CPAWS British Columbia Staff


Alexandra Barron,  Marine Conservation Coordinator;

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 – studying stingrays and coral reefs in the Maldives; researching white sharks and fur seals in South Africa; preserving sea turtle nesting habitat in Greece; and teaching marine science to school children in the UK.  She has a BSc  in Psychology from the University of Plymouth (U.K.), a Diploma in Ichthyology from the Institute Of Animal Care Education (U.K.), and is presently completing a part-time MSc in Professional Science with the Open University.  Her interests include environmental planning and policy; science communication; fisheries management; climate change, and behavioural and population ecology.  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 wildlife photographer, bird watcher and naturalist.  She is happiest when she’s on, in, or near the water - snorkelling, kayaking or rock-pooling - and can’t wait to dress up as an octopus and run a marathon.

Jessie Corey,
Terrestrial Campaigns Coordinator

Jessie  joined the CPAWS-BC team as Terrestrial Campaigns Coordinator, bringing with her a deep love for Canada’s wild places and a passion for protecting them. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies and Geography from the University of Ottawa and has spent the past 5 years working in the environmental non-profit sector on both regional and national campaigns and programs.

Jessie grew up in Ontario but has always been a west coaster at heart. She carries with her a deep awe of B.C.’s incredibe wildlife and landscapes, and can’t wait to get out and start exploring.

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.

Lana Gunnlaugson, National SeaChoice Manager

Lana joined the SeaChoice program in 2007 while working with the Marine and Freshwater Conservation program at the David Suzuki Foundation. Prior to this, she worked with the Project Seahorse group at the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre. Lana also earned her degree in Environmental Studies at UBC through the department of Geography.

With a passion for the outdoors, Lana reconnects with nature whenever she can. She enjoys everything from hiking and skiing to stand-up paddling and learning to surf. Lana also loves to capture the world in her camera lens while travelling and exploring the world.

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.

Kate MacMillan, Community Engagement Coordinator

Kate grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba but moved out to Vancouver to study at UBC. She graduated with a BSc in the combined sciences of Earth and Ocean Science, Biology and Chemistry. Her passion for protecting wild places was instilled in her as a youth while exploring Manitoba and Ontario during canoe trips. She has experience working with NGOs from Vancouver to Whistler which focus on conservation education and environmental protection.

She is passionate about connecting people to the nature that surrounds them and working to protect the environment for the future generations. She is also passionate about getting to explore the outdoors on her own time, whether its snowboarding in the winter or hiking and kayaking in the summer.
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.

Rhona Govender,  Marine Conservation Assistant

Rhona Govender is a scientist and the Marine Conservation Assistant 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.

Kurtis Hayne, SeaChoice Sustainable Seafood Market Analyst

Kurtis has completed a Masters degree in Marine Biology at the University of Alberta and the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre and has since worked at several NGOs in conservation and education roles. Spending time in the Philippines made him realize that the way we depend and interact with our oceans drastically affects how we value and in turn protect them. Returning to Canada he has tried to create interaction and connection between Canadians and their local waters in hopes of fostering an attitude of conservation.

Kurtis, also a certified raft guide and Divemaster, uses any excuse to get outside and interact with nature. His highlights so far include swimming with whale sharks, spending an entire dive with a flamboyant cuttlefish and reviving an ailing Humboldt Squid while surfing.

Peter Wood,  Terrestrial Campaigns Director

Peter has over 14 years of conservation-related experience, both within BC and internationally. Most recently, he worked for Global Witness, a UK-based NGO that investigates and campaigns to prevent natural resource related conflict and corruption, and associated environmental and human rights abuses. He has also worked as a Team Leader for the International Institute of Sustainable Development’s Earth Negotiations Bulletin, reporting on international meetings related to forests, biodiversity and climate change. Prior to this he worked extensively on BC forest policy and forest certification, including for the West Coast Environmental Law Association and the BC Ministry of Forests. He has performed contract work for a variety of organizations, including the United Nations Forum on Forests, the Forest Stewardship Council, Transparency International, Ecojustice, and the Forest Products Association of Canada.

Peter holds a PhD in Forestry from the University of Toronto, and his dissertation examined the impact of forest certification on forest management and policy in Canada. He completed his BA in Environmental Studies at the University of British Columbia, and wrote his undergraduate thesis on the creation of the Muskwa Kechika Management Area.

Born and raised in BC, he is an avid outdoors enthusiast, and can often be found exploring the wilderness with his dog Nemiah.