OLTA Board of Governors

Kristie Virgoe - Chair

Program Manager, Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust

Kristie Virgoe is the Program Manager at the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust. She started her career with the Kawartha Conservation where she led the Stewardship and Land Protection divisions for over 8 years as the Manager of Environmental Protection and Restoration.  Since that time she has worked for the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA) as Program Manager and the Muskoka Conservancy as their Executive Director from 2012 to 2015.

D. Gayle Wood - Vice Chair

Retired - Conservation Authorities

Gayle Wood has a long career in integrated watershed management commencing with her Bachelor of Environmental Studies Degree from the University of Waterloo. Gayle has augmented her education with Certificates in Strategic Management from York University and Alternative Dispute Resolution from the University of Windsor. Gayle has worked with the Provincial Ministries of Natural Resources and Forestry and Environment and Climate Change. Ontario’s Conservation Authorities are her passion having worked for the Niagara Peninsula, Ganaraska Region, Lake Simcoe Region and Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authorities. She has served these CA’s for 37 years; having worked for three of them as their Chief Administrative Officer. Gayle’s work has extended internationally. Gayle currently serves on the International Joint Commission’s Water Quality Board and the International River Prize Judging Committee.  Her volunteer work focuses on youth mentoring and facilitating organizations in the development of their Strategic Plans.

George Gordon - Secretary

An interest environmental issues has followed George all his life. He has been a member of the Bruce Trail Conservancy since the mid 1960’s. In the 1990’s he worked on strategic planning, land acquisition and fundraising for the BTC. Later, George was on the board of the Escarpment Biosphere Conservancy. More recently, he has worked with the Northumberland Land Trust as a member of the board and was President in 2010. His current focus with NLT is fundraising. From 1973 to 2003 George worked for Canada Post retiring as a Retail Business Manager. He is married to Margaret and they live in Hastings On. George is an avid photographer.

Bill Lougheed – Treasurer

Executive Director, Georgian Bay Land Trust

Bill has a cumulative 20 years in CEO, VP and Executive Director capacities in not-for-profit and for-profit organizations. He has been responsible for operating budgets of $1M, sourced through fundraising, raising venture capital, planned giving and scientific grants. Bill has a lifetime of interest in conservation and land stewardship in Georgian Bay. He is VP of Madawaska Club (Georgian Bay) which owns and stewards 1300 acres of wilderness property on Georgian Bay.  Bill is the Executive Director of the Georgian Bay Land Trust since July 2013.

Mark Bisset – Governor

Executive Director, The Couchiching Conservancy

Mark Bisset is the executive director of The Couchiching Conservancy. He leads a team that has helped protect several thousand acres of important natural habitat in the Orillia region and has built upon a record that makes it one of the leading land trusts in Ontario. It has embarked on a major stewardship initiative in the 4,000-acre Copeland Forest and continues its work on the Carden Plain. Mark spent 25 years working in the media, much of that time as managing editor of The Orillia Packet & Times, where his strong environmentalist bent set the editorial tone for the daily publication which won numerous awards under his guidance. Mark holds a BA in English and History from the University of Western Ontario. His volunteer work in the community spans a number of organizations and charities. He lives in Orillia with his wife and two children.

Barbara Heidenreich - Governor

Heritage Tree Advisor, Forests Ontario & OUFC

Trained in the fields of economic development, ecology, business, international policy, planning and conservation, Barb has worked for the private sector as well as all levels of government. Barb has extensive experience in management and fundraising in the not-for-profit sector. She served for ten years as a volunteer on the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority and as one of the founding members and President of the Kawartha Land Conservancy. Education and mentoring has always been a part of Barb’s career preferences and she was an Associate Professor at Trent University (Indigenous Studies; Environmental Studies) and Centre Director for the School for Field Studies. She currently teaches part time at Fleming College and runs Fernhill Farms (200 acres in South Monaghan) and Innisfree Farm (100 acres in Innisfil Twp). Barb’s Order in Council appointments in Ontario include the Board of Directors of Ontario Hydro (1991) and Member of the Ontario Municipal Board (1991-1997).

Paul Peterson - Governor

Partner, HGR Graham Partners LLP

Paul Peterson is a lawyer in private practice with a focus on municipal planning, land development and environmental issues. He also has a long standing interest in land conservation and has worked on behalf of property owners, land trusts and government agencies on many land protection projects across the province. Paul was one of the founding Board members at OLTA and after a few years away is seeking a renewed opportunity to contribute to the important work of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance.

Frank Shaw - Governor

Frank Shaw is a retired Executive Manager (Ontario Public Service) with 40 years of experience in governance, resources management and land-use planning with several Ontario ministries and non-profit agencies including the St. Lawrence Parks Commission and the Niagara Escarpment Commission. He graduated in 1967 with a B.Sc. in Biology and became a Professional Agrologist (P.Ag.) in 1973. Frank has also been a volunteer advisor/consultant in non-profit leadership for local conservation and community groups in Pennsylvania and Ontario. Frank joined the Oak Ridges Moraine Land Trust in 2001 and has served as Director, Land Chair, Secretary and Vice President. Since 2012, he has been with the Ontario Farmland Trust and is currently Board Secretary and Governance Chair. In 2015, he was appointed to the Board of the Ontario Land Trust Alliance (OLTA). Frank is also joint owner/manager of the family century farm in Norfolk County and a managed escarpment forest in Bruce County.

Stephanie Sobek-Swant - Governor

Executive Director, rare Charitable Research Reserve

Stephanie is an internationally trained biodiversity researcher, with experience in leading people and administering large collaborative projects. She graduated with a Ph.D. in Biodiversity and Ecology from Germany’s University of Gottingen. Since coming to Canada in 2008, Stephanie has held research positions at the Universities of Waterloo and Western, and most recently taught as an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. Stephanie has been the senior manager in charge of rare Charitable Research Reserve, a land trust and environmental institute in Waterloo Region, as their Executive Director, since January 2014. Stephanie now lives with her husband, a Waterloo native, and daughter in Kitchener. In her spare time, Stephanie tries to read at least 52 books per year, and is also known as a prolific knitter and crocheter.