Board & Staff
Our board boasts leaders with a deep commitment to the vision of enabling
all people to prosper on their own terms.
Len Penner, board chair
Len Penner has four decades of experience in business and agriculture. While working for Cargill Limited, he held a variety of roles, including president from 2005 to 2013. He spent his career ensuring farmers around the world had the tools they needed to prosper. Len wants to ensure smallholder farmers in poor, rural communities are given these same opportunities. Introduced to iDE by a friend, Len was inspired by the organization’s commitment to solving poverty through business. He has been a long-time supporter and joined the iDE Canada board of directors in 2015. He was nominated to iDE Canada board chair and iDE Global board member in 2017. Now retired, Len also spends his time volunteering with the Robb Nash Project, a not for profit that uses the power of music to encourage positive life choices.
Ted Paetkau, vice chair
Ted grew up on a farm in southern Manitoba. He has a degree in engineering from the University of Manitoba. Ted founded Concord Projects, a construction and development company with its headquarters in Winnipeg, Canada. He is a current member of the Association of Professional Engineers of the Province of Manitoba. Ted has been involved in numerous boards and committees, including non-profit organizations such as the Mennonite Central Committee, Mennonite Economic Development Associates and Youth for Christ Winnipeg. Ted has been involved with iDE for 15 years, including chair from 2010 to 2017.
Shirley Martens, fundraising chair
Shirley created The Lab Works Inc., a premium photo finishing lab, with her husband in 1988 and sold the company in 2011. She owns and manages commercial real estate property in Winnipeg and runs Blend Imports, a company that sources and imports South African wines to Manitoba. Shirley has served on the board of Art City, a not-for-profit community arts centre, since 2004, and is currently chair of their board. Shirley has been a volunteer with iDE since 2012, currently serving as chair of the fundraising and gala committees.
Gerry Dyck, founder and program chair
While studying at Mennonite Brethren Bible College in the early 80s, businessman and philanthropist Art DeFehr was a guest lecturer and exposed Gerry to the suffering of those living in developing nations. After graduation, Art, then UN high commissioner for refugees, invited Gerry to Somalia on an exploratory mission. Although he didn’t know where Somalia was, he agreed to come along. The 15-month trip planted the seed for what would later become iDE. Revolutionary at the time, iDE combined international development and business principles to solve poverty. In 1982, Gerry was iDE’s first country director, leading the organization’s inaugural project in Somalia. Later, while working for iDE in Bangladesh, he learned about UN-sponsored factories that were making carpets for export. Wired for business, when he learned they needed help with sales, Gerry co-founded a private company called Kalora Interiors International where he remains president. Through business, Gerry continues to create transformation, positive change and remains committed to sharing his resources to empower others.
Ken Friesen, audit and finance chair
Ken is a lifelong Winnipeg resident who has worked in finance for over 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Manitoba and completed his professional accounting designation. Ken has focused his business and financial skills in several local building material businesses and is currently chief financial officer for The All-Fab Group of Companies. Ken has been a supporter of iDE for over 15 years, including a consulting assignment in Zambia.
Art DeFehr, founder
Art has over forty years of experience in business and international development. He served as founding president of iDE Canada for many years. He also served as director of the Mennonite Central Committee in Bangladesh, was founding chair of the Canadian Food grains Bank and has been involved in missions and programs for numerous agencies throughout Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, Ethiopia, Lithuania, Vietnam and Africa. Art was the United Nations high commissioner for refugees in Somalia from 1982 to 1983, then the second largest program of its kind, serving 400,000 refugees. Art is CEO of Palliser Furniture, Canada’s largest home furnishings manufacturer, and has been involved with many entrepreneurial ventures. Art holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and has been awarded numerous honorary degrees and diplomas. Among his many accolades for business and international development, Art was appointed Officer of the Order of Canada in 2004 and Order of Manitoba in 2011.
Bill Fast, director
Based in Winnipeg, Bill is the founder of a variety of family-owned businesses, which include manufacturing and export and import enterprises located throughout North America. Bill has a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Manitoba and an MBA from the University of Western Ontario, now called the Richard Ivey School of Business.
Frank DeFehr, director
Frank has an intense interest in sustainable agriculture and grassroots farming. This interest—his love of the land—along with the desire to help those less fortunate, led him to iDE and its agricultural development programs around the world. Frank is a businessman with over 40 years of experience in the furniture manufacturing industry. He served as president of Palliser Furniture Ltd., his family-owned company and Canada’s largest furniture manufacturer, for close to 30 years. His entrepreneurial ventures now include two manufacturing companies. His other interests include several farming operations, a flour mill and a flax production and processing operation.
Michelle Redekopp, director
Michelle has been practicing law since 1994, and is a Partner and a member of the Executive Board of MLT Aikins LLP, a law firm with offices across Western Canada. She specializes in commercial real estate, construction law and business law. Introduced to iDE years ago through other Board Members, she is particularly inspired by iDE’s mission to engage and empower women to get involved in business opportunities that would better their livelihoods or build safer communities. Michelle was appointed to the Board of iDE in 2019.
Lindsay Poggemiller Smith, director
Lindsay has experience in both international development and local community development. A former iDE Canada staff member, she has been to projects in Ethiopia and Ghana and has worked in Niger. At home in Winnipeg, she has worked with those experiencing poverty and homelessness for 15 years and is currently an instructor in the Indigenous Social Enterprise and Community Development diploma programs at Red River College Polytechnic in Winnipeg.
The iDE Canada team is a group of mission-driven professionals, passionate about creating real and lasting change
Mercy Chimwaza – Finance Director
Mercy is an experienced CPA with over 10 years work experience. She started her career as an external auditor with Deloitte right after university. Then she worked as a full-time, unsalaried volunteer for 11 years, helping underprivileged members of society by translating and distributing free educational literature, as well as teaching deaf people. She later served as a Senior Financial Controller for African Parks Network – the largest not-for-profit conservation group in Africa. In this role, Mercy capably managed multi-currency, multi-million-dollar donor contracts for a workforce of over 500 employees. After moving to Canada, she completed a post-graduate diploma in International Business at Red River College. Mercy is also a professionally trained proofreader and loves learning languages. She is fluent in English, American Sign Language, Italian, and several African languages. She enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking in her free time.
Jon Goossen, Senior Fund Development Manager
Jon grew up in southern Manitoba where he helped out on the family farm. He has 25 years of teaching experience at Mennonite Brethren Collegiate Institute in Winnipeg as an educator in business and biblical studies. Jon has 9 years experience working in sales and marketing for Willmar Windows and Wallace & Wallace Fences and Automated Gates in Winnipeg. Jon holds a Bachelor of Commerce and Business Education Degree from the University of Manitoba.
Tiffany Koberstein, Director of Agriculture
Joining iDE from the private sector in 2017 with a diverse range of experience including leading the sales and marketing strategy for a major Canadian grain company, Tiffany is driven toward the efficient and effective achievement of results. Serving as iDE Canada Program Director, Tiffany was the project lead on an innovative 16M bilateral GAC-funded project in Ghana entitled “Rural Sanitation and Hygiene Market Development in Northern Ghana”, recognized in early 2020 by Cooperation Canada (formerly CCIC) as the organizational winner of the Lewis Perinbam Impact and Innovation Award. She completed a short course on feminist approaches in development, and is a gender champion within iDE. In 2021, Tiffany took on her current role, leading iDE’s global agriculture strategy.
Stu Taylor, CEO
While working in Zambia on an HIV and food security project, Stu discovered iDE. He was impressed by the organization's business-oriented approach and focus on people as creators rather than objects of charity. Stu joined iDE in 2006 and has progressed through a variety of roles, including executive director of iDE Canada, director of measurement and evaluation and leader of global initiatives, focusing on expanding our agriculture and sanitation work across the globe. Stu returned to the leadership of iDE Canada in 2016. Find his Tedx Talk here
Andrea Wiebe, Donor Engagement Coordinator
Andrea joined the iDE Canada team in 2021. She is an alumni of Menno Simons College and has over a decade of experience working for and supporting nonprofits. Andrea has experience developing and coordinating a variety of programs from support groups to summer camp. She loves opening her mailbox to something delightful and is excited to connect with you about the good work you make possible through your support of iDE Canada.
Allison Enns, Program Manager
Allison started working with food security programs in 2013, working on monitoring and evaluation with the Aga Khan Foundation in northern Mozambique. She has since worked as a food security and livelihood coordinator with Mennonite Central Committee Canada. In this work she supported a range of programming including climate and gender focused agriculture, irrigation, and savings and loans work in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Allison has an MSc in the Political Economy of Violence, Conflict, and Development from SOAS, University of London, and a BA in International Development and Anthropology from the University of Winnipeg. Allison is based in Winnipeg, and enjoys seeing live music and going cross country skiing in the winter.
Michael Roberts, Innovation Fund Director
Trained as an engineer at the University of Calgary (BSc) and Cornell University (MSc), Michael worked in the private sector for seven years before focusing his career on international development. He joined iDE in 2000, starting as the first Director of iDE Canada and later becoming Country Director of iDE’s program in Cambodia for 18 years. In that role, Michael integrated technical, social, and market considerations to design award-winning programs in agriculture, water supply, and sanitation—including the establishment of two social enterprises. He sees his current Innovation Fund Director role as an opportunity to create the conditions for teams across iDE to be brilliant—empowering excellence and innovation in others. Michael and his wife, Sreyhem, are based in Cambodia and adjusting to life as empty nesters.