Artisan Fermenters and Distillers Business Conference and Tradeshow

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

2020 Speakers

We were absolutely delighted to yet again feature a comprehensive and relevant roster of speakers at Fortify. 

J.P. Gervais is Vice-President and Chief Agricultural Economist. He has over 20 years of experience analyzing domestic and international agricultural policies and markets, and his insights help guide strategy and monitor risk throughout the corporation. He’s frequently a featured speaker at national and international conferences, addressing global trends and the linkages to agri-food markets. In addition to acting as an FCC spokesperson on economic matters, J.P. provides commentary on the agriculture industry through videos and the FCC Ag Economics blog.

Prior to joining FCC in 2010, J.P. was a professor of agricultural economics at North Carolina State University and Laval University. He also held the Canada Research Chair in Agri-Industries and International Trade at Laval. J.P. is Past-President of the Canadian Agricultural Economics Society. He obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Iowa State University in 1999.

A marketing and tourism industry strategist with 25 years of leadership with blue chip organizations including Destination Canada.  For a decade, Greg was the Chief Strategy and Marketing Officer at Destination Canada and became the organization’s Chief Executive Officer in 2013.  During his tenure, Greg and his and team developed Canada’s tourism brand bringing it from 12th position worldwide to number one over five years and recognition of Canada as the most recommended destination in the world to visit.  Greg also lead the organization through successive disruptive challenges from 9-11 to SARS to the 2009 global financial crisis as well as many opportunities include leveraging the tourism potential from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic games.

Greg is currently a Partner with tourism strategy consultancy, Twenty31 where he advises the global tourism industry on how to achieve competitive advantage through leverage and mitigation of disruptive forces—whether they are technologies, traveller behaviour or global pandemics. 

Greg holds an MBA from the ASU Thunderbird School of International Management in Arizona and a degree in Economics from the University of Victoria.  Greg is a Fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographic Society. 

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois is a Professor in food distribution and policy in the Faculties of Management and Agriculture at Dalhousie University in Halifax. He is also the Scientific Director of the Agri-food Analytics Lab, also located at Dalhousie University. He is as well the former Dean of the Faculty of Management at Dalhousie University. Before joining Dalhousie, he was affiliated with the University of Guelph’s Arrell Food Institute, which he co-founded. While at the University of Guelph, he was also the Associate Dean of Research for the College of Business and Economics.

Known as “The Food Professor”, his current research interest lies in the broad area of food distribution, security and safety. He is one of the world’s most cited scholars in food supply chain management, food value chains and traceability.

He has authored five books on global food systems, his most recent one published in 2017 by Wiley-Blackwell entitled “Food Safety, Risk Intelligence and Benchmarking”. He has also published over 500 peer-reviewed journal articles in several academic publications. Furthermore, his research has been featured in several newspapers and media groups, including The Economist, the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, BBC, NBC, ABC, Fox News, Foreign Affairs, the Globe & Mail, the National Post and the Toronto Star.

Dr. Charlebois sits on a few company boards, and supports many organizations as a special advisor, including some publicly traded companies. He also has done some work on social licensing, which include public trust assessments and risk communication evaluations. Charlebois is also a member of the Scientific Council of the Business Scientific Institute, based in Luxemburg. He conducts policy analysis, evaluation, and demonstration projects for government agencies and major foundations focusing on agricultural policies and community development both in Canada and in development settings. Dr. Charlebois is a member of the Global Food Traceability Centre’s Advisory Board based in Washington DC, and a member of the National Scientific Committee of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) in Ottawa. He has testified on several occasions before parliamentary committees on food policy-related issues as an expert witness. He has been asked to act as an advisor on food and agricultural policies in many Canadian provinces, in the United States, Brazil, Austria, Italy, France, Belgium, China, Great Britain, Finland and the Netherlands.  


Sylvain Charlebois est professeur titulaire à la Faculté de management et en agriculture à l’Université Dalhousie à Halifax (Canada). Il est aussi le Directeur scientifique du Laboratoire des sciences analytiques en agroalimentaire, également de l’université Dalhousie. Il est également l’ancien Doyen de la Faculté de management à l’Université Dalhousie.

Son domaine de recherche et d’expertise englobe la distribution, la sécurité et la salubrité alimentaires. Il est l’un des experts les plus cité quant à la chaîne d’approvisionnement, la chaîne de valeur agroalimentaire et la traçabilité. Depuis près de 20 ans, il contribue régulièrement aux pages éditoriales du Globe and Mail et de La Presse comme expert dans le domaine agroalimentaire.

Il est l’auteur de plus de 500 articles dans des revues scientifiques internationales et professionnelles dans le domaine des sciences alimentaires et en management, intervenant dans de nombreuses conférences internationales, et expert dans différentes instances de recherche au Canada et à l’étranger. À deux reprises, il a remporté le prix international Emerald Lit (2008, 2012), l’un des prix les plus prestigieux dans le domaine de la recherche scientifique en sciences sociales. Ses recherches sont publiées par les plus importants journaux et revues du Québec et du monde, notamment The Economist, Foreign Affairs, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Washington Post, Globe and Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, La Presse et Le Devoir. Il a donné des entrevues médiatiques aux États-Unis, dans plusieurs pays européens, en Russie, Malaisie, Singapore et en Chine.

Sylvain Charlebois est membre de plusieurs conseils d’administration de compagnies privées. De plus, depuis 2011, il est membre des Comités scientifique et consultatif d’experts de l’Agence canadienne d’inspection des aliments et il est aussi membre du conseil du Global Food Traceability Center, basé à Washington. De même, il est membre du Conseil Scientifique du Business Science Institute basé au Luxembourg. Il a témoigné à plusieurs reprises en tant que témoin expert devant des commissions parlementaires sur des questions liées à la politique agroalimentaire. On lui a demandé d’agir comme conseiller sur les politiques alimentaires et agricoles dans de nombreuses provinces canadiennes, aux États-Unis, au Brésil, en Autriche, en Italie, en France, en Belgique, en Chine, en Grande-Bretagne, en Finlande et aux Pays-Bas.

Ashli Komaryk is an international conference speaker and trainer/consultant/coach. She offers a unique blend with her MBA studies, international career, Italian wine studies, organizational leadership/HR background, and her training, facilitation, and coaching expertise.

Ashli lived in four Canadian cities before the age of eight when her family transferred to Freeport (Bahamas) for five years. She completed her schooling in Vancouver before moving to Parma, Italy for 14 years where she studied art history (entirely in Italian), did her Italian sommelier studies (also in Italian) and began her career in organizational communication and team development. Now based back in Vancouver she works with teams in the beverage and hospitality industry, among other, to help them identify and implement the many strategies and best practices they can use to strengthen their teams for optimal performance while motivating and retaining their great people. Ashli specializes in integrating diversity so that it’s a definite competitive advantage!

Ashli is also a sessional MBA Organizational Behaviour instructor at Vancouver’s University Canada West and also works as a business coach for teams and individuals. To spark creativity or just to relax, Ashli loves to be by the water for a stroll or bike ride along the seawall. 

Karen has been involved in the British Columbia wine industry since 1998, beginning as senior staff at a Kelowna area winery, then providing marketing and economic development consulting services to Canadian wine and liquor industry clients. She launched WineDrops in 2015 to offer analysis, commentary and advisory on the business, policy and regulatory issues that are critical to the future of the B.C. and Canadian wine industry.

She is very pleased to serve on the boards of the Business Alliance for Artisan Fermenters and Distillers (host of the annual Fortify Conference) and the Vancouver International Wine Festival Society. She is also a founding board member of AIDV Canada (Canadian Chapter of the International Wine Law Association/Association Internationale des Juristes du Droit de la Vigne et du Vin).

Karen holds a Master of Arts in International Relations/Political Science and a Master of Public Policy degree. Previous non-wine roles have included: Director of Advocacy and Stakeholder Engagement with the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade; Senior Policy Analyst with the Business Council of British Columbia; and Economic/Political Advisor to the United States Consulate-General (Vancouver).

Today, she operates WineDrops alongside her public policy consultancy KMG Strategy in the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver, B.C.

Mark is the founder of Vintage Law Group. He provides a full range of legal services to the wine industry. He is a frequent speaker at wine industry conferences and is often quoted in the media on issues related to wine law. From 2017 to 2018, he served as the BC Government’s Liquor Policy Advisor. In that capacity, Mark chaired the Business Technical Advisory Panel on Liquor Policy which included representatives from various stakeholder groups. Mark continues to sit on that Panel.

Mari-Lou is a passionate entrepreneur with over 30 years of marketing, branding and media buying experience.  She is the Principal of InHouse Media + Marketing (est. 2003), a full-service firm in the Lower Mainland with clients globally. Mari-Lou and her team provide marketing strategies and execution of branding, creative, media promotions and website development for fermenters and distillers.

Mari-Lou has been a Marketing Director for a broadcasting corporation, the Global Media Manager for BC’s 5th largest manufacturer, as well as an Advisor at Canada’s largest entrepreneurial program.  She works with businesses of all sizes on strategies that elevate their brand and sales. 


Mari-Lou’s academic career has included three degrees and teaching at colleges and universities.  She is currently an Advisor on Douglas College’s Marketing Degree Board and UBC’s AIESEC International Board.  She is also a Member of the New Westminster Tourism Board, and various other socially focused organizations.


Hailing from Saskatchewan and growing up with family who owned a wheat farm, a cattle farm and one of the largest market gardens in the province – she understands that what is in the glass is only as good as what is in the field. 

An avid believer in gratitude and positivity Mari-Lou’s glass is not half full, but full to the brim! 


Geoff McIntyre, CPA, CA is a Partner based in MNP’s Kelowna office. As Leader of the Food and Beverage Processing Client Service Group for MNP’s Thompson Okanagan Region, Geoff specializes in serving the British Columbia beverage industry; currently working with winery, vineyard and cidery clients of varying sizes to help them achieve their goals. For the past decade, Geoff has been a regular contributor to Canadian Wine Industry publications Canadian Grapes to Wine and Orchard and Vine Magazine.

Geoff is also the Regional Leader for the delivery of MNP’s Farm Income Programs and Succession Planning services. With almost 25 years of public practice experience, Geoff works closely with his clients to develop tax-efficient business structures, tax-minimizing strategies and effective tax-compliance services. He also takes great pride in assisting owner-managers with the implementation of systems and strategies to help them gain control of their businesses and reduce the amount of time consumed by day-to-day operational issues.


Edward Olson, CPA, CA, is Regional Leader, Enterprise Risk Services, with MNP in Kelowna. Drawing on more than two decades of Canadian and international experience in public practice and industry, Edward delivers practical, meaningful business advice on strategy, risk and operations to private and public sector clients throughout the Okanagan.

Edward works closely with governments and organizations in a wide range industries, including financial services, utilities, aviation and education. He advises his clients on everything from internal audit and risk management, to corporate governance, process efficiency and performance improvement.

Kellie Garrett is an executive coach, speaker and certified board director who consults on leadership, culture change, governance and business strategy. She coaches individuals, teams and boards on high performance, leadership, culture and many other topics. A professional certified coach and certified corporate director, Kellie also is a Certified Dare to LeadTM and Daring WayTM Facilitator, qualified to teach the work of Brené Brown. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur in 2013, Kellie was a Senior VP at Farm Credit Canada, responsible for business strategy, enterprise risk management, the customer experience, and reputation management. She is a communication expert, named Master Communicator and Fellow by the International Association of Business Communicators.


Kellie is passionate about helping others reach their potential. Honours include Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women (2007) and Top 25 Women of Influence (2012). For her work on autism advocacy and Dress for Success, she also received the Red Cross (SK) Humanitarian Award (2014), and the Governor General of Canada Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers (2019).

Kellie loves quaffing wine, flower gardening and travel.  

Kaumil Gajrawala is a Managing Director covering the Beverage and Household & Personal Care Products sectors. Kaumil brings over 20 years of analytical experience to this role both on the buyside and sellside, with 16 years focused on the consumer sector. Most recently, Kaumil has spent the last five years covering global consumer products at Manikay Partners, an investment firm. Prior to Manikay, he was a top-3 ranked Beverage analyst at UBS, according to Institutional Investor. Kaumil holds a Bachelor of Science in Finance from Rutgers University.

Artisan Fermenters and Distillers Business Conference and Tradeshow

Tuesday, November 24, 2020