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Ontario Nature Board of Directors, 2023 © John Hassell

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

Kurt Kroesen – 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.

Cara Gregory – Past 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.

Andre Willi – Vice President

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. He enjoys 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.

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

Paul Toffoletti, Hamilton Naturalists’ Club – Carolinian East
Paul Toffoletti, Hamilton Naturalists Club – Carolinian East Ontario Nature Regional Director Board Member

Paul grew up in Hamilton and now lives in Burlington. He retired from the City of Hamilton as an Urban Planning Technician and is an honorary member of the Canadian Association of Certified Planning Technicians. He became involved with environmental and natural heritage issues in his community in the mid 1990’s, when he joined the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club, Ontario Nature and the Bruce Trail Conservancy. Paul continues to volunteer with the Iroquoia Bruce Trail Club, Hamilton Naturalists and Royal Botanical Gardens. Presently, he is also a Board member of the Ontario Trails Council. He has sat on environmental advisory committees for the City of Burlington and Halton Region and has an interest in land use issues and conservation land acquisition. Paul is a Hike Ontario Certified Hike Leader and enjoys hiking, cross country skiing, curling, riding his bike on rail trails and multi use paths, gardening and history.

Mike Fisher, The Friends of Ojibway Prairie – Carolinian West

Mike graduated from the University of Windsor with a masters degree in business administration and is a chartered professional accountant (CPA, CMA). He is a committed board member with The Friends of Ojibway Prairie and a member of the Essex County Field Naturalists’ Club. Mike is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys hiking, kayaking and cycling.

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.

Sylvia Bowman, York Simcoe Nature Club – Huronia

Sylvia grew up in Calgary and spent a lot of time in the mountains of British Columbia and Alberta where she grew to love nature thanks to her mom. She is a registered nurse from Ottawa Civic Hospital School of Nursing with a BScN from the University of Toronto and has worked as a public health nurse for many years. She rejoins Ontario Nature’s Board of Directors having previously been a members from 2011 to 2017.

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 – Carol Burnup

Carol has an academic background in ecology, a deep respect for nature and a thorough understanding of its healing effects with over 20 years of professional communications experience primarily within the environmental and social non-profit sectors. She is a member of the Ottawa Field Naturalists Club and enjoys all outdoor or nature-related activity, with her most recent adventures paddling the Yukon River and hiking the ruggedness of Iceland. When she is not donning her environmental cape, she is an avid explorer, having lived, worked or studied in over 25 countries, and performance artist.

John Diebolt – Northern

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.


Directors at Large

Laverne Barretto

Laverne has been a Canadian Diplomat and represented Canada in the international development and environment field. She managed programs in environmental governance, food security, desertification, disaster response, and education in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. As a Senior Environmental Officer with the Ontario Environment Ministry, Laverne was responsible for elevating pollution prevention initiatives and conducting industrial inspections. She has a Master’s in Environment and Development from the University of Sussex, UK, and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Toronto. She dreams of a planet with immense biodiversity, harmony, and social justice. Laverne has French language competency, is an advanced scuba diver, and is a fan of Motown, Star Trek, and Get Smart.

Adam De Luca

Adam has an Honours B.A. from the University of Toronto and J.D. from the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law. His studies and experiences have focused on urban ecology, renewable energy, nature conservation and environmental advocacy. Adam has been a member of the University of Toronto Food Policy Council and is the president of the Lakehead University Environmental Law Students Association. He has worked on the Bloor Street Bike Lane Pilot Project, which resulted in permanent bike lanes along Toronto’s Bloor Street, and studied renewable energy systems implementation at the University of Reykjavik. His aim is to leverage his experience to advocate for environmental justice.

Amy Dietz-Graham

Amy is a Senior Portfolio Manager and Wealth Advisor with a proven track record of creating and developing effective financial strategies and sustainable financial growth. She has built a strong reputation and is seen by her clients not only as a highly effective and credible source for all things financial, but as an approachable and trusted advisor. Amy grew up in a small town in Bruce County and was lucky to be around nature all the time growing up. Now living in Toronto with her husband and 2 children, she makes it a point to enjoy the outdoors as much as possible with them. She is also extremely passionate that her children have a good understanding of our environment and steps we can take to protect it now and into the future.

Tiffany Lee

Tiffany is a University of Toronto BSc graduate, founder of Deo Tutoring, and a Strategy and Planning manager at Cisco. As a youth, being an Ontario Nature Youth Council member and Duke of Edinburgh International Award recipient has shaped and inspired her to pursue a life of giving-back and protecting nature. In the past decade she mentored 45 high school students to achieve distinguishable academic performances and volunteering. She participated as a Canadian diplomat at the 2021 WBG-IMF Annual Meeting and wrote about green investments in Canada. Presently Tiffany loves participating in corporate green teams’ events and judging in environmental hackathons and projects.

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.

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.

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.

“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

Whorled loosetrife © Noah Cole

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