CPAWS-BC Staff Team
Alicia Elgert, Ocean Conservation Campaigner
Carlo Acuña, Senior Ocean Conservation Campaigner
Carlo (he/him) was raised in Burnaby, British Columbia, on ancestral, and unceded territory of the hən̓ q̓ əmin̓ əm̓ (Halq’eméylem) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) speaking peoples. He developed an awe of the natural world by flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines. Pursuing this interest, education and wildlife field work took him to Australia’s Bass Strait, Utqiaġvik in the Arctic Circle, Mexico’s Selva Maya and points in between. Closer to home, he worked with local organizations conducting nature education and outreach.
Always drawn to the ocean, he returns to Vancouver after studying seabirds on Pacific coast marine protected areas. Using his experience with research and science communication, he supports marine conservation. He can often be seen munching on chocolate and with his nose in a comic book.
Debra Sinarta, Marine Research Coordinator
Debra (she/her) grew up in Vancouver, British Columbia (BC), on the traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Growing up exploring and learning by the coast, Debra built a strong curiosity and connection with nature. This led her to pursue studies at the University of British Columbia (BSc) and Dalhousie University (Masters of Marine Management). During this time, she filled various roles in research labs, government, and local non-profit groups, exploring topics including algal physiology, human-wildlife coexistence, blue carbon, and MPAs.
After jumping from coast to coast, she is excited to return to BC and join the CPAWS-BC marine team with her knowledge and passion for ethnoecology, GIS, and science communication. Outside of work, you can easily find her strolling beaches, hiking, cafe hopping, or cooking a feast!
Eden Luymes, Youth Engagement Coordinator
Eden Luymes (she/her) grew up on the traditional and unceded territory of the Stó꞉lō people, including the Semá:th (Sumas) and Mathxwí (Matsqui) First Nations. She has spent most of her life on Coast Salish territories, and currently lives on the traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish), səl̓ilw̓ətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations. She grew up enamoured with the mountains and the beaches of the coast, and spent much of her childhood exploring tidepools and climbing mountains with her family.
Eden holds undergraduate degrees from the Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo) and the University of British Columbia, and a graduate degree in Political Science from the University of British Columbia. Her academic research focuses on climate justice and the influences of neoliberalism and neocolonialism in global climate governance. Eden has worked for a variety of ENGOs and government organizations including BC Parks, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Stanley Park Ecology Society, and the Thetis Island Nature Conservancy. She has also been involved in youth climate advocacy as a COP26 youth delegate with the British Columbia Council for International Cooperation and as a youth representative on the BC Climate Solutions Council.
Eden sees addressing climate change as an unprecedented opportunity to heal our relationships with the Earth and with each other, and is excited to help youth gain the confidence and skills to protect our communities, lands, and waters at CPAWS-BC. In her spare time, she loves mountaineering, singing karaoke, and scanning the Salish Sea for orcas.
Gloria P. Diaz, Financial and Human Resources Manager
Gloria (she/her) is grateful to live on the unceded land of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaʔ/Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. Gloria has been involved in the non-profit sector for over 20 years and remains actively engaged in environmental and social justice work. She is committed to improving the life of people and Pacha Mama (Mother Earth). Gloria received 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 ichthyological 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. In her spare time, Gloria enjoys reading, singing, strolling through the forest and taking pictures of birds and other wildlife, or organizing events.
Jacob Chila, GIS Analyst, Oceans Program
Jacob (he/him) grew up on the unceded territory of the Kwikwetlem First Nation, splashing around in the Burrard Inlet, collecting stones on the Sunshine coast, and flipping through The Ocean World of Jacques Cousteau. He is inspired by the Coastal Mountains, humbled by the temperate rainforest’s old growth stumps, and awed by the Ocean we all share. Working with CPAWS-BC brings together his knowledge of Geography and Geomatics, and his love of our beautiful planet.
With a BA in Environmental Sustainability from the University of British Columbia and an Advanced Diploma in Geomatics from the Centre of Geographic Sciences, Jacob works with the CPAWS Marine team to protect our Ocean and its inhabitants. You might see him craning his neck in the forest, or ambling along the shoreline.
Kate MacMillan, Ocean Conservation Manager
Kate (she/her) grew up in Winnipeg, located within Treaty 1 Territory, on the lands of the Anishinaabeg, Ininew (Cree), Oji-Cree, Dakota, and Dene peoples, and on the homeland of the Métis Nation. While growing up, Kate was privileged to canoe the lakes and rivers from Saskatchewan to Ontario but was always fascinated by ocean life. It was no surprise to her family when she moved to the coast.
She started volunteering with CPAWS-BC in 2013 by organizing outdoor hikes in BC Parks. Kate started working with the BC chapter in 2014 as the Community Engagement Coordinator, managing youth leadership and province-wide volunteer programs. She stepped away to complete her MSc from the University of Manitoba, where she studied belugas health. She is interested in the intersection of science and policy, and her research involved working alongside Federal and Inuvialuit co-management agencies, studying the use of indicators to monitor an Arctic marine protected area. She re-joined in 2019 and is excited to work with the CPAWS-BC marine team. In her free time, you will find Kate up a mountain in any season, out on the ocean, or skateboarding around Vancouver.
Katrina Jurn, Campaigner, Terrestrial Conservation
Katrina (she/her) is grateful to live in the Traditional Territory of the Stz’uminus First Nation on Vancouver Island.
Katrina has lived, studied and worked in the US, UK and Caribbean and had the opportunity to travel to over 50 countries, making Canada her home in 2020. Her travels, including backpacking around South America for 6 months, have inspired her awe of nature and commitment to protecting the integrity of our planet’s ancient forests and wild spaces for future generations.
Katrina completed her undergrad studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2006 and then pursued an MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge in environmental sociology, focused on the status of mangrove wetlands. In the past Katrina has been an educator, worked in the financial sector and worked with environmental NGOs where she managed terrestrial protected areas planning and led a number of grassroots environmental campaigns.
In her spare time, you may find her at a yoga class, her favourite coffee shops or at one of the Island’s beach park playgrounds having fun with her toddler.
Max Winkelman, Communications Manager
Max (he/him) grew up in the back corner (Achterhoek) of the Netherlands but has spent most of his life living and travelling across Canada. He now resides in the beautiful territory of the Northern Secwēpemc te Qelmūcw, near Williams Lake.
With an unwavering dedication to preserving our planet for generations to come, Max’s heart beats for the protection of nature, and he finds solace in the great outdoors.
Max has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English and a Post-Baccalaureate in journalism from Thompson Rivers University, as well as a Master’s degree in journalism from Carleton University. He has worked for First Nations, newspapers, businesses and non-profits.
Meaghen McCord, Executive Director
Meaghen (she/her) is a white settler and guest living on the Traditional Territories of the SENĆOŦEN speaking peoples of the Coast Salish Nations on Vancouver Island. She is grateful to live and work on the lands and waters Indigenous peoples have stewarded since time immemorial.
Meaghen is an experienced leader who has worked at the intersection of resource conservation and management, policy, governance, and strategic communications across coastal sub-Saharan Africa and British Columbia for over 20 years. She is an established scientist and co-author of many peer-reviewed papers, serving as specialist scientist on leading international committees. She served as Vice Chair of the African Network of Women in Marine Science for two years and was featured on Animal Planet, BBC Earth, Discovery Channel, Forbes Women Africa, and other media. Meaghen’s conservation career has focused on sharks, Southern Resident Killer Whales, marine protected areas, and marine spatial management planning. She joins the CPAWS-BC team from Parks Canada.
In her spare time, Meaghen enjoys powerlifting, ballet, karate, and acting as a limo driver and social convener for her young kids. She and her family love living on the “big island,” where they hike, camp, and enjoy the great outdoors.
Meg Bjordal, Conservation Research and Policy Coordinator
Meg (she/her) grew up on the traditional territories of the Ktunaxa Nation. While working and playing in the East Kootenay mountains and abroad as a young adult, she gained a deep sense of wonder and appreciation for natural spaces. Then, through volunteering with some wildlife rescues her passion for wildlife and conservation was ignited. This led to pursuing a BSc in Environmental Biology and a Masters in Sustainable Environmental Management to gain tools and knowledge for work in the conservation field.
Working with CPAWS provides Meg an exciting opportunity to assist in gaining quality protections for land that is vital to not only wildlife, but humans as well; and to further explore her interest in the intersection of wildlife, humans and nature.
Meg is grateful to currently live on the unceded traditional territories of the syilx/Okanagan Peoples, with her husband and a small ‘herd’ of resident and at times, foster cats!
Sammy Shaw, Conservation and Engagement Coordinator (On leave)
Sammy (she/her) grew up in Ontario on the treaty lands and territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. When she thinks back to early childhood, some of her most treasured memories revolve around time spent in nature, and space for creative play. Sammy has a Combined BA in Communications and Human Rights with a minor in Anthropology from Carleton University. She has spent the past eight years working in communications, marketing, and content production for nonprofit organizations and small businesses. Sammy is passionate about storytelling and art as a tool for change and recognizes its immense potential for accelerating climate action and safeguarding our lands and waters.
Sammy is grateful to live and work on the traditional and unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), and səl̓ílwətaʔɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. She’s happiest when connecting with nature, whether it be hiking, camping, snowboarding, surfing, climbing, paddling, or relaxing by a river with her dog. When she’s not outdoors, she’s often sewing clothes, plotting new art projects, and capturing moments on her film camera.
Sarah McNeil, Operations Director
Sarah (she/her) is grateful to live and work in Secwepemcúĺecw, the unceded and stolen territories of the Secwepemc Peoples in what is now Kamloops British Columbia. As Operations Director, she helps CPAWS-BC run smoothly so that the team can stay focused on the pressing work of protecting lands, waters, and wildlife. When she’s not talking strategy, drafting policies, or chatting with donors, you’ll likely find Sarah playing fetch with her rescue dog, getting her hand dirty in the garden, or wandering the local trails. If you have questions about making a gift to protect Nature or how CPAWS-BC operates, Sarah would be happy to speak with you. You can reach her directly at 604-685-7445 x33 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tori Ball, Terrestrial Conservation Manager
Tori (she/her) grew up playing in the woods and streams of Algonquin Park and the shores of Lake Huron. From a young age she has been driven to protect these wild places and those who inhabit them. Her studies at the University of Victoria (BSc) and Dalhousie University (MREM) have helped her deepen her understanding of her surrounding landscapes, both ecological and political. She brings her experience as an outdoor educator, nature guide and community organizer to her work in conservation.
From Mi’kma’ki to Coast Salish territories, she has been privileged to learn from a number of inspiring social and environmental justice warriors. It is these connections which keep her inspired to continue standing up for our environment and future generations. You’ll rarely finding Tori sitting down for long, she’s most likely running, hiking, biking, fermenting things, trying to surf, or recovering from all of the above with burritos and ice cream.
Johnny Mikes, Conservation Specialist and Advisor
Johnny’s nature and conservation education comes from decades of guiding tours in premier wilderness areas across Canada. His passion for wild places and wild animals fits well with CPAWS’s vision and he’s contributed to efforts to protect several notable wild places in BC. Johnny brings regional land use planning experience and extensive on-the-ground knowledge in northern BC from the Alaska border right across to the foothills of the northern Rocky Mountains. Johnny’s expertise is an asset in the creation of large new protected areas in northern BC.
Born and raised in BC but a keen traveller, Johnny is focused on seeing still more remote and beautiful wild places in BC and the world beyond.
The CPAWS-BC team intends to challenge the belief that all pronouns can be assumed and practices sharing of gender pronouns to create a supportive community for all people. If we fail to respect someone else’s gender identity, it is not only disrespectful and hurtful but also oppressive (1). Learn more about CPAWS-BC commitment to justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within every aspect of our work to protect lands, inland waters, and ocean.