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.
Cara Gregory – President
Cara has an honours B.Sc. in environmental science from the University of Guelph and a B.Ed. degree from the University of Toronto. She worked six seasons as a naturalist with Ontario Parks before beginning her work in 2004 as an outdoor educator at the Outdoor Environmental Education Centres run by the Durham District School Board. She is president of North Durham Nature, involved with Friends of Nonquon and served as chair of the Scugog Environmental Advisory Committee. Cara and her husband, an avid birder, combine their love of travel and nature together, visiting different eco-tourism destinations around the world.
Lyle Clarke – Past President
Lyle is a long-time member of Ontario Nature, a keen canoeist, native plant gardener and nature lover. He is a successful corporate executive and entrepreneur, with a 30-year career focused on the environment and clean technology. He has extensive governance experience as a chair, committee chair, and director.
Kurt Kroesen – Vice President
Kurt 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 organizations. Kurt also has served on several boards. 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.
Dan Shire – Secretary/Treasurer
Dan is a retired IBM consultant with a biology degree from Queen’s University. He and his wife Karen have been long-time members of Ontario Nature. Dan is the vice president for the Thickson’s Woods Land Trust, serves on the executive of the Pickering Naturalists and volunteers in the Toronto Zoo public education program. In 2000, Dan and Karen purchased 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.
Ron Corkum, South Peel Naturalists’ Club – Carolinian East
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
Marilyn Baxter, Eden Mills Eramosa River Conservation Association – Great Lakes West
Marilyn served as the executive director of the Bay Area Restoration Council, then as environmental manager for the Hamilton Port Authority, for a total of 25 years. She received Hamilton’s Environmental Lifetime Achievement Award upon her retirement in 2018 in recognition of her leadership and dedication to the clean-up of Hamilton Harbour and its watershed. The completion of the Eramosa River East Branch Naturalization Project (upstream of Guelph) was Marilyn’s most proud moment as president of the Eden Mills Eramosa River Conservation Association (EMERCA). Hiking, canoeing, swimming, and camping drives her passion for protecting the GLW ecosystem.
Kate Harries, AWARE Simcoe, MTM Conservation Association – Huronia
Kate lives in Springwater Township where she grows and sells native plants through her business, Return of the Native. She is a member of the Friends of the Waverley Uplands, a recharge area for the purest water known to science, as well as past president of the Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists’ Club and a member of the board of MTM Conservation Association, which manages Tiny Marsh and two other wildlife areas. She is a founding member of AWARE Simcoe and has received Ontario Nature’s Carl Nunn Media and Conservation Award for her years of writing about conservation issues.
James Kamstra, North Durham Nature – Lake Ontario North
James is well known in the Ontario naturalist 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 master’s 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 assessments across Canada. He has conducted bio-physical inventories of many natural areas in the province. James grew up on the outskirts of Oshawa where he began a keen interest in nature at a young age.
Denice Wilkins, Quinte Field Naturalists – Ontario East
Denice grew up in Detroit and received a B.Sc. in environmental education from Michigan State University in 1980. She worked at parks and nature centres in the U.S. until love lured her to Canada in 1988. After a decade working at Bon Echo Provincial Park as natural history education coordinator, she joined her husband making nature/travel documentaries for television while also operating 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.
John Diebolt – Northern East
John is a retired conservation officer who spent most of his career on Manitoulin Island, but also throughout Ontario, working with all outdoor enthusiasts. His passion is with all species but especially endangered species. John is a member of the Friends of Misery Bay, and the Manitoulin Nature Club. The Friends of Misery Bay, in cooperation with Ontario Parks have developed hiking trails, shelters and boardwalks along the coastal alvars in the park. A keen birder and married to photo enthusiast Rose-they share their love of nature and passion for the outdoors with their four children and 8 grandchildren.
Northern West – Vacant
Directors at Large
Brian is president/founder of Symbiotic Partnerships Inc. and director of Symbiotic Living Inc. (2015). 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 raises funds for various environmental charities and hospitals. Brian and his wife recently designed their environment-friendly, carbon positive home in downtown Toronto; featuring a green roof providing habitat and food for pollinators.
Joanne attended both Queens and Trent Universities and went on to work predominantly in financial services. 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, Land Over Landings, 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.
Doug graduated with a master’s degree in economics from Queens University. He has worked as a research economist, financial risk manager, derivatives expert, and businessman. Doug is currently the chair of the Advisory Committee at 18 Asset Management and is president of a real estate development company. Doug has published several academic articles and books on economic and investment issues. Doug now lives in Grey County, where he has become a concerned environmentalist. Doug is an avid sailor, canoeist, hiker, and road biker.
Lesley has been connected to nature since a young age. Canada has offered an abundance of opportunities — hiking the Canol Trail in the Northwest Territories and many parts of the Bruce Trail, canoeing the Barron, French, Liard, MacKenzie, Nelson, and Tatachikapika Rivers, Lake Nipissing and the lakes in Algonquin Park and around Temagami, and sailing and kayaking in Georgian Bay. She has volunteered on land restoration projects and bird and amphibian counts. Now, she stewards a section of the Bruce Trail and manages a small forest property. She is an active member of local climate action groups.
Susan is the principal planner of People Plan Community, and has 15 years of experience in watershed management, collaborative community engagement and Indigenous planning. Susan believes in working well together so that we can all connect to rivers, culture, and natural spaces through, 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.
Diana Shermet Williamson
Diana has worked within the conservation realm since 2007, and her focus is on invasive species management, natural areas inventories, restoration and ecological monitoring. She is a member of the Durham Region Field Naturalists club, 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 (geography) and Niagara College ecosystem restoration post-graduate diploma.
Andre 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 international environmental issues are important to him. As a new board member, he looks forward to working with Ontario Nature in achieving its goals. He tries to get in a weekly hike at the Kortright Centre down the street from his house or find an alternative hiking spot.