Our leadership team

Karen Wichuk, LLB, MA, ICD.D


With over 15 years of executive leadership spanning public, private and post-secondary sectors, Karen is recognized as a visionary leader. She adeptly navigates complex initiatives, driving organizational change and fostering enduring relationships locally and internationally through authentic stakeholder engagement.

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Before joining the EMRB, Karen held a number of leadership roles including: the inaugural Executive Lead for Health City where she played a strategic role in its inception and the development of the inaugural comprehensive 10-year strategy, as Assistant Deputy Minister within Executive Council where she focused government restructuring and policy development, and as Associate Vice President (Government & Corporate Relations) at the University of Alberta, where Karen helped advance the research, innovation and learning agenda by securing hundreds of millions of dollars in funding and advancing key partnerships.

Karen is a lawyer with a Master’s degree in Political Science. She has completed the Harvard Program for Leadership Development and has the ICD Director’s designation. Born and raised in the Region, her commitment to its prosperity remains unwavering.

Sharon Shuya, MBA

Director of Regional Growth Planning

As a long time Edmontonian, I am passionate about building a legacy for my children and grandchildren through the important work of the EMRB. In my role I provide leadership through dialogue, strategy, strategic oversight of initiatives and simply connecting the dots. In my spare time you can find me reading or exploring different parts of the Region – hiking, biking and dog walking.

Cindie LeBlanc, MA Global Leadership

Director of Corporate & Stakeholder Relations

Originally from a small Francophone hamlet in the Peace Country, I have lived and breathed regional living from an early age. I am a public servant at heart and throughout my career, I have sought and seized opportunities to contribute to collective efforts to improve my community. Ask me about bold ideas, transforming policies into action and ways to engage diverse stakeholders to support my organization and elevate its performance.

Our team of professionals

Barbra Smith, IAP2  

Senior Communications Advisor

Born and raised in Edmonton, I eventually found myself living on an acreage for 15 years before moving back to the city. I’m that tree-hugging, don’t-waste-water, and for-heaven’s-sake-don’t-let-your-vehicle-idle person.

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It’s this passion for sustainability that drew me to work for the EMRB. I believe that we should all strive to leave this world a little better than we found it. Ask me about where to find information on our latest initiatives. 

Charlene Chauvette, C.I.M.

Operations Manager

Although born and raised in Edmonton, I spend a lot of time in many of the municipalities surrounding Edmonton, whether camping, quadding, boating or shopping, and spending weekends in the Region at the lake or visiting family.

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In my spare time I can enjoy the great outdoors, honing dog training skills or crafting. I’ve been with the EMRB for close to 15 years. The most frequently asked question I get is “do we have money for that?”

Nathan Yue, BA 

Administrative Assistant

I’m a St. Albert native who recently returned home after earning my degree at the University of Victoria. When I’m not playing rugby, hockey, or golf, you’ll likely find me enjoying leisurely walks with my dog or whipping up delicious desserts in my kitchen. Curious about the significance of the master calendar? Feel free to ask me!

Raquel Kaplen

Executive Assistant

Born and raised in Edmonton, I’ve spent many years playing elite and university hockey all over the Region. In the summer, you can find me by the water any chance I get, and wherever I go – my fur babies come with me. Ask me about EMRB documents, calendars, and meetings with our CEO and Board Chair but don’t ask me to take care of the office plants.  

Shanshan Wang, Ph.D, P.Eng 

Manager, Business Intelligence

I was born and raised in China, moved to Canada to pursue a Ph.D. of Civil Engineering at the University of Western Ontario, then moved to Ottawa for my Postdoc research at National Research Council. Eventually, I settled down in Edmonton with my family.

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In my professional life and my personal Boston Marathon runner life, I am crazy about data and love to collect data, analyze data, and make my decisions/training based on the data. Ask me about the power that the data can bring us.

Stephanie Chai, MPlan, RPP, MCIP, LEED Green Associate 

Manager, Regional Planning

I am a born and raised – around the world and back again – Edmontonian. A land use planner by profession, I am passionate about building efficiently, vibrantly, and sustainably for future generations.

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On evenings and weekends, you’ll find me curating urban interventions, engaged in the community, or being chased by my kids. Ask me about the opportunities for regional collaboration and the impact of our strategic initiatives.

Taylor Varro, RPP, MCIP

Manager, Regional Planning

Originally from southern Alberta, I dreamed of exploring cities of all shapes and sizes, eventually settling down in the Region five years ago. I’m keen to apply this passion to promote responsible growth and support our natural and cultural assets.

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On long summer days, you’ll find me taking advantage of the Region’s endless river valley network, running, or on a dog-friendly patio with my pup (Sydney). Ask me about the growth plan, or how land use planners can integrate a climate change lens into our practice.