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Staff and Board

Wilderness exists where large areas are characterized by the dominance of natural processes, the presence of the full complement of plant and animal communities characteristic of the region, and the absence of human constraints on nature. Our vision for Alberta is to have a comprehensive system of protected wild areas and engage all Albertans in decision-making processes, policies and laws that recognize the value of nature for its own sake.


Christyann Olson B.N., M.S.A.

Executive Director

I’m passionate about our society’s responsibility to ensure the health and legacy of wilderness for generations to come. I take every possible opportunity to enjoy Alberta’s wilderness and share my enthusiasm with others. Although my roots are in the Crowsnest Pass, I have lived in and explored much of Alberta including many of its wild places by foot, canoe, and occasionally by horse. Over 30 years of administrative experience in senior management and leadership roles has been an asset toward my position as Executive Director of the Alberta Wilderness Association since 2000.

(403) 283-2025

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

Conservation Specialist

My focus is on AWA’s wilderness priorities in northeast Alberta and on provincial water issues. I have been a Director of the Alberta Water Council since 2007 and have contributed to watershed planning on the Bow River, Red Deer River and Athabasca River basins. I have organized conferences and presented on various aspects of headwaters, river, wetlands and groundwater management. A major portion of my work is at the grassroots community level encouraging well-informed and empowered public participation.

(403) 283-2025

Andrea Johancsik B.Sc.

Conservation Specialist

My conservation focus is on AWA’s wilderness priorities in the South Saskatchewan River Basin within southern Alberta. Though I’ve lived in Melbourne, Kingston and Singapore, I am a born and raised Calgarian and have worked and traveled extensively throughout southern Alberta. I hope to encourage others to share my passion for responsible management and enjoyment of the mountains, prairie and badlands I’ve grown to cherish.

(403) 283-2025

Joanna Skrajny B.Sc.

Conservation Specialist

My conservation focus is on AWA’s wilderness priorities in central Alberta which consists of areas such as the Central Eastern Slopes and the Red Deer River Watershed. I have lived in Alberta my entire life and am passionate about preserving Alberta’s diverse wilderness for generations to come.

(403) 283-2025

Nick Pink B.Sc.

Conservation Specialist

My conservation focus is on AWA’s wilderness priorities in northwest and southeast Alberta. Raised in Red Deer, I have spanned much of the province through work and recreation.  I have conducted conservation research throughout the majority of southern Alberta and worked in Oil and Gas in the northeast. My hope is to be a positive force in maintaining Alberta’s wilderness and wildlife for the enjoyment and benefit of the people of Alberta.

(403) 283-2025

follow @AWApinkpinkpink

Ian Urquhart Ph.D.

Editor of Wild Lands Advocate

My primary research interest centres on the politics of resource exploitation in the Rocky Mountain West. I have been editor of the Wildlands Advocate since 2007.

(403) 283-2025

Sue Michalsky B.Sc., M.Sc.

Sage-grouse Conservation Specialist

My current focus is to engage ranch stewards in species at risk recovery through the development and implementation of incentive programming that helps ensure ranch profitability. I have worked in all four western provinces and in northern Ontario as a conservation practitioner.  My experience centres on range management, conservation planning, agri-environmental policy and the use of incentives and market-based instruments in conservation.

(403) 283-2025

Diane Mihalcheon

Administrative Associate

I am passionate for wild things and wild places. I’m the cheerful voice answering our phones, working on event planning and office organization.

(403) 283-2025

Board of Directors

Frank Calder


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.

Jim Campbell

1st Vice President

Jim grew up in Quebec and graduated from McGill with a B.Sc. and then graduated from Queen’s with a B.Ed. from Queen’s Faculty of Education where he focused on the Outdoor Education Program.

Subsequently he worked for various Outward Bound programs and followed this with a career in mainstream social services. Jim also received a Master’s Degree from Antioch in 1983. In 1998 Jim received a Muttart Foundation Fellowship to write articles on Management of Non-Profit Organizations. In 2000 he worked for 3 years at the Nature Conservancy of Canada and in January 2004 began the role of Manager Western Canada Office for Queen’s.

Jim has two progeny – a son, Spencer and a daughter, Emmy – a daughter-in-law, Jennifer, and a perfect granddaughter, Chelsea Diane Campbell.

Clint Docken


Clint has been practicing law in Calgary for 35 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.

Gail Docken


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.

Owen McGoldrick


Owen McGoldrick hails from St. John’s Newfoundland, raised in Calgary, Alberta and continues to call the city and province home. Owen spent thirteen years in the hospitality industry in various management and support positions. During this time he completed a Bachelor of Science (Computer Science, 2001) at the University Of Calgary. Shortly after, Owen completed a Master of Business Administration (Finance, Global Energy Management and Sustainable Development, 2008) at the Haskayne School of Business. Following a satisfying and exciting fifteen year career in Information Technology, Owen is currently leading an offices services team returning him to his hospitality roots. After serving as an AWA volunteer at various events, Owen has served on the AWA Board of Directors since 2007.

Chris Saunders


Chris was born and grew up in the south of England. He moved to Calgary in the late seventies on a temporary assignment and has lived there ever since. He is a chartered accountant with more than 30 years of varied experience. Throughout his life he has been a keen hiker which has given him a very strong appreciation of the importance of wilderness.

Richard Secord

2nd Vice President, Past President

Richard Secord was born in Edmonton, Alberta. 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 has practiced law in Alberta for over 30 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. Since 1988, he has appeared in over 100 energy, utility and environmental hearings, often representing landowners with concerns about oil & gas developments. He is a partner of the firm Ackroyd LLP in Edmonton. Richard is a member of the Law Society of Alberta, the Canadian Bar Association, the Edmonton Bar Association and the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association. Richard devotes countless hours as a volunteer helping AWA defend Wild Alberta. In 2009 He received the Alberta Wilderness Association Wilderness Defenders Award.

Dr. Joe Vipond


Joe Vipond has worked as an emergency physician for fifteen years, and is currently at the Foothills Medical Centre and the Peter Lougheed Hospital. His interest in the environment began at a young age with the many hikes and natural explorations, and solidified further when he worked for three summers at Dinosaur Provincial Park. In 2009 he chaired of the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians national conference. In his own community of Hillhurst Sunnyside he, along with some neighbours, re-established the highly local, highly organic Hillhurst-Sunnyside Farmers’ Market. More recently, his interest has turned back to the environment, sitting on the board of CPAWS-Southern Alberta (2012-2015), and becoming the spokesperson for the Alberta Coal Phase Out movement. Joe grew up in Calgary and continues to live here with his wife and two young daughters.


Cliff Wallis

Secretary Treasurer

Cliff is an avid naturalist and a professional biologist. After extensive experience with Alberta Parks he set up his own successful consulting firm, which for many years now, has done outstanding audio-visual work and assessments of wildlands. Canadians best know him for his love and knowledge of grassland and parkland ecosystems in Alberta. After serving on the AWA Board as a Director, having been first elected in 1982, Cliff was elected as Association President from 1992 – 2002. He is also Vice-President of Nature Canada and is Vice-President of the AWA. 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 was awarded the Alberta Wilderness Defenders Award in 2004.

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. She became a board member emeritus in 2015.

Dr. Herb Kariel

Board Member Emeritus

Herb is a retired professor of geography (University of Calgary). His special interests include noise in recreational environments, land use planning, recreation and tourism, research methods, mountain regions and environmental impact assessment. He has been a visiting professor at the University of Ayacucho, Peru; the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel; the ETHZ (Eigenosische Techniche Hochschule Zurich) Switzerland, the University of Utpsala, Sweden; the University of Karlsruhe, Germany and the University of Vienna, Austria. He has published numerous articles and books. Herb maintains a number or affiliations and memberships in environmental associations. Herb joined the board of the AWA in 2000 and became a board member emeritus in 2006.

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