Northern Development board acclaims new chair, committee members

April 26, 2019

From left: Wendy Benyk, Joel McKay, Margo Wagner, Lori Ackerman and Carol Leclerc

April 26, 2019 – Prince George | Northern Development Initiative Trust announces the acclimation of three new executive members to its board of directors, voted in at the Trust’s annual general meeting on April 24, 2019. For the first time since the inception of the Trust, the board has a female chair and an all-female executive committee.

New board chair

Margo Wagner is the newly acclaimed Chair of the Northern Development Initiative Trust Board of Directors. She has served on the board since 2016 and on the Cariboo/Chilcotin Lillooet Regional Advisory Committee since 2012.

Wagner has been the Cariboo Regional District (CRD) Electoral Area H Director since 2011 and the CRD Chair since 2017. Wagner served as the vice chair of the Cariboo-Chilcotin Regional Hospital District from 2012 to 2015 and as chair from 2015 to 2017. She has been the chair of the South Cariboo Rural Caucus for the past four years and served as the CRD’s Finance Committee Chair for two years.

Director Wagner is the Safety Officer and a first responder instructor for Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department and a retired registered nurse. She is the former president of Canim Lake Community Club and current chair of the Canim Lake Citizens on Patrol.

New vice-chair

Lori Ackerman was acclaimed by the board as the new vice-chair and has been member of Northern Development’s board for nearly 11 years. She has also served on the Northeast Regional Advisory Committee since 2008.  Ackerman is a resident of the Peace Region and has lived in the area since 1980, most of those in the City of Fort St. John, where she has served as mayor since 2011. Ackerman was first elected to City Council in 2005 and started serving as a director for the Peace River Regional District in 2006.

Since becoming mayor, Ackerman has been appointed to the Province’s Local Government RCMP Contract Management Committee and is a member of the Steering Committee for the BC Mayor’s Caucus.

In recognition of her community involvement in 2002 and 2012, Ackerman received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and in 2005, she received the Silver Acorn for her distinguished service to Scouting.

New director at large

Carol Leclerc is the newly acclaimed director at large on the Trust board, having been appointed to the board in January of 2019.  Leclerc was first elected as Mayor of Terrace in 2014 and served as a Terrace City Councillor from 2002-2011. She has served as a director and alternate director for the Regional District of Kitimat Stikine, chair and vice chair for the Northwest Regional Hospital District, director for Northern Health, director for BC Transit, and as a member of Northern Development Initiative Trust’s Northwest Regional Advisory Committee since 2015. She has her Masters of Arts in Professional Communication from Royal Roads University.

Finance committee chair

Wendy Benyk was acclaimed by the board as the finance committee chair for a second term and has been a provincially appointed member of Northern Development’s board for five years. Since 2004, Benyk has been the chief executive officer of Lakes District Maintenance Ltd., a highway road and bridge maintenance company. Previously, Benyk was a senior audit manager at KPMG and BDO Dunwoody. Active in her community, she is also director of ICA BC Benevolent Fund and vice president of Burns Lake and District Community Foundation. Benyk was previously vice president of BC Road Builders and Heavy Construction Association and president of Canadian Parents for French. She holds her bachelor’s in science from Brandon University and her Chartered Accountant certification from the Manitoba Institute of Chartered Accountants.

Bev Playfair, mayor of Fort St. James and Gary Foster, mayor of the Northern Rockies Regional Municipality, were both acclaimed as members of the board’s Finance Committee. Playfair and Foster were appointed to the board in January of 2019.

Retiring Members:

Tom Hoffman has stepped down from Northern Development’s board after six years as a provincially appointed member. Most recently, Hoffman filled the role of acting-chair following nearly one term as vice-chair.

After nine years as a provincially appointed member of Northern Development’s board, six of those as vice-chair, Gerald Wesley also stepped down from board.


Margo Wagner, incoming chair, Northern Development Initiative Trust

“I am pleased and honoured to have been elected chair of the Northern Development Board of Directors,” said Margo Wagner, “I am deeply committed to the economic success of all communities in Northern and Central BC and look forward to working with our esteemed directors to achieve that success.”

Joel McKay, CEO, Northern Development Initiative Trust

“I want to congratulate Chair Wagner on her election as Chair of the Trust’s Board of Directors and as the first female to sit at the head of the director’s table. I admire Chair Wagner’s commitment to the people and causes that impact the north and look forward to working together with her and the rest of our executive team. I would also like to thank Gerald Wesley and Tom Hoffman for their service and dedication, not only to the Trust, but to the communities and residents of Northern B.C.”



Northern Development has a passion for growing the economy of central and northern British Columbia. Communities, First Nations and businesses of the north are leaders in creating jobs, new revenues and improving the quality of life in the region, and the Trust is dedicated to supporting their growth. The Trust combines funding with smart thinking and since 2005 has found more than 3,100 ways to say “yes” to projects that help the region thrive.



Holly Plato
Director of communications and marketing
Northern Development Initiative Trust
250-561-2525  |  250-613-8695