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Meet our Board

Tom McIllfaterick

President

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.

Rita Douglas

Vice President

Rita retired from a career of community and international development that included working with Canada World Youth in India, Ecuador and Uruguay. A focus on creating opportunities for youth brought her to the YMCA of Greater Vancouver where she created youth employment programs, ways for newcomers to Canada to feel at home in Vancouver and Youth Peace Network which continues to bring young leaders from around the world to Vancouver for a three-month development program.

Volunteering creates and supports community, so she has sat on boards, baked cupcakes, made turkey dinners for newcomers, participated in all aspects of cooperative living and sold popcorn at Bright Nights. Being actively engaged in her community brings her great joy!

Genie Lam

Treasurer

Genie is a Chartered Accountant with over 10 years of progressive experience in the consumer goods industry. She has worked for one of Canada’s leading professional services firms where she led financial and audit engagements for private and public companies listed on TSX and NASDAQ. She has worked in Asia for several years and has helped take her company global through scaling operations, streamlining business processes, and establishing supply chain and sales partnerships.

Rebecca Bollwitt

Secretary

Rebecca built her first website in 1997 and she has been blogging about life in BC since 2004 on Miss604.com. Over the last 16 years, Miss604.com has become the most award-winning blog in Western Canada with over 20 local awards, a national award from Notable.ca, and an international media award from Variety – The Children’s Charity. Rebecca has co-authored 2 books (Blogging to Drive Business 2010, 2012) and published 10,000+ blog articles about Metro Vancouver. Since 2013 Miss604 has partnered with SPES to offer a monthly guest-article series. She also crafts stories about arts, nature, events and culture in every corner of the province as a freelance writer. Rebecca has served on the Board of Directors of Variety BC since 2016 and is the VP, Marketing for the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame. She has called the West End home – and Stanley Park her backyard – for the last 15 years.

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 was presented the inaugural Ocean Educator 2018 award from OceanWise (Vancouver Aquarium), for leading her students in 17 years of twice annual shoreline clean-up education and learning opportunities.

John Gray

A native of BC, born in North Vancouver he 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. John joined the City of Vancouver in 1992, where he began his city career as a zookeeper. John later worked in Special Events and Filming facilitating the use of more than 200 plus parks and coordinating sport field bookings and picnics. John then took an active role in on site supervision, which led to the creation of the Vancouver Park Board’s Ranger Program, a program he designed and evolved into a team of more than 37 park rangers. John has also co-led the Vancouver Park Board’s Wildlife department looking after both habitat and conservation incentives, coordinating park partner involvement, and developing best management practices for species at risk, as well as overseeing Canada Goose, Starling, Great Blue Heron and Beaver Management programs.

John is currently the Manager of Animal Services for the City of Vancouver, supervising more than 30 Animal Control staff and overseeing the very busy Vancouver Animal Shelter. John is also a director of the City of Vancouver’s Emergency Social Services program and a team captain on DAT (Disaster Assistance Team). He is also involved with the Burrowing Owl Recovery Team of BC, a captive breeding program with 3 breeding facilities, responsible for bringing Burrowing Owls back to their native grassland habitats. John has also been showcased on several natural history productions including Discovery, and Suzuki’s Nature of Things for his work with Canada Geese.

Marisa Nichini

Past 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.

Ian Van Den Dolder

Ian currently practices law as an Associate with a law firm in downtown Vancouver, and advises on a range of transactional matters, with a focus on corporate governance, mergers and acquisitions, regulatory compliance, and general commercial matters for both mature and start-up companies. Ian has assisted companies with reorganizations, financings, real estate transactions, incorporations and corporate restructurings. Ian enjoys connecting with nature by hiking the rugged landscapes of British Columbia.

Martin Podolsky

Martin is a Professional Geologist (Ontario) with an honours degree from the University of Melbourne and a Project Management Institute Project Management Professional with over 35 years of experience in the diamond industry, primarily with the De Beers Group. He has been involved in over 35 projects across six countries including Canada, Australia, South Africa, Botswana, the Peoples Republic of China and India, from grass-roots exploration through to mine Feasibility studies and Technical Services operational support, that required working under the international ISO 14001 Environmental Management and ISO 18001 Occupational Health and Safety Management Standards and Systems. Originally from Australia, Martin has been living in Vancouver since 2004 and is currently an Associate with a global consultancy mainly involved in the earth and water resource industries, working with the primary diamond group. Martin has enjoyed being a regular volunteer with the SPES Species Invasive Removal Team since 2017.

Rory Wallace

Rory Wallace, PhD, professor emeritus at Emily Carr University of Art & Design, looks forward to being a part of SPES. He has taught, among other things, ecological design about the relationship of people to their physical and cultural surroundings. He most recently taught “Zoos: Captivating Animals” at SFU about humans, animals, and the natural.

As a teacher/professor, he collaborated in making a large organization function effectively in a complex educational world. That work included organizing and developing facilities, faculty, and equipment for artists and designers in a fast-changing field. As Dept Head, Curriculum Committees, Faculty Association President, etc., he aware how difficult job can be. Especially, he knows and values the crucial role of the community of leaders and volunteers that are an essential part of any success.

He is a supporter of Georgia Strait Alliance, West Coast Environmental Law, National Conversancy of Canada, and BC Stroke Recovery Assoc.

He is a local, a Vancouverite, so he learned swimming, sailing, kayaking, scuba diving, and camping in the local landscape. SPES later became an important part of this education: he’s pulled ivy, searched for coyotes, counted swallows and bats, attended drawn skulls (badly), and much more.

Rory hopes to bring to the SPES board a readiness to consider many points of view.

Jennifer J Preece

Jennifer Preece lived on Vancouver Island as a child but after many years of living in the UK and the US she now lives in Vancouver with her husband. Jennifer is a professor and dean emerita at the University of Maryland where she was dean of the College of Information Studies (Maryland’s iSchool) for 10 years. She has a degree in environmental biology and a doctorate in educational technology. She is author of several books and academic papers including a co-authored book entitled “Interaction Design: Beyond Human Computer Interaction”, that is a leading text in universities across the world. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the journal “Citizen Science:Theory and Practice”. She is an educator and researcher and has taught students from high school through to post-doctoral level. Jennifer is passionate about nature and she enjoyed volunteering on shore bird and other bird counts in Stanley Park. She looks forward to deepening her involvement with Stanley Park Ecology Society.

Judy Hoang

Advisor - Past Treasurer

Judy is a Chartered Accountant that started her career with 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 currently works for a multi-billion-dollar private company where she assists in streamlining business processes to achieve business goals and creating value within the business and have also led a Finance Transformation initiative that transformed the way the finance organization delivers services to the business. 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. Born and raised in the Greater Vancouver area, Judy loves spending the weekends at the park with her husband and two children.