Futurpreneur appoints new board of directors chair and vice-chair

July 23, 2020

Accomplished business leader and inaugural chair of the Futurpreneur Board of Directors John Risley transitions to founding chair, David Aisenstat takes over as chair and David Sharpe assumes role of vice-chair from Elizabeth Roscoe

Toronto, ON (July 23, 2020) – Futurpreneur Canada today announced the transition of four members of its board of directors into new roles on the board: John Risley, O.C., who has chaired the Futurpreneur Board of Directors for 23 years, transitions to the role of founding chair, relinquishing the chair role to established board member David Aisenstat. In addition, David Sharpe assumes the role of vice-chair, relieving Elizabeth Roscoe, who will continue on the board as a director. With many decades of business and finance experience between them, and extensive knowledge of Canada’s youth entrepreneurship space, these four accomplished leaders will continue to offer vital guidance through Futurpreneur’s next phase of inclusive economic impact.

As founding chair, taking over from an interim leader in 1997, Risley presided over Futurpreneur’s growth into Canada’s only national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting young entrepreneurs, advising on Futurpreneur’s development as it helped more than 13,000 young entrepreneurs launch more than 11,000 small businesses nationwide.

“As a first-time CEO, it has been an honour and privilege to learn from and be supported by John Risley,” said Karen Greve Young, CEO, Futurpreneur Canada. “His passion for youth entrepreneurship and the importance of strong mentorship is unparalleled, and we are forever grateful for his dedication and expert guidance. While the pandemic has precluded an in-person celebration this summer, in the coming months, we look forward to celebrating John’s many accomplishments in fostering youth entrepreneurship across Canada and setting this organization up for success in the years ahead.”

“When young entrepreneurs succeed, Canada succeeds, but few of them can make it on their own. They need vital financing, mentorship and resources to launch, develop and grow the main street businesses that are so critical to this country’s inclusive economic prosperity,” said John Risley, Futurpreneur founding chair and founder and president, Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. “It has been an honour working with Futurpreneur to help fuel the success of thousands of outstanding young business owners across Canada. I’m excited about the future of the organization and confident that I’m leaving it in good hands with David Aisenstat as the new board chair.”

The CEO of Keg Restaurants Ltd., David Aisenstat has served on the Futurpreneur Board of Directors since 2010 and is a champion of main street business owners, recognizing the critical role they play in supporting communities of all sizes nationwide.

“I joined this board ten years ago at the strong recommendation of my good friend and the founding chair, John Risley. I believe strongly in the Futurpreneur mission and am thrilled to take on the role of chair of its board,” said Aisenstat. “As a restaurant founder myself, I know how challenging it is to grow a small business from the ground up and how vital Futurpreneur’s support is for young founders who may have trouble accessing start-up capital and finding an expert mentor to guide them. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help even more of these young leaders succeed in the years ahead.”

In addition to the new chair, current board director David Sharpe, CEO of Bridging Finance Inc., takes over the position of vice-chair as Elizabeth Roscoe completes her term in the role. Roscoe will remain on the board as a director.

The Futurpreneur Board of Directors includes:

  • David Aisenstat (chair), CEO, Keg Restaurants Ltd.
  • David Sharpe (vice chair), CEO, Bridging Finance Inc.
  • Michel Bergeron (treasurer), chief strategy officer, BDC
  • Valerie Fox (secretary), chief innovation consultant, The Pivotal Point
  • John Risley, O.C. (founding chair), president, Clearwater Fine Foods Inc.
  • Devon Brooks, founder and CEO, Sphere
  • Paula Cruickshank, senior vice president, Ontario & Virtual Bank, BDC
  • Mike Dobbins, chief strategy and corporate development officer, RBC
  • Cindy Goertzen, co-founder and COO, Trivenity Corp.
  • Joanna Griffiths, CEO, Knix and Knixteen
  • Janelle Hinds, founder, Helping Hands
  • Derrick Hunter, president, Bluesky Equities Ltd.
  • Thor Richardson, director of international operations, Casamigos Spirits Company
  • Catherine Roche, chief marketing officer and head of social impact, Bank of Montreal
  • Elizabeth Roscoe, senior vice president and national practice leader, public affairs, Hill & Knowlton Strategies Canada

About Futurpreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada has been fuelling the entrepreneurial passions of enterprising young Canadians since 1996. We’re the only national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentorship and resources to aspiring business owners aged 18-39. More than 13,000 young Canadian entrepreneurs, spanning every province and territory, have successfully launched their business with Futurpreneur’s support. Their main street businesses help drive Canada’s inclusive economic prosperity in communities from coast to coast to coast.

Futurpreneur is a founding member of the G20 Young Entrepreneurs’ Alliance, the Canadian member of Youth Business International, and the Canadian host of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

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