Meet the Team

Carollynn Schafer

Interim CEO

Hi everyone! I am Accelerate Okanagan’s Interim Chief Executive Officer. I became involved with AO in 2019 during the Okanagan Angel Summit. I participated as an investor before becoming a Director, then Fund Manager, and for the past two years, I have facilitated the investor training. I’ve been in the tech sector for over 20 years, first in my home province of Manitoba as a Privacy and Technology lawyer before working at a start-up that went on to be acquired. I am passionate about building our local tech ecosystem and enjoy connecting as people who are working in the tech sector. In addition to my involvement in the Summit, I am a General Partner of Okanagan WMAN. When I am not in the office, you will find me skiing or golfing with my husband, Lance and sons, Jake and Clarke, reading or hanging out with my two cats, Roake and Glacia.

Brea Lake

CEO (On Leave)

Hi there! I am the CEO of Accelerate Okanagan. I started with AO back in 2014 as the Community Manager, and I had the opportunity to work as the Director of Operations for a couple years before officially becoming CEO in 2019. I have been supporting the growth of the local tech industry for over 10 years through economic development efforts including launching new entrepreneurial programs and investment initiatives. I am a proud alumni of Okanagan College’s Bachelor of Business Administration program. I champion OKGNtech by participating as an Advisory Member for the Canadian Technology Network and volunteering as a Board Member for local organizations. When I am not in the office you will find me spending time with my family and enjoying the best of the Okanagan.

Thuy Tran

Director of Programs

Hi everyone! I’m Thuy (pronounced “Twee”) and I’m the Director of Programs. I’ve been in the Okanagan for over 35 years, and have seen a lot of change in the region. I have been working in tech for over 15 years, and have been supporting the growth of the community for the last 8 years through my work at AO, leading strategy and development for our accelerator programs and services. I also spearheaded the development of the OKGN Angel Summit to help stimulate investing activities in the region, lower barriers for entrepreneurs to access capital, and to help foster high quality companies. Outside of work you can find me trail running, taking photos, driving my kids around town for sports activities, and being an “enthusiast” hockey mom at the rink 10 months out of the year.

Sara Scott

Brand & Communications Manager

Hi folks! I have been a part of Team AO since 2014. Like many of us in the startup world, I wear many hats but my official title is Brand and Communications Manager. As a born and raised Kelowna local, I have a passion for all-things-Okanagan. Before working at Accelerate Okanagan, I spent 7 years working at Club Penguin and got to see first hand how a scaling business can create a sense of community and economic impact. Through my work at AO, I love having the opportunity to support entrepreneurs who are building great things in our region. When I am not at work you can find me out at a local event, enjoying an audiobook or podcast, and hanging out with my cat, Princess.

D’arcy Schaerer

Finance Manager

Hello! I’ve been with AO since its inception in 2011. As the Finance Manager, I work closely with our CEO, board, and management team to oversee our cash flow, monitor the budget, and ensure the financial health of the organization. I have a background in project coordination and office management in a diverse  industries including oil & gas, archaeology, and consulting which has set me up for success in tech. I enjoy utilizing my analytical and communication skills to problem solve, and build relationships with the OKGNtech community. When I am not busy crunching the numbers, you can find me exploring and capturing the natural beauty of the Okanagan with my camera.

Alex Goodhew

Community Manager

Hey friends! I am the Community Manager at Accelerate Okanagan, but I am currently away on maternity leave. I’ve been connecting and collaborating with people interested in and involved in innovation and entrepreneurship in the Okanagan since I started with AO in 2016. My focus is on developing and nurturing relationships with community partners, and helping build industry connections. I grew up in the South Okanagan, but lived in Vancouver while I was attending UBC. When I am not at work, you can find me enjoying the 4 season playground that is the Okanagan by skiing, playing volleyball, and being outdoors with my pups, and of course who doesn’t love a good patio session.

Leslie Louie

Partnership and Engagement Strategist

Hi, OKGNtech! I’m Leslie Louie, the Partnerships and Engagement Strategist at AO. I’m originally from Ontario but moved to Vancouver in 2009 to attend UBC and have been living in Kelowna since 2017. I joined AO in 2022 and I wear many hats to support our thriving community; from supporting our co-working spaces in Vernon and Kelowna to HR, planning events, and working with our amazing ecosystem partners. Before joining AO, I worked for the Innovation Centre and Pela, always in community-driven roles. I love connecting people and helping them feel at home in our community. When I’m not working, you’ll find me enjoying quality time with my toddler, which lately has meant looking for airplanes in the sky and ants on the ground.

Jessica Wicks

Programs Strategist

Hey there! I joined AO in 2020 as the Community Lead at The VIEW. Since becoming the Program Strategist, my main focus is supporting founders, leading accelerator programs, and continually improving our offerings. I love helping our clients achieve their dreams. Born and raised in Ontario, I studied Art & Design and earned a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Visual Communications from Medicine Hat College. I started as a freelance brand and web designer, growing into my own marketing + PR agency. Along the way, I acquired a graduate certificate in Corporate Communications Management and held various contract roles as a Marketing Specialist, Project Manager, Instructor, and Advisor. When I’m not working, you’ll find me reading, practicing yoga, or hiking with my son and dog.

Wesley Schnitzler

Programs Coordinator

Hi everybody! I joined Accelerate Okanagan as the Programs Coordinator in 2023. I grew up and have been living in the Kelowna area for most of my life and can’t think of a better place to be! I’ve had different experiences in many client facing roles in my career so far such as my time a Real Estate Agent and most recently as an Influencer Marketing Specialist. I’ve always loved helping and supporting people and am excited to bring that experience to our accelerator programs. I can’t wait to learn from and help out all of the great people in the Okanagan Tech Community. Outside of work you’ll find me playing a late night hockey game at our local rinks, hitting balls at the driving range or more likely spending time outdoors or camping with my wife and son!

Kelsey Messervey

Community Coordinator

Hello there! I joined the Accelerate Okanagan team in 2023 as the Community Coordinator. I strive to support the growing tech community through my work fostering connections, hosting and supporting events, and sharing resources. After growing up in the Lower Mainland, I traveled to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to study a Bachelor of Arts degree in Costume Studies at Dalhousie University. Following graduation, I worked in the costume department on various film and theatre productions. I am thrilled to now be a part of the tech industry and enjoy learning about start-up businesses and new innovations. In my spare time, I love to travel, watch movies with my husband, and play with our two rambunctious kittens, Vesper and Mr. Hinx.  

Alanna Haggard

Brand & Communications Lead (On Leave)

Hey friends! I joined Accelerate Okanagan as the Community Coordinator back in 2019. Since then I have had the opportunity to grow with the organization, and now I am the Brand and Communications Lead. Born and raised in West Kelowna, I attended Okanagan College, and received my Diploma in Communications, Culture, and Journalism. That program alongside my time at AO has ignited my passion for creating impactful content for the tech community. Having the opportunity to work in different roles at Accelerate Okanagan has given me a wealth of experience and a holistic perspective of AO’s mission, vision, and values. When I am not at work you can find me enjoying the best of the Okanagan including camping, kayaking, golfing, running, and visiting local wineries.