Dr. Sara Scheer - Keynote Address

Dr. Scherr is an agricultural and natural resource economist specializing in land management policy in tropical developing countries. She has been a prominent voice globally in promoting the restoration of degraded agricultural lands for food security and rural livelihoods, and is a leading innovator in integrated landscape management. She is an expert in the economics of sustainable agriculture and agroforestry and the design of payments to farmers and farming communities for ecosystem stewardship. She founded EcoAgriculture Partners in 2002, and in 2011 co-founded the global Landscapes for People, Food and Nature Initiative, which she now chairs.

Before founding EcoAgriculture Partners, Dr. Scherr held positions as Director of Ecosystem Services at the non-profit Forest Trends; adjunct professor at the University of Maryland, College Park, USA; co-leader of the CGIAR Gender Program; senior research fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington, D.C.; and principal researcher at the World Agroforestry Centre based in Nairobi, Kenya. She was a Fulbright Scholar (1976) and a Rockefeller Social Science Fellow (1985-87). Dr. Scherr received her BA in Economics at Wellesley College in Massachusetts, and her MSc and PhD in International Economics and Development at Cornell University in New York.

Dr. Sandeep Agrawal

Dr. Agrawal is an urban and regional planner whose research interests include land use and regional planning, international development, multiculturalism and human rights. His most recent works are on human rights and municipal bylaws, and regional and rural planning in Alberta. His international works include high density rural regions of India, effects of tall buildings in Colombo, Sri Lanka and evaluation of housing affordability programs in the United Arab Emirates. His newly co-authored book “Understanding India’s new Approach to Spatial planning and Development: A Salient Shift?” is published by the Oxford University Press. He recently completed a SSHRC/IRCC funded project on documenting the settlement experience of Syrian refugees in Alberta. His SSHRC-funded pan-Canadian work on human rights and the city and Alberta Land Institute – funded municipal annexations in Alberta are currently ongoing. Dr. Agrawal served on City of Edmonton’s Subdivision and Development Appeal Board. He currently serves on the Alberta Municipal Government Board.

Norine Ambrose

In her 18 years with Cows and Fish, Norine has focused on working with landowners, communities and natural resource professionals to help them recognize the value of riparian areas, and what they can do to maintain these areas as healthy, productive pieces of our landscape.  Her work with community leaders, organisations and agencies emphasises sharing lessons learned in effective program design and delivery. She combines her wetland ecology research experiences from the University of Alberta with extensive development of new outreach and monitoring tools at Cows and Fish, to help bridge science, management and education around riparian ecosystems.   

Mark Comerford

Mark Comerford is the Director of Projects at the Watershed Adaptation and Resilience Branch in Alberta Environment and Parks.  He works with municipalities, First Nations, Non-Government Organizations, community associations, key stakeholders, and other branches of the Alberta Government to improve the flood and drought resilience of communities through standalone projects and grant funding to municipalities. 

Immediately after the June 2013 floods, Mark assisted in the formation of the Flood Recovery Task force, an ad hoc group of government volunteers, brought together from across the Alberta Public Service, to manage recovery efforts from the worst flooding event in the Province’s history. He took the post of Director Recovery Coordination and led a team of empathetic, dedicated and caring public service employees to help those impacted by the floods in their recovery, which he found to be an extremely humbling and rewarding experience. 

In May 2014, Mark joined the Resilience and Mitigation Branch, as it was known then, and continued working closely with impacted communities as the Director Stakeholder Engagement, strengthening the close working relationships created during the immediate recovery phase.  Mark is currently in the process of completing a Masters in Business Administration in Executive Management at Royal Roads University, Victoria while working full time.

Dr. Evan Davies

Dr. Evan Davies is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta and specializes in systems analysis and modeling. Dr. Davies’ work has been published in top water resources, social sciences, and global-change journals including Advances in Water Resources, the Hydrological Sciences Journal, Hydrological Processes, Human Ecology, the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control, and Technological Forecasting and Social Change.

Dr. Davies was the principal investigator for our Systems Modeling Sustainable Land and Water Policy in Alberta's Irrigation System. 





Dr. Leith Deacon

Leith Deacon is an Assistant Professor in the Urban and Regional Planning Program within the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alberta. Leith’s current research examines concepts of governance, resiliency, planning, and policy associated with Canada’s resource-based communities. The primary research objective of Dr. Deacon's research is to contribute to improving Canada’s long term sustainability from both an economic and environmental standpoint.



Kim Dertien-Loubert

Kim Dertien-Loubert, M.A., is a cultural anthropologist focusing on Indigenous studies regarding historical and contemporary relations with the Crown; Indigenous Knowledge (IK/TK) and resource management; socio-cultural issues such as health and welfare, gender, race, and identity; and cultural heritage. She has worked in her field over the last 20 years of her academic and professional career as an applied anthropologist, gaining a breadth of knowledge and experience through the federal government (INAC; ASB; LMB), archival and cultural patrimony institutions; provincial advisory organization (CEMA); and Indigenous organizations in Alberta.

Over the last 9 years, Kim’s work has focused on the assertion of Aboriginal rights, interests, and meaningful participation in the development of the oil sands of northeastern Alberta. Research has included archival and ethno-historic studies for employers and academic projects, and First Nation and Métis traditional use studies for the Alberta Energy, and Alberta Environment and Parks regulatory processes.

Dr. Gillian Donald, P.Biol., R.P.Bio.

Gillian Donald founded Donald Functional & Applied Ecology Inc. in 2009 and provides technical consulting services to McMurray Métis and other Métis and First Nations Communities in the Fort McMurray area. As Environment and Land Advisor to McMurray Métis, Gillian works directly with members of the community and staff to develop mitigation strategies and best management practices for minimizing environmental, social and cultural impacts on Métis land use. Gillian participates in consultation and engagement related to federal and provincial regulatory processes of oil sands extraction project applications, land-use planning under the Lower Athabasca Regional Plan Management Frameworks, and monitoring of regional ambient effects through the Oil Sands Monitoring Program.

Lara Ellis

As Director of Strategic Initiatives, Lara is eager to scale the conservation work of ALUS Canada by finding effective ways to strengthen environmental protection and grow community sustainability and resilience.

She is currently focused on the development of new regulated and unregulated ecosystem services markets and growing support for green infrastructure on agricultural lands.  

Prior to joining ALUS in August 2015, Lara was Program Director at the Ivey Foundation, where she helped develop the Economy and Environment Program, and worked on the Conserving Canada’s Forests Program in her earlier capacity as Program Officer.

She is a Steering Committee Member of the Natural Capital Lab which seeks to measure and value ecosystem services and build the case for better government and corporate decision-making.

Lara is also the Chair of Upstream, an organization that seeks to improve the health of Canadians by addressing the greatest influences on our health, including education, early childhood development, housing, nutrition and the wider environment.

Lara is proud to have previously served as a Board Member of the Canadian Environmental Grantmakers’ Network. Lara has two degrees from McGill University, a B.A. in English Literature and a Master’s of Management (McGill-McConnell Program). 

She is based in Toronto, Canada.

Susan Ellis

Susan Ellis brought her M.A./A.B.S. in Leadership and Change Management and to the world of wilderness conservation when she was introduced to the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society.  During those 15 years volunteering with the Southern AB CPAWS Chapter and as a National Trustee, she developed a passion for protecting nature and healthy ecosystems.  After a 2006 wake-up call (cyanobacteria bloom) at Pigeon Lake, she has worked with many amazing people to enhance Pigeon Lake as Director, President and now Executive Director.  Susan believes that to move people to protect nature and water for future generations, they need to feel a connection with nature; understand its value, realize its wonder and want to learn how to live as part of it.  She believes that the health of nature is our health too.  Susan received the 2017 BRWA OTIS Award for leadership and outstanding stewardship, in 2011 the CPAWS Phil Lulman Award, and is a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal recipient.

Dr. Monireh Faramarzi

Dr. Monireh Faramarzi received her PhD from Swiss Federal Institute of Technology ETHZ in 2010 and she is the recipient of best PhD Dissertation Medal in 2011. She is Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta and Campus Alberta Innovates Chair in Watershed Science since 2016. She seeks to address water supply and demand issues and to study water availability, water reliability and scarcity, and water demand of different sectors (e.g. agriculture, oil and gas, municipal, industry, and environment). She will apply models to analyze alternative management options to realize opportunities and risks during periods of water surplus and scarcity in the past and in the future linking climate change effects of water supply-demand to economic prospects. These topics are understudied and increasingly important for the development of sustainable resource management not only in Alberta and Canada, but also in other jurisdictions around the world. Being appointed as Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta and as CAIP chair in Watershed Sciences allows her to fulfill her goal to develop an in-depth understanding of the natural and anthropocentric factors affecting our watersheds and to impact watershed level decision making for Alberta, Canada and abroad.

Dr. Blair Feltmate

Blair is Head, Intact Centre on Climate Adaptation, University of Waterloo. The primary purpose of the Intact Centre is to mobilize practical and cost-effective means to help de-risk Canada from the costs associated with extreme weather events. Previous positions Blair has held include Vice President, Sustainable Development, Bank of Montreal; Director, Sustainable Development, OPG; and Partner, Sustainable Investment Group/YMG Capital Management.  Blair has written textbooks on environmental science, banking and sustainable development. He is generally interviewed by the media 100-150 times per year.  He Chairs the development of two adaptation Standards for the Canadian Standards Association, and he is Chair, Federal Government of Canada Expert Panel on Climate Adaptation and Resilience Results.




Nicole Masters

Nicole Masters, is an independent agroecologist, systems thinker and educator. She has a formal background in ecology, soil science and organizational learning. She has been providing agricultural consulting and extension services since 2003.  Nicole is recognized as a knowledgeable and dynamic speaker on the topic of soil health.

Her team of soil coaches at Integrity Soils work alongside producers in the U.S., Canada and across Australasia. Supporting producers in taking their operations to the next level in nutrient density, profitability and environmental outcomes.

She is one of a growing number of people who are facilitating a rapidly expanding world of quality food production and biological economies.


Dr. Leonie Pearson

Dr Pearson is an ecological economist specializing in growing regional communities. As a reforming academic she is one of a growing number of people who are facilitating locals, academics, policy makers and regional leaders to think and grow the future they want to see. As an expert in the creation and design of policies that work for local governance and regional development, she has influence through a variety of roles; research leader in a national policy think tank, adjunct academic, editor of Ecological Economics and independent consultant.

Previous to her current roles Dr Pearson held positions as Chief Economist, Regional Australia Institute, Cheney Fellow at The University of Leeds, Senior Integration Researcher at the University of Canberra Collaborative Research Network, Visiting Fellow at The University College Dublin, Fellow at the Melbourne Institute of Sustainable Society, CSIRO and Jacobs.

Mary Ellen Shain

Mary Ellen is a Watershed Planning and Project Coordinator for the North Saskatchewan Watershed Alliance. She focusses much of her attention on supporting a committee of municipalities that comprise the Headwaters Region. Mary Ellen is a M.Sc. graduate from McGill’s Integrated Water Resource Management program, where she took a special interest in collaborative management systems of common-pool resources. She also completed undergraduate degrees in ecology and ethics. In her spare time, Mary Ellen volunteers with a local food security organization called Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton. 








Sharon Shuya

In her role with the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board, Sharon Shuya has overseen the development of numerous regional projects that will define the region for years to come. As the project manager for the Edmonton Metropolitan Region Growth Plan Re-Imagine. Plan. Build. Sharon played a key role in its development and approval of the Plan, which was approved by the Province in 2017. This growth plan is significant in that it is based on an integrated, holistic and consistent policy approach to planning for growth across urban and rural areas. The Edmonton Metropolitan Region Board has recognized the importance of Agriculture for future food security and economic prosperity and has elevated its importance with the identification of a new policy area for Agriculture. It plans to develop the first Regional Agriculture Master Plan and a land evaluation and site assessment tool to qualify and quantify prime agricultural land to conserve. Sharon has a keen interest in agriculture and its sustainability. She sees the development of a Regional Agriculture Master Plan as complex yet critical initiative for the sustainability of the region and an increasingly important opportunity to support feeding a growing global population.

Dr. Brent Swallow

Dr. Brent Swallow is Professor with the Department of Resource Economics and Environmental Sociology at the University of Alberta.  Dr. Swallow is a native of Saskatchewan who earned his BSA (81) and MSc (83) degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (91).  His major fields of study at the PhD level were resource economics and development economics; he has continued to study the development – environment nexus throughout his career. He has authored 70 journal articles and book chapters.  He is a Distinguished Associate of the World Agroforestry Centre and has won best paper awards from the International Water Resources Association and the International Association for the Study of Common Property.





Dr. Bob Summers

Dr Bob Summers is the Director of Sustainability Scholarship and Education for the University of Alberta and the Associate Director of the Urban and Regional Planning Program, a program that he championed to see developed at the U of A.  He has a wide range of research interests and has published on topics as diverse as village level water supply in rural Malawi, the role that traditional main streets in north American towns and cities, and the history of water policy in Alberta. 

He was raised in Stony Plain, Alberta and is a passionate advocate for sustainable communities of all sizes.  His current work focuses on the challenges of balancing the growth pressures that communities face with the desire to protect agricultural land.  

Dr. Marian Weber

Dr. Marian Weber is a Principal Researcher (economist) with InnoTech Alberta. Marian’s research encompasses developing policies and market based opportunities for managing ecosystem services from land and water ecosystems. In her role she has worked with the energy, agriculture, and forestry sectors, as well as municipal and provincial governments. Current projects include willingness to pay for management practices that enhance water quality and biodiversity in the livestock sector and testing approaches for caribou habitat offsets on Alberta’s public forest lands. She is also interested in opportunities for contribution of agricultural lands to natural municipal infrastructure. Most recently her research has focused on governance challenges related to the management of cumulative effects, particularly with respect to ecosystem service markets.

Jamie Wuite

Raised in Calgary, Jamie obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in aquatic ecology from the University of Calgary, and a Master of Science degree in land and water resources from the University of Alberta. 

Since joining Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development in 1997, Jamie has worked in technical, professional, and senior management capacities.  Jamie’s current role with the Department is the Executive Director of the Irrigation and Farm Water Division.  The Irrigation and Farm Water Division: conducts applied research on surface and ground water quality in relation to agricultural activities; provides technical and scientific support to Alberta’s irrigators and irrigation districts; conducts applied research on water application methods and technologies for irrigated crops; supports dryland and irrigation farmers with on-farm water supply issues; and represents agricultural interests in cross-Ministry policy and program initiatives related to water supply.

 Jamie lives in Edmonton with his wife and two daughters.

David C. Waniandy

David was born in Fort McMurray and currently lives in the Wood Buffalo region.

He’s a long-time hunter and trapper, trained by members of his family. Despite facing personal adversity growing up, he joined Syncrude at a young age and worked for them as a labourer for over two decades before having to stop work due to personal injury.

Since then, he’s been with the McMurray Metis, an organization devoted to a mandate to pursue the advancement of the Métis people of Fort McMurray and northeastern Alberta. In his role with the McMurray Metis, David does advocacy work for the environment and works with Metis trappers.