Advisory Board
FTZVI is guided by a Board of Advisors appointed by the VIEA Board of Directors and managed by the VIEA President & CEO.
Both the FTZVI Board of Advisors and the VIEA Board of Directors are made up of volunteers who are stakeholders in the Island economy with skills, knowledge and experience specific to the export and investment objectives of FTZVI and VIEA’s mandate to help ensure a vital and sustainable Island economy.
Mark Smith

Mark is the President and CEO of Query Technologies Corp., Query CX, a boutique customer experience consultancy and Query Capital Corp.    

Mark serves as a customer advocate, partnering with leaders across organizations to reimagine the customer experience and ensure their people, process and technologies align to achieve those objectives. Query Capital, with a primary focus on Vancouver Island, partners with exceptional founders and management teams to create and fund companies to get them from start-up to scale. 

Mark is an active leader in the Customer Experience Professional’s Association (CXPA) and is connected with seasoned CX professionals around the globe. He also serves on several Boards including VIEA, where he is currently the Board Chair.

George Hanson

As President & CEO of the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance, George oversees production of the annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Summit, the annual ‘State of the Island’ Economic Report, the ‘Island Good’ brand and Foreign Trade Zone Vancouver Island (FTZVI). He has a reputation for getting things done and ‘making a difference’. He is also Chair of the Nanaimo Foundation and a 23-year resident of Vancouver Island.

Bill Collins

A consultant and principal of CollinsWorks Ventures Inc., Bill has more than 30 years’ experience in R&D, global sales and marketing, advanced manufacturing and M&A activities from bases in Canada, Europe, the South Pacific and the United States. For the past 15 years Bill has been on the leadership team for Quester Tangent, a BC based enterprise delivering engineering centric, complex technology. Bill is a member of the Professional Engineering and Geoscientists Association of British Columbia. Bill has been an evangelist for the growth of a vibrant advanced manufacturing sector on Vancouver Island.

Pat Deakin

Pat is the City of Port Alberni’s Economic Development Manager.  The VIEA FTZVI initiative is a perfect complement to his work which is focused on business retention, business expansion and diversification of the economy.  Pat’s previous work experience includes Manager of Partnerships in the OneStop Business Registry, branding Oliver as the Wine Capital of Canada and Economic Development Manager for the Uchucklesaht Tribe.  Pat is a Board Member of the BC Economic Development Association and the Vancouver Island Coast Economic Developers Association.
David Devanna

Dave Devana is a CPA, Chartered Accountant with over 20 years of senior management experience as a Chief Financial Officer and Chief Administrative Officer in local government prior to accepting the position of President/CEO at the Nanaimo Airport. Mr. Devana is well known amongst his peers as a business friendly innovator with a focus on environmental stewardship and economic development.  Mr. Devana lives in North Nanaimo and is excited about building a stronger and more resilient economy in the greater Nanaimo area.

Elizabeth Johnston

Liz Johnson is Senior Manager, Export Services for Ocean/Marine Technology in the BC Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. She works with B.C. export ready companies to bring resources and expertise to help them grow and diversify into international markets.

Prior to joining the BC Public Service, Liz spent over 30 years developing and delivering growth strategies and marketing and business development plans for large multinationals and BC Hydro in the environment, build environment and energy efficiency sectors.

Liz was a founding Director of the Canada Green Building Council where she contributed to the vision and planning that established CaGBC and LEED as a leading green building rating system.  Liz’s volunteer work includes serving on the Boards of the Zajac Ranch Society, the BC Environmental Industry Association, Alternate Commissioner of the Skajat Environmental Endowment Commission, and presently as a Director of the Vancouver Island Economic Association.

David McCormick

Dave McCormick is the Director of Public Relations and Business Development with the Port Alberni Port Authority. Since joining PAPA in 2010 he’s facilitated numerous community initiatives and business development successes while building strong partnerships, such as the marine economic cluster, the City of Port Alberni; local, provincial and national Chambers of Commerce; VIEA Foreign Trade Zone Committee, Community Cruise Ship Committee and many other community groups.

Community and Stakeholder engagement is an important priority for PAPA, which Dave has helped lead, including the City of Port Alberni-Port Authority Joint Working Group as well as working with numerous local charities and event organizers to help raise their profiles and meet their goals. Dave also spent two different terms on the board of directors of the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Junior Hockey Society.

Jason Michell

Jason Michell is currently the Vice President Business Development for the Port of Nanaimo.

Within his 7 years at the Port of Nanaimo, roles have included terminal operations, security, capital project management, and Cruise.

For 10 years prior to joining the Port of Nanaimo, Jason held roles in cargo terminal administration, dock and vessel operations management working with Western Stevedoring.

Jason grew up on Vancouver Island, and currently lives with his family in Ladysmith.

Rocky Minhas

Rocky Minhas started his career in the freight distribution industry. After climbing the corporate ladder, he made a career change and switched to the marine industry. Joining Seaspan Ferries in 2017, Rocky was the Assistant Commercial Manager, home based in Delta, BC. In 2018 Rocky was promoted to Commercial Manager for Vancouver Island and moved back to his hometown of Nanaimo. Rocky has a vast knowledge of the movement of freight through Canada. His interests include the sport of boxing. He currently helps with coaching at the Nanaimo Boxing Club.


Juan Navarro

Juan Navarro is an entrepreneur, researcher and educator with over 20 years of combined experience in business, finance, regional economics and international trade. As director of his own business CMX Partnerships, he has encouraged and facilitated the collaboration of strategic alliances, and he has organized trade missions. As a researcher, his reports have analyzed the Next Generation Trade and Investment Issues and Free Trade Agreements occurring on the Asia Pacific region. His last report, completed for the APEC Business Advisory Council (ABAC), was endorsed by the ABAC plenary to submit to the Second APEC Senior Official Meeting (SOM2), and due to the interest generated in the report; he was invited by the APEC Chair to present his findings during SOM2, in Chile in May 2019. As an educator, Mr. Navarro has worked as associate faculty and executive at several universities during the last 15 years. He currently teaches in the School of Business at Royal Roads University and he is member of Study Group Canada. Juan Navarro is a member of the Canadian International Council (CIC) and he has collaborated actively with the World Bank Institute as a member of the panel of experts assessing high-impact entrepreneurial projects. In addition, he volunteers as a mentor at Futurpreneur Canada, where he has been recognized for his dedicated efforts, providing guidance and support to young entrepreneurs. 

Alex Stuart

Alex started out his career as a Social Worker during the mid-1970; while moving into a range of enterprises thereafter. These have included serving two terms as the Mayor of Ladysmith, with a Directorship on the Board of the Cowichan Valley Regional Board; UBCM Board, EDC Board – Town of Ladysmith; Administrator/EDO -Snuneymuxw First Nation; Founding Member of the Ladysmith Resources Centre; to mention a few.

Alex was Co-Founder of MMC Software International Inc., providing a risk intervention software service; and Founder of Planet Halo Security Inc., offering a range of security products/services. For the past three years having founded Cloud Hawk Security Inc, which owns the patent for Guardian Fire Shield™, a Canadian Invented, Aerospace Manufactured Auto Fire Suppression Technology being sold into multiple countries around the globe, with the World Bank Group as a ‘Key’ customer.

Other interest includes his support for non-profit organizations and offering consultancy services to private companies seeking assistance on several levels. More recently, servicing as a Director on the Board of YCD (Nanaimo Airport Authority)

Chris Theeparajah

A life long BC native, and a newly minted Vancouver Island resident, Christopher Theeparajah is a Sr. Trade Finance Manager, for Export Development Canada (EDC).

EDC is Canada’s Export Credit Agency, and is mandated to help Canadian companies realize busines opportunities, and grow their brands outside of Canada.

In 2020, EDC made the important, and strategic decision, to relocate Chris to Vancouver Island, to focus on the economic growth and prosperity of the region.

Having been on the Financial Sector for the past 15 years, he has a passion for the entrepreneurial spirit, and this is only exemplified through his engagement with the business community on the Island.

From managing risks, to Equity, to Mergers and Acquisitions, and structuring debt facilities, he brings a wealth of knowledge focused on the financial metric’s needed to operate a sustainable business, and should be considered valuable resource, and part of your growth strategy.

His mandate is to help further promote, and grow the Island Economy and to celebrate the success’ that are happening here, so the rest of the world can see, what we already know.

In his spare time, he is kept extremely busy with his young family (3 kids under 6), and loves playing, and watching all sports, in addition to collecting Sports Memorabilia.

Andrea Thomas

Originally from Vancouver, having moved to Nanaimo in 2014, Andrea is the Manager, Corridor Development for the Island Corridor Foundation. She works diligently alongside the CEO to restore Passenger and Freight Rail Service on Vancouver Island.

She is passionate about transportation issues on Vancouver Island and knows that restoring rail service will provide a safe and efficient transportation option for Island residents and visitors, providing an economic boost to our Island communities, while also being the best tool we have available to lower our green house gas emissions to meet our environmental targets as set out by the Province.

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About the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance (VIEA)

VIEA is a collaborative partnership spearheading regional economic development for the Vancouver Island region.