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Ontario Nature board and senior staff

Board of Directors

Our officers and directors are passionate, dedicated and talented volunteers who generously give their time and insight to guide the charity’s conservation efforts.


Executive

PRESIDENT LYLE CLARKE is a long-time member of Ontario Nature, a keen canoeist and nature lover. He is a successful corporate executive and entrepreneur, with a 30-year career focused mainly on the environment and clean technology. He has extensive experience as a chair, committee chair, and director of a variety of not-for-profit and for-profit organizations.

PAST PRESIDENT OTTO PETER has a degree in Biology from the University of Western Ontario. He is the past president of the Durham Region Field Naturalists and still serves as its program coordinator. He is currently the president of the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust, which owns almost 12 hectares of woods and meadow on the Lake Ontario shoreline in Whitby. As a former employee with General Motors, he worked with others to protect, restore and maintain GM’s McLaughlin Bay Wildlife Preserve. Otto volunteered for the Atlas of the Breeding Birds of Ontario and has participated in the Oshawa and Pickering Christmas Bird Counts and in the Oshawa butterfly and summer bird counts. He enjoys educating children and adults alike in natural history. Otto and his wife Diane are enthusiastic world travellers, usually going to places where they can enjoy their favourite hobby, bird watching.

VICE-PRESIDENT CARA GREGORY Cara has an Honours B.Sc. in Environmental Science, with an area of emphasis in Environmental Conservation and Recreation from the University of Guelph and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. She has worked six seasons as a Nature Interpreter/Naturalist in the Natural Heritage Education division of Ontario Parks. Since 2004, she has been with the Durham District School Board Outdoor and Environmental Education Department, working at both Nonquon and Duffin’s Creek Environmental Education Centres as an Outdoor Environmental Education Instructor. She is Vice-President of North Durham Nature, Co-Chair of the Scugog Environmental Advisory Committee and a board member of the Friends of Nonquon. Cara and her husband, an avid bird watcher, combine their love of travel and nature together, visiting different eco-tourism destinations around the world.

SECRETARY / TREASURER – KURT KROESEN is an experienced financial executive with an active interest in conserving global biodiversity. He has held senior financial positions with both industry and not-for-profit organisations. Kurt also has served on several boards. As a member of the Rotary Club of Toronto he is on the Environment Committee and Chairs the Audit Committee. While Kurt’s formal training and career path has been in the financial area, he has had a long-time interest in nature and the protection of biodiversity.


Regional Directors

Carolinian East – RON CORKUM, South Peel Naturalists’ Club Ron holds a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Ottawa and is a retired environmental chemist. He is a long-time member of Ontario Nature with a keen interest in conservation issues. Ron has been a regular volunteer at the Toronto office of Ontario Nature since 2014. Ron is currently a board member with South Peel Naturalists’ club. He is a resident of Mississauga. Ron is a life-long nature enthusiast and enjoys camping, hiking, wilderness canoeing and running.

Carolinian West – Vacant

Great Lakes West – PETER KELLY, Nature Guelph – Peter lives in Guelph and is currently a member of the Nature Guelph executive having served as president from 2011-2014. He earned an Honours BSc. and MSc. in Physical Geography from the University of Western Ontario and spent twenty years at the University of Guelph studying the ecology of the ancient cliff-face forests of the Niagara Escarpment and co-authored three books on the topic. He also served as the first research director of the rare Charitable Research Reserve in Cambridge and as executive director of the North American Native Plant Society. He is an avid photographer, traveler and active volunteer with several organizations.

Huronia – DOROTHY MCKEOWN, Nature Barrie – Dorothy has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Guelph and an Accounting Diploma from Lambton College. She has spent most of her career  with Bell Canada in accounting. As a child, family vacations were spent camping, canoeing and hiking. Dorothy is the current president of Nature Barrie. She enthusiastically heads the eastern bluebird nest box monitors of Simcoe County, and was a negotiator in a new partnership for the Barrie Creeks Projects. She is also a member of Nature Barrie’s conservation group, is a spotter in the Christmas Bird Count, Chimney Swifts monitoring and Tiny Marsh BioBlitz. While hiking with family, friends and dogs, Dorothy enjoys encouraging people she meets to join nature groups. She looks forward to retiring in 2019, and hopes to do more volunteer work with Ontario Nature, and travel all over Canada, for months in each province and territory.

Lake Ontario North – JAMES KAMSTRA, North Durham Nature – James is well known in the Ontario naturalist and ecologist community as a highly experienced field biologist both professionally and recreationally. He has a B.Sc. in Biology and Environmental Science from Trent University, as well as a Masters in Environmental Studies from York University. He is currently employed as an ecologist/environmental consultant for the engineering firm AECOM where he has worked on a wide range of environmental impact assessment projects across Canada and internationally. He has conducted bio-physical inventories of many natural areas including Awenda Provincial Park, Queen Elizabeth II Wildlands, Camden East Alvar, Rouge Park and Pelee Island. James grew up on the outskirts of Oshawa, Ontario where he began a keen interest in nature by the age of 10 years old. He has a broad interest in natural history and is highly adept at evaluating the significance of ecosystems and species identification particularly in fields of botany, birds, herpetofauna and insects.

Ontario East – DENICE WILKINS, Quinte Field Naturalists Denice grew up in Detroit, Michigan and seemed to have been born hugging a tree. Without encouragement, she began her environmental activist career at age 10, by starting a “Keep America Beautiful” club. In 1980, she graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in environmental education, and went on to work at parks and nature centres in the U.S. Love lured her to Canada in 1988 when she married her nature cinematographer beau, and moved to Tweed, Ontario. After a decade working at Bon Echo Provincial Park as natural history education coordinator, the allure of adventure took her to places like Iceland and South Africa to make nature /travel documentaries for television with her husband. At the same time, they operated an organic u-pick blueberry farm. Since retiring, she volunteers for environmental causes including joining the board of the Quinte Field Naturalists as environmental officer in 2011.

Northern East – JOHN DIEBOLT – John is a retired conservation officer who spent most of his career on Manitoulin Island working with local hunters and naturalists alike. John is active with the Friends of Misery Bay, of which he is a past-president, and the Manitoulin Nature Club. John and members of the Friends of Misery Bay have worked in cooperation with Ontario Parks to build a Park Interpretive Centre and develop hiking trails and boardwalks along the unique alvars on the reserve. A keen birder, John welcomes visitors to Manitoulin to view its migrant and resident birdlife. In addition, John and his wife Rose have a well-known restaurant in Tehkummah.

Northern West – Vacant


Directors at large

BRIAN BORNSTEIN is President/Founder of Symbiotic Partnerships Inc. and Director of Symbiotic Living Inc. He graduated with a B.A. and B. Comm. and worked in public accounting, followed by a career in the corporate sector; before starting his own insurance brokerage company. Brian has been actively involved in numerous charities/organizations including the Symbiotic Ecofund, The Duke of Edinburgh Award (past board member), Concerned Citizens of King (past board chair), Scouts Canada (cub and scout leader). He contributes personal funds and raised funds for various environmental charities and hospitals. Brian and his wife recently designed their environment-friendly, carbon positive home in downtown Toronto; which features a green roof planted to provide habitat and food for pollinators.

JOANNE BROWN began a career in financial services after graduating from Trent University, and has enjoyed various roles from Business Analyst in corporate finance to Performance Consultant in global risk management. Joanne currently has her own consulting firm and specializes in strategic learning and development initiatives. Joanne has lived most of her life in Oshawa/Whitby and has been actively involved in those communities with various not-for-profit organizations such as Durham Community Foundation, YWCA, and Friends of Second Marsh. She has been a concerned environmentalist for many years and is pleased to bring her passion and energy to Ontario Nature and looks forward to collaborating with volunteers and staff to support the excellent work that Ontario Nature engages in.

DOUG CROCKER graduated with a Master’s degree in Economics from Queens University. He has worked as a research economist, financial risk manager, derivatives expert, investor and businessman. Currently, Doug chairs the Advisory Committee at 18 Asset Management and is President of a small real estate development company. In addition, Doug has published several academic articles and books on economic and investment issues. During his time in Grey County, Doug has become a concerned environmentalist with particular interests in fresh water systems, plastic pollution and preservation of our natural world, and is currently pursuing a certificate degree in limnology; the study of fresh water systems. Doug is an avid sailor, canoeist, hiker and road biker.

LESLEY LEWIS immigrated to Canada from South Africa 33 years ago. She has worked as an administrator at the University of Toronto for most of those years, and currently is Assistant Dean (Academic) at the University of Toronto Scarborough. Her early childhood was spent on a beautiful farm in the foothills of the Drakensberg, where the seeds of her life-long passion for nature germinated and grew strong. Canada has offered a cornucopia of opportunities for Lesley to enjoy nature — she has hiked the Canol Trail in the North West Territories and many parts of the Bruce Trail, canoed the Barron, French, Liard, MacKenzie, Nelson, and Tatachikapika Rivers, Lake Nipissing and the lakes in Algonquin Park and around Temagami, and sailed and kayaked in Georgian Bay. For several years she volunteered with the City of Toronto on land restoration projects in the Brick Works, spent two summers as a Volunteer for Nature, and has participated in several Bird Counts in Toronto. Now, she lives on a small property in Grey County, and has started a naturalization project there and participates in the Backyard Bird Count.

SUSAN ROBERTSON is the principal planner of People Plan Community, and has 15 years of experience in watershed management, collaborative community engagement and Indigenous planning. Susan is French speaking and has worked in both regulatory and policy environments for watershed systems across the Greater Toronto Area as well as in community engagement with diverse communities, including First Nations, watershed governance bodies, municipalities, regions and provincial ministries. Her work focuses on the amelioration of environmental and cultural conditions in public spaces through parks, trails, and Indigenous projects – some of which have received national awards. Susan expertly collaborates with various approval authorities to support connections to rivers, public space, watershed conservation and the advancement of Indigenous rights within Ontario’s land use planning processes. Susan is an active member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a registered professional planner. She also served as a commissioner, public-at-large for the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

DAN SHIRE is a recently retired (after 32 years) Information Technology Consultant for IBM Canada. He has a biology degree from Queen’s University. He and his wife Karen have been long-time members of Ontario Nature, and are volunteers for the Fatal Light Awareness Program (FLAP) and the Toronto Zoo. Dan is currently the VP for the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust and the Communications Director & Newsletter Editor for the Pickering Naturalists. In 2000 Dan and Karen purchased about 100 acres of mixed forest within the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve that was slated for logging. They worked with the local Thousand Islands Watershed Land Trust to protect the property in perpetuity with a conservation easement, safeguarding habitat for nesting and migratory birds, reptiles like the gray ratsnake, amphibians and orchids.

DIANA SHERMET WILLIAMSON has worked in conservation since 2007, focusing on invasive species management, natural areas inventories, restoration and ecological monitoring. She is a member of the Durham Region Field Naturalists, Field Botanists of Ontario, North American Native Plant Society, and is a board member for the Ontario Invasive Plant Council. She is also passionate about animal welfare issues, and volunteers with several animal rescue organizations fostering dogs and participating in canine enrichment. Diana is an avid outdoor enthusiast, spending her time canoeing, hiking and camping throughout Ontario with her husband and trusted four-legged companion. She is slowly turning her suburban backyard into a native woodland hide away. Diana is a graduate of Wilfrid Laurier University and Niagara College Ecosystem Restoration Post-Graduate Diploma.

ANDRE WILLI lives and works in Vaughan as a self-employed insurance broker specializing in employee benefits. He has an economics degree from the University of Guelph. Andre is a life-long nature enthusiast who enjoys learning about all aspects of nature. Conserving Ontario’s biodiversity and addressing international environmental issues are important to him. Andre tries to get in a weekly hike – often at the Kortright Center, which is down the street from his house.

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A cross cultural network of young Indigenous and non-Indigenous environmental leaders to become lifelong ambassadors for nature. Supported in part by OPG.

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