We have an exciting group of speakers ready to share their skills and knowledge with you. Select a speaker below to learn more.
With 20 years’ experience in the food industry, Darren Stott is the Principal Consultant of Greenchain Consulting, a firm focused on supporting BC local food initiatives through business development and planning. Darren’s previous roles included a management role for one of the UK’s largest Co-Op retailers as well as retail analytics consulting for blue chip retailers and manufacturers including Safeway, P&G, and Unilever. He has also served as Director of Purchasing for North America’s largest online organic home delivery company, SPUD, for 7 years.
Florence Kao is the self-employment specialist in charge of the entrepreneurship programs at DIVERSEcity. “Empowering immigrant women to become self-employed is a passion of mine.” “We strive to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with the guidance, mentorship and business planning basics to succeed.” The energy Florence brings to the entrepreneurship programs at DIVERSEcity is the reason they won a CANIE Award (BC Region) from the Innovators and Entrepreneurs Foundation in spring 2020.
Freya Kellet is a young regenerative livestock farmer from BC. She has always been passionate about food and began working in agriculture 4 years ago. Since then she has completed a two year program in Applied Sustainable Ranching from Thompson Rivers University, worked on many organic livestock farms, and connected with farmers all over the province. She is currently working for the National Famers Unions as a Climate Coordinator in BC.
Jolene Kolk has worked in the food industry for many years and in many roles. From growing up on a farm, to culinary school, to building a food business and working in restaurants, Jolene has always been passionate about great food. She has also always loved art, design and branding. Having married those passions, Jolene has now turned her focus on telling the stories of food through beautiful images. With the launch of her brand Pantry Studios this year, she is helping others tell their stories through food photography, styling and more.
Katrina Couto is the Digital Marketing Manager at Local Line. An e-commerce platform for farms, farmers’ markets and food hubs, Local Line helps food suppliers of all sizes sell online and grow their business. Katrina shares marketing best practices and productivity tips to help farmers, farmers markets and other local food suppliers sustainably grow their business.
Laura Fash is an organic vegetable farm apprentice and climate activist-organizer in the Lower Mainland. Graduating from UBC in 2019, she has a background in ecological sciences and philosophy with a strong interest in agroecology. Facing a future in the climate crisis propelled her towards agriculture as both a means of living sustainably and an avenue for transformative systemic change. She is also currently working for the National Famers Unions as a Climate Coordinator in BC.
Lily is entering her third year managing the New West Farmers Market and loving it! She has a background in communications, tech, and advertising. Minna is the new West Farmers Market Assistant Manager. She is also a small business owner, social media manager, and communications expert. Lily and Minna have been best friends since university and run a pretty great market together!
Melissa Maltais is an innovative professional with 15+ years’ of experience in leadership, management, and business administration within the non-profit sector, specializing in farmers’ market management. Melissa has previously worked with the Surrey Urban Farmers Market, New Westminster Farmers Market, and is currently employed with the Fraser North Farmers Market Society overseeing the management of the Port Coquitlam and Haney Farmers Markets. She is an award winning fundraiser and has assisted in generating over $1 million in revenue for the BC SPCA, helping animals in need of veterinary care. Melissa has a passion in helping small businesses succeed and enjoys working with passionate individuals who are contributing to the well-being and economic success of our communities.
Michael Yue is Manager of Partnership Development at the Vancouver Community College (VCC). He has 20+ years of developing and managing educational projects to benefit community members in need of skill training, employment assistance, and career development. As a former immigrant himself, he has a passion to support newcomers with integrating into the Canadian society. VCC, Diversity and Okanagan College partnered on the IRCC funded “Make It! project” which helped to develop women immigrant entrepreneurs.
Nannette Plant is the Manager of the FOODSAFE Secretariat and Government Contract Training at Camosun College. In partnership with the BCAFM and ICA (Intercultural Association of Greater Victoria), she is the lead on the new Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) funded program in Victoria, “Markets as Incubators of Language, Culture and and Work Skills Development for Recent Immigrant Women”.
Patricia Ruiz is an instructor at Vancouver Community College and a registered clinical counsellor in Vancouver. She has worked in numerous programs teaching English and supporting immigrants and refugees to develop their job search, employability, and communication skills.
Sangeeta has over 20 years of professional experience in in the not-for-profit sector in Canada and Asia in the areas of strategic planning, equity and inclusion, facilitation, research and policy, partnership development, stakeholder engagement, mentoring, leadership development and civic engagement. Sangeeta is currently the Lead Consultant with The Inclusion Project, a collaborative network working on issues of gender, race and reconciliation, and youth engagement. She is also the founder of Chetana Consulting, a boutique firm the focuses on systems approach to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion in the public and private sector. Prior to this, she has held senior leadership roles with the Immigrant Employment Council of BC, Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, The Maytree Foundation, South Asian Women’s Centre and Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants. Sangeeta completed her post-graduate studies in Management from the Indian Institute of Management and a program in Non-Profit Management and Leadership from Schulich School of Business York University. She also is a certified trainer on Inter-Cultural Communication, and has extensive training and experience in facilitation.
Wylie Bystedt has been a market champion for years with an interest in food sustainability and security developed through working in emergency disaster recovery. Wylie is a rancher, vendor and market director and has been instrumental in getting project funding and work stated on this project and sees this as an extension of her work in community economic development.