Young Okanagan College Alumni Honoured for Community Impact
Two young Okanagan College alumni are being recognized for their contributions to the local tech and business sector.
Brea Retzlaff and Drew Vincent have earned top honours from the College for their outstanding contributions within the community.
The duo are this year’s recipients of the Okanagan College Alumni Association’s (OCAA) Young Alumni Awards, an award that acknowledges alumni who demonstrate excellence in leadership, environment, business or industry, public or community service or arts. The OCAA has been conferring these awards since 1964 and this year marks the first time in the awards’ history that two Young Alumni Awards have been given out.
Retzlaff completed her Business Administration degree from the College in 2013 and got an early start working in the tech-industry immediately after graduation. Now the Director of Operations at Accelerate Okanagan (AO) – a tech accelerator organization that helps coach and mentor local entrepreneurs – Retzlaff helps lead AO’s strategic direction and contributes a strong voice in the booming Okanagan tech-sector.
“This is such an honour and a surprise to be recognized by the Alumni Association with this award,” she says. “The College is very near and dear to me and this award means a lot – I’m proud to represent OC alumni.”
Retzlaff is known for her extensive community involvement and actively serves on the YMCA Okanagan Board, Big Brothers Big Sisters Board, Okanagan College Foundation Board, is on the Program Advisory Committee for the College’s new Animation program and is an influential member in several other community organizations and events. She also helps mentor the College’s Enactus team, a project she says is close to her heart as she was once part of the team and helped grow a new chapter at the Penticton campus in 2009.
Vincent completed his Business Administration degree in 2014 at the Kelowna campus and is a former President for Enactus OC. He is well known for his contributions to a number of youth initiatives and social enterprises – as well as being a champion for sustainability in the region.
“It’s been very important to me in my education and my career to connect with the community and address needs of young professionals in a tangible way,” explains Vincent. “I am very humbled to be recognized as one of this year’s Young Alumni Award recipients. The future of the workplace in the Okanagan is positive and I’m making it my mission to help support and be a resource for the next generation of young professionals.”
Vincent’s dedication to leadership, social change and entrepreneurship while a student led to him being named one of the most influential people at Okanagan College over the past 50 years in 2013. He was also named the 2017 Alumni of the Year for all of Canada for his contributions to the Enactus organization, both within the College and helping to start and grow the program at UBCO. To this day, he continues to mentor and coach current business students.
Upon graduation, Vincent began working with Okanagan start-up companies doing strategic planning, marketing strategies and project management. He now works with local companies assisting with their operations as well as with the Central Okanagan Economic Development Commission running the Okanagan Young Professionals program, aiding the regions efforts to attract and retain skilled young professionals.
Vincent sits on the local immigration partnership council, aiding the region in its efforts to create a sense of belonging within the community. He is also on the board for the Okanagan Makers society, helping to launch a makers space to the region. His role as event director for Motionball Kelowna helps raise funds and awareness for developmental disabilities, last year raising $108,000 for Special Olympics Canada.
He is also heavily involved with the Kelowna Jaycees (Junior Chamber International) and was instrumental in moving the organization to co-ed membership for the first time in its history.
“Brea’s and Drew’s commitment to the community and the College is remarkable,” says Kara Kazimer, President of the Board, OCAA. “On behalf of my fellow board members, I congratulate both of them on their accomplishments and can honestly say I am excited to see what they do next – our community is a better place because of people like them.”
Retzlaff’s and Vincent’s achievements will be celebrated at the annual OCAA awards ceremony at the College’s Kelowna campus on October 15. For more information on the awards and previous recipients, please visit okanagan.bc.ca/alumni.