The Partnership

The Cascadia Innovation Corridor (CIC) links Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, and Portland with the opportunity to provide leadership, innovative problem solving and increased prosperity beyond what each city can achieve independently.  The region shares similar economic origins, a common landscape, diverse populations, and entrepreneurial spirit and a common border.

Today, the Cascadia Region is known for world-renowned research, emerging technologies, a highly educated workforce, innovation and creativity. By partnering together, we can create opportunities for success and solutions to our challenges for the millions who live in the Cascadia Region.

Who We Are

The Steering Committee is comprised of two co-CEOs representing Challenge Seattle and the Business Council of British Columbia and co-chairs representing both sides of the border for the seven program committees. The responsibility of the Steering Committee is to lead and advise on all matters related to CIC Activities.




Governor Christine Gregoire

CEO, Challenge Seattle
Steering Committee Co-Chair

Christine Gregoire is the CEO for Challenge Seattle. Challenge Seattle is an alliance of CEOs from 17 of the region’s largest private-sector employers who work together to ensure the greater Seattle area continues to thrive as one of the most vibrant, innovative, and globally competitive regions in the world.

Previously, Chris served for two terms as Governor of the State of Washington with a $32B biennial budget and over 60,000 employees.  In her first term as Governor, she created the Department of Early Learning and led on reforms to the K-12 system and investment in higher education. Chris led the state in a historical investment in infrastructure including the building of the largest floating bridge in the world and the largest transportation tunnel to open up Seattle’s waterfront.  She addressed the water wars in the state and established the Puget Sound initiative to restore one of the nation’s major estuaries.  She led an historic number of trade missions, reformed the foster care system to protect children, and was among the first to lead in health care reform.

During her second term, Chris led the state in major reforms, management and budgeting to position the state as one of the most financially secure to come out of the “Great Recession”.   

Prior to becoming Governor, Chris served for three terms as Attorney General for the State and prior to becoming Attorney General, Chris served four years as the Director of the State Department of Ecology.

In addition to being CEO of Challenge Seattle, Chris is a Member and former chair of the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Member of the National Bipartisan Governor’s Council.  She served as Chair of the National Export-Import Bank Advisory Board 2013 – 2016.

Chris holds a J.D. From Gonzaga University and a B.A. and teaching certificate from the University of Washington. She is a graduate of the Harvard Executive Management Program. 

Chris has been married to her husband Mike for over forty years.  They have two children, Courtney and Michelle and four grandchildren.

Greg D’Avignon

President & CEO, Business Council of British Columbia
Steering Committee Co-Chair

Greg D’Avignon is the President and CEO of the Business Council of B.C., a 220-member driven policy and advocacy organization comprised of the province’s leading businesses in every sector of the provincial economy and B.C.’s post-secondary institutions. Collectively BCBC members employ 25 percent of the province’s labour force.

A fourth generation British Columbian, Greg has held senior private and public sectors leadership positions over the last 25 years, including serving the Prime Minister of Canada. He is a frequent contributor, facilitator and commentator on business and public policy issues that influence the economy and prosperity of Canada and British Columbia.

Greg is the immediate past-Chair of the B.C. Cancer Foundation and former Chair of the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. He is a current member of the Board of the YMCA of Greater Vancouver, the Premier’s Indigenous Business Investment Council and a Board Member of the B.C. Academic Health Science Network. Greg additionally serves as a Board member for the Pacific Autism Family Centre Foundation.

In 2013, Greg was a recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and has been named one of Vancouver’s Power 50 list of influencers.

Lisa Brown, Ph.D.

Director, Washington State Department of Commerce
Steering Committee Member at Large

Lisa J. Brown, Ph.D., was appointed Commerce director by Governor Inslee and began serving the agency in February of 2019.

Prior to serving as Commerce Director, she served as chancellor of Washington State University, where she led the health science campus in Spokane.

Lisa served in the Washington State Legislature from 1996 – 2013 in the Senate where she was majority leader and chaired the Rules Committee, Ways and Means Committee, and Energy, Technology and Telecommunications Committee. She served in the state House of Representatives from 1993 – 1996, where she was minority whip and minority floor leader.

She has worked extensively on economic development in Eastern Washington and on gender equity.

Prior to state office, she was an associate professor of economics at Eastern Washington University and an associate professor of leadership at Gonzaga University.

Lisa earned her bachelor’s degree in economics at the University of Illinois and her master’s and doctoral degrees in economics from the University of Colorado in Boulder.

Steve Mullin

President, Washington Roundtable
Steering Committee Member at Large

Steve Mullin is President of the Washington Roundtable, an organization comprised of senior executives of major private sector employers who work to effect positive change on public policy issues that support state economic vitality and foster opportunity for all Washingtonians. He is also Board President of the Roundtable’s education foundation, Partnership for Learning, a 501(c)3 organization is working to increase post-secondary credential attainment among Washington students. Steve is responsible for providing overall strategic direction and management of both organizations.

Prior to joining the Roundtable, Steve was the Founding Executive Director of Partnership for Learning.  He has also worked for several local public affairs consulting firms, as a U.S. Senate staff member in Washington, D.C., and as a legislative staff member in Olympia. Steve is a graduate of Middlebury College and the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs. He currently serves on the boards of Pioneer Human Services, the Washington State Charter Schools Association, the Washington Health Alliance, the Washington Research Council, the Western Governors University-Washington Advisory Board and the Seattle Colleges Chancellor’s Advisory Council.

Bill Tam

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster
Steering Committee Member at Large

Bill Tam is recognized as one of the pre-eminent leaders of the B.C. tech sector. A lifelong entrepreneur, Bill has been actively involved with tech and startups as a founder, executive, investor, advisor and board member for the past 20 years.

Bill co-led the development of the Digital Technology Supercluster and currently serves as Chief Operating Officer. The Supercluster is a new initiative undertaken in partnership with the Government of Canada to develop economic clusters at scale by fostering ambitious, collaborative R&D projects that will drive the digital transformation of Canadian businesses and improve Canada’s competitiveness globally. During his term as CEO of the B.C. Tech Association, Vancouver was recognized among the top 15 Startup Ecosystems globally and the #1 ecosystem in Canada in 2017.

Bill received his MBA from the Ivey Business School and his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering Summa Cum Laude from McGill University. He serves on the Board of Governors at Emily Carr University of Art and Design and serves as an industry advisor at UBC, Simon Fraser University and BCIT. In 2018, UBC awarded Bill the Applied Science Dean’s Medal of Distinction for his contributions to the engineering and tech community.

Jill Tipping

President & CEO, B.C. Tech
Steering Committee Member at Large

Jill Tipping is President and CEO of B.C. Tech, a non-profit dedicated to making B.C. the best place to grow and scale a tech company. B.C. Tech provides places and events for the community to come together, impactful programs that help companies grow, scale, export and adopt technology and information about the tech sector and the solutions required to ensure continued growth.

Previously, Jill was VP Operations and CFO with Schneider Electric Solar, and she started her career as a director in Deloitte’s telecoms, technology and media group in the UK. Jill holds an MA in Economic History from St. Andrews University and an MSc in Management from Stanford and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Vancouver Economic Commission, the Digital Technology Supercluster, the Emerging Economy Task Force and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

Lesley Esford, Ph.D.

Steering Committee Member | Life Sciences

Dr. Lesley Esford, Principal of Bio2Strategy, received her Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from UBC and has spent many years in academia, industry and government in positions supporting the growth of the Life Sciences sector. Since 2006, she has worked as an ITA for NRC-IRAP, helping over 100 entrepreneurs developing a wide array of products and services, at every stage of the innovation process, from concept to commercialization.

Lesley is a Kauffman Fellow, which is a Silicon Valley-based international leadership program for venture capitalists and innovators.

Gregory Simon, M.D., M.P.H.

Senior Investigator, Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute
Steering Committee Member | Life Sciences

Gregory Simon, M.D., M.P.H., is an investigator at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute, a psychiatrist in Kaiser Permanente’s Behavioral Health Service, and a Research Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Washington. Dr. Simon’s research focuses on improving access to and quality of mental health care, especially for mood disorders and people at risk for self-harm and suicide. Specific areas of research include improving adherence to medication, increasing the availability of effective psychotherapy, personalization of treatment for mood disorders, evaluating peer support by and for people with mood disorders, prediction of suicidal behavior, population-based suicide prevention programs, and racial/ethnic disparities in mental health care.  Dr. Simon currently leads the Mental Health Research Network, an NIMH-funded cooperative agreement supporting population-based mental health research across 14 large health systems.

Molly Jones

Vice President, Government Affairs, Payactiv
Steering Committee Member | Transformative Technologies

Molly Jones brings experience across business, policy, and international affairs to the Cascadia Innovation Corridor. She is currently the Vice President for Government Affairs at Payactiv, a B Corp fintech startup that has pioneered earned wage access to help everyday Americans build financial wellness. She previously served as the Vice President for Government Affairs at the Washington Technology Industry Association (WTIA) and led the association’s advocacy and policy thought leadership efforts. Previously, she was a Vice President at The Asia Group, a strategic and business advisory firm focused on Asia. In her role, she advised clients on strategies for market entry, expansion, and social responsibility.

Molly graduated from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service with a Bachelor of Science in Science, Technology, and International Affairs. She received a Master of Public Policy from Australian National University, where she was a Fulbright Anne Wexler Scholar.

Pamela Saunders

Public Relations and Social Impact Lead, Microsoft Vancouver
Steering Committee Member | Transformative Technologies

Pamela Saunders is the PR & Social Impact Lead for Microsoft’s development campus in Vancouver. With more than 20 years in corporate communications across a variety of industries, she joined the company in 2016 to shape regional investment through collaborative partnerships. Saunders advocates for Vancouver’s tech industry, serving on the Board of Directors for the B.C. Tech Association and advising on Microsoft’s investment in the Digital Technology Supercluster.


Rickey Y. Yada, Ph.D.

Professor & Dean, UBC Faculty of Land & Food Systems
Steering Committee Member | Sustainable Agriculture

Dr. Rickey Yada was appointed Dean of the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and Professor of Food Science at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, B.C. in 2014. Prior to joining UBC, Dr. Yada was at the University of Guelph and held a number of leadership roles, including Professor in the Department of Food Science, Chair of the Department of Food Science, Assistant Vice President Research, a Canada Research Chair in Food Protein Structure, and a Founding Member of the Food Institute, University of Guelph.

Among other activities, Dr. Yada is a Member and Chair of the Board of Trustees International Life Science Institute – North America; Board Member of Bioenterprise (Guelph, Ontario); Scientific Advisory Board Member – Weston Seeding Food Innovation Program; Scientific Advisory Board Member – Integrated Health Institute (University of Alberta); Member of the Advisory Committee – Arrell Food Institute (University of Guelph); and Member of the Scientific Advisory Panel – Riddet Institute (New Zealand).

Dr. Yada is also the North American Editor for Trends in Food Science and Technology and has authored over 220 refereed journal publications and several book chapters. Dr. Yada is a Past President and Fellow of the Canadian Institute of Food Science and Technology and has an honorary DSc from the University of Guelph.

Chad Kruger

Director, Western Washington, College of Agricultural, Human & Natural Resources Sciences
Steering Committee Member | Sustainable Agriculture

Dr. Chad Kruger directs WSU’s Northwestern Washington Research & Extension Center (NWREC) in Mount Vernon, the Puyallup Research & Extension Center, and the Center for Sustaining Agriculture & Natural Resources (CSANR). He received a B.A. in Philosophy and History (1997) and an Academic Certificate in Ecointensive Agriculture Technologies (1998) from Northwest College in Kirkland, Washington, and he completed an M.S. (2003) in Land Resources from the Gaylord Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He was an Au Sable Graduate Fellow at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

He has served on the 2007/2008 Washington State Climate Action Team, co-chairing the Agriculture Sector Carbon Market Workgroup; the 2010 Washington State Climate Change Working Lands Technical Advisory Group; the Washington State Energy Strategy Technical Experts Panel; the Northwest Regional Biocarbon Initiative, and was a Commissioner on the Douglas County Water Conservancy Board. He is currently a member of the Washington Department of Natural Resources Expert Council on Climate Change, a steering committee member for the USDA Northwest Climate Hub, a board member for the Northwest Ag Business Center, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Northwest Environmental Forum.

He was raised in Washington State and has family roots in agriculture in both Eastern (wheat and cattle near Spokane) and Western Washington (berries in Whatcom County).

Paula Hammond

Senior Vice President, National Transportation Market Leader, WSP
Steering Committee Member | Transportation, Housing and Connectivity

Paula Hammond is the Senior Vice President, National Transportation Market Leader for WSP USA responsible for representing the company as an industry leader in emerging transportation areas such as connected and automated futures, system operations, pricing, resilience and integrated corridor management. Paula dedicated her 34-year public service career to improving transportation systems in Washington state, and served as WA Secretary of Transportation from 2007-2013. She has been a national figure on transportation issues, with leadership on numerous AASHTO committees, TRB Executive Board, ARTBA Board of Trustees and WTS International Board of Directors.

David Hoff

Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications & Public Affairs, Ledcor
Steering Committee Member | Transportation, Housing and Connectivity

David Hoff is currently the Senior Vice President, Government Relations and Community Investment at Ledcor, Canada’s 3rd largest construction company with over 8,000 employees across North America and annual revenue of over $3.5 billion ($3 billion USD). Previously, David had been the Senior Vice President, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs for Ledcor for a decade.

Prior to joining Ledcor, Dave was an independent consultant for four years working for the cement and concrete industry (Lafarge / Lehigh – Hanson – Heidelberg), high technology companies (3M and Bell Canada) and a prominent industrial union. Before that David managed public affairs for Bell Mobility for 7 years during its expansion into Western Canada. David has also held senior positions in banking, the Canadian federal government and an international consulting firm.

Concurrent with these roles David was on the Board of Directors for VIA Rail Canada (10 years – Chair of HR committee), the Jack Webster Media Foundation (16 – chair), Vancouver Board of Trade (7) and the Business Council of British Columbia (ongoing).

A citizen of Cascadia, David has traveled back and forth between Seattle and Vancouver over 100 times, by car and train, bus and airplane, float plane and helicopter.

Tom Roemer, Ed.D.

Vice President Academic, BCIT
Steering Committee Member | Best and Diverse Talent

Dr. Tom Roemer was born and raised in Munich, Bavaria, Germany. After some time as a logistics coordinator with the air force in Portugal, he attended the University of Munich and relocated to Canada in 1993.

Initially, Tom developed production control systems and database solutions for industry, when he received a call from Okanagan University College to design an engineering technology program around the emerging Internet. After subsequent appointments as Dean of Trades & Technology and Vice-President Strategic Development at Victoria’s Camosun College, he joined BCIT in early 2016.

As BCIT’s Vice-President Academic, he is responsible for the educational, international, indigenous and applied research portfolios of the Institute. This comprises about 2000 people and the lion’s share of BCIT’s $330 million budget.

Tom holds a Master’s degree in astrophysics, and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Simon Fraser University. He maintains strong ties to Germany and Brazil, and specializes in questions of practitioner training, global workforce development and applied research. He serves on various external Boards such as Innovate B.C.

Tom lives in both Vancouver and Victoria, and in his spare time he loves to go hiking with his dog Fiasco, or travel the world with his wife Karen.

Gail Murphy, Ph.D.

Vice President, Research & Innovation, UBC
Steering Committee Member | Higher Education Research Excellence

Dr. Gail C. Murphy is a Professor of Computer Science and Vice-President Research and Innovation at the University of British Columbia. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM). She was a co-founder of Tasktop Technologies Incorporated.

After completing her B.Sc. at the University of Alberta, she worked for five years as a software engineer in the Lower Mainland. She later pursued graduate studies in computer science at the University of Washington, earning the M.Sc. and Ph.D. degrees before joining UBC.

Dr. Murphy’s research focuses on improving the productivity of software developers and knowledge workers by providing the necessary tools to identify, manage and coordinate the information that matters most for their work. She also maintains an active research group with post-doctoral and graduate students.

Shwetak Patel, Ph.D.

Washington Research Foundation Entrepreneurship Endowed Professor, Computer Science & Engineering & Electrical Engineering, University of Washington
Steering Committee Member | Higher Education Research Excellence

Dr. Shwetak Patel is a Washington Research Foundation Endowed Professor in the Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering and the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Washington, where he directs the Ubicomp Lab. His research is in the areas of Human-Computer Interaction, Ubiquitous Computing, and Sensor-Enabled Embedded Systems, with a particular emphasis on the application of computing to health, sustainability, and interaction. Shwetak is also the CTO and Director of the Global Innovation Exchange (GIX). He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia Tech in 2008. He is a recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Award, Sloan Fellowship, Microsoft Research Faculty Fellowship, MIT TR-35 Award, World Economic Forum Young Global Scientist Award, NSF Career Award, and the U.S. Presidential PECASE award from President Obama. He was also a co-founder of a number of startups.

Matt Morrison

Steering Committee Member | Efficient Cross-Border Movement

Matt Morrison, CEO of the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER), serves the public/private partnership established in 1991 by statute in the states of Alaska, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Oregon, and the western Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, the Yukon and Northwest Territory, and manages the Pacific Northwest Center for Regional Disaster Resilience.

The mandate of PNWER is to build the region’s economy while maintaining the region’s natural environment. PNWER’s 15 working groups include trade & economic development, border issues, agriculture, invasive species, tourism and transportation, and several others based on the key economic sectors in the bi-national region.

Mr. Morrison has been a leader in promoting innovation in the Canada-US border region, and has been instrumental in several successful pilots of the Beyond the Border and Perimeter Security Action Plan. Under his guidance PNWER has led a Pre-Clearance Task Force for the past 3 years with federal officials (CBP, CBSA, DHS, Transport Canada, Public Safety Canada), as well as private sector carriers (air, marine, and rail), and was instrumental in ensuring that the legislation for implementation for the preclearance agreement was adopted in both the US Congress and Canadian Parliament.

He lives in Seattle where he and his wife Beth have four adult children, and where he enjoys skiing, sailing, and hiking.

Laurie Trautman, Ph.D.

Director, Border Policy Research Institute, WWU
Steering Committee Member | Efficient Cross-Border Movement

Dr. Laurie Trautman is the Director of the Border Policy Research Institute at Western Washington University. She engages in a range of research on the U.S. – Canada border, particularly in the Cascadia region. Topics include trade, transportation, human mobility, and security. In addition to working with faculty and students, she collaborates with the private sector and government agencies to advance policy solutions that balance the flow of goods and individuals with the need for efficiency and security at the border. Laurie participates in a number of working groups focused on cross-border collaboration, including the Pacific Northwest Economic Region, the International Mobility and Trade Corridor Program, and the Canada – U.S. Transportation Border Working Group. As co-chair of the Efficient Movement of People/Goods Across the Border group, Laurie brings expertise and extensive experience in both border policy issues and cross-border collaboration.


Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference

A Cross-Border Initiative
General & Media Inquiries:
Email Cascadia Innovation Corridor Conference