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Staff and Board

Staff

Debborah Donnelly, BSc, MA

Executive Director

I grew up in the wild rainforests of northern British Columbia but have worked extensively throughout Canada and internationally. I have a diverse career background that includes environmental, emergency and security management working in a variety of different sectors.

In addition to my degrees from the University of Toronto, a BSc in Archaeological Sciences, and an MA in Egyptian Archaeology, I have a post-graduate certificate in Decision Making for Climate Change (University of British Columbia) and a post-graduate diploma in World Heritage Conservation (University College Dublin).

I am coming to AWA from my most recent position as the Director of Outreach and Communications for the Yukon Conservation Society.

(403) 283-2025

awaed@abwild.ca

follow @DebbyDonnelly

Loreen Ayuda

Administration and Bookkeeping Specialist

I come from and grew up in the Philippines, a tropical country in Southeast Asia consisting of 7,107 islands and around 175 local dialects. Among the many things I admired about the place is the vast wilderness. However, for a developing country, nature conservation is not a priority. Having lived in Canada and visited some of its beautiful natural wonders, I felt amazed that nature is well protected. Such experience ignited a sense of passion to offer my share in protecting and preserving its beauty by joining AWA.

I have a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the Philippines, a master’s degree in public administration, and a diploma in business administration, majoring in accounting, in Canada. My background includes an extensive experience in accounting and budget management in the Philippine government’s education sector. Eighteen years of my previous career was being a steward of public funds and was constantly accountable to public trust.

I believe that environmental protection is everyone’s responsibility and that we should do our share of adding value to it, just like I am doing my part by being a staff at AWA.

(403) 283-2025

acc@abwild.ca

Devon Earl, BSc, MSc

Conservation Specialist

Growing up in Calgary, I spent much of my time hiking, camping, and exploring Alberta’s wilderness. I developed a passion for protecting our environment which led me to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science and a master’s degree in Ecology at the University of Calgary. My master’s research focused on assessing the impacts of anthropogenic sulfur dioxide emissions on tree growth in Alberta. I believe strongly that advocating for science-based policy is an important step towards building a sustainable future and ensuring the conservation of Alberta’s biodiversity and wild spaces.

(403) 283-2025

dearl@abwild.ca

Kennedy Halvorson

Conservation Specialist

Although I wish I could say the outdoors has been a lifelong passion of mine, I didn’t really appreciate all the wild wonder Alberta had to offer until much later in life — my parents would very lovingly describe me as an “indoor kid.” Inside does not have bugs or inclement weather, the two things I loathed about being outside the most. It took a BSc in biochemistry and a stint in a honey bee research lab to convince me my vocation could not be limited to work at a climate-controlled laboratory bench or office. It turns out, insects are incredibly interesting, and proper hydration and appropriate clothing makes almost any weather comfortable (bearable*). Plus you really can’t beat the views. 

Fast forward through a graduate degree in environmental studies focussed on native plant and pollinator conservation, I have since worked largely as a contracted researcher on projects such as Food Policy for Canada and Finding Flowers at York University. More recently, I helped develop a nationwide bumble bee pathogen sampling protocol for Environment and Climate Change Canada. Pollinators, ecological education, environmental policy, and sustainable landscapes are focal areas I am most interested in, and I draw inspiration for my work from all the passionate, dedicated, and diverse individuals that make up the conservation community. While I have called Vancouver and Toronto home throughout most of my adult life, you just can’t beat the province where the mountains meet the prairie, and I am happy to say that it’s here in Alberta I’ve become an outdoor adult. 

Ruiping Luo, BSc, MSc

Conservation Specialist

Raised in the Canadian prairies, my curiosity for the natural world led me to complete a BSc in Ecology at the University of Calgary and a MSc at the University of Toronto. My interests are focused primarily on how environmental change affects ecological communities, recently by looking at open field and grassland species. I am fascinated by the connections between species, their interactions with the environment, and the extensive consequences that can arise from small changes to ecosystems.

(403) 283-2025

rluo@abwild.ca

Phillip Meintzer, BSc, MSc

Conservation Specialist

My name is Phillip Meintzer, and I was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta – on the edge of Fish Creek Provincial Park, but I have spent a portion of my career working on the east and west coasts of Canada. I have a BSc in Zoology from the University of Calgary and an MSc in Marine Biology from Memorial University of Newfoundland, with my primary academic and professional focus being fisheries conservation. I have abiding interests in science – as the process by which we learn and validate new information about our universe; education – for all people, regardless of age, race, gender or wealth, as a means for reducing ignorance and superstition in our society; and empathy – as a solution for many of the intersectional crises we currently face including climate change, biodiversity loss, and wealth inequality. I believe that science and conservation efforts need to do a better job of centering the voices of people who have largely been marginalized throughout colonial history, to ensure that conservation goals and objectives are meeting the needs of all people in an equitable manner. My personal hobbies include spending time with my loved ones, photography, reading, writing, and running.

(403) 283-2025

pmeintzer@abwild.ca

Amy Tucker

Outreach & Communications Specialist

Being a born and raised Calgarian, I developed a love for Alberta’s Rockies and other precious wild spaces from an early age.  I have a background in journalism, most recently working for CBC North, covering the three territories.  The North is home to some of the most vast and wild spaces in the country, and it’s home to people who live, thrive and cherish the land in equal measure. It’s a trait I have learned from and will carry with me. My desire to help protect the environment came long before my journalism career however. I’m constantly outdoors — skiing, hiking, kayaking and also bee keeping. I have a passion for writing and photography, and these are among the skills I hope to contribute towards AWA’s effort to protect the environment.

I believe Albertans care for their natural spaces, it’s just a matter of being aware of what might be threatening it — and what’s at stake if nothing is done to mitigate those threats. My goal is to help the AWA strengthen awareness of environment issues in the province and help shine a light on the work being done by the organization.

(403) 283-2025

outreach@abwild.ca

Lindsey Wallis

A4W and GPCN Coordinator

I come to the AWA with a background in arts administration, my previous job being with the Canadian Music Centre. A long-time AWA member, my family has a long history with the organization. I remember coming to the office in the ’80s with my father Cliff and am proud to now be able to bring my five year old daughter Karina with me to the AWA, still in the same beautiful old building and still with the same well-worn, creaky stairs. Here at the AWA it makes my heart glad to see the number of people who support the AWA and conservation in Alberta. I also guide and teach rock climbing at various places in Calgary and Canmore. In my spare time my family and I love spending time in the Alberta’s wild places, whether to climb, hike, canoe, backpack or ski. The Prairies hold a special place in my heart and nothing brings me more joy than the smell of warmed sagebrush, the song of a meadowlark and the flaming skies of a sunset over the grassland.

(403) 283-2025

lwallis@abwild.ca

Board of Directors

Gail Docken

President

Gail is an associate with Maxwell Realty and has called Edmonton home since 1961. She attended the University of Alberta and began her working career serving on many boards over the last 30 years. She is past President of the Realtors Community Foundation and has actively fundraised for many causes including AWA.

Gail and her husband have enjoyed a very active, outdoors life with their 5 children and wish for that to continue, in the future, for all Albertans.

Chris Saunders

1st Vice President

Chris grew up in the south of England where he hiked, cycled and fished in the British countryside. He moved to Calgary in the late seventies on a temporary assignment and, largely because of the access to Alberta’s wilderness, has lived there ever since. He is a retired accountant with more than 40 years of varied financial experience. Throughout his life he has been a keen hiker which has given him a very strong appreciation of the importance of wilderness and the need to protect it.

Clint Docken

2nd Vice President

Clint has been practicing law in Calgary for 40 years and has extensive civil litigation experience where he has been involved in many precedent-setting cases in trial courts and appeal courts throughout Canada including the Supreme Court of Canada.  He also has extensive mediation experience and regularly lectures in the field at Mount Royal University.

He resides in the Bragg Creek area where he has been involved in environmental and community activities since 1974.

Cliff Wallis

Secretary-Treasurer

Cliff is an avid naturalist and a professional biologist. After extensive experience with Alberta Parks he set up his own environmental consultancy in 1978 where he continues to represent landowners in regulatory processes and conduct field research on species at risk, environmentally significant areas, and wetlands. Canadians best know him for his love and knowledge of grassland and parkland ecosystems in Alberta. Cliff served on the AWA Board as a Director, first elected in 1981, and two stints as AWA President between 1991 and 2003. He currently serves on advisory or governing bodies of International Union for the Conservation of Nature, Forest Stewardship Council Canada, Great (formerly Northern) Plains Conservation Network, Milk River Management Society, National Grasslands Task Force, Transboundary Grassland Partnership, and the North America Regional Support Group for the International Year of Rangelands & Pastoralists. He has served on the boards of Nature Canada, Prairie Conservation Forum, Environmental Law Centre, Alberta Ecotrust, and Friends of the Oldman River. In addition to his grassland work, he has been heavily involved in northern ecosystem protection through his work as a member of the Standards Development Group of Forest Stewardship Council Canada as well as serving on the Alberta Caribou Committee, Wainwright Dunes Management Committee, Bistcho Lake Task Force, and the Hay-Zama Committee. He helped twin the Dalai Lake National Nature Reserve in Inner Mongolia with the Hay-Zama Wildland Park in Alberta. He was awarded the James B. Harkin Medal by the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society and the Douglas H. Pimlott Award by Nature Canada for his long service and dedication to nature protection. Cliff received the Alberta Wilderness Defenders Award in 2004.

Frank Calder

Director

Frank Calder is a native of Edmonton where he attended school and university (Bachelor of Arts). He worked for the Alberta government until 1987, with his last seven years as head of the Alberta Public Affairs Bureau. He is a partner in the advertising and public relations firm of Calder Bateman. Frank has served on the boards of the Edmonton Opera, the Edmonton SPCA (President for two years) and others including the Citadel Theatre where he is currently the longest-serving board member. He has been honoured by the advertising community in Edmonton with its Fellowship Award for service to the community.

Brian Calliou

Director

Brian received his BA, LLB, and LLM from the University of Alberta. Brian practiced law in Edmonton then Calgary for eight years before taking on a full time position as the Director of Indigenous Leadership training programs at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity. He has published on Indigenous issues such as treaties, economic development, leadership, governance and management. He is currently a PhD student in law and society at the University of Victoria and is teaching law at the University of Calgary Faculty of Law. Brian is Cree and a member of the Sucker Creek First Nation in north central Alberta, in Treaty 8 territory. For his community work, Brian received a traditional Blackfoot name from a Siksika Elder – Apahto’ Kii which means Pine as in pine tree.

Jim Campbell

Director

Jim grew up in Quebec and graduated from McGill University with a B.Sc. in 1975 and then from Queen’s University with a B.Ed. in 1976 where he focused on Outdoor Education. Jim also earned a Master’s Degree in Counselling from Antioch/New England University in 1983.

To start his career Jim worked for various Outward Bound programs and followed this with a career in mainstream social services in Calgary with Wood’s Homes, Salvation Army Children’s Village and Big Brothers & Big Sisters. In 1998 Jim received a Muttart Foundation Fellowship to write articles on Management of Non-Profit Organizations. In 2000 he worked for the Nature Conservancy of Canada and in January 2004 began the role of Manager, Western Canada Office for Queen’s University until 2013. He now does consulting with a variety of non-profit organizations.

Jim has two children, two “children-in-law”, and three wonderful grandchildren. They inspire him to ensure that they will always have the opportunity for the profound joy to be found in untrammeled Alberta Wilderness.

Nicholas Godwin

Director

Nicholas is originally from Toronto, but was lured west in 2011, after graduating from Queen’s University with a BSc in Earth System Science. Since that time, Nicholas has been working in an environmental capacity within the energy industry—first as a consultant, then as an in-house advisor responsible for regulatory permitting and compliance. In 2020, Nicholas completed a Master of Public Policy degree through the University of Calgary, where his attention turned to the intersection of federal and provincial energy and environmental policy.

Nicholas has always been fond of wild places and wild spaces, from the ravines and woodlands behind his childhood homes, to the mountain tops and backcountry of the Appalachians and the Canadian Rockies. Recently, Nicholas and his family drove across Canada and visited all ten provinces along the way. The vast natural beauty and diversity of landscapes that exists “in our own backyard” continues to inspire Nicholas’ love for the outdoors. Currently, Nicholas resides in Calgary with his wife and young son—with another on the way!

Jamie Jack

Director

Jamie graduated from the University of Calgary with a BSc majoring in Geography. For the past ten years she has worked at The City of Calgary. She is an active member of the social club at work, and in her free time she loves to travel, windsurf, mountain bike, cross-country ski and go indoor rock climbing.

Nathan Schmidt

Director

Originally from Vancouver Island, Nathaniel moved to Alberta to pursue a degree in piano performance at the University of Lethbridge. After working in music for over a decade, he switched gears and now works for Legal Aid Alberta as a criminal defence lawyer.

He loves to explore the less trafficked areas of Alberta in the grasslands, parklands, and foothills which is lucky for him because he also has an acute fear of heights. Although he loves going for long hikes, he often doesn’t make it too far if there are any birds to be seen.

Nathaniel began volunteering at AWA in 2017. In that time, he has done everything from painting the office steps, tending to the garden, losing pounds of sweat dressed as the AWA mascot Smoky, and leading campaigns such as the fight to protect the wetlands in the Ricardo Ranch area in Calgary and bringing more attention to OHV use in the Mclean Creek area of Kananaskis.

Nathaniel also sits on the board of Calgary River Valleys and More Neighbours Calgary in an effort to bring more attention to the relationship between municipal development, climate change and biodiversity.

Richard Secord

Director

Richard was born in Edmonton, Alberta. Richard was the recipient of the J. P. Crerar Scholarship from 1965 to 1973. He received the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Law from the University of Durham, England in 1977 and was called to the Bar of England and Wales in 1978. In 1979 he received the degree of Master of Laws from the University of Alberta and was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1980. He is a partner of the firm Ackroyd LLP in Edmonton. He has practiced law in Alberta for over 37 years. In 2000 he was listed in The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a leading practitioner in the field of Environmental Law. In March 2007, he was listed as one of Canada’s Best Environmental Lawyers in the National Post’s Best Lawyers in Canada series. He has appeared in numerous hearings before various administrative tribunals. In these hearings, he has acted for landowners, NGOs and aboriginal groups who have had concerns about environmental impacts from oil & gas processing plants, wells and pipelines, oil sands developments, hazardous waste facilities, power plant applications and high-voltage transmission lines. He has also litigated a wide range of cases involving environmental issues. He has appeared before the Provincial Court of Alberta, the Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories, the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, the Court of Appeal of Alberta, the Federal Court, the Federal Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. He is a frequent speaker at legal education seminars devoted to environmental law issues.  Richard joined the Board of Ecojustice in 2017. Richard devotes countless hours as a volunteer helping AWA defend Wild Alberta. In 2009 he received the Alberta Wilderness Association Wilderness Defenders Award. Richard has been a Board member of the Alberta Wilderness Association since 2000 and served as President from 2003 to 2007 and from 2011-2015.

Vivian Pharis

Board Member Emeritus

Vivian Pharis grew up in Canada’s north, coming south in the 1960’s to attend the University of Calgary, gaining degrees in biology and education. After ten years of teaching high school, she studied four years at the Alberta College of Art. Vivian has been active with the AWA since its inception and has served on its board of directors since 1984, including seven years as president. She and her husband Dick have traveled through many of the world’s wilder places but always return to Alberta’s prairies and eastern slopes. They have roamed Alberta’s mountains for 40 years on foot and horseback, between the Montana boarder and the Kakwa, north of Willmore Wilderness Park. Vivian has worked tirelessly for more than 25 years to maintain the Bighorn Historic Trail for hikers and equestrian riders. She became a board member emeritus in 2015. Vivian was awarded AWA’s Wilderness Defenders Award in 2005.In 2015, she and two neighbours near Cochrane began the Big Hill Creek Preservation Society to study and protect the Big Hill Creek’s watershed. She remains an active part of this new conservation initiative and mentors staff, always mindful of the corporate history of AWA and the work done throughout Alberta.

"Away, away from men and towns, To the wild wood and the downs- To the silent wilderness Where the soul need not repress Its music."
- Percy Bysshe Shelley, "To Jane: An Invitation," 1822
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