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About Us

As a non-profit based on the West Coast, we have always felt a strong connection to the natural world around us and its preservation. We are fortunate to live in a part of the world that has had limited exposure to the consequences of climate change, but we understand our world is connected and a global shift that puts the environment and its people above profits is needed.

Synergy Foundation was created in 2013 by the Synergy Enterprises team and a group of passionate community members and leaders who recognized the need for a non-profit organization to lead the transition towards a green economy on the west coast. Since its inception, Synergy Foundation has focused on innovative projects and programs that have pushed the envelope, supported hundreds of businesses, and turned great ideas into action.

Our three focus areas are green business, food security, and circular economy. This is represented in our core projects, BC Green Business, FED, and Project Zero, and our annual Ecostar Awards Gala.

Our mission is to share ideas, spark innovation and activate change to steer our economy and communities towards a more regenerative future

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WE ARE CONNECTORS.

We are well rooted within the green network in BC and we relish in the ability to bring people and businesses alike, together to spark new relationships and business opportunities.

WE ARE CHANGEMAKERS.

We challenge the status quo and inspire others to look beyond what is, to what can be. We are committed to advancing environmental resiliency through business and community action.

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Our Team

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Jill Doucette

Executive Director

After completing her studies in biology, Jill went on to start Synergy Enterprises in 2008 to support business and industry shift towards a low carbon future. In 2013, she additionally launched Synergy Foundation, since then Jill continues to balance her roles as CEO for Synergy Enterprises and ED. Jill can often be found spearheading Synergy Foundation’s expansion projects, sharing her knowledge with the entrepreneurs in our incubator program, and transporting hundreds of seed starts for FED’s various food security initiatives. In her down time Jill can be found exploring Vancouver Island with her chocolate lab.

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Georgia Lavender

Director of Program Operations

Georgia joined Synergy when she made the decision to settle on Vancouver Island after years of living in various communities across Canada from east to west. With experience as a hospitality manager, Georgia brings her strong organizational skills and her industry insights to her role. Passionate about the green economy and social equity, Georgia is compelled to find tangible solutions for businesses that strive to make a positive impact. Outside of work Georgia can be found exploring mountain bike trails and honing in her skills as a certified yoga teacher.   

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Brianna Stewart

FED Managing Director

As the FED Program Manager, Brianna brings community-focused urban agriculture projects to life while advocating for a sustainable food economy on Vancouver Island. Brianna holds a BSc in Food & Environment from UBC’s Faculty of Land and Food Systems and spent years in the sustainable restaurant scene, championing local food and the slow food movement in a variety of roles. Her role with FED bridges the gap between experience and a passion for agriculture and food sustainability. Outside of work, Brianna spends time exploring with her dog Sox and finding any excuse to travel the world and eat. 

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Jarret Klim

Green Business Program Manager

Jarret works with Synergy’s various non-profit programs, assisting with marketing, communications, and program operations. Passionate about the green economy and motivated by creating positive change and helping others do the same. After acquiring a BA in Economics and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, he split time consulting for the automotive recycling industry and developing sustainability programs for the hospitality industry. In his spare time, Jarret is likely fishing, swimming, or finding a patio to enjoy. 

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Emily Shields

Manager of Communications & Strategic Initiatives

Emily combines her passion for communications, green business, and sustainable food systems as Synergy's Marketing and Communications Manager. She joins the team with a Technical Writing Certificate from BCIT to complement her Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo. Her work is informed by her varied background, which includes everything from aquaculture research and municipal recycling to organic farming and outdoor retail. In her down time, Emily can be found backpacking, pottering around her garden, learning about herbal medicine, or reading her way through a stack of library books.

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Tai Uhlmann

Manager, Operations & Circular Economy Projects

Tai is an award-winning environmental professional with over a decade of experience working with local government, First Nations, private industry and community groups to re-envision waste as a resource and rethink systems towards circularity. She has worked on solid waste management planning, waste diversion program development and implementation and public consultation. Tai holds an MA in Environment and Management from Royal Roads University. Outside of work you can find Tai exploring nature with her family and foraging for fungi.

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Deep Chahal

Green Business Associate & Project Manager

A recent graduate of the BSc Biology program from the University of Victoria, Deep is passionate about working towards reversing the impacts of climate change and fostering the transitions towards a regenerative and circular future.  At Synergy, Deep found the perfect place to combine his knowledge of local ecosystems and technical abilities, encouraging businesses to adopt a cleaner working model. In his downtime Deep likes to connect with nature, hone his bird identification skills or go for a paddle on a sunny day!

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Maddy Best

Circular Economy Project Manager

Maddy is passionate about finding the overlap between economic development and sustainability. After acquiring a BA in Economics and Accounting from Western University, she gained experience in supply chain management, accounting, and marketing. At Synergy, she combines her business background with her passion for sustainability, working with BC businesses to find ways to implement circular practices in their operations. In her spare time, Maddy enjoys camping around the island with her friends, working on building a jungle in her apartment, and tackling fun sewing projects.

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Luiz Alberto De Souza

Circular Economy Associate

Luiz is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and moved to Canada in 2015 to pursue his education, graduating from the Bachelor of Business Administration – Sustainability program at Royal Roads University. Combining his passion for Business and Sustainability, he previously worked helping startups and green tech entrepreneurs to structure and raise capital for their businesses and projects. On his time off, Luiz is probably watching, playing, or commentating football (soccer). He also loves spending time at the beach on sunny days and watching series with his partner when it's too cold outside for him.

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Erica LeBrun

Operations Coordinator

Erica is passionate about supporting good work. Her role as Operations Coordinator for Synergy Foundation and Synergy Enterprises allows her to use skills gained through work in the adventure tourism industry to support team members. Before joining the Synergy team, Erica enjoyed a seasonal lifestyle traveling throughout British Columbia connecting with people and the wilderness. She landed in Victoria periodically throughout the years, and began rooting herself in Vancouver Island culture which sparked a passion for urban farming, education, and food security initiatives. When Erica is not coordinating various operations, she spends her time playing outside with her dog, Watson. Together, they love to hike, bike, chew on sticks, surf, and explore.

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Ashley Whelan

FED Program & Farm Operations Manager

After completing her Bachelor of Science in Regional & Urban Planning, Ashley felt inspired to pursue a career in urban agriculture as a means of connecting people to local food systems and cultivating more sustainable cities. Over many fruitful years of growing food, Ashley has also taken to the underground world of soil microbiology, studying and learning firsthand how stewarding soil can improve the health and resilience of both plant and human communities, while providing tasty abundant food for all!  Ashley loves nothing more than hiking with her dog around the island, cooking up and sharing tasty dishes from the garden, and crafting up DIY projects whenever she gets a chance.

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Alistair Howes

FED Manager of Special Projects & Engagement

Alistair’s ambition is to utilize local food production as a catalyst for transforming our society’s relationship with the environment. Throughout his philosophy degree at UVic, Alistair fell in love with Victoria’s cycling infrastructure and culinary scene. His previous experience in fine dining and urban farming opened Alistair's eyes to the opportunity to reconnect people with the food systems that sustain them. When Alistair is not down at the farm, he spends his time coaching rugby, wrestling with his dog or on his bicycle.

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Madisen Druyts

FED Project Coordinator

Madisen believes in social equity and food security for all. She is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Political Science with a minor in Public Administration at the University of Victoria. Madisen has a background in urban farming and is excited to gain more hands-on experience. Her role as FED’s Project Coordinator will allow her to engage with members of the community and drive positive impact on Southern Vancouver Island. In her spare time, Madisen enjoys reading fantasy novels, hanging out with her cat Nikita, or spending time at the beach.

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Synergy is working to advance these nine UN Sustainable Development Goals to create a more regenerative and equitable future for all.

Milestones

Synergy Sustainability Institute was formed

2013 

2013 

Launched the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification (VIGBC) with Office, Retail and Restaurant Certifications

2014

Synergy supports the launch of FED Urban Agriculture Society

2015

Launched the annual Ecostar Awards

2016

Introduced Spa & Salon certification through VIGBC

2018

Launched Project Zero to catalyze the transition to a Circular Economy

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2019

2019

2020

Introduced the Fleet & Trades Certification through VIGBC

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Officially changed our name from the Synergy Sustainability Institute to the Synergy Foundation

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Responded to the pandemic with the MyFEDFarm Program

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2021

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Project Zero Incubator expands to the Lower Mainland

Milestones

Synergy Sustainability Institute was formed

2013 

2013 

Launched the Vancouver Island Green Business Certification (VIGBC) with Office, Retail and Restaurant Certifications

2014

Synergy supports the launch of FED Urban Agriculture Society

2015

Launched the annual Ecostar Awards

2016

Introduced Spa & Salon certification through VIGBC

2018

Launched Project Zero to catalyze the transition to a Circular Economy

VIGBC-Crest-sm.png
FEDlogo-purple.png

2019

2019

2020

Introduced the Fleet & Trades Certification through VIGBC

EcoStar-Awards-Logo.png
ProjectZeroLargeCircle.png

Officially changed our name from the Synergy Sustainability Institute to the Synergy Foundation

MyFEDFarmLogo-sm.png
VIGBC-Crest-sm.png
VIGBC-Crest-sm.png

Responded to the pandemic with the MyFEDFarm Program

Synergy-Foundation-Logo.png

2021

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Project Zero Incubator expands to the Lower Mainland

2022

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Project Zero Incubator becomes a BC-wide program

2022

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Introduced the Grocery Certification through VIGBC

2023

VIGBC expands provincewide as

BC Green Business

Our Board

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Paul Shorthouse

Board Chair

Paul is one of Canada’s leading experts in the emerging circular economy, providing solutions and engaging leaders who are working at the intersection of business innovation, public policy, economic development, and sustainability. For over a decade, this work has placed him at the forefront of the important transition that is underway towards a greener, more prosperous, low-carbon economy. In February 2021, Paul took on the role of Managing Director of Circular Economy Leadership Canada (CELC), a network of leaders from all industries and sectors who are fostering collaboration, innovation, and knowledge exchange to accelerate the transition to a circular economy in Canada. Prior to this, Paul served as Senior Director at the Delphi Group, Managing Director of Vancouver-based GLOBE Advisors, and was the Conference Director for the GLOBE Series.

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Monica Pohlmann

Vice Chair

 Monica brings 25 years of experience as a sustainability advocate.  She is passionate about building the collaborative intelligence of diverse teams to spark co-creation of practical and transformative responses to complex challenges.  Monica Pohlmann is a Principal with Reos Partners and has 25 years of experience designing and guiding collaborative initiatives. She is driven by the vision that it is possible to make our communities and organizations better by bringing together diverse people and perspectives to recreate our systems and ourselves.

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Kira Rochefort

Treasurer

Kira Rochefort has worked with Synergy Foundation as the Treasurer since 2016. Synergy is a great fit for Kira as it combines her undergraduate studies in environmental studies with her career as an accountant. When she isn't looking at Synergy forecasts, Kira works as an assurance manager at Grant Thornton LLP in Victoria, working with clients in the privately held business and non-profit sectors. Kira enjoys spending time gardening and hiking around beautiful Vancouver Island.

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Tessa Stewart

Secretary

Tessa Stewart is one of the founding members of the Synergy Foundation board. Currently the Director of Client Partnerships for GlobalWide Media, Tessa joined the board to bring her insights on marketing and business development as well as her passion for sustainability. Watching the foundation grow from humble beginnings Tessa is consistently inspired by the amazing work being done by the Synergy Foundation on Vancouver Island to move the green economy forward.

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Kris Ord

Director at Large

Kris Ord brings over 30 years experience in the development and delivery of provincial environmental protection and sustainability programs.  She has spent most of her career with the BC Provincial Government developing policy, programs, legislation and regulations that range from Extended Producer Responsibility, Circular Economy, Air Quality and the provincial Plastics Action Plan.  Kris is the 2021 recipient of the Premiers' Legacy Award and the Recycling Council of British Columbia's Lifetime Achievement Award.  Kris has a passion for creating and supporting programs that move the dial in both communities and provincewide in the area of environmental protection and sustainability.  Kris is married with two children and lives in Victoria, BC.

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