Meet our Staff

Patricia Thomson

Executive Director

With a BSc in Biology and a broad career in national and provincial Parks, conservation, and nonprofits including the Vancouver Aquarium, Patricia has been at the helm of SPES since 2004. A long term resident of the West End, she believes that inspiring local urban dwellers to reconnect with nature is fundamental to building constituencies for global ecological conservation. During vacations from SPES, Patricia is a river rafting guide in northern BC, Alaska, Yukon and the Northwest  Territories. She has organized expeditions for National Geographic Society, Wildlife Conservation Society, and UNESCO World Heritage. She is a member of the Explorers Club, and sits on the transboundary Steering Committee of Rivers Without Borders.

Maria Egerton

Conservation Projects Manager

Maria is a wildlife biologist with 16 years of experience in both urban and remote settings. She has a wide range of skills pertaining directly to conservation and public outreach in a variety of sectors, from parks and stewardship projects to remote baseline data collection projects. Over the course of her career she has  planned and conducted many field data collection programs in support of  conservation initiatives. She has identified and managed conservation priorities and public outreach programs for a community-based municipal conservation area and served as an advisor to identify wildlife and habitat conservation needs, develop monitoring programs and directed mitigation efforts on a number of projects.

Celina Starnes

Public Education and Outreach Manager

Celina joined SPES in the winter of 2013.  With infectious enthusiasm, she inspires people around her to connect to the natural world.  She attended the McGill School of Environment where she learned about our amazing and vital interconnections we have with the natural world.  Celina has worked as an environmental educator in numerous settings – from Ducks Unlimited’s flat, waterlogged reserves outside of Winnipeg to the mountainous Regional Parks of Metro Vancouver. But, she gets the most excited about creatively connecting people with the ecology of the west coast.

Dylan Rawlyk

School Programs Manager

Dylan joined the SPES team in the late spring of 2015. He has a BSc from UBC and a BEd from SFU and has worked as an environmental educator with many non-profits in Metro Vancouver and elsewhere, including Evergreen, Science World, Catching the Spirit, Gently Down the Seymour, and RiverWatch. Dylan is passionate about the benefits of being immersed in nature and seeks to give students around Metro Vancouver memorable opportunities to explore, learn, and play in Stanley Park. When he’s not at work, you might see Dylan biking around the city and beyond, camping in our beautiful forests, or gardening and talking about compost.

Kathleen Stormont

Fundraising & Communications Specialist

Kathleen joined SPES in early 2014 following a 25 year career in natural history interpretation, radio and television production, and, most recently, exhibit development for science centres and museums in the Middle East and United States. In her role as Fundraising and Communications Specialist, Kathleen combines her scientific curiosity with her innate ability to translate complex topics into engaging stories and experiences – ones that she hope will encourage support for SPES’ important work. Having traveled the world for work and pleasure, this native Vancouverite is thrilled to be based in one of the world’s most beautiful and natural urban parks.

Greg Hart

Urban Wildlife Programs Coordinator

Greg comes to SPES with a diverse background in education, biology and ecology. With a Bachelor’s degree in Biology and English as well as a Master’s in Education, Greg has worked as a biology teacher for a number of years in both conventional settings as well as in outdoor programs.  He has experience with a variety of ecological field work including: bird monitoring, sea turtle conservation, and most recently, as a grizzly bear guide/naturalist.  A passionate naturalist and teacher, Greg is excited to be a member of the SPES team and help Vancouverites live harmoniously with urban wildlife. Outside the office, you might find him hiking with his wife and two dogs, bird watching, or photographing nature.

Kari Pocock

Stewardship Coordinator

Kari joined SPES’s Conservation team in spring 2016, a natural fit following her time as a dedicated volunteer with SPES’s Communications department and Special Invasive Removal Team. Kari’s passion for environmental sustainability and collaborative problem-solving lead her to receive her B.A. in Environmental Geography in 2015, and now drives her to connect people with nature through mindful stewardship and creative engagement. She has diverse experience in childhood recreation, environmental non-profit research, and customer service, and is currently a member of her local municipality’s Environment and Sustainability Advisory Committee. Originally from Calgary, Kari has spent most of her life living in and exploring BC’s coastal ecosystems, and can regularly be found on local hiking trails, at her community garden, or snapping photos of everything the province has to offer.

Alicia Fontaine

Volunteer Coordinator

Alicia Fontaine joined SPES in April 2015 as the Eco Ranger/Creatures of the Night Coordinator and stepped into her Volunteer Coordinator role soon after. Obtaining her BA in Environmental Geography from SFU, Alicia moved to rural Alberta where she spent two years working for a Watershed Planning and Advisory Council. Prior to that she delivered and  facilitated wetland education programs with the BC Wildlife Federation, and rehabilitated wildlife for the Wildlife Rescue Association of B.C. Additionally, Alicia conducted ecological integrity monitoring for Parks Canada in Kootenay and Yoho National Park, where she became very familiar with amphibians, terrestrial birds, and wetlands.  Throughout her three years as an environmental educator, Alicia has been fortunate enough to work with a diverse group of people and wildlife, including ring-tailed lemurs, long-toed salamanders, and brook trout.  After spending several years in the boreal forest, Alicia is glad to be back in her home town of Vancouver, where she can spend her spare time hiking, camping, and exploring our beautiful coastal ecosystems.

Ariane Comeau

Conservation Technician/Environmental Educator

Ariane joined the SPES team in April 2015 following the completion of her Master’s degree at the Université de Montréal. During her studies in Biology, she took as many opportunities as possible to immerse herself in exciting projects. This included a student exchange in Reunion Island, participating in conferences, and scientific scuba diving. For her Master’s degree, she investigated the skeletal development of feather stars with her field work taking place at the Bamfield Marine Sciences Centre on Vancouver Island. Soon after graduating, Ariane left her hometown of Laval and her mother language of French to come to Vancouver. She loves skiing, mountain biking and playing drums. Ariane is convinced that nature can inspire anyone who gives it a chance.

Emily Stringer

Environmental Educator

Emily joined SPES’s team of Environmental Educators in the fall of 2016, following two dedicated seasons as an Eco Ranger, among a variety of other SPES volunteer roles. With a BA from UBC in Geography: Environment & Sustainability, and Sociology, and a certificate in Creative Writing from SFU, Emily is particularly interested in the societal narratives we tell about the environment. She brings a varied approach to SPES’ Environmental Education team, with experience in scientific field research, environmental education, and creative writing mentoring. As a life-long Girl Guides of Canada member and leader, being immersed in the forests of coastal BC is where Emily first found her passion for the environment, sustainability, and wildlife. She is excited to facilitate that connection between students and nature in beautiful Stanley Park.

Dannie Piezas

Environmental Educator

Hailing from the Philippine tropics, Dannie brings the experience of birds and geckos in the house and camping in the rainforest. Her love for living things flourished in the move to Canada through UBC’s Natural Resource Conservation B.Sc. program, bird surveys in Ladner, fending off polar bears in the high Arctic, and all manner of invasive species wrangling in between. She found a calling to nature interpretation through summer work with A Rocha Canada, and the tireless work of connecting people with nature stuck with her since.

Dannie joined SPES mid-2016 and is thankful for the grandest workplace in the world. In her spare time, she devours books, tackles the yarn arts, studies creation care theology, and learns obscure martial arts.

Alyx Coulter

Outreach Coordinator

Alyx joined the SPES team in April 2017. While completing a Bachelor of Environmental Studies at the University of Waterloo, she developed an interest in the way cities and natural areas interact. She took on a variety of co-op and volunteer positions that taught her about environmental education, GIS mapping for international development, and event planning for the university. After graduating and yearning to explore, she moved to Asia which introduced her to the ocean and fresh mountain air. She’s excited to be back on home turf with a greater appreciation of Canada’s natural diversity and the opportunity to explore the west coast. In her spare time, she likes cooking elaborate dishes, enjoying some fresh air, and getting lost in new places.

Regina Chan

Events Programmer

Regina is the newest member of the SPES team and is here with us for the summer. She is currently an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia, majoring in Applied Animal Biology. Her experiences working at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Mammal Rescue Centre inspired her to work in conservation, research, and/or education in the future to promote environmental stewardship and wildlife protection.  This summer, Regina is very excited to help with planning and organizing the Stanley Park #BioBlitz150, one of five flagship BioBlitzes in Canada. In her spare time, you will most likely find Regina longboarding, taking a scenic hike, or scouting for yummy eats around town.

Lauraleigh Paul

Environmental Monitor/Educator

Lauraleigh is of Coast Salish, Interior Salish, and Carrier First Nations descent.  In spring 2016, Lauraleigh joined SPES via her environmental monitoring practicum.  She passionately offers us her invaluable indigenous life experiences and integral teachings about Coast Salish historical interpretation and relevant present day interpretations to directly facilitate positive relationship building and ecological stewardship practices. She also generously shares a wealth of local flora and fauna use, teaching us how to nurture ourselves with nature, whether it be medicinal or practical, to harmonize our wellbeing with the natural world… and for this we raise our hands to express our “Coast Salish” appreciation.