Our Team

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

Staff

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Dillon Koopmans, B. Ed., OCT

    Educational Programs Manager

  • Dillon holds Bachelor degrees in Geography and Education and has significant teaching experience in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions. He is also engaged as a teacher facilitator in several youth leadership courses, including Indigenous Leadership Gatherings, at the Ontario Educational Leadership Centre. Dillon is of Potawatomi descent with ancestral roots from the Parry Sound area.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Jesse Wright, MES

    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.

  • Ted Stableforth, M.Ed., B.PHE.

    School Outreach

  • Ted was a Principal in the Simcoe District School Board for 10 years and a teacher for 25 years. Ted brings to Water First a wealth of educational and and administrative experience and a passion for educational program development and school outreach.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • Kristen Engel

    Accounting

  • 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.

  • Gayle Dennison

    Human Resources

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

  • Ryan Osman

    Water Resources Specialist

  • Ryan holds a Bachelor’s degree in an Environmental Engineering and a Master’s 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 was a teaching assistant at the University of Guelph. He also has experience in visual communication, has generated visual content for the organization Waterlution and his photography work has been published internationally.

  • 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.

  • Olga Kalomiris, Hon.B.A., B.Ed.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Olga is an Ontario-certified teacher in the junior, intermediate and senior divisions, specializing in Geography, the Social Sciences, and Health and Physical Education. As an Outreach Instructor with Water First, Olga is committed to engaging and empowering youth, while raising awareness about First Nations water challenges.

  • Simone Butters

    Outreach Instructor

  • Simone is an Ontario Certified Teacher (qualified to work in the primary, junior and intermediate divisions), and an environmentally conscious citizen with a passion for social justice. While her specialization is in Science and Languages, she has also taught Geography. As an Outreach Instructor at Water First, Simone aims to positively influence change in society by educating young people with a hands-on approach about real-world First Nations water challenges in connection with water science.

  • Adrianna Bilinski, B. Ed., B.A.

    Outreach Instructor

  • Adrianna is an Ontario Certified Teacher, and a woman of Ojibwe decent front Beausoleil First Nation. She holds her 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.