Our Team

The programs of ACER are being led and executed by a number of extraordinary and talented individuals who make up the staff, a science advisory council and board of directors.


Founding President – Alice Casselman

A science department head for most of her 35 years of teaching, Alice Casselman also worked for the Toronto Region Conservation Authority for 20 years and was a member of several writing teams for the Etobicoke Biology Curricula and Outdoor Education and Resource documents. Alice was a founding member and chair of the Council of Outdoor Educators of Ontario (COEO), founding director and assistant instructor of the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School (COBWS) and founding teacher of Etobicoke School of Arts (ESA). In 1984, Alice received the Chairman’s Award from COEO. She served on the Board of Directors of the Carolinian Canada Coalition. She has received numerous awards for her work. In 1987, she founded ACER.


Program Manager – Nimesha Basnayaka

Nimesha Basnayaka is a recent graduate from the University of Toronto with a Honours Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and Geography. She joined the ACER team after a year long internship, during which she set up a TreeCaching trail at the University of Toronto Mississauga (UTM) campus. She is passionate about ACER’s mission of teaching people about climate change through citizen science.


Science Advisory Council

Don MacIver

Nobel Laureate, Don MacIver was a senior Environment Canada Scientist for many years and is one of Canada’s leading scientists who worked on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 with U.S. vice-president, Al Gore. He co-chaired the World Meteorological climate conference in 2007. He is currently Mayor of Amaranth, Dufferin County Councilor and Vice-Chair of the Credit Valley Conservation Board.


Heather Auld

Currently the Principal Climate Scientist for Risk Scientists International, Health Auld worked with both Environment Canada and the Department of National Defence in climate science, climate services and climate change adaptation, weather forecasting and operations, training, and stakeholder consultations for 32 years. As one of Canada’s foremost engineering climatologists, she is recognized nationally and internationally for her expertise in climate change impacts and adaptation research, engineering climatology for national codes and standards, energy-climate research, extreme event and forensic analyses, disaster risk reduction planning, and science-policy linkages. Ms. Auld has served on both the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) expert groups. In Canada, Ms. Auld is a main climate science advisor to Canada’s National Codes Commission.


Marianne Karsh

Marianne Karsh is a forester and research scientist with a passion to help connect people with the earth. After obtaining a Masters in Forestry from the University of Toronto, Marianne has worked as a forest research scientist in Canada, The United States and Iceland. As a senior scientist for Environment Canada, specializing in biodiversity and climate change, she authored/co-authored numerous scientific publications, including a chapter in Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainability in the Americas: Impacts and Adaptations [Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press] and Climate Change and Biodiversity: Implications for Monitoring, Science and Adaptive Planning [Environment Canada].


Sadia Butt

Sadia Butt is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto whose areas of research include Climate Change, Environmental Science, Earth Sciences, Africa, Urban Forestry, and Agroforestry. She is the author of several papers on forestry and climate change including South Central Ontario Forest Biodiversity: Monitoring Plots Analysis, which is available on the ACER website. In 2015, Sadia received the Gordon Cressy Student Leadership Award for dedication and enthusiasm to forestry.


Madelyn Webb

Madelyn Webb develops community approaches to environmental issues. Originally trained as a freshwater scientist, Madelyn’s work focuses on building community through education, training and practical projects to enhance the social and environmental development of individuals and contribute to the protection of our air, forests and water. As an entrepreneur, Madelyn has been President of Webb & Associates Inc. for more than a decade. Her specialty is facilitating multi-stakeholder and diverse groups to understand their common goals and build on community knowledge for recycling, watershed management and forest stewardship. She holds a B.Sc. from McGill, M.Sc. from University of Toronto and MBA from York University. She trained as a facilitator with the ICA (Institute for Cultural Affairs, Canada) and received her TESL certificate from the TDSB.


Board of Directors

President, Jill Cunningham

Jill Cunningham is an accomplished financial manager and director of community engagement who has spent over 20 years working in the non-profit sector. She is committed to improving organizational effectiveness in order to deliver maximum impact while promoting social change. She has led through times of great transition, most recently as Co-Executive Director of Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter. While she was responsible for finances, fundraising and community engagement, she oversaw the successful re-building of the entire shelter and transformed the fundraising program into one that focused on engaging broader communities of supporters.


Vice President, John Cary

John has held managerial positions in the provincial silviculture and nursery production programs, and has been an expert witness on Forest Management. At MNR’s Head Office at Queen’s Park he worked on forest policy and legislation to change how the province managed crown land forests in the development and proclamation of the Crown Forest Sustainability Act in 1994. He has provided advice to agencies of government including Management Board and Cabinet Office and to Ministers and Deputy Ministers on forestry matters. Since 1998, John has been consulting, mainly in forestry. His work has mainly involved forest policy matters, legislation, managing forest research programs and forest management audits. He has been a Director of the Ontario Forestry Association and is a past President of the Ontario Professional Foresters Association and is Chair Emeritus of Trees Ontario.


Secretary, Sonya Wieler

Sonya Wieler currently works for IDEXX Laboratories, a worldwide leader in veterinary diagnostics, and has held several Quality/Process Excellence-related positions over the last 11 years within that organization. In addition, she has been a member of the American Society for Quality (Toronto Chapter) for the past 7 years and is an IDEXX-certified Lean Six Sigma Green Belt. A former graduate of the University of Guelph (B.Sc.) and University of Toronto (M.Sc., Medical Biophysics), Sonya brings to ACER her extensive experience in protocol development and validation; design of experiments; quality auditing and quality management; data analysis, training program development; and driving/leading Continuous Improvement initiatives.


Leah Casselman

Leah was the Executive Director of the Occupational Health Clinic for Ontario Workers – Hamilton clinic since February 2008 until she retired in 2013. Prior to that, she was the president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) for 12 years where she was pivotal in bringing about mergers with the Allied Health Professionals (AHP) and the Ontario Liquor Boards’ Employees Union (OLBEU) and leading the union through the most eventful period of public-sector downsizing and reorganization in Ontario history. With the Leah Cassalman Award, designated annually, OPSEU recognizes an individual who exemplifies what one voice can do to make a change in the world.


Irene Katkov

Retired business woman.

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