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Ontario Nature Board of Directors, 2021 © Anne Bell

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

Cara Gregory – President

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 B.Ed. degree from the University of Toronto. Her extensive career in outdoor environmental education began with several 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 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 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 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.

Kurt Kroesen – Vice President
Kurt Kroesen

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. As a member of the Rotary Club of Toronto he is on the Environment Working Group and is Treasurer for the Club. 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 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 he is also a volunteer at the Toronto Zoo. Dan is currently the Vice President 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.


Regional Directors

Carolinian East – Vacant
Carolinian West – Vacant
Marilyn Baxter, Eden Mills Eramosa River Conservation Association – Great Lakes West

Marilyn served as both Executive Director of the Bay Area Restoration Council and as Environmental Manager for the Hamilton Port Authority where her passion was the clean-up of Hamilton Harbour and its watershed from the early 1990’s until her retirement in 2018. 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) in 2020. Canoeing, swimming, and hiking in the Great Lakes West area had prepared her to represent the Region.

Kate Harries, Midland-Penetanguishene Field Naturalists’ Club – 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, 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 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 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 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 – Vacant
John Diebolt – Northern East

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

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.

Doug Crocker

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.

Susan Robertson

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. Diana is an avid outdoor enthusiast, spending her time canoeing, hiking and camping throughout Ontario with her husband and trusted four-legged companion, Duke.

Andre Willi

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.

Ayesha Shah

Ayesha studied Public Policy and Management and Philosophy at York University and Queen’s University. She brings more than 15 years of professional experience doing People & Culture work in world-class organizations. Ayesha is a certified HR professional and trained coach who has proudly served as a professor, mentor and board member. Currently, she is the Founder and Managing Director of C-Potential, a human capital advisory, talent assessment, coaching & development organization that takes pride in capturing, curating and cultivating diverse human potential. Ayesha’s values include connectedness and holds reverence for all life forms as the highest ideal of inclusion. An animal lover, Ayesha lives in the GTA with her cockatiel Mojo, and her two dogs Maverick Angel and Merlin Love.

Muhammad (Moe) Qureshi

Moe was a founding member of the Ontario Nature Youth Council in 2010. He has been named one of Starfish Canada’s Top Environmentalists Under 25 in 2014 and 2015, and was recognized by the Lieutenant Governor for his work in conserving Ontario’s natural heritage. Moe has worked extensively in the areas of conservation and the chemistry for renewable energy and has advised the Government of Canada for the 2016–2019 and 2019–2022 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy. He holds a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto, a PhD in chemistry from KAUST. He has worked at Stanford University’s SLAC facility working on cutting-edge technology to develop clean solar fuels, which uses sunlight and water to generate energy.

“It was wonderful to stand with such inspiring, dedicated and passionate board members who tirelessly work to protect our natural world. Being on the board was an honour and a privilege. Thanks to the current board members for everything you do for nature in your personal, professional and volunteer lives.”
– Denice Wilkins, past board member

“Being on the board was a rewarding experience with so many passionate, knowledgeable and caring people. Ontario Nature is in good hands and must continue to hold the government to account as it seeks to ‘pave paradise’. I am honoured to count fellow board members as nature friends and to have supported such important projects together. Best wishes to you all and thanks for protecting nature with me.”
– Joanne Brown, board member from 2016 to 2022

Jacksons Point © Mark CC BY-NC 2.0

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