Our Staff - Environmental Defence

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.

Aliénor Rougeot | Program Manager, Climate and Energy

Aliénor Rougeot | Program Manager, Climate and Energy

Aliénor’s interest for human and environmental rights started during her childhood in the South of France, where she became vocal on topics of biodiversity loss, women’s rights, refugee rights and climate change. These interests led her to the intersectional topic of climate justice, but it was only when she moved to Canada at the age of 17 that she truly understood the need for broad and collective mobilization for climate action. This led her to co-founding and coordinating Fridays for Future Toronto while completing a degree in Economics and Public Policy at the University of Toronto. Allie’s happiness comes from being with others, and in her free time she can be found exploring Toronto’s parks and cafés with friends.

Allen Braude | Senior Communications Manager

Allen Braude | Senior 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 in 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.

Amensisa Neway | Accountant

Amensisa Neway | Accountant

Amensisa Neway was born and raised in Ethopia, the horn of Africa. He has more than seventeen years of experience working for international development organizations in Ethiopia and Sudan taking on several roles such as a finance officer, internal auditor and program accountant. Child Fund International, Concern Worldwide, and the Embassy of the United States in Ethiopia are just a few of the places he worked at before becoming an Accountant at Environmental Defence. Amensisa enjoys being part of a team that makes a difference in the lives of people and the environment.

Angela Zhang | Development Manager, Grants

Angela Zhang | Development Manager, Grants

Growing up in a family of environmental scientists, Angela learned early on about the devastating consequences of water and air pollution, deforestation and climate change. In 2013, Angela spent six months in China working with a team of environmental psychologists to research the health and social impacts of e-waste and biomass pollution, which fueled her passion for advocating for systems change in environmental policies and protection. After completing a Masters in Organisational and Social Psychology at the London School of Economics, Angela embarked on a career in non-profit fundraising, and has worked for social justice organizations both in the UK and in Canada. Angela manages foundation grants and reporting at Environmental Defence. In her spare time, she’s either dozing off with a book and her cat, scouting around vintage shops or getting lost in museums.

Barbara Hayes | Communications Manager

Barbara Hayes | Communications Manager

Barbara owes it all to Ranger Rick. The gift of a magazine subscription from her grandparents sparked a life-long passion for environmentalism, and a belief that we have both individual and collective power to protect the planet. That belief lead her to co-founding the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, where she helped mobilize a strong youth voice around climate action. Since that time, she has worked with a variety of organizations, developing communications programs on issues as diverse as sexual and reproductive health, transportation, and electoral reform. She holds a Master’s in Public and International Affairs from the University of Ottawa, where she focused on public discourse around climate policy. At Environmental Defence she returns to her roots pushing for federal action on climate change. When not at work, she can be found roaming the hills of Gatineau on her bike, spoiling her pet rabbit, or reading in a park.

Casie McGonegal | Executive Assistant and Office Manager

Casie McGonegal | Executive Assistant and Office Manager

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.

Corinne Berman | Development Director

Corinne Berman | Development Director

Corinne possesses a unique background that encompasses the corporate, educational and non-profit sectors. She has an Honours and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Western Ontario (Ivey), and spent the first decade of her career focused on creating unique customer loyalty experiences at multi-national organizations. Her passion to protect the environment guided her journey, as she taught global economic issues and used her expertise to consult to the NGO world. During this time she introduced forward thinking concepts such as “natural capital,” which looks at the world’s natural resources as finite assets which need careful management. As the Development Director at Environmental Defence, Corinne has found the perfect way to leverage her business skills to help protect our precious environment. When Corinne is not raising funds for EDC, she can be found baking – with chocolate of course – or puttering around her garden.

Dale Marshall | National Program Manager

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. While undertaking 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.

Daniella Niddery | Senior Engagement Manager

Daniella Niddery | Senior Engagement Manager

Daniella’s love for the environment stems from her obsession with wildlife. Growing up on National Geographics, she quickly came to appreciate the complexities of nature, and the need to protect it for animals and future generations. After graduating from Brock University with a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Environmental Studies and Human Geography, she went on to pursue a master’s in Integrated Water Management at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. Returning to Canada, Daniella spent the summer volunteering for Environmental Defence. Recognized for her passion and commitment to Environmental Defence’s public outreach efforts, she soon became an outreach team member. A people-person who loves to share her learnings, she decided to complete a postgraduate certificate in public relations and communications at Humber College. Now, as Engagement Manager, Daniella helps to educate and engage the public on Environmental Defence’s campaigns. When not at work, she’s out walking her dog Lola, swimming at the cottage, or planning her next adventure. Read Daniella’s blogs here.

Joanna Poblocka | Development Manager

Joanna Poblocka | Development Manager

Joanna brings over fifteen years of experience in fund development, donor stewardship, strategic partnerships and project management to her role at Environmental Defence Canada. Most recently, Joanna was the Development Officer at Canada’s National Ballet School. She is also the founder of a wellness company focusing on sharing the joy and benefits of Pilates and yoga with others. In her free time Joanna enjoys spending time in nature, cooking and eating nourishing foods, practicing yoga, Pilates and mindfulness, and reading.

Julia Levin | Senior Program Manager, Climate & Energy

Julia Levin | Senior Program Manager, Climate & Energy

Julia’s earliest memories as a child are of protecting wildlife, planting trees and cleaning up litter. This interest led her to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Conservation Biology from McGill University. She then moved to Italy where she worked as a secondary school science and geography teacher. A desire to combine her interest in education with community organizing led her to complete a Masters in Adult Education and Community Development from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. Since then, she has worked at Greenpeace Canada and Oceana Canada. For over a decade, Julia has been involved with grassroots climate justice organizing across the world. Julia is very excited to work with Environmental Defence, where she advocates for climate action and the phasing out of fossil fuel subsidies. Read Julia’s blogs here.

Karen Wirsig | Plastics Program Manager

Karen Wirsig | Plastics Program Manager

Karen has worked as a journalist and as a labour and community organizer. She has participated in her downtown Toronto housing co-operative for more than 20 years. An active transportation enthusiast who favours walking, cycling, and public transit, Karen has never owned a car. She is a voracious reader and has spent her adult life trying to unlearn the common belief that humans should strive for domination over each other, over other animals, and over nature itself. She’s passionate about helping to get plastics out of the environment. Read Karen’s blogs here.

Keith Brooks | Programs Director

Keith Brooks | Programs Director

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 Bachelor 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 he earned a Master 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. 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 Programs Director at Environmental Defence. Read Keith’s blogs here.

Lauren Thomas | Communications Manager

Lauren Thomas | Communications Manager

Lauren was practically raised in the woods. The majority of her childhood was spent camping, hiking and learning to love and respect our shared environment. When not outdoors, Lauren could be found obsessively rewatching Sir David Attenborough’s BBC Earth documentaries. Struck by the storytelling and imagery of these films, she realized she wanted to learn how to get people excited about science and conservation, just like Sir David did. With two degrees focused in science communication under her belt, Lauren is excited to use her skillset to help mobilize knowledge about our natural world and the threats it’s facing. When she’s not working, things look about the same as they did throughout Lauren’s childhood – you can find her hiking Toronto’s ravine system, at the cottage, or camping in Algonquin Park.

Michelle Woodhouse | Water Program Manager

Michelle Woodhouse | Water Program Manager

Michelle’s passion for the natural world and to become a water protector was sparked from a young age by the worldviews and values that were passed down to her through her Métis heritage. During university, Michelle pursued a BA in Environmental Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Toronto and went on to obtain her MASc in Environmental Applied Science and Management at Ryerson. Over the course of her Master’s, she worked on water governance and policy issues affecting the Great Lakes and Ontario. She has worked as a researcher and analyst for organizations such as the Great Lakes Policy Research Network, the International Joint Commission, and the Canadian Environmental Law Association before coming to Environmental Defence. Michelle sees water as a living relation and is passionate about water justice and climate justice. She is excited to be working at Environmental Defence to advocate for water protections. Read Michelle’s blogs here.

Miranda Baksh | Digital Engagement Senior Coordinator

Miranda Baksh | Digital Engagement Senior Coordinator

Miranda has a deep sense of appreciation for the natural world. This led to degrees in Environmental Studies at York University, where her master’s research focused on the intersections between biodiversity conservation and digital science communication. Her passion for the environment was further fueled by investigating eco-system approaches to disaster reduction in Belize and conservation in Costa Rica. Miranda co-founded The Community Climate Council, a local non-profit focused on climate literacy. Through her work, she aims to inspire and inform others on local environmental issues, so that we can collectively drive solutions towards climate and community resilience. In her free time, she can be found on the trails making new nature discoveries.

Phil Pothen | Ontario Environment Program Manager

Phil Pothen | Ontario Environment Program Manager

Phil is a land use planning and environmental lawyer with a background in landscape ecology, landscape architecture and 10 years of experience advising and representing provincial policy-makers, select small builders, and concerned residents. He joined EDC to advance “big-picture” approaches to problems he has dealt with case-by-case – a comprehensive alternative vision for development and industry that meets people’s needs while preserving Ontario’s natural spaces, farmland and other “greenfields” in perpetuity. Having spent his early summers searching out berries, moose tracks and rabbit burrows in the woods and barrens near his house, he has been pleased to introduce his three children to the many similar pleasures available in Toronto’s own urban ravines. Read Phil’s blogs here.

Sarah Jamal headshot

Sarah Jamal | Communications Manager

Growing up in Hamilton, Sarah was always a short distance away from waterfalls, hiking trails, and farmers markets, feeding her passion for the environment and sustainable living. While studying International Development at the University of Waterloo and attending international climate negotiations, Sarah realized that she could turn her passion for the environment into a career. She had the opportunity to work in Vietnam in the sustainable agriculture and consulting field connecting people to the source of their food. After a year, she returned to Canada to work in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) sector for a Fortune 500 company. At Environmental Defence, Sarah manages the communications for the toxics program. When not at work, you can find Sarah brewing a batch of kombucha, doing yoga, or making DIY health and beauty products! Read Sarah’s blogs here.

Sharon Thomas | Development Coordinator, Database

Sharon Thomas | Development Coordinator, Database

Sharon has experience in finance, fundraising and database coordination in both the corporate and non-profit sectors. While having great experiences in both, her true passion lies in non-profit organizations, including the Rouge Valley Health System and the Toronto East General Foundation, where she provided fundraising and database support. Sharon enjoys cooking and spending time with family. She is proud to be part of the Development team at Environmental Defence and making positive changes to protect our environment.

Simon Bugiardini | Bookkeeper

Simon Bugiardini | Bookkeeper

Simon holds a Bachelor of Commerce from McMaster University. He is passionate about working in the non-profit sector and was led to Environmental Defence by his hopes for a greener tomorrow. While living in Hamilton, he worked and volunteered with Stewards of Cootes Watershed, an environmental non-profit trying to clean the area’s waterways. Simon appreciates the beauty of our planet and is happy to put in the work to ensure that beauty never fades. In his free time, Simon enjoys reading and forcing his friends to eat his vegan cooking.

Stephanie Kohls | Communications Director

Stephanie Kohls | Communications Director

Stephanie’s love for nature began while spending summers at her grandparents’ camp north of Sudbury. As Director of Communications, Stephanie is responsible for the charity’s communications and marketing strategy and leads a team of bright communications specialists who love sharing stories about Environmental Defence’s work. Stephanie joined 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, and affordable housing. 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

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.

Tessa Soltendieck headshot

Tessa Soltendieck | Engagement Manager

Tessa is passionate about mobilizing people to take action on the issues they care about most. With years of work in the non-profit sector, Tessa has consulted on a wide range of sustainability and education programs focused on preserving and maximizing environmental integrity. At Environmental Defence, Tessa is proud to be part of the team that focuses on growing supporters and engaging the public on issues that impact their health and well being. Tessa earned a Masters of Development Practice from the University of Waterloo, which focuses on interdisciplinary solutions for sustainable development. When not at work, you’re most likely to find Tessa exploring the great outdoors, spending time with family, or in search of the city’s best doughnut shop.

Tim Gray | Executive Director

Tim Gray | Executive Director

Tim grew up on the shores of Lake Huron and acquired his love of nature there. He has over 25 years experience developing and implementing environmental policy change efforts. These have included major shifts in land conservation, forest practices and climate change. Starting out his career as a biologist and policy analyst, Tim has spent a lot of time learning skills that move complex environmental issues toward resolution. He has worked with other change makers on the front lines of conflict and has also taken his skills inside to work on government advisory committees and in complex negotiations with industry. Tim completed an H.BSc. at Wilfrid Laurier University and a M.Sc. at the University of Toronto. Read Tim’s blogs here.

NOT PICTURED: Carlos White, IT Manager