At that point, he fell in love with the industry and began making snowboard films with his friends as they pulled each other behind the snowmobile.
After high school, he did an internship at the Miracle Channel in Lethbridge and immediately afterward was hired. Chris worked at the Miracle channel until November of 2007 and went freelance for about 11 months before starting Feature Productions.
Feature Productions has grown every single year under the leadership of he and Steve Prankard. They were able to buy their own office a few years ago and have reached some significant revenue milestones in the last few years that have met and exceeded their goals.
Coming from a ranching background, it has always been Chris’ goal to land the Canadian Finals Rodeo production. In November of 2019, they have been hired to produce the CFR in Red Deer for the first time. Chris is excited to move into this new realm and look forward to continued growth and success.
Chris worked alongside the committee for the 2019 bid that tried to get the Canada Summer Games to Lethbridge. He is now part of the committee who will be helping to host the 2020 Alberta Summer Games opening ceremonies.
An exciting entrepreneur in our community, The Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and BDO are proud to recognize Chris Cooke as one of Lethbridge’s Top 40 Under Forty.
Heather Kerr believes in making a connection with employees. She credits AGI with creating an environment that puts people first, and because of this she is able to create relationships and contribute to a meaningful workplace.
Through combining ongoing professional development with her love of the Southern Alberta community, Heather is able to be a part of and help shape a workplace that genuinely cares for its employees. She loves being able to see people enjoy coming to work, and being part of what makes their day great.
From leaving thank you notes to having trivia days, Heather tries to make the work less mundane and more fun. She spends time on the manufacturing floor every day talking to employees. This keeps her connected to the pulse of the plant and keeps the lines of communication open.
Heather also manages the safety department and keeping open communication about how to keep people feeling safe and comfortable at work goes a long way in retaining employees.
A Lethbridge native, Heather was born here, went to school here, and did her post-secondary here. She completed the “2+2 program” with the Lethbridge College and University of Lethbridge, which gave her both a diploma and a bachelor’s degree.
Heather holds a bachelor's degree in management with a major in human resources an labour relations. She has worked in the human resources field in Lethbridge since graduation, and has been able to work with some wonderful people that have helped guide her on her journey.
A true passion for labour law, a love of people, an outgoing personality, and a strong desire to achieve the best all helped shape Heather into the person that she is today.
A volunteer with her son's hockey team through Lethbridge recreational hockey, Heather values youth sport. She has worked with with Kin Canada in the past, and has also helped fundraise for the Chinook Hospital NICU renovation.
A lifelong learner, Heather has studied lean manufacturing. Ongoing continuous improvement has been important in her personal and professional life, because she believes that just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean that's always how you have to do it!
Kyle Hussey has dedicated his life to helping others who are underrepresented and need a strong advocate in the community. This has varied in many different avenues from mental health, disability services, coaching and women’s sports within the last ten years.
In recent years his focus has been helping those with mental health problems and specifically those living with schizophrenia as I the Branch Manager of Lethbridge, Medicine Hat and Online Programs for the Schizophrenia Society of Alberta.
Kyle may have a long title, but his favorite part of the day is talking to those living with the illness and seeing how society, their peers and the community can help aid in life-changing recovery. He is also overjoyed that he can help people regardless of their income. He values that working at a non-for profit organization allows him to truly help anyone who walks in the door regardless of their background, faith, race or wallet size.
A childhood tragedy turned Kyle into the man that he is today. His teenage years were spent coping with depression and suicidal thoughts. However, he was saved by the kindness of others in the community. Through teachers, coaches, and therapists, Kyle was able to see positives in himself and his life. He wanted to share that feeling with others and at that point, knew that he wanted to spend his life helping people.
That journey began by attending the U of L leading towards education. In that program, the kids that seemed to fall through the cracks really stood out to Kyle and he wanted to do something more to help them. This caused him to change his major to psychology where he could learn more about behaviors and disabilities. During school, Kyle began work for a company that helped individuals with disabilities and this shaped the career path for his future.
Kyle helped to create, coach and direct Lethbridge’s women’s adult football team The Lethbridge Steel. During a two year period, he helped launch the program, win their first game and sat on the board of directors.
Kyle lives his life by the motto “Be a voice and help those in need”. In 2018, he was selected by the International Day of Disabilities (Alberta) to receive The Supporter award. This award is given to one individual from Lethbridge each year.
Community is important to Kyle. He feels that community is what saved his life and he wants to do everything that he can to give back. He has volunteered at events such as Canada day calibrations, target hunger, casino volunteering and even talked people down from suicide watch. He also continues to volunteer his time to help people in the community with resume and job prep skills.
Kyle feels that the most important way that he engages the community is by talking to the people that he sees every day, whether it be a stranger at the grocery store, a neighbor, friend or person down on their luck. He treats everyone with love, compassion and respect because we all need each other to succeed.
Amy Allred loves community. Her desire is to be able to create and build community through all that she does, the old-fashioned way, face to face. She believes that music is a great tool for this – whether it’s connecting people while on stage, encouraging them through online platforms or meeting new musicians at open mic nights.
She also loves to write songs and hopes that her story, told through songs, both the highs and lows will encourage and inspire other people. Music is a language that everyone speaks.
Southern Alberta has shaped who Amy is – the love of a simple life, the understanding of values and integrity and the tight-knit community – a great place to learn and grow in but she has also had the experience of living overseas.
At age 17, Amy moved to New Zealand for two years, working, learning and growing with Youth With A Mission. After that she moved to Australia for three years, where she studied music at Hillsong International Leadership College.
Amy’s personal story is one of great loss, the restoring power of friends and family and one that she hopes to use to show others that they too can rise above their circumstances. She is passionate about inspiring people to live in the moment, to truly value each day and to have some fun along the way.
In 2018, Amy was asked to open for George Canyon. She was also nominated for Fan’s Choice Award with the Alberta Country Music Association. She was a finalist at the Voice of the Big Valley Jamboree, the nation’s biggest country music festival.
These last few years have given Amy so many opportunities to be involved locally. One of the ways that she is able to be involved is by volunteering her time to local causes. She and her band volunteered for a number of events, including the Coaldale Demolition Derby hosted by Coaldale Kinsmen.
She has been involved with numerous charities including Teen Challenge Alberta & World Vision and has shared her love of music through community theatre. Choosing joy in life is a value that Amy holds dear, that she loves to share and hopes will bring a smile to someone’s life.
The one thing that is clear about Claire Lint, is that she is passionate for sharing movement with anyone who wants to learn.
She works with students of all ages and abilities, and strives to make dance accessible to everyone she works with. She strongly believes in the importance of developing foundation and technique while encouraging students to explore a variety of creative processes and understanding dance as an art form. She divides her time between dance instructor, choreographer, performer, arts administrator and is a proud mom of two young boys.
Claire is happy to call Lethbridge home and be a contributor to its vibrant arts community.
Claire Lint has been professionally trained in the ADAPT, RAD and Al Gilbert tap syllabi and has studied in Los Angeles, New York, Toronto and throughout Western Canada.
She is a graduate of the Canadian College of Performing Arts in Victoria, BC and upon completion of her post-secondary education worked on and off the stage in dance and theatre. While working as a performer, Claire found a passion for Arts Administration.
Keen to continue developing her skills, Claire has participated in a variety of programs to deepen her understanding of Arts Administration. In 2018, she completed the Board Leadership Lethbridge one day training and participated in the Business for the Arts- ArtsVest program with LSIDA. In June of this year she completed the RAFT program with the Rozsa Foundation and looks forward to continuing through their Arts Leadership programs.
In addition to developing herself as an Arts Administrator, Claire continues to pursue dance training opportunities to support her work as an instructor, choreographer and dancer.
Claire graduated from the Canadian College of Performing Arts in 2006 and quickly started working in theatre and dance. In 2008, she jumped at the opportunity to perform in Dawson City, Yukon working as a Can-Can Dancer at Diamond Tooth Gerties, Canadas first and longest running Casino. After several contracts up North, she was ready to set roots and decided to do so in her hometown of Lethbridge.
In 2013, Claire was accepted for a residency at Casa and developed three new works (Haptikos- Aspects of Touch) while mentoring four local dancers. This residency was the impetus to create an organization focused on pre-professional and professional dance in Lethbridge. In 2015, she co-founded the Lethbridge Society of Independent Dance Artists, with the goal to promote pre-professional/professional dance opportunities in Lethbridge.
She spent the next four years volunteering as Secretary for the board and the Allied Arts Council awarded Claire the the Young Artist Award for her efforts with LSIDA in 2016. Earlier this year, Claire launched her own dance studio Haptic Dance Arts, with the vision of Enriching Mind, Body and Spirit through Discipline, Technique and Performance.
Claire has the honor of working with hundreds of students each year. Her work as a dance instructor allows her to make an impact on students young and old.
Whether it’s to encourage or inspire, she takes great pride in the work that she does at both a professional and community based level. When Claire isn't busy teaching classes or choreographing for a musical or show, you can most likely find her busking at local art events and volunteering at art openings or with LSIDA.
She’s had several opportunities to mentor young up and coming performers and is always excited to take on new students eager to learn. Her experience sharing dance in Lethbridge has made a lasting impact and drives her to continue her work in this community.
Allan denBok has taken a very unique career path. After graduating from law school in 2015, unlike many young professionals who choose to work as employees in an established office, Allan went in a different direction.
In association with his two partners, in April of 2019 he took a leap into the establishment of his own business: Harvie denBok Pollock Law Office.
As a partner, Allan has worked to ensure that their office has focused on breaking the stereotypes of staid, traditional legal service, in favor of client-focused delivery where they see clients as unique individuals with individual needs.
Allan earned a Bachelor of Management, majoring in Finance, from the University of Lethbridge, prior to attending the Faculty of Law at the University of Calgary, where he earned his Juris Doctor.
While obtaining his Juris Doctor, Allan volunteered with Pro Bono Students Canada in the Civil Claims Duty Counsel and Master’s Amicus Curiae projects where he assisted in providing legal advice to self-represented litigants in Provincial Court and Master’s Chambers proceedings.
Following completion of his articles, he was called to the Law Society of Albert in June 2016. His entrepreneurial spirit was kindled as a result of growing up in his Dad's bakery, which inspired Allan to start his own business.
Allan is a former director of the Lethbridge Bar Association, and provides various pro bono legal services to local charities. He also guest lectures at the Lethbridge College in the areas of contract and tort law in the Engineering Department.
Angela Suntjens is different because she is a one woman show. She owns and operates Dryland Custom Fabrication completely on her own. Angela is a trained fabricator and welder but also an accomplished metal artist.
All of Angela’s work is done freehand, she does not use any sort of computer aided cutting in any of her work which means that her work is not only original, it is completely 100% handmade and custom.
Giving back to the community is important to Angela. She works to make sure all of her material is locally sourced and that the local community is the first to benefit from anything Dryland can offer or help with.
Raised on a farm in central Alberta, Angela has been welding for almost as long as she can recall. She attended Lethbridge College to become a trained welder, after which she worked building trailers.
Angela later returned to Lethbridge College and earned a diploma in Sociology. She moved on to the University of Lethbridge where she earned a dual Bachelor of Applied Science majoring in Philosophy and Psychology in only three years. After earning her BASc, Angela began working on her Masters. Angela turned down a PhD position to stay in Lethbridge and open Dryland Custom Fabrication.
Angela volunteers her time and resources to help those who are temporarily left without the means to provide for themselves. She has donated several pieces to local auctions, and supports the woman’s shelter as well as the food bank. She also offers repair services free of charge to at risk individuals.
Katie Bruce grew up in the small town of Cayley, located between Calgary and Lethbridge just off of the No.2 highway. Her love of all things art started at a very young age, encouraged by her parents and extended family.
She spent ample time outdoors and tucked away in libraries, exploring both the real world as well as the imaginary ones held in countless books. She believes that this instilled in her a real sense of wonder and the ability to look at the lives of those around her with empathetic, accepting eyes.
In 2011, Katie graduated from the University of Lethbridge with a Bachelor’s degree in Studio Art, and went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Fine Arts at York University two years later, graduating in 2015. Following a month long residency at Casa in 2016, it became evident to her that Lethbridge was where her heart wanted to be.
Since moving back to Lethbridge, she has continued to be an advocate for the arts and accessible education to those in the community, teaching courses at the University of Lethbridge and Casa alike, now working as the Education Services Manager for the Allied Arts Council.
In 2014, Katie was awarded a research grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada for her work on empathy within her research-based practice. The Schulich School of Business purchased a piece of Katie’s in 2015 which is now on permanent display in their downtown Toronto campus.
In 2017, she attended A Handmade Assembly in Sackville, New Brunswick, and presented a paper on the importance of intentional consideration for the world around us. Katie has been awarded a residency at St. Michael’s Printshop in St. John’s Newfoundland, which was funded in part by the Canada Council of the Arts. Her work has also been supported by the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.
Her most heartfelt personal achievements though have come from teaching in Lethbridge, where her love of art originally blossomed into a serious art-practice. Her students range in age from 6 to 65, and adapting her approach for each group has strengthened her ability to communicate as well as empathize; something the world can always use a little more of.
Whether speaking in New Brunswick or California, Katie makes a concerted effort to boost the presence of Lethbridge to a broader audience; actively engaging in changing the perceptions or stereotypes of southern Alberta.
By speaking directly to the opportunities that Lethbridge has afforded her -- an amazing education from giving professors; affordable studio spaces and facilities; residency opportunities; galleries exhibiting international artists -- she is a vocal advocate for the community she feels fortunate to call home.
In her work at the Allied Arts Council, she has found herself searching for ways in which to make art more accessible to everyone, regardless of limitations they may encounter elsewhere. Teaming up with her colleagues, she is actively searching for funding to bring wheel-chair accessible stations to the clay classroom -- making sure that all students can experience the joy of throwing clay forms on a wheel, without physical discomfort.
Following this, she has also made changes to the Child Bursary (an existing Allied Arts Council program) to ensure that children’s classes are financially more accessible. In doing so, her hope is to remove barriers that would prevent young artists from following their path further into the arts.
The fundamental belief behind Katie’s drive to provide connective moments boils down to acknowledging that the simple act of sharing can soften our exteriors and open us up to new perspectives.
Chris DeLisle grew up in the Crowsnest Pass and traveled to Lethbridge regularly. When he did, he was always intrigued by the wind turbines – even at a young age. To be working in the renewable energy industry now is a cool reflection on the past for Chris.
Chris has an infectious passion for the wind energy industry. He is committed to enhancing the future of green energy in Alberta and around the globe. As the chair of Renewable Energy at Lethbridge College and an instructor in the Wind Turbine Technician program, Chris is passionate about student success and providing the needed workforce for the wind industry. He cares about the student and is often following up with alumni to let them know of opportunities. He has been a very strong advocate within the wind industry.
After graduating from Crowsnest Consolidated High School, Chris attended Lethbridge College, where he graduated from the Electrician Apprenticeship program.
He became a Master Electrician working in all areas of the trade before joining a wind turbine company as a wind turbine technician. Throughout his electrical career, Chris always had a passion for teaching people new things and helping them achieve their goals and when he saw an opening at Lethbridge College, he thought it would be a natural fit for him.
Chris has spent the last seven years teaching the newest generation of wind turbine technicians. He loves teaching. While teaching is his passion, Chris also had the opportunity to move into the administrative side of education, being promoted to program Chair where he is able to advocate for his program and fight for its students.
Shortly after he began teaching at Lethbridge College, Chris won a teaching excellence award. He has become a recognized expert voice in his field and is frequently asked to speak with media from across Canada – and beyond – about renewable energy and wind turbines.
As a new immigrant from the hills of Nepal who has worked internationally, Ram Khanal brings a unique global experience to Lethbridge.
Though he was born in Nepal, he spent many years of his life working on cruise ships, experiencing the wider world. This experience taught him how wonderful cultural differences are, while also showing him that no matter how different we seem, our similarities are what make us human.
Since settling here in Southern Alberta, Ram has fallen in love with his new home. But, for him, that doesn’t mean sitting back and enjoying the beauty of the people and the region. Instead, he wants to be part of the energy that moves our city and region forward.
Ram has shown this vision for excellence through his renovation of the Picture Butte Hotel. He worked with many in the community to create a new space that fits the needs of people in Picture Butte, while simultaneously bringing in new and exciting food and maintaining the rich history of the hotel. Recently, Ram took over the Water Tower Grill in Lethbridge’s iconic Water Tower.
As a child, Ram’s family was not well off, which meant he had to walk one hour, down into a valley and up the other side, every day to go to school. Though he hated it at the time, this is where the dedication and resolve to be the first person in his family to go to post-secondary started.
Though he was from a poor, rural area Ram knew he wanted to do more than just farm. So, he worked hard at school, studying Sanskrit as his major in High School, which allowed him to pursue his dreams by going to Indira Gandhi Open University in New Delhi.
Ram started his post-secondary studies with a Bachelor in Tourism Studies, before moving on to pursue a Masters in Business Administration, specializing in Oil and Gas, at Amity University in New Delhi. After graduating, he had the opportunity to work on a cruise ship, which introduced him to the varied nationalities of the world.
Over the course of his career on cruise ships, Ram worked with people from over 40 nationalities, visited 30 different countries, and learned four languages. By working with people from all over the globe, visiting so many countries, Ram learned a great deal about our differences and our similarities. When working cruise, he encountered people from all walks of life and their experiences have shaped his life.
As a business owner, Ram feels that it is important to give back to the community. In that spirit, he is involved in a number of charitable organizations and gives donations through his businesses. He supports local little league teams and participates in as many events as he can in the community.
But, he believes that supporting the community is about more than just charity. From the ingredients his restaurants use in their dishes to the cultural events they host, it is Ram’s desire to see his restaurants sustain the vibrant culture and economy of Southern Alberta while pushing the area to go further and explore new cultures and new ways forward. There is also still a part of Ram’s heart back in Nepal, where much of his family still lives. With that in mind, he has partnered with a volunteer organization called “Helpage Nepal’’ to support the aged population in Nepal, who are in dire need.
James Dempsey has the unique opportunity within his business at The Master Plan Wealth Management to hone and blend two distinct skill sets. First, his “hard” skill set includes financial analysis, market and product research in an efficient and proficient manner. Next, he uses those hard skills in an empathetic, compassionate, and integral way.
He has learned that in order for people to open up about their financial circumstances, James must first build a relationship based on mutual trust and respect. He would truly do anything for his clients and goes to the greatest extent for them while acting in their best interest.
James feels that if his clients succeed, he succeeds, however, his business will only ever grown if his clients truly understand that are at the root of all that he does.
James went to Briercrest College and SAIT where he studied Business Administration and Finance. He has a Diploma in Financial Planning and is in the final stages of achieving a Certified Financial Planning designation.
After five years as a Financial Advisor, James owes his industry experience and approach to business to his father, Rick Dempsey. He is a man of integrity and truly has a 'client first' attitude. Through James’ childhood and time at college he played volleyball. During that time, he was a member of some great teams. He feels fortunate to have very talented teammates and coaches who have been an integral part of shaping who he is.
In his free time James helps coach high school and club volleyball. He loves to share his time and talents to empower the next generation. James feels that he wouldn’t be where he is without the role models he has had, so when he can, James wants to support the next generations of athletes.
From a young age, Hailey Babb has demonstrated thoughtful, consistent leadership and strives to give back to her community in meaningful ways. She is highly service-oriented, knowing that her achievements will greatly impact on the lives of others.
She draws greatly upon personal experience to inform her advocacy and has a leadership style that empowers others to claim their space at decision making tables.
Hailey is deeply dedicated to breaking down systemic barriers for youth and women in both higher education as well as the political system. Hailey is a vocal advocate for Open Education, commonly defined as the philosophy that everyone in the world should have access to high-quality educational experiences and resources.
On campus and abroad, Hailey has pushed for the adoption of Open Educational Resources (openly-licensed learning materials that are high-quality and free to use) as an alternative to expensive traditional textbooks. She is currently Open Education Coordinator at Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) North America. She was a contributing author to their comprehensive filing to the United States Department of Justice antitrust division to block the proposed merger between publishing giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill.
Hailey is a long-time resident of Lethbridge and graduate of Chinook High School. She later enrolled at the University of Lethbridge (UofL) from where she will soon hold her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Throughout this time, she was heavily involved in campus leadership, first serving two years as a Residence Assistant and earning the Residence Life Professional Award, presented annually to the top three leaders in the nearly 40 member cohort. She later went on to work as a new student mentor, and took her first step into the University of Lethbridge Students’ Union (ULSU) as a faculty representative and Vice-President Academic before being elected as student body President.
In this role, she served on the University’s Board of Governors, Senate, and lobbied as a member of two advocacy groups: the Council of Alberta University Students and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. Here, she advocated on behalf of over 300,000 students across the country at the Alberta Legislature and Parliament Hill.
Her advocacy was instrumental in the passing of the Government of Alberta’s Bill 19 in October 2018, widely regarded as the largest win for post-secondary students in over a decade with unanimous support across party lines.
During her tenure as Vice-President Academic with the ULSU, Hailey was the institutional lead for the inaugural #TextbookBrokeAB campaign, a provincial effort put forward by four of Alberta’s major institutions to promote Open Educational Resources and bring attention to the rising cost of educational materials to relevant policymakers.
As a direct result of this advocacy, Hailey has been invited to speak both nationally and internationally on the topic, most recently at the Creative Commons Global Summit in Lisbon, Portugal.
Hailey has been a champion of her community from a young age. Now, Hailey uses her platform to elevate those around her and frequently volunteers her time to various youth organizations. She hopes to continue to raise Lethbridge’s profile provincially, nationally, and internationally wherever she goes.
Brandon Boorsma co-founded DROP Structures after realizing that with a baby on the way he and his wife didn’t have enough space in their home.
After looking into additions and seeing costs quickly mount, they abandoned the idea and began to get creative. In that search for extra space, the idea for the first DROP Structure was born.
DROP Structures was self-funded and grown from scratch here in Lethbridge. Brandon is proud to say that they have successfully sold not only to the local market of Lethbridge but have had the pleasure of expanding the business to Vancouver, down the coast to California and across to the other side in New York.
They have built partnerships with other Lethbridge companies to expand the reach of both DROP Structures and other local companies to an international stage. Brandon loves problem solving and believes that characteristic has been one of the drivers in the creation of new products and new markets.
Born and raised in Lethbridge, Brandon earned a BASc from the University of Lethbridge in 2009. From there he worked in project management in the energy sector, managed and started a hand full of local restaurants and started DROP Structures.
Brandon is proud to have improved our community through creating good experiences, solving problem for people and creating jobs in a positive healthy environment.
Tanya Kellington is a mentor and coach for her team at Kenegdo Salon Spa as she guides them in the development of their careers. Tanya loves connecting with people and helping them grow.
At Kenegdo, Tanya has an education fund to support team members in staying up to date and being able to give customers the best service possible. To ensure consistency, every professional completes an advanced training program. Tanya gets a huge sense of fulfillment when she guides her team in achieving their goals for their business.
Tanya has built long lasting relationships with her clients. She doesn’t just consider them clients. Her connection to each of them goes beyond that. She takes time to learn the names of her clients’ children and spouse, and to learn about their lives on a personal level.
After attending a year of business school at Lethbridge College, Tanya chose to go straight into the hairstyling program at Marvel college and continue with the Esthetics program, which she finished in 2001. She started Kenegdo in 2011 and had multiple coaches each year for different areas of business, which Tanya credits with much of her success.
Recently, Tanya completed a Business Mastery program in Florida as well as advanced Business Mastery from the Tony Robbins 7 Forces of Business Mastery program.
In 2010, Tanya was recognized with the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce Young Entrepreneur Award at the Business of the Year Award gala. She has involved herself in the Lethbridge community through sponsorship of the Beautiful Inside Out Academy which works to empower young women through the development of leadership skills. Tanya also serves as a sponsor for the Women of Distinction Awards. She is also a proud supporter of Wood's Homes, Youth One, Children's Wish foundation and Kid's Sport.
Michael GaleGrowing up Michael Gale was diagnosed with a learning disability that made grade school extremely difficult. Learning did not come easily to him, and he struggled for many years in school.A small handful of people helped him to learn that leaning differently does not mean you are unintelligent.After many years in learning support classes, Michael graduated high school with honors and applied to the University of Lethbridge for the combined Bachelor of Science and Education degree.He wanted to give back to the profession that made such a difference in his life and help children that struggle like he did.In an effort to maintain lifelong learning Michael’s degree evolved into a Bachelor of Science streaming in Neuroscience, Biology, and Geography spanning nearly a decade. In his time in University he was on academic probation, was forced to drop out in order to have life changing spinal surgery, lost his home to a house fire, and lost his Father to cancer.Through all of these hardships he was able to earn his Bachelors degree, maintain positions in the Students Union for three consecutive terms, take active rolls in several University and community organizations, get hired by the University, and start his Masters Degree.After earning his degree, Michael was hired by the UofL as a Recruitment Officer which allowed him to travel all over Canada and share his experiences at the University. While working for the University, he was also elected to be on the Executive Committee for the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association to serve as the Treasurer for a two year term.During his Masters program, Michael has had the opportunity to work with NASA doing a Metabolomic Analysis on Astronut’s biofluids to determine the changes in their metabolome before, during, and after space travel. The goal will be to determine and monitor the Astronauts health and special nutritional requirements
Dominika Wojcik’s diverse experience allows her to solve problems better than most people. In her role as Assistant Manager of Conference and Event Services — though she humbly refers to herself as ‘Chaos Coordinator’ — her main responsibility is to facilitate the planning and coordinate the details of conferences held at the University of Lethbridge.
She strives to ensure that their guests enjoy a stress free experience from start to finish. This can look different every time; sometimes she is filling in at registration tables, other times she is running tablecloths, or grabbing coffee for speakers. She does whatever is needed to ensure a successful event for her clients.
Dominika was closely involved with the successful rebranding of the University of Lethbridge Campus Hotel to the University of Lethbridge Lux Hotel.
In September 2019, Dominika embarked on a new adventure in addition to her role at the UofL, becoming co-owner of Organic Tan Lethbridge. She spent many years prior to event planning in the beauty industry, and has always dreamed of opening her own salon.
Dominika was born and raised in Lethbridge. She attended school here from kindergarten to grade 12, and then went on to complete a double diploma at Lethbridge College and Bachelor's Degree at the University of Lethbridge, majoring in Marketing with a minor in Social Responsibility.
She feels blessed to have had many remarkable men and women offer mentorship over her career. Beyond teaching her to be a savvy and optimistic businesswoman, the most valuable lesson she has come to understand is: success means something different to each of us.
Dominika has served on the YWCA Lethbridge & District board for over four years, and presently serves as Board Co-President. At her core, she believes in creating unquestionable equality for young people growing up in our community.
She loves what the YWCA stands for and the support it provides, particularly the enrichment of women’s lives.
Vicki PietrasAs the interior design lead at SONGER architecture inc., Vicki Pietras believes that well-designed interiors impact our lives in unperceived ways. Good design improves how well a space functions, and can improve both productivity and emotional response from those who occupy that space.Vicki enjoys the process of working with clients to ensure that the interiors reflect their personality while creating an efficient and comfortable environment. Working at a smaller firm gives her the opportunity to be involved in the entire design process – from initial client engagement and needs assessment right through to construction administration. She particularly enjoys working with not-for-profit groups to design efficient and cost-effective interiors.Recently, Vicki was the interior design lead for the Genevieve E. Yates Memorial Centre renewal. SONGER architecture inc. had the honour of updating this beloved building to improve its function while honouring the original 1960s design. Vickie found breathing new life into the iconic Lethbridge building to be incredibly rewarding.With a keen interest in nutrition, Vicki enrolled at Saskatchewan Institute of Applied Science and Technology in the Food & Nutrition Management program – earning her diploma in 2007. Following graduation, she worked as a nutritional consultant in Central Alberta.Although she loved the opportunity to work with clients, Vicki realized that she wasn’t honouring her innate creativity. She knew from a young age of redesigning rooms in our family home that interior design was her passion.In 2008 Vicki registered in the Interior Design Technician program at Lethbridge College – earning honours standing and a Professional Spirit Award. She gained invaluable, practical work experience in flooring and millwork after graduation that has helped to inform her designs. In 2013 she joined SONGER architecture inc. as the lead interior design technician.Committed to sustainability, Vicki studied for and obtained designation as a LEED Green Associate in 2015. With a desire to continue her education beyond college, she pursued her National Council for Interior Design Qualiﬁcation (NCIDQ) certiﬁcation. After extensive studying, work experience, and a series of grueling exams, she earned her certification in 2017 and is one of only three of NCIDQ holders in Lethbridge.