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SPEAKERS
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We are hard at work building an exciting conference program for you! Keep checking back for updates.  

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2023 Speakers

SPEAKERS

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Mark Mattson - Keynote

Founder and President

Lake Ontario Waterkeeper/Swim Drink Fish

Mark is one of Canada’s most seasoned environmental lawyers and the founder of several water charities, including Swim Drink Fish. In addition to being Swim Drink Fish’s President, he is the Waterkeeper for Lake Ontario, a water quality advisor to the International Joint Commission, a board member for the US-based Waterkeeper Alliance, and a member of Ontario’s Great Lakes Guardians Council.

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Pete Zuzek, PGeo - Panelist & Speaker

President

Zuzek Inc.

Pete received his Bachelor and Master of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo, specializing in coastal geomorphology and geology.  He is a Certified Floodplain Manager and a Professional Geoscientist.  Pete has 30 years of consulting experience managing multi-disciplinary investigations across the Great Lakes and world’s coastal regions.

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Dr. Mary-Louise Byrne, PGeo - Panelist & Speaker

Professor and Chair - Geography and Environmental Studies

Wilfrid Laurier University

Dr. Mary-Louise Byrne is a coastal geomorphologist researching Great Lakes beaches and dunes for over 30 years. She is a Professor in Geography and Environmental Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University and a Professional Geoscientist.  Focusing on applications for coastal management in parks, her research concentrates on beach and dune interactions and restoration of impacted coastal environments.  Most of her current research is in the Great Lakes in both Ontario Parks (Pinery Provincial Park) and Parks Canada (Point Pelee) locations.  Dr. Byrne has a wide range of experience in administrative service to the University and to the external community.  In addition to her Board and Senate experience on campus, she was Financial Director for Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences from 2011 to April of 2016 and Treasurer for the Canadian Association of Geographers from 2005 to 2011.  In those positions she was responsible for the development and reconciliation of budgets for each of these national associations. 

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Daniel King, P.Eng. - Panelist

Regulations Coordinator and Provincial Offences Officer

Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority

Daniel King is the Regulations Coordinator for the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA). He has a Bachelor of Environmental Engineering from the University of Waterloo with a Water Resources Option. He completed a Master of Engineering and Public Policy at McMaster University and prior to his position at the ABCA worked in consulting in Ontario and British Columbia in various fields of environmental engineering, hydrogeology and risk assessment. At the ABCA Daniel coordinates the administration of conservation authority programs focused on prevention of loss of life and property damage from natural hazards such as flooding and erosion. The ABCA accomplishes this through programs, including planning and regulations, supported by the Conservation Authorities Act and Ontario Regulation 147/06 (the Regulation of Development, Interference with Wetlands and Alterations to Shorelines and Watercourses).

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Patrick Huber-Kidby - Panelist

Planning and Regulations Supervisor 

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

Patrick is a graduate of the University of Guelph Arts & Sciences program. For the past five years has worked in the Flood & Erosion Safety Services department at Maitland Conservation (MVCA). In his current role he supports and supervises the Regulations Officer, Environmental Planner, & Outreach Technician positions; Coordinates the administration of MVCA’s section 28 CA Act responsibilities & Natural Hazard Planning responsibilities; Leads the review of large planning applications and documents such as official plan updates; Coordinates special projects - such as providing technical support to shoreline municipalities and lakefront home owners regarding the potential for bluff collapse; and Coordinates the shoreline hazard mapping update project with Ashfield-Colborne-Wawanosh, Central Huron, and the Town of Goderich. Patrick is also the back-up communications lead for Flood Emergencies and participates as a Duty-Officer officer on weekends and holidays to monitor for possible storm events that could result in flooding. He participates in inter-Authority discussion groups related to land use Planning, Regulations activities, and the Conservation Authority Coastal Working Group, and is a member of the Drinking Water Source Protection Technical Advisory Committee.

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Allison Devereaux - Moderator

Broadcaster & Podcast Host/Instructor

Unsalted, Western University 

Twitter: @allisondev

Allison Devereaux is host and producer of Unsalted Great Lakes podcast, a passion project she began in her closet during lockdowns. She speaks to writers, academics, storytellers, environmentalists and people who live, work and play on the Great Lakes. Allison has been broadcaster and writer for fifteen years, filing stories from the edges of the Pacific, Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Growing up on a farm in Huron County, the lake has always been a source of inspiration and refuge, and now a focus for storytelling. Currently based in London, Allison teaches podcasting at Western University. She can often be found stand-up paddling on the lake. 

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Patrick Donnelly - Speaker

Coastal Science & Stewardship Advisor

Lake Huron Coastal Centre

Pat is the Co-founder and Director of the Lake Huron Coastal Centre. He has had the pleasure of working with communities along the coastline during both the high and low water periods. He is continually amazed at the resilience of the shore ecosystems under the pressure humankind place on them. And with climate change, he remains an optimist (pause...) but worries a lot. When he is not advising the Coastal Centre, Pat is the Manager of Watersheds and Climate Change for the City of London. His experience as a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners and a Registered Professional Planner with a Masters of Science Degree provides a wide range of tools and knowledge to the benefit of the shoreline projects and community initiatives. His skill in communicating complex issues and principles to a wide audience including cottagers, urbanites, government officials, council members and interest groups has successfully steered many projects. He has a keen interest in climate change adaptation and assisting municipalities through the transition that is required.

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Alyssa Bourassa - Speaker 

Coastal Stewardship Technician

Lake Huron Coastal Centre

As Coastal Stewardship Technician with the Lake Huron Coastal Centre, Alyssa coordinates the Coast Watchers Community Science program, Microplastic Awareness Project, and beach cleanups.  Alyssa earned her undergraduate degree in Environmental Science and Sustainability from Dalhousie University. It was her passion for water and the environment that brought her to Nova Scotia where she spent time enjoying and learning about the Atlantic coastal environment. There, she was an intern at World Wildlife Fund and worked with Halifax-based environmental organizations on multiple school projects. While Alyssa was in high school, she completed a co-op at the Lake Huron Coastal Centre and she is excited to be back working in her hometown of Goderich on beautiful Lake Huron.

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Kerry Kennedy - Speaker 

Coastal Education Technician

Lake Huron Coastal Centre

As the Education Technician delivering the Coastal Conservation Youth Corps program, Kerry is passionate about the connection between healthy ecosystems and healthy communities. Kerry combines her background in education with her passion for the environment to engage high school aged youth with coastal conservation issues. She earned a Bachelor of Education from the University of Alberta and a graduate certificate in Ecosystem Restoration at Niagara College.  Kerry lives in Niagara where she is an outdoor educator with the District School Board of Niagara.  Spending as much time as she can on the shores of Lake Huron, Kerry is passionate about dune restoration and invasive species management. She also rarely passes up an opportunity to pick up stray plastics from the beach.

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Samantha Nellis - Speaker

Water Program Director

Huron Pines

Samantha Nellis is the Water Program Director at Huron Pines, a conservation non-profit working to conserve and enhance Northern Michigan’s natural resources to ensure healthy water, protected places and vibrant communities. Samantha also serves as the Michigan Project Team lead for the Lake Huron Forever initiative where she works with Michigan coastal communities to develop programs that reduce stormwater runoff and improve water quality.

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Abigail Ertel - Speaker

Community Program Director

Huron Pines

Born and raised in New Brunswick, Canada, Abby joined Huron Pines in 2010 and currently leads all aspects of their community programming. She joined the Huron Pines staff as Watershed Project Manager and eventually led the Kirtland’s Warbler Initiative. Abby graduated from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick then earned her Master of Arts in Geography and Certificate in Conservation Biology from Ohio University. Abby resides in Grayling with her husband and two daughters.

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Kiersten McCutcheon, BSc, CERPIT - Speaker

Coastal Science Coordinator

Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative

Kiersten is the developer and project coordinator of Niagara Coastal's Visual Assessment Survey Tool (VAST). She develops data collection and analytical tools to engage community members across the Great Lakes in coastal stewardship activities. Kiersten advocates for applying innovative technology to tackle some of the most concerning environmental issues of the 21st century.

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Gregary Ford, MSc - Speaker

Director of Water Programs

Swim Drink Fish

Gregary Ford is the director of water programs for Swim Drink Fish (SDF) and founder and executive director of Niagara Coastal. He has mobilized more than 5 million dollars to support water protection and established nearly a dozen community water monitoring hubs that promote water literacy in partnership with Indigenous and western groups. He oversees development and delivery of Swim Guide, a free website and app providing data for 10,000+ swimming spots in 12 countries, giving millions access to critical information about water quality and associated health risks. Swim Guide sites have been viewed over 60,000,000 times.

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Becky Adams - Speaker

Environmental Research Assistant

B.M. Ross and Associates Limited

In 2018, Becky Adams graduated from the University of Guelph with a major in Marine and Freshwater Biology. Since then, she has worked for multiple companies monitoring aquatic and terrestrial wildlife. Currently, she works at B.M. Ross and Associates Limited as an Environmental Research Assistant. She completes natural heritage background reviews, aquatic habitat assessments and completes fish and mussel salvages at construction sites.

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Emily Febrey - Speaker

Stewardship Communications Technician

St. Clair Region Conservation Authority

As Stewardship Communications Technician for St. Clair Region Conservation Authority, Emily works to effect change in landowner stewardship and land use in target watersheds by increasing awareness and landowner engagement of the importance of water quality, habitat, and soil conservation through public events and various media to reach landowners where they are at.

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Dr. Pat Prodanovic - Speaker

Coastal Engineer

TRUE Consulting

Pat is a coastal engineer with 16 years of consulting engineering experience along the Great Lakes. He has been involved in various coastal and riverine studies, ranging from small (single individual assessments) to medium (large commercial and residential developments) and very large (multi-year, complex, federal-level) assignments. Additionally, Pat has expertise in performing various numerical modeling studies, utilizing state-of-the-art numerical solvers to support coastal projects.

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Kristina Lee - Speaker

Director

Ontario Friends of St. Clair River

Kris Lee is the Canadian Co-chair for the St. Clair River Area of Concern BPAC, community co-chair of the Sarnia Area Environmental Health Project and serves as a director on the Ontario Friends of St. Clair River. She is passionate about environmental impacts on human health and biodiversity of the Great Lakes watershed.

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Erika Kolli - Speaker

Aquatic Conservation Programs Technician

Georgian Bay Mnidoo Gamii Biosphere

Erika joined the Georgian Bay Biosphere after finishing her Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo in May 2022. She is currently the Aquatic Conservation Programs Technician and assists with the GBB's State of the Bay program and water quality monitoring in inland lakes throughout the biosphere. In her time with GBB, she has enjoyed expanding her knowledge on all things Georgian Bay and sharing with others what makes this landscape so unique. 

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Anna Soleski - Speaker

Environmental Planner/Regulations Officer

Maitland Valley Conservation Authority

Anna Marie Soleski is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto in Physical and Environmental Geography. Her research interests focus on the influence of climate change on geomorphic processes, with an emphasis on meandering river floodplains in glaciated landscapes. Maitland Valley Conservation Authority hired Anna in February 2022 as their Environmental Planner/Regulations Officer, and she leads the Shoreline Hazard Mapping Update with her supervisor, Patrick Huber-Kidby.

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Jennifer Stephens - Speaker

General Manager/Secretary-Treasurer

Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority

Jennifer began her career at South Nation Conservation Authority.  She has worked for Conservation Ontario, as well as with nine other conservation authorities; in Program Management positions related to the Drinking Water Source Protection Program.  She came to Saugeen Valley Conservation Authority 3 years ago as their General Manager.

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Esme Batten - Speaker

Program Director - Midwestern Ontario

The Nature Conservancy of Canada

Esme has always been fascinated by the natural world and entered the world of ecology through a love of birds during her environmental science degree. Eight years ago she moved to the Saugeen Peninsula to work as a biologist for the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations Species at Risk Program and fell in love with the landscapes, species, and people of the Peninsula. Since then, she has dedicated her personal and professional life to protecting this landscape and the species that call it home. Currently, Esme works as Program Director of Midwestern Ontario for the Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) based out of Dyers Bay and leads NCC’s conservation work on the Saugeen Peninsula and other landscapes across Midwestern Ontario. A few years ago Esme developed a passion for astrophotography and landscape photography and loves to share the beauty of the natural world through her images and hopes to inspire others to protect our natural spaces while we can.

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Ryan Lauzon - Speaker

Fisheries Biologist

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation

Largely of European settler descent, Ryan Lauzon has been working as the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded Fisheries Assessment Biologist since 2008. His research mainly focuses on bridging SON and Western knowledge systems.

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Naomi Jones - Speaker

Program Coordinator

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation

Naomi Jones is a member of the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation and grew up on the lands and waters of the SON territory. She has worked in the SON territory for several years and is currently in the role of Program Coordinator for the Chippewas of Nawash Fisheries Assessment Program. Naomi graduated from Fleming College with a diploma in Fish and Wildlife.

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Breanna Redford - Speaker

Fisheries Research Coordinator

Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation

Breanna Redford is of European settler descent and has been working with the Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nation since 2021 as the Fisheries Research Coordinator. Originating from Kawartha Lakes, Ontario within the territory of the Michi Saagig, she now resides in the SON traditional territory. Breanna graduated with a B.Sc. in Wildlife Conservation and Biology from the University of Guelph. 

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Frank Burrows - Speaker

Parks Manager

Town of Saugeen Shores

Frank Burrows has been the Parks Manager with the Town of Saugeen of Shores since 2016. His portfolio manages a team of Parks and Recreation staff that care for the Town’s parks & green spaces, gardens, trails, waterfront, and sports fields. Frank’s career includes 26 years with Parks Canada as a Park Ecologist and his last 6 years as the Superintendent of Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five Marine National Parks. Presently he is the Treasurer with the Lake Huron Coastal Centre. A graduate with an Honours BSc in Biology from Trent University and MSc in Forestry from Lakehead University. He calls Southampton home after a recent move from Lions Head.

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Derry Wallis - Speaker

Climate Change & Energy Specialist

County of Huron

As the Climate Change and Energy Specialist for the County of Huron, Derry coordinates the implementation of corporate climate change actions within multiple departments. Derry developed a love for the outdoors at a young age and has grown her passion for protecting the environment through her education and work experiences in environmental planning, waste education, stream restoration, and agricultural research. She has earned her Bachelor of Environmental Science and is currently working towards her Master of Science in Rural Planning and Development, both from the University of Guelph. Her work is currently focused on natural infrastructure projects and energy efficiency opportunities throughout the County. 

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Christina Carter - Speaker

Communications Program Manager

Great Lakes Fishery Commission

As Communications Program Manager with the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC), Christina uses her background in fishery science to share the different programs supported by the GLFC which aim to protect and better the Great Lakes. Earning her B.S. in Biological Oceanography, and her Master of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences degree, Christina has a wealth of knowledge from both the classroom and the variety of aquatic ecosystems she has worked on. Her favorite thing to do is SCUBA dive.

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Natasha Akiwenzie - Speaker

Manager

Bagida'waad Alliance

Natasha Akiwenzie, member of Lac Seul First Nation living with her family at Neyaashiinigmiing. They ran a sustainable commercial fishing business for 15 years and saw the effects climate change had on the fish. This is why the Bagida'waad Alliance was formed just over 5 years ago.  Later, the family decided to close their business.

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Dr. Janice Gilbert - Speaker

Exective Director 

Invasive Phragmites Control Centre

Janice is a wetland ecologist with a PhD from Ohio State University and over 27 years of experience researching and assessing these invaluable ecosystems. She began investigating invasive Phragmites impacts on wetlands and appropriate control methods in 2007.  Since that time, she has been a lead author on over 170 reports and presentations and is a contributor on a number of guiding documents. She is a founder and Co-Chair of the Ontario Phragmites Working Group and an advisor on two binational programs the Great Lakes Phragmites Collaborative, and the Phragmites Adaptive Management Framework, which are both operated under the US Geological Service and supported by the Great Lakes Commission. Janice is currently the Executive Director of the Invasive Phragmites Control Centre, a not-for-profit entity she founded to provide effective and environmentally responsible management of Canada’s worst invasive plant. 

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Hannah Mico - Speaker

Resilient Communities Manager

River Network

Hannah has been working in the water & environmental space in Michigan, supporting local, statewide, and national nonprofits. As the Resilient Communities Manager at River Network, she supports climate resilience work nationwide and holds a special place in her heart (and her work week) for Great Lakes focused work.

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Dr. Kirsten Kennedy - Speaker

Research Fellow

Georgian Bay Geopark, University of Toronto Scarborough

Dr. Kirsten Kennedy is a Mitacs Fellow and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is also a member of the Georgian Bay Geopark working group, where she focuses on research and education. Dr. Kennedy's research interests revolve around using sedimentary records and landscape data to uncover the changes in Earth's paleoenvironments over time. 

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Tony Pigott - Speaker

Executive Director

Georgian Bay Geopark

Tony has 35 years experience as a Marketing and Advertising professional including 14 years as CEO of J. Walter Thompson Canada. He also has extensive experience as an economic development specialist designing and implementing go to market programs with artisan communities in Haiti and Peru. Tony has worked closely with UNESCO Paris including initiating and leading a UNESCO, J. Walter Thompson, Government of Canada initiative that was launched at the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. Tony is Chair and Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Aspiring Geopark.

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Jordan George - Speaker

Communications Specialist

Chippewas of Kettle and Stony Point First Nation

Jordan George is a member of and lives at Wiiwkwedong: Kikonong & Aazhoodenaang First Nation (Kettle & Stony Point FN), and is of the Fish Clan (Giigoohn-Namehbin-Mshiikehn Dodem). He is a Communications Specialist who works with the Kettle & Stony Point administration, as well as with many community departments and programs. He is an Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) language teacher and advocates for Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language revitalization efforts in the education system and in the community as a means to heal the land and the people. His discussions will cover First Nations treaty history, culture, lifeways, spirituality and language, focusing on how the Great Lakes are central to the Anishinaabeg worldview. Outlining the cultural and political structure of First Nations government and how First Nations (status Indian governments) and indigenous peoples fit into Canadian constitutionalism. He is a graduate of Western University (UWO) where he studied Sociology and Philosophy. 

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Kevin Bossy - Speaker

CEO

Bishop Water

Kevin Bossy is the CEO of Bishop Water, a rapidly growing Ontario-based company that specializes in simple, low-energy and cost-effective solutions for nutrient removal and solids management for municipal, industrial, agricultural and commercial applications. Kevin has played a key role in the advancement of the Bishop Water solutions portfolio, leading projects to enhance the performance, value and sustainability of these environmentally focused products. Bishop Water’s extensive experience with Geotube geotextile containers has also led to more recent application of this technology for erosion protection against rising water levels and more severe weather affecting vulnerable areas in the Great Lakes and other water bodies. 

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Elizabeth LaPlante - Speaker

Lake Huron & Superior Lake Manager

US Environmental Protection Agency

Liz works at the USEPA’s Great Lakes National Program Office where she is the Lake Superior and Huron manager. She works on all substantive issues associated with the Great Lakes including chemical contaminants, invasive species, habitat, nearshore and climate change. Liz worked in Washington DC for many years as a White House legislative and policy analyst, specializing in natural resource issues. She has a BA from University of Illinois and a Master’s from Harvard University.

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