Professional Development Program

Latornell Leadership Project – 2020/2021 Webinar Series

Under the organization of the Latornell Professional Development Program, the Latornell Leadership Project is a series of five webinars being offered in 2020 / 2021.

Groundwork: The Foundation and Evolution of the Conservation Authorities in Ontario

A webinar highlighting the genesis of the Conservation Authorities Act in 1946, the evolution of the Conservation Authority movement over the next 70+ years, and the leadership of Conservation Authorities today and into the future in safeguarding the lands, waters, and communities of Ontario.

Date and time: October 6, 2020 | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Cost: Free however registration is required.
Can’t attend our webinar live? Submit your registration and you will be able to view the recorded version once the webinar has ended

Register for the October Webinar


Rob Messervey Rob Messervey, Former General Manager Kawartha Lakes Conservation, will lay out the history of the conservation movement and the foundations of the Conservation Authorities

Rob Messervey retired after 8 years as CAO of the Kawartha Region Conservation Authority at the end of 2016. Rob started his career with the Otonabee Region C.A. and Central Lake Ontario C.A., and then served as General Manager of the Lower Trent Region C.A. in Trenton for 6 years and is currently co-owner of Native Plants in Claremont.

Rob also worked for over 22 years with the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, starting in 1986 with regional then provincial responsibilities for the Conservation Authorities Program, then served as District Manager of the Aylmer, Midhurst and Aurora MNR District field offices. He then assumed the positions of Manager of Water Resources and A/Director of the Ministry’s Lands and Waters program, with oversight for water, conservation authorities, crown lands, aggregate and petroleum resources and renewable energy.

Rob has an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo and a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Western Ontario.

Rob serves as: a Provincial representative on the Ontario Greenbelt Foundation Board; Director and Chair of the Research, Programs and Services Committee on the Ontario and Nunavut Division Council of the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada; President of the Scugog Lake Stewards Inc; and Vice-Chair of the Ontario Native Plant Growers’ Association.

Chris Jones Chris Jones, Director of Planning and Regulation at Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority, will speak on the changes in legislation and the roles that CAs play in the planning environment

Chris Jones is a professional planner with over 15 years experience in the municipal and conservation authority sectors. Chris’ experience includes time as a campaigner with Ontario Nature, a policy planner with the Region of Peel and 10 years with the Toronto Region Conservation (TRCA) as a development planner. Chris was a candidate in the 2014 provincial election. He is currently the Director of Planning and Regulation for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority (CLOCA).

Chris lives in Oshawa with his wife Krista and two children and has previously lived in Toronto, eastern Ontario and southwestern Ontario. He is a member of the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and Canadian Institute of Planners and holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning with a minor in Public Administration from Ryerson University.

Bonnie Fox Bonnie Fox, Manager, Policy and Planning at Conservation Ontario will cover the more recent changes in legislation and what it means for the Conservation Authorities today

Bonnie Fox is the Manager of Policy and Planning for Conservation Ontario, the association for Ontario’s 36 conservation authorities. She has been with Conservation Ontario for twenty-one years leading and coordinating policy positions to influence and respond to provincial and federal legislative and policy initiatives. Bonnie is also Conservation Ontario’s lead on tracking and providing input to reviews of the Conservation Authorities’ Act. Previously Bonnie worked for the provincial government for ten years in the policy Divisions of the Ministries of Natural Resources and Environment specializing in water, land management and land use planning.


Deborah Martin-Downs Deborah Martin-Downs, CAO Credit Valley Conservation Authority

Deborah Martin-Downs is the Chief Administrative Officer of Credit Valley Conservation Authority, a position she has held since August, 2013 after 8 years as Director of the Ecology Division with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. Prior to joining the public sector, Deborah spent 16 years as an environmental consultant with Gartner Lee Limited. Over her career she has held progressive roles managing multidisciplinary environmental teams of technical specialists. She has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies (University of Waterloo 1979), a Master of Science in Zoology and Environmental Studies (University of Toronto 1985) and a Doctor of Science (Honorary) from Lakehead University. She is the current Chair of Green Infrastructure Ontario Coalition, a board member of the Walkerton Clean Water Centre and a member of the Greenbelt Council.

Planning 101 for Non-Planners

This webinar will focus on teaching non-planners the basics of planning and how to effectively reflect their recommendations and conclusions in planning terms to facilitate working with municipal partners.

Date and time: November (date to be confirmed) | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Cost: Free however registration is required. Registration coming soon
Can’t attend our webinar live? Submit your registration and you will be able to view the recorded version once the webinar has ended


Speakers to be announced

Communicating Through a Pandemic

A panel discussion which examines the innovative ways that different organizations have been communicating their messaging to partners, stakeholders and the public. This webinar will be done in partnership with Rekindle the Spark and the Conservation Areas Workshop.

Date and time: December (date to be confirmed) | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Cost: Free however registration is required. Registration coming soon
Can’t attend our webinar live? Submit your registration and you will be able to view the recorded version once the webinar has ended


Speakers to be announced

Nature for All – Ensuring Inclusion and Diversity are Actively Pursued

A panel discussion on how to create safe and inclusive green spaces for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC).

Date and time: January (date to be confirmed) | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Cost: Free however registration is required. Registration coming soon
Can’t attend our webinar live? Submit your registration and you will be able to view the recorded version once the webinar has ended


Speakers to be announced

Leaders on Leadership

A podcast or pre-recorded video interview with a conservation leader (such as a past Leadership Award recipient or past CAO) to discuss lessons, challenges, personal stories, practices, and actionable advice for the next generation of leaders.

Date and time: February (date to be confirmed) | 10:00 AM – 11:30 AM
Cost: Free however registration is required. Registration coming soon
Can’t attend our webinar live? Submit your registration and you will be able to view the recorded version once the webinar has ended


Speakers to be announced

What Is the Latornell Professional Development Program?

The Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program fosters opportunities for learning, career growth and networking within the environmental sector.  The program hosts events and workshops to connect individuals interested in experiential learning, network building, and the broad aspects of professional development. A collection of events and activities are being worked on to generate a variety of opportunities for people to purposefully connect with new people of all ages with similar interests and to share stories and experiences and learn from one another. Your experience with this program may be a single conversation or it could end up being a life-long professional connection.

Professional Development and Mentorship Program Background

On the 20th Anniversary of the Latornell Conservation Symposium, we launched a new initiative Professional Development and Mentorship Program. Art Latornell believed in sharing ideas and experiences with young people, and cared about a younger generation learning about natural resources and the environment. The Latornell logo was designed to represent the significant aspects of Art Latornell’s life and legacy. The logo is a silhouette of an ancient tree, which represents the conservation of natural resources, and Art’s long-standing interest in the natural world. When viewed in the negative however, the white areas formed by the trunk contain the profiles of two people, a young student and an older man, with their heads lowered as if studying something on the ground. This view of the logo represents Art’s belief in the importance of mentoring and teaching which he practiced in his lifetime and which continues through his bequest in the Latornell Programs.

With this in mind the Professional Development and Mentorship Program initially focused on fostering opportunities for career growth at the beginning of your career, mid-way through, or for any continuous learner that enjoys connecting with new people of all ages with common interests. Quickly however, we began to hear from many participants about the value of program in terms of furthering their knowledge, experiential and career development. This led to this initiative being renamed the Latornell Professional Development Program, within which mentorship still plays a crucial role.

Principles of Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program

The following points outline the key principles and intent of the Latornell Professional Development and Mentorship Program.

  1. Respect for others
    Participants will show respect for one another similarly to how we share a common respect for the environment. Please keep an open mind and be receptive to new insight and knowledge from all experiences, even if they differ from yours. Be respectful of others. Be professional.
  2. Two-way street
    Professional development within the bounds of this program is a two-way street. This is an opportunity that can benefit both parties. Mangers can learn a lot from talking to – and listening – to junior staff, and vice versa. A mentor can learn from their mentee, just as a mentee learns from their mentor.
  3. Organic
    Professional Development should be free flowing and professional. There are no rules other than the principles outlined here. Mentors and mentees who meet through this program can decide how and when to connect depending on their life demands.
  4. Many ways of learning
    The way that people learn and perceive is very personal. Understand that your professional development mentor or mentee may learn and perceive the world in different ways than you.
  5. Pay-it-forward
    If you have ever benefited from a mentor, colleague or senior professional within your field, you know how valuable that experience was to you. It may be your turn to pay-it-forward to a colleague that may be seeking a similar experience.

What Does Mentorship Mean to You?

Here are a few quotes on the benefits of Mentorship from different perspectives:
Being a student who is finishing up my post-secondary education at the University of Guelph and venturing into the working world, I see myself as being in a transition period of my life. Although exciting, it also seems a little scary and daunting at times, especially when competition for jobs is high and I am unsure of what exactly it is that I want to do next. Having a mentor to guide and support me through this transition period has been a great benefit as it has helped me identify my goals, given me direction and increased my confidence. Having a mentor whom I share commonalities with and who is very involved has been a key to my success and has exposed me to many opportunities and avenues I didn’t even know existed. It has been comforting to know that there is someone there whom I can trust and can rely on to provide good advice as I continue to grow and learn.
Katie Keenan, Graduating student, University of Guelph
Mentorship: We are never too old in age or long in our career to benefit from a mentor. Mentors do not have to be older than we are. Mentors are individuals that we trust and respect, and who are influential and supportive. Many people are willing to share their knowledge and experience with others but they don’t list themselves in the yellow pages under mentors. What you need to do is ask for an opportunity to learn from their experience and career choices. If you ask them to be your mentor you might not get the answer you were hoping for, the precise definition of a mentor is elusive and the word itself can be scary to some people.
Tom Prout, Retiring, General Manager/Secretary Treasurer, Ausable Bayfield Conservation
To me, Mentorship is about guiding. This isn’t the same as teaching because, in my mind, a good mentor doesn’t give you a step-by-step guide to success. Instead, they provide valuable insight that can only be gained through experience, and this insight can in turn be taken and applied in a way that makes sense to the person being mentored. The results of this transfer and application can then be fed back to the mentor in a reciprocal, iterative process. With this in mind I believe that mentoring is particularly important to me in my current situation: as someone who is working toward completing a PhD I feel that I am in a position to both offer and accept career and life lessons. We are never too young (or old) to help guide others down the paths we have already walked.
William Trenouth, Ph.D. student, University of Guelph
To me Mentorship is about growth and development. As a mentee it allows you to benefit from the wisdom and experiences of those ahead of you. It provides an opportunity to learn from the very best, to get a better idea of how things “really are” and provide guidance and structure to your development. It’s about developing a positive relationship; it’s about having that guiding lighthouse to bring you into shore as smooth as possible. Being a mentor allows you to pass on those valuable lessons learned. It gives you that opportunity to give back; to give a guiding hand, the same way you were helped to where you are. Mentorship provides that structure needed to grow and pass on lessons learned.
Kendrick Doll, Natural Heritage Coordinator, Ontario Heritage Trust
Mentorship is about sharing experiences and knowledge, participating in discussion of lessons learned and thoughts about the past and future. Having worked in the conservation field for around 10 years in a variety of jobs in different sectors I am at a point in my career where I am trying to decide whether I want to transition into management, stay in what I see as a more hands-on position or maybe change career paths altogether. A mentor that has already made some of these decisions could give me perspective and advice on how each of these options could affect my life and share their related experiences to help me facilitate the change I want to pursue. In turn, I am happy to share my path and experience in a mutual learning experience. I view Mentorship is a two-way street of learning and benefits.
Lisa-Beth Bulford, Development Planner, Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
Relationship, dialogue, learning and transfer of knowledge are all words or phrases that come to mind when I think of the term Mentorship. Personally, I have benefitted from the experience and generosity of others in the on-going development of my own career. This assistance has been particularly helpful in framing what it means to be a professional and in understanding the sensitivities that often accompany decision making and political processes. Likewise, as my career has progressed I have attempted to assist others where I am able to. I see this as both a privilege and an obligation. A privilege in the sense that I have the opportunity to contribute to the career development of future leaders and an obligation in the sense of my belief that this is a fundamental contribution that can be made to society and my profession.
Wayne Caldwell, Wayne Caldwell Director of the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development and a Professor in Rural Planning, University of Guelph

More Information

Join our LinkedIn Group – a safe space where program participants as free to ask questions, schedule social or professional meetups and post links to exciting new jobs in the environment and conservation sectors. To request access, please message Bill Trenouth using LinkedIn messenger.

Join the Latornell Professional Development Program Mailing List in order to receive news and stay up-to-date with upcoming events. Please note this is separate from the Latornell Mailing List.

Join the Latornell Professional Development Program Mailing List
The Latornell Professional Development Program can also be reached at

The Latornell Conservation Symposium is one of Ontario’s premier annual environmental events. The Symposium provides a forum for practitioners, policy makers, nongovernment organizations, academics and businesses to network and discuss the challenges and opportunities in Ontario’s conservation field.