Board of Directors

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Board of Directors


Tom Via | Chair

Tom is an internationally experienced Senior Business Executive having led and successfully grown businesses across a diverse retail, wholesale, e-commerce and sports/ entertainment formats within Australia, Canada and the United States.  In his current role, Tom serves as President – Chief Operating Officer for Woodbine Entertainment. Tom is a strategic thinker with a strong bias for working collaboratively with colleagues, participants and stakeholders where desired outcomes can be achieved. Tom moved his family to Canada in 1999, proudly becoming Canadian citizens in 2005 and shares a Port Dover home with his wife Laurene. They have been homeowners in Norfolk County for over 20 years and are avid Lake Erie boaters. Tom is committed to working with the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve Foundation board,members and supporters to promote conservation and preserve the amazing biodiversity of our Biosphere and Lake Erie ecosystem for generations.  Tom can be reached at


Brian Craig | President

Brian’s varied interest have led to careers as a musician with a southern rock band that toured Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes, a teacher with the Oxford County Board of Education, a Senior Science Advisor with Environment Canada’s Ecological Monitoring and Assessment Network and most recently until retirement as a Restoration Ecologist and Project Manager with Parks Canada.  Brian sits on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association, the Carolinian Canada Coalition, and is the Past President of the Long Point World Biosphere Reserve. He has degrees in Geography, and Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo, a Bachelor of Education from the University of Western Ontario, and Masters Certificate in Project Management from York University. Brian’s passion is working with community members in Norfolk County and the Long Point Biosphere to ensure social, cultural, economic and ecological sustainability for future generations. Norfolk County is the best place to live in the world! Brian can be reached at



Paula Boutis | Vice-Chair and  Secretary

Paula Boutis has spent over 20 years supporting conservation efforts in the voluntary sector and is delighted to bring her skills and passion for environmental conservation to the Long Point Biosphere Reserve. As a practicing environmental and municipal lawyer and former member of the Ontario Municipal Board (now the Ontario Land Tribunal), she has also dedicated much of her professional life to environmental stewardship efforts. Her time living in Norfolk County deepened her interest in conservation efforts by introducing her to Long Point’s incredible biodiversity and conservation culture. In addition to the LPBR board, Paula sits on the board of Inclusion Action in Ontario, an organization dedicated to the inclusion of persons with disabilities in education & community, and the Delhi Chamber of Commerce. In her spare time, she enjoys tending to native plant gardens and going for long walks.



Andrew Couturier  Couturier | Director at Large

Andrew Couturier is a Senior Analyst with Bird Studies Canada in Port Rowan. He sits on advisory committees for a multitude of national and international conservation initiatives, directs Bird Studies Canada’s GIS Laboratory, and leads one of BSC’s signature national programs, Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBA). The Long Point World Biosphere Reserve, located at one of the premier bird migration corridors in North America, is among Canada’s most significant IBA’s, so Andrew’s appointment to the Board is a natural fit.

Andrew holds a Master’s degree in Geography from the University of Guelph focused on landscape ecology, rural planning, and cumulative effects assessment. He has been with Bird Studies Canada since 1997, following brief appointments with Agriculture Canada, Parks Canada, and private consulting. His work is featured regularly in scientific papers, books, popular publications, websites, and field guides. A strong supporter of the non-profit sector, Andrew’s diverse interests include photography, nature, birding and music. He is delighted to join the Board and contribute to the next phase of its evolution. Andrew joined the Board if Directors in 2017.


Wesley Wilson, B.Eng | Director at Large

Wesley Wilson is a Structural  Designer with John G. Cooke and Associated in Hamilton. He sits on advisory committees for a multitude of regional, provincial, national, and international engineering, sustainability, and heritage conservation initiatives. Wes leads a number of programs currently operated through Ontario Barn Preservation, the Delhi and District Chamber of Commerce, and the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering. He serves as an Associate member on a series of International Council of Monuments and Sites committees advising UNESCO and the United Nations. As a dedicated member of the Norfolk County community, being born and raised, he is heavily engaged with the heritage and culture of our community bringing to light the environmental and built heritage of the Biosphere Region.

Wes holds a degree in Architectural Conservation and Sustainability Engineering from Carleton University focused on the conservation of existing buildings, heritage structures, and the construction of new and existing sustainable structures and landscapes. His work is regularly featured in scientific papers on heritage conservation and existing building rehabilitation. Wes’s passion is working with community members and organizations across the region to ensure environmental, cultural, societal, and economic sustainability for future generations.


Stephanie Giles | Director at Large

Steph Giles is the Program Coordinator at ALUS Norfolk, where she works with farmers in Norfolk County to target marginal areas on the landscape and restore them into natural habitat. Steph is responsible for securing and managing the program’s funding, coordinating ecological restoration projects, and overseeing the program’s general operations. Steph has been with ALUS for 4 years, but has always had a vested interest in protecting Norfolk County’s rich environment. Prior to working with ALUS, she worked as an Environmental Education Assistant at Backus Heritage Conservation Area, and a Wine Tasting Guide at Burning Kiln Winery while completing her schooling. Steph holds a degree in Environmental Sciences from McMaster University, in addition to obtaining an Ontario College Graduate Certificate in Ecosystem Restoration from Niagara College. Steph has lived in Norfolk County her entire life, and is passionate about exploring the county by means of jogging, boating, snowmobiling, and cycling.


Dick Bourgeois-Doyle| Director at Large

The former Secretary General of the National Research Council of Canada, Dick is a writer and science administrator with an interest in innovation history, research ethics, and gender issues in technology. A three-time recipient of the NRC Canada Outstanding Achievement Award for public awareness of science and other national recognitions, he has served on a number of national and international bodies, recently on the EU Path2Integrity International Advisory Board (Chair), the International Council for Science – Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science (ICSU CFRS), the Human, Social and Natural Sciences Sectoral Commission of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO, and the Organizing Committee of the (3rd) World Conference on Research Integrity. He also acted as chair of the Universality of Science Thematic Session at the World Science Forum (Jordan) 2017, Chair of the NRC Centennial: 100 Years of Innovation for Canada, and Chair of the Canadian Council on Animal Care (CCAC) Public Affairs and Communications Committee. Before joining NRC in 1987, Mr. Bourgeois-Doyle was Chief of Staff to the Canadian Minister of Science and Technology and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. A former broadcaster and journalist, he has written a number of books on science history and innovation and contributed to many conferences, TV features, articles, and radio programs on the history of science and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Mathematics) and a Master of Arts – Interdisciplinary Studies.


Janet Dassinger | Director at Large

Janet is a resident of Long Point who is passionate about conservation and the role of biospheres in sustainable development. In her role as a Senior Research Officer with the Canadian Union of Public Employees, Janet provides support to municipal workers in collective bargaining and legislative and policy analysis. 

She also has extensive background in the not-for-profit sector, having acted as an executive director and coordinator of organizations and projects at the municipal, provincial and federal level in the area of worker education and training, including grant writing and fundraising. 

She has advanced degrees in Labour Studies and Social Work from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.



Michael VanSickle| Treasurer and Director at Large


Michael is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in International Accounting and Finance. 

He has extensive experience in financial planning and reporting both for non-profit organizations as well as for municipal government.  He currently serves as a Supervisor in financial services for the Corporation of Norfolk County. 

His volunteer contributions include coaching minor hockey, working in the Port Dover food bank, and other community organizations in the Long Point region.



Cynthia Brink | NatureHood and Priority Place Program Coordinator

Cynthia Brink from Chateauguay, Quebec grew up among a family of naturalist and outdoorsmen. Spending most of her developing years exploring her natural world and traveling with her family to exotic places like Peru, Cayman Island and Manaus, Brazil.

She is a mother to four feral children that now resides in Norfolk. With her passion for the natural world she has spent many hours in the field with her children homeschooling them through the use of their surroundings. In her spare time, she works as Administrative support to the St. Williams conservation reserve. She has also worked as the Nature Educator for Nature’s Calling Environmental Education teaching outdoor education and providing interpretive programs to the Provincial Parks in Haldimand and Norfolk areas.

Cynthia joined the Biosphere Reserve in January 2017 as the new NatureHood Coordinator.

Conscious of her impact on the environment Cynthia is always busy making improvements to achieve the goal of a low carbon foot print. Cynthia also enjoys what the Carolinian life zone has to offer in natural attractions. You may cross paths with her while hunting, fishing or harvesting wild foods to feed her family in the hope to be self-sustainable. Always learning and improving herself she continues to take classes on herbology and passive solar home building.

Cynthia can be reached at


Sarah Emons | Conservation Director

Sarah joined the Long Point Biosphere Region in 2022 to work on the Conservation Biodiversity Project.

She has previously worked for Ministry of Natural Resources as a Restoration Ecologist, working on wetland restoration mainly in Norfolk County. Sarah also did her MSc. Thesis research in Norfolk County, studying wetland hydrology with the University of Western Ontario. She received her BSc. from the University of Waterloo, with a focus on freshwater ecology.

Sarah currently lives with her two sons in Southwold Township, where she also serves as a municipal Councillor. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Lower Thames River Conservation Authority and multiple other community committees, including Zero Waste, Young at Hearts and War Veteran Memorial Committee. When not in the Long Point Region Biosphere, volunteering in her home community or spending time with her children, Sarah can be found in the forest with her dog, Scout.


Kari Gunson – Eco-Kare International | Project Manager Road Ecology Working Group

Kari has worked full-time for the past 23 years on road ecology projects with both large and small animals in North America and Mexico. Beginning with 6 years of monitoring work on the wildlife overpasses in Banff National Park (1999 to 2005), she is now the primary road ecologist for planning, designing and monitoring road-wildlife mitigation projects on a provincial and municipal level in Ontario. She has developed best practice guidelines for solutions to alleviate impacts of roads on Canada’s Species at Risk amphibians and reptiles at both a provincial and federal level. Kari also specializes in Geographic Information Science and coins herself as a landscape ecologist. She has developed several methodologies for mapping wildlife core habitat and corridor linkages and overlaying roads to predict wildlife road crossing hotspots. Kari then verifies her mapping exercises with wildlife on road data to recommend context-specific mitigation solutions on roads where turtles and snakes are most threatened by road mortality as documented by research and community-based science (see where she highlights her new book and other resources.

Sarah Kirk – Fund Development Coordinator


Sarah joined the Long Point Biosphere team in the Spring of 2023, bringing extensive experience in fundraising in the non-profit sector.

She is a dedicated and passionate professional who is committed to the Biosphere’s mission of promoting sustainable development and conservation in the region.

Sarah resides in Southwold with her husband and two daughters. When she is not working, you can often find her in the gym coaching youth basketball or getting lost in nature. Sarah’s strong leadership skills, commitment to the environment, and passion for the non-profit industry make her an asset to the team and the Biosphere.

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