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Board of Directors

Carolinian Canada Coalition is a federally incorporated charity. The Board includes 9-18 Directors with a balance of Individual and Group membership classes representing diverse interests and sectors. Directors may be elected by members or appointed by the Board until the next Annual General Meeting.

Elections are held at the Annual General Meeting. Written and seconded nominations from members in good standing should be forwarded to 30 days prior to Annual Meeting. 

Updated July 2023 

Carolinian Canada Coalition Board of Directors

Board Groups

 Forests Ontario Conservation Ontario 


Chair – Mari Veliz
Vice-Chair – Brandon Doxtator
Treasurer – Chris Turner
Secretary — Michael John

Mari Veliz Chair

Mari Veliz is the Healthy Watershed Supervisor at the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA), where she has worked since 2000. The ABCA is a watershed management agency with a 2400 km2 area of jurisdiction along the south-east shore of Lake Huron. Ms. Veliz has supervised the water quality and bio-monitoring program since 2002. She also develops and implements community-based watershed plans. Currently, she is working with local, provincial and federal partners to evaluate agricultural best management practices. Ms. Veliz has a Bachelor of Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo and a Masters of Science from the University of Alberta.

Brandon Doxtator Vice Chair

Brandon Doxtator is a bear clan member from the Oneida Nation of the Thames. Brandon currently sits on the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians (AIAI) Youth Council, as well as working for the Oneida Nation as the Environment and Consultation Coordinator. In 2016, Brandon served a two year term as an Elected Councillor for the Oneida Nation of the Thames, and ever since has been passionate about working with youth, and protecting and enhancing critical habitat within Southwestern Ontario. Through his school, professional and life experiences, Brandon is always interested in talking about Anthropology, History, Indigenous issues, Treaty and Inherent rights and Consultation practices and protocols.

Chris Turner Treasurer

Chris Turner is an experienced financial leader with a broad range of skills and abilities. He has functioned at the CFO level in the Healthcare sector prior to his appointment as the Director of Finance and Administration at the Wilfrid Laurier University Students' Union. His accomplishments vary from improving organizational financial stability to leading organizational change initiatives. Chris's education includes a CMA designation, an MBA from McMaster University, and an Honours degree in Biology from the University of Waterloo. Chris lives in Baden Ontario.

Dr. Michael John Secretary

Michael John retired in May 2018 from his positions as Division Head, Medical Microbiology at London Health Sciences Centre and Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Western University. Michael has worked as a Health professional on numerous local, Provincial and Federal Committees. Growing up in South Africa, Michael developed a love of nature. He has been a member of the Dorchester Millpond Committee since 1997 and has worked on habitat restoration, tree planting and turtle rescue for many years, learning from partnerships with UTRCA and Carolinian Canada members. He is also a member of The Nature Conservancy, Thames Talbot Land trust and World Wildlife Fund. Michael's interests include:

Nature Macro-Photography, Hiking, Kayaking, bird-watching, adventure travel with his wife and retirement time with his 2-year old granddaughter.

Chris Hummel

Chris is an environmental lawyer at the law firm, Gowling WLG LLP. He represents municipalities, businesses, Indigenous and community organizations on a wide range of matters in the areas of environmental, land-use planning, energy, Indigenous and northern law. Chris graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Science (B Sc) in Biology and Anthropology and a Bachelor of Education (B Ed). He taught high school in Toronto and Cambridge Bay, Nunavut before attending Osgoode Hall Law School and graduating with a joint degree in law (JD) and Environmental Studies (MES). As a law student, he worked at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island and the Qikiqtani Inuit Association in Iqaluit, Nunavut. He is learning French and Inuktitut.

Val Deziel

Overseeing Forests Ontario’s restoration department and programs, Val comes to FO/Grasslands Ontario with an incredible depth of knowledge, expertise and experience. She graduated in 2013 from Fleming College/ Trent University joint program Restoration Ecology Hon. B.Sc. and before graduating, had been working for The Nature Conservancy of Canada for over a decade on habitat stewardship, community engagement and partnership building. Val has had a particular focus on restoring tallgrass prairie communities in the Rice Lake Plains. Val has helped turn remnant, degraded patches of tallgrass woodland, savannah and prairie into flourishing expanses of native habitat. Along the way, she has welcomed hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, students and community members to explore, learn and protect these amazing natural features and to share the techniques used to restore these rare ecosystems.

Nusha Keyghobadi

Nusha is a Professor in the Department of Biology at Western University. Her research focuses on genetic diversity in natural populations, and understanding how that diversity is affected by changing landscapes and climates. She has also contributed expertise in conservation genetics to collaborative projects aimed at managing threatened butterfly species, in Ontario, British Columbia, and the USA. She has held leadership positions at Western University, including Director of the Centre for Environment & Sustainability, Acting Chair of Biology, and Acting Associate Dean in Science. She participates regularly in science and conservation outreach, including with local land trusts. Nusha obtained a BSc in Biology from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Environmental Biology & Ecology from the University of Alberta.

Uzoma Erondu

Uzoma holds an MBA from the Schulich School of Business, specializing in Real Estate and Infrastructure. He is a Chartered Accountant (Nigeria) and currently pursuing the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) program. Before his MBA, he was a Vice-President at Chapel Hill Denham Nigeria Infrastructure Debt Fund, where he financed several sustainable infrastructure projects and spent over five years at KPMG.

He is currently the Senior Manager, Impact Investing at The Atmospheric Fund, where he leads the origination, due diligence and structuring of low-carbon investments. Prior to this, he was the Platform Manager at SVX, a leading non-profit, diversified financial services firm, where he supported strategic projects geared towards a sustainable environment

He was a Coalition Fellow with the Mission from MaRS Climate Impact Challenge and occasionally volunteers for Second Harvest in his spare time.

Judy But

Judy is an energy professional with 10 years of experience in the energy sector, having worked at the Ontario Energy Board, former Ontario Power Authority, and now with Hydro One. Judy hopes to contribute her insights and experience in making a difference to this organization and is keen to offer a regulatory perspective to the table. Judy is also interested in contributing to the development of the Conservation Impact Bond, and has deep interests in maintaining a healthy habitat for the environment. Judy graduated with a bachelor degree from the Schulich School of Business and has a master degree in Environmental Studies, both from York University.

John DeMarco

John DeMarco was born and raised in Essex County, where he enjoyed spending time in the woods behind the family home – until it was subdivided for housing. In retaliation, he created a 100-acre habitat conservation and restoration project on Pelee Island. Thirty-some years later, the trees originally planted by John and family have children of their own. Following studies in engineering at the University of Windsor and the University of British Columbia, John spent most of his working life managing and consulting with rural development and conservation projects in Africa. Much of this work involved supporting indigenous communities to assert their rights on their ancestral lands, and to manage their natural resources sustainably. Community-based nature conservation and sustainable agriculture have been recurring themes. John has worked professionally for conservation organizations including BirdLife International, WWF and IUCN, and has been a volunteer with environmental organizations in Canada. Now back on Caldwell First Nation territory, John and his partner are small-scale organic farmers, while pursuing restoration projects in the Carolinian Zone. John has developed an interest in land use planning for conservation, and is working on some schemes to support indigenous-led restoration on a big scale.

Filsan Farah

Filsan has a background in Impact Investment, Community Development, Livelihood Programs, and Project Management. She is dedicated to advocating for racialized peoples and historically marginalized persons. Filsan is passionate about connecting with others, cross-sectoral initiatives, and contributing to the creation of more inclusive and just systems.

Elisabeth Cleghorn

Elisabeth Cleghorn has nearly 20 years’ experience in the finance industry. She is Senior Counsel at one of North America's largest financial institutions, where she has also held the roles of Senior Counsel, Business Banking, and Corporate Secretary for one of its subsidiaries. Previously, Elisabeth was an associate at Lawson Lundell LLP (Vancouver) and at Goodmans LLP (Toronto), spending 8 years practicing corporate commercial law with a specific focus on financing transactions, before joining one of Canada's other 'Big 5' banks as Senior Counsel in October 2011. Elisabeth holds a Bachelor of Science (Biochemistry) and Management (Commerce) degree from McGill University, a Juris Doctor (Law) degree from University of Toronto, and she is a member of the Law Society of Ontario. Spending her early years in Kingston, Ontario as the daughter of an environmental consultant, Elisabeth is a passionate advocate for ecosystem preservation and environmental stewardship.

Aiden Mauti

Aiden is a purpose-driven management consultant with a background in exploring the intersection of sustainability and reconciliation. 

In his current role as a consultant with Creative Fire, a 100% Indigenous-owned strategy consulting firm, Aiden works with private and public sector organizations developing enterprise-wide sustainability and reconciliation strategies. This includes identifying creative ways to incorporate sustainability and reconciliation principles across operations through engagement with stakeholders and Rights Holders. In this work, he is driven by entrepreneurship and building the business case for sustainability, as well as creating meaningful relationships.

Contributing to the Indigenous economy and championing Reconciliation is important to Aiden. His work is informed by responding to his settler responsibilities while also reconnecting with his Anishinaabe ancestry. In doing so, he is proud to be able to work with Indigenous communities to help build prosperity and recommend meaningful solutions to corporations.

Aiden's passion towards sustainability and environmental stewardship stems from a love of nature and growing up exploring the Bruce Trail in southern Ontario. He holds a degree in Physics and Astronomy from the University of Waterloo.