CPAWS British Columbia Staff


Alexandra Barron, Ocean Conservation Manager

Alexandra has had a lifelong love affair with the ocean and has spent the past 10 years working in marine conservation and research around the world. She moved from the UK to Vancouver in 2008 and fell in love with the rocky, arbutus-lined shores, mountains and forests of BC.  Alex holds a BSc (Honours) in Psychology, a Diploma in Ichthyology, and an MSc in Science with a focus on environmental science and blue carbon. Having spent a lot of time working with endangered species and vulnerable habitats, Alexandra is especially passionate about the importance of protecting entire ecosystems and large areas, and raising public awareness of the threats to our oceans and their solutions.  She is very excited to be able to pursue this vision with CPAWS BC.

Alexandra is a keen trail runner, wildlife photographer and naturalist.  She is happiest when she’s on, in, or near the water - snorkelling, kayaking or rock-pooling.

Jessie Corey, Terrestrial Conservation Manager

Jessie grew up in Ontario but has always been a west coaster at heart. Part of the CPAWS family since 2012, she spent two years on the CPAWS National team before following her heart to the incredible mountains, forests, and coast of B.C., joining the CPAWS-BC team in early 2014. She brings with her over six years of experience working on regional and national issues within the environmental non-profit sector, and an unstoppable dedication to protecting the wild landscapes that sustain her sense of adventure.

Jessie manages CPAWS-BC’s terrestrial conservation campaigns, working to protect treasured places like the Flathead Valley and the South Okanagan grasslands. She carries with her a deep respect for B.C.’s incredible lands, wildlife, and people, and more often than not, can be found in a tent on top of a mountain.

Gloria P. Diaz, Financial Manager

Gloria has been involved in the non-profit sector for more than 15 years and remains actively engaged in environmental and social justice work. She is committed to improving the life people, wilderness and Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). Gloria received a post-secondary education with certificates in Accounting and Office Administration at Vancouver Community College. Previous academic pursuits include biology studies at the Université du Québec à Montréal, and conducting ichtyological lexicon research for the UN Food and Agriculture organization. Working with CPAWS represents a compilation of her work in the non-profit sector and her interest in nature and preservation of life.


Sabine Jessen, Oceans Program Director

Sabine Jessen is the National Director of the Oceans Program for the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. She also serves as the Marine Conservation Director for the British Columbia Chapter of the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. Sabine has been involved with CPAWS since 1991 when she began four years of volunteer work, prior to becoming the first Executive Director of the BC chapter. Sabine is passionate about protecting ocean ecosystems.

Sabine holds a Masters Degree in Geography from the University of Waterloo, specializing in coastal zone management and environmental regulation. She has served as an Advisor to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, BC Parks, the British Columbia Commission on Resources and Environment, and the Economic Council of Canada. Sabine has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Resource and Environmental Management Program at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and in 2009, she began her PhD studies in the Department of Geography at SFU focused on an international comparative study on the establishment of MPAs and MPA networks in Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Her contribution to coastal zone management in Canada was recognized in 2008 with the H.B. Nicholls award from the Coastal Zone Canada Association. She was awarded the Stan Rowe Home Place Graduate Award by the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas (CCEA) 2010, a Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions PhD fellowship in 2011, and an Australian Endeavour Research Fellowship in 2012.

In addition to her love of the ocean, Sabine is an avid photographer and bird watcher, which she combines with her pursuit of outdoor activities in wild places around the world.

Bruce Passmore,
Executive Director
Born in the unceded territory of the Tsartlip Nation on southern Vancouver Island and raised exploring the lands and waters of the Salish Sea, Bruce has always had a strong connection to the natural world. This led him to complete a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife Biology from the University of Guelph and to work as a biologist on numerous initiatives, including the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Project, the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone National Park, and the extension of the wolf conservation boundary of Algonquin Provincial Park. It is critically important to Bruce that future generations have intact and robust wilderness, alive with diverse and healthy species. He spends a lot of his time exploring wild spaces on land and in, on or under the water. He is grateful to call this region his home.

Bruce’s passion for nurturing a better planet includes supporting people who face multiple barriers. He completed a Masters degree in Peace and Conflict Studies, focusing his participatory action research on the reconstruction of violence-affected communities. He volunteers on numerous barrier reduction projects and initiatives, including coaching Para-Nordic skiers.

Bruce has worked in senior roles for over 15 years in the NGO sector both in Canada and internationally. He is thrilled to link his many passions and experiences as part of CPAWS-BC, and to be a member of an
incredible team of dedicated folks who are protecting the planet.
Michelle Sz
Development and Communications Coordinator
At a young age, Michelle moved from the bustling city of Hong Kong to Canada, and has never ceased to be amazed at how much greenery and wildlife this country has. She obtained her B.Sc. from the University of British Columbia, double majoring in Astrophysics and English Literature. She spent several years in outreach and education with the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, and worked and volunteered in various communication roles upon graduation. Eventually, she found herself based in a foundation in India where she obtained valuable international experience working with social entrepreneurs and NGO’s from the environment, health, and education sectors.

But there are few places as beautiful as BC, and Michelle is excited to be home and part of the CPAWS-BC team. She loves enjoying the outdoors, whether it be scuba diving, stargazing, canoeing, skiing, or playing ultimate frisbee. She also loves reading and working with words, and looks forward to contributing in this capacity to connect and convey the delights of nature and importance of conservation to the general public.

Stephen Ban, National Ocean Spatial Analysis Manager

A west coaster through-and-through, Stephen originally hails from California, but has lived in Vancouver for more than 20 years and now calls Victoria home. He has a B.Sc. in marine biology from McGill, a Technical Diploma in Geographic Information Systems from the British Columbia Institute of Technology, an M.Sc in zoology from UBC, and a Ph.D. in Conservation Biology from James Cook University in Queensland, Australia. His work experience includes stints with the Vancouver Aquarium, Vancouver Museum, BC's Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations, and the private environmental consulting sector, as well as several years as an independent biological consultant. Stephen is keenly interested in the implications of climate change for marine ecosystems, and uses the tools of remote sensing and GIS to analyze complex problems in marine ecology and conservation. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, kayaking, rock-climbing, and tinkering with everything from electronics to automobiles.

As the latest addition to the CPAWS BC marine conservation team, Stephen is excited to be embarking on a new career path, and contributing to marine conservation science and policy in Canada.

Rhona Govender, Ocean Conservation Analyst

Rhona Govender is a scientist and the Ocean Conservation Analyst with the CPAWS- BC team. She has lived on the coast her entire life, either wading in tide pools along the South African coast or exploring the seashore in BC. This passion for nature and fostering the responsible use of environmental resources has led her to a career focused on trying to ensure that future generations will have the same experiences she did. She holds a B.Sc. in Zoology, and M.Sc. in Fisheries Science from the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. Her continuing passion for the environment has led her to work with a diverse range of organizations, including academic, governmental, and NGO’s, that all have the same goal in mind.

Rhona’s role with CPAWS enables her to use the skills she has gained to focus her energy on effecting change in areas that promote the protection of the biodiversity and longevity of marine life in Canadian waters. It is a pleasure for her to be able to work so closely with a team that takes the science behind fisheries and oceans, and uses it to help protect the environment, which. Other than her love for all activities related to the ocean, Rhona is a keen animal lover and enjoys spending her down time exploring BC with her furry friends.

Alana Wittman,  Community Engagement Coordinator 

Alana comes to the CPAWS-BC team with a background in Indigenous rights, community building, and social justice activism. Originally from Calgary, Alana moved to BC to study International Relations and Political Science at UBC Okanagan. Alana’s commitment to conservation began when she was a child hiking the Rocky Mountains and paddling the rivers of Southern Alberta. Alana’s passion for sustainability, community building, and connecting people with wild areas attracted her to join the CPAWS-BC team.

Alana’s role as Community Engagement Coordinator enables her to use her skills of community and relationship building to inspire British Columbians to engage with their local parks and wilderness areas. Alana is honoured to work for an organization that is actively contributing to conservation in BC.