Okanagan College will recognize four esteemed community builders as Honorary Fellows during its 2015 convocation ceremonies in June—renowned chef Rod Butters, entrepreneur and past Interior Health board chair Norm Embree, lawyer Rick Pushor and social planner Annette Sharkey.
“I am extremely proud to announce these four individuals as Honorary Fellows of Okanagan College,” said president Jim Hamilton. “Much like the college, they are diverse, unique and represent a wide range of interests and communities. We recognize them as Honorary Fellows for demonstrating excellence in their chosen fields and decades of service to the people of our region.”
Rod Butters is best known locally as one of Kelowna’s top chefs, but his reputation extends well beyond the Okanagan. He is the chef and owner of both RauDZ Regional Table and micro bar & bites. Butters’ career has taken him into the kitchens of the Four Seasons Hotel group including Toronto, Chateau Whistler, and Shangri-La Hong Kong, to name a few.
In 1996 he became Chef de Cuisine of the world famous Wickaninnish Inn of Tofino. He relocated to Kelowna in 2000 to open the award-winning Fresco Restaurant and Lounge. He was inducted into the BC Restaurant Hall of Fame in 2007 and the Canadian Chefs Federation Honour Society in 2013 for outstanding commitment to his profession.
Butters is credited with advancing the farm-to-table movement through his local restaurants. He is also heavily involved in a number of not-for-profit initiatives and supports the Kelowna Community Food Bank, Growing Chefs, and Nature’s Trust, among others. Butters is an active member of the Okanagan College culinary community—he serves as chair of the Culinary Arts Advisory Council and has mentored and hired numerous Okanagan College apprentices and Red Seal chefs.
Norm Embree has spent a lifetime working as an entrepreneur and has devoted decades to public service, most notably as the former chair of the Interior Health Authority board of directors (2007-14) and as chair of the Board of Governors as Okanagan College transitioned from Okanagan University College in 2004-05 and served until 2007.
Embree’s career began in securities and he eventually joined his family’s machining business, Embree Industries Ltd. of Hamilton, which was founded by his grandfather in 1913. At just 34 years of age, he bought the company from his father and became president and CEO. Embree would grow the company to become a manufacturing and distribution business with more than 90 employees and several million dollars in annual consolidated sales.
A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Embree made good use of his degree in economics and went on to work for the Business Development Bank of Canada, as well as forming his own management consulting company, Presidents Network Inc.
Embree moved to Salmon Arm in the late 1990s and became deeply involved in a number of not-for-profit organizations. He has served as a board member of the Salmon Arm Economic Development Advisory Committee, OUC, Haney Heritage House, Shuswap Hospice Society, Nature Trust of BC, and the College of Pharmacists of BC. He has been a driving force behind the fundraising efforts of the Shuswap Hospice Society, the BC Liberals, the Shuswap Centre for the Neskonlith First Nation and the Rotary Club of Salmon Arm.
Rick Pushor is a founding partner of Pushor Mitchell LLP in Kelowna. Established more than 40 years ago, Pushor Mitchell now numbers more than 120 employees and is the largest law firm in B.C. outside of Vancouver.
He earned his undergraduate degree and law degree at the University of Alberta, relocated to Kelowna in the 1970s and practiced with Pushor Mitchell until 2013, when he retired. Pushor’s preferred practice areas include business formation, financing, restricting, acquisition, and share and asset transactions.
Pushor is a founding director of both the Rutland Rotary and the Ogopogo Rotary clubs and past director of Pathways (formerly the Central Okanagan Society for Community Living). He is the past president of the B.C. Curling Association and the B.C. Interior Junior Downhill Ski Association. He was also deeply involved in the Kelowna Minor Baseball Association, where he served as past director and was a longtime coach.
Pushor continues to be active in Chaparral Industries., a business he owns with his two sons.
Annette Sharkey is the current executive director of the Social Planning Council of the North Okanagan and has provided leadership in the social services field since taking on the role in 2006.
Raised in Vernon, Sharkey attended classes at the Vernon campus of Okanagan College. She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and English from the University of British Columbia but continues to be deeply involved with the college, serving on the Vernon Regional Advisory Committee and partnering in several college initiatives, such as Patchwork Farms at the Kalamalka Garden.
Sharkey has worked in the not-for-profit sector since graduating from university in front-line roles with agencies such as the RCMP, women’s centre, and immigrant services. Her passion and commitment to inspire significant change led her into the social planning field and she is a proponent of Partners in Action, a consultative model of social planning. Partners in Action has mobilized the community and created significant change when it comes to social issues.
Sharkey has brought more than $6 million dollars in capital into the North Okanagan through the Partners in Action model.
Each Honorary Fellow of the College will address a unique graduating class in June. Embree will attend the morning ceremony on Saturday, June 6, in Kelowna and Butters will address the graduating class of business students later that afternoon. Pushor will attend Summer Convocation on Thursday, June 25, and Sharkey will attend the Vernon ceremony on Tuesday,, June 23.
Previous Honorary Fellows recipients include Margriet Ruurs, Raghwa Gopal, Jim Henderson, and Garry Benson (2014); Alan Gatzke, Ernie Philip and Barry Lapointe (2013); Janet Shaw, Yasmin John-Thorpe and Lane Merrifield (2012); Beverley Busson, Mel Kotler and Dr. Tom Landecker (2011); Dorothy Tinning, George and Trudy Heiss and Peter Haubrich (2010); Robert Fine, Barbara Marchand and Charles Armstrong (2009); Jeannette Armstrong, Ken Harding, Richard Cannings, Robert Cannings and Sydney Cannings (2008); Ken Smedley, Lorraine McGrath and Ross Gorman (2007); Mike Roberts, Lois Serwa and Albert Baldeo (2006).