Meet the MCL Students

The Master of Conservation Leadership is a career-focused program for conservation professionals who are ready to take the next step into conservation leadership. Our students come to the MCL program from a wide variety of academic and professional backgrounds.

Meet the 2023-2026 Cohort

MCL student Kelsey Bowles

Kelsey Bowles

Kelsey (she/her) started her career with Parks Canada on the external relations team at Rouge National Urban Park. She is now the Internet Content New Media Officer for Parks Canada’s Southwestern Ontario Field Unit.

With her focus in communications, Kelsey strives to spread awareness of environmental issues and conservation initiatives to inspire members of the public to get involved. She believes strongly that connection to nature can lead people to want to conserve it, and it is this philosophy that guides her work with Parks Canada. She is passionate about public activism and hopes to advocate for intersectional, community-based conservation throughout her career. She is looking forward to learning more about innovative conservation practices; Indigenous-led conservation; and public communications and partnering through the MCL program.

MCL student Megan Lalli

Megan Lalli

Megan merges her passions for environmentalism and community-building to revitalize natural spaces for all living beings. With charity and non-profit experience in community-based conservation, wildlife rehabilitation, and ecological restoration, she now connects communities and habitats across Niagara as a Restoration Technician with the Niagara Peninsula Conservation Authority (NPCA).

Megan stays involved in her community as a board member with the Niagara Chapter of Trout Unlimited Canada where she fosters stewardship and restores the Twelve Mile Creek watershed. She also helps emerging environmental leaders find opportunities for growth and professional development through the Young Conservation Professional Leadership Program (YCP). Megan is excited to join the MCL program and learn how to incorporate Two-Eyed Seeing into the practice of restoration. She hopes to be a bridge across communities to restore land and water, protect biodiversity, and facilitate connections for a better world.

MCL student Gerben Deinum

Gerben Deinum

Gerben is a Dutch immigrant to Canada with an extensive background in conservation policy and legislation. He is working alongside First Nations through the Assembly of First Nations as a lead on domestic conservation implementation, with a scope covering Canada's Pathway to Target 1, actioning commitments to international conservation targets, and IPCA's and OECM's.

His work includes membership in the National Steering Committee, Indigenous Stewardship Framework, and the Conservation through Reconciliation Partnership

MCL student Joanna Jack

Joanna Jack

Joanna (she/her) was born in the Yukon to a family of English and Scottish settler ancestry and has managed projects for Plenty Canada since 2019. After a decade of working in protected areas across Ontario and the Yukon, she completed her MSc on road ecology, then worked on campaigns to protect the Peel watershed and the Porcupine Caribou with the Yukon chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society, before joining Plenty.

Joanna’s experiences working in collaboration with First Nations peoples has inspired and deepened her interest in partnering together for the successful application of Two-Eyed Seeing in conservation.

MCL student Joel Ole Nyika

Joel Ole Nyika

Joel Ole Nyika ( His/Him ) is from the First Nation / indigenous Masai tribe in southern Kenya. He was born and brought up in a pastoralist nomadic community near a national park.

After his undergraduate education in South Africa and a year long internship in the world famous Kruger National Park, Joel returned to Kenya to work at the national level initially as a member of the ministerial task force on the conservation of environment and protection of the country water tours, and later at the country wildlife authority (Kenya wildlife service) in terrestrial and marine protected areas.

After the promulgation of the new constitution in Kenya in 2010, Joel joint the devolved County Government of Kajiado. First as a deputy director in-charge of environment compliance and enforcement and later as the head of the climate change unit. He was thereafter promoted in 2018 to his current position of the county director of culture, tourism and wildlife.

He joined the MCL programme because he was intrigued and fascinated by the content and uniqueness of the course, especially concepts like ethical space, two-eyed seeing, and/or indigenous-led conservation paradigms.

Meet the 2021-2023 Cohort


Raegan Mallinson

Raegan has worked as a program manager for Living Lakes Canada since 2017. Prior to this, she was the communications director for the Columbia Basin Watershed Network and worked as a watershed stewardship coordinator and environmental educator for Living Lakes Canada and Wildsight.

Raegan joined MCL because she wants to use her experience in community-based monitoring to support collaborative decision-making and data transparency. Raegan is interested in bridging knowledge systems to co-create environmental monitoring programs that support Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas (IPCAs).


Shannon Sutherland

Shannon is the co-founder of Projeto Biodiversidade, a conservation NGO located in Cabo Verde. She is interested in exploring the environmental, economic, and socio-political barriers to achieving conservation actions on a national scale.

Shannon has taken on a variety of roles and responsibilities throughout her career, including connecting underserved youth to local wildlife through environmental education programming with Living Classrooms, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, and leading national awareness campaigns against illegal wildlife consumption in Cabo Verde.


Kate Tucker

Kate's employment experiences have included wildlife monitoring with the Alberta Biodiversity Monitoring Institute, elementary education, and developing, teaching, and evaluating environmental education programs for Calgary-based K-12 students in both classroom and field settings.

Kate's current role as the Bow region natural area manager for the Nature Conservancy of Canada has her working with landowners, leaseholders, the public, and volunteers managing conservation and stewardship activities on both NCC-owned properties and private lands with conservation easement agreements..


Curtis Scurr

Curtis is from Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte First Nation and the current director of the environment for the Assembly of First Nations. He has over 10 years of experience working in both the public and private sector roles alongside First Nations on environmental policy, legislation, and research related to climate change, environmental and community health, conservation, and natural resource management.

Curtis is also a member of the Indigenous Circle of Experts for the Pathway to Canada Target 1 initiative, co-chair of the Indigenous Protected and Conserved Areas Working Group, and a newly appointed member of the Pathway National Steering Committee.


Ryan Zlatanova

Ryan (he/him) is an intersectional environmentalist and activist with experience in public mobilization, communications, environmental education, and zoo animal care. Ryan currently works at World Wildlife Fund-US, and is interested in international conservation, climate adaptation for wildlife and communities, conservation advocacy, and youth empowerment.

Ryan is an avid birdwatcher and hopes to be an impactful advocate for community-oriented conservation throughout his career.


Christina Vandervlist Daigneault

Christina is an environmental educator and interpreter with a passion to connect people to the natural world through engaging, dynamic, experiential programs.

A graduate from Trent University with a bachelor of science in biology and environmental resource sciences, Christina is always eager to get outside and learn something new with those around her. Creative, innovative, and enthusiastic — Christina has a bright outlook on the future and knows the time to make changes for a better world is now.


Jackie Scott

Jackie is a wildlife biologist with the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority. She is a graduate from the University of Guelph zoology program and earned a graduate certificate in environmental management and assessment from Niagara College in 2005.

Jackie is also the current chair of the South-Central Ontario Conservation Authorities' Natural Heritage Working Group and is a board member of the Ontario Road Ecology Group. She is also actively involved in international wildlife conservation efforts.


Nicholas Scapillati

Nicholas has over 20 years of experience in environmental non-profit management and is currently the executive director of the Grizzly Bear Foundation. After graduating from McMaster University, Nicholas began his career at the David Suzuki Foundation. He has led programs and organizations at the national, provincial and community levels.

Nicholas served on the Vancity enviroFund grant committee for over a decade, ran as a candidate in the 2013 B.C. provincial election, and has worked closely with First Nations throughout his career. Nicholas is passionate about biodiversity conservation, habitat restoration, food sustainability and climate action.


Sara Wilbur-Collins

Sara has 20 years of experience in the conservation sector, recently with the Grand River Conservation Authority and the Nature Conservancy of Canada, and now as the executive director for the Riverwood Conservancy in Mississauga, Ontario.

Sara is a Certified Fund Raising Executive and a strategic leader who values collaboration and has proven her ability to build relationships, reach philanthropic goals, and achieve long-term success. Her focus is on fundraising and governance, engaging donors with important conservation projects locally, regionally and provincially.


Crystal Allan

Crystal is the supervisor of natural heritage for the Grand River Conservation Authority. Her knowledge and experience have contributed to numerous partnerships leading to projects such as the construction of the Taquanyah Conservation Area wetlands, implementing several large habitat fisheries improvements on the Grand River Tailwater, and many stewardship actions with farmers through the Rural Water Quality Program.

Crystal has worked with the GRCA for the past 20 years with a diversity of stakeholders and Indigenous rightsholders to implement conservation initiatives and protect ecologically significant areas.