Meet our Board

Patricia Stevens


Currently the Executive Director, Operations and St. Andrew’s-Wesley United Church, Patricia holds a B.Sc. from UBC and an MBA from SFU.  She has a demonstrated record of achievement, management and responsibility in fast paced, complex environments in the university and health care sectors.  She is known as an innovative results oriented problem solver with a solid reputation for high ethical standards, reliability, motivation and realizing corporate goals and objectives.  With previous board experience, helping organizations with strategic planning and goal setting, Patricia is enthusiastic about her continuing working with SPES.

Marisa Nichini

Vice President

Marisa is a communications and education consultant with a keen interest in the natural world. She is a lifelong learner and enjoys storytelling and teaching. Marisa earned her undergraduate degree in biology from the University of Western Ontario and her Masters of Arts in science education from UBC. Her early career with a regional airline gave her the opportunity to see many parts of beautiful B.C. from the air and the ground. She spent eight years at the Vancouver Aquarium – first as a volunteer, then as an educator, and made her transition to communications and public relations work while there. Thereafter, Marisa held a senior communications role in health care for 15 years and was recognized for issues management, media relations and strategic planning skills. A dedicated parent, she believes it’s important to instill the next generation with a sense of wonder; to help them value nature, respect one another, and understand the need to be good stewards of our world.

Brian Herrin

Secretary and a Past President

Brian Herrin, a part-time faculty associate at Simon Fraser University (SFU), has been an engaging, lively teacher/presenter at local, provincial, national and international science conferences for over 30 years and continues with provincial events. He has co-authoured two science texts presently used in BC and is an author/editor of NatureWILD children’s magazine.  He taught at SFU, Thompson Rivers University and UBC and has been a guest lecturer at the University of Victoria.  His teaching career was mainly spent with upper intermediate and middle school students and, although he began as a senior high school biology and science teacher in the southern Okanagan, his final position was a four month assignment leading a pre-school in Whistler!  He is the only Canadian to receive the North American Catalyst Award for Middle School Science Teaching presented by the Chemical Manufacturers Association   He has also received a Prime Minister’s Award for Science and Mathematics Teaching and was the first recipient of the BC Science Teachers’ Association Exemplary Elementary Science Teacher award.  He continues to volunteer with Norgate Community Elementary School and contributes a science perspective to their annual summer camps.

Judith MacPherson

Shortly after moving to Vancouver while on a teaching sabbatical, Judith volunteered as a Stanley Park Ecology Society educator with school programs in 2000-2001 before joining the board.  Judith has extensive experience in environmental education initiatives and curriculum development through her collaboration with the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Museum Institute for Teaching Science (MITS), as a founding member of the Hebert Arboretum, and with the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. She was also the inaugural recipient of the Excellence in Environmental Education Award given by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Education and the inaugural Above and Beyond Award from the Massachusetts Software Council Education Foundation, Inc. for outstanding efforts to enhance education through technology. She is currently an elementary teacher with the Vancouver School Board.

John Gray

A native of BC, John began his career working with the Orphan Seal Recovery team and later moved to the Stanley Park Zoological Society where he coordinated the education programs with the Stanley Park Zoo. He began his career as a zookeeper with the City of Vancouver in 1992 and later worked in Special Events and Filming. John then took an active role in on site supervision and created the Vancouver Park Board’s Ranger Program. He has also co-led the Vancouver Park Board’s Wildlife department, coordinating park partner involvement, and developed best management practices for species at risk, as well and oversaw management programs for Canada goose, starling, great blue heron and beaver. Currently, John is the Assistant Manager in Animal Control, director of the City of Vancouver’s Emergency Social Services program, and team captain on DAT (Disaster Assistance Team). He is also involved with the Burrowing Owl Recovery Team of BC. John has been showcased on several natural history productions including Discovery and The Nature of Things for his work with Canada geese. When John has a free moment, he enjoys hiking in the North Shore Mountains.

Jude Grass

Jude has had a lifelong interest in all aspects of natural history and has worked as a Senior Naturalist for both BC Parks and the Greater Vancouver Regional District (now Metro Vancouver), which she retired from in 2004.  She is actively involved in Nature Vancouver (Vancouver Natural History Society) as Board member and Chair of the Birding Section Committee; Nature BC (Federation of BC Naturalists) as Coordinator for the Lower Mainland Region, and Executive Member on the Invasive Species Council of BC; and Chair of the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver.  Other groups involved with include BC Field Ornithologists, Biodiversity Centre for Wildlife Studies, Semiahmoo Fish and Game Club, Friends of Semiahmoo Bay Society, Wild Bird Trust of British Columbia and the Langley Field Naturalists.  She also sits on both the BC Oregon Spotted Frog and the Western Painted Turtle Recovery Teams.  She feels very strongly about the role of nature education and the need for providing programs that will involve youth and adults so that they will appreciate and protect the natural environment around them for the future.

Tom McIllfaterick

Tom was born and raised in Vancouver, and fondly remembers family picnics and swimming lessons at Lumberman’s Arch. He earned an honours degree in Commerce from the University of Ottawa, and has recently retired from a career as Executive Director and Board member of national not-for-profit organizations. Tom has been involved with SPES as a volunteer for the past four years, primarily as a member of the invasive species removal team.

Leora Fenner

Leora is a marketing and communication professional with extensive experience managing successful marketing strategies, communication projects and social media initiatives. She earned an honours degree in Marketing Management from the University of Guelph. Leora’s interest in Stanley Park led her to join the board in October 2011. She is excited to use her expertise to assist with SPES’s marketing and fundraising activities. Her favourite Stanley Park activity is taking an early morning bike ride around the sea wall.

Helmut Hager

Helmut grew up in Vienna, Austria and lived in Hong Kong before moving to Vancouver. He has 18 years of HR experience with a focus on recruitment and talent acquisition. He worked predominantly in the hi-tech industry and was a Talent Solutions Director for a telecom company and a Director of Talent Acquisition for an international analytics corporation. During his career, he managed enterprise-wide projects, was responsible for strategy, performance review and succession planning in a high-performing culture. Helmut has previously served on the board of a non-profit organization. In his free time, he enjoys travelling and a variety of sports and outdoor activities. Stanley Park has frequently been a destination for Helmut and his family.

Stephen Partington

At the age of five, Stephen immigrated to Canada, hit the bush to explore all the wonders of nature and joined the Federation of Ontario Naturalists. Academic studies in botany, toxicology, agriculture, pathology and microbiology led Stephen to a healthcare career in diagnostic kit development, marine drug discovery, pharmacokinetics and applied microbiology. Post-graduate conservation and education efforts by Stephen as co-chair of the Vancouver Natural History Society conservation committee, chair of the Boundary Bay Conservation Committee and appointee to the District of North Vancouver Parks Advisory Committee led to Stephen being awarded The Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada in recognition of significant contributions to compatriots, community and to Canada. Stephen was also awarded the Davidson Award for Conservation by the Vancouver Natural History Society. Since retiring, Stephen has served three years on the board of the Friends of Cypress Provincial Park Society and has made strategic contributions to the Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation, The Nature Trust of BC, WildResearch and the Stanley Park Ecology Society. Stephen has had an interest in conservation and education in Stanley Park since the 1990s.

Natalie Cushing

An experienced senior charity administrator specializing in environmental and social inclusion initiatives, Natalie supports a portfolio of charitable initiatives in BC and Northern Canada, providing them with a wide range of strategic advice on program design, administration, and regulatory compliance. Natalie has a diploma in Environmental Technology from Camosun College in Victoria, where she grew up. Her volunteer experience includes serving on the board of the Greater Victoria Compost Education Centre and delivering environmental education for the Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary, Lifecycles Project Society, and Camosun Students for Environmental Awareness. After moving to Vancouver, Natalie volunteered with SPES on the Beaver Lake bog restoration project where she experienced the biodiversity of Stanley Park. From salmon to sundews, from blueberries to beavers, Natalie has enjoyed learning about the many living things that call this unique urban park home. She is thrilled to contribute to the important stewardship and outreach work of SPES as a board member. 

Judy Hoang

Advisor - Past Treasurer

Judy is a Chartered Accountant with over 10 years of experience in delivering accounting, audit, and advisory services to clients. She is currently an Operations Controller for a multi-billion dollar private company where she assists in streamlining business processes to achieve business goals and creating value within the business. She also worked for one of Canada’s leading professional services firms where she worked with several large corporate organizations, as well as providing assurance and advisory services to non-profit organizations.  She is experienced at working with clients, technical and business teams to provide and develop innovative solutions to potential and existing issues. Judy also holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia.