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AWA Staff

Christyann Olson   B.N., M.S.A.

Executive Director

Christyann Olson has been the Executive Director of the Alberta Wilderness Association since 2000.  With her roots in the Crowsnest Pass, Christyann has lived in and explored much of Alberta including many of its wild places by foot and occasionally by horse.  She received her post secondary education with distinction from the University of Calgary (BN) and the University of Central Michigan (MSA).   Her administrative experience has spanned 30 years in middle and senior management and leadership roles.  Christyann is a humanitarian, concerned with world health and the health of our environment.    Passionate about our society’s responsibility to ensure a wilderness legacy for generations to come, she takes every possible opportunity to enjoy Alberta’s wilderness and share her enthusiasm with others.

Carolyn Campbell   B.A., B.Ed., M.A., M.B.A.

Conservation Specialist

 Carolyn Campbell

Carolyn Campbell is a third generation Calgarian who grew up enjoying the Rocky Mountain wilderness nearby. She received economics bachelor's and master's degrees from Yale University, and worked for three years as an economist at a bank on Wall Street before earning an MBA from University of Western Ontario. She returned to Alberta and worked as a financial analyst in the telecommunications industry and at a university.  Then she earned a B.Ed. from the University of Calgary and taught high school social studies and history for nine years. Since 2007 Carolyn has applied all these past pursuits in her work as a Conservation Specialist for AWA. Carolyn's focus is on AWA's wilderness priorities in northeast Alberta and on provincial water issues. She has been a Director of the Alberta Water Council since 2007 and has contributed to watershed planning on the Bow River, Red Deer River and Athabasca River basins. Carolyn has organized conferences and presented on various aspects of headwaters, river, wetlands and groundwater management. Carolyn does a good deal of work at the grassroots community level encouraging well-informed and empowered public participation.

Sue Michalsky, B.Sc., M.Sc.

Sage-grouse Conservation Specialist

Sue Michalsky

Sue Michalsky was born and raised near Lundbreck in southwestern Alberta, the daughter of rancher, big game outfitter and Alberta Wilderness Association founding member, Bill Michalsky. Sue gained B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees from the Agriculture and Forestry Faculty of the University of Alberta. She has worked in all four western provinces and in northern Ontario as a conservation practitioner.  Her experience centres on range management, conservation planning, agri-environmental policy and the use of incentives and market-based instruments in conservation. Sue has worked with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, World Wildlife Fund, Parks Canada, Environment Canada, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority and other organizations primarily on grassland conservation policy and programming in the northern Great Plains. In 2000, Sue moved from Alberta to southwest Saskatchewan where she operates a cow-calf ranch with her husband.  She has been a member of the board of the Canadian Land Trust Alliance since 2010. She is a co-founder and director of the Ranchers Stewardship Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering ranchers with the ability to manage grasslands in a sustainable and profitable manner that provides environmental benefits to all of society. The current focus of Sue’s work is to engage ranch stewards in species at risk recovery through the development and implementation of incentive programming that helps ensure ranch profitability.

Sean Nichols  B.Sc.

Conservation Specialist

Sean Nichols

While he never thought he’d be doing this when he moved to Calgary in 2003 to finish his computer science degree, Sean Nichols insists that he loves his new home; both the larger home called Alberta, and more specifically, the AWA. Sean's conservation focus is primarily in AWA's wilderness areas of concern in our southern Eastern Slopes,.  He also manages a number of special projects for the association including database development, graphic design and GIS. He appreciates being able to get out of the city whenever he can. Originally from Vancouver, the prairies continue to call for Sean, and ten years later, he still finds them endlessly fascinating, taking every opportunity to hop on his bike for a ramble through the countryside.

Brittany Verbeek  B.Sc.

Conservation Specialist

Brittany Verbeek

Brittany Verbeek is the newest and youngest member of the Alberta Wilderness Association. She was born and raised in Calgary but is a recent graduate from the University of Victoria with a B.Sc.; majoring in biology, with a minor in environmental studies. While she enjoyed coastal living, she is glad to be back near the Rockies in the landscape she grew up in. She loves being outdoors, which makes it easy for her to be passionate about wilderness areas and protecting wildlife habitat. She has done some work in public awareness and engagement as a volunteer and employee for several different environmental organizations. She is happy to take on this new role as a Conservation Specialist and hopes to be a useful asset to defending wild Alberta.

Diane Mihalcheon

Administrative Associate


Diane Mihalcheon joined the AWA team as Administrative Associate in May of 2009. A native Albertan born and raised in Medicine Hat, she has a passion for wild things and wild places. Diane came from the healthcare sector having enjoyed a 30 year career in healthcare administration. She is the cheerful voice answering our phones and her work with AWA supports each one of us in countless ways. Her event planning, and organizational skills have made a significant difference to AWA. Diane's creative flair and incredible skill as a gourmet cook are a delicious bonus!

Ian Urquhart  Ph.d.

Editor of Wild Lands Advocate

AWA Staff - Ian Urquhart   320x240

Ian Urquhart has taught in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta since 1987.  In 2007 he was the Fulbright Visiting Research Chair in Canadian Studies at Portland State University.  His primary research interest centres on the politics of resource exploitation in the Rocky Mountain West.  He is the editor of Assault on the Rockies: Environmental Controversies in Alberta and the co-author of The Last Great Forest: Japanese Multinationals and Alberta's Northern Forests.

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