Our Team

Keith Currie (He/Him)
Keith served as Publisher for the Comox Valley Record & Comox Valley Echo, Publisher for the Alberni Valley Times for a short period after serving the Echo as sales representative, then sales manager for over 10 years. Keith was a Canadian Tire dealer in Ontario for several years before bringing his family back to the West Coast. Keith sat on the Board of Comox Valley Exhibition and Strathcona Sunrise Rotary, as well is very active with and a Director of B.C. Fairs in his previous position.

Jennifer Smith (She/Her)
I was born and raised in the beautiful Okanagan Valley. I graduated from Kwantlen University College with a degree in Journalism, and I'm also a proud VSS '01 alumni. Vernon has always been my home, and I've been working at The Morning Star since 2004. During my time here, I've covered a diverse range of stories, from shootings to shot put events. When I'm not working, I love to participate in my daughter's school activities. In my spare time, I enjoy yoga, hiking, camping, paddle boarding, and other water sports, as well as spending quality time with my family and friends.

Roger Knox
Senior Multimedia Journalist
I am a journalist with more than 30 years of experience in the industry. I started my career in radio and have spent the last 21 years working with Black Press Media. Over the course of my career, I've worked in various towns, including Quesnel, Fort St. James, Vanderhoof, and Salmon Arm, before finally returning to my hometown of Vernon. I'm proud to be a member of the Vernon Senior Secondary School Class of 1981, and I'm also a licensed wedding officiant in the Province of B.C. In my free time, I enjoy appearing on stage with a local theatre company and reminiscing about my time as Mr. Quesnel in 1984. As a sports enthusiast, I'm a devoted fan of the Montreal Canadiens, Boston Red Sox, and B.C. Lions. Although I wish I could sing or play a musical instrument other than the triangle, my lack of musical talent doesn't stop me from enjoying all types of music.

Brendan Shykora
Multimedia Journalist
250-550-7921 ext 221
I started my career with the Morning Star at the age of eight as a carrier. Over time, I pursued my passion for writing and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from UBC Okanagan, majoring in English. In 2019, I graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University. During my time in the capital, I wrote feature articles about star amateur athletes for the Ottawa Sportspage, as I'm an avid sports fan. Whenever I have spare time, I enjoy reading and I like to play golf during the spring, although it's a cruel and unforgiving sport.

Bowen Assman
Multimedia Journalist
I joined The Morning Star team in January 2023 as a reporter. Before that, I spent 10 months covering sports in Kelowna. I was born and raised in Edmonton, Alberta, and earned my business degree from StFX University in Nova Scotia. Later, I obtained a post-grad certificate in Sports Journalism from Centennial College in Toronto. When I am not playing tennis or refereeing basketball, I love to share stories about my travels.

Jen Zielinski (She/Her)
Bureau Chief of B.C. Interior South Division
I'm a graduate of the broadcast journalism program at BCIT. I also hold a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Sociology from Thompson Rivers University. Before joining my current position, I worked as the senior video journalist for Castanet News in Kelowna, where I gained valuable experience in online journalism. Additionally, I have a strong passion for contributing to local volunteer organizations, such as the BC SPCA.

Barry Gerding
Regional Editor
I am the senior regional reporter for Black Press Media in the Okanagan. I have been a journalist in the B.C. community newspaper field for 37 years, working in northwest B.C., Lower Mainland, Vancouver Island, and the Okanagan. I was managing editor of the Kelowna Capital News for 16 years from 2000 to 2016, and prior to that, I worked as an editor for the Burnaby Now, Chilliwack Times, and Ladysmith Chemainus Chronicle. I also worked as a reporter for Houston Today, Interior News in Smithers, Sidney Review on Vancouver Island and Abbotsford Times. I currently work out of Kelowna and reside in the Toovey Heights neighbourhood with my family, which includes two kids and far too many animals.

Sydney Watt
Lead Paginator
I am the lead paginator for the Okanagan. I joined the team over a year ago and initially started designing ads. However, I soon transitioned to doing the layout for a few papers before taking on the responsibility of designing the layout for seven newspapers across the Okanagan.

Jules LeRoux
Multimedia Marketing Specialist
I was born in Kimberley, South Africa. In 1999, my family and I immigrated to Canada, where we split our time between the two countries for the next ten years. Finally, in 2009, I moved to Vernon, B.C., and have been happily living there since. In 2014, I decided to take a break from my studies and travel the world. However, after a few years of exploration, I returned to school and dedicated five years to earning my Business Management Degree from UBCO. I successfully graduated in April 2019, and I was thrilled to start my career with Black Press Media in October 2020. It has been a great experience working with this company, and I'm excited to see where my future with them takes me.

Stephanie Stecyk
Multimedia Marketing Specialist
I started my career at the Vernon Morning Star in August 1993. I began in telemarketing but soon transitioned into sales, where I have remained ever since. Having lived in the Okanagan Valley for most of my life, I have witnessed many changes in both the community and the newsprint industry. As a sales representative, I take great pride in working with local businesses to create advertising campaigns for print and digital media that are tailored to meet their unique needs. In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends (co-workers too!!).

Rodd Cruikshank
Multimedia Marketing Specialist
I recently decided to leave the restaurant business after owning and operating two restaurants in Kamloops for a decade. Before the pandemic hit, I experienced firsthand the challenges of driving traffic to your business and standing out in a crowded marketplace. One of my proudest moments was when my restaurant, Fiesta Mexicana, became the first restaurant in Kamloops to be featured on the Food Network's "You Gotta Eat Here". From my years of experience, I understand that consistent messaging is crucial for any effective marketing plan. I am here to help you create a strong marketing strategy and deliver your message effectively, so your business can stand out from the competition.

Tammy Stelmachowich
Multimedia Marketing Specialist
I started working for Black Press Media in 1999, taking a year off to travel before diving into my career. I began my journey in Salmon Arm, moved on to Sicamous, and then to Vernon, Revelstoke, Winfield, and back to Vernon again. During that time, I've had the opportunity to work in various departments, including classifieds, sales, office management, ad design, publishing assistance, and even photography and writing. Eventually, I found my place in the Vernon Circulation department, where I worked as a manager for over 10 years. Now, as the Regional Circulation Manager, I oversee distribution and flyering in several areas, including Vernon, Lumby, Armstrong, Salmon Arm, Chase, Sicamous, and Revelstoke. When I'm not working, I'm a mother of two grown sons and a grandmother of two beautiful granddaughters.

Hope Friesen
Circulation Manager
I was born and raised in a small community in Northern Manitoba. After spending the last 10 years in Winnipeg, I discovered my passion for sales and customer service. In July of 2021, I made the move to Vernon, and I'm thrilled to call a smaller community home once again. As part of my role with the Morning Star, my primary focus is to establish strong relationships with as many people in the community as possible and to help promote local businesses through advertising and marketing strategies. I'm excited to continue my journey with Black Press Media and to reach as many people as possible!