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CPAWS-BC Staff Team

Staff

Alicia Elgert, Conservation Campaigner, Ocean Program

Alicia (she/her) was raised on the traditional territories of the q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), q̓ʷɑ:n̓ƛ̓ən̓ (Kwantlen), Qayqayt, kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), Tsawwassen, and Semiahmoo Nations. Growing up, she had an unbridled curiosity for plants and animals, leading her to a conservation career.
 
Alicia studied Geography focusing on Environment and Sustainability at the University of British Columbia. With six years of experience working for conservation-based nonprofit organizations, Alicia has led ecological education programs in Stanley Park, raised awareness about how to prevent the spread of invasive species, and spent a year monitoring the water quality of False Creek. She’s excited to advocate for biodiversity and establishing marine conservation areas on the coast of BC.
 
When she’s not campaigning, you’re likely to find Alicia tidepooling or wandering through a forest with her field guides sharpening her identification skills and finding joy in observing the life she encounters.
ID: Carlo wears eyeglasses and stares profile left to the ocean.

Carlo Acuña, Senior Conservation Campaigner, Ocean Program

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 ehadshot

Debra Sinarta, Marine Research Coordinator, Ocean Program

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

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.

Jacob Chila CPAWS BC staff

Jacob Chila, GIS Specialist, Ocean 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.

ID: Kate smiles on rainy forest trail wearing grey knit hat and black jacket.

Kate MacMillan, Conservation Director, Ocean Program

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.

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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.

ID: Meag smiles with white top while handling shark

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.

Photo by Adam Combs
Photo by Adam Combs

Meg Bjordal, Research and Policy Coordinator, Land and Fresh Water Program

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!

Photo by Adam Combs
Photo by Adam Combs

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 sarah@cpawsbc.org.

Photo by Adam Combs
Photo by Adam Combs

Tori Ball, Conservation Director, Land and Fresh Water Program

Tori (she/her) grew up playing in the woods and streams of Algonquin Park and the shores of Lake Huron in Dish with One Spoon Territory. She cut her teeth in campaigning as a community organizer in Mi’kma’ki Territory, on the East Coast, working on campaigns to stop extreme energy projects from damaging the waterways, climate and communities. She brings her experience as an outdoor educator, canoe-tripping guide and academic training in ecology to her work to advocate for the conservation of the interconnected lands and waters across BC. 

Tori started as a Campaigner in 2017 and held several positions within the conservation team before becoming the Conservation Director in 2024.

Conservation Consultants

Photo by Adam Combs
Photo by Adam Combs

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.