Co-founder Lisa Zarzeczny named Elevate CEO with in-person festival to return this fall

Lisa Zarzeczny
Randy Lennox steps down from his role as executive chair.

Toronto-based events and programming org Elevate has promoted its co-founder and general manager Lisa Zarzeczny to chief executive officer (CEO), effective immediately.

As part of the executive team switch up, Kevin Barton has moved from senior vice president to general manager, with Randy Lennox stepping down from his role as executive chair.

Lennox’s tenure with Elevate was brief; the noted media and music executive was brought in to Elevate in 2021 as Razor Suleman, the organization’s previous CEO, joined United States-based Pacaso International as president. Suleman spearheaded the launch of the Elevate tech festival in 2017.

A spokesperson with Elevate told BetaKit that Lennox’s role “was always meant to be temporary,” adding that he was asked to join the organization to provide “short-term strategic direction.”

As Elevate’s newest CEO, Zarzeczny said her first order of business is bringing Elevate back as an in-person festival from September 20 to 22, after going digital for two years due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“I want to make sure that in every single program we run, that we are unlocking opportunities for people who haven’t had them.”
– Lisa Zarzeczny

Zarzeczny also noted that she hopes to dismantle “long-held stereotypes about who can participate in the tech industry.” It was under her leadership that prompted the organization to join the Government of Canada’s 50/30 pledge, committing that every program has minimum representation of 50 percent women-identified participants and 30 percent from underrepresented communities.

“It’s critical that innovative solutions are designed to reflect the values, needs, and beliefs of our diverse communities,” said Zarzeczny. “I want to make sure that in every single program we run, that we are unlocking opportunities for people who haven’t had them.”

In addition, Zarzeczny will continue to oversee the direction of Elevate and the execution of its core programs: Elevate Talent, a job success program that targets underrepresented communities, and eCommerce North, which the organization describes as Canada’s first ecommerce accelerator.

RELATED: Elevate, Moneris launch new accelerator for Canadian ecommerce startups

Elevate Talent received more than $6 million from the federal government and the City of Toronto in 2021 to support its launch. Earlier in the year, it secured $5 million from the municipal government and other corporate partners to launch the Elevate Social Innovation Exchange, a new innovation hub.

During Zarzeczny’s time as general manager, Elevate launched multiple programs, including Think 2030, a social impact programming stream for industry leaders to address the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Before co-founding Elevate, Zarzeczny was the manager, corporate programs for MaRS Discovery District and manager, marketing and communications at United Way Oakville.

Feature image from Elevate

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz

Charlize Alcaraz is a journalism student at Ryerson University and a staff writer for BetaKit. Follow her on Twitter @charlizealcaraz

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