Meet our staff

Environmental Defence is a team of smart, creative, and passionate folks. We are policy experts and community members supported by scientists, business leaders, lawyers and community members working hard to protect Canada’s environment and human health.
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Alexandra Cheesman | Engagement Manager
Growing up in a household with a father who obsessively separated recyclables from garbage, Alex comes by her concern for the environment honestly. Her career raising funds for environmental organizations began with a summer job as a canvasser at a non-profit. The summer job grew into a seven-year stint in fundraising at Greenpeace in Canada and New Zealand, fuelled by her growing passion for a wide range of environmental issues. Alex is thrilled to be a Development Manager for Environmental Defence, an organization whose work she has long admired. In her spare time, Alex dabbles in knitting, silversmith, and carrying on her father’s legacy of neurotically punching the little plastic windows out of envelopes for recycling.

Allen Braude | Communications Manager
Allen loves sharing information. He also loves movies, music, running, riding his bike through the Greenbelt and breathing the fresher air ever since Ontario shut down its coal plants. Allen’s interest the environment led him to work for Greenpeace. He holds a degree in film studies from Simon Fraser University and has worked for a variety of film festivals including the Toronto International Film Festival where he was co-director of learning. He was also Communications Manager at Rethink Breast Cancer where he helped produce documentaries that told the stories of young women facing breast cancer. Allen is excited to be working with Environmental Defence where he can fuse his enthusiasm for environmental issues with his passion for sharing stories. Read Allen’s blogs here.

Ashley Wallis | Program Manager, Blue Flag and Water (@ashleyewallis)
Ashley was born and raised on the shores of Lake Ontario. From a young age she was interested in environmental issues – always pestering her friends to switch to reusable mugs, learn about climate change, and consider alternative modes of transportation. While studying biology at Western University, Ashley realized her passion for sustainability could fuel her career. After completing a master’s of Environment and Sustainability, she worked for one of Canada’s largest national environmental charities, connecting urban dwellers with nature through education and hands-on action. Motivated by what diverse stakeholders and communities can accomplish together, and a love for swim and surf, Ashley is thrilled to be celebrating the beauty and sustainability of Canada’s beaches and marinas as the Program Manager for the Blue Flag Beach Program. Read Ashley’s blogs here.

Brett Tryon | Program Manager, Blue Flag (on parental leave)
A child of the 80’s, Brett grew up when environmentalism was becoming a global phenomenon. Issues like acid rain and the hole in the ozone layer made a big impression on Brett. She knew her career would be connected to the environment. After graduating from ecosystem management at Fleming College, Brett worked abroad on bird conservation projects. Her first job in Toronto was as a canvasser for Environmental Defence. After a three year stint as Coordinator of the Tommy Thompson Park Bird Research Station, Brett returned to Environmental Defence to coordinate the Blue Flag program. Through her involvement with Blue Flag, Brett enjoys working with communities across Canada that are helping to restore shorelines and lake ecosystems, improve water quality and raise awareness about the importance of clean water and beaches. Read Brett’s blogs here.

Brenda Heyer | Development Manager, Database
As Development Manager at Environmental Defence, Brenda manages the donor database and assists with the annual and monthly giving programs. Her areas of expertise include information management, donor privacy, database management and reporting. Brenda believes her love of nature and information are perfectly combined in her role at Environmental Defence. She especially enjoys thanking donors for supporting Environmental Defence’s work to create a world Canadians are proud to pass on to their children. Previously, Brenda worked in both the non-profit and corporate sectors where her roles included Database Manager at West Park Healthcare Centre, Information Coordinator for BMO Capital Markets, Data Specialist for the United Way and Case Manager with CIBC. Brenda has an honours degree in Environmental Studies from York University. When not in the office, Brenda often visits her hometown of Georgian Bay, where she continues to enjoy the outdoors.

Calista Arasaratnam | Accountant
Calista brings significant experience from the financial and charitable sectors. She loves working at Environmental Defence because she believes deeply in its vision, and that we cannot live healthy lives without a healthy environment.

Casie McGonegal | Executive Assistant
Casie worked with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres before joining the Environmental Defence team as the Executive Assistant. She cares about the environment and strongly believes that decisions we make today must take into account the impacts they will have seven generations from now. Casie believes everyone has a responsibility to protect Mother Earth. She is proud to be part of the team at Environmental Defence making positive changes to protect to our environment.

Catherine Biernis | Development Manager, Grants
Catherine comes to Environmental Defence after spending more than 20 years working in the financial services industry. Her work primarily focused on relationship management and sales in the public and corporate sector. She is thrilled to be part of Environmental Defence’s development team, where she specializes in grant fundraising and stewardship. Catherine came to Environmental Defence with the belief that we cannot have healthy lives without a healthy environment.

Corinne Berman | Development Director
Possessing a unique wealth of corporate and non-profit experience, Corinne began her career working with companies like Oracle Assistance Services and Zurich Canada building customer loyalty programs before switching to the ENGO world. As an independent strategic consultant she worked with ENGOs to develop effective marketing, communications and outreach programs. Then, as Director, Marketing and Sales at Stratcom, she helped numerous not-for profits develop industry-leading fundraising and engagement strategies She also created the consulting firm’s social media strategy and new marketing materials. Committed to giving back to her community, Corinne also spent several years as a part-time professor at Seneca College, where she developed courses on global economic issues and macroeconomics and introduced forward thinking concepts such as “natural capital.” Corinne holds an Honours and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario (Ivey) and enjoys baking delicious treats for her family and staff at Environmental Defence.

Dale Marshall | National Program Manager
Dale grew up in northeastern Quebec, roaming the boreal forest that began at his family’s backyard fence and, during the one month it was possible, splashing around the North Atlantic. During a mechanical engineering degree at McGill University, Dale discovered he was much more interested in the natural world and the systems needed to let it flourish than working on built environments. This realization led to a degree in environmental science, followed by a master’s degree in resource and environmental management at Simon Fraser University. For 15 years, Dale has worked on environmental protection, mostly related to energy and climate change. Policy research and advocacy in Vancouver and Ottawa was followed by two years in Cambodia to assist people and communities most vulnerable and impacted by climate inaction. As National Program Manager at Environmental Defence, Dale works to move Canada towards greater action and responsibility on climate change and towards clean, modern renewable energy technologies, while phasing out all fossil fuels such as oil, coal, and natural gas. Read Dale’s blogs here.

Erin Shapero | Program Manager, Greenbelt and Smart Growth
A child of the suburbs, Erin grew up with a firsthand view of suburban sprawl as neighbouring farmland began to disappear and the Oak Ridge’s Moraine faced serious threats. The impact unsustainable planning had on her community inspired Erin to run for municipal council. She spent a decade in office representing her community of Markham, quickly becoming known as one of Ontario’s greenest politicians. Erin worked to ensure that sound planning and environmental sustainability permeated Markham’s actions. She spearheaded many initiatives protecting air, water, nature and prime agricultural land. She encouraged renewable energy investment, local food systems, smart growth and the creation of Ontario’s Greenbelt as a founding member of Municipal Leaders for the Greenbelt. She participated provincially and nationally as a member of Ontario’s Greenbelt Council, and board member of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. After retiring from politics, Erin came to Environmental Defence thrilled to work with local communities to protect the jewel that is Ontario’s Greenbelt. Erin holds an honours degree in Environmental Studies from York University. Read Erin’s blogs here.

Farrah Hasan | Development Manager, Major Donors
Farrah comes from a background in both the non-profit and corporate sectors. While having great experiences in both, she has come to realise that her true passion lies in non-profit organizations. At Environmental Defence she manages major and corporate donor relations, a role she enjoys because of the opportunities to directly build relationships with donors and corporations. Having completed her Honours BSc from UofT in Environmental Science, her interest and knowledge of the environment has always been strong and only continues to grow.

Isabel Balarezo | Program Coordinator, Blue Flag and Water
Isabel grew up enjoying the Andes, the Pacific Ocean, tropical rainforests, and more, which spurred her interest on the need to preserve these unique and diverse ecosystems. She strongly believes in the intricate relationship between sustainable natural resource management and sustainable community development. Before she joined Environmental Defence, where she acts as the Blue Flag Program Coordinator, she worked at an Environmental Consulting Company in Ecuador. There she did consulting work for oil and mining expansion projects and helped with the development of environmental management plans. Previously, she was the Environmental Project Coordinator at Western University (London, Ont.), and gained volunteering experience in both the non-profit and corporate sectors. Isabel holds a Master of Environment and Sustainability (Western University) and a B.A. Honours Degree in Environmental and Resource Studies and a Minor in International Development Studies (Trent University).

Janet Patterson | Engagement Manager
Access to lakes and trees and rocks and streams throughout her childhood sparked Janet’s passion for the environment, and a wonderful grade school teacher instilled a responsibility to protect it. After living in several countries in Europe and Asia, earning a degree at McGill University, and a brief stint at film school, things came full circle for Janet when she decided to work in the environmental arena. Janet spent over a decade raising funds for environmental organizations. In a few of her past roles, she organized events large and small. Inspired by working face-to-face with members of the public who share a sense of responsibility for Canada’s environment and human health, Janet moved into the role of Engagement Manager to help facilitate increased public participation in Environmental Defence’s work. Part of her current role includes managing a team of highly motivated and talented Outreach Team members in Toronto, Ottawa, Guelph and London.

Jennifer Mayville | Communications Manager (@jmayville)
Since she was a child, Jen has always had a passion for protecting the environment. It just seemed natural for her to work for Environmental Defence one day, combining her love of communications and taking care of the planet. Jen first started her career while in university, and since then has worked in the media and communications fields, including experience in print, television, and radio journalism. In 2005, she traveled to Rovaniemi, Finland to work in communications with the University of the Arctic – a NGO which focuses on post-secondary education in the Circumpolar North. After returning to Canada, she joined the Canadian Red Cross (2007) as a provincial communications co-ordinator. She became a communications manager at Environmental Defence in 2012. Jen has an Honors BA with Distinction in History and Media, Information and Technoculture (2002) and a MA in Journalism (2003) from the University of Western Ontario.

Jessie Farewell | Development Coordinator
Jessie has a background in English Lit from Memorial University. Her passion for reading and research then led her to the University of Western Ontario, where she completed a Master of Library and Information Science. Embarking on her career she quickly realized that a paycheck at the end of the week was not the fulfillment she was seeking from her work. Coming from a place like Newfoundland and Labrador, with seemingly endless terrain to explore, she learned early on the importance of appreciating and preserving our environment and knew that she wanted to play a role in its protection. Leaving her corporate gigs behind her, she has happily landed with the development team at Environmental Defence, with her role focused on grant writing and reporting.

Keith Brooks | Programs Director (@keithdbrooks)
Keith was born in the ‘burbs just outside Toronto, but his passion for the environment was born in a canoe on the rivers and lakes of Northern Ontario. Keith pursued a Bachelors of Environmental Sciences from the University of Guelph and then worked for a number of years in the environmental consulting field before enrolling at York University where earned a Masters of Environmental Studies. The move from scientist and consultant to advocate was provoked by the recognition that more science cannot solve the environmental challenge on its own. Our challenge lies not in knowing what must be done, but in doing it. Keith knows that we cannot choose between the environment and the economy. We can and must have both. It is this outlook which ultimately led Keith to his current role as the Director of the Clean Economy Program at Environmental Defence. Read Keith’s blogs here.

Maggie MacDonald | Program Manager, Toxics (@MacDonaldMaggie)
At Environmental Defence, Maggie has planned and conducted campaigns that have achieved policy changes in government and industry in the area of product formulations, achieving real reductions in endocrine disrupting chemicals in cosmetics and household goods. She has served as a member of the Stakeholders Advisory of Canada’s Chemicals Management Plan since 2011. Maggie is also an author, facilitator, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (UK). Maggie holds an MA in Social and Political Thought from York University (2012), and a B.A. (Hons., Distinction) from the University of Toronto (2003) in Network Studies, a self-designed program. Read Maggie’s blogs here.

Mikayla Wujec | Program Coordinator, Clean Economy Campaign
Born and raised in Toronto, Mikayla grew up enjoying Ontario’s many unique lakes, lands and cities. She received her BA in Geography and Biology from Concordia University in Montreal, focussing on the connections between ecosystems and human health. Inspired by the necessity of understanding and protecting our environment, Mikayla became involved in the environmental sector in a number of roles, including: as a research consultant to international conservation organizations; as a LEED-certified ambassador for sustainability in institutions of higher education; and, as a sustainability consultant to Fortune 500 companies. She is thrilled to bring these experiences to Environmental Defence as Clean Economy Campaign Coordinator, where she is determined to help Ontario demonstrate leadership in addressing climate change and transitioning to a clean economy. Mikayla also moonlights as a National Geographic Explorer. She has led marine conservation projects in far-flung places including Fiji, Hawaii, the Solomon Islands, Philippines and Indonesia.

Muhannad Malas | Program Coordinator, Toxics
Growing up in different parts of the world allowed Muhannad to learn at an early age about the intricate links between the environment, human health and equity. After completing a master’s degree in public health policy at the University of Toronto, Muhannad developed and implemented chronic disease prevention policies and environmental health frameworks for municipal and provincial governments. With his passion for a healthy environment, Muhannad is now promoting the awareness and elimination of toxic chemicals as Environmental Defence’s Toxics Program Coordinator. When not working, you can find Muhannad cooking for friends, cycling or exploring natural places around Toronto. Read Muhannad’s blogs here.

Naomi Carniol | Sr. Communications Manager (@naomitdot)
Born in Calgary, Naomi’s earliest memories are from camping trips in the Rockies. After moving to Toronto, Naomi enjoyed canoe trips in Algonquin Provincial Park and Killarney Provincial Park. These experiences rooted in Naomi a deep respect for our natural spaces. Following a masters of journalism from Carleton University, Naomi worked as a reporter for the Toronto Star. Later, as a freelance writer, she specialized in writing about green issues. Naomi’s work has been published by the Globe and Mail, the Montreal Gazette, Report on Business, TorontoLife.com and other notable publications. She has lent her communications expertise to several non-profit organizations, including the Stephen Lewis Foundation, Parkinson Society Canada and the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Naomi is thrilled to be at Environmental Defence, where each day she unites her love of words with her desire to protect the environment. In her free time, Naomi can be found visiting art galleries, plotting her next trip to South America and playing with a rebellious cat named Ezzie.

Patrick DeRochie | Program Manager, Climate & Energy (@PatDeRocH)
Patrick was born and raised in the Niagara Region and grew up enjoying its many parks, beaches and conservation areas. While studying political science and history at the University of Guelph, he discovered the power of political action to inspire positive community change. As a graduate student at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, he studied the international security dimensions of climate change and recognized the growing urgency of this deepening environmental challenge. This led Patrick to seek solutions through political and legislative change. After moving to Toronto, he worked as a political staffer at Queen’s Park, focusing on energy, environmental and health policy. His knowledge of Ontario politics and desire for progressive change led to a job in political organizing and government relations with a Canadian health care union. Patrick joined Environmental Defence in 2015, where he coordinated the Clean Economy Alliance and worked to make Ontario a climate leader while building a 21st century clean economy. In summer 2016, he began a new role leading Environmental Defence’s campaign to stop the proposed Energy East tar sands pipeline. Patrick enjoys cycling, hockey and camping, and can be found nerding out in Toronto’s east end.Read Patrick’s blogs here.

Sarah Jamal | Sustainability Intern
As cliché as it sounds, from a young age Sarah has always wanted to make a difference in the world. As a second generation Canadian, she grew up hearing the stories of military dictatorship and corruption which caused her family to move to Canada from East Africa in the ‘70s. Her passion for global issues led her to complete a Bachelors degree in International Development at the University of Waterloo, where she had the opportunity to work at an environmental consulting organization in Hanoi, Vietnam. After a year of work and travel, she decided to return home to Canada and joined Environmental Defence as part of the communications team. When not at work, you can find Sarah cooking, exploring Toronto, or brewing kombucha. Read Sarah’s blogs here.

Stephanie Kohls | Communications Director (on parental leave) (@kohlsie)
Stephanie’s love for nature began while spending summers at her grandparents’ camp north of Sudbury as a kid. As Director of Communications, Stephanie is responsible for the charity’s communications and marketing strategy and leads a team of bright communications and outreach specialists who love sharing stories about and engaging people in Environmental Defence’s work. Stephanie joined Environmental Defence in 2010 following more than 10 years of public relations, brand building and marketing experience. She has developed award-winning public engagement campaigns for leading national organizations on issues such as clean energy, healthy lifestyle choices, affordable housing and physical disabilities. Stephanie holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Western Ontario and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Public Relations from Humber College. When Stephanie is not leading a team of committed Environmental Defenders, you can find her trying out a new organic growing technique in her backyard garden.

Suzanne Karajaberlian | Managing Director
Having grown up witnessing the depletion of natural resources in her country, Suzanne pursued a graduate degree in environmental geochemistry to take an active role in protecting nature and all its inhabitants. Suzanne made the leap from working in the corporate sector in the U.S. to the environmental sector with her move to Canada in 2008. After working in energy conservation on demand-side management projects, she moved to an operational role utilizing her analytical background and corporate experience to help deliver outcomes more effectively. At Environmental Defence, she oversees the internal operations and leads the public engagement strategy.

Tim Ehlich | Communications Manager (@tehlich)
Growing up in Germany, Tim became passionate about the environment when disasters like Waldsterben and the Exxon Valdez spill dominated the news. He is excited to now be part of the Environmental Defence team.

Tim Gray | Executive Director (@CanadaGray)
Tim grew up on the shores of Lake Huron and acquired his love of nature there. Tim has led the protection of wild areas and reform of forest and land use practices in Canada for over 20 years. Most recently he 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 was National Conservation Director of Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, and worked as a project manager for WWF Central America. Tim is a member of the board of directors of the Cornerstone Standards Council, Evidence for Democracy, Blue Green Canada, Oil Sands Advisory Group (Alberta) and Ontario’s Great Lakes Guardian Council. Tim holds a HB.Sc. from Wilfrid Laurier University and a M.Sc. from the University of Toronto. Read Tim’s blogs here.

NOT PICTURED: Carlos White, IT Manager; Mary Ford, Operations, HR Manager