NANAIMO – Seven of Victoria’s best and brightest young professionals were recognized in Nanaimo at the esteemed Top 20 Under 40 event. This sixth consecutive awards gala took place on April 21st at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo.

The evening was put on by prominent Vancouver Island businessman Roger McKinnon and a group of municipal and business leaders. McKinnon and his team of judges poured over nomination submissions from 110 of the best and brightest of Vancouver Island’s professional community.

The event recognizes 20 of the most prominent professionals under the age of 40, and judges their submissions based on their contributions to both their professional world and their community.

The evening was attended by over 400, with a program that went late into the evening. Shortly after the dinner, the audience watched a moving tribute to the late Tom Harris, a prominent community builder and Top 20 Under 40 Judge, which was followed by a standing ovation.

After a keynote speech from Jason Kapalka (co-founder of Comox Valley’s PopCap), the Top 20 were named.

This prominent list, with 11 women and nine men, included seven young professionals from Victoria and the surrounding area:

Alyssa Andres is a Harvard Business School alumni and is currently pursuing her PhD in integrative medicine and quantum physics. She is the founder of the Mind Body Lab, a Victoria alternative medical practice, and has spend years volunteering with the BC Cancer Agency, the BC Cancer Foundation, and the BC Children’s Hospital.
Christian Arbez started at Thrifty Foods in 1998, eventually enrolling in the business administration program at Camosun College. Over the years, he ascended the ranks at Thrifty Foods, and in 2014, Arbez was promoted to his current position as director of marketing, where he leads a team of 25-plus employees.

Kyara Kahakauwila won a seat on the District of Metchosin Council in 1999, becoming the youngest elected woman in Canadian politics, serving three consecutive terms. She was also elected chair of the WestShore Chamber in 2009. She has served on numerous community boards and has been involved in the success of L.A. Limousines Inc. and Luxury Wine Tours Inc. After a return to the political sphere, she is once again a councillor for the District of Metchosin.

Mike De Palma founded Fintstones Construction and Masonry. He been working in the industry since age 16, and built a construction company with a focus on quality, attention to detail, honesty, and creating positive relationships at work and in the community.

Scott Gurney moved to Victoria in 2000, and has lived here ever since. He is the founder of 17Black, an organization that produces events that include Culinaire, Gold Medal Plates, Brewery and the Beast, and others.

Trina Legge is a registered veterinary technician who is certified in canine physical rehabilitation. Paws Around Town Victoria is Legge’s mobile canine fitness company, which also offers in-home pet sitting for medical needs. She is the Vancouver Island project co-ordinator and board member of the Canadian Animal Assistance Team (CAAT). In addition to these roles, Legge is a dedicated volunteer for the Vets For Pets Victoria program.

Will Duggan has been working at Creative Woodcraft since he was 13 years old. After a number of years in the industry, he purchased the business in 2011. Since Duggan has taken over, Creative Woodcraft has grown to be one of Vancouver Island’s leading cabinetry providers. Duggan is also involved in contributing to his community through various Rotary projects.