2014 CEGN Annual Conference: Speakers’ Biographies

Nancy Baron is the Director of Science Outreach for COMPASS and the lead communication trainer for the Leopold Leadership Program based at Stanford University, USA. She leads workshops for academic, government, and NGO scientists who want to make their work more accessible and relevant to journalists, policy makers and the public. Nancy has designed and led science communications programs in the United States, Canada, Sweden, Tanzania, Panama, Brazil, South Africa and other countries. Nancy began her career as a biologist in Banff National Park in Canada, then morphed into journalism and is now a communications coach for scientists. She has won numerous writing awards including the Canadian Science Writers Science in Society and National Magazine awards. She has written a popular field guide, The Birds of Coastal British Columbia (Lone Pine Publishing) and a “how to” communications guide book for scientists titled Escape from the Ivory Tower: A Guide to Making Your Science Matter  (Island Press). Nancy was awarded the 2013 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for Excellence in the Media for her work at the intersection of science and journalism.

Dr. Ted Boadway: As the director of Health Policy for the Ontario Medical Association Dr. Boadway presented medicine and science in a manner that made it useful to the policy and public policy process.  Good science does not always translate into good policy, and to ensure that it does requires solid science, understandable presentations for the non scientist, relevance to people’s health, a sound release strategy,  and working in various fashions with different partners.  The health affects of smog represented one of those projects. 

Wanda Brascoupe Peters is Bear Clan, a Mohawk/Algonquin and member of Kitigan Ziibi Anishinabeg. She received her traditional education from her Grandmother and mother. As the youngest of six children it was her father, an ironworker, who shared the importance of balancing a traditional education with a western one. Following this advice and her sibling’s footsteps she went onto post‐secondary education. In 1999, Wanda began a successful business career when she started a high tech resource firm. Wanda’s charitable activities began as a teacher in reciprocity, a fundamental component of Indigenous cultures. Fifteen years later, these have expanded into fundraising and advocacy for organizations close to her heart. They include: OneXOne First Nations Breakfast Program, First Assist Initiative and D.I.F.D. , programs and initiatives aimed at transforming youth mental health. Wanda is known as a natural communicator and innate bridge builder. She brings her view that reciprocity and reconciliation are action-oriented words when we allow them to be.

Mary Pat Campbell is Suncor’s Manager, Stakeholder and Aboriginal Relations. Mary is responsible for the effective development and execution of Stakeholder and Aboriginal Relations’ strategies to support both enterprise-wide business and community needs. Mary Pat has worked for 17 years in the oil and gas industry in a range of positions including Continuous Improvement Specialist, Manager of Industrial and Wholesale Business Planning and Socio-Economic Management. Mary knows oil and gas the industry has a powerful opportunity to make a positive difference in society. In this work she gets she brings residents and businesses together to create vibrant and sustainable communities. Mary holds a master’s degree in information science from the University of Toronto.

Stephen Ellis is the Northern Senior Associate at Tides Canada. Based in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Stephen works with Northern communities and partners to create and implement a strategic granting program that builds capacity and advances solutions to integrated social, cultural, environmental, and economic challenges in the North. After completing a Masters in Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, Stephen and his family lived in Lutsel K’e, a Dene community on the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, for over 12 years. During this time he focused on work helping indigenous peoples, governments, and industry tackle tough land and resource challenges. He is a member of the Environmental Monitoring Advisory Board for the Diavik Diamond Mine and a Director for the Dechinta Institute for Research and Learning. He previously chaired the Akaitcho Screening Board and was a long-standing Director of the Denesoline Corporation and a member of the NWT Protected Areas Strategy Steering Committee.


Aaron Freeman runs Pivot Strategic Consulting, which helps companies, NGOs and foundations develop their capacity to solve environmental problems through public policy. From 2009 to 2012, he served as Senior Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, advising the Premier on Environment, Justice, Labour, Natural Resources, Aboriginal Affairs, Agriculture, Municipal Affairs, and Northern Development. Aaron has played a key role in several national advocacy campaigns on environment and energy, democratic reform, consumer, international development and human rights issues.  He was the Policy Director for Environmental Defence, and prior to that, he successfully ran campaigns for changes to laws dealing with endangered species, foreign aid, and new political fundraising rules.   In 2008, Aaron was named by the Hill Times as one of the Top 100 Federal Lobbyists in Canada.  He was the only representative from the environmental sector on the list.  Between 2004 and 2009, Aaron was a part-time faculty member at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, where he taught public governance law.  He is the co-author of The Laws of Government: The Legal Foundations of Canadian Democracy, the most comprehensive legal reference book on the law of Canadian democracy.

Jack Gibbons has been the Chair of the Ontario Clean Air Alliance since 1997. Jack has worked on energy and environmental issues in Ontario for thirty years.  His previous positions include: Economist, Energy Probe; Project Manager, Ontario Energy Board; Senior Economic Advisor, Canadian Institute for Environmental Law and Policy; and Commissioner, Toronto Hydro. Jack has studied economics at the University of Toronto (B.A.), Queen’s University (M.A.) and the University of British Columbia.

Katie Gibbs is a scientist, communicator, and organizer who is passionate about the intersection of science and policy. After finishing a PhD at the University of Ottawa in Biology she co-founded Evidence for Democracy—a new organization that advocates for the use of evidence in government decision making and public policy development.

Tim Gray is Executive Director of Environmental Defence. Throughout his career, Tim has shown leadership, commitment, and innovation in protecting the environment. As Program Director for the Ivey Foundation (2005-2013), Tim helped lead the negotiation and implementation of the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, a collaboration of 21 forest companies and nine environmental organizations, covering 76 million hectares of public land. He also provided strategic guidance to environmental organizations. As National Conservation Director of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society (2003-2005), Tim helped lead a 10-year conservation plan. While a project manager for WWF Central America (2002-2003), Tim worked to grow the market for FSC-certified wood. As Executive Director of CPAWS-Wildlands League (1990-2003), Tim led the development of strategic plans, and stakeholder relations. Most recently, Tim was a member of the founding board of directors of the Cornerstone Standards Council where he represented the Ivey Foundation. Since joining Environmental Defence, Tim continues to be involved in the strategic oversight and development of the standard. Tim holds a Bachelor of Science (with Distinction) from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Masters of Science (Botany and Environmental Studies) from the University of Toronto.

Stephen Huddart is President and CEO of The J. W. McConnell Family Foundation in Montreal, which has played a leading role in developing and supporting social innovation and impact investing in Canada as a founding partner and funder of Social Innovation Generation (SiG). McConnell’s newest program is Cities for People. Stephen’s career spans several fields and includes leadership positions in the private, public and non-profit sectors. He has led social enterprises, and been a documentary filmmaker, humane educator, geophysical observer, museum curator and natural food store manager. He serves on the advisory boards of Philanthropic Foundations Canada, the McGill Initiative in the Social Economy, and the Canada Research Chair in Community Sustainability. He has a Masters of Management degree from McGill.

Beth Hunter has been Senior Program Officer with the J.W. McConnell Family Foundation since 2010 and currently leads the Sustainable Food Systems initiative as well as an emerging initiative on Energy and the Economy.  She holds a BA from the Liberal Arts College of Concordia University (Montreal) and an MSc in Rural Economics from Université Laval (Quebec City). Her Masters research focused on food security and dietary diversity in rural Lebanon, where she lived for five years.  She is a co-founder of Equiterre, one of Canada’s leading environmental organizations, where she acted as director and sustainable agriculture program coordinator. She led Greenpeace Canada’s Oceans campaign from 2007-2010, working with major Canadian supermarkets to develop sustainable seafood policies and practices. She has authored numerous articles, reports and guides, including feature articles in Beirut’s The Daily Star; Out of Stock: Supermarkets and the Future of Seafood; and Hungry for Justice: A Montreal Guide to Socially Responsible Food Choices. 

Stephen Kakfwi has been instrumental in advancing the Aboriginal land and self-government rights of the Northwest Territories (NWT) Dene, Metis and Inuit. Stephen worked in the government promoting NWT political, constitutional and economic development in the north, within Canada and internationally.  During Stephen’s political career, he spent four terms serving in Cabinet in territorial politics and represented the NWT Legislative Assembly’s Sahtu constituency.  Stephen recently served as a senior advisor on NWT issues to the World Wildlife Fund Canada. Stephen’s current focus is on achieving a balanced approach to conservation and development of the north’s resources and promoting community development in NWT Aboriginal settlements. He continues to be active on a variety of initiatives, particularly relating to a balanced approach to conservation of the NWT’s environment and development of its resources.

Brad Lavigne has more than 13 years of political communications experience and public policy expertise at the federal and provincial levels, Brad is recognized as one of Canada’s top political strategists and campaigners. Prior to joining the company in 2013, Brad was the chief architect and national campaign director for the New Democratic Party’s 2011 historical breakthrough that elected it to the official opposition. He then served as principal secretary to the hon. Jack Layton and later Nycole Turmel. Brad also served as an advisor to two premiers in his native province of British Columbia. Brad appears regularly as a public affairs commentator in the media, including weekly appearances on CBC News Channel’s Power and Politics with Evan Solomon.

Bruce Lourie is one of Canada’s leading environmental thinkers and co-author of the books, Toxin, Toxout: Getting Harmful Chemicals Out of Our Bodies and Our World, and the best-seller Slow Death by Rubber Duck.  He is President of Ivey Foundation, a Director of the Ontario Power Authority and a Director of the San Francisco-based Consultative Group on Biological Diversity.  He is an honorary director of the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and a member of World Wildlife Fund’s Climate Advisory Committee.Bruce is well known for his work in convening large collaborative efforts among businesses, NGOs and government that achieve significant change.  Examples include the Canadian Boreal Forest Agreement, the world’s largest conservation effort, and his pioneering role in connecting environmental issues to human health, most notably the shutdown of coal-fired power plants in Ontario, the single largest climate action in Canada. Bruce is a founder of a number of for profit and non-profit organizations including Summerhill Group; the Sustainability Network; and the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network.  He has acted on numerous international, federal, provincial and municipal bodies advising on environmental, health and energy policy issues. Bruce has degrees in Geology, Environmental Studies and a near-complete doctorate.

Ross McMillan is the President and CEO of Tides Canada Foundation, where he has worked over the past fourteen years advising donors, grantees and diverse partners on a range of issues concerning environmental and social philanthropy. Ross was a principal architect of the $120 million conservation financing deal in 2007 between philanthropic foundations and the Canadian and British Columbia governments that helped protect Canada’s 21 million acre Great Bear Rainforest, and that established  the Coast Opportunities Funds, which oversees public and private investments in the region. He also led the process to designate Clayoquot Sound as British Columbia’s first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and to establish the Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, an endowed sustainability research and education foundation launched in 2000 by the federal and provincial governments, local First Nations, and non-aboriginal communities. He has diverse experience in the public sector, including positions with the British Columbia government, the Government of Canada, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the City of Vancouver. Ross has a Master’s degree in Planning from the University of British Columbia and a Bachelor of Arts degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Victoria.

Colette Murphy is the Executive Director of the Atkinson Foundation. Colette held leadership positions with the Metcalf Foundation and United Way Toronto prior to joining Atkinson in 2012. She began her career working in refugee resettlement with COSTI Immigrant Services. Colette has been a member of numerous advisory committees including the Ontario Government’s Social Assistance Review Advisory Council and with Metrolinx’s Big Move 2.0 Project Advisory Committee. She is currently a board member at the Wellesley Institute and at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), and a member of Legal Aid Ontario’s Clinic Law Advisory Committee.

Kai Nagata is a fourth-generation British Columbian and is based in Victoria where he serves as Dogwood Initiative’s Energy & Democracy Director. A journalist by training, he held positions at CBC, CTV, and The Tyee before moving into campaign content and strategy. Kai has advised candidates and elected officials across the political spectrum, as well as clients in advocacy, education, First Nations government and the private sector. His arrival at Dogwood comes as the group transitions from issue-based list building to on-the-ground engagement organizing at a province-wide scale.

Mira Oreck is the Director of Strategic Partnerships at the Broadbent Institute. Before joining the Institute, Mira was a senior strategist and organizer on high profile campaigns in the United States and in Canada. As Vice President at Moore+Associates in New York City, Mira managed the production and launch of several campaigns, including the award winning pro-Obama video Wake the F*ck Up featuring Samuel L. Jackson. Previously, Mira served as the Director of Canadian Jewish Congress, Pacific Region and played an instrumental role in the campaigns of current Mayor of Vancouver, Gregor Robertson. Mira holds a Master’s degree in Urban Policy from The New School and a B.A. in Sociology from McGill University.

Anil Patel is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of GrantBook. Over the past decade, Anil has written and/or reviewed over 2,500 grant proposals. Having been involved on both sides of the grant-seeking and grant-making ledger, Anil is currently re-imagining how philanthropic information can flow so people can solve problems. For Anil, the following quote from Cathy Davidson’s book Now You See It: How Technology and Brain Science Will Transform Schools and Business for the 21st Century, drives home the motivation behind GrantBook’s work: “The desktop is remnant of an older culture that did not champion the values on which the World Wide Web is based: interaction, collaboration, customizing, remixing, iteration, and reiteration.”

Heather Peeler is vice president of member and partner engagement at Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She leads GEO’s efforts to engage and mobilize members in adopting grantmaking practices that make the biggest impact on nonprofit performance.  Heather is committed to supporting nonprofit effectiveness. Over the past 12 years, she has helped foundations, nonprofits and government agencies develop and implement strategies that have led to greater impact, performance and sustainability. Most recently, Heather served as the Chief Strategy Officer at the Corporation for National and Community Service where she was responsible for strategic planning, grantee capacity building efforts and research and evaluation initiatives. Prior to that, she served as Managing Director of Community Wealth Ventures, helping non-profit and foundation clients develop sustainable strategies for social change.  Heather holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and art history from Wellesley College and a master’s of business administration from UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Mary Pickering has 25 years of experience in the environmental sector. She has been with Toronto Atmospheric Fund since 2004, where she serves as VP Programs and Partnerships. Mary currently spearheads TAF’s Mobilizing Social Capital Program, and is an accredited partnership broker. She directs TAF’s granting program and supports the work of multi-sector groups advancing policies and strategies that accelerate climate solutions. Mary has led TAF’s work on the Solar Neighbourhoods Pilot Project, the ClimateSpark Social Venture Challenge, the Collaboration on Home Energy Efficiency in Ontario (CHEERIO) and Move the GTHA.

Nicole Rycroft leads the strategic direction of award winning not-for-profit Canopy.  Nicole is committed to ensuring that the power and influence of the global business market leverages tangible eco-solutions, a green economy and on the ground conservation gains for the world’s forests, species and climate. Nicole and her team collaborate with more than 700 companies including Sprint, Zara, H&M, the New York Times and Scholastic to develop innovative solutions, protect endangered forests and make their supply chains more sustainable.  Nicole is an Ashoka Fellow, Alan Thomas Fellow, and the recipient of a Canadian Environment Award Gold Medal, the Wilburforce Foundation’s Conservation Leadership Award and numerous print and publishing industry awards.

Dave Secord is Vice President of Strategic Grantmaking at Tides Canada Foundation, where he has been since 2010. He leads a team based in BC, Ontario, Manitoba, and the NWT who bring extensive knowledge of issues, regions, and partnerships to strategic philanthropy, much of it integrating conservation, science and traditional knowledge, community economic development, and human well-being. Before moving to Tides Canada, he oversaw a granting portfolio in Alaska and BC for the Wilburforce Foundation. Trained as marine ecologist, he was a professor at the University of Washington from 1996-2007, where he founded or led two award-winning interdisciplinary environmental programs. Dave has been a Fellow of the International Canadian Studies Institute and the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program; was a founding member of and currently chairs the Arctic Funders Group; and serves on the boards of Audubon Alaska and the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers Network.

Devika Shah is a senior advisor to the Pembina Institute, with a focus on Canada’s transition to a clean economy. She also spent five and a half years as director of strategic relationships for the institute, building Pembina’s network of external relationships, attracting philanthropic support to the organization and enlisting key influencers to serve as “ambassadors” for Pembina’s policy solutions. Devika has previously served as chief development officer, international, at the York University Foundation and worked at KCI, Canada’s largest fundraising consultancy.  Devika has an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business and a B.Sc. from the University of Toronto. 

Zoe Simpson is the Account Manager & Evaluation Lead of GrantBook. Zoe is a self-professed efficiency-enthusiast who welcomes the opportunity to help others simplify their work. At GrantBook, she collaborates with clients to ensure they have the support and resources they need to create the impact they want to see in their communities. Prior to joining the GrantBook team, she worked at several non-profits and social enterprises across Canada, where she focused on building team cultures that embrace innovation and social responsibility.

Sarah Stachowiak, CEO of ORS Impact, is nationally recognized as a thought leader in advocacy evaluation. She has worked to measure and evaluate advocacy and policy efforts from issues ranging from early childhood, the environment and health equity issues with clients ranging from large family foundations (e.g., the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation) to non-profits supporting grassroots organizing efforts. Sarah was one of the authors on the Guide to Evaluating Advocacy and Policy and lead author on Pathways for Change: 10 Theories to Inform Advocacy and Policy Change Efforts.  She received her Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs.

James Stauch is the Director of the Institute for Nonprofit Studies at Mount Royal University, where he leads research, student learning and outreach activities focused on community investment, philanthropy, social innovation and community change leadership.   He is also the founder and director of 8th Rung, a consultancy focused on leadership and network development, policy scoping and analysis, citizen-driven strategic planning and evaluation, and helping communities, foundations and industry establish strong relationships based on equity, trust and openness.  James has worked extensively with Inuit, Dene and other Aboriginal communities in the Arctic and far north, on community development, leadership, reconciliation and natural resource planning. James is currently an advisor to Global Arts Corps (NYC), Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning (Yellowknife), and The Community Planning Lab (Toronto).  He has guided and advised on programs that discover and nurture community leadership, or that help organizations uncover new possibilities for their programming and operations in order to be strategic, authentic and enduring in their impact.

Scott Vaughan is the President and Chief Executive Officer of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD). Prior to joining IISD, he was Canada’s federal Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development for five years. Previously, he was the Director of the Department of Sustainable Development of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington, D.C.; a Visiting Scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace; the Head of Economics at the NAFTA Environment Commission; and Counsellor at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva. He held various positions with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), including initiating both the UNEP Financial Initiative and UNEP’s work on trade issues. In the late 1980s, he worked at the Head Office of the Royal Bank Financial Group. He holds post-graduate degrees from the London School of Economics, the University of Edinburgh and Dalhousie University, as well as an undergraduate degree from Mount Allison University.

Ed Whittingham s the Executive Director of the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading energy and environment think tank. Pembina aims to advance clean energy solutions through research, advocacy and consulting. Through his work Ed serves in an advisory capacity to companies, industry associations, government bodies and research networks on sustainable energy solutions. He regularly speaks to Canadian and American audiences on climate change, corporate sustainability, energy strategy and oil sands issues. Ed is a faculty member of Leadership Development at The Banff Centre, and an advisory council member of the Network for Business Sustainability (Richard Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario), and the Centre of Excellence in Responsible Business (Schulich School of Business, York University). In September 2011 Ed was named to “Canada’s 2012 Clean50” list, which honours 50 outstanding contributors to sustainable development and clean capitalism in Canada. Ed holds an International MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business, where he specialized in corporate sustainability and international business.