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.

Samantha Whiteye - Indigenous Leadership Director

Samantha Whiteye is a community leader from Eelūnapéewi Lahkéewiit. She is very passionate and dedicated to her work within Southern Ontario and the Indigenous Communities she actively serves. Samantha comes from grassroots immersed experiences which she utilizes her lived experience and understandings to create space, advocate and lead conversations centering on Truth and Reconciliation. Leading with an ethical two eyed seeing approach Samantha demonstrates leadership as a changemaker in the environmental sector.

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. She is also passionate about ancestral seed sovereignty and hopes it helps build bridges back to identity for her people.

Over the past year Samantha has worked closely with Carolinian Canada Coalition and continues her work in a new role as Indigenous Leadership Director to help shift the narratives in conservation.

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.

Amy Hall (She/Her) - Manager of Ecosystem Recovery

Amy Hall is the Manager of Ecosystem Recovery at Carolinian Canada. She has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Wildlife Biology and Conservation from the University of Guelph and is enrolled in continuing studies in Ecological Restoration through the University of Victoria. Amy has worked as an ecologist in the environmental sector in government and non-government settings for several years. As an ecologist, she had the privilege of working with a wide diversity of flora and fauna in many rare habitats across the Carolinian Zone. Amy is passionate about landscape restoration and collaborative conservation. Outside of work she enjoys cooking, hiking, photography, pottery, and playing a variety of sports.

Verlin James - Indigenous Leadership 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.

Jennifer Nantais - Program specialist

Jennifer grew up in Windsor, where she obtained a B.E.S. in Environmental Studies. Her love of nature has enabled her to study, appreciate and share the incredible diversity of habitats and species that can be found throughout Essex County. Through work with the City of Windsor, the Pelee Island Bird Observatory and the Essex Region Conservation Authority, she has spent many years sharing her passion, knowledge and experience with students, residents, and visitors from around the world.

Jennifer is an executive member of the Essex County Field Naturalists Club, and has served as a regional coordinator for the Marsh Monitoring Program with Birds Canada, and a local Butterfly Ranger with the David Suzuki Foundation. Her work aims to protect and preserve biodiversity in a changing climate, and promote a sustainable future for all living things.

Jennifer enjoys reading books and tarot cards, photography, cooking and baking. If she’s not home with her dogs and cats, she’s probably out birding.

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.