Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

- Walt Whitman

Graham Truax

Executive Director / Executive in Residence

Graham is a technology and entrepreneurial shaper, a.k.a. Startup Whisperer.  He considers himself (and we do too) as an introverted extrovert and an optimistic pragmatist!  With over 30 years’ experience working as an entrepreneur and executive in start-ups and small-medium-sized businesses, starting with mainframe computing in 1982, Graham’s career has spanned retail, manufacturing, commercial real-estate development and media/technology industries in Canada and the US.  He has founded, co-founded and advised dozens of companies; realizing 7-9 figure revenues and raising over $150 million in venture and institutional financing.  Product conceptualization, market research, strategic planning, creative financing and risk/opportunity assessments are key attributes to his work as an Executive in Residence and Business Advisor.

As a relentless information hacker and technology advocate Graham’s enthusiasm for new concepts and ideas is infectious!  In helping his clients to build, grow and stay in place he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the challenge and opportunity of technology’s exponential future.  Graham moved to the Comox Valley from West Vancouver in 2008 with his family; he enjoys skiing, SUP, sailing, and exploring trails by foot or pedal.

Vision without execution is hallucination.

- Thomas Edison

Joseph Bowes

Executive in Residence

Entrepreneur, senior executive, and advisor – Joseph’s passion and experience has always revolved around early-stage ventures, and includes significant experience in commercialization strategy, corporate development, and financing. In this regard, he has worked with technology companies, as well as resource-based, and B2B (retail sector) ventures. Notable C-Suite roles include: his own several startups and successful exits; a senior executive role in a B2B startup which, in less than two years, grew to over $1M per week in revenues, and; serving as a founding director of a Florida-based specialty finance company, which grew during his involvement to $50M USD in net loans ($312M, 2016).

Skiing, racquet sports, and boating are some of Joseph’s favourite pastimes.

If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavour.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Janet Bonaguro

Executive in Residence

In having worked with over 150 organizations locally and internationally over the past 20+ years Janet is passionate about making a difference in the business community. Along with those assignments comes a great deal of adaptability and change management expertise. Backed with corporate-level skills from advising to national and multinational firms such as KPMG and MNP Janet has a wide range of entrepreneurial skills in helping businesses and ideas get off the ground quickly. With various credentials in business, finance, and project management she understands scalability and profitability challenges facing growing or pivoting organizations in changing marketplaces. Her experience spans multiple industries, highlights include: production/manufacturing, professional services, consulting, financial services, food and beverage, non-profit, construction and real estate development, energy and utilities, First Nations, marine operations, regulatory and public sector, sports management and education. Janet brings a skill set like a swiss army knife, if you can dream it up, she’s probably encountered it! When not in “business” mode Janet enjoys woodworking, paddleboarding or hiking in the forest.

Innovation Island

Previous Team Members


Jennifer Hufnagel

Previous General Manager

Jennifer was the General Manager from 2019-2022. A passion for people, technology, training and systems Jennifer navigated the waters of Innovation Island through the trying times of the pandemic. This included transitioning the office to fully-remote office operations. In addition to here day-to-day duties, for 2 years she lead the DER3 Progam and fully remote Team working with over 450 businesses to help them get digital. She is still a fan, friend and advocate of Innovation Island and technology startups on the island.

DER3 Team

Previous Team Members


Lisa Pedscalny

Photo - larger

Sharon Marshall


Steve Sakamoto


Leslee Langlands


Tashia Potter


Jaden Fath


Cait McDonald


Innovation Island: Board of Directors

Innovation Island is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors who is responsible for overseeing the strategic direction of the organization. Our Board excels in its commitment to creating a vibrant regional technology community! If you are interesting in joining our board, then please email
Cory Vanderhurst | MNP, LLP
Blair Franklin | Johnston Franklin Bishop Lawyers
Elizabeth Crum | Tremain Media
Candice Wiekenkamp | Aspengrove School
Don McRae | Highland Secondary School
Cory Vanderhorst

Cory Vanderhorst

Board Chair/President | MNP LLP

Location: Nanoose Bay

Cory is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Partner with MNP LLP. He works with non-profit, private and public sector organizations from Victoria to Port Hardy and across to the West Coast, and takes pride in giving back to the Island community. Cory also sits on the Boards of Nanaimo Science and Sustainability Society and the Islands Agriculture Show Society. Cory grew up in Courtenay and currently lives in Nanoose Bay with his wife Keli and his children Ben and Sadie. An avid “early adopter”, Cory is passionate about technology and the change it brings to our world.

Heydemann Art of Photogrtaphy

Blair Franklin

Vice Chair | Johnston Franklin Bishop

Location: Nanaimo

Blair Franklin is an estates & corporate lawyer. His practice includes wills, powers of attorney, contracts, leases, real estate conveyances, incorporations, and share purchases and sales. (*denotes law corporation). He was born in Esterhazy, Saskatchewan. His parents moved to Smithers, B.C. when Blair was young. He lived in Smithers, B.C. playing hockey and skiing until his parents moved to Nanaimo, B.C. in 1980. Blair played soccer, hockey and one year of lacrosse in Nanaimo. He graduated from Nanaimo District Senior Secondary and took two years of undergraduate work in Commerce at Malaspina College (now Vancouver Island University). After graduating from U.B.C. Faculty of Law, he returned to Nanaimo to article. He was called to the bar in May 1995 and joined Johnston Franklin in August 1995. Blair is married and has three children – Steven, Lisa and Trevor. He spends his time outside the office coaching hockey, curling, and softball and plays hockey and curls himself. Blair is a member of: Law Society of British Columbia; Nanaimo County Bar Association; Nanaimo City Bar Association; Canadian Bar Association; Treasurer of Solicitors’ General Practice – Central Vancouver Island; Nanaimo Curling Club (Board Member 06/07); Nanaimo Breakers Fast Pitch Softball Association, director; Certified Hockey Coach; Certified Curling Coach; Certified Softball Coach


Edge1 4

Candice Wiekenkamp

Treasurer | CFO Technology Company

Location: Nanaimo

Candice Wiekenkamp has over 25 years of experience working as an Accountant and Finance professional. Candice studied Business at Simon Fraser University which led her to receive her CPA, CA designation in 2000 and the CFA designation in 2015.  Candice has a passion for helping businesses achieve their goals through better financial management, efficiency of process and robust risk mitigation. Candice works with business leaders to discover and understand the issues affecting their business and implement solutions that create financial clarity, manage business risk and help them achieve their strategic goals. She currently serves as a Director of the VIVA Fund (VCC) Ltd, a small venture capital fund investing in local entrepreneurs, operates Sum Consulting Ltd., offering financial management consulting and coaching services. In addition, Candice has a strong commitment to volunteering her professional skills to help impactful community services thrive. Her thirst for adventure sees her skiing, hiking, boating and biking around the island with her husband and two children.


ElizabethProfilePic - Elizabeth Crum

Elizabeth Crum

Secretary | Tremain Media

Location: Campbell River

Elizabeth is a born-and-raised Campbell Riverite with a deep passion for Vancouver Island, its businesses and the people who live here. Her work experience ranges from customer service to heavy equipment operation, and now, producing media and marketing products.
When it comes to communications, PR, digital storytelling and marketing campaigns, Elizabeth is a powerhouse. She loves working with clients to understand their stories and find creative ways to express them. As a producer, Elizabeth collaborates with government, education, industry and First Nation clients across British Columbia. She has produced mini-documentaries, economic sector profiles, social media campaigns, fresh new websites and digital marketing workshops, just to name a few.
After years of travelling, schooling, and starting a family, Elizabeth is thrilled to be back in Campbell River. She notes that she looks forward to being on the IITA board, working to boost the economic footprint of Vancouver Island and support local economies.



Don McRae

Director at Large | Highland Secondary School

Location: Courtenay

Don McRae has been a lifelong Comox Valley resident. After completing degrees in International Relations and Education at UBC, he returned to the Comox Valley to teach Social Studies at a local high school. Don served as a councillor for the City of Courtenay for 7 years, resigning his seat in 2009 after becoming the MLA for the Comox Valley. During his time in provincial government, he served as Minister of Agriculture, Minister of Education, and Minister of Social Development and Social Innovation. In 2017, Don stepped down from provincial politics to return to teaching. Don is currently a vice principal for the Comox Valley School District, husband to his wife Deanne and the father to Gracie and Chloe.