Staff and board

Meet our staff and Board members!


John McDonnell, Executive Director – Ottawa Valley Chapter
Born and raised in rural west Quebec, John joined CPAWS Ottawa Valley as Executive Director in the spring of 2007. He holds a degree in forestry as well as in Canadian History and in political science from the University of Ottawa. He has a passion for the outdoors, having visited many of our national and provincial parks. In his spare time, he is restoring an 1840′s vintage log cabin located in the forests of his farm and he is developing a network of hiking and snowshoe trails on his property. Before joining CPAWS Ottawa Valley, John was Director of the Forêt-la-Blanche Ecological Reserve, a rare old-growth forest north of Buckingham, in the municipality of Mayo, Quebec. He serves on the board of several local organizations and has a passion for connecting people to nature.
Conservation Biologist - Vacant


Leah Viau, Education Coordinator


Leah Viau is from the Ottawa Valley and grew up in the country outside of Merrickville, Ontario. She always had a love for nature and animals, and therefore dreamed about working with animals. She worked at her town’s Veterinary Clinic as a student for one year, then attended Carleton University for her Bachelor of Science Degree with hopes of going to Guelph University after her undergrad for study in Veterinary Medicine. However, she had a professor who taught about wildlife conservation which made her realize other interests of hers. She later refocused her study from cellular and molecular biology to conservation and ecology. She graduated from Carleton University in 2016 and was hired as the Road Ecology Technician with CPAWS-OV, working first hand with Conservation Biologist Elena Kreuzberg to study how certain roads in the Ottawa Valley impact wildlife. She has since taken on the title of Education Coordinator and works to provide presentations and outdoor programming for children and youth. It is known that having a positive connection with nature is an important aspect of healthy development.


Jesse Lever, Conservation Outreach Coordinator


Jesse Lever grew up in the Ottawa Valley and had an interest in the environment from an early age. For her bachelors, Jesse studied Anthropology and Biology from the University of Ottawa and has taken courses in ecology, conservation biology, animal behaviour and human ecology. Jesse recently graduated with a Masters in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies from Trent University with her thesis: Tłı̨chǫ, Co-Management and the Bathurst Caribou Herd, 2009-2010 examining wildlife co-management in the Northwest Territories. In 2013 Jesse took part in a month long field course in the Northwest Territories to better understand northern issues and help direct her thesis research. She had the opportunity to spend time with Dene at their fishing camps, visited communities, met various experts, walked the land and listened to stories. Jesse has worked as a teaching assistant at Trent University and as video archivist for Students On Ice. In addition to her work with CPAWS, she is also tutoring at Nunavut Sivuniksavut and volunteering for the Nature Conservancy of Canada.


Board of directors


Soren Antosz, Chapter President, Chair - Gatineau Park Committee  


Soren was raised in Kingston Ontario, but has made much of Canada his home, living in BC, Alberta, Manitoba and now Gatineau Québec. After spending a number of years out west, Soren moved to the National Capital Region in 2010 to join the Public Service of Canada as a Project Manager / Business Analyst.  Soren also brings a background in marketing to the chapter. His favourite ways to explore nature include hiking, cycling, skiing (both x-country and alpine), and paddling.

Soren has an appreciation for natural areas going back to childhood, inspired by camping trips with his father and early years as a Kingston Junior Naturalist. Approximatey 6 years ago, Soren joined CPAWS-OV as a volunteer after discovering the magnificence of Gatineau Park, and recognizing its need for legislative protection.  He helped launch the Make it a Real Park campaign, and now chairs the CPAWS-OV Gatineau Park Committee, a group of devoted volunteers who have been working on establishing Gatineau Park's protection for over 45 years.  


Brian Roadhouse, Chapter Vice-President, Chair - Outreach and Engagement Committee


As a naturalist, canoeist, camper and cross-country skier Brian has been a regular user of provincial and national parks, and other wilderness areas since childhood.  He has a long-standing interest in the geology, plants and animals of Canada, and the natural systems that sustain them.  He is retired from the federal public service where he worked as a program director and policy analyst in the public health and social services fields, and has skills and experience in strategic planning, collaboration with government and non-government organizations, and program management.   He has been a CPAWS member for 20 years, and is a member and supporter of other environmental organizations such as Ontario Nature and Ecojustice.   He joined the Ottawa Valley Chapter Board in 2014 to take a more active role in preserving and expanding protected natural areas throughout the region.


Stephen Knowles, Chapter Secretary

Stephen is currently retired after 35 years with the public service. He has worked for Parks Canada and the Procedural Service of the House of Commons. Among his many assignments was an interesting position as the Clerk of the Standing Committee on Environmental and Sustainable Development. It is through his work at Parks Canada that he discovered his affinity for the outdoors and the natural environment. Stephen enjoys canoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking and volunteer as a patrol for Gatineau Park. He lives with his wife Christine in Aylmer.

Stephen has been actively involved with CPAWS since its inception. In 1983, he joined the Ottawa Valley (Chapter’s) Board of Directors serving for six years as Secretary and Vice-President. After retirement he rejoined the Board in 2006 as Secretary. Stephen brings to CPAWS his knowledge of Parliament and governmental procedures and his interest in Quebec issues. Stephen is immensely proud of the work and achievements of CPAWS, and of the dedication of staff members and supporters.

Ken Brownlee, Chapter Treasurer
Ken joined the Board in 2013 and brings his experience in the business and outdoor communities to the Board. Ken serves as the Treasurer for the Board taking a leadership and supporting role in administrative matters for the Organization.  Ken is a Chartered Professional Accountant and Chartered Accountant, currently working in public practice with Welch LLP. He also has experience attending  and participating in Board as well as Audit Committee meetings for Public, Private and Not-for-profit organizations. Ken enjoys his time in the outdoors with his family in West Ottawa and at his family’s cottage on the Madawaska River System.He is an ardent supporter of outdoor education as a means of developing strong teams and individuals as well as leadership skills and conservation issues with respect to the areas great natural spaces.



Jay Morrison

Jay Morrison is a retired former senior manager in the federal public service specializing in performance management and accountability issues. He has been on the CPAWS Ottawa Valley Board for a dozen years and has been responsible for the Dumoine River campaign since 2005. Jay is also a board member of the Friends of Temagami and is the Environment committee chair for Paddle Canada and has extensive links to the outdoor recreation community. Starting in 2006, Jay paddled 8,000 km across Canada, from Les Escoumins, Quebec to Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to raise awareness of the threats facing Canada's wilderness. Jay lives in Wakefield, Quebec.

Diane Beckett
Diane assists non-governmental organizations, governments, the United Nations and universities in Canada and internationally to address sustainability challenges with a focus on integrated approaches that embed environmental and social considerations into decision-making. She has designed and implemented policies and programs, provided strategic advice, supported capacity building and organizational change, and developed and implemented initiatives to influence policy and increase public and professional awareness for more than three dozen organizations. This work has taken her across Canada and to almost a dozen countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Examples include developing a framework for a 5 year Myanmar national social and commercial forestry program for UNDP-FAO, and implementing advocacy activities for Nobel Peace Laureates who work to magnify the power and visibility of those working for peace, human rights and equality, as well as climate justice.
Nik Lopoukhine, Chair - Conservation Committee
Nik brings to the board deep conservation & ecological experience, including development of land mapping of ecosystems  (Waterton Lakes National Park, Gatineau Park, Pukaskwa National Park) and the first ecologic land classification efforts in Labrador (for Torngat Mountains National Park and Mealy Mountains National Park).  He retired from Parks Canada in 2005 as Director General of National Parks. During his career with Parks Canada he was responsible for leading the development of current fire management strategies, climate change awareness, and ecological restoration & monitoring.  After retirement from Parks Canada, he chaired for two terms the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas and currently serves on the board of the US Wildlands Network.  Author of many publications, in 2012 he received the CPAWS Harkin Medal for lifetime achievement in conservation for promoting scientific discussion & conservation within Parks Canada and for promoting Canadian conservation & park values globally. As well, Nik was awarded the Golden Leaf Award by CCEA in 2013 and the Brandwein Institute Medal in 2014.

Nik is very familiar with CPAWS and looks forward to continuing to contribute to national parks and wilderness issues, including marine issues, ecological integrity, connecting the next generation to nature, and greater involvement with indigenous peoples.


Paul Lemoine


Paul was raised in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. He learned how to ski, skate, cycle and play hockey growing up in this beautiful region of Quebec. He also saw the terrible effects industrial pollution has on the region’s rivers, lakes and air quality.

Paul was educated in political science and public administration at the University of Ottawa and Carleton University. He is currently retired after 33 years with the public service. For most of hiscareer, he worked for the Library of Parliament’s Information and Research Service. Through numerous assignments, he had an inside look at the workings of Canada’s parliamentary system. He also became keenly aware of the importance of legal protection for Canada’s parks and natural environment.

Paul joined CPAWS OV as a volunteer in 2013. His main interest was to gain legal status and protection for Gatineau Park. He is also interested in the Algonquin to Adirondacks Program that is trying to ensure connectivity and restore biodiversity in a large area between northern New York State and eastern Ontario from Algonquin Park to the Adirondack Mountains. He was elected to the CPAWS OV Board in 2014 and, as a result, has been able to take a more active role in the chapter’s campaigns and governance.

When not at his home in Gatineau, Paul can be found at his farm close to the extreme north western boundary of Gatineau Park. With his wife Sylvie, he enjoys gardening, mountain biking, cross-country skiing and recently, snowshoeing.


Jane Maxwell


Jane spent much of her career life in Toronto, working in the field of international development with a number of NGOs for over 25 years. She moved into the field of fundraising in her later career, continuing her work in the field of international development and social justice. In 2005 she moved to Ottawa for work and has been enjoying the National Capital and Gatineau Park ever since. She is now retired and is an active volunteer with a number of Not For Profits.

Jane is an outdoors person, a keen paddler, cyclist, hiker and cross country skier. Gatineau Park is her 'second home' and she would dearly love to help CPAWS-OV achieve its goal of legislated protection for the Park. She has visited many of Canada's national and provincial parks over her lifetime and really values CPAWS's campaigns to protect and preserve Canada's natural spaces and wildlands. Jane joined the CPAWS OV board in 2016 and hopes to contribute her fundraising knowledge and experience to CPAWS OV’s special event planning and public engagement activities.

Sara O'Neill


Sara is a Senior Research Associate for the Cities & Communities program at Smart Prosperity Institute, which is a national research network and policy think tank based at the University of Ottawa. She started her education with an Honours Bachelor degree in Biology at Queen’s University before embarking on a Master of Environmental Design (Planning) degree at the University of Calgary. She then worked as an environmental planner for Conservation Authorities in Ontario for a number of years, reviewing the impact of potential development on the environment. It was here that she discovered the importance of economics and policy in on-the-ground environmental decision-making and the impacts of those decisions on communities and people. Eventually she moved to Ottawa and enrolled in the Master of Environmental Sustainability program at the University of Ottawa, working on pricing signals for combatting urban sprawl as well as environmental justice issues in city sustainability planning. Outside of the work realm, Sara prefers to be running amok in the wilderness, whether it be hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, biking, camping, or just taking pictures of the natural beauty of the world around us! Gatineau Park is her favourite spot to recharge and she hopes that some day it will be protected for all generations to come!


Lese Turner


Lese is a lawyer who works in the public sector. Before pursuing law, Lese completed an undergraduate degree in biology with a focus on ecology.

An avid traveller and outdoor enthusiast, over the years, Lese has been making a point of visiting as many of Canada's national parks as she can. Some of her favourite parks include Kluane National Park (Yukon), Waterton Lakes National Park (Alberta) and the Prince Edward Island National Park (PEI).

She recently spent the past few years living in Canada's far North and being spoiled by the purity of the land. When Lese eventually moved to Ottawa, she had a desire to remain connected to nature. This desire led to Lese joining the Board of the CPAWS Ottawa Valley Chapter in [Spring 2015]. As a member of the Board, Lese is pleased to have the opportunity to play a role in helping to protect the natural areas that she so treasures.