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.

Communicating Through a Pandemic

A webinar providing an overview of the different ways Conservation Authorities have adapted when communicating with their audiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. The webinar will showcase five speakers from various Conservation Authorities who will bring us practical examples and case studies of how they have pivoted to achieve their goals and continue to reach their audiences with effective messaging. These speakers will provide examples of how they’ve innovated their operational communications to ensure public safety in conservation areas and continued to deliver effective outdoor educational programming during the pandemic.

This webinar is in partnership with the Conservation Areas Workshop and Watershed Interpreters’ Network.

Date and time: December 8, 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

We know that we have some great communicators in our Latornell community and want to provide you with the opportunity to share your best management practices that have worked through the Pandemic.

If you have a sign, newsletter or a communication piece that you would like to share with your fellow communicators, please email it (as a PDF or link) to by Friday December 4th. If we use your material during the webinar you will be entered into a draw for a $25 gift card, generously donated by Kettle Creek Conservation Authority.

Register for the December Webinar here


Tori Fisher Tori Fisher, Administrator, Conservation Parks
Credit Valley Conservation

Tori has been working within Conservation Parks in Ontario for 13 years, from a park maintenance summer student to Administrator of Conservation Parks with Credit Valley Conservation. She has had the pleasure of working for three different Conservation Authorities and has served on the Conservation Areas Workshop Planning Committee as a member for five years, currently sitting as Co-Chair. Tori graduated from Lakehead University with an Honours Bachelor of Outdoor Recreation, Parks & Tourism. She is an avid outdoorswoman and a keen advocate for connecting people with nature, especially within our valuable Conservation Areas.

Presentation Description: Tori will give examples of how different conservation authorities have had to manage and message their impacts to operations.

John Mesman John Mesman, Team Lead, Communications and Outreach
South Nation Conservation Authority

John leads South Nation Conservation’s communication and outreach team, while also leading the management of the Authority’s park and trail network. John is also the former Chair of the Conservation Areas Workshop (2017-19).

John brings a rural, farm-taught, perspective to the workplace when developing programs and communication products. Like most business communicators, John has supported the Conservation Authority in many different functions, from planning student summits and delivering forest conservation programs, to managing projects in Conservation Areas and engaging with communities on various environmental initiatives.

John studied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (BSc.) from Carleton University and Strategic Marketing Management from York University. Technical training in science provides foundational knowledge, while a passion for the environment keeps him invested in the work of the Conservation Authority.

Hassaan Basit Hassaan Basit, President and CEO
Conservation Halton

Hassaan Basit feels honoured to lead a team that is united in its purpose to deliver conservation services to its community. His focus is on strengthening the Conservation Halton brand by focusing on customers to achieve results. His team is slowly transforming Conservation Halton into a modern, digitally savvy conservation authority that delivers critical environmental programs, serves 1.2 million visitors at its parks and operates Ontario’s top five most-visited ski centre. Hassaan holds a B.Sc in Biology from the University of Toronto, an M.Sc from Queen’s University of Belfast and an Executive MBA in Digital Transformation from the DeGroote School of Business. Hassaan is currently between hobbies, but loves traveling with his family when there isn’t a global pandemic!

Presentation Description: Technology Meets Nature. How innovative technology helped bring back responsible and equitable access to nature, and how its success came down to openly communicating with our customers. In March we barricaded our 7 parks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. That very night we decided to work on re-opening, differently, respecting an evolving “new normal”, which was anything but!. By May we opened with an entirely new way of accessing nature. It’s success depended on drastically changing four decades of customer behaviour. The key was communicating throughout our journey.

Keren Bromberg Keren Bromberg, Senior Program Coordinator, Community Outreach
Credit Valley Conservation

Keren has coordinated programs for youth to learn about nature and the environment through stewardship and restoration projects like native tree and shrub plantings, invasive species removal, and stream restoration for the past seven years.

Prior to working at Credit Valley Conservation, Keren worked at Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) for six years where she taught students across the GTA with the traveling Watershed on Wheels program, coordinated the Aquatic Plants program to restore wetlands with youth, and started TRCA’s own Conservation Youth Corps.

Keren is an Ontario Certified Teacher. She has a Bachelor of Arts, Honours and a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University, and a Master of Environmental Studies with a Graduate Diploma in Environmental/Sustainability Education from York University. She is past co-treasurer of Ontario Society for Environmental Education, and past-chair and current member of the Watershed Interpreters’ Network.

Presentation Description: Ontario’s Conservation Authorities have continued to provide effective watershed education programs during the current pandemic. Keren Bromberg, Senior Coordinator, Community Outreach, Credit Valley Conservation, will provide examples of strategies and programs that various CA’s are utilizing to accomplish this goal. Examples include virtual field trips, live streaming, instructing classes outside at or near schools, and more.

William Sorley William Sorley, Education Coordinator, Education & Training
Toronto and Region Conservation

Will has taught nature-based programs throughout the region of Peel for Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) for the last three and a half years. Will delivers and coordinates various programs the TRCA offers, so far his favorite being; Monarch Teacher Network, Conservation Youth Corps and Watershed on Wheels.

Will graduated from Lakehead University with an Outdoor Recreation degree and is an Ontario Certified Teacher. He has a large passion for skiing and implementing technology into the classroom. His passions of technology and the outdoors may seem like opposites, though it allows him to take strides in delivering an exceptional, and sometimes unconventional program, to students, teachers and others whom are willing to learn.

Presentation Description: Will will be discussing how TRCA has implemented technology into their reshaped programs. Will has been a lead in the execution of online learning and programing. From Facebook Lives, YouTube Lives, to smaller personalized virtual visits in the classroom. He will show and explain the technology that he uses. Both an entry level into how to implement technology into virtual programming, while also showing the technology and advance systems he currently uses in lives and virtual learning.


Elizabeth VanHooren Elizabeth VanHooren, General Manager/Secretary Treasurer
Kettle Creek Conservation Authority

Elizabeth VanHooren is the General Manager/Secretary Treasurer of Kettle Creek Conservation Authority, a position she has held since 2010 after 8 years as the Authority’s Public Relations Supervisor. Prior to joining the public sector, Elizabeth was a videographer/writer for CKCO-TV in Kitchener, Ontario. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English and History (Laurier University 1998), and a Master of Arts in Journalism (Western University 1999). To date some of her greatest communication memories are developing joint IPM displays with neighbouring CAs, her SpellBound fundraisers for the Kettle Creek Environmental Trust and the development of the ReWild the Family program. She grew up in the Long Point Region watershed, and commutes daily to the Kettle Creek watershed from her home in the Catfish Creek watershed.

Solutions and Actions on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Racism in Conservation

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

Date and time: January 20, 2021 | 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
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

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.

Presentations, Resources, and Recorded Webinar:

Rob Messervey [PDF – 13 MB]
Chris Jones [PDF – 12 MB]
Bonnie Fox [PDF – 4 MB]

Conservation Ontario – Background information and consultation documents
Conservation Ontario – About Conservation Authorities
Conservation Authorities Act


Rob Messervey Rob Messervey, Former Chief Administrative Officer at 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.

Presentation Description: Rob will lay out the history of the conservation movement and the foundations of the Conservation Authorities.

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.

Presentation Description: Chris will speak on the changes in legislation and the roles that CAs play in the planning environment.

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.

Presentation Description: Bonnie will cover the more recent changes in legislation and what it means for the Conservation Authorities today.


Deborah Martin-Downs Deborah Martin-Downs, Chief Administrative Officer at 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.

Connecting Planning and Ecology Workshop

Natural heritage evaluations and environmental impact studies provide critical ecological data that is important to the protection of natural features and functions in the land use planning process. However, to be fully effective, the recommendations of these studies need to directly address the planning instruments and the authority they establish to deal with ecological matters.

This session will begin with a brief overview of the key planning instruments: the official plan, zoning by-law, minor variances, subdivisions, consents and site plan control. The presentation will then focus on how study findings and recommendations can most effectively make their way into planning approvals. This will include practical examples and approaches you can utilize to ensure that your ecological work results in meaningful protection for natural heritage as planning decisions are made and development occurs.

This session will be of particular interest to both ecologists and planners.

Presentations, Resources, and Recorded Webinar:

Michael Wynia [PDF – 8 MB]

The Krystawyn Nature Blog – Natural Heritage Planning Workshops Material


Michael Wynia Michael Wynia MCIP, RPP, Partner, Senior Ecologist and Planner, Skelton, Brumwell & Associates Inc.

Michael has been involved with natural heritage since beginning his career with the Ministry of Natural Resources as a Conservation Authority Liaison officer. He has since spent 20 years in the private sector and 13 years in the public sector dealing with a wide range of environmental planning and ecology projects. Michael also developed and taught the Fleming College Applied Environmental Planning Graduate Certificate Program as well as presenting on ecology and environmental planning on a regular basis.

His consulting firm, Krystawyn Consulting, assisted Ontario Nature in the development of their Best Practices Manual for Natural Heritage Systems Planning and the Audubon Sanctuaries Program Golf Course Naturalization Manual. Krystawyn Consulting also assisted the Canadian Wildlife Service in a review of utilization of their How Much Habitat is Enough? guidelines.

In his work as a Senior Planner and Ecologist with Skelton, Brumwell & Associates Inc., Michael has completed a wide range of natural heritage projects including a large-scale shoreline biodiversity study, municipal natural heritage studies, numerous environmental assessments and impact studies and the preparation of official plans, comprehensive zoning by-laws and community planning permit by-laws emphasizing natural heritage protection.

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.