CCC Team | Carolinian Canada

CCC Team

Michelle Kanter - Executive Director

Michelle Kanter is Executive Director of Carolinian Canada, since 2003. With 35 years of experience in wildlife research and conservation, she has worked with diverse species and stakeholders from the Carolinian Zone to the arctic and Australia. She specializes in cross-sector solutions for healthy ecosystems on complex landscapes for a green and just economy. She currently sits on the Ontario Biodiversity Council and lives in the Dorchester swamp where she found her love of nature as a second generation European settler.

Kathryn McLeod - Marketing & Communications Strategy Specialist

Kathryn is a forest wanderer, activator, innovator, story teller, and awkward dancer. She has a professional background in the private and not-for-profit sectors specializing in Social Enterprise.

She is committed to sustainable community development through social innovation, action, and meaningful change.

Tristan Bentley - IT Systems Coordinator, Webmaster

Tristan Bentley is a visual artist, web designer, and teacher. The Internet is synonymous with communication in today's society. As the webmaster and eco-news editor for the Carolinian Canada Coalition since October 2010, Tristan brings his diverse educational background to bare in helping the Coalition move forward technologically. Camping, hiking, and canoeing since childhood, Tristan also feels very at home in the natural settings of the Carolinian Zone, and feels that CCC is the right place to be in order to help protect all of the things in nature that he loves.

Lisa Boyce - Administrative Assistant

Lisa Boyce has lived in London, Ontario since the age of eight when her family moved from Hastings, England. After attending Fanshawe College in London for Accounting, Management and Business, Lisa opened her own business, Boyce Business Services, to use her skills and aid other small businesses with their management, bookkeeping and administration needs. Lisa and her husband Warren continue to raise their children Matthew and Alexandria in London and enjoy hiking, camping and bicycling so they can teach their children to enjoy and take care of this fabulous country we live in.

Daniel Fuentes, Mennonite Economic Development Associates

Daniel Fuentes is Senior Manager for Business Development with the Mennonite Economic Development Associates, an impact investment pioneering organization. Daniel is a former collaborator of Pillar Nonprofit's social enterprise and social finance team where he managed and implemented social impact partnerships for Ontario's Southwestern region, co-designed social enterprise competency development provincial programs, and led VERGE Capital's partnership efforts to launch Canada's first conservation impact bond prototype through a multi-partner collaboration with public and private sector stakeholders. Daniel holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at El Paso and an MBA from Ivey Business School.

Melanie Issett - Impact Evaluator

Melanie Issett graduated from Western University in 2020 with an Honours BSc Environmental Science degree and Honours Business Administration degree from the Ivey Business School. Since graduating, Melanie has been conducting research in support of the Deshkan Ziibi Conservation Impact Bond. In Fall 2021, Melanie will begin the Master of Environmental Studies in Sustainability Management program at the University of Waterloo. Melanie is very passionate about collaborative solutions to our current social, climate, and biodiversity crises and the intersection between economics, ecology, and sustainability. Outside of work and school, Melanie enjoys spending time with friends and family, going on adventures, cultivating her vegetable garden, practicing yoga, and hiking.

Verlin James - Program Specialist

Verlin Lloyd James is Anishinawbe from the Crane Clan. He is a former US Marine infantryman, educated in Classics and is experienced in project management and has worked with First Nations throughout his career. He has extensive experience in developing and delivering native plant programs and projects to Indigenous communities, youth, and schools.

Siobhan Mullally (she/her) - Network Specialist

Siobhan Mullally has a B.E.S. from the School of Environment, Resources, and Sustainability (SERS) at the University of Waterloo as well as a minor in English Language and Literature and diplomas in Ecosystem Restoration and Environmental Assessment. Since 2018, she has worked in various environmental spaces, including environmental journalism and communications, ecology lab and field work, outdoor education, and research - from the Carolinian Zone to northern Labrador.

As a writer, researcher, and budding ecologist, she hopes to use her interdisciplinary background to inspire people to connect with nature on a deeper level, to appreciate the nature around them, and to take action to protect it. Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, camping, cooking plant-based meals, and reading novels.

Ben Porchuk - Carolinian Zone Ecologist

Ben Porchuk has over two decades of experience in wildlife biology and ecology, non-profit management, environmental consulting, and sustainable living. Working with rural threatened ecosystems in southern Ontario and in densely population urban centres, Ben has become both a highly experienced practitioner on ecological systems recovery and an strong agent for restoring urban ecology to greater resiliency. Now living in a densely populated area of a London, Ontario, Ben's property consists of over 150 species of native plants, including a wetland, all visited by many rare species of wildlife, seldom observed in the downtown of a city.

Follow Ben's Blog at

Melissa Taylor-Gates (she/her)

​Melissa Taylor-Gates believes foremost in empathy and compassion for those in the world around us. Her work centralizes around power inequality and authentic communication, often working with teams to improve processes and deepen community connections. She strive to foster safe spaces where people can learn from and care for each other in a holistic way. She has a Masters degree in Library and Information Science and a Certificate in Project Management from Western University.

Outside her work, she is a storyteller, archer, tea-lover, feminist, writer, and gamer.

André Vashist

I am committed to shifting dynamics of power, equity and inclusion by transforming organizations and partnerships into networks and ecosystems. As an ecosystem facilitator of multi-stakeholder collaborations that nurture reconciliation, regeneration and resilience, I design and implement complex solutions between government, academic, business, finance and nonprofit sectors.

Stefan Weber, PhD

Stefan is a plant ecologist and horticulturalist with a keen interest in plant evolution and seed conservation. In addition to his role with CCC, Stefan is the co-founder of the Ontario Plant Restoration Alliance, a small not-for profit organization that helps create ex-situ 'Seed Conservation Orchards' to support the restoration of uncommon and threatened plants. Stefan has an MSc in Ecology from the University of Guelph, and recently received his PhD in Biology from McMaster University, studying grassland restoration, invasion biology, and climate adaptation in wildflowers. He has also worked as a Botanist for the Toronto Botanical Garden, the Biodiversity Institute of Ontario, and the St. Williams Ecology Centre. Stefan has propagated over 200 species of native plants from seed and currently gardens in the Niagara region.

Sam Whiteye

Samantha Whiteye is an emerging leader from Delaware Nation of The Thames. She is very passionate and dedicated to her work within London, Ontario and the Indigenous Community she actively serves. Whether its as a facilitator, running workshops through her business or being asked to weigh in on panels as well as speak at a wide range of events. Samantha is very knowledgeable and connected to her Lunaapeew/Lenape culture as she continuously weaves the medicine and teachings into her work and daily lifestyle effortlessly. Samantha is an inspired landscape photographer and incorporates story telling with her work. She is also passionate about ancestral seed sovereignty and hopes it will be able to build bridges back to identity for her people. Most recently Sam has partnered with Carolinian Canada Coalition as an Indigenous Leadership Specialist to work together and help shift the narratives in conservation.