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2021 – 2022 Board of Directors

Valerie Hickey | Chair

Val is a workshop facilitator with a Master of Education and decades of experience designing and delivering high engagement consultations and meetings. She recently developed and delivered a Long Point World Biosphere workshop that brought members of the community together to provide inputs into the shared geospatial conservation database. Val also conducted a stakeholder and public engagement survey with recreational users of the St. Williams Conservation Reserve (SWCR).

As a dedicated member of the Norfolk community, she has served on the SWCR Community Council, on Norfolk’s Routes to Roots Film Festival Board, and has delivered the Community Leadership course at Fanshawe College, Simcoe.

Val is bilingual, and worked in organizational effectiveness primarily with IBM. Val’s passion is supporting initiatives that bring positive change to communities. Her interests are swimming, paddling, cycling and travel.

Val can be reached at chair@biosphere.guardiancomputing-forge.com.

Brian Craig | Past President

Brian’s varied interest have led to careers as a musician with a southern rock band that toured Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, a teacher with the Oxford County Board of Education, a Senior Science Advisor with Environment Canada’s Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network and most recently until retirement as a Restoration Ecologist and Project Manager with Parks Canada.

Brian sits on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, the Carolinian Canada Coalition, and is the Past President of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve. He has degrees in Geography, and Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario, and Masters Certificate in Project Management from York University. Brian’s passion is working with community members in Norfolk County and the Long Point Biosphere to ensure social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability for future generations. Norfolk County is the best place to live in the world!

David Simmonds, MBA CPA | Treasurer

David grew up in Tillsonburg and has enjoyed the Lake Erie waters and communities all his life.

After spending more than two decades with a professional accounting firm David created one of the first fully online and digital accounting firms in Canada. In early 2020 David sold his accounting practice to do some consulting with start up and high growth companies.

David has more than ten years of post secondary education including a college diploma in accounting, a university honors degree in commerce, a masters of business administration degree, and an accounting designation. When David is not working he enjoys kayaking the Long Point area as often as possible. David can be reached at treasurer@biosphere.guardiancomputing-forge.com.

Andrew Couturier | Director at Large

Andrew Couturier is a Senior Analyst with Bird Studies Canada in Port Rowan. He sits on advisory committees for a multitude of national and international conservation initiatives, directs Bird Studies Canada’s GIS Laboratory, and leads one of BSC’s signature national programs, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, located at one of the premier bird migration corridors in North America, is among Canada’s most significant IBA’s, so Andrew’s appointment to the Board is a natural fit.

Andrew holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Guelph focused on landscape ecology, rural planning, and cumulative effects assessment. He has been with Bird Studies Canada since 1997, following brief appointments with Agriculture Canada, Parks Canada, and private consulting. His work is featured regularly in scientific papers, books, popular publications, websites, and field guides. A strong supporter of the non-profit sector, Andrew’s diverse interests include photography, nature, birding and music. He is delighted to join the Board and contribute to the next phase of its evolution.

Andrew joined the Board if Directors in 2017.

Wesley Wilson, B.Eng | Director at Large

Wesley Wilson is a Structural Designer with John G. Cooke and Associated in Hamilton. He sits on advisory committees for a multitude of regional, provincial, national, and international engineering, sustainability, and heritage conservation initiatives. Wes leads a number of programs currently operated through Ontario Barn Preservation, the Delhi and District Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. He serves as an Associate member on a series of International Council of Monuments and Sites committees advising UNESCO and the United Nations. As a dedicated member of the Norfolk County community, being born and raised, he is heavily engaged with the heritage and culture of our community bringing to light the environmental and built heritage of the Biosphere Region.

Wes holds a degree in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering from Carleton University focused on the conservation of existing buildings, heritage structures, and the construction of new and existing sustainable structures and landscapes. His work is regularly featured in scientific papers on heritage conservation and existing building rehabilitation. Wes’s passion is working with community members and organizations across the region to ensure environmental, cultural, societal, and economic sustainability for future generations.

Tom Via | Director at Large

Tom is an internationally experienced Senior Business Executive having led and successfully grown businesses across a diverse retail, wholesale, e-commerce and sports/ entertainment formats within Australia, Canada and the United States.  In his current role, Tom serves as Chief Operating Officer for Woodbine Entertainment. Tom is a strategic thinker with a strong bias for working collaboratively with colleagues, participants and stakeholders where desired outcomes can be achieved. Tom moved his family to Canada in 1999, proudly becoming Canadian citizens in 2005 and shares a Turkey Point home with his wife Laurene. They have been part time residents of Norfolk County for 20 years and are avid Lake Eric boaters. Tom is committed to working with the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation Board to promote and preserve the health of our Long Point Biosphere Reserve and Lake Erie eco-system to ensure enjoyment in perpetuity.

Jeffrey Pickersgill | Director at Large

Bio to follow


Stephanie Giles | Director at Large

Steph Giles is the Program Coordinator at ALUS Norfolk, where she works with farmers in Norfolk County to target marginal areas on the landscape and restore them into natural habitat. Steph is responsible for securing and managing the program’s funding, coordinating ecological restoration projects, and overseeing the program’s general operations. Steph has been with ALUS for 4 years, but has always had a vested interest in protecting Norfolk County’s rich environment. Prior to working with ALUS, she worked as an Environmental Education Assistant at Backus Heritage Conservation Area, and a Wine Tasting Guide at Burning Kiln Winery while completing her schooling.
Steph holds a degree in Environmental Sciences from McMaster University, in addition to obtaining an Ontario College Graduate Certificate in Ecosystem Restoration from Niagara College. Steph has lived in Norfolk County her entire life, and is passionate about exploring the county by means of jogging, boating, snowmobiling, and cycling.




Amélie Chanda| Administration and Program\ Fund Development Coordinator

Amélie brings her corporate and entrepreneurial background as well as her positive energy to the organization. Her role is to support the Board of Directors, develop programs to engage the community and to develop funding opportunities to drive the mission of the biosphere forward.

She is a lover of the outdoors and enjoys spending time with her family in nature. She is an avid mountain biker, paddleboarder and hiker who loves to connect with the natural beauty of the region. She lives in Port Dover with her husband and 2 kids and is proud to call Norfolk County her home. She loves to be involved in the community and is a director with the Port Dover Skating Club. She is on a mission to make an impact! 

Amélie can be reached at admin@biosphere.guardiancomputing-forge.com


Cynthia Brink | NatureHood and Priority Place Program Coordinator

Cynthia Brink from Chateauguay, Quebec grew up among a family of naturalist and outdoorsmen. Spending most of her developing years exploring her natural world and traveling with her family to exotic places like Peru, Cayman Island and Manaus, Brazil.

She is a mother to four feral children that now resides in Norfolk. With her passion for the natural world she has spent many hours in the field with her children homeschooling them through the use of their surroundings. In her spare time, she works as Administrative support to the St. Williams conservation reserve. She has also worked as the Nature Educator for Nature’s Calling Environmental Education teaching outdoor education and providing interpretive programs to the Provincial Parks in Haldimand and Norfolk areas.

Cynthia joined the Biosphere Reserve in January 2017 as the new NatureHood Coordinator.

Conscious of her impact on the environment Cynthia is always busy making improvements to achieve the goal of a low carbon foot print. Cynthia also enjoys what the Carolinian life zone has to offer in natural attractions. You may cross paths with her while hunting, fishing or harvesting wild foods to feed her family in the hope to be self-sustainable. Always learning and improving herself she continues to take classes on herbology and passive solar home building.

Cynthia can be reached at education@biosphere.guardiancomputing-forge.com.