Board of Directors

Victor Thomas

Board Chair

Victor Thomas is President and CEO of the Canada India-Business Council. He has advised in the areas of corporate governance, strategy and international business. Throughout his career he has worked with high-growth companies primarily in North America, Asia and Australia.

He is a former Chair of the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce and the Banff Forum, and is a former Vice Chair of SaskEnergy. Victor serves on several boards, councils and committees throughout Saskatchewan, Canada and internationally.

Victor completed his Master of Administration in Leadership from the University of Regina. He also attended the Directors College Program where he earned the designation of Chartered Director through McMaster University and holds their Human Resources and Compensation Committee designation. Victor has received several recognitions for his leadership including the Canadian Red Cross’ highest honour, the Order of the Red Cross, for his leadership with the Canadian Red Cross in Saskatchewan.

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Stephanie Yong

Chair, Audit & Finance Committee / Vice Chair

Stephanie Yong is the principal at Stephanie Yong Consulting, a consultancy that focuses on utilizing the tools of human-centred design thinking to focus how your solution will impact your end user. Her specialties include utilizing engagement methodologies, analytics for assessment, and integration of advanced technologies into existing business processes.

Stephanie is also a lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan Edwards School of Business in the Departments of Management and Marketing. In addition to the SOCO Board, Stephanie is also Chair of the Saskatoon Public School Foundation and a board member of Creative Saskatchewan.

Stephanie has a B.A. in Political Studies and an M.B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan. She has completed her Institute of Corporate Directors training and is a certified Corporate Director. Stephanie comes from a family of hard workers and has made this her life motto: “the harder you work, the harder you can play.”

Stephanie was appointed Chair of the SOCO Audit and Finance Committee in November 2018 and Vice Chair of the SOCO Board of Directors in November 2019.

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John Schmeiser

Chair, Human Resources and Governance Committee

John Schmeiser is the Chief Executive Officer of the Western Equipment Dealers Association, an international trade association that represents the interests of over 2,200 farm, construction and outdoor power equipment dealers in Canada and the United States.

John also serves as the Secretary / Treasurer of the Canada Equipment Dealers Foundation and the Western Equipment Dealers Foundation. He is a member of the advisory board of Advanced Intelligent Systems, an Advisor / Consultant for Coleman Research and Chair of Equipment Dealer Consulting LLC. John is the Current President of the North American Equipment Association Executives, Past Chairman of the Board for IRON Solutions, a Tennessee based technology company, and Past Chair of the Board for the Saskatchewan Scrap Tire Corporation.

John is a graduate of the University of Saskatchewan, the University of Arizona and Western Academy Broadcasting College. He successfully completed the Directors College accredited Corporate Director Development Program and holds a Chartered Director designation.

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Cherise Arnesen

Cherise Arnesen is a former educator who moved first to the realms of business management then to entrepreneurship, small business ownership and finally to product innovation. Viewing oversight of strategy, risk and culture through a lens crafted by a varied background of expertise and experience, Cherise brings a necessary diversity of perspective to corporate governance.

A self-described business enthusiast, she enjoys serving on the Board of Directors and on the Human Resources and Governance Committee for Saskatchewan Opportunities Corporation. Cherise serves as an Alternate to the Board of Revisions in the City of Prince Albert. She also serves on the Executive of the Saskatchewan Chapter of Institute of Corporate Directors.

Cherise holds a B.Ed. and B.A. from the University of Saskatchewan and the ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

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Neal Krawchuk

Neal Krawchuk is the Vice President of Credit and Administration at Mega Group Inc., a privately-owned company that services the home furnishing industry throughout Canada and the United States and is one of the largest independent corporations operating in Saskatchewan. During his 32 years in the commercial finance industry, Neal has gained extensive experience in finance, strategic planning, business management and operational effectiveness.

Neal is part of a management team that has attained Platinum Status within Canada’s 50 Best Managed Companies for 21 consecutive years, and was recognized as one of Canada’s Top 20 Employers of companies with less than 100 employees.

Neal has 15 years of experience serving as a Director on Boards with SOCO, SaskEnergy and Investment Saskatchewan, along with numerous committee roles.

Neal has also been a devoted volunteer in Saskatoon and received the Saskatchewan Centennial Medal in 2005 as recognition for his community service contributions.

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Julie Ann Wriston

Opportunity and hope are synonymous to Julie Ann Wriston. She has witnessed the impact that solid economic development has on regions, communities and individuals time and time again in her decades-long career. With a passion for community economic development, Julie Ann has worked throughout Saskatchewan and beyond creating, planning for and connecting good businesses that contribute to economic strength and prosperity.

Her specialties are working with Indigenous corporations, communities and entrepreneurs to cultivate business growth and stimulate economic development. Julie Ann has worn many hats in this space that range from communication, administration, human resources, governance and executive-level leadership. She is currently a senior advisor supporting the Strategic Inclusion and Sustainability team with Nutrien, a role that allows her to draw from all of her experiences to develop sustainable diversity and inclusion strategies for the organization.

She has a solid background as a multi-term board member for a Crown corporation and has served in this capacity for various organizations over the years. Julie Ann is a recent graduate of the Institute of Corporate Directors with professional director certification (ICD.D) which provides her with a depth of knowledge that supports setting the tone at the top in a good way.

As a proud Métis mother of two inspiring kids, Julie Ann has a vested interest in contributing to a healthy, sustainable community that provides an environment where opportunity and hope can thrive.

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Richard Jeanneau

Richard Jeanneau has been a licensed realtor property manager and broker since 1991. He has owned multiple companies, including Lake Property Management, Coldwell Banker Saskatoon and Prince Albert, and JJ Barnicke Saskatoon Commercial Real Estate, and currently has ownership stake in four companies.

Richard has extensive Board experience with local organizations, including the Saskatchewan Real Estate Commission, Saskatchewan Realtors Association, Saskatoon YMCA and Sunnyside Co-op. He currently serves on the Arbitration and Discipline Committee for the Saskatchewan Realtors Association.

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Brenda Nowakowski

Brenda Nowakowski is the President and Owner of Brelin Holdings Ltd., specializing in management consulting and business coaching. Previously, she served in senior roles at JNE Welding and managed her own consulting company, working with small business accounting systems and controls, and information database development.

Brenda is an experienced senior business leader in the manufacturing sector and has served on multiple Boards for organizations such as the NSBA, Huntington Society of Canada, and Safety Association of Saskatchewan Manufacturers.

She is committed to supporting Saskatchewan business to promote increased economic development and sustainable economic returns. She is a Certified Professional Accountant (CPA, CMA Saskatchewan) and holds a Professional Director designation focused on governance.

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