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Okanagan College Foundation welcomes new board members

The Okanagan College Foundation recently welcomed to its board five new directors who collectively bring diverse experience and community impact across a wide array of sectors from health care and technology to entrepreneurship, human resources and finance.

The new directors joining the Foundation board are:

• Paulo Araujo, Vice President of Retail and Business Banking at Valley First (South Okanagan)

• Sheri Hamilton, Associate Vice President of Human Resources at Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (Shuswap-Revelstoke)

• Dr. Gerry Karr, a former Penticton doctor and cofounder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition (South Okanagan)

• Christine Petkau, former Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland (South Okanagan)

• Brea Retzlaff, Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (Central Okanagan)

“It’s wonderful to welcome committed industry leaders from up and down the valley to our board,” says Kathy Butler, Executive Director, Okanagan College Foundation.

“Our new directors join us at an exciting time and will have the opportunity to make a big impact for students. We have a growing student population that continues to need financial aid and we’re embarking on future development that will continue to transform our campuses.”

“The calibre of our new directors reflects the importance of the work carried out by the Foundation,” says Sharron Simpson, Board Chair, Okanagan College Foundation.

“Education is transformative to individuals and our communities, and we’re excited to continue ensuring education is accessible and our infrastructure reflects the quality of the education Okanagan College provides.”

The new board members join current board directors Chris Derickson, Surej Dhillon, Bob Eby, Colin Edstrom, Gladys Fraser, Kimberly White Gilhooly, Jim Hamilton, Rob Phare, Alan Sanderson, Sharron Simpson, and Tom Styffe.

Full biographies of the new board members are below:

Paulo Araujo, Valley First Vice President, Retail and Business Banking 

During the last 18 years, Araujo has worked in various roles within the organization, including Director of Retail Banking, Regional Manager South Okanagan Region, Senior Manager of Retail Credit and Branch Manager. In addition to his current role as VP of Retail and Business Banking, Araujo also runs his family’s orchard in the South Okanagan. He is Lean Green Belt Certified and has taken leadership courses through The Banff Centre.

Dedicated to community leadership, Araujo is active in Valley First’s signature cause, Feed the Valley and an avid supporter of the South Okanagan Youth Soccer Association.

Sheri Hamilton, Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union (SASCU) Associate Vice President, Human Resources

Sheri Hamilton is the Associate Vice President Human Resources at SASCU where she oversees a range of areas including talent management, performance management, organizational effectiveness, total rewards and employee relations. Hamilton manages the team responsible for SASCU’s award winning culture and strong employee engagement.

During her time at SASCU, the credit union has placed on the Progressive Employers of Canada List, B.C. Business Magazine’s Best Companies to Work for in B.C., and a WorkLife B.C. Award of Merit.

Dr. Gerry Karr

Karr’s professional education includes a PhD in Pharmacology, MD and FRCPC (Internal Medicine). After 8 years with the Faculty of Medicine at the U of Calgary, Karr recognized his overriding passion for clinical medicine, moving to his present home in Penticton where he practised internal medicine and nephrology until 2003. During this time he established the first renal program in the Okanagan Valley and, along with St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, the program pioneered the development of evidence-based chronic kidney disease clinics in B.C. In 2003, he championed the innovative Integrated Health Center in Penticton, which merged the programs for diabetes, CKD and CHF care in the Okanagan Similkameen region. Karr accepted a role as Medical Director of Kidney Services with Interior Health from 2006 until his retirement in March 2012.

In retirement Karr has pursued his interest in primary prevention and health promotion prompted by many years of first-hand experience treating patients with lifestyle-related chronic disease. He was co-founder of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Fair and of the Okanagan Similkameen Healthy Living Coalition.

Christine Petkau

Christine Petkau is from Manitoba and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. 

Together with her husband and children, Petkau moved to Summerland in 2002. She has worked in the public sector, both in Manitoba and B.C., in the design and delivery of programs focused on entrepreneurship and employment as well as back to work strategies for job seekers. In the private sector she has owned two small businesses with partners and worked as a North American product manager for several companies.

For the past 6 years she was Executive Director of the Summerland Chamber of Commerce and Tourism Summerland.

Brea Retzlaff, Accelerate Okanagan Director of Operations

Brea Retzlaff is the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan. She has been supporting the growth of the Okanagan tech community for over five years. She spends her days overseeing day-to-day operations, managing the team, and ensuring strategic goals are being met.

Retzlaff graduated from Okanagan College with a degree in Business, but it was her hands-on experience managing a summer camp that gave her a taste for the startup life. Retzlaff also spent time working with Disney’s Club Penguin, where she was responsible for curriculum development, customer service training and policy documentation.

About the Okanagan College Foundation

Okanagan College Foundation has a mission to advance the power of education by engaging individuals and communities in contributing to Okanagan College. The foundation raises and manages private resources for the development and expansion of educational programs, services, capital projects, and student financial aid through scholarships, bursaries, and grants. To learn more visit


Paulo Araujo

sheri hamilton
Sheri Hamilton


Christine Petkau

brea retzlaff 250px

Brea Retzlaff