Amazon HQ2 Leadership Team

A team of investment attraction experts will champion Alberta as the best place in North America to set up a second Amazon headquarters.


Amazon, a publicly traded U.S. corporation, has announced a competitive request for qualifying North American cities to submit bids to host Amazon's second world headquarters (HQ2). Edmonton and Calgary both intend to submit bids. We have created a leadership team of government, business and academic leaders to support Alberta's bids.

The Amazon HQ2 Leadership Team has extensive networks it will use to build a national and international profile for Alberta bids and to show the world why Edmonton and Calgary are great places to do business.

Their primary task is to help Alberta cities bid on Amazon’s HQ2 and identify opportunities for the provincial government to support the bids.

The team will showcase Alberta’s high quality of life, low taxes, diverse and well-educated workforce, extensive public infrastructure and world-class health care. The team includes the presidents of Alberta’s two largest universities, who will help position Alberta as an innovative and nimble workforce capable of responding to the talent requirements of Amazon, or any company looking to build a headquarters.

Read: Amazon HQ2 Leadership Team Terms of Reference (0.5 MB)

Alberta's headquarters attraction advantages

For both domestic and international companies, Alberta is a great place to do business.

Cost savings

  • Alberta cities have at least 13% lower business operating costs than U.S. cities (KPMG 2016 Competitive Alternatives study)
  • 12% lower corporate tax than the average U.S. state
  • universal health care, which translates to reduced overhead costs for employers and a healthier workforce overall
  • lowest total tax in Canada

Extensive trade infrastructure

  • three international airports
  • cargo delivery to more than 50 million customers within 24 hours
  • most extensive public infrastructure (per capita) in Canada
  • access to Europe through extensive rail and highway networks to east coast ports

Well qualified workforce

  • highest per capita concentration of engineers in Canada
  • strong labour pool of multilingual professional and technical talent

Post-secondary support

  • home to internationally recognized research facilities and 26 post-secondary institutions
  • highest post-secondary completion in Canada
  • Canada’s highest per capita investment in research and innovation

Team members

William (Bill) Sembo, Chair

Sembo was Vice Chairman at RBC Capital Markets LLC until October 2013. With over 40 years of industry experience, Sembo has spent the majority of his career in energy investment banking. He has expertise in investment banking, corporate credit and mergers and acquisitions. Prior to joining RBC in 1986, Sembo held corporate finance and financial planning positions with Toronto Dominion Bank and Asamera Inc., respectively. He has extensive capital markets expertise, having served as a director for both private and public boards as well as numerous not-for-profit organizations. Sembo currently serves as a director for ARC Resources Ltd. as well as three privately owned enterprises, OMERS Energy Services LP, CEDA International Corporation and Calgary Scientific Inc. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Calgary.

Mary Moran

Calgary Economic Development, president and CEO

Moran was promoted to president & CEO of Calgary Economic Development in 2015. She joined Calgary Economic Development in 2010 as vice-president, Marketing, Communications & Research, and has extensive leadership experience working across a number of sectors for both national and multi-national companies, including TELUS, Delta Hotels, Canadian Airlines and WARDAIR. Moran has led teams in the development of strategy, marketing, stakeholder relations and fund development. During her time at Calgary Economic Development, she steered the update of the 10-year Economic strategy for Calgary: Building on our Energy, led the flood recovery YYCisOPEN campaign and created the ‘Calgary. Be Part of the Energy’ promotional brand. Moran holds an MBA from Royal Roads University and is an active community member. She is currently a director on several non-profit boards including Sport Calgary, Calgary Sport Tourism Authority, Calgary Police Foundation and YouthLink Calgary Police Interpretive Centre. She is also past president of Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta. Moran is a competitive synchronized figure skater and an avid skier and runner.

Glen Vanstone

Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, vice-president, Trade and Investment

As vice-president of Trade & Investment at Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), Vanstone strives to help companies grow revenue and business partnerships beyond the Edmonton region. His division’s goal is to enhance regional economic development through trade and capitalize on improved market access by focusing efforts on competitive, high-growth companies and promote the Edmonton Metropolitan Region in targeted international markets to attract new businesses. Vanstone brings to EEDC over 25 years of experience in the transportation industry, working in a variety of industries, including airline operations and market and business development. Born and raised in Alberta, he started his career in engineering design and expanded his interests to meet growth opportunities in roles with Air Canada and Edmonton Airports.

Elizabeth Cannon

University of Calgary, president & vice-chancellor

Cannon is the eighth president and vice-chancellor of the University of Calgary. As the leader of one of Canada’s top research universities, she is a passionate advocate of higher education to drive innovation, leadership and community engagement. Prior to her appointment as president, Cannon was dean of the Schulich School of Engineering at the University of Calgary. She propelled the school into the top ranks of engineering schools by leading the development of interdisciplinary research programs, student leadership opportunities and a community-endorsed, five-year strategic plan. Today, graduates of the Schulich School of Engineering are particularly sought after by industry, not-for-profit organizations and government agencies. Cannon is a professional engineer, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Engineering and an elected foreign associate of the National Academy of Engineering. She currently serves as the chair of Universities Canada, vice chair of the Business-Higher Education Roundtable and a member of the Board of Governors of the Sidra Research and Medical Center in Qatar. Cannon holds a Bachelor of Applied Science in mathematics from Acadia University, as well as a BSc, MSc and PhD in geomatics engineering from the University of Calgary. She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Ottawa, Acadia University and the Université de Montréal. Born and raised in Prince Edward Island, Cannon was a student-athlete who competed as a Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) swimmer during her undergraduate career. She is married to professor emeritus of geomatics engineering Gérard Lachapelle, and has two children.

David Turpin

University of Alberta, president & vice-chancellor

Prior to joining the University of Alberta on July 1, 2015, Turpin was a professor of biology and president emeritus at the University of Victoria, where he served as president from 2000–2013. Under his leadership, the University of Victoria put into action an ambitious vision and strategic plan to become a destination of choice for students, faculty and staff from British Columbia, Canada and the world by inspiring a culture of excellence in teaching and research. During his presidency, the University of Victoria was ranked third among Canadian universities for scientific performance by the CWTS Leiden Size-Independent Ranking system. It was also during this time that the Times Higher Education ranked UVic as Canada’s top university under the age of 50. As the university's national standing increased, so too did student enrolment, and by 2013, UVic attracted the highest percentage of out-of-province students of any university west of Montreal. Nine new residences were built to accommodate this growth and to guarantee every first-year student a place. Student financial assistance more than doubled. Prior to becoming president of UVic, Turpin served as vice-president (academic) from 1995–2000 at Queen’s University, where he began his academic career in 1981. During this time, he assumed major administrative roles of increasing seniority, including head of the Department of Botany at UBC (1991–1993) and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science at Queen’s (1993–1995) before becoming Queen’s VP (academic) in 1995. Turpin is the father of two grown children and is married to Suromitra Sanatani, who has served in executive positions and has been a board member for numerous organizations. A lawyer by training, she worked in litigation before transferring her skills into the corporate and non-profit sectors.

Deron Bilous

Minister of Economic Development and Trade

Born and raised in Edmonton, Bilous knows the incredible contribution Alberta workers have made to our province and our country. Having grown up in a proudly Ukrainian home, he also appreciates the strength and beauty of our province’s diversity. Between 1995 and 2005, Bilous worked in Quebec, Tunisia and China on a number of projects with Canada World Youth, a volunteer youth program focusing on international development. After graduating from the University of Alberta with an education degree in 2001, he taught and mentored students at Edmonton’s Inner City High School, where he learned to see potential where others might see hardship. He also began participating in neighbourhood and community development. He was first elected as the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Edmonton-Beverly-Clareview on April 23, 2012, and again on May 5, 2015. A dedicated champion for Alberta workers and Alberta business, Bilous was sworn in as Minister of Economic Development and Trade on Oct. 22, 2015. Prior to this, he served as Minister of Municipal Affairs and as Minister of Service Alberta. Bilous and his family live in the Beverly area in northeast Edmonton.

Dwayne Dreger

Government of Alberta, Economic Development and Trade, Invest Alberta, executive director

Dreger is the newly appointed head of Invest Alberta, a government branch housed within the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, responsible for attracting investment to Alberta to diversify and strengthen the provincial economy. Dreger comes from a lifelong career in the financial services sector both domestically and internationally, having helped manage firms from small startups to global asset management titans. He is a holder of the Charter of Financial Analysts (CFA) designation and is a fellow of the Canadian Securities Industry.

Laura J. Kilcrease

Alberta Innovates, Chief Executive Officer

Kilcrease is the CEO for Alberta Innovates, including its subsidiaries InnoTech Alberta and C-FER Technologies. Recruited from Austin, Texas, she is the founder and former managing director of the venture capital fund Triton Ventures, LLC. Kilcrease is widely recognized as one of the key figures in changing Austin’s economic landscape from one struggling with the economic ups and downs that come with oil dependence to a high-tech environment that is today recognized as one of the No.1 Entrepreneur Cities and best place to live and work in the U.S. She is the co-founder of the Austin Technology Incubator (ATI), one of the United States’ first technology business incubators, and the Austin Technology Council, a premier networking organization that cultivated the growth of the Austin economy. She also launched Capital Network, one of the largest angel investor networks in the U.S. with over $150 million in completed transactions. Kilcrease has more than 25 years of hands-on experience in commercializing technology and a deep understanding of how to identify and build new business opportunities. Prior to accepting the role as Alberta Innovates’ CEO, she was a seven-year member of the Alberta Research and Innovation Advisory Committee, which guided the former Alberta Innovates’ corporations. In Austin, she gave her time and expertise to a number of non-profit boards, including the Women’s Leadership Advisory Board of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, the Beyster Institute, World Congress for Information Technology 2006 and the IC² Institute at The University of Texas at Austin, among many others. Born in London, Kilcrease received her certification as a Chartered Management Accountant in the U.K. and a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Texas. In her downtime, she enjoys cooking and fishing with her husband.