About

Accelerate Okanagan Team

Pilar Portela

CEO

Pilar is Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO. She has worked all over the Americas and brings 20 years of expert management and executive experience to the team.

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Pilar Portela

Pilar Portela is Accelerate Okanagan’s CEO. She has worked all over the Americas and brings 20 years of expert management and executive experience to the team. She has an MA in project management and has studied law and international trade.

Pilar is a master leader and brings planning and organization to a new level. She has an innate ability to align and bring focus into every situation. Her global knowledge of business development and her problem resolution skills fit perfectly with Accelerate Okanagan’s mission to increase the number of tech companies that start and grow in the Okanagan.

Pilar is an advocate of helping others do their jobs to the best of their ability and will do everything in her power to ensure they have the tools necessary to meet and exceed expectations. Decisive and fair, she sticks to her commitments and offers support through motivation, empowerment, and personal and professional development.

Pilar keeps herself sane by reading, trail running, hiking, practicing flamenco and yoga.

Andrew Greer

Program Manager

Andrew is our Program Manager. An experienced business development manager and community builder, Andrew has a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University and an MBA from the Royal Military College.

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Andrew Greer

Andrew Greer is Accelerate Okanagan’s Program Manager. An experienced business development manager and community builder, Andrew has a Bachelor of Commerce from Dalhousie University and an MBA from the Royal Military College. He cut his business teeth at Xerox working in sales and management, then transitioned to an analyst and business development role at Launch Lab, a tech incubator in Eastern Ontario. Now Andrew looks for great companies to join AO programs.

When he’s not building the AO community, he’s out volunteering and enjoying all things athletic including kite surfing, sailing and team sports. He admits to being an amateur photographer, quiet conservationist, and a poor guitar player.

Thuy Tran

Startup Program Coordinator

Thuy is our Startup Program Coordinator. Thuy encourages and accelerates the growth of tech companies in the Okanagan by leading AO’s start-up programs and engaging with current, past, and potential program participants.

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Thuy Tran

Thuy is our Stayup Program Coordinator. Thuy encourages and accelerates the growth of tech companies in the Okanagan by leading AO's start-up programs and engaging with current, past, and potential program participants. Outside of the office, you'll find her training for something; triathlons, marathons or jiu-jitsu. She is also a photography and motorcycle enthusiast.

D’arcy Schaerer

Financial and Administration Manager

D’arcy is our Financial and Administration Manager. A highly motivated self-starter with strong analytical, communication and interpersonal skills, D’arcy has worked with diverse groups of people throughout her career.

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D’arcy Schaerer

D’arcy Schaerer is our Financial and Administration Manager. A highly motivated self-starter with strong analytical, communication and interpersonal skills, D’arcy has worked with diverse groups of people throughout her career. Her experience in project coordination, supervision, and office management with the likes of seismic jug hounds, archaeologists, palaeontologists, car buffs and condo consultants gives her all the skills she needs to work with this diverse group up techies.

When she’s not teching the halls, D’arcy like to do pottery and considers her life to be fun, funky, and functional.

Brea Retzlaff

Community Development

Brea is responsible for Accelerate Okanagan's Community Development. She supports the growing tech industry in the Okanagan by nurturing relationships with community partners and building industry academic connections.

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Brea Retzlaff

Brea Retzlaff is responsible for Accelerate Okanagan's Community Development. She supports the growing tech industry in the Okanagan by nurturing relationships with community partners and building industry academic connections. She graduated from Okanagan College with her Business Degree. Brea managed a Summer Day Camp program for three years, where she learned a lot about the startup environment and how to play nice in the sandbox. Her first taste of tech was when she interned with Disney’s Club Penguin, and instantly fell in love with the tech community.

When Brea isn’t out at one of our local tech events, you may find her out on the lake, doing mosaic art, or at any concert she can find.

Jennifer Lewis

Marketing and Business Relations

Jennifer handles Accelerate Okanagan's Marketing and Business Relations. Jennifer blends her skills to create strong and lasting relationships with AO’s Partners and Patrons while managing and executing our marketing strategy.

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Jennifer Lewis

Jennifer moved to Kelowna in the spring of 2007 after spending several years training and working in the culinary industry in Vancouver. Enthusiasm for business and community culture led her out of the culinary world to a position with the Downtown Kelowna Association then to a marketing and operations role with Motor Werke, an independent repair facility specializing in high-end European vehicles.

Jennifer comes to Accelerate Okanagan with extensive experience in project management, marketing and communications, operations management, and business development. Jennifer blends her skills to create strong and lasting relationships with AO’s Partners and Patrons while managing and executing our marketing strategy.

Outside of the office, Jennifer is an avid reader and writer. She is a hobby photographer and enjoys gathering friends and family around food. Jennifer and her family love adventures; they are in constant search of good logging roads, swimming holes, and secluded forests.

Heidi Mann

Communications Cultivator

Heidi is our Communications Cultivator. Heidi comes to AO with extensive experience in providing multi-faceted digital media communications to both public and private industry in Calgary.

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Heidi Mann

Heidi Mann is our Communications Associate. Heidi comes to AO with extensive experience in providing multi-faceted digital media communications to both public and private industry in Calgary. She has assumed the roles of audio visual guru, digital video editor virtuoso and project coordinator extraordinaire with great pride and enthusiasm. Heidi’s passion is in the details. Keeping on top of projects and making sure all parts get to the finish line is what she does best. 

When Heidi is finished crossing the T’s and dotting the I’s, you can find her on the lake perfecting her wakesurfing tricks and swimming with her dogs.  During the winter months, Heidi is a novice snowboarder and cross fitter. Heidi is excited to be a part of the innovative and leading edge tech community within the Okanagan.

Sara Scott

Front Desk Administrator

Sara is our Front Desk Administrator. As the “face of Accelerate Okanagan”, Sara’s friendly and efficient manner welcomes everyone to the Kelowna Innovation Centre.

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Sara Scott

Sara is our Front Desk Administrator. As the “face of Accelerate Okanagan”, Sara’s friendly and efficient manner welcomes everyone to the Kelowna Innovation Centre. Before joining the AO Team, Sara spent over five years working in Guest Experience with Disney Interactive while balancing her passion for event management in her spare time.

Sara is exceptional in what she does because of her positive attitude and enthusiasm. Her areas of expertise are in facilities management, customer support, coordinating events and nailing first impressions.

Born and raised in Kelowna, she is an excellent tour guide for the Okanagan. In addition to being an avid gardener, Sara enjoys jewelry making, camping and spending time at her family's apple orchard.

Jenna Stasuk

Community Catalyst

Jenna is our Community Catalyst responsible for providing support to the Community and Communications team.

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Jenna Stasuk

Jenna is our Community Catalyst responsible for providing support to the Community and Communications team. Jenna moved to Kelowna from Calgary in 2013 after receiving a Major Entrance Scholarship to attend the Faculty of Management at the University of British Columbia (Okanagan Campus). Jenna also achieved honor roll status throughout high school, and was the recipient of the Premier’s Citizenship Award for community and school involvement from the Government of Alberta.

Clients and team members that work with Jenna appreciate her unending spirit and enthusiasm, and that she goes the extra mile when taking care of their projects. Always cheerful, always smiling; that’s Jenna!

In her spare time, Jenna likes spending time with her friends and family, especially her cat Picasso. She volunteers as a computer mentor at the Seniors Outreach & Resource Centre and enjoys exploring Kelowna’s backyard every chance she gets. Following graduation, Jenna would love to start her own business.