Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre

Innovation Centre Team


Judy Sander, Manager

When Judy isn't cross-country skiing, canoeing, playing hockey, enjoying time spent with her family, she is managing the Innovation Centre. Judy provides overall leadership and financial accountability. In addition, Judy takes a lead role on managing innovative projects and applying to various funding programs.


Heather MacDonald-Craig, Office Manager

Have you heard Heather's beautiful bagpiping skills? Well, when Heather isn't playing the pipes for the Thunder Bay Police Pipes and Drums, she is managing the day to day operations of the Innovation Centre. Through her position as office manager, Heather is also responsible for online and direct training in the areas of software development, project management and financial controls.


James Ellard, Business Development Officer

James is a recent graduate of Lakehead University through their business program majoring in Information Systems with a minor in Human Resources. At the office James takes on many tasks that often include government and private research, web administration, event coordinating, project development, and anything else that lands on his desk.


Nick Kolobutin, Commercialization Specialist

An avid marketer, start-up enthusiast and self-proclaimed business engineer Nick has the experience and understanding of what it takes to start a business having started one himself. Nick is experienced working with businesses ranging from a napkin sketch all the way to multi-national corporations. Nick assists entrepreneurs in identifying competitive factors, business modelling, value propositions, and even occasionally rolls up his sleeves to perform sales calls to validate an idea. When not working at the Innovation Centre Nick enjoys learning about emerging technology, follows his Football Club Manchester United, and of course playing with his three kids.


Kendall Kerbashian, Community Initiatives Officer

A graduate of the International Business program at Confederation College and a recent BBA graduate from Okanagan College in Kelowna, BC, Kendall joins the team as a Community Initiatives Officer. She is responsible for engaging clients who are looking to establish and/or expand their business through innovation, and developing community partnerships, innovative projects, and educational programs. Kendall has a strong focus and passion for encouraging youth entrepreneurship and social enterprise in Northwetsern Ontario.


Tuula Maunula, Office Administrator

Tuula is excited about joining the team at the Northwestern Ontario Innovation Centre as Office Administrator.  She will be responsible for assisting the team wherever she can, especially in the day to day operations of the Centre.  Her responsibilities are comprised of maintaining supplies and organizing events to financial management and everything in between.  She brings with her excellent customer service skills, knowledge of office procedures, a willingness to learn, and her smile.  


Jaquelyn Holm, Market Strategist

A recent  of Lakehead University’s Masters of Business Administration program, Jaquelyn is excited to work with organizations throughout Northwestern Ontario. With an emphasis on market analysis and planning, Jaquelyn’s focus is on assisting companies identify and capitalize on market opportunities.


George Lysenko, ICT Coordinator

George’s mandate is to help to shape, grow, and evangelize technology in Northwestern Ontario. He is responsible for working with small and medium sized businesses, technology companies and entrepreneurs in the region through a combination of training and education, hands-on support, community engagement, infrastructure projects, utilization support, and more. Through these activities, George will help businesses enhance productivity and competitiveness, expand into new markets, increase revenue, and create and implement innovative solutions.

Drawing from his background and experience, George will also promote the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology in the region through facilitating data, application, and resource sharing amongst public and private sector stakeholders, as well as engaging the academic and business communities concerning the potential of GIS technology.


Nicole Covello, ICT Initiatives Officer

Nicole started at the Innovation Centre as the ICT Initiatives Officer after graduating from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Mathematics.  She uses her experience working in technology positions in the federal government, large corporations, and small private companies to help businesses in Northwestern Ontario through ICT assessments and other related projects.  


Rick Prior, Executive in Residence

Rick brings his extensive business background of over 30 years includes sales and management experience in both the retail and wholesale sectors.He served previously as the Northern Ontario Vice-President for Ontrac Equipment Services and has lived and travelled in the region for over 25 years. Rick is an avid all-season outdoorsman enjoying all that nature has to offer from hunting and fishing to alpine and cross country skiing. He focuses on working directly with businesses seeking growth through innovation.


David Stezenko, Executive in Residence

A home grown entrepreneur, David and his family developed and grew Quality Market, a household name in Thunder Bay.  He built a service division of the company to provide healthy food options for the people of the remote north.  Additionally, he launched the region’s first E-commerce grocery retailer.   David also actively serves our community by providing palliative and spiritual care in ‘end of life’ ministries through Redwood Park Church.  His other current work is as a Sales Consultant at Badanai Motors.   With his passion for excellence, his experience in customer service, promotions, human resource management and business strategy, David’s focus at the Innovation Centre is to mentor and support businesses for new opportunity and growth.

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Box 398
2400 Nipigon Rd.
Thunder Bay, ON P7C 4W1

Telephone: 807-768-6682
Toll-Free: 1-866-768-6682
Fax: 807-768-6683

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