Board of Trustees

John Grandy, President

John Grandy is a retired financial services executive and research analyst, based in Toronto. He is now dedicating his life to working with Canadian environmental causes. In addition to his work with CPAWS, John is a Director of the Ontario regional board of Nature Conservancy of Canada, Executive Vice President of the Bruce Trail Conservancy, and a director of Wildlife Preservation Canada. In 2013, he wrote Environmental Charities in Canada, the first research report on the Canadian environmental not-for-profit sector, on behalf of Charity Intelligence Canada. John was educated at the University of Toronto and at Oxford University. 

Jennifer Smith, Vice President

Jennifer brings over a dozen years of experience with environmental non-profit organizations, including in governance and in local and national conservation issues. Born and based in Tiohtià:keMontréal and fluent in French, Jennifer served as a board member for SNAP Québec for 6 years, including as president, vice president, and director of the Planning and Conservation Committee. In addition to SNAP Québec, she has worked for CPAWS Nova Scotia and CPAWS National Office and has volunteered with CPAWS New Brunswick and CPAWS Southern Alberta. She is a founding member of Pour nos enfants / For Our Kids Montréal, a group of families working on solutions to the climate crisis and has also worked for the Nature Conservancy of Canada in Alberta. With a master’s in biology, Jennifer currently works as a managing editor in the sciences.

Lavinia Mohr, Treasurer & Chair, Finance Committee

Based in Vancouver, BC, Lavinia is a recently retired senior leader with 35 years of experience in staff and board roles in local, national, and international non-profit organizations based in BC, Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, and London, UK.  She is a past Treasurer of the CPAWS Wildlands League board.  Fluent in French, she brings to CPAWS a depth of experience in non-profit organizational and financial management, human resources and board governance. 

Richard Paisley, Chair, Litigation Committee

Based in Vancouver, BC, Richard Paisley is a practicing lawyer and the Director of the Global Transboundary International Waters Governance Initiative at UBC. His current research, teaching, graduate supervision, and advisory interests include domestic and international water and energy law and policy, international business transactions, international negotiations, and environmental mediation/conflict resolution. Richard served as a board member of CPAWS BC for 7 years. He is an avid downhill and cross-country skier, cyclist, backpacker, and kayaker. 

Amber Walker, Chair, Governance Committee

Amber is a professional land-use planner with a diverse range of policy and strategic planning experience, primarily focused in environmental planning, healthy built environments, and community sustainability. While residing in Halifax, Amber has travelled extensively across Canada, living and working in British Columbia, New Brunswick, and Northern Alberta as part of a military family. Amber previously held the position of Board President for CPAWS Northern Alberta, where she led the chapter through a rebuilding/re-energizing process over the past 3-4 years and acted on a volunteer basis as the chapter’s Executive Director during transition periods. In addition to her professional experience in conservation, Amber brings to CPAWS significant training and/or experience in board governance, human resources, fundraising, and financial management.

Charles Côté, Board Personnel Officer

Charles Côté is a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. Previously, he was a journalist for more than 20 years, covering the environment at La Presse in Montreal for most of his career. He was trained in law, graduating from Université de Montréal (LL.B. 1989). He practices many outdoor activities, hiking, canoeing and cross-country skiing with his wife and two teenage children.

Ina Lucila

Ina is a communications professional who currently works as a Communications Advisor for the Government of Alberta, Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General. She has previously worked for the City of Edmonton, the Edmonton Police Service, and in media with CityTV.

Ina served on the board of the CPAWS Northern Alberta chapter from 2013-16. She immigrated to Canada from the Philippines and links her interest in working on nature conservation to growing up in a country where it is not a priority.

Donald McMurtry

Based in Waterloo, Ontario, Don has been a CPAWS major donor for 20 years. After his retirement from RIM (VP Sales) in 2006, he served on the board of Ontario Nature for 6 years. He is actively involved with Engineers without Borders and is on the Board of Directors of Ridley College where he serves on the Advancement Committee. He is an avid canoeist and has visited a provincial or national park or remote wilderness areas in every province and territory.

Lana Mezquita

Based in Calgary, Lana is a finance leader with over 12 years of experience in strategic planning, forecasting, and project management. She has spent the last several years successfully delivering projects spanning profitability improvement, commercial strategy, and financial systems integration. She is a Chartered Professional Accountant and has a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University. Lana has non-profit Board experience serving on the boards of CPAWS Southern Alberta and the Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation.   

Cinthia Nemoto

Cinthia Nemoto is a strategic marketing, engagement, and growth professional with over 18 years of experience in Latin and North America. She has been managing the expansion, rebranding and international positioning of companies in Europe, Middle East, and Asia Pacific for 10 years. Cinthia has been assisting numerous for-profit and non-profit organizations with their domestic and international marketing strategies to grow their business. Originally from Brazil, Cinthia has been in Canada for 15 years and has served on the board of CPAWS Southern Alberta chapter from 2017 to 2021. Based in Huntsville, ON, Cinthia loves nature and wildlife. She also enjoys paddling and exploring the backcountry with her husband.

Kathy Scalzo

Kathy recently retired from her role as President of K. Scalzo & Associates, a Vancouver-based consulting group. For over 25 years, she provided expertise in strategic planning, organizational development, change and transitional planning, and facilitation. Much of her work was conducted in the health care sector.

Kathy currently serves on the British Columbia board, having joined last year. Her previous board experience includes serving as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Governance Committee for the Alzheimer Society of BC, President of the Board of the BC Rehabilitation Society, and President of HOPE House Cancer Society.

Alexandra Tzannidakis

Headshot of Board TRustee Alex Tzannidakis

Alexandra is a partner at the law firm of Drache Aptowitzer LLP in Ottawa, where she has specialized in tax and charity law since 2013. She works with organizations of all sizes across Canada to help them navigate the complex world of taxes, corporations, governance, and non-profit/charity regulations. She has served as a member of the executive of the Ontario Bar Association’s Charities & Not-for-Profit section for several years, as well as a director of various socially minded charities. She frequently speaks and writes on topics of interest to charities and non-profit organizations, and her work appears in high-profile industry publications.

Erik Val

Erik Val is a retired park planner from Yukon who is on the CPAWS Yukon board. He was director of the Parks Branch of the Department of Environment Yukon Government. He has a Master of Arts in Geography – resource management (U Waterloo) and a B.Sc. of science – Biology and Geography (McGill). He has over 30 years of experience in project, staff, budget and contract administration and management, Indigenous land claims negotiations and implementation, park planning, management and operations. He could make contributions in park and protected area planning, management and operations, natural and cultural resource management, public education, Indigenous land claims and macroeconomic assessment. He is bilingual. 

Denise Withers

Headshot of Board Trustee Denise Withers

Denise is a leadership coach who’s been helping social and environmental changemakers grow their impact for 35 years. She discovered her passion for wilderness as a white-water kayaker on the Ottawa River in the early ’80s and has spent her life finding ways to explore and protect it ever since, as an award-winning filmmaker, non-profit leader, and change consultant.

Working with clients from governments and educators to scientists and start-ups, Denise has done things like promote clean energy, protect endangered species, preserve ecosystems, advance Indigenous health care, and accelerate climate action leadership. Her storytelling work has inspired millions of people around the globe to take action for good, through media channels that include Discovery, CBC, National Geographic, the UN, and Financial Post. Most recently, she helped an ocean non-profit almost double its size, revenue, and impact in less than a year.

Denise has served on several boards, including spending two terms as Vice-President of the Wildlife Rescue Association of BC. For fun, she hikes and paddles the wet coast of Vancouver Island with her two dogs, and starts campfires in the rain.