Focus Group

The Apprenticeship Focus Group brings together employers and employer associations, labour unions, educators, government, employment service providers, and other apprenticeship stakeholders in Northwestern Ontario. The Group works to build an evidence-based understanding of apprenticeship issues in the region, and launch strategies to address these issues.

Focus Group members bring decades of experience with the trades and Ontario's apprenticeship systems to the table. See below for current membership.

Meeting Minutes Archive
Lana Bullough
Speaker, Facilitator, Coach, Consultant
Safe Stress
Candace Campbell
Superior North Adult Learning Association
Karla Commisso
Administrative Assistant
JD Corbett
Employment Developer
Metis Nation of Ontario
Glen Drewes
IBEW Local 402
Jim Dyson
Confederation College
Labour Representitive

Dave contracts his expertise as an Organizational Coach and Facilitator for Angelo Peta Consulting, as an Executive and Leadership Coach for Superior-Strategies, as an Executive and Mindfulness Coach for his own company, and as a Senior Management Consultant and Business Coach for Arbora Management Services. Leading by example is one of the reasons Dave spent a number of years with Lakehead University (Distributed Learning and Career Services). As a union member, Dave takes pride in having over 30 years of experience leading management system projects for manufacturing and service companies. Dave has graduated with distinction from Lakehead University (Honours 2007), graduated from Confederation College (Graduate Awards 1973) and attained a Graduate Level Certification in Executive Coaching from Royal Roads University (4.0 grade point in 2011).

Putting vision into practice, sharing creative ideas and empowering people through organizational activities is why Dave is ready to help lead the charge to make good things happen. Recent projects include: a Brand Coaching Workshop: Digital Marketing Solutions, a Coach Approach to strategic planning for the Township of Dorion; a Coaching Proposal Writing Success for the Red Rock Indian Band; Community Leadership Coach Workshop for the Greenstone Economic Development Corporation; Coaching Board of Directors' Development Session for the Superior North Community Development Corporation and Executive Coach Training that can lead to a professional designation. His strategic planning skills are evident in the organizations and companies he helps stretch well beyond their perceived potential. Executive coaching sessions for individuals is ongoing and he coaches management teams individually and as a group for success. As a catalyst for exceptional outcomes, he has built a solid reputation for success, which included being a member of the Canadian delegation to NAFTA for being a leader in implementing environmental management system.

Dave demonstrates his commitment to his community by serving as a the Labour Co-Chair of the North Superior Workforce Development Board and the Chair of the Quality Management Committee for the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce. His past volunteer activities is an enviable list of contributing to a Regional Career Fair (Chair), Regional Skills Competition, Business / Education Committee, Youth Advisory Committee, Strategic Advisor to the 2010 World Junior Baseball Championship, Immigration Task Force and other initiatives including a local Innovation Think Tank.

Bob Graham
Local Employment Planning Council
Patty Habl-Gregory
Northwest Employment Works
Educators/Trainer Representative

John is presently working for Confederation College as Director of Training & Workforce Development. He has a Masters Degree from Central Michigan University in Organizational Development. John is a certified D.D.I. facilitator and has worked with numerous groups on strategic plans and business improvements strategies. His academic background is enhanced by practical management experience in various leadership roles. Other strengths include strong facilitation skills, governance models and the ability to produce results with people.

John has a wealth of experience in working with business's and groups to improve performance through problem solving and group organizational development. He has trained in the areas of leadership, team building, training needs analysis, business improvement, problem solving, Aboriginal Competency, Project Management, Emotional Intelligence (E.Q.), Team Building and Presentation Skills.

Recent clients have included, Weyerhaeuser Canada, Domtar, North American Palladium, Goldcorp, Thunder Bay Community Auditorium, City of Thunder Bay, Bombardier, Leadership Thunder Bay, Municipality of Schreiber, Town of Marathon, Township of Atikokan, Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Harbourview Family Health Team, , Wasaya Group Inc., Nishnawbwe Aski Nation, Fort William First Nation, Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre, Fort William Family Health Team and O.P.P.

He has also been actively involved in the community serving as President of Big Thunder Sports Park, Chair of the Thunder Bay Dragon Boat Race Festival and Chair of eh Thunder Bay Physician Recruitment & Retention Council.

Sarah Jones
Literacy Practitioner
Superior North Adult Learning Association
John Kelly
Operating Engineers – Local 793
Melissa Koski
Job Developer
YES Employment Services
Jillian Labossiere
Resolute Forest Products
Harold Lindstrom
Construction Association of Thunder Bay
Craig MacIntosh
Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development
Denis Malette
Ecole secondaire catholique de la verendrye
Rob Murphy
Thunder Bay Catholic School Board
Andy Nieweglowski
Employment Integration Service Officer
KKETs Training & Employment Services
Jeremy Noel
Lakehead Public Schools / OYAP
Business Representative
Thunder Bay City Council

Frank Pullia is an MBA, a Certified Management Accountant and Consulting CMA with vast experience in business, labour and community involvement. He is currently the Principal of Pullia Accounting & Consulting with specialty in Strategic and Community Development Planning, Economic Development, Change Management, Operational and Profit Management, Tourism and Marketing, and Governance.

His extensive volunteer work with non-profit and charitable organizations over the years has given him insight into the workings and need of such groups and on May 19, 2011 he received the 10-year Ontario Volunteer Service Award. Frank's strong interest in community affairs is coupled with an excellent grasp of the socio-political and economic environment of Northwestern Ontario. Such understanding and commitment to the community of Thunder Bay and region was also evident during his 2 terms as a Councillor for the City of Thunder Bay, his work as Chair of the Audit Committee, and on the Board of the Community Economic Development Commission where he spearheaded many job creation initiatives. Besides being a Director since 2000, Frank has served as the Co-Chair of Business during the 2002-2004 and the 2011-2014 period.

For more information on Frank's background and experience, please check his web site at

Madge Richardson
Executive Director
Charla Robinson
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce
Tracy Roblin
Project Coordinator
Co-Chair (Labour)

Doris has been a Nursing teacher/professor in the health sciences with the Ministry of Education & Confederation College for the last 30 years. She has been an advocate for the education and training of all, with equity being a priority.

She has served on various organizations & Boards over the years, including OPSEU women's committee, representing over 40,000 women in Ontario, St. Joseph's Care Group's (SJCG) Board of Governors for 9 years as well as SJCG's Advisory Committee for Long Term Care for 3 years, Confederation College's Board of Governors for 5 years, LOSDI for 18 years, the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation (Local Chapter), as well as other numerous voluntary groups. Her main goal is to identify and meet the needs of education and training for all in our community.

Government Representative - Municipalities (Municipality of Neebing)
Thunder Bay District Municipal League

Since December of 2000, Roger has been on council in the Municipality of Neebing. Over the past fifteen years, he has been on various boards representing the municipality. Roger currently sits on the board of the Thunder Bay District Municipal League and is the league's representative on the NSWPB. Roger has been in the trades since 1973 and has over thirty years of experience in the Forestry Industry.

Roger believes that the apprenticeship programs of today are going to allow our youth to become the best tradesperson's and leaders they can be. This is what we need to build the workforce of tomorrow and meet the demands of the future. This is a time of opportunity for today's youth and the future looks bright.

Business Representative
Vector Graphics

Mr. Thompson has been fortunate enough to work with some of the most advanced businesses in the forest and construction industries. These experiences have allowed Mr. Thompson to broaden his skill base while continuing to develop as a professional and an entrepreneur.

Jason has served in many different capacities throughout his career from Labourer to Manager. While in a management capacity he has taken on several distinct roles from Regional Manager of Safety, to Human Resources Assistant in charge of Organizational Development and most recently as Division Manager of Vector Construction.

Throughout his career Jason has always demonstrated strong leadership skills, and has realized the importance of building and maintaining a successful team. Never settling, collaborative, out of the box thinker are a few adjectives that can be used to explain Jason. His commitment to continuous improvement and superior performance are second to none.

Karen Throupe
Program Manager, Summer Camps
Skills Ontario
Nancy Veal
HR & Safety Superintendent - Woodlands
Resolute Forest Products
Co-Chair - Business (Business Representative)
Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce

Uli holds a business degree from Germany and worked in several managerial positions prior to his immigration to Canada. For more than 20 years, he headed GRK Fasteners, first as a Vice-President and General Manager for the German screw manufacturer Reisser and, beginning in 1993, as Co-owner and Chairman.

Uli is a firm believer in being different from your competitors, so together with his former wife Gerda and his two sons Dr. Mirco Walther and Dr. Thorsten Walther (deceased 2003), here in Thunder Bay, they developed at GRK numerous patents and fasteners which built the backbone of today's GRK. Through his knowledge, Uli has extensive experience of practices from other countries and continents.

In 2004, the Chamber of Commerce awarded him the Business Person of the Year award. For the last 12 years he has been co-chairing the Chamber of Commerce's Education Committee, and served on the Chamber's Board of Directors for the past 9 years, and as such he was elected Chairman for the 2013/2014 period. He also believes that Northwestern Ontario (NWO) is at the threshold of great things to come, especially if we make sure that every willing person in NWO access to training in the career of his or her choice. Regardless of University, College or Trades, it is our obligation to lay the foundation for our future generations. Uli believes that the future is ours; we only have to take our chances. With the right foresight, this will be the best place to work and live in all of Canada!


This project is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.

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