Speaker Biographies



Thank you All for an Excellent 2020 Public Health Summer Institute!

Please stay tuned for the release of the post-summer institute resource package & the call for abstracts for the 2020 fall PHABC conference!




Speaker Biographies

Join us online this year as we practice social distancing while discussing how we can enact global change through local public and population health initiatives. Read below to learn more about the stellar line up of speakers we will welcome over the two day school:

Dr. Jura Augustinavicius

Assistant Scientist (Research Faculty), Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Jura Augustinavicius is an Assistant Scientist in the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where she teaches courses on Climate Change and Mental Health. She completed a PhD and postdoctoral fellowship in Public Mental Health with special training in global mental health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Her current work focuses on climate change and mental health, mental health among conflict affected populations, and research-practice collaborations on mental health measurement and intervention in humanitarian settings. Jura is a contributing author on the mental health and climate change chapter for the upcoming National Climate Change and Health Assessment Report led by Health Canada.



Jessie Best, PAg

Environmental Coordinator, City of Saskatoon

Jessie grew up in Christopher Lake and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and cultivated a love of nature and passion for equity from an early age.  Her current home is a small shared farm outside Saskatoon where she explores both the applied and governance side of green infrastructure by managing a grassland with a small Icelandic sheep herd, and exploring co-operative land governance models.  She works as an Environmental Coordinator for the City of Saskatoon where she has worked on the Green Infrastructure Strategy, the Healthy Yards Program, and the Triple Bottom Line Policy advisory committee, amongst others.


Dr. Katie Clow

Assistant Professor, University of Guelph

Dr. Katie Clow is an Assistant Professor in One Health in the Department of Population Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. Her research focuses on the ecology and epidemiology of vectors and vector-borne zoonoses, with a specific emphasis on the blacklegged tick and Lyme disease. She also conducts research more broadly on One Health, including pedagogy and community-level applications. She holds both a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree (OVC, 2011) and PhD (Pathobiology, 2017). Dr. Clow has worked in private small animal practice as well as at the national and international level in One Health through internships at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Disease at the World Health Organization, and the Global Disease Detection Branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She is a member of the Canadian Lyme Disease Research Network, and regularly collaborates with public health professionals and veterinarians in private practice and industry.


Andrew Gage

Staff Lawyer, West Coast Environmental Law

Andrew was accepted into law school shortly after being arrested for protesting logging in Clayoquot Sound, on Vancouver Island’s West Coast. During law school Andrew helped found the University of Victoria’s Environmental Law Centre and volunteered with the noted Indian environmental lawyer, M.C. Mehta. These experiences changed his understanding of what is possible through law.

Andrew has worked in a variety of roles with West Coast Environmental Law since 2001 and is currently project lead for its Climate Change program. Under his direction the program has focused on the legal and professional consequences – to industry, government and professionals – of failing to address climate change. In addition to his climate work, Andrew has published a series of cutting-edge academic papers on the rights of the public to a healthy natural environment.

Andrew lives in Victoria with his wife, Grace and their two children, Rebecca and Colm. Andrew enjoys playing the violin, gardening and sailing with his family.



Dr. Maya Gislason

Assistant Professor, Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Gislason is an Assistant Professor at Simon Fraser University with a focus on health equity. Prior to this, she was a Banting Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada with a focus on researching the intersections between public health and intensive resource extraction. Dr. Gislason holds a doctorate in Sociology (Medical Sociology) from the University of Sussex, UK, a Masters in Sociology and a double major in Sociology and Women’s Studies both from the University of Victoria, BC, Canada.

A longstanding champion of ecosystem approaches to health, Dr. Gislason works upstream on public health issues by addressing the interconnection between human, animal and ecosystem health alongside her colleagues and community partners, including the First Nations Health Authority Dr. Gislason currently works on two large scale and interacting eco-social public health issues which are significantly influencing health and wellbeing in Canada and internationally — climate change and intensive resource extraction. At the core of her expanding research program and scholarly activity, is a commitment to connecting theory to practice and using knowledge produced through primary research to help address real world challenges.




Cora Hallsworth

Senior Associate, One Earth, BCIT EcoCity Centre

Cora Hallsworth has 20 years experience advancing community and organizational sustainability. She has extensive background in climate action, sustainable consumption and waste management; focusing on planning, strategy and inventory development. Previously Cora was the Manager of Integrated Resource Planning & Stakeholder Engagement at the Sheltair Group (now Stantec) and was also staff at the Recycling Council of Ontario.  She volunteered extensively, and was the founder and past President of Connecting Environmental Professionals in Vancouver. She is now Principal of her own consulting practice; a Senior Associate with One Earth; and part-time manager of Municipal Programs for the Ecocity Centre of Excellence at the BC Institute of Technology.

Currently she is developing consumption-based emission inventories and ecological footprint assessments for 10 BC communities and leading One Planet Saanich – a community engagement process focused on reducing the community’s footprint.




Richard Han

Provincial Manager of Farm to School BC, Public Health Association of BC

Richard Han is a Health Promotion Specialist residing in Coquitlam, BC. He graduated from Simon Fraser University (SFU) with a Masters of Public Health (MPH) and Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Kinesiology. Ethnically Korean and a cultural adoptee of the Campbell/Windsor family in Heiltsuk First Nation, Richard’s second home is located in Bella Bella, BC.

He brings diverse and rich experiences from working in K-12 community school, child and family services, social development, health authority and universities. He is passionate about children’s well-being, sustainable living, and the link between food security and health. Richard is also a member of the Tri-Cities Food Security Table and was an Advisor to SFU’s RADIUS Reimagine Health program. He is passionate about social equality, justice, and Indigenous rights. During his spare time, Richard loves to go backpacking, play guitar and spend time with family and friends.






Dr. Trevor Hancock

Professor & Senior Scholar (Retired), School of Public Health and Social Policy, University of Victoria

Dr. Trevor Hancock is a public health physician and health promotion consultant and before he retired in 2018 was a Professor and Senior Scholar at the School of Public Health and Social Policy at UVic. His career has been focused on population health promotion and public health, with a particular focus on health in cities and the links between human and ecosystem health.

He is one of the founders of the global Healthy Cities and Communities movement, and also co-founded both the Canadian Association of Physicians for the Environment and the Canadian Coalition for Green Health Care. From 2012 – 2015 he led the work that resulted in the CPHA report on the ecological determinants of health. He is much in demand across Canada and internationally as an author and public speaker and has served on numerous national and international expert panels. He was a Senior Editor on the Editorial Board of the Canadian Journal of Public Health from 2014 to 2018 and is a member of the Editorial Board of Cities and Health.

He writes a regular weekly column on population and public health for the Times Colonist, the daily newspaper in Victoria. He was made an Honourary Fellow of the UK’s Faculty of Public Health in 2015 and in 2017 he was awarded the Defries Medal, the CPHA’s highest award, presented for outstanding contributions in the broad field of public health. 



Wii Esdes, Sandra A. Martin Harris

Communications Director & Community Developer, Office of the Wet’suwet’en Hereditary Chiefs

Sandra is from the Wet’suwet’en Nation of the Laksilyu, Little Frog Clan and is a member of the Witset First Nation. Since 2007 Sandra has worked as a community developer and social development advisor at the Gitksan Government Commission. Sandra loves community development work, community and watershed planning. Sandra is also an Indigenous Focusing Complex Trauma (IFOT) practitioner working with health, social and justice front line workers. This work helps her share teachings about intergenerational trauma, grief and loss, supports first responders, suicide prevention and debriefing supports to front line staff using a body centered and land based approach.


Mayor Fred Haynes, PhD

Mayor of Saanich, BC

Mayor Fred Haynes was born in England.  He is married to Cathy and together have three adult sons.  Mayor Haynes is a community volunteer, director at the Capital Regional District, past chair of SCAN, Saanich Legacy Foundation, and the Prospect Lake Community Association. He is currently a director on the Victoria Regional Transit Commission. His professions include being a professional publisher, entrepreneur, educator, and he holds a Ph.D. in diabetes research completed on a Commonwealth scholarship.

His varied life achievements include holding an eighth-degree black belt, the highest rank in North America, in the Japanese martial art of Yoshinkan aikido.

As the Mayor of Saanich, Mayor Haynes is committed to and will continue to work on improving the environment and green space; protecting urban green space; addressing solutions to the housing crisis; taking safety action on priority roads; supporting local businesses and expanding the commercial tax base; and working with Council, staff, and residents on budget processes to ensure services are cost-effective.

He describes himself as an avid walker, dog owner, and e-bike enthusiast. He is also a passionate supporter of One Planet lifestyles.


Dr. Theresa Healy

Adjunct Professor, School of Environmental Planning, University of Northern BC

Dr. Theresa Healy is the Lead of Healthy Community Development, Aboriginal Communities in the Population Health Department of Northern Health. She also holds an Adjunct Appointment with the School of Environmental Planning and the Gender Studies Program at UNBC. Her research and work interests include community development and capacity building, participatory and action research, facilitating community driven initiatives and designing workshops and other learning modules for community members and organizations. Her past research projects have utilized these skills and interests in the subject areas of HIV/AIDS; Youth and Sexual Health, Homelessness and sexually exploited youth and Marginalized Populations and Health Care Services.

She is a Co-Principal Investigator on the Men’s Healthy Eating and Active Living (M-HEAL) project, a member of the UBC Youth Sexual Health team under Dr. Jeannie Shoveller, and an advisor to the Prince George New Hope Society providing services to street involved girls and women.


Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon

Director, Cascade Institute, Royal Road University & University Research Chair, University of Waterloo

Dr. Thomas Homer-Dixon holds a University Research Chair in the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo, in Waterloo, Canada, and is Director of the Cascade Institute at Royal Roads University in Victoria, British Columbia. Between 2009 and 2014, he was founding director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation. Born in Victoria, BC, Thomas received his BA in political science from Carleton University and his Ph.D. from M.I.T in international relations, defense and arms control policy, and conflict theory.

His books include The Upside of Down: Catastrophe, Creativity, and the Renewal of Civilization; The Ingenuity Gap: Can We Solve the Problems of the Future?; and Environment, Scarcity, and Violence. His writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Scientific American, The New York Times, the Financial Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe and Mail.

His current research is focused on threats to global security in the 21st century, including economic instability, climate change, and energy scarcity and on how people, organizations, and societies can better resolve their conflicts and innovate in response to complex problems. His latest book, Commanding Hope: The Power We Have to Renew a World in Peril will be published by Knopf Canada in September.


Rita Koutsodimos

Executive Director, BC Alliance for Healthy Living Society

Rita Koutsodimos is the Executive Director of the BC Alliance for Healthy Living – which is a group of provincial organizations that advances health-promoting policies, programs and environments that support the health of British Columbians.

For the past twenty years, Rita Koutsodimos has worked in the non-profit sector to make our communities healthier for all with a focus on chronic disease prevention and the social determinants of health.

Under Rita’s leadership, the Alliance promotes healthier transportation systems and policy through its Communities on the Move initiative recognizing that public and active transportation have a significant effect on physical activity rates and social inclusion.  Earlier in her career, Rita actively promoted solutions to climate change related to the design of our cities and transportation systems. She believes that many of the elements of communities that make them environmentally sustainable also make them good for our physical health and mental well-being.


Dr. Wanda Martin

Associate Professor, College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan

Wanda Martin is an Associate Professor at the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan where she teaches community health to undergraduate students and research to graduate students. She is a qualitative researcher interested in urban agriculture and community-based food systems to support resiliency in a changing climate. Wanda has worked with on a health equity research team at the University of Victoria while completing her PhD on the nexus of food safety and food security as core public health functions. In Saskatchewan, she is working with a team in a universal school food program and on community co-design with two First Nations communities. Wanda was president of the Saskatchewan Public Health Association from 2014 to 2018 and continues to work closely with the board to strengthen public health in the province. She is also the Saskatchewan representative on the board of the Canadian Association of Nurses for the Environment and is working bringing climate change into the nursing curriculum.


Pemma Muzumdar

Knowledge Translation Specialist, National Collaborating Centre for the Determinants of Health

Pemma Muzumdar is motivated by a desire to improve well-being and planetary health, particularly those who, through intersecting factors, experience marginalization and exclusion. She is based out of Montreal, Quebec.

Pemma has worked with the six National Collaborating Centres (NCCs) for Public Health in various capacities since 2011, developing and sharing knowledge, networks and resources for improved public health action. She completed her Masters of Public Health at the University of Waterloo in 2010, and draws from significant experience in science communication, public speaking, group facilitation, team learning and organizational development.

Prior to joining the NCCs, Pemma contributed to dynamic teams at the Ontario Science Centre, Discovery Channel Canada, the Program Training and Consultation Centre of the Smoke Free Ontario Strategy, TakingITGlobal and the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute at St. Michael’s Hospital.


Michael Nemeth, P.Eng

Principal, Bright Buildings, Passivhaus & Mechanical Engineering Consulting
Vice-president of SES Solar Co-operative

Michael Nemeth lives in Saskatoon with his partner Shannon Dyck. Designing heating, cooling and ventilation systems for buildings, he’s been mechanical engineering consulting since 2006. In 2013, Michael started Bright Buildings to help others build to the Passivhaus standard, an international low energy building standard leading to 90% space heating energy savings.

Michael and Shannon are co-founders of Radiance Cohousing. The collaborative, 9-unit housing development is designed to meet the Passivhaus standard and features R60 wall insulation, airtight construction and excellent ventilation among other sustainability features such as permaculture landscaping and rainwater harvesting. The homes meet a high standard for occupant comfort and health with the energy efficiency measures providing a reduced cost of ownership. Significant carbon emissions will be avoided as a result – a project goal being to achieve affordable, low carbon housing. Roof-top solar has been added, with the goal of making the development net-zero energy on an annual basis.

Michael delivers Passivhaus training to building professionals in western Canada as an instructor with Passive House Canada and is the vice-president of the SES Solar Co-operative, now having completed 6 cooperatively owned solar installations.


Dr. Margot W. Parkes

Professor School of Health Sciences, Cross-appointed, Northern Medical Program, University of Northern British Columbia

Margot Parkes is a Professor at the School of Health Sciences at the University of Northern British Columbia. Margot works with others – across sectors, disciplines and cultural contexts – to enhance understanding of land, water and living systems (ecosystems) as foundational for health and well-being.

Margot grew up and completed her medical training in New Zealand, prior to work and training in public health, human ecology and ecohealth in Europe, the Americas and the Oceania region. Margot’s research and international collaborations include integrative, partnered and Indigenous-informed approaches, with an emphasis on ecohealth, and ecosystem approaches to health. Ongoing themes include the cumulative health, environment and community impacts of land and water governance, and on watersheds and catchments as settings for intersectoral action to improve health.

Margot’s work continues to be informed by Indigenous knowledge and leadership across Oceania and the Americas, where she is engaged with a range of research, education and capacity-strengthening initiates that foster next-generation approaches to learning and collaboration to address complex health and sustainability concerns.



Dr. Tim Takaro

Professor, Faculty of Health Science, Simon Fraser University

Dr. Takaro is a professor and physician-scientist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University.  Trained in occupational and environmental medicine, public health and toxicology, at Yale, the University of North Carolina and University of Washington, Dr. Takaro’s research is primarily about the links between human exposures and disease, and determining effective public health based preventive solutions to such risks. He is a leader for the exposure assessment component of the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort. His current research on human health and climate change focuses on water quality and quantity, extreme weather events and gastro-intestinal illness and the role of aero-allergens in the development of asthma and allergy in children. He has been senior supervisor for 26 Masters and PhD students over the past ten years.

Planetary change poses complex problems for public health never more apparent than during the SARS coV2/COVID-19 pandemic. These challenges demand an interdisciplinary approach both in research and action. To address this Takaro leads the Planetary Health Research group at SFU and, along with researchers across all eight of SFU’s Faculties, co-leads the Climate Futures Initiative at SFU. This initiative promotes interdisciplinary research to understand the biophysical and socio-economic impacts of climate change and assess mitigation and adaptation strategies to limit climate change risks. To learn more about the relationship between climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic see: https://www.meethere.org/conferences/learning-for-planetary-health.


Dr. Rory Tooke

Manager of Sustainability and Asset Management, City of Victoria

Rory is the Manager of Sustainability and Asset Management at the City of Victoria where he helped to establish and now leads the City’s solid waste engineering and planning section. His team is currently preparing the City’s Zero Waste Strategy, developing and implementing single-use item regulations and supporting the design of new infrastructure to reduce waste across the public realm.

Rory has over 10 years experience in municipal sustainability. He was a founding member of the BC Energy Step Code Council that developed BC’s regulatory pathway to achieve net zero energy buildings and was a member of the project team that led the design of Surrey’s Clayton Community Centre – the largest Passive House facility of its kind.

Rory currently sits as the City of Victoria representative to the Capital Regional District’s Solid Waste Advisory Committee and as a member of the Board of the Coast Waste Management Association.

Rory holds a Masters and PhD in natural resources management from the University of British Columbia.


Aaren Topley

Provincial Manager of Can You Dig It, Public Health Association of BC

Aaren Topley lives in Victoria, B.C. on the homelands of the Lekwungen People, now known as the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. He has an undergraduate degree in Recreation Health Education and a Masters degree in the Social Dimensions of Health from at the University of Victoria. Aaren has been working in the field of food system development for over eight years, with a focus on creating urban food policy, building community food literacy, Indigenous land revitalization and supporting youth food system engagement.

For the last four years, he has worked with Farm to School BC as the Capital Region Animator. In this time, he has established Victoria’s first urban school farm and created an Indigenous plant garden and language revitalization program with School District 61. This year, he has begun a new position as Provincial Manager for Can You Dig It, supporting municipalities to develop and implement community growing programs and policies.

In his spare time, he volunteers with the Victoria Urban Food Table, a food policy advisory body to the City of Victoria, which he is one of the co-founders and past co-chairs.


Shannon Turner

Executive Director, Public Health Association of BC

Shannon Turner, BA, BSc, MSc PhD(c) has more than thirty-five years of experience in public health practice, healthy public policy, health promotion, program and project management, strategic planning, health informatics, quality assurance, risk management, logistics and accounting as well as conducting research on digital communication and citizen engagement. Aside from her extensive academic credentials Shannon has a number of years of service as an advocate for public health at the regional, provincial and national levels. Shannon is currently serving as Co-Chair of Prevention of Violence Canada, as Chair of the British Columbia Alliance for Healthy Living Society and as Chair of the World Health Organization Vaccine Safety Net. The University of Hawaii named Shannon to the Delta Omega Society for outstanding contribution to public health. In 2008, she was awarded the James M. Robinson Award (UBC Public Health) for her significant contributions to public health. In 2009, she was presented with the President’s Award by the Public Health Association of BC for her work in rebuilding and renewing the association. In 2017, she was awarded the Honorary Life Membership Award by the Canadian Public Health Association for being an exemplar practitioner scholar and has been a stalwart advocate for public health throughout her career.


Dr. Shannon Waters

Cowichan Valley Medical Health Officer, Island Health

Dr. Shannon Waters is Coast Salish and a member of Stz’uminus First Nation on Vancouver Island. She completed the First Nations Family Practice program at the University of British Columbia and worked as a family doctor in Duncan, BC. While honored to work close to home Shannon become frustrated with seeing people mostly when they were unwell and wanted to focus on keeping people healthy in the first place so she returned to school and completed her specialty training in Public Health and Preventive Medicine. Shannon worked as the Director of Health Surveillance at First Nations and Inuit Health Branch and, at First Nations Health Authority as the Acting Senior Medical Officer for Vancouver Island Region. She has worked with Vancouver Island Health Authority as a Medical Director and with the Ministry of Health as the Aboriginal Physician Advisor. She is currently honored to have come full circle and to be working in her home territory as the local Medical Health Officer with Vancouver Island Health Authority.


Jade Yehia, CPHI(C)

Regional Built Environment Consultant, Island Health

Jade Yehia is a specialist with degrees in Environmental Health, Human Geography, and a Master of Science (MSc) in the field of Health Impact Assessment. For the past eleven years, she has been working in the Health Protection & Environmental Services departments with the BC Regional Health Authorities. Her work focuses on ways of bringing a health lens to land-use planning. Jade has led Island Health’s – Healthy Built Environments program, and her work includes topics such as, Housing, Transportation, Climate Change Adaptation, to name but a few, both internally across Island Health portfolios and externally with local government and community partners. She is passionate about creating healthier communities for all and loves to sing, dance, play, especially in a park or at the farmers markets with her wee lil three-year-old.