Women in Business Forum

Because Women Work Wonders

The Forum has officially concluded for 2019 and we'd like to extend our thanks to all the women who participated in this event, whether as speakers, representatives of business organizations, and of course, as guests! It was our pleasure to host such an outstanding crowd!

On Wednesday, October 16th 2019 the Chamber invited guests to a full day of casual, fun, and informative professional development and networking featuring local women sharing their stories, challenges, and triumphs in business. The event was designed for all women with an interest in business, whether as owners, managers, employees, or in the early stages of planning to start a business. The format was a series of 3 panels featuring local women in business answering questions from moderator Teresa Bird (Publisher, Alberni Valley News) and questions from the audience. Intros and a heartfelt Welcoming Address were provided by Port Alberni Mayor Sharie Minions and Sarah Jones with Bill Collette from the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce, followed by the first two panels featuring local women in business and a lively, inspiring lunchtime Keynote Address by Mandy Farmer, President & CEO of Accent Inns. At midday participants browsed the Working Wonders Info Market and met representatives from busines-related organizations and institutions to find out what they could do to support business! The day wrapped up with a final panel, a second Keynote Address by Josie Osborne, Mayor of the District of Tofino, and concluding remarks by City Councillor Debbie Haggard

Along the way we had professional photographs taken by Tashia Potter Portrait, who had set up a studio to take headshots of participants in anticipation of a project featuring local women leaders in the community. 

Special thanks to our sponsor the Alberni Valley News!

Panel 1: Marketing & Customer Relationship Management 


  • Annette Clement, Sales & Marketing Manager, Best Western Plus Barclay Hotel & Director, Alberni Valley Tourism
  • Sarah Jones, Manager/Buyer, Walk the Coast; President, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Kathy Krznaric, Owner, The Little Bavaria
  • Alicia Puucepp, Communications Manager, City of Port Alberni

Panel 2: Growth & Development Strategies


  • Dorothy Clarkstone, Co-Owner, Clarkstone & Dearin Notary Co.
  • Terry Deakin, Owner & CEO, INEO Employment Services; 2nd Vice-President, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Bouchra Savard, Co-Owner, Swept Away Inn and Fish & Duck Pub
  • Stefanie Weber, Co-Owner, Tim Hortons/Port Alberni

Panel 3: Work/Life Balance & Self Care


  • Rabinder Dhillon, Mortgage Expert, DLC Canadian Mortgage Experts
  • Alixe Diewold, Realtor, RE/MAX Canada
  • Carol-Anne Phillips, Co-Owner, Forever New Consignment and KJ Riggins Clothing Co. and All Tied Up Wedding and Event Planning & General Manager, The Italian Hall Events Centre; Vice President, Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce
  • Mary Ann Naesgaard, Co-Owner, Naesgaard Farm Market Ltd.

The Working Wonders Info Market 

  • Alberni Valley Employment Centre 
  • Community Futures Alberni-Clayoquot
  • INEO Employment Services
  • North Island College
  • Women's Enterprise Centre (Victoria BC)
  • Young Professionals of the Alberni Valley


Keynote Speaker Mandy Farmer, President & CEO of Accent Inns, has been recognized as Hotelier of the Year by Pinnacle Awards, an accolade that recognizes her decades of work within Canada’s tourism industry. Highlights from Farmer’s career include a commitment to the family-business, innovation through customer promotions and staff programs, rebelling against the ordinary through the creation of the Hotel Zed brand, and support of her local Victoria community and through charities that operate throughout the province.

Keynote Speaker Josie Osborne was recently re-elected to her third term as mayor of Tofino. A self-described ‘community builder,’ she grew up on Vancouver Island immersed in her parents’ small businesses and was strongly mentored in community service. After completing post-secondary education at UBC and SFU, she moved to Tofino and pursued a 15 year career in marine biology and environmental education before turning to small business and politics. Prior to becoming mayor, Josie served as the Chair of the Board of Directors for Tofino’s destination marketing organization, Tourism Tofino. Josie currently serves as Chair of the Board for the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET), and Vice Chair of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District. In 2017, she was appointed by the BC Minister of Environment and Climate Change to the British Columbia Clean Growth and Climate Action Advisory Council.

Moderator: Teresa Bird is the publisher of the Alberni Valley News. She arrived in Port Alberni eight years ago, but she has been an Island girl for 40 years, starting her journalism career at The Westerly News. She has lived in Ucluelet, Tofino, Esperanza, and Port McNeill. Prior to coming to Port Alberni, she was the publisher and editor of the North Island Gazette in Port Hardy and a busy volunteer in the several organizations. The Alberni Valley News has always been a member of the Alberni Valley Chamber of Commerce and Teresa got involved with the chamber board shortly after her arrival, serving on the board for five years, two years as president. After a two-year break, she returned as a director in October 2018. Teresa is also an active member of the Rotary Club of Port Alberni, serving as president there for two years, and sits on the board of Literacy Alberni.

Location: Chances Rimrock Gaming Centre, 4890 Cherry Creek Road, Port Alberni BC

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Tickets were $45 for the early bird rate, $60 for the regular rate. Taxes additional.Ticket price included lunch and refreshments. Registration opened at 8:30am and the event ran from 9:00am - 5:00pm.  

This event is made possible by a grant from the Province of British Columbia.