Nature Canada’s Board of Directors
Nature Canada is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors representing various provinces, regions, backgrounds and areas of expertise to help guide our organization. Policy resolutions proposed by the board are voted upon democratically by Nature Canada members during our Annual General Meeting.
RICHARD YANK – Chair
Richard Yank has recently relocated from Australia to Ottawa at the end of his career with Alcan Inc. He joined Alcan Inc after graduating with a B.Sc in Chemical Engineering. Yank held a variety of positions within Alcan and retired as the president of its bauxite and alumina operations in the Pacific Region. A former Nature Canada director, he is interested in wilderness and habitat conservation, biological diversity, and climate change.
CLIFF WALLIS –Vice Chair
Born in London, UK, Cliff moved to Calgary in 1957 and has lived in Alberta ever since. Cliff has operated his own Calgary-based environmental consulting firm, Cottonwood Consultants Ltd. since 1978. He is a Professional Biologist with a diverse background in protected areas, ecotourism, environmental assessment, species at risk, and environmentally significant areas. As a volunteer, Cliff has served on the boards of environmental NGOs nationally, provincially and locally. He has worked proactively with federal, provincial and regional government agencies, non-profit organizations, indigenous communities, local landowners, and businesses. Cliff has been involved with precedent-setting legal actions related to species at risk and environmental assessment. He has international experience working on environmental protection in Cameroon and China and in dialogues in international environmental fora. He is currently focusing efforts on Greater Sage-grouse recovery in Canada’s grasslands.
KEN THORPE – Treasurer
Ken Thorpe is a long time birder and has served on boards of other environmental and charitable boards. A financial advisor and Certified Financial Planner (CFP) by profession, he has served as president and treasurer of the Social Investment Organization, Canada’s national non-profit trade and education group that promotes socially responsible investing. He has an undergraduate degree in accountancy from Concordia University and is married to Janice Linder with two teenage sons Jonathan and Jamie. They all appreciate nature together from backyard birds to exotic species when vacationing.
JOAN CZAPALAY – Secretary
Raised in rural Nova Scotia, Joan Czapalay is an avid naturalist, educator and conservationist. She is a committed member and representative of Nature Canada and Nature Nova Scotia. She was President of Nature Nova Scotia (2000-2005), a former Director of the Nova Scotia Bird Society and former Provincial Coordinator of the Ducks Unlimited Greenwings program. Joan is also an active participant of the Regional Affiliates Meetings for Atlantic Canada and is one of the original board members of the Young Naturalist Club of Nova Scotia. She holds an M.Ed in Education Administration and post graduate courses in Language Acquisition and Communication, and continues to enrich her understanding of biological sciences through university courses. She is a retired educator from Mount St. Vincent University and to this day continues to engage youth with the natural world while instilling conservation ethic.
SHEEFRA BRISBIN – Director
Sheefra Brisbin is a partner of Greenbridge Consulting Group a government relations and strategic communications firm with a special focus on health and safety, environment and business issues.
Sheefra’s interest and passion for the environment began when she was appointed publisher and editor of Communique, the national industry publication for the Petroleum Association for Conservation of the Canadian Environment (PACE) and subsequently the Canadian Petroleum Products Institute (CPPI). She was a recipient of the ‘Outstanding Contribution to Conservation and Protection of the Canadian Environment’ Award by both PACE and CPPI.
Her experience and reputation at CPPI led her to be recruited by the federal Minister of the Environment to head Environment Canada’s Conservation and Protection Program. During her tenure with the Minister of the Environment, Sheefra immersed herself in a wide range of issues that included Ozone Depletion, Global Warming, Climate Change and Pollution Prevention policy.
Sheefra’s leadership was acknowledged by the Minister when chosen to attend the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layer in Copenhagen, Denmark.
In 1995, Sheefra founded Greenbridge and in this capacity she led a delegation through three cities in India and organized the Asian Regional Workshops on Ozone Depleting Substances Phase Out on behalf of Environment Canada, the CII and the World Bank.
More recently, Sheefra organized a panel on energy production, environmental responsibility and economic growth on behalf of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly’s Science and Technology Committee in the United States. Sheefra also organized for three consecutive years Earth Hour for the City of Ottawa, for which she received the Agent of Change Medal from the Mayor of Ottawa.
SUSAN R. EATON – Director
Equipped with degrees in biology, geology, geophysics and journalism, Susan has 25 years of volunteer experience in the Canadian and American conservation sectors. She’s developed expertise in not-for-profit board of directors governance, and has formulated and led successful science-based environmental campaigns which included media messaging and fundraising activities.
Originally from Halifax, Susan lives in Calgary where she consults to Canada’s energy sector. She’s held executive positions during her 30-year oil and gas career, managing large capital budgets and leading interdisciplinary teams of energy professionals. She’s also established solid relationships with multi-stakeholder groups: environmental, governmental, academic, industry, First Nations and the news media.
In 2015, Susan was named one of Canada’s 100 top, modern-day explorers by the Royal Canadian Geographical Society. During the past five years, Susan has participated in several polar expeditions—to Antarctica and the Canadian High Arctic—to study the interplay between plate tectonics, oceans, glaciers, climate and life.
Last summer, Susan led the all-female Sedna Epic Expedition to Labrador, Greenland and Iceland. Team Sedna documented the impacts of ocean change in the Arctic, and delivered its innovative ocean outreach program—using mobile marine aquariums and remotely operated vehicles—to the Inuit community of Nain.
BOB PEART – Director
Bob is a biologist, and he has worked in the fields of parks management, land use planning and environmental education for nearly 40 years. Currently, Bob is Executive Director of Sierra Club BC. Previously he has worked for Parks Canada, the Canadian Wildlife Service, the BC Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs, the BC Outdoor Recreation Council, the Royal BC Museum and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society-BC Chapter. Bob has volunteered for numerous organizations related to these fields, such as the Child and Nature Alliance of Canada, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative and the Grasslands Conservation Council of BC. In recognition of his work and volunteer contributions Bob has been awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and the J.B. Harkin Conservation Medal.
WILLIAM (BILL) ROSS – Director
Bill Ross is a business executive with Vercerta, a firm that specializes in risk management services, with particular focus on business economics and environmental issues.
In prior roles, Bill held executive management positions, specializing in Finance and Information Technology, with Enbridge Inc., a leading energy infrastructure manager; W.W. Grainger, a pre-eminent industrial distributor; and, Unilever, a global provider of consumer products.
Bill is a Chartered Professional Accountant, holds an MBA (with distinction) from the Richard Ivey School of Business and a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Mathematics from the University of Stirling in Scotland.
Bill is also a Chartered Director and, most recently, is past Chair of the Board for Financial Executives Canada.
Bill is the current Chair of the Energy and Environment Committee for the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce, whose mandate is to advocate economic and environment policies to promote sustainable development in the region.
As a keen participant in outdoor activities, Bill has a passion for the preservation of wildlife and their natural habitat. I am a regular hiker, cross country skier, long distance cyclist and runner who relishes the natural beauty of the outdoors.
SANDRA SCHWARTZ – Director
Sandra Schwartz was appointed VP, Policy Advocacy of the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA) in November 2010. As VP, Policy Advocacy, Ms. Schwartz oversees the association’s communications, public affairs and government relations on issues of national interest to the Canadian electricity industry.
Prior to joining the Canadian Electricity Association, Ms. Schwartz served in the Office of the Leader of the Opposition as policy advisor on environment and energy issues. She was previously employed as the Director of Policy and Government Relations with the Canadian Wind Energy Association, and was employed for several years as policy advisor to the federal Minister of Environment where she specialized in energy policy, climate change and the federal clean air agenda.
Ms. Schwartz has also worked both as a regulatory affairs consultant to federal government departments as well as a government relations consultant to several national voluntary sector organizations.
TUMA YOUNG – Director
Tuma Young was born into the Squirrel clan for the Rabbit clan and grew up in the Malagawatch First Nation. He was raised traditional by his parents, the late William Fred Young and Veronica Phillips, trapping, hunting, fishing and gathering for his family.
Tuma subsequently obtained a Diploma in Addictions Counseling (Dalhousie University), a B.A. in Mi’kmaq Studies (Cape Breton University), an LL.B. (University of British Columbia), and an LL.M in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (University of Arizona). He is currently completing his SJD (Dalhousie/University of Arizona).
Tuma became the first Mi’kmaq-speaking lawyer in Nova Scotia when he was called to the bar in 2001. He currently teaches as an Assistant Professor at Cape Breton University.
Tuma’s community involvement is extensive and includes the following activities:
- Board Member, Nova Scotia Bird Society
- Senator, Cape Breton University
- Pro Bono Legal Clinic, Cape Breton University
- Mi’kmaq Traditional Knowledge holder in plants, birds and medicines (Mi’kmaq Ethnobotanist)
- Member, Photographic Guild of Nova Scotia (particular expertise-photographing birds)
- Member, Canadian Water Network Research Project: Integration of Traditional & Western Knowledge for First Nation, Inuit, & Metis Water Management.