Contact the Teams
Lee Francoeur, President CEO of TAKU Group of Companies in 2022, brings over twenty-five years of legal profession and social acumen to his role. Lee has been a driving force behind the organization’s mission to create sustainable economic
development and empower individuals within the community. Lee has always been
passionate about his people in Atlin, being born a “ Wolf Clan” member and
deeply connected to the people and the land of Atlin, British Columbia.
Khidudâ was born under the Alaskan skies of Juneau in 1949, Khidudâ (James Williams) proudly hails from a lineage of the Taku River Tlingit Matriarch Sedaya (Elisabeth Nyman) and Khus’exh (Steven Williams). Dedicating his life as a loving husband and committed father, James has held the distinguished title of Wolf Clan leader for the TRTFN since 2013. As an established business individual and mentor, James gained a considerable reputation for his contributions to his community. His enduring strength and character, however, were profoundly tested during his early years when he endured the painful experience at a Canadian residential school.
Da Yawk (Vernon Williams), is the child of Kaushee (Emma Jack) and Jigê (Jackie Williams) In the 1990s, he was requested by his own Crow Clan to take on the role of their leader. Vernon’s time at a residential school erased his ability to speak his people’s language. Yet, he maintained a strong belief “our culture is our identity, and it’s only by truly embracing and practicing it that we can hear our ancestors’ voices. If we don’t, we risk forgetting who we are altogether“ which he echo’s throughout his leadership. As the determined leader of the Crow Clan, he consistently motivates his fellow clan members to stay devoted to their Tlingit way of life, known as Haa Kusteeyi.
Vivian Mahoney is the dedicated Crow Clan Director of the CDC for the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. Her unwavering passion for her community drives her to serve as a respected board member for their Corporation. With a deep love for the land and a desire to inspire the younger generation to embrace their culture, Vivian’s commitment propels her forward. As a beloved figure, affectionately known as Aunty Vivian, she takes great pride in her role as a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Matt O’Brian, sits on the Board of Directors for Taku Group of Companies, elected in 2023. Matt O’Brien is the Owner and Accountable Executive of Discovery Helicopters Ltd. Since taking over operation in 2019 Matt, along with his business partner and wife, Heather O’Brien, has grown the company to a year-round, thriving addition to Atlin’s economy. Developing healthy working relationships with the residents of Atlin and Taku River Tlingit First Nation, as well as other provincial and federal governments has been a top priority while growing the business in a safe and sustainable manner.
Richard Burgess, Chief Administrative Officer for the Taku Group of Companies, appointed in 2023, where he leverages over two decades of experience in the resource industry. His journey began in Ontario, but it was in beautiful British Columbia where his passion for the outdoors truly flourished. Having called Atlin, BC, home for the past eight years and residing in the province for a total of twenty-six years, Richard has cultivated a deep appreciation for the land and its people. Being a local Atlin, BC resident and a strong community member has allowed Richard to build and foster relationships with TRTFN members and the local Atlin community.
Gary Gazankas is currently the Executive Vice President – Energy for THELP and holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Electrical Engineering. Gary is also licensed Real Seal Electrician in Canada. Gary has twenty-three years of electric utility experience and has managed renewable generation portfolios throughout Canada and the United States where he has held the following Sr level positions including: Vice President of Engineering and Capital Projects at Yukon Energy, Director of Operations at Algonquin Power, Director of Asset Management and Engineering at Northwest Territories Power Corporation, Senior Manager of Operations at Brookfield Renewable Energy Group and Director of Transmission Operations at Great Lakes Power Transmission.
Christa Hiebert Executive Assistant to the President & CEO at Taku Group of Companies brings over two decades of unparalleled expertise as a C-suite Executive Assistant and Administrative Professional. Christa is a pivotal figure in driving organizational success through her strategic support and comprehensive management. With a proven track record in navigating the complexities of high-level executive environments, Christa thrives in managing delicate and fast-paced multifaceted projects.
Carrie Higgins Chief Financial Officer overseeing the Taku Group of Companies since 2023. With a passion for precision, organization, and a love for the great outdoors, Carrie embodies the perfect blend of fiscal expertise and a zest for life beyond the balance sheets. Boasting two decades of adeptness in accounting and process management, Carrie is a seasoned guide, propelling businesses towards surpassing and maintaining their financial, analytical, marketing, operational, and safety goals. Nestled in Lloydminster, Alberta, she infuses her professional demeanor with a touch of welcoming warmth, striking the ideal chord in her field.
Stuart Simpson Senior Project Manager THEL. With a steadfast dedication spanning over two decades to the Taku Group of Companies, serves as the Senior Project Manager. His extensive know-how, gathered from managing many projects—including the current Hydro-Electric plant—is a testament to his invaluable service to the team. Backed with a solid background in management and team building, Stuart takes pride in witnessing projects under his supervision not only succeed but grow remarkably, making him an indispensable asset to our collective.
A committed resident of Atlin, he is wholeheartedly invested in the prosperity of the community and its people. Through fostering capacity building, facilitating training opportunities, and promoting education, he envisions a thriving, empowered community.