Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur named one of B.C.’s best community projects

launch iocA collaborative program that helps Shuswap entrepreneurs launch their bright ideas received a boost of its own this month when it was named one of the top community projects in the province.

Launch-a-Preneur is a joint project hosted by Okanagan College, the College’s Enactus team, Community Futures Shuswap and the Salmon Arm Economic Development Society. The popular program provides support, resources and mentorship to assist individuals with a business idea to successfully launch in the Shuswap. 

The Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur program received the Community Project Award at the 2017 BC Economic Development Awards in Victoria on June 13. The prestigious awards honour organizations and individuals for their efforts in creating positive change in urban, suburban, and rural communities. 

This year marks the 27th year that the BC Economic Development Association (BCEDA) has presented these awards. There are two categories, Community Project Award and Marketing Innovation Award, with two awards bestowed in each category – one award for a project serving a population less than 20,000 and one for a population more than 20,000. Shuswap Launch-a-Preneur took home the award for population under 20,000, while the City of Prince George’s Economic Development department took home the hardware for population more than 20,000. 

More information about Launch-a-Preneur is available at Read the full story here.

OC professor to co-chair homelessness task force

kyleen 2017 iocDr. Kyleen Myrah, a professor in the School of Business, has been selected to co-chair Journey Home, a new City of Kelowna task force on homelessness. 

The City of Kelowna says that the Journey Home strategy focuses on the system of services supporting those who are homeless and those at risk of homelessness, making recommendations for appropriate housing in the spectrum of emergency, transitional and supportive housing. The task force is part of larger strategy to combat homelessness in Kelowna.

Myrah’s current research focuses on social enterprise and leadership development. With fellow professor Kerry Rempel, Myrah has been a Lead Faculty Research with the Scotiabank Centre for Non-Profit Excellence developing training resources to support organizational sustainability. Recently, Myrah and Rempel and the Scotiabank Centre partnered with Andrew Greer from Purppl, a community enterprise accelerator, to deliver training on the fundamentals of social enterprise called SoFun. This community workshop included an examination of Mission Possible, an organization which helps those affected by homelessness and was the subject of a recent case study published by Myrah and Rempel. Myrah is also a mentor to Enactus Okanagan College which recently won a number of awards at the 2017 Enactus Canada National Exposition for projects that support the community.

"I look forward to engaging with the City and the community in a meaningful dialogue on homelessness, from the factors that lead to it, to how agencies and their partners can address it," says Myrah.

The Journey Home task force begins formally meeting in September, with a final report expected in June 2018.

Gillett to lead School of Business

gillettOkanagan College will welcome a new Dean of Business this summer with the arrival of William Gillett, an esteemed post-secondary administrator who brings an impressive record of public and private sector experience. 

Gillett comes to Okanagan College from New Hampshire, where he has held the Christos and Mary Papoutsy Distinguished Chair in Ethics and Social Responsibility at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Previously he was the Dean of Business for SNHU where he lead 58 full-time faculty, 125 adjunct faculty and supported more than 1,600 students in undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. 

He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. He holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

“We’ve found a superb Dean for the School of Business in Bill Gillett,” says Dr. Andrew Hay, Vice President Education at Okanagan College. “His international experience in both the private sector and post-secondary education very much aligns with the values of our college and the goals of our business school. He will be well positioned to build on the great work of Dr. Heather Banham and everyone within the School.” 

Gillett will replace Dr. Heather Banham, who will retire from her role as Dean of the Okanagan School of Business this summer, after a 24-year career with Okanagan College.

Read the full story here.

Another round of Wine Talks served up in Penticton

wine talks ioc juneNearly 100 people flocked to Okanagan College’s Penticton campus yesterday evening to take in the second round of Wine Talks. 

Ticketholders had a chance to hear from five international experts on challenges and opportunities facing the wine industry in B.C. and around the world. Leading the discussion was Mark Davidson, Global Education Manager for Wine Australia. He was joined by Karen Graham of WineDrops; Rob McMillan of Silicon Valley Bank, and Vancouver-based lawyers Mark Hicken and Shea Coulson.

The event was once again presented in partnership with Liquidity Winery. The first Wine Talks took place last November. More information is available at

Community support abounds at Salmon Arm award ceremony

salmon arm ceremony iocNearly 40 students from Salmon Arm were honoured with scholarships and bursaries last week at Okanagan College’s Salmon Arm Campus awards ceremony.

On Wednesday, June 21, donors and friends from the surrounding community assembled on campus to hand out more than $65,000 in awards to 38 individuals.

Regional Dean Joan Ragsdale emceed the event. She acknowledged donors for their support and shared numerous examples of student success. Long-time donor Al Neale spoke about his experience working with the College to grow his award fund from two bursaries in 2008 to six bursaries this year. 

There was an outpouring of gratitude from students throughout the evening. Among those students who took a moment to reflect on the life-changing impact of receiving a bursary was Mustafa Zakreet. A refugee from Syria, Zakreet settled in Salmon Arm with his family about a year and a half ago. He has pursued upgrading at the Salmon Arm campus and this fall will be starting the Civil Engineering program in Kelowna. He was one of the six who received an Al Neale Bursary this year, and was quick to point out how it would propel his future studies.

“Being part of Okanagan College has been an amazing experience,” says Zakreet. “I have made so many friends here and felt so welcomed. I feel connected to the community and feel at home here. To have someone like Mr. Neale support me in my studies feels wonderful. There are no words for how grateful I am.”

Penticton donors recognized at annual reception

pen donor ceremony 2017 iocMore than 50 Okanagan College Foundation donors attended the annual Donor Appreciation Reception at the Penticton Campus last week. The event recognized the philanthropic contributions made in the form of student awards, capital projects like the Jim Pattison Centre of Excellence and the new Child Care facility, and/or program support in the region.

Guests mingled and several enjoyed a tour of the new facility before the program, which included an introduction to new Foundation president Sharron Simpson and a heartfelt speech from student speaker Meghan Vetsch, a second-year business student who received several awards last November in her pursuit of her professional dream to become an accountant. The formal part of the evening concluded with an information session on the Child Care facility presented by Penticton & District Community Resources Society Executive Director Tanya Behardien.

To see more photos from the Reception, please visit the Foundation’s Facebook page.

Whelan to be inducted into alma mater sport hall of fame

petya iocInternational Education’s Petya Whelan will be inducted into Delta State University’s sport hall of fame this fall in recognition of her outstanding achievements in swimming. 

Originally from Bulgaria, Whelan began swimming at the age of 13 under the tutelage of her father and a head Coach Gancho Petrov. Though she got a late start in the sport, Whelan was an instant force in the pool, breaking national records in 50m butterfly and the 100m individual medley and winning over 60 gold medals. Petya was named athlete of the year for her hometown of Stara Zagora in 2001. She went on to represent Bulgaria at European, World Championships, and Olympic trials in 2004 as part of the national team and earned a full scholarship to a NCAA division one school in Missouri, where she broke many school records and placed second at the NCAA Championship in Orlando, FL in 400 Individual Medley.

In 2004 Whelan transferred to Delta State University in Cleveland, Mississippi which is where she completed her Business degree and set records for the Lady Statesmen in the 100 and 200m backstroke, the 200 and 400-IM and was a part of all five record-holding relay teams under the head Coach Ronnie Mayers. 

Though she officially retired from competition in 2006, Whelan continues to be active in the swimming community. She is swim director of the Kelowna Triathlon Club and contributes her knowledge and expertise as a coach. She also competes in triathlons locally. 

Whelan will be honoured by Delta State University at an induction ceremony held in Mississippi in October.

Butler, Manning, Myrah, Thurnheer and Rubadeau honoured by Chamber of Commerce

top 40 recap iocThe Kelowna Chamber of Commerce has bestowed its Top 40 Over 40 honour on a number of individuals from the Okanagan College community over the past year.

Dr. Kyleen Myrah, a professor with the Okanagan College School of Business, was the first to be recognized last October. Kathy Butler, Director of Advancement and Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation, and Devin Rubadeau, also a professor with the School of Business, were honoured the following month. Laura Thurnheer, Chair of Business Administration, was named to the list in February. And just this week Doug Manning, former Vice Chair of the Okanagan College Board of Governors, was recognized. 

Presented by BDO and the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, the awards recognize individuals for remarkable contributions in the community. Read the full list of honourees here.

Sharron Simpson named new President of Okanagan College Foundation

sharron simpson iocThe Okanagan College Foundation has announced that Sharron Simpson is taking on the role of President and Board Chair as the Foundation raises funds for four capital projects on three campuses. 

“Sharron is a very seasoned, skilled Board member with a strong vision for the direction of the Foundation,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director of the Foundation. 

Simpson, a former Kelowna city councillor, was born in Kelowna and worked as a social worker for several years before becoming a stockbroker and financial advisor. She has been an active community leader in a volunteer capacity for many years, including work with the Kelowna Rotary Club and the British Columbia Historical Federation.

Simpson succeeds Alf Kempf, who served as President since 2013, and as a board director since 2011. Kempf, along with directors Bev Busson and Lynda Wilson, have retired after a combined 24 years of service. 

Butler says the board is very grateful to those retiring for the active roles they took in cultivating and stewarding donors, and the powerful connections they developed between the Foundation and community.

The Board also welcomed Colin Edstrom, Susan Ewanick and Tom Styffe as new directors. 

College and City sign MOU re-affirming relationship

hamilton and basran iocOkanagan College and the City of Kelowna signed a memorandum of understanding last week. Present at the signing were OC President Jim Hamilton and Kelowna Mayor Colin Basran. 

The MOU outlines shared commitments and opportunities for collaboration, from applied research, learning and innovation to community involvement and volunteerism to sustainability practices and programs.

Read more in this article by Castanet.


June 27, 2017, Vol. 11, Issue 32


Watch Convocation LIVE

Convocation 2017 will be livestreamed on Okanagan College’s Facebook page at the following times. Be sure to tune in, like, share and comment to congratulate all of our 2017 grads. 

Vernon Convocation
Tuesday, June 27 @ 4:30 p.m.

Summer Convocation & Kelowna

Wednesday, June 28 @ 7 p.m. 
(Continuing Studies grads)
Thursday, June 29 @ 7 p.m. 
(Diploma and Certificate grads)

You can watch video from Trades Commencement and Spring Convocation ceremonies earlier in June here

SSHRC introduces new partnership grants

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) is introducing a Partnership Engage Grant to better address the short-term needs, challenges and opportunities of researchers and institutions.

The grants range from $7,000 to $25,000, and will place a strong emphasis on the relevance to, and involvement of, partner organizations. However, they will require fewer partners than the existing Partnership and Partnership Development Grants, as they are designed for a single partner organization from the not-for-profit, public or private sector. The Partnership Engage Grants will also have a more streamlined application process, and be offered four times per year as opposed to once per year.

The Partnership Engage Grants will be launched in June 2017. The deadline for the inaugural competition is September 15, 2017. Successful applicants will be notified in December 2017.

Please check the SSHRC website for the official launch announcement, funding opportunity details and application forms.

Family Award application deadline approaching

A reminder that applications are now being accepted for the next round of the Okanagan College Family Award, designed for immediate family members of continuing (regular) Okanagan College employees. This round of applications is for programs or terms starting between April 1 - August 31, 2017. 

Full award criteria and the application form can be found in myOkanagan under “OC Express – Forms," and then click on “Foundation," or click here to download the application form. For more information, contact the Financial Aid and Awards Office or 250-862-5419.

Kelowna Campus Fitness Facility summer hours

Please note that the Fitness Facility will close at 5pm on Friday, June 30, and reopen on 8am on Tuesday, July 4, for the Canada Day long weekend. Summer hours begin on July 4th: Monday to Friday, 8am to 4pm, closed weekends.

New work order system to launch this summer

Facilities and Business Services is working on the implementation of a new work order system for facilities-related work requests, and testing it with a pilot group now with an expected changeover to occur mid-summer. More information will follow as they get closer to the launch date.

College has a new EFAP provider

OC has a new provider - LifeWorks - for its Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) effective June 15, 2017. Employees can access LifeWorks 24/7, 365 days/year, by toll-free number, online at, or by mobile app. Follow this link for more details.

Volunteers needed for Smart Start

The Kelowna campus fall orientation team is busy planning Smart Start, a series of sessions designed to provide incoming students with a smooth transition from high school or work life to college. This new pre-orientation conference will run August 30 and 31, 2017. 

The committee is looking for volunteers who may be interested in running a session. If you have a great idea for a session, the committee would love to hear about it. To learn more about this event, visit Questions, comments and ideas can be directed to Carlyn Young.


Register for Connections

Registration is open for Okanagan College’s annual employee conference. Connections is organized by employees for employees. It is about connecting face-to-face with colleagues from different departments and campuses, and celebrating the strengths and diversity of the people who work here through interactive, social activities and fun informative workshops.

You will hear from President Jim Hamilton about what's happening in and around Okanagan College and you will have a great opportunity to interact. Register here.

Connections will be held at the Kelowna campus again this year and you have the choice to attend on either Tuesday, August 22 or Wednesday, August 23. Employees are invited to share their area of expertise or passions outside of work with their peers at Connections Expo. If you would like to reserve your booth or would like more information contact Anna Wolleben


The Kelowna Capital News gave a nod to three OC students who each earned bronze medals at the recent Skills Canada National competition.

Recent Heavy Mechanical Trades grad Mandeep Randhawa accepted a donation of his entire tool box from donor Ricardo Pacheco and his wife Violeta, as reported by the Daily Courier.

The Salmon Observer covered the award given to Launch-a-Preneur, as noted in the News section above. 

The Penticton Herald picked up the news of OC’s new pathway to mining collaboration with BCIT.

The new dean of the School of Business, Bill Gillet, was mentioned in Okanagan Weekend, with a nod to retiring dean Heather Banham, and in the Kelowna Capital News and Okanagan Edge.

The Daily Courier took a look at the options and themes of this year’s CampOC program, as did the Vernon Morning Star.

Steve MacNaull’s Valley Views column in Okanagan Weekend mentioned OC in a piece about the new Okanagan Centre for Innovation in Kelowna.

CONNECT 2017, a forum for immigrant job seekers and regional employers to meet, was held at the Penticton campus, as covered by the Penticton Herald.

Longtime OC instructor Howard Soon’s coming retirement from Sandhill Wines was covered extensively in the Kelowna Capital news here and here, as well as in the Okanagan Weekend.

Honorary Fellow and longtime OC supporter Yasmin John-Thorpe had her latest book, Just Nuts, featured in the Penticton Herald.

Several nominees for the Top 40 over 40 Awards, presented by the Kelowna Chamber of Commerce, have ties to the College. Raghwa Gopal, CEO of Accelerate Okanagan, took the People’s Choice award as reported in the Daily Courier. Doug Manning, former Vice Chair of the Board of Governors, was also profiled in the Courier.

The Osoyoos Times interviewed MP Richard Cannings, Honorary Fellow, about his thoughts on protecting waterways.

FieldLevel reported on baseball player Justin Lanigan’s decision to play ball at Okanagan College.

Okanagan Life reported on OC junior chefs joining executive chefs from the Okanagan Chefs Association and BC Culinary Foundation for Earth Wind Fire, a fundraiser for The Nature Trust of BC.

Kelowna’s tech boom was featured in multiple news outlets, with a nod to the role Okanagan College plays in the growth of this sector. National Post | Castanet | Keremeos Review

Archinect Academia profiled Brian Rippy, a professor in the Sustainable Construction Management Technology program, on his work on advancing green building in the Okanagan.

The memorandum of understanding recently signed between the College and the City of Kelowna received coverage on Castanet and in the Kelowna Capital News.

Former student and current winemaker at Nk’Mip Cellars, Justin Hall, was profiled in the Globe and Mail.

The opening of the new Indigenous Garden at the Kelowna campus was mentioned on 150 Colleges and Institutes Celebrating Canada, Okanagan Edge, and in the Daily Courier.

Business professor Kyleen Myrah's appointment to a City of Kelowna task force, Journey Home, as co-chair, received coverage in the Kelowna Daily CourierCastanet, and Kelowna Capital News.



Do you have comments, questions or a submission for INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE? Please email Public Affairs c/o Tyler Finley.

To ensure your submission is included, please send all details at least one day in advance of the newsletter’s publication.

The next edition of INSIDE OKANAGAN COLLEGE will be issued on July 11, 2017.