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Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People of 2016

Our annual list of the province’s movers, shakers and difference-makers

Jul 4, 2016

by Alberta Venture Staff

Putting together the list of Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People is one of the most pleasant tasks of the year around here. Over the course of a couple of months, we at Alberta Venture prepare a spreadsheet of Albertans from every walk of life who are doing extraordinary things. We pull names from media sources – we are all news junkies, after all – but we also tap sources and get Google going to come up with names of people who may not be well known but who are nonetheless having a profound influence over some important aspect of society. (Of course Premier Rachel Notley is on the list, but so are Faith Davis and Shawn Petsche and Brad Stevens. Don’t know who they are? Read on.)

Then, we sit down with the spreadsheet projected up on the wall and hash it out, arguing for and against different names. We want real, tangible (if mostly unrecognized) influence. We look for people from all walks of life, not just business: This is an opportunity to highlight Albertans working in academia, the non-profit sector, public service and more. The discussions get heated. Ultimately, we arrive at 50. (We don’t try to rank them from there. That would be too much.Ed.)

So agree, disagree or something in between, we hope you find this list a worthy and interesting one.


Jodi Abbott
President and CEO, NorQuest College, Edmonton

Making it Work


Jane Alexander
Bishop, Anglican Diocese of Edmonton

Conscious Clergy


Darby Allen
Fire Chief, Fort McMurray

Taming the Beast


Melissa Blake
Mayor, Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo

Grace under pressure


Ashley Callingbull-Burnham
Actress and pageant winner, Enoch

The Role Model


Garrett Camp
Co-founder, Uber Technologies, San Francisco

Tech Savviest


Cassie Campbell-Pascall
Broadcaster, Calgary

Redefining Hockey


Timothy Caulfield
Researcher, University of Alberta Edmonton

Junk Debunker


Joe Ceci
Minister of Finance, Calgary

Money on his Mind


Ibolja Cernak
Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton

After War Ends


John Chambers
CEO, FirstEnergy Capital, Calgary

The Deal Broker


George Clark
Revolutionary, Fort McMurray

Leader of the “Kudatah”


Chris Cran
Visual Artist, Calgary

Turning Nothing into Something


Faith Davis
Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Tackling Cancer


Paul Douglas
President & CEO, PCL, Edmonton

Master Builder


Brian Ferguson
CEO, Cenovus Energy, Calgary

Leading by Example


Brett Gellner
CIO, TransAlta, Calgary

Strategic Investor


Bob Gomes
CEO, Stantec, Edmonton

Oil and Water


Susan Green
Chair, Alberta Gaming & Liquor Commission, Edmonton

The Gaming Governor


Lisa Holmes
President, Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Morinville

Municipal Watchdog


Sandra Jansen
MLA, Calgary

Conscientious Objector


Ryan Jespersen
Radio host, 630 CHED, Edmonton

Host with the Most


Daryl Katz
Owner, Katz Group, Edmonton

Sports Magnate


Ken Kobly
President and CEO, Alberta Chamber of Commerce, Edmonton

Glass Half Full


Braden Manns
Nephrologist, University of Calgary

Doctor Who?


Connor McDavid
Forward, Edmonton Oilers

Boy Wonder


Andrew Mosker
CEO, National Music Centre, Calgary

The music man


Dave Mowat
President and CEO, ATB Financial, Edmonton

Man of Character


Rachel Notley
Premier, Edmonton



Shawn Petsche
Festival manager, Sled Island Music and Arts Festival, Calgary

The Main Attraction


Shannon Phillips
Alberta Minister of the Environment, Lethbridge

Green is the new Black


Michelle Rempel
MP, Conservative Party of Canada, Calgary

No Nonsense


Len Rhodes
President and CEO, Edmonton Eskimos

Gridiron Great


Janet Riopel
President and CEO, Edmonton Chamber of Commerce

Champion of Commerce


Gregg Saretsky
President and CEO, WestJet, Calgary

Signs of Turbulence


Scott Saxberg
CEO, Crescent Point Energy, Calgary

Captain Candid


Brad Shaw
CEO, Shaw Communications, Calgary

Patron Mogul


Neil Shelly
Executive director, Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Association, Fort Saskatchewan

Billions-of-dollars Booster


John Simpson
CEO, CANA Group, Calgary

John the Builder


Amarjeet Sohi
Federal Minister of Infrastructure, Edmonton

Big Spender


Dave Solverson
Past president, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association, Camrose

Cattle Man


Brad Stevens
Deputy City Manager, Calgary

Laying Down the Gauntlet


Richard Sutton
Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Intelligent Being


Peter Tertzakian
Chief energy economist, ARC Financial, Calgary

Voice of Reason


Trevor Tombe
Assistant professor, University of Calgary

Just the Facts, Ma’am


Peter Watson
CEO, National Energy Board, Calgary

The Gatekeeper


Kristopher Wells
Professor, University of Alberta, Edmonton

Bully-Free Zones


Ed Whittingham
Executive director, Pembina Institute, Calgary

In This Together


Dan Wicklum
CEO, Canadian Oil Sands Innovation Alliance, Calgary

Team Player


Steve Williams
CEO, Suncor Energy, Calgary

The Outsider

41 Responses to Alberta’s 50 Most Influential People of 2016

  1. Crackmacs says:

    sigh, maybe next year

  2. johnny says:

    Having a job is a prerequisite crackmacs. And I don’t see many failed CSRs on the list.

  3. Paul says:

    Typo alert John Simpson called “John the Buildert”

  4. Rob-bear says:

    Mostly oil executives — hardly a surprise. A few quite surprising — like an Anglican Bishop and Fort McMurray’s Fire Chief.
    Well done, folks.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Just 14 women. Just 2 people of colour. Really?

    • Jayson says:

      If you look at Ventures list of 2006, only 9 women were chosen. With respect to the continuing growth of women in the business community and other areas, I’m encouraged to see that there is change. For Ethnic origins, “coloured people”, over 87% of albertans are recognized as of coming from Canadian & European decent. As you can see, these very statistics reflect the list of individuals presented above.

    • Anonymouse says:

      Not even one transgender wolfkin.

    • Sam Singh says:

      Yeah, so doesn’t that tell you who’s actually in the positions of influence in this province?

    • Anonymous says:

      because merit.

    • Penny Steeves says:

      There is no equality until people are chosen for their accomplishments rather than their sex, colour or who they sleep with. Just because you’re black or a woman shouldn’t automatically make you more influential than a white, man.

    • Nicolas says:

      No surprises there, mostly white males have access to power or decision making positions. Sigh. As an immigrant is frustrating to see you’ll never reach high.

    • WhySoMad says:

      Yes, really. The important criteria here is achievement, not race and gender.

      • Heather Hamilton says:

        Are you suggesting that a list of top achievers will naturally include few women or people of colour? And if so, I would be interested to know why you think so? Are women / non-whites just naturally low achievers, in your view? Or is there some social reason the prevents them from having the influence their achievements would otherwise merit? Either way, those are both important social questions that are worth asking.

    • JR says:

      Gender, colour and race should not define anyone nor should there be quotas for such. It should be based on who does the best job. Period.

      • Heather Hamilton says:

        That’s exactly the point: It SHOULDN’T be an issue. It SHOULD be based on merit. However, apparently it IS an issue, or statistically at least half the people on this list would be female, and 10% would be non-white. It would be nice if we could just forget about that and trust that our society has no such problems, but that’s not the world we live in.

    • Debbie Steil says:

      why does color or gender have to be an issue…they are PEOPLE!! I am so tired of people making race color and gender issues

      • Heather Hamilton says:

        it doesn’t HAVE to be an issue. But it IS an issue. There are many, many successful, influential women in this province. If all things were equal, more than half the people on this list would be female. It’s worth asking the question: if women don’t have the same influence, why not? If women DO have the same influence, why aren’t more of them on the list? Ignoring an issue that we wish was gone doesn’t actually make it go away.

  6. Derek Logan says:

    Hmm, the business leaders are still white and male, but gratifying many of the political leaders are women. It’s a start.

  7. Mike Johnston says:

    What a joke, aside from Ryan Jespersen who deserves this, this is more of a “Here are our sponsors” list.

  8. Nevinski says:

    Hmmm many photos are mixed up and incorrect!

  9. Lilwaynzmybabydady says:

    How did Alexus Frulling not make this list? What about the pedophile hunter? How about that peeple app girl?

  10. Liam Reid says:

    You should have a check box and let ALL of Alberta either agree or disagree. I’ll bet there would be a different point of view about some listed there..kind of a bias list in my opinion for what that’s worth.

  11. The web sight is a reflection of your views in a collaborative, collection of inner circle. I remember sitting with city and the main table turning down opportunity because the plate was filled. I was trying hard and I pushed for theirs and ymm entrepreneurs, I did free djing I was there when called on I even shovelled the walk ways for potentially positive influence on the community, and the church’s would use every good deed as next week sermons!!! Sigh then politics as the list lives on, I was pushed and became like a double black sheep? And the the stories flew everywhere , first time in my life I was good for the sake of a community that stepped and spit on me then out. But I can’t be totally mad it’s the same circle that gave a heads up for 2016, so I moved, gotta love theses forums ( pudding = where were the praised people on that date? Tsk tsk) happy Fourth of July, because it’s here agenda

  12. Cameron says:

    Brad Shaw really? The billionare of an oligopoly who gouges everyone on overpriced generic cable tv and internet.

  13. Mavis Hickford says:

    I often wonder if you ask any people other than “news” types what their opinion is of your picks. I know some of these people and they should definitely not be on your list, but money talks, yes?? and the belief that if you are educated you must be smart still hangs in there.

  14. Hairybagina says:

    Who goddamned cares how many women or people of colour are on the list. its never going to be perfect for everyone.Next it will be there were only five people who wear glasses then well only this many have had elective surgery. That’s how pathetic you whiners are.You see this is the joy of Canada , the right for everyone to have an opinion. This list is this persons point of view or a collective groups opinion. If you don’t like it I hear the Middle East has plenty of room. This is their right to express themselves if you don’t like it leave Canada! There are more serious things you could be voicing your opinions on .

  15. Lori says:

    Why does if have to be male or female? Why can’t it be the best person for the job. I don’t want a man or women doing a job to make it equal or to fill some agenda. Who cares what year it is. Best person for the job no matter sex, color or whether they are a viable minority or not. I don’t get it. It’s like handing out a trophy just for showing up.

  16. Kelly says:

    It’s not that I certainly don’t understand the inequality……but to think that a larger portion of women should be on based on gender, not on performance, is quite ridiculous. Not saying anything about the picks…..but to assume that a certain percent should be women, just because?

  17. Dolires says:

    Your pictures are all mixed up???????????????????????????????????

  18. Alex Ward says:

    Rempel instead of Kenney is an interesting statement…

    Leaving anyone from the tourism industry out of this year’s list is a mistake – it’s going to be a banner year in parts of Alberta…

  19. Edwin kommnick says:

    Who cares what dam color or male or female a person is.Geeesh people ,it’s about what good that person does .Who they are in there heart.What they do for the betterment of mankind.Atleast I think so.Guess I could be wrong .I’d hate to have an immoral greedy , heartless male or female influencing mankind.

  20. Alex Ward says:

    …oh and Anne McLellan who will manage the legalisation of an industry worth Billions a year, bring in extra tax revenue, free up our jails and courts and create tens of thousands of jobs…

  21. Penny Steeves says:

    Melissa Blake . . . influential but no longer respected.

  22. Adam says:

    Is notley telling us something or just the oil companies

  23. LH says:

    It’s to bad that AB Venture had to act so left leaning and neglect to print facts, instead made fun of George Clark. George lives in Calgary not Fort Mac. The “Kudatah” was a label that an NDP supporter gave our movement and had nothing to do with Albertans First. Also, REVOLUTIONARY?? LOL Why? Because he and about 200,000 other Albertans were peacefully exercising their democratic right. Nonetheless, George deserves the recognition for his months of hard work and his dedication .. so thank you!

  24. Anthony says:

    Blaming your ethnicity for your ability to succeed in this country is a cop-out. Both my parents were immigrants who came to Canada with little more than a strong work ethic. Most people could care less about where your from; what they admire are people with a work ethic who have dreams and the desire and will to work towards them. As a first generation Canadian I have little sympathy for those who claim they are oppressed in this country. Look around the world and you’ll realize you have it pretty good.

  25. Lala says:

    C’mon, it’s not 2015 any more, and women should not be on lists because of their genitalia, or others because of their skin colour, or other obvious, or non-obvious, ‘difference’, because that would be, you know, BIASED! Earn it, then you get included, that’s the only FAIR way…and congrats to those who had the ability to influence your fellow Albertans – good on you for trying to make your world a better place, whether others agree with you or not!

  26. Everett Clark says:

    You resort to playground antics , exactly what the ruling party does to subtly discredit opposition to their agenda. Shame on you!