Empowering Minds: Our Team

At Empowering Minds, we come from different backgrounds with different experiences and personalities, but we are united in our passion and commitment to working with youth. We strive to live what we teach as we practice personal development and set a strong example of leadership and confidence to the young people we come in contact with. All of our instructors are Rapport certified meaning they receive extensive training and comprehensive coaching to ensure that all of our programs are successful.

Deanna Werklund MBA, ICD.D
President & Board of Director

A visionary leader with an entrepreneurial spirit, Deanna Werklund is founder of Emergenetics Canada (2013) and Empowering Minds (2012).

Drawing on her experience as a successful businesswoman and her passion for helping others, Deanna helped found the Werklund Foundation in 2006. Deanna envisioned the Werklund Foundation as highly entrepreneurial in nature, investing in (and growing) initiatives with the capacity to yield the highest returns on our most important asset: our youth. Deanna’s bold vision for excellence in leadership education has led to the Werklund Foundation’s support of youth leadership initiatives in Alberta and the creation of Empowering Minds.

Deanna graduated from Queen’s University EMBA program in 2014. Deanna is also a graduate of the Institute for Corporate Directors, a Master Graduate of Rapport Leadership International, and a graduate of the highly distinguished Judy Project – an initiative led by the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. Currently, Deanna is a part-time student as AUArts (formerly ACAD) in the glass department taking glass blowing.

A mother of two (super great) grown children, Deanna enjoys spending time vacationing with her partner Rob Finot and their beautiful Rottie, Dani, anywhere there is a beach and warm weather.
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McKenna Simpson
Program Manager & Trainer

As a passionate young woman, McKenna has over 6 years of experience with youth leadership training and is dedicated to impacting and empowering people every day.

She has been involved in many ways within the community and always finds time to give back. With focusing on creating a safe environment for youth to find their voice and true potential, McKenna is an avid believer of our future leaders. She has a confident and unique personality and is passionate about the training she does with Rapport Leadership International and Empowering Minds. McKenna loves learning new things and sharing positive energy with the people around her. If you don’t find her hard at work or training a class she is most likely traveling the world and putting, even more, check marks on her bucket list.
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Alexis Paproski
Manager of Operations

Alexis has 25 years of experience in designing and delivering systems to support the development of adult leadership. She has been instrumental in developing the

processes to support programs that transform the way the learners work and live. She is excited to support youth to prepare them to become ‘Future Leaders’ who have the confidence, resiliency, and the focus required to thrive in today’s world.

She has been the backbone of supporting an international non-profit for the last 15 years. Making it possible to educate thousands of girls and women to read and write. Her way of creating a bit more peace in the world.

She is passionate about Process Management, Coordination, Coaching, HR Management, Customer-Service and is an Organization Specialist.
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Our Board

We are extremely excited to attract and retain such a well-respected and influential group of leaders to our Board of Directors.

Patti DeDominicis
Board Chair
Firmus Contracting

Patti is currently co-founder and a Director of Capexco Opportunity Funds, Founder and Director of DeDominicis Enterprises Inc.,

Director of the Brawn Family Foundation, and Chairman of the Board at Empowering Minds. She holds a professional designation with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Landmen and has skills in Negotiation, Management, Business Development, Team Building, and Project Management. She wants to give back to our community in any means possible to ensure great people follow their dreams! Patti is passionate about supporting Empowering Minds as she has seen the impact this program delivers and its lifelong impact, which she experienced firsthand. She wants to help more youth gain skills so they have a solid toolbox to help them move forward in life; to help prepare them so they are able to contribute to our society in a positive way. Her goal is to create a culture in schools that helps the entire community soar with positivity and contentment! Patti is a business women and proud mother of three boys. She enjoys traveling while learning about other languages and cultures. Patti spends her free time golfing, playing tennis and hiking.
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Denny Chow
Board Director
Capexco Inc.

Mr. Chow is currently the Chief Financial Officer for Capexco Inc., a real estate developer focused in Calgary, AB and San Diego, CA.

Mr. Chow has extensive Chief Financial Officer experience in both private and publicly listed corporations including: the CFO of Firmus Contracting Inc. - which provides construction services for major industrial, commercial, and residential multifamily real estate projects, the CFO of Morro Bay Resources Ltd, and the CFO of RMS Systems Inc. (an energy equipment and services company) from September 2008 to November 2013. He was also the Corporate Controller of Teine Energy Ltd. from February 2006 to June 2011. Mr. Chow is a Chartered Accountant.
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Kyle Rakowski
Board Director

Kyle is a devoted father and husband, and an experienced leader in the energy industry.

From large-scale construction projects to transformational corporate initiatives, Kyle has built and led diverse teams across North America to perform their best. He never shies away from a challenge, often delivering on strategic objectives in unlikely circumstances. Following degrees in science and engineering, Kyle has completed hundreds of hours of executive education ranging from supply chain to finance to leadership coaching. He is keen to support his community through volunteering, mentorship, and especially, through developing the leaders of tomorrow. His passions include: family, leadership, education, community, and resiliency.
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Brody Mainville
Board Director

Brody Mainville has almost 20 years of experience in the Canadian retail industry both as a retailer and supplier focused on category management, sales, strategy and deployment.

Brody currently leads the convenience retail business for Shell Canada, where he drives his organization to fulfil its purpose of making Shell Select the destination for Canadians on the go and over delivering on their expectations. Brody brings with him a global perspective having managed the global snacks portfolio for Shell across 27 countries and serving as convenience retail manager in South Africa based in Johannesburg. Prior to joining Shell, he worked at Coca-Cola in both Calgary and Toronto. Brody is an engaging leader and speaker who has long been passionate about team dynamics and developing individuals to meet their full potential. Brody is a positive influence that builds motivated and productive teams. An individual who desires and thrives on meeting and exceeding targets through collaborative partnerships and calculated risk. Brody is an advocate for health and well-being and encourages finding balance between health, work and family. Brody is married with two young children. He enjoys time with family & friends and has a keen interest in sports and history.
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David Ghoris
Board Director
Calgary Economic Development

David Ghoris is Business Development Manager for Agribusiness for Calgary Economic Development.

In this role he is responsible for Investment Attraction specific to the Ag sector as well as ecosystem building by building, developing and actioning Calgary Agribuisiness strategy. David gained his experience in Economic Development with the City of Red Deer and was previously the Head of Content for dmg::events, primarily responsible for driving cutting edge and innovative content with C-Level Executives and key government figures throughout the event portfolio, as well as leading the conference teams growth into Latin America.
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