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.

What Makes a Good Leader?

Successful leadership comes in many forms and often includes a combination of courage, integrity, humility, clear focus, and the ability to support your team to reach challenging goals. What does it take to develop these critical skills and excel in the field of conservation? Join us for a panel discussion to learn how four dedicated environmental professionals from conservation focused organizations in different stages of their careers have persevered through obstacles from political roadblocks and creating meaningful connections remotely, to guiding a team through a crisis. From lessons learned to stories in the field and providing actionable advice, conservation leaders are sharing their experiences to support the next generation of leaders.

Presentations, Resources, and Recorded Webinar:

Gayle Wood [PDF – 64 KB]
Kevin Butt [PDF – 249 KB]

Provided by Frank Shaw:
– Wisdom For A Young CEO – Summary of Book [PDF – 112 KB]
– Ten Golden Rules of Leadership: Classical Wisdom for Leaders [PDF – 70 KB]
– Ten Factors For Being A Good Leader [PDF – 118 KB]
– 21 Ways to Become a Better Leader [PDF – 65 KB]
– How Successful Leaders Grow – 7 Habits to Promote [PDF – 52 KB]
– How Successful People Grow – 15 Ways To Improve [PDF – 44 KB]
– Ten Behaviours for Effective Management [PDF – 70 KB]
– The Ten Ingredients of a Sustainable Organization [PDF – 71 KB]
– Books To Read On Leadership [PDF – 47 KB]
– Ethics 101 [PDF – 37 KB]


Gayle Wood Gayle Wood, Retired

Gayle is the retired Chief Administrative Officer of the Lake Simcoe Region, Nottawasaga Valley, Niagara Peninsula and Ganaraska Region Conservation Authorities.

She has worked internationally with China and Australia focusing on integrated watershed management. For her work in China, Gayle received an award from the State Council in recognition of her project on water management communication and engagement. She led the Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority during their receipt of the Australian Thiess Riverprise Award for watershed management excellence.

Gayle has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies degree from the University of Waterloo and Certificates in Strategic Management from York University – Schulich School of Business and Alternative Dispute Resolution, University of Windsor, Faculty of Law.

Gayle currently serves as Canadian Co-Chair of the International Joint Commission’s Great Lakes Water Quality Board and is the Chair of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance in addition to serving on the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Foundation.

Kevin Butt Kevin Butt, ISA Certified Arborist & Terrestrial Ecologist
R.J. Burnside & Associates

Kevin has 21 years of experience working in the environmental industry, preparing natural heritage and tree studies throughout southern Ontario, including almost 7 years at R. J. Burnside & Associates Ltd. These studies have been completed for both public and private clients and range in scale from single residential lots to major road corridor and multi-developer block plans. Study deliverables include environmental impacts studies, arborist reports, tree risk assessments, tree appraisals, preservation plans, ravine stewardship plans and mitigation designs. Kevin has liaised with government and review agencies, property owners and their agents and the general public through the approval stages, including project initiation and scope determination, public information centres, submission of materials, implementation assistance, construction supervision and monitoring. He is based out of the Guelph office where he manages 12 staff as Leader of the Environmental Planning and Assessment team.

Melissa Ryan Melissa Ryan, Manager, Service Coordination & Improvement
City of Kitchener

Melissa Ryan is an Environmental Engineer with nearly 20 years of experience in the public and private sector. She has worked at the City of Kitchener for the last 10 years and was initially a Project Manager in the Sanitary & Stormwater Utilities working on stormwater management projects and creek restoration work. She is now a Manager, Service Coordination and Improvement and does process improvement initiatives, strategic planning, and special projects for the Infrastructure Services Department. She loves to collaborate with others, be innovative in her approaches to problems and leverages her executive coaching training to help others achieve their best.

Joyce Chau Joyce Chau, Senior Program Manager
Evergreen Canada

Joyce is a senior leader who has been working in the non-profit environmental sector for the past 15 years. Joyce was the Executive Director of EcoSpark, an Ontario-based environmental charity, for 8 years. In 2020, she joined Evergreen as a Senior Program Manager, leading city-building projects in across the Canada.

Joyce’s expertise lies in leading multi-stakeholder collaboratives, community-based monitoring, policy and governance, education and fundraising. Joyce has successfully led community education and citizen science monitoring programs across southern Ontario. She has been active in numerous environmental committees including the Ontario Greenbelt Alliance, Biodiversity Education and Awareness Network and the Southern Ontario Stream Monitoring and Research Team. Joyce currently sits on the board of the Small Change Fund, a national charity focused on helping communities raise funds for environmental solutions, community engagement, and Indigenous reconciliation.


Katrina Furlanetto Katrina Furlanetto, General Manager
Cataraqui Conservation

Katrina has an Honours Bachelor of Science degree in biology from Queen’s University, and subsequently earned a Master of Environmental Science at the University of Toronto. She has worked as an environmental professional in provincial, municipal and non-profit organizations within the GTA and started working for Cataraqui Conservation in 2016.

At Cataraqui Conservation, Katrina has held several technical and leadership positions working on projects such as drinking water source protection, surface and groundwater monitoring, capital asset management, and implementing conservation legislation. In January 2020, Katrina started her new role as the fourth General Manager of Cataraqui Conservation and is now responsible for the organization’s strategic direction, oversight of four departments, and managing natural resources in the Cataraqui Region watershed – it’s been quite the first year of learning!

Taking Action: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Conservation

This webinar will focus on examples of actions and positive outcomes from the conservation sector to deliver diverse, equitable and inclusive organizational and programmatic initiatives.

Panelists from Conservation Authorities, non-profits, First Nations and more will discuss and demonstrate how their various initiatives work to help reduce barriers to accessing nature, create opportunities for collaboration and partnerships, and the benefits of knowledge transfer.

This session will be moderated by Janet Ivey, Chair of the Latornell Steering Committee and will include presentations from a diverse lineup of speakers.

Presentations, Resources, and Recorded Webinar:

Ashoo Anand [PDF – 4.5 MB]
Rhiannon Kirton [PDF – 0.5 MB]
Mark Peacock [PDF – 7.2 MB]
Emma Young [PDF – 15.6 MB]
Nidhi Tandon [PDF – 3.5 MB]

Rhiannon Kirton – Brown Girl Outdoor World
Rhiannon Kirton – Colour the Trails
Rhiannon Kirton – Kaleidoscope Nature Canada


Ashoo Anand Ashoo Anand, Senior Coordinator, Multicultural Outreach
Credit Valley Conservation

Ashoo has led Credit Valley Conservation’s multicultural outreach program since its humble beginnings in 2009. In this role, she has been collaborating and building strategic alliances with other public sector agencies and community organizations such as settlement agencies, local libraries, school boards, health care organizations, federal, provincial and municipal agencies for developing and delivering culturally sensitive programming for immigrants to connect and encourage members of diverse cultures to their local natural environment for their physical and psychological wellbeing.

Ashoo has spearheaded initiatives within Credit Valley Conservation to foster inter-cultural discussions through the creation of internal committees that provides staff and board members with opportunities to enhance their understanding on diverse cultural perspectives, to provide a platform to discuss and racially and culturally sensitive issues and to build strategic policy frameworks to address anti-racism, diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.

Being an immigrant herself, Ashoo understands the challenges and barriers newcomers face in accessing nature and building a strong and meaningful connection with local natural areas. Her education and work experience in geography, community planning and engagement have been pivotal in developing a robust environmental outreach program for culturally diverse immigrants in the region.

Presentation: Programs, Initiatives and Strategies that Conservation Authorities are Implementing to Address – Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Racism

Ontario’s watersheds are becoming culturally diverse, changing the demographic landscape for Conservation Authorities, more for some than the others. The influx of immigrants in the Greater Toronto Area and beyond, and a commitment to acknowledge and engage our indigenous communities in our watersheds, has propelled a need for Conservation Authorities to develop, implement and strategize programs and initiatives that are inclusive of all communities and can address issues related to diversity, equity and racism in a meaningful manner. Through this presentation Ashoo will share the programs and initiatives that Credit Valley Conservation and other conservation authorities have successfully implemented to be inclusive and addressing diversity, equity and racism issues both internally and externally.

Rhiannon Kirton Rhiannon Kirton, MSc candidate in Geography
Western University

Rhiannon Kirton is an MSc candidate in Geography at Western University, she holds a BSc in Zoology from The University of Manchester. She is currently studying white-tailed deer interactions with hunters. Her current research aims to better understand white-tailed deer movement in response to management practices such as legal harvest. In addition to her research, Rhiannon spends as much as possible outdoors mountain biking, hiking and camping amongst other activities. As a woman of colour, she has witnessed the different experiences of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Colour) in both natural spaces and the conservation profession. Subsequently, Rhiannon has recently worked on changing this and making these spaces more diverse and inclusive including being a co-organizer of Black Birders Week and co-founder of Black Mammalogists Week.

Presentation: Nature is for all, or at least it should be

The BIPOC community often experiences nature differently in Canada. As part of working towards the goal of nature for all, Rhiannon will explain some of the barriers that the BIPOC community faces when recreating in the outdoors and in conservation as a career path. Through talking about these challenges she hopes to bring enlightenment to some of the ways in which we may break them down so that nature truly can be enjoyed by all of us.

Mark Peacock Mark Peacock, CAO / Secretary-Treasurer
Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority

Currently, Mark is the CAO / Secretary-Treasurer of the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority. In this position he helps guide the authority but also continues to provide technical support to the Water Management Services programs.

Mark has over 30 years of experience developing and working with flood plain mapping and watershed management projects. Over the past years he has worked with the engineering groups of the Nottawasaga Valley, Ganaraska Region, Kawartha Region. Central Lake Ontario and Otonabee Region Conservation Authorities. This has included preparing a number of technical reports to further the understanding of implementing new technologies into flood plain mapping. Some projects include:

  • Chaired Flood Expert Task Force in the development of the Region of Durham Climate Change Adaptation Plan
  • Part of the Technical Review Committee for the development the GTA Conservation Authority “Technical Guidelines for Flood Hazard Mapping”, March 2017
  • Seconded into the Ministry of Natural Resources to help develop the Risk Assessment and modelling approach for quantity of drinking water sources in the Drinking Water Source Protection Program
  • Member of Conservation Ontario Flood Business Case Technical Advisory Committee
  • Part of team which authored an inventory of Flood Plain Mapping for the Province of Ontario
  • Peer review of a number of flood plain projects for authorities across Ontario

Presentation: Overview of Lower Thames FloodPlain and Watershed Management Program with local First Nations

Emma Young Emma Young, Senior Environmental Officer
Chippewas of the Thames First Nation

Emma joined the Treaty, Lands and Environment team in 2017 after living in Edinburgh, Scotland for several years. Emma has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Geography from the University of Guelph and is currently completing her Masters of Arts in Geography from the University of Toronto. Her studies are focused on Deshkan Ziibi (the Thames River) and documenting community knowledge and stories of the river as a means of empowering Deshkan Ziibiing (Chippewas of the Thames First Nation) to reimage the rivers futurity outside of the predominant colonial narrative.

Since working for COTTFN, Emma has been involved in establishing a water monitoring regime, assisting to complete a source water protection project with the Canadian Environmental Law Association and has established a wide network of collaborative partners on environmental initiatives throughout Southwestern Ontario.

Presentation: Deshkan Ziibi – A Shared River

This presentation will overview the environmental responsibilities the Chippewas of the Thames First Nation (COTTFN) has to care for water in what is now known as Southwestern Ontario. This presentation will highlight the success COTTFN has had in leveraging relationships to influence local water-related decision making. This will be demonstrated by discussing the current floodplain mapping project being collaboratively undertaken with the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.

Nidhi Tandon Nidhi Tandon, Independent International Consultant, Founder and Director
Networked Intelligence for Development

Independent international consultant and founder and director of Networked Intelligence for Development, an independent consulting practice focused at the nexus of healthy ecologies, human rights and equitable community development, working from a strong gender justice platform. With a background in economics and agrarian studies, I began my career as an investigative reporter (Zimbabwe International News Agency and UK BBC Africa Service) before developing international development expertise and establishing NiD. I have years of experience in research and policy analysis, designing learning materials, managing technical assistance programs, and leading strategy with partners in developing countries. I have worked with community organisations to promote empowering environments, through advocacy for access to and control over natural resources and assets, adaptation and mitigation policy advocacy to address climate change, and in the promotion of sustainable livelihoods and prospects. I sit on the board of Sustainability Network and was previously a board member with Ontario Nature, OXFAM Canada, The Resource Productivity and Recovery Authority (RPRA), and the Planet in Focus (PiF) environmental film festival.

Presentation: Aspirations, Biases and Change – exploring some ABCs of social inclusion

Nidhi will be discussing institutional change for movement building, how organisations are tackling some of these complex issues both here in Canada and in other countries and regions, how we might walk the talk and not just pay lip service to goals of inclusion in organizational culture, governance and leadership.


Janet Ivey Janet Ivey, Chief Specialist, Watershed Plans and Source Water Protection
Credit Valley Conservation

Jan is a senior manager with 20 years of experience in integrated watershed planning, coordinating interdisciplinary teams, and engaging communities and agencies. She has worked at scales ranging from a neighbourhood of a thousand people, to watersheds with a population of over a million.

As Chief Specialist with CVC, Jan is the Program Manager for the Credit Valley – Toronto and Region – Central Lake Ontario Source Water Protection Region and is leading development of a new Credit River Watershed Plan.

Jan holds a Master of Arts in Geography (Resource Assessment) and an Honours Bachelor of Environmental Science from the University of Guelph, and is an accredited Project Management Professional by the Project Management Institute.

Janet is the current Chair of the 20-member Latornell Conservation Symposium Steering Committee.

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.

Presentations, Resources, and Recorded Webinar:

John Mesman and Tori Fisher [PDF – 13.8 MB]
Hassaan Basit [PDF – 4 MB]
Keren Bromberg [PDF – 9.7 MB] and Learn with Ranger EM video [link]


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.

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.

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.

Bonus Event: The 2020 Latornell Student Symposium

2020 Latornell Student Symposium Join Dr. Nicolas Brunet from the University of Guelph for the virtual 2020 Latornell Student Symposium taking place Friday November 20th from 9 AM to 1 PM

Diversity: Foundation of Our Ecosystems & Societies

The strength of our ecosystems and societies are upheld through biological and cultural diversity. Together, biological, and cultural diversity play an imperative role in addressing intersectional social and environmental issues. The 2020 Latornell Student Symposium theme is “Diversity: The Foundation of Ecosystems & Societies”. The symposium aims to emphasize interconnectedness in sustainability by creating a platform that highlights diversity, equity, and inclusion in conservation research and practice.

The free virtual event on Friday, November 20th, 2020, from 9:00 AM – 1:00 PM will highlight student research with direct relevance to conservation practice in Ontario. The 2020 Latornell Student Symposium is a unique opportunity to explore the practical applications of your work to conservation practice beyond the context of academia. There will be a mix of active professionals, students, and scholars in attendance. This will be a great opportunity to network and build your capacity to speak to the non-scholarly relevance of your work, which are critical in securing employment in this competitive field. The day will begin with two keynote speakers followed by a series of short talks and discussions. Our aim is to support diversity in all forms in the selection of topics and speakers.

Click here for more information. Please contact Angela Asuncion ( or Dr. Nicolas Brunet ( if you have any questions.

This event is supported by the Latornell Professorship in Environmental Stewardship

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

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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.