fbpx
Skip to main content

Staff

We are your Ontario Nature.

Showy lady's-slipper orchid, Wallwork Nature Reserve

Our talented staff is dedicated to the protection of wild species and wild spaces. Together, with our members and supporters, we are the voice for nature in this beautiful province. We follow a credible, science-based approach to conservation and are committed to act with integrity.  

Caroline Schultz – Executive Director

Caroline grew up in Ireland with a family that loved exploring nature, especially along the southwest’s wild Atlantic coast. She has over 25 years of experience in developing and leading conservation initiatives involving science, land securement, stewardship, and advocacy in Canada and the Americas. Caroline started her career as an ecologist, and quickly expanded her interests to organizational development and multi-partner collaboratives to achieve tangible on-the-ground conservation results. Caroline completed an M.Sc. in ecology at the University of Toronto and a Master of management degree at McGill University.

Sarah Hedges (she/her) – Managing Director

Sarah manages day-to-day operations to ensure that Ontario Nature achieves its objectives and mission. She joined Ontario Nature in August 2010 and holds a B.Sc. in environmental science from Queen’s University. Her previous roles at Ontario Nature include managing and coordinating several conservation and education programs. Sarah spends her free time at family cottages in Bancroft and Gananoque. 

Jon Irwin – Finance Director

Jon joined Ontario Nature in October 2022. He graduated with his Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) from McMaster University in 2000, and became a designated Accountant, (CMA), in 2004. After accumulating more than 16 years of experience within Ontario’s healthcare sector, including serving as the Controller of Government Research Infrastructure Awards at the Hospital for Sick Children, as well as the Founder of Healthcare Accounting Professional Corporation, Jon is excited to apply his skills and expertise towards Ontario Nature’s mission and objectives. In his spare time, Jon enjoys long distance running, playing retro video games and camping in the great outdoors. 

Lisa Martell (she/her) – Executive Assistant

Lisa Martell banding a saw-whet owl

Lisa joined Ontario Nature in May 2021. She is a graduate of Fleming College’s fish and wildlife technician program. Lisa’s enthusiasm for nature and wildlife started when she interned at the Toronto Wildlife Centre in high school and went on to volunteer as a wildlife rehabilitator in places as far as Perth, Australia and Edmonton, Alberta. Her true passion for ornithology emerged through her experience with the Prince Edward Point Bird Observatory as the assistant bander and later volunteering as the secretary on the board of directors. In her spare time, she likes to cozy up to a new crochet project or book as well as explore nature with her husband and dog.

Kamran Minai (he/him) – Administrative Coordinator

Kamran is a conservationist with a keen interest in the challenges involving nature conservation and development. Prior to joining Ontario Nature, he worked in the environment sector overseas mainly coordinating environmental assessments and biodiversity action plans in diverse ecosystems. In his spare time, he enjoys exploring natural areas and training dogs.


Conservation and Education

Anne Bell (she/her) – Director of Conservation and Education

Anne has been directing Ontario Nature’s conservation and education programs since 2007. She holds a Ph.D. in environmental studies and has over 30 years of experience working as an environmental educator, researcher and advocate. Anne loves to go birding, camping, swimming, cross-country skiing, and to play hockey with family and friends. 

Smera Sukumar (she/her) – Conservation Science and Stewardship Director

Smera Sukumar

Smera directs the Nature Reserves and Conservation Science programs. She joined the team in 2016 and holds a MSc in biodiversity and conservation from the University of Leeds and a BSc in zoology from the University of Guelph. Smera works closely with volunteers, conservation partners, and researchers to deliver collaborative projects across both programs. Her love of Ontario’s wild species and spaces and the diversity of people and cultures in this province shape all aspects of her work. Smera has lived in four countries and travelled to over 40. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, cooking, dancing, and cozying up with her cat.

Christine Ambre (she/they) – Education Manager

Christine Ambre with a turtle

Christine started volunteering with Ontario Nature in spring 2015 transcribing data for the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas and joined the team that fall. Now the organization’s Education Manager, she oversees the Nature Guardians Youth Program, including the Youth Council and Youth Circle for Mother Earth projects. Christine grew up with a love of the outdoors and nature, which eventually led her to take a B.Sc. in earth sciences from the University of Waterloo. She has extensive experience working with youth at summer camp and volunteering with other environmental non-profits. Outside of Ontario Nature, Christine is a part-time video game brand ambassador, enjoys exploring the outdoors and is usually found sipping bubble tea around the city. 

Corina Brdar – Conservation Policy and Planning Manager

Corina has spent her career working in and for nature in Ontario and across Canada. She provides leadership for Ontario Nature’s conservation policy initiatives. Prior to joining Ontario Nature in 2022 she worked for the province as an ecologist for two decades, both in the field and on planning and policy. Most recently she expanded her expertise in strategic conservation planning while working at the federal level. Corina completed an M.Sc. in ecology at the University of Alberta and a B.Sc. in ecology at the University of Guelph. She has paddled watersheds that flow out of all sides of Ontario.  Her other vocation is sharing the practice of nature journaling with others. 

Brittney Vezina (she/her) – Conservation Projects Coordinator

Brittney started as a volunteer with Ontario Nature in 2018, working on the Ontario Reptile and Amphibian Atlas. She holds a B.Sc. in zoology from the University of Guelph and an M.Sc. in conservation biology from the University of Kent. She has extensive experience in the conservation sector, including bird and bat monitoring in Ontario, grassland songbird research in Alberta and rural development research in Madagascar. Brittney has a strong interest in the human dimensions of conservation and believes conservation success is rooted in education, science and working collaboratively with community members. In her spare time, Brittney enjoys hiking, camping, knitting and seeing live music.

Tharanya Ravikumaran – Nature Reserves Coordinator

Prior to working at Ontario Nature, Tharanya worked at Conservation Halton, Hamilton Conservation Authority, Toronto Region Conservation Authority, and Ontario Streams. She has a B.A. in bio-resource management (majored in Environmental Management) from the University of Guelph and has completed the ecosystem restoration program at Niagara College. Tharanya is proficient at Ecological Land Classification, Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network, habitat restoration, species at risk monitoring and invasive species management. She enjoys exploring the outdoors and trying out new food spots all over the GTA with friends and family.

Jenna Kip (she/her) – Protected Places Assessment Coordinator

Jenna joined Ontario Nature in the summer of 2021. Her work supports the Protected Places Campaign by providing visual communication of significant environmental features and conducting spatial analyses of protected places. She has graduated from the ecosystem management technology program at Fleming College and has earned a B.Sc. in environmental science from Trent University. Jenna has a deep passion for wildlife and the environment and can always be found in nature where she enjoys camping, cooking over fires, hiking and wildlife photography.

Jenna Cardoso (she/her) – Protected Places Project Coordinator

Jenna (also known as JC) joined Ontario Nature in 2021. Born and raised in southern Ontario, she feels most comfortable amongst the sugar maples, beech and white pines. In 2020, JC completed a M.A. of forest conservation from the University of Toronto where her research focused on restoring human-nature connection in urban centres through forest bathing. In her spare time, JC can be found hiking with her boxerdoodle pup, Stevie. She also loves to read, practice yoga, dabble in graphic design, make collages and tend to her vegetable garden.

Graeme Smith (he/him) – GIS Administrative Coordinator

Graeme joined Ontario Nature in 2021. He was born and raised in Waterloo, where he looked for any opportunity to be out in nature. He has completed a B.Sc. in biology at Laurentian University and a M.Sc. in environmental and life sciences at Trent University. His M.Sc. research focused on identifying suitable habitat for endangered salamanders on Pelee Island as well as locations for habitat restoration. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, playing board games and exploring the outdoors.

Jake Guggenheimer (he/him) – Nature-based Tourism Project Coordinator

Jake is based out of Thunder Bay which he has called home for the past six years. He completed his B.A. of outdoor recreation, parks, and tourism at Lakehead University in 2019, and a forestry technician diploma from Confederation College in 2021. Jake has worked in Ontario Parks for four years on the North Shore of Lake Superior, and with several environmental organisations running events and engaging the public. When winter hits, he is found camping in the snow, cross-country or downhill skiing, and enjoying the cool, crisp air of northern Ontario.

Melissa Thomas – Nature Reserves Ecologist

Melissa holds a B.E.S. in environmental studies and geography from York University, and a diploma in ecosystem restoration from Niagara College. She has worked as a Wildlife Technician with a focus on Ontario’s reptiles and amphibians, and as a songbird rehabilitator at the Toronto Wildlife Centre. Melissa has a passion for education and engagement, and has worked in multiple outreach and education roles. When she’s not exploring nature, she’s reading or practicing dance.

Kristen Setala (she/they) – Community Science Assistant

Kristen joined Ontario Nature in November 2021. Kristen is a long-time bird lover from Thunder Bay who discovered her passion for the feathered friends while admiring Canada Jays at camp at a young age. She has an B.Sc. in biology from Lakehead University. Since graduating she has spent time volunteering at Thunder Cape Bird Observatory, working as a wildlife rehabilitation assistant at MARS Wildlife Rescue on Vancouver Island, and creating avian-inspired artwork. She is excited to share her passion with fellow birders and hopes to spark excitement in the bird-curious folks.

Teagan Netten – Conservation Projects Technician

Teagan joined Ontario Nature in April 2022, after finishing her B.Sc. in conservation biology and evolutionary anthropology at the University of Toronto. During her degree, she conducted a research project on red-backed salamanders. She grew up spending lots of time in nature, but only discovered her passion for studying reptiles and amphibians in university. She has experience working in the parks sector, including bat and reptile monitoring, habitat restoration, and science communication. Outside of work, Teagan loves reading, wildlife photography, hiking and gardening.

Alyssa Stephens (she/her) – Nature Reserve Technician

Alyssa joined Ontario Nature in June 2022. She completed a B.Sc. in Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Windsor, and a M.Sc. studying insect physiology at Western University. Alyssa has diverse research experience studying narwhal movement ecology, Chinook salmon physiology, and insect physiology. She is passionate about sharing the importance of biodiversity and exploring the cross-section of art and science. In her spare time, Alyssa enjoys going for hikes, cuddling with her cat Poe, playing video games, and drawing. 

Sarah Hasenack (she/her) – Wetland Conservation Intern

Sarah joined Ontario Nature in the spring of 2022 after completing her M.Sc. in Environmental Sciences and B.Sc. in Ecology, both at the University of Guelph. Prior to her formal education, she grew up learning to love and respect nature during countless family camping, hiking, and canoeing trips all around Ontario. She has a passion for the conservation and protection of nature, and recognizes the importance of finding innovative ways of allowing humans and nature to coexist. In her free time, Sarah can often be found wandering local parks and hiking trails looking for birds, creating nature-inspired watercolour paintings, or cooking a delicious meal.

Nhu Le (she/her) – Nature Reserves Geographic Information Systems Technician

Prior to joining Ontario Nature, Nhu worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, Ministry of Environment, Conservation and Parks, and Natural Resources Canada on projects supporting the conservation of Canada’s natural spaces and wildlife. She holds a B.E.S. in environmental studies and a Diploma in ecological restoration and rehabilitation from the University of Waterloo. Her undergraduate research examined climate change impacts on plant and lichen communities in subarctic and arctic ecosystems using remote sensing data and techniques. Nhu is excited to use remote sensing and GIS, as well as work with local communities to support conservation efforts in Ontario. She enjoys going for nature walks, testing out cinnamon roll recipes, and working on cozy crochet projects.

Maya Davidson – Education Coordinator

Starting at Ontario Nature as a Communications intern for ON Magazine, Maya is a lifelong naturalist and birder. She is now the Education Coordinator and is responsible for organizing and supporting the Nature Guardians Youth Programs. 
Maya holds a B.A. in Media, Information and Technoculture from Western University and is an environmental writer, photographer, and educator who is driven by her passion for biodiversity conservation. Prior to joining Ontario Nature, she was the executive gardener at Environment Western, a camp counsellor at Conservation Halton’s Birds of Prey Camp and has cultivated a green thumb working at several plant nurseries in Toronto. You can find her skiing, cycling, planning her next backcountry canoe trip, or posting on her nature blog. 


Communications and Engagement

John Hassell (he/him) – Director of Communications and Engagement
Editor, ON Nature magazine

John Hassell Ontario Nature headshot

John joined Ontario Nature in 2009. Along with his role in communications, he is the editor of ON Nature – Ontario Nature’s award-winning magazine. John has an M.A. in international development studies with research focusing on sustainable, community-based forestry and a B.A. in political science. He has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 15 years. John is a founding director of ReachUp, a charity that promotes healthy lifestyles in under-resourced communities. A sports nut, John has represented Canada at ultimate frisbee competitions. He loves wilderness expeditions with his wife and young son, AJ, and is fulfilled by his job helping protect the natural areas they explore.

Lisa Richardson – ON Nature Associate Editor

Lisa is a graduate of the University of Toronto where she earned a B.Sc. in zoology and psychology. Prior to joining Ontario Nature in 2006 as the Volunteer for Nature coordinator, Lisa worked with the Vancouver Aquarium running their volunteer-based national shoreline cleanup program in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Lisa also serves as a board director with the Electronic Child Health Network and is a member of the Family Advisory Network at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Irene Milani – Database Coordinator

Irene oversees Ontario Nature’s growing member and donor database. Previously, Irene held various positions at the Waterfront Regeneration Trust, including natural heritage coordinator, project manager and special assistant to the Honorable David Crombie. Irene has a B.A. in urban studies and sociology. 

Barbara MacKenzie-Wynia (she/her) – Regional Nature Network Coordinator

Barbara joined Ontario Nature in 2006 with a focus on Northern, Huronia and Lake Ontario North regions. She is a partner with Krystawyn Environmental Consulting, and owns BMW and Associates. Barbara was the director of communications with Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority for more than 20 years. As a proud farmer’s daughter, she continues to enjoy working with the rural and farming community in building bridges, trust and capacity. Barbara lives in Clearview Township where she enjoys gardening, traveling, and camping with her husband and two sons. 

Melina Damian (she/her) – Communications Coordinator

Along with her role with Ontario Nature, Melina also teaches a course at Centennial College on energy, environment and sustainable development. She has an MES from York University and a graduate diploma in environmental education, and her research focused on wildlife and macro-debris pollution. She has worked and volunteered for several environmental organizations including Wildlife Preservation Canada, Toronto Wildlife Centre, FoodShare, York Sustainable Enterprise Consultants and the Canadian Organization for Tropical Education and Rainforest Conservation. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and dancing.

Lesley Rudy (she/her) – Nature Network Organizer

Lesley Rudy headshot

Lesley joined Ontario Nature in 2022. She holds a B.Sc. in Biology from the University of Guelph, a diploma in Ecosystem Management from Fleming College and an M.Sc. in Biology from Queen’s University. She has diverse work experience including roles with government and not-for-profits in stewardship, conservation and granting. Lesley has owned and operated a gardening business for 8 years. She has been working on conservation and research of turtles in Kingston and area for the last 5 years. She is a member of several Kingston and area nature groups. She enjoys running, cycling, swimming, camping, hiking and gardening.

Noah Cole – Communications Technician

Noah has worked for Ontario Nature since 2011. He supports Ontario Nature’s communications team with web design, programming, outreach, photo research and day-to-day operations. He has earned certification in non-profit and voluntary sector management from Toronto Metropolitan University. Noah obtained a B.A. from the University of Guelph and refined his craft at The Western Academy of Photography. Noah is the author of Ontario Wildlife Photography published by Dundurn Press, a regular contributor to ON Nature magazine, a nature photographer, an accomplished naturalist, a Quetico Foundation trustee and loves the great outdoors.


Membership and Development

Kirsten Dahl (she/her) – Director of Development

Kirsten developed a love of nature and the outdoors spending summers at her cottage in Muskoka. She studied sociology at the University of Western Ontario and spent the better part of a decade living in different countries including Peru, Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and the UK. Since returning home, Kirsten has worked in the environmental sector with Greenpeace and the Nature Conservancy of Canada. She loves cross-country skiing in Algonquin Park, walking her dog in the woods, cycling through the wilds of Toronto and any chance to explore Ontario Nature’s nature reserves (12 and counting!). 

Lisa Kamenar (she/her) – Annual Fund Manager

Lisa joined Ontario Nature in February 2022. Her love of the outdoors was developed early in life while growing up on a farm in southwestern Ontario. She has a degree in Business from Wilfrid Laurier University and has worked in the non-profit sector for over 15 years. She enjoys sports (especially baseball and basketball!), reading and exploring the great outdoors.

Hayley Raymond (she/they) – Membership Coordinator

Hayley joined Ontario Nature in September 2022. She developed a love of nature and the outdoors while growing up in northern Ontario. Hayley studied Canadian Studies at Trent University and Arts Administration at Humber College. In her spare time, she is an avid knitter and enjoys looking for birds while walking her dog and spending time at her family’s cabin in Temagami in the summer.

Kayla Salive (she/her) – Grants and Donor Stewardship Coordinator

Kayla joined Ontario Nature in May 2021. Her love of nature started early, growing up with a family cottage on Pelee Island – a biodiversity hotspot in Ontario. After being inspired by the flora and fauna, Kayla pursued a B.Sc. in biology and later an M.Sc. in integrative biology with a focus on conservation biology. While working as a research assistant at Wilfrid Laurier University, Kayla’s work focused on assessing the threats and mitigation for a wetland plant species at risk in southwestern Ontario. In her down time, she loves to go hiking with her dogs and use nature to inspire her paintings.

Jennifer Ho (she/her) – Program Funding Coordinator

Growing up in the city of Hong Kong, Jennifer’s love of nature stems from watching David Attenborough’s documentaries. The wonders of the natural world have led her to pursue a B.A. and later a M.A. in environmental science with a focus on biodiversity conservation. Prior to joining Ontario Nature, she has worked as a research assistant in a tropical conservation biology lab studying the impact of light pollution on moth diversity in Hong Kong, communicated different environmental issues with the public while working as a gallery facilitator at the Royal Ontario Museum, and volunteered at the Jane Goodall Institute of Canada to help raise environmental awareness. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and exploring the world of food photography.

You can find employment opportunities with Ontario Nature on our Jobs webpage.

Keep Informed

To hear about job opportunities and other ways to get involved, please subscribe to our mailing list.

Please only handle wildlife if you have the proper training and permits unless you are helping the species off a roadway.

News Feed

Ontario Nature Blog

Greenbelt Lands on the Chopping Block: What’s at Stake?

Despite repeated promises that there would be no removal of lands from the Greenbelt, the Government of...

Bad News for Wetlands: Proposed Gutting of the Ontario Wetland Evaluation System

On October 25, 2022, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) posted a proposal...

Learn to Lead a Legacy

Each year, youth leaders in the Ontario Nature Youth Council and the Youth Circle for...

Giving Tuesday 2022 – An Opportunity to Give Back to Ontario’s Wetlands

In a society where many people draw significant value from consumerism and the never-ending need...

Answer the call of the wild.

As an Advocate for Nature, we’ll provide you with opportunities to speak up when nature needs you most.

ON Nature Magazine

- Recovering a little known plant that is reliant on threatened dunes

- Return of an endangered butterfly

- Species data are informing protection for Key Biodiversity Areas

Free Nature Guides

Ontario Nature’s guides bring readers closer to nature by informing and inspiring.

Learn about the province’s fascinating wild species and wild spaces.

Stay Connected

Interests

Stay Connected

Interests