Team CAAIN

Kerry Wright

CEO

Raised in a small rural Southwestern Ontario agricultural community, Kerry is a long way from where she thought her career would lead when she enrolled at the University of Guelph with a view to becoming a dietitian. The UofG food science-oriented program differed from most in that it offered business components. The combination of her grassroots upbringing and a food science specialisation led her to the Beef Information Centre (BIC), where she spent 10 years, discovering innate abilities in marketing and business before leaving as the National Product Development Manager. This early managerial experience allowed her to hone natural skills and develop additional competencies that have since proven invaluable. More importantly, working at BIC was fun, instilling in Kerry a love for, and interest in, Canada’s agriculture and food sectors. This set the stage for her next opportunity with the Mallot Creek Group, a growing, Elora, Ontario-based agri-food consultancy she would call home for almost 17 years, rising to the level of vice-president. Her time at Mallot rounded out her skill set, adding project and people management, as well as strategic business planning for their agri-food clients across Canada. (Did we mention she’s certified in Financial Accounting for Business by the Canadian Management Centre?) In 2020, she became Champion Petfoods’ Vice-President of Technical Product Development and Innovation, a job that led naturally to her current role as CEO of CAAIN, where she oversees and supports ag-tech innovation projects. Kerry and her athletic therapist husband, Dave, are the proud parents of two grown children and an excellent running companion, Molly, their sassy Australian Shepherd.

Kerry can be reached at info@caain.ca

Tracey Benson

Operations Coordinator

Born in Golden, B.C., Tracey Benson moved to Edmonton with her mother and brother as an eight-year-old to be closer to her maternal grandparents. Thus was instilled at an early age a belief in the value of family that is one of the qualities making her such a valued member of Team CAAIN. Her other contributions are obvious when one considers the skills and experience she brings to the table.
Over the past 25 years, Tracey has excelled in senior customer service and administration roles for companies such as the ATCO Group and Aurora Cannabis. Her diverse abilities and breadth of competencies have allowed her to work for organisations ranging from six-person operations to 10,000-employee corporate giants. Along the way, she has provided direct support for everyone from entry-level staff to C-Suite executives and boards of directors. The hundreds of projects to which she has contributed also span an astonishing breadth, from initiatives worth a few thousand dollars to massive jobs valued in the billions, and covering sectors as diverse as information technology, utilities, construction, and outsourcing.

Diversity defines Tracey’s personal time as much as it does her career. In addition to providing a home for several cats and volunteering for various community causes, she owns a farm. Yep. You heard that right! She insists the agricultural venture is a family thing and that the purchase had nothing to do with working for CAAIN, but we think she is being modest and that her professional dedication simply knows no bounds.

Tracey can be reached at tracey.benson@caain.ca

Joan Unger

Interim Operations Administrator

If you need something at the CAAIN offices, you go see Joan, the team’s administrative wizard. If she can’t fix your problem, it’s simply beyond repair. She honed her skills in various roles over 25 years with the Government of Alberta before becoming Director of Operations and Corporate Secretary of Alberta Innovates’ (AI) Bio Solutions division. In 2016, with the consolidation of AI’s four group’s into a single entity, she took over as Director of Operational Finance, retiring in February 2020—a retirement that was short lived. Her long working relationship with Cornelia Kreplin prompted CAAIN’s interim CEO to press Joan into service as Operations Administrator, a fancy way of saying “Ms. Fix-It.” She and her husband of many years are proud of their two grown sons, both of whom share their parents’ passion for rodeo and horses.

Joan can be reached at joan.unger@caain.ca

Nicole Gaudette, PhD

Program Manager

Passionate about research and innovation, Nicole is dedicated to supporting the growth and improvement of Canada’s evolving ag-tech sector. Prior to joining CAAIN, she served as both senior scientist with Alberta Agriculture & Forestry and Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta. The experience gained in these roles allowed her to develop skills in applied research, program development, stakeholder engagement, and strategic networking. As a result, she was eager to jump into the fast-paced, exciting world of agricultural innovation, feeling it fit her “out of the box” approach to problem-solving, as well as her inclination to seek opportunity when faced with challenge. Nicole’s energetic nature feeds her passions for creative cooking, gardening, outdoor activities such as hiking and cross-country skiing, and yoga. On the other hand, she’s not averse to sitting back with friends and family and enjoying a glass or two of wine while sharing the expertise she gained through her sensory science and wine studies at Brock University.

Nicole can be reached at nicole.gaudette@caain.ca.

Garson Law, MSc

Program Manager

Garson’s bio coming soon.

Garson can be reached at garson.law@caain.ca.

Julie Thibeault, BBA

Finance Manager

Julie’s 25 years of public- and private-sector experience in all things finance and accounting make her the perfect person to develop, implement, and maintain CAAIN’s financial management tools, functions, and procedures. Her duties require that she work closely with the members of our funded projects to ensure their compliance with Government of Canada fiscal reporting requirements. Julie holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Corporate Finance. Fluently bilingual, she moved to Alberta from Quebec 15 years ago.
Julie can be reached at julie.thibeault@caain.ca.

Eric Morin, CMP

Communications & Marketing Manager

Fluently bilingual and a Certified Communications Management Professional, Eric has spent the bulk of his 30-year career working in and for not-for-profit and public-sector organisations. A generalist skilled in project planning and management, writing and editing, public and media relations, crisis communications, and stakeholder engagement, he believes passionately in the intrinsic value of his profession. When not communicating at work, he enjoys doing so at home with his wife, Kathy, their two teenagers, and the family’s beloved Rottweiler-Coonhound cross, Dexter.

Eric can be reached at eric.morin@caain.ca.

250 Karl Clark Road, Edmonton, Alberta

(780) 975-8635