Board of Directors

Alex Bickers, President

phs13Alex Bickers is a strategic leader with over 20 years experience in conference and event management, sales, business development, meetings and events, and the global travel and incentive market.

As Director of Sales and Marketing for Nasco Staffing Solutions, Canada’s largest provider of temporary conference, event, promotional, food & beverage and production technical staff, he is responsible for the overall management of the North American Sales and Event Operations Team.

Alex is a proud member of MPI, ILEA, Tourism Vancouver, Tourism Toronto, Tourism Calgary, Tourism Edmonton, and Team Winnipeg.



Shelley Johnson, CSEP, Immediate Past President

SLJ - 1

Shelley has been producing and managing events and projects for over twenty years. Specializing in high-profile, high-quality fundraising events, Shelley has assisted many worthy organizations raise millions of dollars. Now with Nasco Productions, she continues to produce high impact events that bring magic to function, creating connection and causing results.

Shelley has been an active member of the International Special Event Society since 2009 when she joined the board of directors of the Vancouver chapter.

In March 2016, Shelley was named the Canadian Event Professional of the Year, the highest personal recognition possible in the Canadian event industry. The award is given to the person who inspires others to achieve event success, who stands out from the crowd by having made exceptional contributions to the industry over the past year, who creates successful stories time and time again and operates their business or career with the highest level of enthusiasm. Shelley embodies all these traits and continues to live it in her daily life.

More about Shelley: Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn


Karen St. Aubin, VP Finance

Karen St. Aubin

With almost 15 years working as an event management team-of-one in her various roles in the non-profit world, currently with the Canadian Bar Association-BC Branch, Karen is responsible for all aspects of event production from concept to planning and execution, through promotion and marketing to post-event analysis. Her event experience runs the gamut from corporate meetings, charity fundraising events and gala dinners to international conferences and the largest Chamber Music Festival in the world…and plenty in between.

Karen’s exposure to and experience in event planning began as a young child surrounded by the protocol and pageantry of the military while living in Canada and Europe, and a teaser of time in the Middle East. She loves a properly set table and happily admits that her favourite reference book is Emily Post’s Etiquette.


More about Karen: Twitter / LinkedIn


Courtney Westwood, VP Communications

Courtney Westwood VP Communications ILEA VancouverCourtney Westwood is a dedicated event professional with over 13 years experience. Always looking to ‘raise the bar,’ she quickly climbed the seniority ranks in municipal recreation where she started out as a skating instructor. She ended up taking on a variety of jobs within the venue including event and recreation program marketing, event set-ups and strikes, being an event supervisor and, towards the end of her 13-year career on Vancouver Island, was responsible for creating and implementing the facility’s overall marketing strategies as well as coordinated and supervised events and event staff.

Currently, Courtney is the Event Manager at the Vancouver Rowing Club. Did you know she is ILEA Vancouver’s first student member to turn in to a full member, a Director and now VP?


More about Courtney: Website / LinkedIn / Twitter / Facebook


Julie Mandarano, VP Programs

Julie1_croppedJulie Mandarano defines herself as a “Jack of all trades”. Having previously worked in makeup artistry, sports & entertainment, marketing, and business development, she now has found her niche in Event Management, as the Event Planner with the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. With over 5 years of event experience, Julie has organized events small and large, including national conferences, golf tournaments, social events, large dinner galas, and corporate meetings, and loves infusing fun and creativity to bring unique experiences and engagement for every guest.

When not planning every detail of her life, Julie can be found traveling the world, singing and performing, hanging at the beach, and trying to taste every morsel of food from around the globe.

As the new VP of Programs and a first year member of ILEA Vancouver, Julie is excited to meet and collaborate with the inspiring and talented group of professionals that make up Vancouver’s event industry.

More about Julie: Website / Twitter / Facebook


Dana Whitburn, VP Marketing & Sponsorship

Dana migrated from Winnipeg to Vancouver  in 2010 to pursue Event Management at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Upon completion of the one year program, she finished an internship and contract position, both in Conferences. Next she moved on to planning credit courses for water and wastewater operators all across this beautiful province. While honing in on her time management and organizational skills, she found it difficult to have passion for her position, she then moved on to the BC Cancer Foundation where she has remained since 2013. Dana has had the opportunity to manage front end logistics, volunteers, and social media for the mass participation event – Workout to Conquer Cancer, and managed the auction and guest list for the inaugural Hope Couture Fashion Show and Luncheon which raised $1.54 million in 2014. She has now been positioned as the Senior Development Coordinator for Signature Events, supporting both Hope Couture and the award winning Inspiration Gala, which raised $5 million in 2014, by managing the Silent Auctions, social media, guest lists, building relationships with the Committees, and staying current in the Special Events industry to bring innovation to both events. Her passion is to build relationships and assist others in growing professionally; she is thrilled to have joined the ILEA Vancouver team!

More about Dana: Website / LinkedIn / Instagram / Twitter


Gemma Scott, VP of Membership

Gemma is the Operations Director of Go2 Productions, a company that creates memorable experiences using art, design and technology.  She believes strongly in change and innovation and with this vision, the Go2 projects are exciting, the techniques are original and cutting edge, and the company is growing stronger as a result.

Gemma is also the licensee and producer of TEDxEastVan.

Go2 Productions is a leading edge Vancouver-based creative company, specializing in producing immersive experiences, projection mapping and moving art.



More about Gemma: Website


Andy Foster, Director at Large

Andy Foster’s background originates in operations and he has extensive experience in organization, planning and coordination.

Arriving in Vancouver, BC Andy took it upon him-self to further his education and graduated in Tourism Management in 2008. Successfully landing a position as a guide with Whistler Eco Tours he soon progressed into management and finished his time as general Manager.

Currently an Event Coordinator with Ritchie Bros Auctioneers Andy is responsible for budgeting, planning, logistic coordination and implementation of corporately funded tradeshows, charity auctions and customer loyalty events throughout North America. Through the summer months responsibilities change to coordinating and hosting the company’s top client base whilst in Vancouver and en route to success-rewarded fishing trip hosted by RBA.

Andy’s passion is strategically aligned and well executed, seamless events.

More about Andy: Website


Shayla Gabriel, Director at Large

Shayla GabrielInspired by her childhood full of attending Pow-Wows and family gatherings, Shayla Gabriel moved to Vancouver to study Event Management at the Art Institute of Vancouver. Since then, she has grown to appreciate the art and logistics behind putting together events of any size.

Shayla is currently the Operations Coordinator at Chair Décor Etc, Canada’s largest supplier of specialty linens and chair covers with fully stocked warehouses in both Vancouver and Toronto. Her outstanding attention to detail and organizational skills help her excel in her position within the company.

She is beyond excited to bring her passion and knowledge to the ILEA Vancouver Board this year. 



More about Shayla: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Instagram


Sacha Lehto, Director at Large

Sacha LehtoSacha has over ten years in the Events and Not-for-profit sector and specializes in event project management including fully planning scope of events, budgeting and arranging all logistical details. Sacha was nominated for ‘Event Planner of the Year’ at the 2016 Catersource Event Solutions Spotlight Awards in Las Vegas, along with four other international finalists. She currently manages BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration Gala and Hope Couture Fashion Show and Luncheon. The 2014 Inspiration Gala was the second largest fundraising Gala in Canadian history. Sacha also volunteers as a Committee member for the Charlford House Society Reach for the Stars Gala.

More about Sacha: Website / Instagram

Jennifer Harper Uncao

img_0746 With over 17 years of experience, Jennifer Harper Uncao specializes in event management.  She has executed over 50 signature galas, weddings and mass participation events across BC. Throughout her career she has been dedicated to delivering first class, flawless events. Jennifer’s strength is in relationship building and scaling up organizations through innovation. From 2005 to 2016, Jennifer worked at the BC Cancer Foundation as Senior Director of Special Events. Under Jennifer leadership, the BC Cancer Foundation’s Inspiration Gala raised over $22 Million in 11 years, all in support of breakthrough research at the BC Cancer Agency. In June 2016 Jennifer established Jennifer Harper Uncao Consulting Company, an organization specializing in event management and leadership development.

Career Highlights:

  • The 2015 Inspiration Gala raised $5 Million and was named the largest cancer fundraiser in Canada; and
  • In 2012 Inspiration Gala won “Best Fund Raising Event” in Canada at the Canadian Event Industry Awards.
  • Managed the largest cycling fundraising event in BC, The Ride To Conquer Cancer. In eight year the event has raised over $77 million dollars.

More about Jennifer: LinkedIn