LiftOff has a team of exceptional and results-driven leaders who love to work with our growing clientele. Our team is eager to learn, open to new ideas and have a passion to connect Black individuals within our community. Read below to learn more about our exceptional team.
Dr. Trevor Charles
Trevor was born in Vancouver. His parents met at UBC. His father is from Trinidad, was a world class sprinter, a social worker for several years, and then had a career in law. His mother is French-Canadian, was a schoolteacher, and then a children’s author. Active in a variety of sports growing up, Trevor’s main sport became track and field, which he pursued through his undergrad at UBC.
Curious about science from an early age, he obtained a B.Sc. in Microbiology from UBC, and a Ph.D. In Molecular Biology from McMaster. While at McMaster, he met and married Cheryl, who had moved to Canada from Trinidad as a child. Following stays in Seattle/Vancouver and Montreal, they set roots in Waterloo in 1998, and have raised two children to adulthood.
Trevor is a professor in the Department of Biology at University of Waterloo where he runs a research lab, is Director of Waterloo Centre for Microbial Research, and is Founder and CSO of Metagenom Bio, a biotech company. He spends a lot of time thinking about the Circular Bioeconomy, how to use science to increase food security worldwide, and how to increase the participation of Black youth in STEM, Innovation and Entrepreneurship..
Folake Owodunni is the Program Coordinator at LiftOff, responsible for working with LiftOff entrepreneurs through the program curriculum. She is also the co-founder and CEO of Emergency Response Africa (ERA), a health tech startup that is changing the way medical emergencies are managed in Africa by building the largest network of First Responders, emergency vehicles, and hospitals, and connecting people in urgent need to help using technology.
Folake has a Masters in Global Health & Development from University College London, and a Master’s in Business Entrepreneurship & Technology (MBET) from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. She has over 12 years of experience working in healthcare, marketing communications, and management consulting, with companies in Nigeria, the United States, and Canada. She is certified as a First Responder with the Canadian Red Cross and is passionate about making fast, reliable emergency medical care accessible to all Africans.
Jane is passionate about education and social movements within marginalized communities.
Born in Nigeria, Jane lived most of her live there and then interchangeably between Malawi and Canada. She holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science and Information Technology from Igbinedion University Okada, Nigeria as well as a post graduate diploma in Supply Chain Management From Trios College Mississauga Canada.
Jane brings a lot of positive energy, new ideas, and a wide range of skills to the team. She is a creative thinker with great experiences in leadership, management and marketing. When she is not working, Jane loves to cook, she has a passion for sports, singing and writing songs.
Sharon Cain Zeliger
Sharon is originally from the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. She migrated to Canada at age 8! She lived mostly in Montreal, Quebec and moved to Waterloo region two years ago! Her career path has been that of an Administrative Registered Practical Nurse and owner operator of a nine bed Seniors Residence in Montreal!
What drives her is the love of her family and genuine concern for others! She believes that perseverance and faith are keys to success!
Tori Atkinson was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She migrated to Canada in 2015 to complete high school but not without finishing top of her class and receiving a Governor General bronze medal. Shortly after, she went on to complete a Bachelor’s of Science degree at the University of Waterloo where she also co-founded a youth organization called YUTES.
During her time in university she quickly observed the unique difficulties being faced by Caribbean students. With this observation she hopes to make services such as professional development and career advancement easily accessible to Caribbean students and individuals in Canada. She also describes herself as ambitious and believes that you can achieve anything you set your mind to.
The sky is NOT the limit.
Tamara is from St. Catherine, Jamaica where she spent most of her life before moving to Canada to further her education. She obtained a diploma from Conestoga College in Office Administration (Executive) program.
Tamara enjoys giving back to the community. In 2018 she started an organization Ambitions Hands to help deaf children. She has volunteered with Sexual Abuse Support Centre (SASC) to help support survivors of sexual violence in the community.
She believes that once you believe in yourself you will be unstoppable, and she preaches the value of self-worth and uplifting yourself.