Board of Directors

Mandy St. Germaine, Chair

Mandy’s work experience includes over 25 years in human resources in both the private and public sectors, and she possesses a passion for career coaching and corporate learning. Mandy is currently the Director of Client Success at OneSmartWorld (a private company that teaches the utilization of a common language and toolkit for thinking, problem solving and collaboration), where she excels at one-on-one coaching and developing creative and engaging training programs to help build capacity. Mandy also has extensive experience working with charities, both in a directorial and volunteer capacity. She became enamored with the work of OTCC back in 2012, when she accompanied the centre’s director, Sue Carstairs, on a weekend radio-tracking turtles at OTCC’s field site. She has followed OTCC’s progress closely ever since, and is delighted to be able to bring her considerable experience to their Board of Directors. As Chair of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, Mandy organizes and runs board meetings with efficiency, empathy and humour, and has created a wonderfully collaborative environment for the board to grow with. In addition, her broad experience in the area of human resources is an invaluable asset to OTCC as a whole.

Colin Cassin, Vice Chair

Colin has worked in environmental conservation at the community, regional and provincial levels for more than a decade. He completed his Master of Science degree in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Toronto and his Bachelor of Science in Ecological Restoration at Trent University. Colin began volunteering with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre in 2010 as a Turtle Taxi Driver and Turtle Feeder and joined the OTCC Board of Directors in 2017.

Julia Carr Wilson, Treasurer

Julia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Science, and has worked in finance for over 20 years, with experience ranging from Capital Markets Equity Research, Corporate Actions, and Fund Accounting, to Risk and Regulatory Compliance. Julia is currently working in Motion Pictures and Film, as a Scenic Artist. Julia is a keen scuba diver in the Great Lakes, with a passion for protecting both freshwater and marine environment ecosystems. Julia began supporting the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre as a Volunteer Fundraiser, and began the role of Treasurer in 2019.

Dr. Allan Donais, Board Member

Welcome to Allan, our newest board member! Allan graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1994. He has been in clinical practice as a small animal veterinarian caring for dogs, cats, birds, rabbits and other small furry creatures ever since. As luck would have it, Allan was introduced to Dr. Carstairs at a veterinary conference where they discussed their mutual interests in veterinary medicine and wildlife protection. Allan attended one of Dr. Carstairs amazing workshops in 2019 to gain the skills required to become a first responder for injured turtles. Since that time, he has provided first aid to many injured turtles from his home until they can be transferred to the OTCC hospital.

Dr. Marc Dupuis-Desormeaux, Board Member

Marc describes himself as a wildlife biologist and reformed capital markets banker. His interests are in human-wildlife conflicts, carnivore behaviour in small reserves and population dynamics of wildlife in urban centres. He has field sites in Kenya (at the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy), where he studies carnivore behaviour, prey traps, wildlife fencing, as well as issues arising in communities living on the borders of wildlife conservancies.

He is currently a contract faculty member at York University (Glendon College) where he teaches Introduction to Biology, Ecology, and Behavioural Ecology in French and/or English. He has also developed a new course called “La vie sauvage de Toronto”, an urban ecology course for non-science majors. He is active as an urban field biologist and works closely with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) where he studies turtle demographics in urban and created wetlands as well as the effects of persistent road mortality on turtle demographics.

Julia Phillips, Board Member

Julia is the Species at Risk Ecologist at Rouge National Urban Park, where her focus is managing ecological restoration programs in the park as well as developing projects to protect and recover the 36+ Species at Risk that live there. Prior to this she held the position of Resource Management Biologist at Rouge National Urban Park. Previous to this Julia was the Adopt-a-Pond Wetland Conservation Programme Coordinator at Toronto Zoo. While there, she delivered outreach presentations to over 200 different audiences, hosted a wide variety of conservation meetings and events at the Zoo and participated in the design and implementation of research projects to identify sites for turtle wetland restoration in the Rouge River and Grand River watersheds.

Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Wildlife Biology from Guelph University and a Master of Science degree from Trent University. She has worked as a biologist in both the private and public sector and has worked as a Species at Risk (SAR) biologist at the Ministry Natural Resources developing guidelines for best land management practices to protect and conserve SAR songbird populations.

Staff Members

Dr. Sue Carstairs, Executive & Medical Director

Sue graduated from the Ontario Veterinary College in 1987 and completed a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife at the University of Guelph prior to this. Wildlife conservation has always been her passion, and her goal has always been to utilize her veterinary skills in a project that has direct conservation impact.  She worked for many years in private practice, and founded and ran her own hospital for a short time. She then began working for charities including Toronto Humane Society, and gradually narrowed her focus exclusively to wildlife, running the Earth Rangers wildlife hospital until its closure, and then working as a wildlife veterinarian at Toronto Wildlife Centre. Sue has also taught the wildlife course to veterinary technicians at Seneca College since 2005, along with teaching a full wildlife medicine course to veterinarians and technicians from 2006 to 2016.

One of her more recent awards was being named to the Order Of Ontario, the province’s highest honour! Dr. Carstairs is also a member of the Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialty Group (TFTSG)*, and has received the J.R. Dymond Public Service Award, the Environmental Excellence Stewardship Award, the Silver Salamander award in recognition of her commitment to the conservation of Ontario’s turtles, and so much more!

Sue feels very fortunate to have been given the opportunity to take on the role as Executive and Medical Director of the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre since 2009. The direct conservation impact, combined with the ability to fully utilize her veterinary skills, makes this role her dream job. Sue also feels privileged to work with an equally passionate team of professionals.

*The Tortoise and Freshwater Turtle Specialty Group (TFTSG) is one of a large number of Specialist Groups and Task Forces that constitute the working network of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Species Survival Commission (SSC). Membership is by invitation, and there are 322 members currently, across 54 nations. IUCN is the global authority on the status of the natural world and the measures needed to safeguard it. It is organized into 6 commissions; one of which is the species survival commission. The TFTSG provides expertise and science-based recommendations with conservation relevance covering all species of freshwater and terrestrial turtles and tortoises. It is the recognized global authority and official IUCN Red List authority for the determination of global threat levels for these species.

Dr. Kristen Janke, Veterinarian

Dr. Kristen Janke is a small animal veterinarian with a lifelong love of reptiles. She spent her childhood flipping rocks in search of the scaly creatures hiding beneath, and continued that passion as a snake researcher early in her career. After spending many years as an outdoor educator and teacher, she became a veterinarian so she could devote her time to the well-being of animals. She discovered the OTCC as a veterinary student, and has spent time here each year since. Turtles are very special patients, and she has a particular fondness of the misunderstood snapping turtle. She loves the challenge of caring for each individual, and contributing to the conservation of wild populations with every successful release.

Kristen and her husband share their home with Thumper and Moe (2 saucy Siamese cats) and an old dog named Bug who loves to join in on hiking and paddling excursions throughout Ontario.

Dr. Janke has been helping out at OTCC for some time now, starting even before she was in vet school! She is going to be devoting more time to the turtles moving forward and we couldn’t be happier!

Dr. Chris Dutton, Veterinarian

Chris is a veterinarian who has specialized in zoo and wildlife medicine for 25 years. This has included positions as Head Veterinarian at the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, in Jersey, UK, as a Resident in Zoological Medicine at the Saint Louis Zoo, Missouri, USA, and, for the last 17 years, as a veterinarian at the Toronto Zoo, culminating in being their Head of Veterinary Services. During this time he completed a Master of Science degree in Wild Animal Health at the London Zoo, and became a diplomat in both the European and American Colleges of Zoological Medicine. He has lectured to students, presented at international conferences, and published scientific papers and book chapters. In November 2019, he started his own Zoo and Wildlife Veterinary Consultancy company, and is currently working as an Avian & Exotic Animal Specialist Veterinarian at the Ontario Veterinary College, and as a Wildlife Veterinarian at the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, where he is extremely proud to be making a positive contribution to the native turtle populations of Ontario; he feels that this is truly one of the most satisfying highlights of his long career.

Isa Prophet, Volunteer Coordinator

Isa is an enthusiastic and dedicated conservationist and environmentalist. She has always had a love for wildlife and in particular reptiles and amphibians. When she isn’t at the centre she is usually out enjoying all that Ontario’s lakes and trails have to offer with her family and friends. Isa went to Fleming College where she obtained her Early Childhood Education diploma and Trent University for her Bachelors of Science in Biology. She is an avid volunteer herself dedicating her time to a number of worthy causes in the Peterborough area. Prior to her Volunteer Coordinator position Isa worked in childcares, schools, laboratories, and as an Education Liaison for the OTCC. Working so closely with the volunteers at the OTCC and getting to know them is her favorite part of the position. Meeting so many like-minded individuals who care for turtles and their conservation is a fulfilling and uplifting experience that she loves to share with others!

Wendy Baggs, Education Coordinator

Wendy’s first career choice was in the health care field. She spent a number of years as an RNA in Ontario then relocated as an RPN in the United States. Not one to back away from a challenge or the opportunity for growth and new experiences, she found herself in the position of supervisor followed by accepting the seat of the warehouse manager to a large distribution center located in Richmond, B.C. After the completion of successful endeavors in the west, Wendy returned to Ontario to embark yet another career. This time she chose Law and Justice.  She graduated from Sir Sanford Fleming College with a diploma in Behavioral Sciences. She applied this with her desire to work with youth at risk and held a position as head staff in closed custody group homes. With each door that is closed another is waiting to be opened. When Wendy opened the door and walked into the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre, she immediately knew that this is where she was meant to be – working as part of an incredible team of dedicated and enthusiastic individuals with a common goal: the protection, conservation, and rehabilitation of Ontario’s native turtle species and their habitat. The position of Education and Outreach Coordinator has made a profound impact on her. Should you ask Wendy why she feels so passionate about the education program that she has been a part of these last few years, she would say “I believe that all recovery efforts, no matter how small, can make a difference to the long-term survival of these Species At Risk.” Although human activity is almost completely to blame for the decline of Ontario’s turtle population, we also possess the power to ensure their survival. “Education is power.”

Jess Holdcroft, Administrator

Jess brought an injured turtle to the OTCC in 2019, was inspired by the work being done, and never left! She first joined as a volunteer feeder and turtle taxi driver and then became the Office Administrator in May 2020. Growing up, Jess could be found exploring the lakes and forests around Peterborough. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from Queens University. She began her career as as an exhibit developer at Science North, where she developed a passion for Science Communication. More recently she started a technology company along with her fiancé, where she learned the administrative side of running a business. As the Administrator at OTCC, Jess enjoys combining her varied experiences – keeping things organized behind the scenes, using technology to keep things running smoothly, and communicating with the public about turtles and their conservation.

Jess is passionate about turtles, conservation, and all things wildlife. She is thrilled to be working alongside this amazing team and to be contributing to the meaningful work done here at the OTCC.

April DeJong, Lead Field Technician and Research Coordinator

April grew up on a river, where she had the opportunity to witness Northern Map turtles nesting on her property and Common Snapping turtles swimming past her dock, thus her love for turtles blossomed. While attending Trent University in 2018, April began volunteering with the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre (OTCC) cleaning turtle enclosures. April was hired on as a field technician in 2019 with the OTCC, and this is the year she fell in love with the OTCC’s field site and all of the turtles it supports! In 2020 and 2021 April acted as field team lead, leading a team of 3 technicians at the OTCC’s field site for our long-term Blanding’s turtle study. As of 2022 April’s title is Research Coordinator, where her main role is to oversee the field program and compile data for the OTCN.

Nancy Croome, Grant Manager

Nancy has over 30 years of experience working in the charitable sector in environment, community and social service organizations. She has held a variety of roles in fundraising, program and product development, marketing, communications, environmental education, and financial and project management. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Environmental Studies, Biology Option from the University of Waterloo, a Certificate in Magazine Journalism from Ryerson University, and an MBA from the Schulich School of Business at York University. Nancy has been involved with the OTCC for many years, and her passion for conservation and wildlife, her wealth of knowledge, plus varied and vast skill set, make her a vital addition to our team. The OTCC is honoured to have Nancy’s extensive experience to draw upon, and has already benefitted greatly from her work. Nancy has taken on the role of Grant Writer and also has taken on some higher level financial management. Her attention to detail, and excellent background knowledge and writing skills, along with her business and finance experience, make this role perfect for her.

Joanne O’Heron, Membership Coordinator

Joanne graduated from St. Lawrence College’s Veterinary Technician Program in 1987 and worked for Agriculture Canada for a number of years before deciding to dedicate her time to raising a family. In 2010, Joanne brought an injured painted turtle to the centre and immediately knew she wanted to be a part of this amazing organization. She began to volunteer with turtle care and feeding, became a turtle taxi driver, assisted with outreach and educational events and became OTCC’s Membership Coordinator. In 2017 Joanne began working at the centre part time as an Administrator.  When Joanne is not at the centre, she operates a small cleaning/home maintenance business and is a volunteer firefighter.

Eva Lehvonen, RVT

Eva graduated from the Veterinary Technician program with Honours from Seneca College in 2009. She also completed the Advanced Wildlife Technician course and was inspired to learn more about wildlife conservation and in particular, turtle medicine. She has 7 years of experience working with a wide variety of research animals including rodents, birds, reptiles and amphibians. Eva has worked as a Registered Veterinary Technician in a small animal hospital since 2010. Being raised in the Peterborough area, it was a dream to complete her educational placement at the Kawartha Turtle Trauma Centre. Taught by Dr. Carstairs, Eva has been providing veterinary treatment to turtle patients since 2009. From cleaning tanks to nursing injured turtles, working alongside other dedicated staff, caring for hatchlings and ultimately rehabilitating turtles for return to the wild, she has fully enjoyed being a part of every turtle season. Eva feels very lucky to be able to positively impact the Ontario turtle population in such a rewarding environment.

Maureen Lilley, RVT

Maureen has been providing emergency care and medical treatments to Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre’s patients since 2009. A graduate from the Veterinary Technician Program at St. Lawrence College in 1999, it was during her time as a student that she fell in love with wildlife medicine after completing an internship at the New England Wildlife Center in Massachusetts. During her career in veterinary medicine, Maureen has worked with many species of animals – from cats and dogs to salamanders, turtles, owls, loons, and even lions and bears. With over ten years experience in wildlife medicine and rehabilitation, Maureen has worked and volunteered with many wildlife organizations such as Earth Rangers, Toronto Wildlife Centre, and Wildlife Preservation Canada. Maureen enjoys sharing her knowledge and passion for wildlife by lecturing at conferences designed for veterinary students and wildlife professionals; and she also regularly facilitates avian and reptile medicine workshops. Maureen feels very fortunate to work with such a dedicated team devoted to protecting Ontario’s turtle populations.

Britney Krzeminski, RVT

Britney graduated with High Honours from the Veterinary Technician program at Seneca College in 2015, and became a Registered Veterinary Technician shortly after. Prior to this, she achieved an Honours Bachelor of Science degree majoring in Animal Biology from the University of Guelph in 2013. Britney has worked for the Ontario Turtle Conservation Centre since 2014, when she was hired on as a student veterinary technician. From her first days at the center Britney was hooked. Britney’s favorite parts of her job are seeing turtles that she has helped to care for be returned to the wild, as well as seeing the eggs incubated at the center hatch into adorable babies. In addition to working at OTCC, Britney is a full-time RVT at Omemee Veterinary Hospital. Britney has always had a passion for all types of animals, largely thanks to her upbringing on a 100 acre farm near Norwood Ontario, where the household always had a wide variety of pets. Britney currently shares her home with her husband Peter as well as their two cats, Charlotte and Marcus.