Our People

  • Board
  • Staff and Associates
  • Advisors

Claude Gascon, PhD

Chairman

Claude is Director of Strategy and Operations at the World Bank's Global Environment Facility, which awards about $1B per year to environmental and conservation projects in over 140 countries. Claude was Chief Science Officer and Executive Vice-President at the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, 2010-2015. He was with Conservation International from 1999 to 2010, most recently as Executive Vice-President for Field Programs. Claude serves as co-chair of the Amphibian Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission at IUCN. He is a visiting professor with the department of ecology at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazonia (National Amazon Research Institute) and a research associate at the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution. Along with Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, Claude was awarded the prestigious Order of the Golden Ark by His Royal Highness Prince Bernhard of The Netherlands for his outstanding contributions to nature conservation. A Canadian, Claude started his professional career in the Brazilian Amazon as project director and scientific coordinator for the Biological Dynamics of Forest Fragments Project. His research has resulted in more than 70 publications and three books.

Jane Alexander

Director

Jane Alexander is an actor, a writer and a conservationist. Her book "Wild Things, Wild Places" chronicles her adventures with field biologists worldwide and their efforts to protect the animals they study. An avid birder, she has served on the board of many organizations including Audubon, American Bird Conservancy and the Wildlife Conservation Society. In 2012 Jane was awarded the inaugural Jane Alexander Global Wildlife Ambassador Award by the Indianapolis Prize.

Her work in acting includes over 100 plays, and 75 film and TV roles. She is the recipient of a Tony Award, two Emmy Awards and four Academy Award nominations. In Canada she appeared in the celebrated series "The Book of Negroes" and in the series "Forgive Me" for which she won the ACTRA Maritimes Award.

She chaired The National Endowment for the Arts under President Clinton and wrote about those turbulent years in "Command Performance, An Actress in the Theatre of Politics", a New York Times Notable Book in 2000.

Jane's ancestors settled in Nova Scotia in 1751. She grew up in Boston, Massachusetts but has lived in Lockeport for the past 25 years as a Canadian resident. 

Cary Lavine, CA/CPA

Director

Cary Lavine is a retired entrepreneur who received a Bachelor of Commerce degree from U of T in 1991 and his CA/CPA designation in 1994. Following work in public accounting, Cary was the controller/director of finance for two private companies before founding a management consulting firm. Cary’s longest role was 20 years as Chief Financial Officer of RL Solutions, a world-leading healthcare software firm headquartered out of Toronto. At RL Solutions, Cary was part of a committed team of executive-owners who built the highly profitable company from 5 employees to 220 without the aid of external equity, ultimately leading to a private equity sale in 2018. Cary stayed on for three more years through 10+ acquisitions and helped build the company to 1,400 employees. In 2021, Cary left RL Solutions to start a new path that focuses more on giving back to his community.

Cary currently sits on the board of two not-for-profits and contributes his time to several others. Financial literacy is one of Cary’s passions and he volunteers through CPA Canada’s Financial Literacy program delivering workshops in local schools. Cary is an avid triathlete, a sport he has been involved in for 20 years. Cary lives in Toronto. 

John McWilliams, KC

Director and Past Chairmain

John has over 30 years experience in the international oil and gas business and recently retired as Senior Vice-President and General Counsel, Nexen Inc. He is counsel to Fraser, Milner, Casgrain LLP. John has played a leadership role in governance, ethics and corporate responsibility, including the development of the International Code of Ethics for Canadian Business, a portion of which, human rights, was adopted by the United Nations Global Compact. He is Board Chair of the EPCOR CENTRE for the Performing Arts, a former Director of Transparency International Canada, former President of the Canadian Petroleum Law Foundation, Founding Director of Bank West, and winner of the 2006 Canadian General Counsel Award for Corporate Governance.

Barnabe Geis

Chief Executive

Barnabe Geis joined ICFC as CEO in May 2024.  Previously, with over a decade in the social innovation and impact startup spaces (with 550+ accelerated ventures), he was the Senior Director of Market Transformation at Foresight Canada, the country’s largest cleantech accelerator, and Senior Director of Cleantech at SI Canada, a social innovation lab and network working to address complex social and environmental challenges.

Before that, Barnabe was the Executive Director of Climate Ventures, and its founder as a staff member of the Centre for Social Innovation. Climate Ventures fast-tracked the success of 133 pre-seed startups developing and implementing solutions to the climate crisis that earned & raised over $169.1M between September 2018 and August 2022. He merged Climate Ventures into a partnership between Foresight Canada and SI Canada.

As the Director of Programs at the Centre for Social Innovation, he created and ran more than a half-dozen programs to grow startups and organizations with a social and/or environmental purpose.

He has extensive international experience especially throughout the Middle East, and holds a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University.

Matthew Aruch, PhD

Director of Indigenous Conservation Programs

Matt earned a PhD in International Education Policy from the University of Maryland College Park (UMD) where he investigated transnational research and education partnerships for sustainable development with the Mebêngôkre-Kayapó in the Brazilian Amazon. With ICFC, Matt looks forward to expanding his engagement with the Kayapó Project and supporting ICFC’s growing portfolio of Indigenous-led projects. Before joining ICFC, Matt worked alongside community, school, university, NGO, and government organizations including UMD, the Earth Day Organization, George Washington University, the Protected Forest Association (Brazil), The University of Cuenca (Ecuador), The InterAmerican Development Bank, and Boston and Alexandria City Public Schools. Matt earned Master’s degrees in International Education Policy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Elementary Education from Mary Washington College (MWC) as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from MWC.

Andre Boraks, PhD

Director of Programs and Data

Andre is a distinguished professional with extensive field experience in both North American and tropical Pacific forests. Since 2021, he has been a key contributor to ICFC, actively mitigating the accelerated loss of biodiversity worldwide.

 

A seasoned expert in mycology, botany, and ecology, Andre engages in addressing contemporary challenges related to biodiversity loss. Dr. Andre holds a PhD in Botany from the University of Hawai‘i, a MSc in Plant Science from the University of New Hampshire, and a BSc in Biology from the University of Guelph.

 

Andre's expertise is centered on arboreal ecosystems, where he demonstrates a keen ability to navigate intricacies and recognize the interconnectedness of flora within them. Andre's understanding of ecosystems, combined with his extensive field experience and unwavering commitment to academic excellence, positions him as a valuable asset in addressing contemporary challenges in biodiversity conservation

Carlos R. Garcia, MFC

Senior Program Director

Carlos is a conservationist with over 15 years of professional experience in Canada and Latin America. His conservation and research work has focused on the effective implementation of evidence-based conservation strategies to protect and maintain biodiversity and ecological processes of ecosystems, as well as the meaningful inclusion of traditional knowledge into Western approaches. In addition, he has taught university field-based courses and led backcountry expeditions in: Brazil, Canada, Costa Rica, Guatemala, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Panama, and the U.S.  He holds a Master's degree in Forest Conservation (University of Toronto), and Bachelor's degree in Environmental Studies (York University).

Laurie Havinga

Controller

Laurie maintains our complex financial records in good order and keeps other aspects of our administration running smoothly. Laurie started her career with 10 years in the hospitality industry and for the last 21 years has run a bookkeeping & consulting business. During this time, she owned and operated 3 gyms, while serving clients in various business sectors, including not-for-profit. She bugs ICFC colleagues to keep things organized.

Scott Hecker, MSc

Director of Bird Conservation

Scott leads ICFC's Shorebird Conservation Initiative and other projects for which birds are a key focus.  Scott has devoted his career to coastal bird conservation, while also conducting lectures nationwide, publishing research papers and guidance manuals, leading professional workshops, and appearing as an expert witness in legal hearings. Notably, Scott led Piping Plover recovery efforts for the Massachusetts Audubon Society, which saw the state's population of this threatened species increase from 126 pairs in 1987 to 530 pairs in 2002. He then expanded his efforts to protect terns and shorebirds as the Director of Coastal Bird Conservation at the National Audubon Society. In 2008 he co-founded Conservian Inc., where he consults on coastal conservation in the Gulf of Mexico. Scott completed his Master's work in Belize, and has traveled extensively in Latin America and the Caribbean. Scott works with Patricia Gonzalez in managing and developing ICFC's shorebird conservation efforts.

Anne Lambert

Co-founder & staff member at large

Anne  assists with communications and evaluation of programs and potential new work. (See her reflections, as founder, on ICFC's  first 15 years.)  She has a degree in wildlife biology from the University of Guelph and worked as a biologist at Long Point Bird Observatory and at the Wildlife Research section of the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources before starting a business (Science Connection) in 1991. She currently serves on the Board of the Centre for Biodiversity Genomics.

Jackie Leppard

Administrative Support

Jackie comes from a career in Purchasing and Project Management with two small-but-mighty Nova Scotian engineering/manufacturing firms. She has a B.A. in International Development Studies earned through part-time study. Recognizing the connections between local agriculture, economy, community, environment and health, she has happily given many volunteer hours as a board member and bookkeeper helping to support a local farmers’ market. For the same reasons, she has long been a volunteer distributor of fair trade olive oil from Palestine. Jackie loves her vegetable garden and the birds and insects who love it too.

Barbara Zimmerman, PhD, OC

Kayapo Program Director and Tropical Ecologist

Barbara trained as a tropical ecologist, doing field research in the Brazilian Amazon for Master's (University of Guelph) and PhD (Florida State University) degrees on an amphibian and reptile community in terra firme forest. Since 1989 she has been working with the Kayapo Indians of Brazil's Xingu Basin to develop conservation-based economic alternatives to logging and to strengthen Kayapo capacity for territorial control so that they are able to continue to protect from deforestation 100,000 km2 of their legally ratified territories. Barbara works closely with ICFC's Kayapo NGO partners, other Brazilian NGOs and government agencies, and, of course, the Kayapo people themselves.

Associates

Susan Canney, PhD

Project Leader, Mali Elephant Project

Susan Canney leads the Mali elephant project, a joint project of ICFC and WILD Foundation. Susan has been key to research and conservation of Mali's elephants since 2003. She teaches at Oxford University, where she obtained her PhD on understanding changing human land use and its impact on a protected area in Tanzania. Susan has worked on a variety of nature conservation projects in Africa, Asia and Europe, and as a research officer at the Green College Centre for Environmental Policy & Understanding (UK). She is co-founder of the Earth Systems Science Special Interest Group of the Geological Society of London and collaborates with the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) based in Oxford. She has co-authored the book Conservation (2nd edition), published by Cambridge University Press in 2012.

Patricia M. Gonzalez

Shorebird Program Coordinator

Patricia Gonzalez has for 20 years coordinated conservation and research teams working to protect shorebird wintering and staging sites in Argentina and more recently in Uruguay. She advises provincial and federal governments in Argentina, and participates in cooperative work with teams in Argentina, Chile, Peru, Brazil, Uruguay, French Guiana, USA and Canada. She trains rangers, coordinates conservation projects and is active in public outreach, garnering much attention to shorebirds and their needs. For her pioneering work in shorebird flyway protection, in 2000 she was the first recipient of the Pablo Canevari Award for Shorebird Conservation awarded by Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences. Patricia runs our project at Bahía de San Antonio, Argentina, conducts other conservation actions and, with Scott Hecker, oversees ICFC's Shorebird Conservation Initiative.

Carmen Lishman

Associate

Carmen has a dual career as conservation biologist and speech pathologist. Doing biological field research at James Bay, Carmen developed a passion for plovers which took her to the extreme south of Argentina to study a poorly understood species called the Magellanic Plover for her Master's thesis. Once setting foot in Latin America it was hard to direct her interests elsewhere as she made connections there with conservation groups throughout South America and eventually ended up working on grassroots conservation efforts for sea turtles on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua. Since returning to Canada in 2011 she has been working with ICFC while training and now practicing as a speech pathologist. (Here, she holds a male Long-tailed Manakin, ICFC's former logo.)

Bryan Adkins, MREM

CEO, Eden Reforestation Projects; Chairman and co-founder, Kijabe Forest Trust (Kenya)

Michael de Pencier, MA, LLD, CM, O.ONT

co-founder of InvestEco; Chairman, Key Publishers Company; co-founder of GrandTrees

Adrian Forsyth, PhD

Strategic Advisor, Andes Amazon Fund; co-founder (and Board leadership roles): Andes-Amazon Initiative, Amazon Conservation Association, Osa Conservation

Daniel H. Janzen, PhD

DiMaura Professor of Conservation Biology, University of Pennsylvania, and President/co-founder of the Guanacaste Dry Forest Conservation Fund

Murray Neal, MBA, MSc, CFA

ICFC Investment Advisory Committee

Murray is an experienced public and private capital markets banker who held progressively senior positions in Government Finance, Debt Origination and Debt Syndication at Canadian and international banks.  He is an angel investor and advisor, serves on several boards, and is Venture Advisor and member of the Investment Review Committee at Leva Capital, an early stage healthcare venture capital investor.  Murray has an MBA from the Ivey School of Business, an MSc. from the University of Western Ontario and he holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation from the CFA Institute.

Stuart Pimm, PhD

Doris Duke Professor of Conservation at Duke University; Founder and President of Saving Nature

Robert Pringle, PhD

Professor, Ecology, biodiversity, and conservation, Princeton University

James (Jason) Stewart, MA

ICFC Investment Advisory Committee

Jason Stewart has been extensively involved in helping conservation causes for two decades. Jason is the President of The Youssef-Warren Foundation, a long-time funder of conservation, and co-chairs the Advisory Council of the Couchiching Conservancy. He is a former board member of Earth Rangers, and former president and chair of Lewa Canada, which supports the conservation and community development of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy in East Africa. In business, Jason has worked in financial markets, policy and research since the early 1980s. He is the author or co-author of more than 30 articles, reports and studies. Jason is an Executive in Residence at the Global Risk Institute, and a Senior Fellow at the C.D. Howe Institute. He is a board member of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, and of Innovate Cities.

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