Ontario Biodiversity Summit




Opening Plenary Session
Setting the Stage: Ontario 2115 – Towards an Ecologically Sustainable Future
Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council


Steve Hounsell is a retired biologist who spent his career with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the former Ontario Hydro, where he managed their biodiversity programs. Steve, an ardent supporter of sustainability and the conservation of biodiversity, is the Chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, the President and Chair of Forests Ontario, and a director of the Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council. Steve is a Past President of Ontario Nature, a past director of the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative and a founding director of the Natural Step Canada.

Steve is a member of the Standards Development Panel which developed the Responsible Aggregate Standard which was released in Jan. 2015 by the Cornerstone Standards Council. Steve is also a member of Ontario Nature’s Biodiversity Offsetting Advisory Group.

Keynote Presentation: Saving the Earth in the Age of Man
Dr. M. Sanjayan, Executive Vice-President and Senior Scientist, Conservation International


Leading global conservation scientist Dr. M. Sanjayan will be the keynote speaker at the 2015 Ontario Biodiversity Summit. Sanjayan is Executive Vice-President and Senior Scientist at Conservation International, and is also a writer, TV Host and Emmy-nominated news contributor. His focus is on the role of conservation in improving human well-being, wildlife and the environment. You can learn more about Sanjayan on his website http://www.msanjayan.com or follow him on Twitter at @msanjayan.


Climate Change and the 6th Great Extinction
Dr. Blair Feltmate, University of Waterloo


Dr. Feltmate is Director, Sustainability Practice, Faculty of Environment, University of Waterloo, where he teaches the Master of Environment and Business program. Positions he holds include: Intact Financial Chair, Climate Change Adaptation Project, Canada; Senior Advisor, Sustainable Electricity Program, Canadian Electricity Association; Board Member, CLEAResult; Co-Chair, WeatherWise, City of Toronto; Co-Chair, Greening Greater Toronto.

Previous positions Dr. Feltmate has held include: Vice President, Sustainable Development, Bank of Montreal; Director, Sustainable Development, Ontario Power Generation; President, Sustainable Investment Group Ltd.; and, Senior Sustainability Advisor, American Chemistry Council. Dr. Feltmate has developed the sustainable development programs for two dozen multi-national companies and industry associations. He has written scores of papers on corporate sustainable development best practices.



David Estrin, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for International Governance Innovation

David Estrin joined the Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI) in September 2014, as a senior research fellow with the International Law Research Program. At CIGI, he is involved with developing and leading examinations of the effectiveness of international environmental law regimesRecognized as Canada’s senior environmental law specialist, David Estrin has for over 40 years practiced exclusively in this area, taught the subject at many law and environmental studies faculties, and has written leading texts on the subject. He has been a partner in the Toronto office of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP since 1990, where he was the founder and initial head of its Environmental Practice Group, and he is current head of its Toronto Aboriginal Practice Group.

Dr. M. Sanjayan, Executive Vice-President and Senior Scientist, Conservation International
(see above)


Aaron Freeman, President, Pivot Strategic Consulting

Aaron Freeman is the Founder and President of GreenPAC, Canada’s organization to build environmental leadership in politics. For 25 years, Aaron has played a leadership role in developing public policy. 

He is the owner and principal of Pivot Strategic Consulting Inc., which helps companies, NGOs and foundations develop their capacity to solve environmental problems through public policy.

Between 2009 and 2012, Aaron served as a Senior Advisor to the Premier of Ontario.  Prior to joining government, Aaron played a key role in several national advocacy campaigns on environment and other issues.  He coordinated the Endandered Species Campaign and oversaw the government relations strategy through passage of the Species At Risk Act, and served as the Policy Director for Environmental Defence.  In 2008, Aaron was named by the Hill Times as one of the Top 100 Federal Lobbyists in Canada.  He was one of only two of those named from the broader non-profit sector.

Between 2004 and 2009, Aaron was a part-time faculty member at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, where he taught public governance law.  He is the co-author of The Laws of Government: The Legal Foundations of Canadian Democracy (2nd ed., 2010), the most comprehensive legal reference book on the law of Canadian democracy. The Ontario Bar Association lists The Laws of Government as one of “The Top 15 Books Every Lawyer Should Read.”

Aaron has been a strong advocate on democratic reform issues, preparing and overseeing legal interventions on third-party spending limits at the Supreme Court of Canada, and as the lead advocate on a federal bill to limit political donations and close fundraising disclosure loopholes. 

During the early 1990s, Aaron worked for Ralph Nader in Washington, DC, as a “Nader’s Raider.”

Aaron is a graduate of McGill University and the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, where he was awarded the Gowling Lafleur Henderson Prize for International Trade Law.


Luncheon Keynote Address
The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, OC, OOnt, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario


The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell is an energetic and highly regarded renaissance woman, an accomplished civil servant with wide-ranging interests, and is passionately devoted to the advancement of humanity. An intelligent, perceptive, and compassionate woman, Ms. Dowdeswell has devoted herself to public service, where her talents and skills have contributed greatly to many important initiatives, most notably those that integrate environmental, economic, social, educational, and cultural concerns. Her overarching and ambitious vision is Ontario in the world. She cares deeply about the environment, which she considers the fundamental basis for life on Earth. Ms. Dowdeswell is an Officer of the Order of Canada and holds 10 honorary degrees.

Putting Nature on the Balance Sheet

Moderator: Toby Heaps, CEO and Co-founder of Corporate Knights


Toby is the CEO and co-founder of Corporate Knights, the company for clean capitalism. He is a current board member of The Natural Step Canada. He is also on the advisory board of SASB (Sustainability Accounting Standards Board) and the University of Toronto Environment and Finance Committee. He spearheaded the first global ranking of the world’s 100 most sustainable corporations in 2005. In 2008, Toby served as press secretary to Ralph Nader. Toby has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McGill University in economics, with a minor in international development, including a one-year-stint in 1997-98 in the Belgrade Field Program (LLB in Management Studies) with the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has been published in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and Globe and Mail, and is a regular guest speaker on CBC. Toby is committed to cleaning up capitalism with practical tools, intelligence, and insights so that markets work to make the world a better place.



Sofia Ahlroth, Policy and Technical Experts Committee, Global Partnership for Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES), World Bank

Sofia Ahlroth is a Senior Environmental Economist at the World Bank, and part of the secretariat for WAVES - Wealth Accounting and the Valuation of Ecosystem services. WAVES is a global partnership dedicated to mainstreaming Natural Capital Accounting into development planning, and is working with developing countries to build capacity and develop policy-relevant natural capital accounts. Sofia is managing the Policy and Technical Experts Committee, which supports WAVES in developing methods for ecosystem accounting and demonstrating policy uses of natural capital accounting, and is focal point for the region South East Asia and the Pacific. She also manages WAVES’s interaction with private sector natural capital accounting. Previous to joining the World Bank, Sofia was head of the Environmental Economics unit at the Swedish EPA. She has a PhD in Natural Resource Economics and Environmental Strategy Analysis. Her main line of work has been Natural Capital Accounting, environmental -economic policy analysis and valuation of ecosystem services.


Robert Smith, Senior Associate, International Institute for Sustainable Development

Rob Smith is a well-known environmental statistician and economist with an international reputation for conceptual and empirical work linking the environment and the economy. He is particularly known for his work to develop and promote the concept of natural capital and its use as a basis for rigorously defining and measuring sustainable development. He is currently Principal of Midsummer Analytics and a Senior Associate of the International Institute for Sustainable Development. 

Rob is an internationally regarded environmental expert, with broad knowledge of science, policy and economics related to climate change, natural resources, ecosystems, wastes, environmental technologies and environmental expenditures. In addition, he has deep knowledge of statistics, including the national accounts.

Biodiversity is a Foundation of World Biosphere Reserves
Danielle D’Silva, Marketing and Communications Coordinator, Niagara Escarpment Commission


As a seasoned Marketing Communications professional with 10 years of experience in both the private and public sectors, Danielle applies both digital and traditional techniques in finding solutions to translate complex information on products and services into compelling stories. Her work at the NEC includes the development and implementation of marketing and communications strategies, re-designing the NEC website, media relations and issues management, building and strengthening partnerships with key NEC and Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve partners and event management.

Prior to her role with the NEC, Danielle was employed with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry in the Fish and Wildlife Services Branch where she led the development, implementation and execution of a multi-year marketing and outreach strategy to increase fishing and hunting participation in Ontario.

Danielle’s formal education includes an Honours BA Degree from the University of Western Ontario in Media, Information and Technoculture as well a post graduate Certificate from Sheridan College in Corporate.

Video message from Ed Gillespie, Co-Founder, Futerra Sustainability Communications


Ed Gillespie is Co-Founder of Futerra, one of the world’s only communications consultancies to specialise solely in sustainable development and corporate social responsibility. He has shaped and driven the creative direction of Futerra’s work since its foundation 13 years ago.

Aside from writing regularly for the Guardian, Ed is a highly sought after public speaker and lecturer, renowned for his memorable and entertaining presentations laced with refreshing humour and wit.

Ed is author of ‘Only Planet - a flight-free adventure around the world’, Chairman of European Rail Business Loco2, a London Sustainable Development Commissioner, and Director of Zero Carbon Food and carbon emissions campaigning organisation Sandbag. He’s also an investor in FoodTrade.


Opportunities to Engage Business in Biodiversity Breakfast Session
Kevin M. Butt, Regional Environmental Director, Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc.


Mr. Kevin Butt is the Regional Environmental Director of Toyota’s North American Environmental Programs. He is responsible for the development of Environmental Programs and Regulatory/Legislative development for all of Toyota’s North American operations.

Prior to Mr. Butt’s current assignment he was the General Manger/Chief Environmental and Safety Officer for Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing for all of Toyota’s Manufacturing operations.

Mr. Butt has served as Chairman of the Association of International Automobile Manufacturing’s Stationary Source Committee. He has also served in the same capacity for the Alliance for Automobile Manufacturers. Mr. Butt was appointed by Ms. Carol Browner, EPA Administrator to serve on EPA’s Common Sense Initiative.

Mr. Butt serves on several boards including the National Wildlife Habitat Council, Kentucky Fish and Wildlife Foundation, World Wildlife Fund National Council, North American Great Plains Advisory Board and the Yellowstone Park Foundation Board.

Mr. Butt has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Georgetown College.


Moderator: Lindsay Parks, Associate Environmental Advisor, Ontario Power Generation


Lindsay joined Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in 2008. In order to gain an understanding of environmental functions across OPG, Lindsay has worked in the Thermal, Hydroelectric, Nuclear and Corporate divisions. Currently, Lindsay is an Associate Environmental Advisor in OPG’s Natural Sciences division and is passionate about biodiversity efforts across OPG. Lindsay has an Honours Bachelor of Science in Biology from Queen’s University, a Master in Environmental Studies from York University, and a Graduate Diploma in Business and the Environment from the Schulich School of Business. Lindsay has studied in Belize and Kenya and has volunteered in Costa Rica.




Reg Melanson, United Nations Global Partnership for Business and Biodiversity and Executive Director, Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council

Reg has over 30 years' experience in natural-resource management ranging from ground-level project delivery to international issues resolution and partnership development. He has developed corporate programs that promote the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity on corporate lands and developed and implemented Best Management Practices for the agriculture and forestry sectors. He has conducted and participated in biodiversity conservation workshops, including business and biodiversity initiatives, at a global level. Reg is formally educated in biological sciences, wildlife as well as forest resources, worked in government (Federal and Provincial), industry (forestry, mining and agricultural sectors) and as a private consultant.


Margaret O'Gorman, President, Wildlife Habitat Council

Margaret O’Gorman is the President of the Wildlife Habitat Council, working to improve ecosystems, habitats and biodiversity at the intersection of conservation and business. A proponent of practical approaches and on-the-ground implementation of habitat and ecosystem restoration and improvement projects, Ms. O’Gorman oversees the Council’s portfolio of nearly 1,000 projects worldwide.

She has presented the Council’s model of corporate conservation, employee engagement and community outreach to audiences from a variety of sectors and professions including the mining and aggregates sector, the manufacturing industry, remediation professionals and sustainability managers. She is currently developing a new standard for corporate conservation using best practices from the voluntary sustainability standards world.


Peter Clarke, Business Development & Research, Alternative Land Use Services (ALUS)

A graduate of the University of Guelph’s Environmental Science program, Peter joined ALUS in 2014. Prior to joining ALUS Peter spent much of his career working with and consulting for both public and private sector clients such as Vale, Purolator, Constellation Brands, Oxford Properties, Hydro One, the Ontario Ministry of the Environment, the Ontario Realty Corporation, and the US State Department helping them both quantify their carbon emissions, and understand the issues of a carbon constrained world on their business operations. In his most recent role with The Co-operators, he evaluated all facets of climate impacts on the insurance industry, the implications of those impacts on core business, and developing strategies to mitigate and adapt to those impacts. Peter participated on the United Nations Environmental Program Finance Initiative North American Task Force and Corporate Knights Council for Clean Capitalism.


John Bayliss, Manager, Environment, Holcim (Canada) Inc.

John Bayliss is the Manager, Environment at Holcim (Canada) Inc., one of the country's leading suppliers of building materials and construction services. Over his career, John has worked for various industries, for both Canadian and international firms, in the area of environmental management, and has been a key contributor to improving performance. In his current role at Holcim Canada, John leads the implementation of an Environmental Management System across multiple business lines, ensuring compliance with environmental legislation such as the Ontario Endangered Species Act and implementing Holcim’s Biodiversity Management System.



Beverly Forget, Senior Communications Advisor, Darlington Generating Station, Ontario Power Generation

Beverly Forget is a Senior Communications Advisor with OPG at Darlington Nuclear. With over 30 years of experience, she has spearheaded programs to help educate students, adults and employees on the importance of biodiversity and the value of environmental stewardship.
Beverly is responsible for overseeing the Wildlife Habitat Council’s Corporate Lands for Learning Certification of Darlington Nuclear. This is achieved through the development and implementation of more than 25 programs that reach more than 50,000 people annually.

Working in supportive partnerships and building trusting relationships with local education, community and environment groups has directly contributed to the high standing of Darlington Nuclear’s social licence to operate.
Beverly believes that environmental success is achieved through working together and supporting each other’s initiatives for the betterment of all.


Moderator: Kim Gavine, General Manager, Conservation Ontario


Kim Gavine is the General Manager with Conservation Ontario. Kim graduated from Brock University with a degree in Human Geography. For over 25 years, Kim has been working in the natural heritage field with positions in both government and non-government including, the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Ontario Heritage Trust, Ontario Nature, Severn Sound Remedial Action Plan, and the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation. Kim has also been involved with many Boards and Committees including the A.D. Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee, Couchiching Conservancy Carolinian Canada Coalition, Natural Spaces Alliance and the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.



Ian Attridge, Environmental Lawyer and Lands Manager, Kawartha Land Trust

Ian Attridge is a lawyer, conference speaker, Trent University instructor, writer of numerous publications, and Founder and Lands Manager of the Kawartha Land Trust. Over his 30 year career, he has protected over 16,000 acres, formed 15 non-profit organizations, and developed the land securement policy framework for Ontario. In a previous life, Ian spent six years providing legal and policy advice to both the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Ministry of Environment. He loves creating community and being outdoors, whether canoeing, cycling, skiing, or observing the biodiversity found across our province.


Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director and Counsel, Canadian Environmental Law Association

Theresa McClenaghan is Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association. She holds an LL.B. from Western and an LL.M. in constitutional law from Osgoode as well as a diploma in Environmental Health from McMaster. She was called to the Bars of Manitoba and Ontario. Her focus is on environmental health and environmental safety. Theresa has practiced public interest environmental law for over 25 years both in private practice and then at CELA. In 2006-2007, Theresa was senior water policy advisor to the Ontario Minister of the Environment where she was responsible for overseeing the passage of the Clean Water Act, and the implementation of the remaining Walkerton Inquiry recommendations. She has represented clients at the Supreme Court of Canada, Federal Court of Appeal and Trial Division and the Ontario Court of Appeal, and has appeared at a variety of environmental, land use and energy tribunals on behalf of her clients.


Ellen Schwartzel, Deputy Commissioner, Office of the Environmental Commissioner of Ontario

Over a 25-year career in both government and non-profit sectors, Ellen has had opportunities to grapple with a wide range of environmental policy issues, and continues to learn every day.


Moderator: Mark Stabb, Central Ontario Program Director, Ontario, Region, The Nature Conservancy of Canada


Mark Stabb is Central Ontario Program Director for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), and a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council. Mark worked for 10 years as a biologist and park planner for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, and spent another 10 years as a freelance writer, educator and environmental consultant. His work with NCC involves planning and implementation of landscape-scale Natural Area Conservation Plans for the Happy Valley Forest, the Rice Lake Plains and the Napanee Plain. Mark lives in Uxbridge, Ontario, where he volunteers for such groups as North Durham Nature, the Uxbridge Youth Centre, and Uxbridge Watershed Advisory Committee.



Silvia Strobl, Supervisor, Southern Region Information & Analysis Unit, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Silvia Strobl has had the opportunity to work on several initiatives to protect natural heritage and biodiversity in her 25 years of working in applied science in southern Ontario, including developing criteria for significant woodlands for the first Natural Heritage Reference Manual (1996), providing input as a member of the multi-agency technical committees for both the Big Picture (1999) and Conservation Blueprint (2005), and supporting spatial analyses for the Ministry of Natural Resources & Forestry’s Natural Spaces (2007) project. More recently she helped initiate and deliver several regional projects that engaged local stakeholders to identify and map natural area core and connections (e.g., Sustaining What We Value and Kawarthas Naturally Connected). In her talk, Silvia will review some past and current projects to develop strategic natural area connectivity mapping and focus the conservation efforts of multiple agencies and organizations in southern Ontario, reflect on lessons learned, and speculate about the future.


Mike Hendren, Executive Director, Kawartha Land Trust

Mike Hendren has been the Executive Director of the Kawartha Land Trust for five and a half years and has continued to lead the development of one of Canada’s foremost land trusts. From business to partner organizations, major donors to community supporters and of course landowners, Mike has thoroughly enjoyed working with a rich diversity of people and places.
A registered Professional Planner, Mike Chairs the “Kawarthas Naturally Connected” a collaborative natural heritage system project that set priorities for across Peterborough and the Kawarthas in which Kawartha Land Trust has taken a lead role. He is also currently the Chair of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.

Mike has a degree in Business Administration from Trent University and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from Queen’s University. He has worked in the family business, the Federal Government for a short stint, travelled and volunteered abroad in the area of land conservation.


Michele Kanter, Executive Director, Carolinian Canada Coalition

Michelle Kanter has held the position of Executive Director of the Carolinian Canada Coalition since 2003 and has been involved with the Coalition since its inception in 1984. With 30 years of experience in wildlife research and land stewardship, she has worked with a broad range of stakeholders around the world on innovative conservation partnerships to save, steward and seed important habitat and rare species. She is grounded in the Dorchester Swamp and works across Canada’s deep south with a strong team of individuals and groups that focuses on ecosystem recovery in Canada’s deep south. She currently sits on the Ontario Species at Risk Public Advisory Committee.



Dan Kraus, Weston Conservation Scientist, The Nature Conservancy of Canada

Dan is the Weston Conservation Scientist and Senior Director of Conservation Program Development for the Nature Conservancy of Canada. He has led a diversity of conservation planning initiatives for NCC and conservation partners including conservation assessments for rare species, landscape connectivity, wetlands, prairies and coastal habitats. Dan is an expert on the Great Lakes and is a co-author of the Biodiversity Conservation Strategies for all four Canadian Great Lakes. He is a founding board member of the Ontario Invasive Plant Council and a member of the Committee on the Status of Species at Risk in Ontario. Prior to joining NCC, Dan worked as a senior ecologist for an environmental consulting group where he conducted ecological inventories, prepared environmental impact assessments and served as an expert witness.


Moderator: Lynette Mader, Manager of Provincial Operations – Ontario, Ducks Unlimited Canada



Justina Ray, Executive Director and Senior Scientist, Wildlife Conservation Society

Dr. Justina Ray has been President and Senior Scientist of Wildlife Conservation Society Canada since its incorporation in 2004. In addition to overseeing the operations of WCS Canada, Justina is involved in research and policy activities associated with land use planning and large mammal conservation in northern landscapes. She has been appointed to numerous species-at-risk related government advisory panels related to policy development for species at risk and land use planning in Ontario and Canada, and is the co-chair of the Terrestrial Mammal Subcommittee of The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). She has been editor or author of 3 books and numerous peer-reviewed articles, and is Adjunct Professor at the University of Toronto (Faculty of Forestry) and Trent University (Biology Department).


Dean Phoenix, Wildlife Assessment Program Leader, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Dean Phoenix studied wildlife biology at the University of Guelph and has worked as a biologist in the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry since 1995. Dean has served as the District Biologist in Kapuskasing and the Wildlife Assessment Program Leader in Timmins. Most recently Dean coordinated the Far North Biodiversity Project to inventory the flora and fauna of the far north in support of community based land use planning.


Nicholas Mandrak, Assistant Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Toronto

Nick Mandrak is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC). He is also the Director of a professional Master’s program in Conservation and Biodiversity at UTSC. His research program examines the biodiversity, biogeography and conservation of freshwater fishes. Nick has over 150 published papers, book chapters, and reports and three books on the biodiversity and conservation of Canadian freshwater fishes.


Jim Mackenzie, Natural Heritage Information Centre Coordinator, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Jim Mackenzie is the Coordinator for the Ontario Natural Heritage Information Centre (NHIC). The NHIC maintains Ontario databases for species and areas of conservation concern and supports information systems and networks dedicated to the capture, distribution, and wise use of this information.

Jim has participated on many national and international Boards and Committees and is currently the Vice Chair of NatureServe Canada. He is a graduate of Lakehead University and holds an Honours Science Degree in Forestry.


Jim Schieck, Research Scientist, Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute

Jim received his BSc and MSc form University of Western Ontario, PhD from University of Alberta, and Post Doc at Simon Fraser University.

He has been a Research Scientist at Alberta Innovates for 20+ years, is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta, and the Science Director for the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute.

His research interests include avian ecology, population dynamics, community ecology, forest ecology, conservation biology and biodiversity.





Megan Meaney, Director, ICLEI Canada

Megan is recognized by cities across Canada as an authority on municipal sustainability. She has been with ICLEI since 1999, over which time she has held many roles in strategic energy planning, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as sustainability management. She has worked with municipal practitioners from coast to coast, helping to build capacity to address global sustainability issues at the local level.

As Director of ICLEI Canada, Megan oversees the governance of the non-profit organization. She is responsible for strategic planning, program management and partnership development. She has a Master’s Degree in Environment and Management as well as degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering.


Ewa Jackson, Director, ICLEI Canada

Ewa Jackson works with municipalities across Canada to help them adapt to climate change, for example, through the delivery of ICLEI’s Building Adaptive and Resilient Communities (BARC) Programming, development of capacity building resources, and communications around adaptation and resilience. She continuously works with specialists in the field to keep municipal officials at the forefront and responding to the advancements being made.
Ewa has worked with municipal governments for over 12 years in the fields of sustainability, public participation, and climate change. She holds degrees from the University of Toronto in environmental management and political science, and is currently pursuing her Masters in Environment and Business.





Neil Osborne, Director, Environmental Visual Communication Program at the Royal Ontario Museum/Fleming College, and Associate Fellow at the International League of Conservation Photographers

For over a decade Neil’s photographic and multimedia projects have been published by industry, government, and civil society collaborators. His visual communication and storytelling work focuses attention on humanity’s link to wildlife and natural habitats, with a particular interest in protected spaces and the narratives unfolding in these lands and seascapes.

Neil is a partner at Evermaven (www.evermaven.com), a communications agency that works to reframe how we communicate environmental issues.

In addition to his role at Evermaven, he is a contributing editor and photographer for Canadian Wildlife and Canadian Geographic magazines, an Associate Fellow of the International League of Conservation Photographers (iLCP), and a photographer in residence at the Royal Ontario Museum Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity where he also directs the Environmental Visual Communication program for Fleming College.


Brennan Caverhill, Faculty, Environmental Visual Communication

Brennan Caverhill is a biologist, photographer, and teacher. Born and raised in the Maritimes, he attended Acadia University for his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Conservation Biology, and the University of Toronto for his Education degree. For over a decade he has worked for universities, governments, and non-profit organizations conducting research and engaging communities in biodiversity conservation. His past work for Parks Canada, the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute, the Toronto Zoo, and the Royal Ontario Museum involved a blend of science, art, and education to promote the conservation of Canada’s Species at Risk. Brennan is currently not only teaching science in a downtown Toronto elementary school, but also photography for the Henry’s School of Imaging. He is instructing the Environmental Visual Communications Photographic Methods Course for Fleming College at the Royal Ontario Museum, while running a small photography business on the side.


Yasmin Parodi, 2013 Graduate, Environmental Visual Communication

Yasmin is a cultural artist and visual communicator from Toronto. Trained technically in the visual arts at OCADU, Yasmin has since spent a number of years observing the natural world through a diversity of art forms (including video, watercolour and dance) while simultaneously working in municipal politics and on environmental campaigns. Yasmin has worked with organizations like Environmental Defence and Live Green Toronto, producing engaging video content on local food in Ontario. Currently, Yasmin is completing an internship with the City of Toronto’s Environment and Energy Division. On her own time, she is working towards fine tuning the effective use of digital/social media as well as strategic marketing to help communicate solutions to environmental issues to the public.

Moderator: Caroline Schultz, Executive Director, Ontario Nature


Caroline Schultz is executive director of Ontario Nature and spearheads the programs and operations that achieve the organization’s mission to protect Ontario’s wild species and wild spaces through conservation, education and public engagement. Ontario Nature represents over 30,000 members and supporters and has a Nature Network of over 150 member groups across the Province. Among Ontario Nature's accomplishments are the instrumental role it has played in the protection of millions of hectares of land in provincial parks and other protected areas, founding the province’s land trust movement and ensuring sound laws and policies to protect biodiversity. Caroline has devoted most of her 25 years career and volunteer time to biodiversity conservation in Canada and internationally. She is currently chair of the Oak Ridges Moraine Foundation and a founding board member of Cornerstone Standards Council. She has a bachelor’s degree in Botany from Trinity College Dublin, an M.Sc. in ecology from the University of Toronto and a Masters of Management degree from McGill University.



Nicholas Schulz, Director of Standards, Cornerstone Standards Council

Nicholas Schulz is a communications professional who currently oversees the Cornerstone Standards Council, a unique organization that uses marketplace demand to recognize aggregate operations that operate in a more responsible manner. His background includes traditional media relations as well as facilitating multi-stakeholder discussions through Ontario’s Source Water Protection program


Anne Bell, Director of Conservation Education, Ontario Nature

Anne Bell is Ontario Nature’s director of conservation and education. She holds a Ph.D. in environmental studies and has worked for over 20 years as an environmental educator, researcher and advocate for nature.


Tom Clark, Westwind Forest Stewardship

Tom Clark is an ecologist and was on the audit team for the first Forest Stewardship Council certification in Canada in 1998. Since then Tom has audited numerous forests in Ontario and Canada and has a ground level perspective on conservation using market based certification.


Moderator: Rob Keen, CEO, Forests Ontario


Rob Keen is a Registered Professional Forester who has provided forestry consulting services primarily in the Great Lakes region since 1982 including developing forest management plans on Crown and private lands, conducting wood supply and feasibility studies and leading forest audits for the Forest Stewardship Council and Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR). Rob has been with Forests Ontario (formerly Trees Ontario) since 2003 and assumed the role of CEO in 2011 where he is leading the Forests Ontario team in sustaining and generating new partnerships and revenues to support and achieve its re-greening mandate.

Rob has been a member of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association since 1985, was a Director and Chair of the Algonquin Forestry Authority and Director for the Ontario Forestry Association, where he also served as President. He also currently teaches Forest Ecosystem Management at Trent University.



Danijela Puric-Mladenovic, Senior Analyst - Settled Landscapes, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Danijlela Puric-Mladenovic works as a Senior Analyst for Settled Landscape with the Science and Research Branch, Natural Heritage Information Center, , Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and holds an Assistant Professor status with the Faculty of Forestry, University of Toronto

Danijela’s research and professional work spans from urban, peri-urban to rural landscapes and their interfaces. Her work focuses on conservation, restoration and long-term strategic planning and management of trees, woodlots, forests, green-areas and green systems that: support biodiversity and environmental protection; sustain cultural landscapes, and their urban and rural communities; provide a range of ecological goods and services; and support and enhance human health and wellbeing.


Ken Elliott, Forest Science Specialist, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

As a Forest Science Specialist with MNRF since 1996, Ken’s work focuses on silviculture, forest ecology and the ecological impacts of human disturbances. He has been involved with large scale integrated research, testing and development of silvicultural guidelines, training and auditing under the provincial tree marker certification program, and a number of advisory committees. As a professional forester, he uses his 29 years of field and science experience to improve our collective understanding of the land use and forest management practices that best maintain healthy forest ecosystems.


Barbara Macdonell, Senior Environmental Planner, Windsor Border Initiative Implementation Group, Ministry of Transportation

Barb Macdonell is a senior environmental planner with the Ontario Ministry of Transportation’s Windsor Border Initiatives Implementation Group.

Barb is a Registered Professional Planner and a graduate of the University of Waterloo’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. She has worked at the municipal, regional and provincial levels of government in Alberta and as a planning consultant in London, Ontario prior to joining the MTO in 2005.

She currently sits on the Board of Tallgrass Ontario.


Megan Meaney, Director, ICLEI Canada

Megan is recognized by cities across Canada as an authority on municipal sustainability. She has been with ICLEI since 1999, over which time she has held many roles in strategic energy planning, climate mitigation and adaptation, biodiversity, as well as sustainability management. She has worked with municipal practitioners from coast to coast, helping to build capacity to address global sustainability issues at the local level.

As Director of ICLEI Canada, Megan oversees the governance of the non-profit organization. She is responsible for strategic planning, program management and partnership development. She has a Master’s Degree in Environment and Management as well as degrees in Environmental Science and Environmental Engineering.


Ralph Toninger, Senior Manager of Restoration Projects for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Ralph holds a Master of Science in Forestry and a Bachelor of Science in Ecology from the University of Toronto. He is currently the Senior Manager of Restoration Projects for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. He manages a diverse team that implement a variety of construction, engineering, and habitat restoration, projects in both terrestrial and aquatic systems. The core of his work has focused on wetland, shoreline, and terrestrial restoration as well as landscape level approaches restoration. A large focus of his work has been on the prioritization of projects at both a watershed and local scale for maximal multiple benefits. Ralph is known for coining the term “Lets Habitat It Up”, and has almost every native tree in Ontario growing in his backyard.




Cath D'amico, Facilitator, LiftOff Interactive

Cath’s passion for adventure, led her to extensive travel through Central America during which she absorbed Spanish language, history, and most importantly, people. These experiences led her to completing her MA in leadership, conducting research, more travel and developing a career in International Education and Facilitation. On a good day, she even manages to squeeze in a run, hike, or bike ride.



Lisa Hughes, Facilitator, LiftOff Interactive

Lisa is a professional facilitator and part time faculty at Fleming College in Peterborough, Ontario. She leverages her extensive experience of managing, engaging and developing staff, to create dynamic and inclusive sessions. An avid athlete, Lisa coaches and participates in multiple sports.




Mike Bubyn, Facilitator, LiftOff Interactive

For over 14 years, Michael has designed, developed, and delivered training and performance solutions. His projects span diverse industries including financial services, manufacturing, retail, and healthcare. His keen interest in people goes beyond his professional career where he is an active coach at the junior and varsity level.



Jason Wilkins, Graphic Facilitator

Jason is a graduate of Sheridan College in Illustration and Design, and is a freelance illustrator, art teacher, editorial cartoonist and portrait artist. Drawing what people are talking about makes the information easy to digest, offers an element of fun and excitement, and allows attendees to get involved by contributing ideas to the overall drawing.




Moderator: Suzanne Barrett, Eco-Health Ontario


Suzanne Barrett is Coordinator of EcoHealth Ontario, Chair of the Stewardship Network of Ontario, and Principal of Barrett Consulting. She is former chair of the Etobicoke and Mimico Watersheds Coalition and a member of the Ontario Biodiversity Council. Her work includes environmental planning, communications, facilitation and stakeholder engagement. Suzanne directed the Waterfront Regeneration Trust’s program on the Lake Ontario Waterfront Greenway and Trail from 1992-2002, working with 28 communities from Niagara-on-the-Lake to Kingston. Suzanne’s consulting work encompasses a wide range of disciplines and stakeholders, involving diverse topics such as road ecology, ecohealth, nuclear waste management, park planning, waterfront regeneration, watershed management, habitat restoration, source water protection and stewardship practices.



Karen Morrison, Vice-President, International Association for Ecology and Health and Adjunct Professor, Faculty of Environmental Studies, York University

Karen Morrison is an Adjunct Professor at the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University and Vice-President of the International Association for Ecology and Health. She is a co-Principle Investigator of the Canadian Community of Practice in Ecosystem Approches to Health and of Ekosante (Latin America). Dr. Morrison sits on the Ontario Biodiversity Council as a representative of Ecohealth Ontario.


Aryne Sheppard, Senior Public Engagement Specialist, David Suzuki Foundation

Currently, Aryne serves as the Senior Public Engagement Specialist at the David Suzuki Foundation where she has been developing innovative community initiatives since 2008. Her current campaigns focus on human health and nature connection, and in 2012, she co-created the Foundation’s national 30x30 Nature Challenge.

Aryne’s greatest passion is simplicity. Since 2000, she has facilitated voluntary simplicity circles, informal workshops that support individuals hoping to slow down and simplify their lives. In her spare time Aryne loves being outside, watching wildlife and following their tracks!

Aryne earned a Masters of Adult Education from OISE-University of Toronto and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Guelph.


Keynote Luncheon Presentation
Biomimicry, The Next Best Thing: How Nature is Inspiring Radical Innovation
Jay Harman, President and CEO, PAX Scientific, Inc.


Described as a "visionary" and "futurist" by the Science Channel, Jay Harman has taken a hands-on approach to his lifelong fascination with the deep patterns found in nature. Among the first pioneering scientists to make biomimicry-the science of employing nature in advancing sustainable technology-a cornerstone of modern and future engineering, his companies (PAX Scientific, PAX Water Technologies, PAX Pure) design more efficient industrial equipment based on Jay's revolutionary concepts. Today Jay is one of the most sought-after experts on biomimicry.

Jay's goal is to show industry that more efficient equipment is profitable for both shareholders and the planet. His award-winning designs are part of the permanent collection at the New York Museum of Modern Art, have been featured on science programs in 60 countries, and are a focus of two feature-length documentaries, Elemental and Harmony. Jay's book, The Shark's Paintbrush: Biomimicry and How Nature Is Inspiring Innovation, was published in June 2013. Always alert to new technologies that can facilitate bio-inspired design, the PAX companies participated in the Biomimicry Innovation and Finance Summit in Zurich, Switzerland, where the theme was 3D Printing.

Moderator: Dave Ireland, Ontario BioBlitz Programme, Royal Ontario Museum


Dave Ireland is responsible for sharing and making relevant ROM collections and research with the ROM’s diverse audiences, and responding to the interests of their audiences about nature and environmental conservation. Using an incredible array of public programs, and working with all areas of the ROM, Dave is guiding ROM Biodiversity toward a unified and focused goal to engage the public about the discovery and conservation of biodiversity.

Mr. Ireland's formal education includes a Master in Science (Ecology) degree from Trent University and a Bachelor of Science (Biology) degree from Mount Allison University.


Dr. Scott Loarie, Co-Director, iNaturalist

Scott Loarie is co-Director of iNaturalist.org a citizen science social network operated at the California Academy of Sciences. Scott's research focuses on how land-use and climate change impact biodiversity across ecosystems ranging from the savannas of Africa and the Brazilian Amazon to the California Floristic Province. His interests focus on the application of technology to confront these conservation challenges. Scott has a Ph.D. in Environmental Science from Duke University. Formerly, Scott was a research fellow at the Carnegie Institution for Science at Stanford University and a lecturer in the Department of Geography at University of California Berkeley and has published numerous scientific articles in journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the Academy of Sciences.


Julia Phillips, Programme Coordinator, Adopt-a-Pond Wetland, Toronto Zoo

Julia Phillips is the Coordinator of the Toronto Zoo’s Adopt-A-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme, a programme that focuses on education, community stewardship and citizen science to conserve and protect wetland species and habitats. Julia has a B.Sc. Honours degree in Wildlife Biology from Guelph University and a M.Sc. degree in Watershed Ecosystems from Trent University. She has worked on a diversity of wildlife recovery projects in both the private and public sectors, including the development of conservation strategies for species at risk turtles in Point Pelee National Park and songbirds and salamanders in southern Ontario forests. Julia has a passion for connecting people to wildlife through exciting stewardship experiences; she believes that citizen science is a powerful tool that inspires Canadians to save and protect nature.


Emily Rondel, Toronto Projects Coordinator, Bird Studies Canada

Already a zoologist with experience working on fish and primates, Emily became hooked on birds and birding while travelling in Costa Rica. Her Master’s degree focused on citizen science applications for bird conservation, and field work was centered on Point Pelee National Park. After a stint working and living in Ontario’s birding mecca itself, Emily’s professional interest in bird studies and the role that the public can play in them was cemented. After some time working at the Royal Ontario Museum, she started at BSC in 2011. Emily is currently the Toronto Projects Coordinator for BSC, creating monitoring projects that engage the urban population in bird conservation. She also works in the wilds of central Ontario studying Golden-winged Warblers, and occasionally does field work in James Bay doing shorebird monitoring.


Moderator: Eric Miller, Chair, Ontario Network on Ecosystem Services


Eric Miller is a consulting ecological economist and university lecturer. He helps people and organizations to integrate economic, social, and ecological considerations for the benefit of sustainable wellbeing. Eric’s earlier career in public service had him working at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment. Eric earned economic degrees from York University and McMaster and a biology degree from Carleton.


Vince Deschamps, Senior Environmental Planner, Stantec

Vince Deschamps is an ecologist and Registered Professional Planner. Vince has 20 years of with experience in environmental assessments, conservation planning and biological inventories in Canada and internationally.


Tatiana Koveshnikova, Ecosystem Services Project Coordinator, Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Tatiana Koveshnikova is an economist with experience in the economic valuation of ecosystem services and the modelling of human-environment interactions.


Andreas Link, Economics Team Lead, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources

Andreas Link is an ecological economist with experience integrating economic and environmental considerations for the benefit of informed public policy and decision-making. Andreas is the volunteer President of the Canadian Society for Ecological Economics.


Moderator: Terry Rees, Executive Director, Federation of Ontario Cottagers' Association


Terry leads one of Ontario’s largest landowner networks, representing over 500 member associations, including over 50,000 waterfront landowner families. Terry is a Leadership Committee member on the Stewardship Network of Ontario (SNO), a Member of the Trent Conservation Coalition Source Water Protection Committee, the Ontario Biodiversity Council, a member of the North American Lake Management Society, and the Ontario Onsite Wastewater Association. Terry sits on the Provincial Policy Statement – Rural and Northern Ontario Review Committee, and the Ministers’ Mining Act Advisory Committee.

Terry was recognized by Water Canada magazine as a person making a significant contribution to Canada’s waterscape in their 2012 Water’s Next feature
Part of Terry’s role is to contribute to sound public policy with respect to waterfront property owners’ interests. Supporting good public policy, along with community engagement, are vital pieces in our quest for sustainable and healthy waterfronts.



Freeman Boyd, Grey County

Freeman Boyd farmed on the Niagara Escarpment for 30 years, vending poultry products and garden produce at the Owen Sound Farmers Market. He studied and taught Philosophy of the Environment at the University of Guelph, completing a Ph.D. in agricultural ethics in 2005. A dedicated field naturalist, Freeman has a special interest in birds, mushrooms and botany. He is twice past president of the Owen Sound Field Naturalists. Freeman is married with three grown children. He was coordinator of the Grey Bruce Local Food Project (www.foodlinkgreybruce.com) from 2007 to July 2012 and is a founding director of the Grey Bruce Centre for Agroecology (www.gbcae.com).


Kerry McLaven, Forest Program Manager, Forests Ontario

Kerry joined Trees Ontario in August 2012 and now serves as the Forest Program Manager with Forests Ontario. She oversees the daily functions of the afforestation programs including the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s 50 Million Tree Program as well as Forests Ontario’s Forest Recovery Canada program. Kerry has been involved in the reporting side of these programs as well as the technical and capacity development aspects. On a daily basis she and her team work with private landowners, conservation authorities, nurseries, municipalities, stewardship councils and private consultants.
Prior to joining Forests Ontario, Kerry worked within the Provincial Parks system and has tree planted in northern Ontario. In 2011 Kerry worked with FPInnovations’ Wildfire Research Group in Alberta while obtaining her Masters in Forest Conservation from the University of Toronto after graduating with an HBSc Environmental Science from Wilfrid Laurier University.


Pete Birrell, Lead Environmental Officer, St. Catharines Glendale Avenue Plant, General Motors of Canada Limited

Pete Birrell is Lead Environmental Officer for the St. Catharines Powertrain Engine and Transmission Manufacturing Plant, General Motors of Canada Limited. Pete has over 40 years of experience at GMCL with most of his career being split between Facilities and Environmental Engineering. As corporate targets for Sustainability evolve, Pete has experience with intern student projects with the Niagara College Ecosystem Restoration course, and with getting the St.Catharines GM facility Wildlife Habitat Certified as a Wildlife at Work site. In addition, the GM Powertrain plant received the Regional “Greenest Business in Niagara” award in 2011, and the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce “Environmental Leadership Award” in 2013.


Joanne Jeffery, Senior Manager, Stewardship, Outreach Education and Volunteerism, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority

Joanne Jeffery is the Senior Manager of Stewardship, Outreach Education and Volunteerism at Toronto and Region Conservation (TRCA). In this capacity she is responsible for a team of certified teachers and community engagement coordinators that deliver programs to community and faith groups, new Canadians and elementary and high school students.

Team activities include English as Second Language (ESL) and school presentations, aquatic and terrestrial planting programs, storm drain marking, nature walks, litter clean ups, habitat creation, citizen science and homeowner workshops with a focus on landscaping for water conservation.

Joanne has 25 years of experience at TRCA including watershed planning and implementation, event coordination, fundraising, facilitation, writing, public relations, public speaking, marketing, community engagement and most recently the corporate volunteer program. Joanne sits on the Leadership Committee of the Stewardship Network of Ontario.


Philip Holst, Vice Chair, Stewardship Oxford

Philip Holst is a conservationist, Vice Chair of Stewardship Oxford, volunteer with the Stewardship Network of Ontario, volunteer with Forests Ontario and Chair of the Industry and Government Relations Committee with Ducks Unlimited Canada.

Phil is committed to working with landowners and partners to coach property owners thru wetland rehabilitations, reforestation projects and other habitat improvements.

His hope is that in the near future we will be able to say that habitat destruction is on the decline and wetlands and forest cover is actually increasing.


Tony Bull, Member of the Board of Directors, Ontario Woodlot Association

Tony has a forestry education background. His professional career was mostly with Parks Canada in various positions, including Park Superintendent in Waterton Lakes National Park. He is Vice President of the Eastern Ontario Model Forest, on the Executive of the Ontario Woodlot Association, provincial level, and the Renfrew Chapter of the OWA. He is past president of the former Eastern Ontario Certified Forest Owners and Past President of the Ottawa Chapter of the Canadian Institute of Forestry. His 100 acre woodlot in Renfrew County is Forest Stewardship Council certified.




Lisa Donaldson, Research Biologist, Department of Biology, Carleton University

Lisa Donaldson is the Lab Manager and a Research Biologist in Dr. Steven Cooke’s Fish Ecology and Conservation Physiology Lab at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario.
Dr. Cooke and his lab have been instrumental in establishing the Centre for Evidence-Based Conservation and Environmental Management at Carleton University. The centre is the first North American node of the International Collaboration for Environmental Evidence, which supports decision making in conservation management through the production of systematic reviews on the effectiveness of management and policy interventions.
Lisa and colleagues have partnered with Parks Canada to conduct a systematic review of evidence for the effectiveness of invasive fish removal projects for the restoration of freshwater ecosystems. The outcome of this systematic review will provide clear information to inform evidence-based management for conservation agencies.


Jim Schaefer, Professor, Department of Biology, Trent University

Jim Schaefer is Professor of Biology at Trent University, a member of the International Boreal Conservation Science Panel, and a Fellow with the Leopold Leadership Program. Prior to his university appointment, he served as Senior Wildlife Biologist with the Newfoundland & Labrador Wildlife Division. His research focuses on the behaviour, population dynamics, and conservation of large mammals in the North.


Karen Akerlof, Research Assistant Professor , Centre for Climate Change Communication, George Mason University

Karen uses surveys, in-depth interviews, and content analyses to explore factors that influence individuals’ responses to environmental risks and support for conservation actions at the individual and collective level. She and co-author Chris Kennedy, PhD, wrote a white paper titled “Harnessing social science to promote conservation: Mechanisms of decision making and behavioral change” for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. She has published in Nature Climate Change, Climatic Change, and Global Environmental Change, and is an associate deputy editor for Climatic Change. Karen holds degrees in Political Science from University of Michigan (B.A.) and Environmental Science & Policy from George Mason University (M.S. and Ph.D.).


Andrew Hill, Chief Science Officer, CartoDB

Andrew Hill is the Chief Science Officer at CartoDB where he explores the future of online mapping to help guide innovation and education. He is a biologist by training with a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder but has been working in maps, GIS, and data visualization for many years. In his current position, he can be found trying to create interesting maps or giving workshops and presentations, often in New York City.


Moderator: Paul General, Wildlife Officer, Six Nations of the Grand River Elected Council


Paul is a member of Seneca Nation – Snipe Clan. He is the Wildlife Officer and Manager of the Six Nations Eco-centre; a position which he has held for over twenty years. This multi-faceted position entails many daily activities such as, monitoring the Grand River Notification Agreement and the Environmental Bill of Rights Registry. He is active in over 30 committees and working groups monitoring and contributing towards the protection and enhancement of our environment. He has been a Hunter Safety Instructor / examiner for 35 years and a Canadian Firearms Safety instructor/examiner since the program began, nearly 20 yrs.

Paul has a diploma in Fine Art and Photography and continues to work as a painter/ photographer. He has authored and co-authored articles in a variety of publications, periodicals and books. He is an ecologist/environmentalist by virtue of his work experience and upbringing as a First Nations person. He has experience in many other fields such as botany, biology, archaeology, construction, engineering, forestry, and agriculture.


Dan Pujdak, Environment Policy Analyst, Chiefs of Ontario

Dan Pujdak is the Intergovernmental Affairs Senior Policy Advisor at Chiefs of Ontario, a First Nations political forum and secretariat. Previously, Dan worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for Environment at the Assembly of First Nations. Since 2010, Dan’s work has focused on issues related to biodiversity, fisheries and drinking water. Dan has a Masters of Marine Management from Dalhousie University and has appeared as an expert witness during a number of parliamentary studies related to the environment and natural resources.


Caron Smith, Land Use Officer, Lands and Resources Department, Six Nations Elected Council

Caron is a Six Nations resident, of Mohawk and Deleware descent. She has worked in various capacities with the Six Nations Elected Council for approximately 15 years. Upon here graduation she worked for 10 years as the Community Planner at Six Nations. Her current position is the Land Use Officer, Lands and Resources, Six Nations Elected Council and a member of the Consultation and Accommodation Process team. Other positions she has held involved working with First Nations, such as Accreditation Canada where she worked with First Nations across Canada in the Health field. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo, School of Urban and Regional Planning with a degree in Environmental Studies. In addition, she has also studied at the University of Guelph, School of Rural Planning and Development, Master’s program as well as a post graduate degree from Niagara College, Tourism Development Program.


Larry McDermott, Executive Director, Plenty Canada

Larry is a member and serves as Ambassador for Shabot Obaadjiwan First Nation, one of the Algonquins of Ontario First Nations. Larry is Executive Director of Plenty Canada, a non-profit organization that facilitates access to, and shares resources with, Indigenous peoples and other community groups around the world in support of their environmental protection and sustainable development goals.

He is also Co-Chair of the Biodiversity Caucus and Aboriginal Representative/Director of the Canadian Environmental Network. Larry served as an Ontario municipal politician for 28 years including as the first national rural chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). At FCM he served as the board’s appointee to the Canadian Sustainable Community Awards Judges Panel for five years. He was a member of the rural small town and Aboriginal advisory committees to the Ontario Royal Commission on Land Use Planning Reform, the Eastern Ontario Smart Growth Panel, served as the first Mayor of the Township of Lanark Highlands and Warden of Lanark County. He served as a member of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (Way of Knowing) Working Group and is a member of the Canadian UNESCO Sectorial Commission for Natural, Social and Human Sciences.

Larry was a member of the Canadian Indigenous Delegation to the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Earth Summit) and in 2010 to the Nagoya follow up to deal with the third objective - access and benefit sharing. He is a member of the Eastern Ontario First Nations Working Group involving conservation authorities, the Eastern Ontario Model Forest and First Nations. Larry is an Ontario certified tree marker, did his undergraduate work in Agricultural Science and holds a Master’s degree in Native Studies from Carleton University.

Moderator: Jeremy Downe, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry


Jeremy Downe is an Invasive Species Policy and Program Advisor with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Jeremy is currently focused on supporting the development and enactment of Ontario’s proposed Invasive Species Act. Prior to this Jeremy was a Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry’s Species at Risk Branch and led projects focused on the interaction of agricultural and development activities with various species at risk. Jeremy holds a Masters in Environmental Studies degree from York University and is based in Peterborough.



Dilhari Fernando, Executive Director, Invasive Species Centre

Dilhari has a multidisciplinary education with degrees in science (Western), forestry economics (University of New Brunswick), Master of Business Administration (University of Ottawa) and Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility (University of Toronto). Prior to joining the Invasive Species Centre, Ms. Fernando spent many years in the federal government where she specialized in public policy development in the natural resources sector. She has a broad range of experience acquired at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Natural Resources Canada, Industry Canada, Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Privy Council Office, and most recently, as Director General, Strategic Policy at Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

Ms. Fernando lives in Ottawa, and has studied or worked in Ontario, British Columbia and New Brunswick.


Donna MacKenzie, Lead Biologist, Ontario Beetles

Donna has been involved in purple loosestrife biocontrol research and implementation since 1992, first through the University of Guelph and later through her company Ontario Beetles. She has worked extensively with provincial and municipal governments, conservation groups and volunteers to deliver purple loosestrife biocontrol programs throughout Ontario using Neogalerucella calmariensis and N. pusilla.


Sandy Smith, Professor and Dean, University of Toronto

Dr. Sandy Smith is a Professor in the Faculty of Forestry and cross-appointed here to the School of the Environment and Dept. Ecol & Evol Biology, the Dept of the Environment and Resources, Waterloo Univ, and Algoma Univ. She has served as Dean for forestry, and been elected as a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society (UK), Presidents of the Entomological Societies of Canada and Ontario, and a Minjiang Scholar in China. Sandy has also served on NSERC review panels, national invasive species science panels, and as Associate Editor for the Can J of Forest Research. She is currently a Board member of the Toronto Parks & Tree Foundation, LEAF, and Ontario Invasive Plant Council. Her research addresses biological control and ecosystem resilience for the management of invasive species in urban forests and the boreal, an area in which she has supervised 50+ graduate theses and published over 100 research papers and book chapters.


Taylor Scarr, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Taylor Scarr is the Provincial Forest Entomologist with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Taylor has an undergraduate degree in forestry and a Ph.D. in forest entomology. Based in Sault Ste. Marie, he provides provincial level policy leadership and scientific direction to forest health monitoring, insect control programs, and research. Much of Taylor’s current focus is on forest invasive species, but native insects, climate change, national strategies, and research also occupy a fair portion of his time.


Steve Hounsell, Chair, Ontario Biodiversity Council

Steve Hounsell is a retired biologist who spent his career with Ontario Power Generation (OPG) and the former Ontario Hydro, where he managed their biodiversity programs. Steve, an ardent supporter of sustainability and the conservation of biodiversity, is the Chair of the Ontario Biodiversity Council, the President and Chair of Forests Ontario, and a director of the Canadian Business and Biodiversity Council. Steve is a Past President of Ontario Nature, a past director of the Algonquin to Adirondacks Collaborative and a founding director of the Natural Step Canada.
Steve is a member of the Standards Development Panel which developed the Responsible Aggregate Standard which was released in Jan. 2015 by the Cornerstone Standards Council.  Steve is also a member of Ontario Nature’s Biodiversity Offsetting Advisory Group. 


Dave Ireland, Managing Director, Centre for Biodiversity Discovery, ROM

Dave is the Managing Director for the Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity at the ROM. He develops programs, projects and partnerships that help people understand and conserve biodiversity. Dave grew up in Huntsville, Ontario on the doorstep of Algonquin Park, and has been living in Toronto for the last eight years. He love the outdoors, connecting people to wildlife and wild spaces - and is a big fan of change.

Scott MacIvor, PhD Candidate, York University


Les Luxemburger, Art Educator, Director, Art on the Go

As a passionate visual artist, art educator, eco-artist, animator and graphic novelist, Les employs visual art techniques (animation, painting, drawing, mixed media, upcycling) to teach youth and the public about environmental issues, such as climate change, habitat loss, species at risk, and green design. Les holds a Bachelor and Master’s degree in Environmental Studies, with a focus in environmental education and outreach for sustainable development. He is also the owner and director of ART on the Go, and is publishing his first graphic novel, “Earth Charter”.


Darren Platakis, Executive Director, Geospatial Niagara

Darren Platakis is the Founder and Executive Director of Geospatial Niagara, non-profit organization that seeks to promote geo-literacy and community participation through geography. He holds a BSc. degree in Geography from Brock University (2010) and a Post Graduate Certificate in GIS/Geospatial Management from Niagara College (2011). In 2013 he was elected to the College of Fellows in the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. He envisions a Niagara where every citizen is an engaged citizen through geographic awareness and access to geospatial technologies and information. TreeOcode Niagara is but one project being undertaken by Geospatial Niagara. Others include the Niagara Minecraft project and the Niagara Aspiring Geoparks project. Currently he’s dedicated to finding a home for Geospatial Niagara that will serve as an exciting and interactive hub for both community geographic and environmental education.


Terri Rutty, Director of Environmental Sustainability, YMCA of Greater Toronto

Terri Rutty is the Director of Environmental Sustainability at the YMCA of Greater Toronto (GTA) and believes that in order to have healthy children, teens & young adults we need a healthy planet. With her leadership, the YMCA of GTA has been listed as one of the Globe & Mails Top Greenest Employers for 5 consecutive years. Terri’s background in Marine Biology has allowed her to participate in research around the world including Vancouver, Mexico, Hawaii and Colombia. She has worked as the Executive Director for the Women’s Healthy Environments Network, is a member of the Advisory Committee to the Chief Corporate Officer for the City of Toronto and is a board member for the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.


Leslie Adams, Co-Chair, Ontario Environment Network

Leslie is actively involved in mainstreaming biodiversity from the international to individual level. She is active with several environmental groups and is currently co-chair of the Ontario Environment Network (OEN) and represents OEN on the Ontario Biodiversity Council. Leslie believes in enabling youth to participate and find their voice and passion, and the fundamental value in volunteering and the doors that it can open.


Tom Hilditch, President and CEO, Savanta Inc.

Tom Hilditch is an environmental professional with over 30 years of experience, mostly in the Canadian environmental consulting industry. He helped develop and lead two major consulting firms, Gartner Lee Limited and ESG International, before joining a very large Canadian firm, Stantec Consulting, as Vice President of Environmental Management, responsible for Ontario operations. Tom formed Savanta Inc in 2006, to establish a very specialized firm with a focus on environmental approvals, ecological restoration, and sustainability. Tom has worked in North and South America, Asia and Africa and he has developed a broad appreciation for a full range of environmental challenges, solutions, and opportunities. He has a talent for solving complicated environmental challenges through genuine engagement, communication and collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.


Karen Boultbee, Youth Employment Communications Officer, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Karen Boultbee is a Youth Employment Communications Officer with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry.  Karen has also worked with the ministry as a Species at Risk Biologist, a Stewardship Youth Ranger program coordinator, and a creator of an Ontario Parks’ website for kids and teachers.  Prior to working for the ministry, Karen was a teacher of Outdoor and Experiential Education, Environmental Science and Biology; as well as a canoe tripper and nature educator with youth at risk. As a young graduate teaching English in Japan, Karen developed her initial awareness of Canadian environmental issues and opportunities. Karen has an Honours Bachelor of Arts in English, a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Bachelor of Education with a specialization in Outdoor and Experiential Education. 


Alan Unwin, Associate Dean, School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies

Alan Unwin is currently the Associate Dean of the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies at Niagara College.  Niagara College offers numerous environmental courses at both the diploma and post graduate level.  Niagara College and the School of Environmental and Horticultural Studies was recently named as the recipient of the “Outstanding Post-Secondary Institution” Award by the Canadian Network for Environmental Education and Communication (EECOM) at the annual North American Association for Environmental Education - NAAEE conference in Ottawa, October 2014.  Alan is also the current Vice Chair of the Society of Ecological Restoration (SER) – a non-profit organization based out of Washington D.C. 


Vincent Luk, Young Leaders for Biodiversity Videographer

Vincent Luk is a Toronto based photographer, videographer and Co-Founder of Hello Foto Inc. He is a recent graduate of the Environmental Visual Communications (EVC) program that is hosted at the ROM. Prior to EVC, he started his own creative studio and has over 5 years of professional photography experience. His work has taken him to places such as China, Tibet, India, Nepal, and he will to travel to northern Ontario and Sri Lanka this summer to document and share stories of biodiversity conservation and research. His background in urban planning and community development fosters his interest in documenting the relationships and impacts between people and the natural environment.