Board of Directors


Brandon Williamson, President

Brandon is currently a Land Management Technician at the Upper Thames River Conservation Authority. He is an Associate R.P.F. and ISA Arborist who has over 20 years experience in tree risk assessment, ecological restoration including invasive species management, forest health and forest management. At the UTRCA he is responsible for managing 12 of London’s Environmentally Significant Areas including all aspects of trail management, invasive species/ecological restoration, education, encroachment and enforcement. Brandon is actively involved as a member of the OPFA Private Land Forestry Working Group, OPFA Complaints Committee, Forest Gene Conservation Association (FGCA) Species Conservation Committee, and the UTRCA representative on the City of London Trees and Forests Advisory Committee, not to mention several UTRCA committees/teams. When not working Brandon can be found on a sports field or arena with his 2 kids, or canoeing and camping throughout Ontario.

Ori Urquhart (They/Them), Past President

Ori Urquhart found their love for nature as a child, mucking about in the wetlands and forests of Northumberland County. They are the owner and Principal Ecologist at Blazing Star Environmental. They founded the company in 2015 to support all individuals, organizations and governments that are trying to ensure that sustaining a healthy environment is part of all aspects of growth in Ontario. Before Blazing Star Environmental, Ori worked for nearly 6 years as an ecologist and land manager at Ontario Nature where they managed the nature reserve system and Citizen Science program. Ori completed two degrees at the University of Guelph: an Honours B.Env.Sc. in Ecology and a M.Sc. degree in Zoology.

Michael Farrell, Vice-President

Michael graduated from Queen’s University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Environmental Science and from Concordia University with a Masters of Environment in Environmental Assessment. Michael has represented Hydro One on the OIPC board since August 2015.  He works in the Environmental Services group at Hydro One dealing with environmental regulations, including species at risk & invasive species.

Voting Directors

John Foster, Director at Large

John has been an Occasional Teacher with the Durham District School Board for several years. He teaches French Immersion to students in the Primary and Junior Divisions. He has diplomas in Landscape Technology from Humber College. He obtained his Biology and Education degrees from Lakehead University. Currently he is the Vice-President of the Pickering Naturalists. He is an active Director at Large on the South Shore Joint Initiative (SSJI) and Tallgrass Ontario (TGO). He is the current editor of the SSJI  newsletter The South Shoreliner. He is a member of the TGO Rice Lake Plains Committee. He writes articles for newsletters and does inventories of Birds and Plants with various BioBlitzes. He enjoys doing photography, sketching, painting and birding.

Karen McDonald, Toronto Region Conservation Authority

Karen is a Senior Manager at the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. She works with a dynamic team overseeing ecological restoration projects in the Toronto area, including invasive plant management.  Karen is a contributing author for the City of Toronto Biodiversity series and is on the Bird Studies Canada board of directors.  She is a former councillor with the Toronto Ornithological Club, and past chair of the Durham Environmental Advisory Committee.  Karen is a self-described native plant champion.

Dr. Mhairi McFarlane, Nature Conservancy of  Canada

Mhairi McFarlane grew up in Scotland, where she completed an Honours Ecology degree from the University of Stirling. She then completed her PhD in Ecology from the University of Exeter in Cornwall. Her thesis was on the behavioural ecology of Cape Sugarbirds in South Africa. She moved to Ontario in 2006, and had short contracts with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Bird Studies Canada before joining the Nature Conservancy of Canada in March 2008. She worked as the Conservation Biologist for southwestern Ontario before becoming the Conservation Science Manager for Ontario in September 2014.

Jon L. Peter, Royal Botanical Gardens

Jon L. Peter has diplomas in horticulture from the University of Guelph and from the prestigious Niagara Parks Commission School of Horticulture. Jon has worked at some of the finest botanical institutions in North America, including the Arnold Arboretum, The Morton Arboretum & the New York Botanical Garden. Jon is currently Curator & Manager of Plant Records at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Ontario.

Cara Webster, City of Toronto

Cara Webster represents the City of Toronto Urban Forestry Branch as the Supervisor of the Natural Resource Management Unit.  She has worked for the City of Toronto for 20 years overseeing staff, volunteer programs and contracted services to implement tree planting, restoration and invasive plant control projects. The Natural Resource Management unit has developed expertise in chemical and physical control methods of invasive plants and management of oak savannah habitat.  Cara is a past graduate of the University of Toronto (Zoology BSc) and the Niagara College Ecosystem Restoration Post-Graduate Diploma.’

Non-Voting Directors

Paula Berketo, Ministry of Transportation

Paula is a graduate of the School of Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph and has been a licensed Landscape Architect since 1993. She is presently the Principal Landscape Architect at the Ministry of Transportation and oversees all aspects of design, planting and specifications for work along the provincial highways. In this role she is involved in the development of plant and seed lists and assists with project oversight and maintenance requirements dealing with invasive plants.  Prior to working for the MTO, she worked on a variety of private consulting projects including the design of cemeteries, parks, streetscape and tourist developments. Between 1996 and 2007 Paul taught landscape design and estimating at Niagara College and Niagara Parks.

Kristen Obeid, Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Kristen has a master’s degree in weed science from the University of Manitoba and an honors bachelor of science degree in agriculture from the University of Guelph. As OMAFRA’s Weed Management Specialist for Horticulture crops, she leads the development, coordination and implementation of programs related to weed management issues in Ontario. Kristen is a past recipient of the Deputy Minister’s Award for her work as a provincial vegetable specialist and the recent recipient of the Excellence in Weed Science Extension Award from the Canadian Weed Science Society (CWSS) for her current work.  Kristen previously spent several years with the Ontario Greenhouse Vegetable Growers and in the private sector coordinating research trials in support of new product registrations.

Francine MacDonald, Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry

Bio coming soon.

Prabir Roy, Parks Canada

Prabir has been an Ecosystem Scientist working for Parks Canada since 2007. He completed his Ph.D. (2002) in the field of biology from Dalhousie University and postdoctoral studies at Cornell University. At Parks Canada, his current interests concentrate on forecasting ecological change, the important of invasive species and habitat restoration. He’s published more than 20 scientific articles in peer reviewed journals.

OIPC Bylaws