Speakers Corner

Keynote Speaker: Nick Noorani

Naeem ‘Nick’ Noorani is living the dream, literally. Dubbed a social entrepreneur and an immigrant advocate, Nick Noorani, author of Arrival Survival Canada and founder/publisher of the Canadian Immigrant magazine, takes his work to a higher level through extensive community involvement. 

A sought-after speaker and member of the Dominion Institute's speakers' bureau, his frank and humorous presentations bring in stories from his own immigrant journey as he discusses the importance of diversity in business and the successful integration of immigrants in Canada. Nick enjoys touring the country delivering his ‘Seven Success Secrets for Canadian immigrants’ talk and is a radio host with Radio Canada International (RCI) for the popular show for immigrants called The Link where he answers questions from potential and existing immigrants. Lastly, Nick has been speaking on ethnic marketing at several events and recently was invited by the Government of Canada to speak on this subject to their various Ministries. 


Dr. Sabine Lehr

Dr. Sabine Lehr is Immigrant Services Manager and Private Sponsorship of Refugees Manager at the Inter-Cultural Association of Greater Victoria. She also serves on the board of directors of the Victoria Coalition for Survivors of Torture, and is a member of the Executive of the Canadian Council for Refugees. Sabine is also Associate Faculty at Royal Roads University in Victoria where she teaches in the Global Leadership and Humanitarian Studies program.

Nicole Clark

Nicole Clark is a business and productivity coach whose passion is working with entrepreneurs to create the business of their dreams through implementing sound business plans and marketing strategies, shifting habits and routines, replacing limiting beliefs with empowering beliefs.

Nicole has been training, mentoring and coaching entrepreneurs for over 30 years. Currently, in addition to working with one-on-one with clients, she is also coordinating Community Future’s Self-Employment Program as well as acting as a Small Business Advisor to their clients.

Over the past several years she has helped a number of South Okanagan entrepreneurs get their start; helping them take their businesses from the “great idea” stage to “open for business”. In addition to supporting the creation and implementation of successful business plans, Nicole’s strengths are in the areas of Social Media, Overcoming Overwhelm, Time Management and the creation of Action Plans that allow entrepreneurs to get out of their own way and bridge the gap between their dreams and their reality.

Randy Manuel

Randy Manuel’s family has been in the Okanagan since 1906.  Randy is a local historian, writer and historic landscape artist.  Before retiring Randy was the Director of the City of Penticton Museum and Archives, and President of the Okanagan Historical Society. Randy was instrumental in establishing the S.S. Sicamous Restoration Society and the Kettle Valley Steam Railway.  He drove the acquisition of historical vessels including the S.S. Naramata, the CN#6 Tug, and the S.S. Okanagan Stern Salon.  Randy has been a key volunteer in our community, representing our region on the British Columbia Heritage Trust and the Lt. Governors BC 150 Celebration.  Randy has researched, recorded and surveyed the historic fur brigade trails of the Hope Princeton Mountains.  He is a former City of Penticton Councilor (2005-2008) and currently Randy sits as the Chair for the Okanagan School of the Arts.  

Sandra Hakanson

Sandra practices exclusively in the area of Canadian Immigration and Citizenship law.  She has significant experience assisting clients with a complete range of Canadian immigration services including: Temporary Residence, Permanent Residence, Business Immigration, Labour Market Impact Assessment, and Canadian Citizenship. She has experience at various levels of court, the Immigration Appeal Board and Judicial Reviews at the Federal Court level.

Sandra has extensive experience drafting and submitting successful applications with various programs such as Provincial immigration programs, Business Investors and Skilled Worker programs, and the Federal Sponsorship Programs.

She completed her Criminal Justice degree at the University of Fraser Valley and her Bachelor of Laws degree at the University of Manitoba. She was called to the British Columbia Bar in 2005 and has been practicing in the Okanagan since that time.

Practice Focus:

  • Canadian Immigration
  • Business Immigration
  • Canadian Citizenship

Shaunna Taylor, PhD, CCC

Dr. Shaunna Taylor is the Executive Director of PacificSport Okanagan, and she is committed to developing a healthy sport system in the Okanagan Valley. She is an Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia in the High Performance Coaching and Technical Leadership program, and is the Co-Chair of the Canadian Sport Psychology Association. Shaunna was formerly a coaching consultant at the Coaching Association of Canada, and she sits as a member of the SportMedBC High Performance Committee, and the International Paralympic Committee's (IPC) Women in Sport Committee. Shaunna has been consulting with coaches and athletes from grassroots to the Olympic/Paralympic level for over 18+ years, involved in athlete and integrated team support for over 6 Major Games cycles. Shaunna has a special interest in providing a holistic sport system that promotes gender equity, fair play, diversity and accessibility for all. Her volunteer interests include being the former Chair of KidSport Ottawa, and now a member of KidSport Kelowna, a charity that helps reduce financial barriers so all children may participate in organized sport. Her current research interests are projects pertaining to coaching athletes with a disability, promoting positive self image in sport, and adding to a sport landscape that empowers female athletes and leaders.  Shaunna earned her degrees in Health Sciences from the University of Ottawa, and is a certified clinical counsellor.

Marc Bowles, B.Ed, ChPC, CEC, PCC

Marc has held multiple roles in the BC sport system. For 8 years, he was an Athlete Development Advisor with the Canadian Sport Institute - Pacific, and he is currently an Associate Faculty of Royal Roads University, as well working with organizations in the area of leadership presence through a coach approach. In his role with CSI-Pacific Marc was the Lead, Performance Director for Team BC Canada Games, Western Canada Summer Games and BC Games from 2007 to 2013.  Marc is a Level 4/5 coach and a graduate of the National Coaching Institute (NCI) in Victoria. Over the last 37 years he has coached from the grassroots level to international level, building healthy sport programs. Marc is based in Penticton and has an undergraduate degree in Secondary Education from the University of Victoria, is a graduate from the Certified Executive Coach (CEC) program at Royal Roads University, and a graduate from the National Coaching Institute (NCI) through the University of Victoria and Coaching Sciences from the University of Alberta.


Russel Boris, Director of International Education, Okanagan College

Russel Boris is the Director of International Education at Okanagan College.  Boris has over 18 years of extensive experience in international education and institutional globalization. While at Medicine Hat College he led the creation and growth of the international division, which now accounts for approximately 15 per cent of the college’s overall student population. 

His background includes expertise in strategic recruitment and marketing as well as management. Boris has worked in more than 25 countries and has drawn students from approximately 50 countries.  Among his many accomplishments, Boris created and implemented a renowned English as a Second Language (ESL) program that has served more than 1,500 students. A former ESL instructor, Boris has a deep understanding of curriculum and programming.

Boris holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Jamestown College and is certified in leadership and development by Maricopa Community Colleges.


Debbie Cox President, James Laurence GroupSenior Advisor, Strategic Communications & Engagement

Debbie has extensive experience leading communications and engagement for complex multi-stakeholder projects in the public, private and non-profit sectors.

Building on a background in broadcast and print journalism, Debbie specializes in senior level coaching in the areas of strategic communications, community and stakeholder relationship building, issues management, consultation and facilitation. She provides communications and engagement support to business process change projects and develops and delivers workshops that build internal communications and engagement capacity.

Debbie has successfully engaged communities around some of the largest resource and infrastructure projects in Canada, and lead collaborative

processes to address significant health, social and environmental challenges. She is currently leading a Collective Impact process to address immigration challenges in BC’s South Okanagan and Similkameen region.

Committed to building shared value for industry, governments and communities, Debbie brings international best practices, leadership and innovation in the evolving areas of corporate social performance and corporate social responsibility.

Debbie is president of James Laurence Group, a leader in strategic communications, engagement and performance management services. 

Wendy Hyer

Wendy Hyer

Wendy Hyer over 29 years experience in the field of education in British Columbia, Canada.  She began her career as a classroom teacher, became a high school principal and, for the past seven years, has held the positon of Superintendent of Schools in School District No. 67 (Okanagan Skaha).  She has a Master Degree in Education Administration and has been a term instructor at Nicola Valley Institute of Technology, teaching a course titled “EDUC 260 – Innovative Teaching and Planning”.   


Hanif Ladha
Manager, Employer Relations
Immigrant Employment Council of BC

Hanif is the Manager, Employer Relations, and brings extensive experience in business development and stakeholder engagement. He has worked on multiple projects within the private sector, including with Fortune 500 companies, and brings a wealth of business experience as an owner-operator, a sales professional manager and as a leadership program facilitator. In 2006 Hanif received the Established Business of the Year award from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. A dedicated volunteer, Hanif engages members of the community to participate in social and educational programs, and he is a coach and mentor to immigrants in Canadian workplaces. Hanif is passionate about helping people reach their goals and create success stories.


Kim Lyster has had an extensive and successful career holding key leadership roles in the community social services sector for over 30 years including as the Executive Director of a large, multi-service non-profit organization in the South Okanagan region of BC.  Prior to that, Kim provided leadership in community development, training, and advocacy initiatives in the community living movement, where she remains active as both a writer and consultant.  Kim is the author of several publications, is respected for her innovative facilitation skills, and has extensive experience in program design, organizational reviews and evaluation, and community based planning and project delivery.  Kim has a Bachelor of Education from Simon Fraser University, and a Masters from the University of Victoria in the Studies in Policy and Practice program.  Her research focused on an examination of a sense of belonging.  Kim was given Honorary Membership in the Federation of Child & Family Services of BC for her leadership in that organization.  In addition to her consulting work, Kim contributes her expertise as the Vice President of the Community Foundation of the South Okanagan and on several provincial advisory committees as well as conducting surveys for CARF, an international accreditation body.

Lindsey Fraser

Lindsey is a Junior Planner for the City of Penticton, his hometown. After a decade away, Lindsey moved back to Penticton two years ago and put his education in Urban Planning to work with the Municipal Government. In his daily work, Lindsey manages rezoning and development permit applications; answers development-related questions from the public; and conducts research on a myriad of topics.