At every step, highly qualified and dedicated professionals are involved in our operations. Hover over an individual for a brief biography.

Staff Members

Water First Staff: John Millar

John Millar, B.A., M.A.

Executive Director & Founder
John has extensive experience in First Nations engagement and non-profit management and has collaborated with nearly 50 Indigenous communities over the last 14 years. Throughout his career he has worked for and partnered with a variety of non-profit organizations focusing on community development, drinking water systems, environmental projects, education and training.
Water First Staff: Kendra Driscoll

Kendra Driscoll, M.Sc., EP

Water Quality Specialist
Before working for Water First, Kendra was the Environmental Coordinator for Wahnapitae First Nation, and she also taught Environmental Science at Cambrian College. Kendra has a background in water quality monitoring and environmental chemistry. She completed a Masters of Chemical Science from Laurentian University in Environmental Chemistry and is a certified Environmental Professional through ECO Canada. Kendra has a passion for water protection through science education.
Water First Staff: Jag Saini

Jag Saini, B.Eng., E.I.T., O.I.T

Project Manager & Instructor
Jag has a background in chemical and environmental engineering and has experience with mining and environmental projects. Jag’s experience with cross-cultural work environments, including First Nations, together with his Operator-in-Training designation and volunteerism with Professional Engineers Ontario, position him to make valuable contributions to Water First’s work.
Water First Staff: Dillon Koopmans

Dillon Koopmans, B.A., B.Ed., OCT

Educational Programs Manager
Dillon is an Ontario Certified Teacher of Potawatomi descent who holds Bachelors degrees in geography and education. He has collaborated with schools and community members in over twenty FNMI communities in Ontario, Manitoba & Quebec to deliver STEM-based science workshops and complete watershed restoration & conservation projects. He has significant experience designing and delivering in-class and land-based educational programs at the Primary, Junior, Intermediate and Senior divisions.
Water First Staff: Ami Gopal

Ami Gopal

Director of Development
Ami has over 15 years experience and a proven track record in fundraising, resource development and marketing. She is excited to nurture relationships with Water First donors and develop customized strategies to meet their needs.
Water First Staff: Carli Lang

Carli Lang, Ph.D.

Scientific Director
Carli’s Ph.D. research in parasitology brought a community-based water sampling program to rural Panama, for greater understanding of the intersection between human and environmental health. At Water First she applies her experience and passion for water and community engagement in her work with First Nations communities.
Water First Staff: Jen Atkinson

Jen Atkinson

Director of Operations
Jen is a graduate of Sir Sandford Fleming’s Ecosystem Management Program and has over sixteen years’ experience in the environmental and non-profit sector. Jen is an accomplished field technician, manager and educator with extensive knowledge in water protection, conservation, sustainability & design, finance management and collaborative program development.

Jesse Wright, M.ES.

Fish Habitat Project Coordinator
Jesse’s professional background includes extensive work as a wilderness fishing guide and environmental educator. His work at Water First focuses on fish habitat restoration in partnership with First Nations communities. He holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Studies from York University.
Water First Staff: Ted Stableforth

Ted Stableforth, M.Ed., B.PHE.

School Outreach
Carli’s Ph.D. research in parasitology brought a community-based water sampling program to rural Panama, for greater understanding of the intersection between human and environmental health. At Water First she applies her experience and passion for water and community engagement in her work with First Nations communities.
Water First Staff: Brenda Lapell

Brenda Lapell

Digital Communications Manager
With over 20 years of marketing and communications experience, Brenda has successfully developed online marketing campaigns and strategies for a variety of non-profits. She shares her vast experience to help Water First build effective public communications initiatives.
Water First Staff: Riva Dawson

Riva Dawson

Accounting
Riva’s extensive experience with bookkeeping spans nearly 30 years. With both commercial and non-profit experience, she previously worked for McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House Charities. She also runs her own independent bookkeeping business, Better Bookkeeping Solutions.
Water First Staff: Kristen Engel

Kristen Engel

Director of Finance
Kristen runs her own bookkeeping business and brings 25 years of unique business experience working with entrepreneurs. This experience has given her great insight in assisting business owners and managers utilize accounting reports and streamlining organization.
Water First Staff: Gayle Dennison

Gayle Dennison

Director of Human Resources
With an extensive management and executive career in both public and private sector covering all aspects of Human Resources, Gayle enjoys the challenge and reward of bringing that experience to support and develop human capital within growing and dynamic organizations.
Water First Staff: Ryan Osman

Ryan Osman

Water Resources Specialist
Ryan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Engineering and a Masters degree in Water Resources Engineering from the University of Guelph. Ryan’s professional background includes work in the water resources department at the Hamilton Conservation Authority, research in hydrogeology and climate change, and as a teaching assistant at the University of Guelph. He has generated visual content for the organization Waterlution and his photography work has been published internationally.
Water First Staff: Ashley Doucette

Ashley Doucette

Office Assistant
Ashley has over 5 years experience in office management and is one of the first happy faces you see when you walk through the door. She brings with her the excitement to learn and the skill of organization, as well as many other skills to assist you in your journey with Water First.
Water First Staff: Adrianna Bilinksi

Adrianna Bilinski, B. Ed., B.A.

Indigenous School Engagement Coordinator
Adrianna is an Ontario Certified Teacher, and a woman of Ojibwe descent from Beausoleil First Nation. She holds Bachelors degrees in History, Gender Studies, and Education. As an educator — both outside and within Water First — her primary focus is to raise awareness of the historical and current question of equity and equality in Canada through First Nations, Métis, and Inuit views.
Water First Staff: Cody Avery

Cody Avery

Development Manager
Cody has spent multiple years working in the environmental sector contributing to program management, water quality, and sustainable research. Cody’s experience working with students and community groups facilitating progressive change has abled him to work across Canada and in remote northern communities. Currently working in donor development and source water protection, he’s excited to be contributing to Water First.
Water First Staff: Heidi Fuller

Heidi Fuller, B.Sc., PDPP, OCT, BCCT

Learning Specialist
Heidi is a professional educator with over 16 years of experience in designing and delivering environmental and science-based youth and adult education programs. First teaching high school chemistry and biology in China. Then programs on household water treatment technologies and training of trainers in Afghanistan, Haiti and Zambia. Most recently, e-Learning courses for Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières. She is passionate about making scientific and technical information hands-on, accessible and engaging.

Greg Allan

Multimedia Coordinator
Greg has worked with brands in an array of sectors across Canada and Australia in graphic design, interactive design, and film and video. He is excited to be using his passion for videography to share the wonderful work of the Water First team.
Water First Staff: Mason Prout

Mason Prout

Social Media Coordinator
Mason comes from Thunder Bay on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Before working for Water First, he graduated from Ryerson University with a degree in Marketing Management and has worked with environmental nonprofits and tourism businesses. Most recently, he was the Environmental Point Person and Social Media Coordinator for Patagonia Toronto. Mason is excited to combine his experience with social media and design with his passion for water and community engagement in support of Water First’s digital communications.

Board of Directors

Water First Board: Gary Pritchard

Gary Pritchard

Gary is from Curve Lake First Nation and is the Manager of Energy & Environment at Cambium Aboriginal, a First Nations engineering and technical consulting firm. He has worked with and travelled to over 280 Indigenous communities and has over 14 years of work experience regarding environmental assessments, policy, project planning and permitting.
Water First Board: Leah Hagreen

Leah Hagreen, B.Sc.

With a background in environmental consulting and program management, Leah’s experience and skills inform her passion for education and water, both at home and abroad.
Water First Board: Ian Heaps

Ian Heaps

An entrepreneur with 20 plus years in building brands and sales through creative marketing and communications initiatives, Ian is co-founder of Blundstone Footwear Canada. Starting with one store in 1994, Blundstone’s distribution has grown to over 600 locations across Canada.
Water First Board: Teza Lawrence

Teza Lawrence, B.A.H.

Teza is an award winning television and film producer and co-founder of Amaze Film & Television, working with YTV, HBO & Disney among others. She balances the bright lights of the entertainment industry with the bucolic pasture of her Duntroon farm.
Water First Board: Eric King

Eric King, M.S.W., R.S.W.

A recognized leader in adolescent mental health therapy, Eric is Director of family programs at the Pine River Institute, a therapeutic boarding school. Eric also runs a private practice and he teaches at the University of Toronto in the Department of Child Psychiatry and the Faculty of Social Work.
Water First Board: Heather Murphy

Heather Murphy, Ph.D.

Heather specializes in water treatment engineering at Temple University. Previously, she was a research fellow with the Canadian Public Health Agency and also worked with UNICEF managing large-scale projects bringing water and sanitation resources to over 1000 communities in the developing world.
Water First Volunteer: Leanna O'Brien

Leanne O'Brien

With a 15-year career engaging audiences in business and non-profit sectors, Leanne holds a Master's degree in professional communication. She is grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the Water First mandate, which addresses what she considers to be the most important issue of our time in Canada. Leanne is a descendent of dual heritage, of which Métis is a part, and grew up in Toronto, where she learns tai chi.
Water First Board: Edward H. Kernaghan

Edward H. Kernaghan, M.Sc.

Ed sits on the boards of four publicly listed TSX Companies, is President of Kernwood Ltd., a private investment holding company and has over ten years experience working in the financial markets. Ed also has a passion for science and the environment, having completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in physics.

Volunteer Advisors

Water First Advisor: Murray Richardson

Murray Richardson, Ph.D.

An Associate Professor of Geography at Carleton University, Ottawa, Murray’s research focuses on watershed hydrology and mercury sensitivity, and spans geographic regions from southern Ontario to the Canadian arctic. Murray actively incorporates community engaged scholarship practices into his research at every opportunity.
Water First Advisor: Jonathan VanderSteen

Jonathan VanderSteen, Ph.D., P.Eng.

Jonathan was an engineering professor at the University of Guelph before becoming a project engineer working in the Water and Wastewater field.He has extensive experience related to civil and mechanical engineering, humanitarian engineering, and instructional and training program design.
Water First Advisor: Craig Johnson

Craig Johnson, Ph.D.

An Associate Professor of International Development & Political Science at the University of Guelph, Craig’s research and field work has been conducted with the Canadian, UK and Swiss International Development Agencies on numerous aid projects.
Water First Advisor: Jackie Pye

Jackie Pye, B.Sc., M.Ed.

Jackie has been a teacher and guidance counsellor for 20 years and currently works as a consultant designing educational programs and curriculum. She has written for Ontario Ecoschools, and is currently developing secondary curriculum with the Katavik School Board and Inspire Nunavut; She’s also developing an Arctic focussed climate change curriculum in collaboration with Darkspace.
Water First Advisor: Jim MacPherson

Jim MacPherson, LL.B.

Jim practiced commercial law in Toronto from 1972 until his retirement in 2010. Jim’s previous community volunteerism has spanned a variety of roles, such as President of the University of Toronto Schools Parent Association, President of the Brazil-Canada Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of Lawyers Associated Worldwide; and Chairman of the Purple Hills Arts & Heritage Society.
Water First Advisor: Bob Rae

Bob Rae

Bob Rae is a former Premier of Ontario and a former interim leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He now advocates for First Nations on a number of issues, including the right to safe drinking water.

Operations Volunteers

Water First Volunteer: Jocelyn Andrews

Jocelyn Andrews

Salesforce Administrator
With a Master’s in Library Studies and over a decade of library systems experience, Jocelyne has more recently re-directed her database expertise to work with a variety of clients on the Salesforce platform. When she’s not in front of a computer, she can often be found hiking or paddling a canoe with her family in the Canadian wilderness.
Water First Volunteer: Daisy Enright

Daisy Enright

Youth Education
Daisy holds an Honours Bachelors of Arts degree from the University of Toronto, with a double major in Canadian Studies and Indigenous Studies. Passionate about Human Rights and water health and accessibility, Daisy is excited to learn and grow with Water First, executing lesson plans and workshops for children across Canada.