Staff and Volunteers
Katie Harper (Director) – Katie joins Project Neutral with seven years of hands-on experience using engagement strategies to reduce the environmental impacts of a large organization, broad knowledge of best practices in energy efficiency and conservation, and strong relationship skills. Prior to joining Project Neutral, Katie led sustainability initiatives at Sears Canada, where she established a national network of internal “green” champions and helped the company exceed its carbon reduction goals of 20%. At the David Suzuki Foundation, Katie developed tools to create greener, happier, healthier and more efficient workplaces. She has a background in environmental science and holds a master’s degree in freshwater ecology from McGill University.
James Arron (Network Manager) – Jamie is passionate about social innovation and has worked across a range of issues areas, including democratic reform, education policy, food systems, and violence prevention. In prior roles working for the Halifax Regional Municipality, MaRS Discovery District, Springtide Collective, and Dalhousie University Jamie has put his experience in public engagement and project management to help enable and empower grassroots efforts for transformative systems change (details at www.JamesArron.com). Originally from Markham, ON, he is excited by Project Neutral’s vision of making his home province a world leader in carbon neutrality. Jamie has a degree in International Development Studies and Entrepreneurship Certificate from Dalhousie University. He also loves music, writing, yoga, sports, and cultural exchange.
Sandra Lester (Riverdale) – Sandra is a multi-disciplinary designer and strategist with green building experience that goes back to the early 90‘s. She is encouraged by the advancement of modern green building technologies and proactive government policies. Sandra currently operates her own sustainability consulting practice, AffectingChangeInc.
Paul Mero (The Junction) – Paul Mero is the vice chairman of the neighbhourhood environmental group Green 13. He is an environmental activist whose 20 year career began in the streets of Hamilton, Ont. knocking on doors to raise funds for Greenpeace. He learned – one doorstep at a time – to educate and persuade others to take concrete steps to safeguard our common environment. Paul has spent the past 16 years as Greenpeace Canada’s marketing co-ordinator but he never lost the desire to engage people at a community level. Paul’s wife and two sons claim he never lost the desire to pontificate. Whenever he threatens to launch into a monologue about the environment, they drag him off into the forest for therapeutic camping and hiking trips.
Rita Bijon (The Junction) – As co-leader of Green 13, our neighbourhood partners in the Junction, Rita is a dynamic and tireless community and environmental leader. We’ve come to know Rita for her kindness, compassion and hard work, so it’s no surprise to us that she is so well known and respected in her neighbourhood. As a retired school teacher, Rita is a magical, behind-the-scenes choreographer of grassroots change. We are delighted to be working with her. It would be fair to say Rita is far more interested in achieving change for the benefit of all than personal recognition. She leads and actively supports diverse environmental and social justice issues – so we aren’t surprised that after more than a year of leading the charge in the Junction, we still haven’t been able to get her to send us her bio. So we took it upon ourselves to comment on her amazing energy, dedication and thoughtful leadership.
Ronn Stevenson (Neighbourhood Manager, Riverdale) –
Natasa Zupancic (Neighbourhood Manager, The Junction) –
Project Neutral Alumni
Karen Nasmith (Co-Founder and former Director) – Karen Nasmith is a LEED®-accredited professional, registered professional planner, and social entrepreneur with experience in climate change and sustainability. Karen has a Bachelor of Industrial Engineering (Dalhousie University) and a Master in Urban Planning (McGill University). She has worked extensively with municipalities on sustainable integrated planning and implementation, and recenlty co-founded Project Neutral. Over the past 15 years, Karen has analyzed systems in the northern Alberta oil sands; worked with farmers to examine the role of public participation in Pueblo, Mexico; managed social impact assessments in the Caribbean; and developed expertise in the planning implications of urban mining, and in climate change adaptation and mitigation planning. She has worked with a range of clients, communities and stakeholders to develop community plans, and collaborated with integrated design teams to develop realistic implementation strategies. Karen is now President of SkiCan, one of North America’s largest providers of ski vacations since 1969.
Julie Dzerowicz (Co-Founder) – Julie is the Member of Parliament for Davenport. Julie has been an active leader at the grassroots level in Davenport on the environment, healthcare, education and other local issues. She is particularly proud to be the co-founder of Project Neutral. Professionally, Julie has held senior leadership roles in the private and public sector, including as a Director at a large bank and formerly as a chief of staff to a cabinet minister and as VP Policy for the Ontario Liberal Party.
Devon Stanbury (Ideas Generator, Numbers Brainiac and Style Genius) Building community and increasing environmental sustainability are of great importance to Devon Stanbury. After an extended maternity leave from her career in environmental risk assessment, Devon has shifted her career focus to align with her passions for more connected communities and a healthier environment. These goals have led her to become engaged in community based social marketing as a tool to create sustainability and behavioural change. As part of the Project Neutral team, Devon is excited to be working with neighbourhood groups to lower their household carbon footprint while utilizing her past experience of study development and project management. Devon holds a Masters degree in Environmental Soil Chemistry from the University of Guelph and is currently involved in developing an intentional community model based on her experiences while living in Guelph, Ontario.
Sean Drygas (Neighbourhood Leader - Riverdale) – Sean lives in Riverdale with his wife Noriko and two children Mika and Emma, and works for a large Canadian food company, where he has held roles encompassing strategy, business development, communications, mergers and acquisitions and financial modeling – and participated in the development of the company’s environmental sustainability strategy. He has competed the first course in the Renewable Energy certificate program at the University of Toronto, and graduated with an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University and a bachelor’s degree from the Ivey school at UWO. Next up: a practical education in carbon reduction via Project Neutral!
Tonya Temple (Volunteer Social Media Lead). Tonya Temple recently graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Environmental Governance from U of G. Currently she is pursuing her Master's Degree in Sustainable Energy Policy at Carleton. She strongly believes that small groups of people can make a big change, and is ecstatic to help see that happen with Project Neutral.
Omar Khan (Volunteer Web design and enagement guru). Omar is currently on leave from the University of California, Berkeley, where he is studying for his PhD in Computer Science at the Berkeley Institute of Design. His research explores how we can leverage sensed data in highly sensed environments to help persuade individuals to engage in desired behaviors. Specifically, he is trying to get people and institutions to enact more environmentally sustainable behaviors. Omar pursued this research in conjunction with Google where he worked on Google PowerMeter, a residential energy monitoring project. Omar lead the initial test deployment of monitoring hardware and software, interviewing people in their homes to understand how they used these technologies and, ultimately, analyzing the aggregate data from thousands of enrolled households.
Laur Fisher – Laur has over six years experience building sustainability projects and programs in the United States, New Zealand, Sweden, and Canada. She has worked with both the public and private sectors in strategy development, project management and sustainability reporting, focusing on carbon management, energy efficiency, waste reduction, and stakeholder engagement. She also has training in group facilitation, and has co-led and supported workshops with The Natural Step and other organizations. She holds a self-designed Bachelor’s degree in Sustainability from Tufts University in Boston, MA.
David Bristow - David is a PhD candidate in the Sustainable Infrastructure Group of the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Toronto. He has studied the drivers of energy use and emissions in cities and developed and co-founded the Carbon Neutral City Planner – a tool to plan city-wide carbon reduction strategies through infrastructure change. He is excited to be a part of Project Neutral to help find the synergies between community-led initiatives and strategic system-level planning.
Cassandra Alves - An aspiring designer fresh out of the Ontario College of Art & Design, Cassandra has consistently found herself dabbling in projects related to positive community design, art and sustainability. Project Neutral falling perfectly in line with her interests in improving communities through green initiatives, she couldn’t resist joining the PN team. With plans of continuing her education, Cassandra plans on perusing a Masters in Community and Regional planning within the next two years.
Melana Janzen – Melana Janzen is a registered architect practicing in Toronto, operating the independent design office MJ | architecture and having previously acted as a consultant and employee with larger architectural practices including Moriyama & Teshima Architects, architects Alliance and Philip Beesley Architect Inc. Her design practice focuses on smaller scale residential, institutional and commercial projects as well as community advocacy initiatives in both urban and rural environments, espousing a philosophy that eschews the production of luxury architectural icons, focusing on the potential of fabricated environments as an enhancement of cultural life in the city. Intrinsic to this belief is a commitment to the responsible deployment of available resources in the short and long term. Outside of practice Melana is drawn toward neighbourhood building for both the benefit of the city and future of her two small children.
Chris Hanz (Marketing & Social Media Lead) – Big on ambition and the environment, Chris is a natural fit for the Project Neural team. Chris’ day job is as Director of Marketing and Sustainability at Orontas where he’s responsible for launching big ideas that will lower human impact and improve lifestyles. He got on-board with Project Neutral (a name he invented) because it was crazy enough that it just might work (his word).
Mark Meldrum (Technical Lead) – Mark graduated from Systems Design Engineering at the University of Waterloo in 2007. He completed a 5 month internship as a consultant for Greening Greater Toronto, an initiative of the Toronto City Summit Alliance. Mark joined Accenture in 2009 and is a consultant focused on IT Strategy.