Advisory Council

Rita Bijons
photo of Rita
Rita is a climate activist. After reading The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery, in 2008, there was no question of anything but. She has engaged with schools, faith groups and civil society groups, MPs, MPPs, Councillors, and the City on climate mitigation and adaptation. Rita is a Board member of Climate Action Network Canada, as well as of Science for Peace. She is a founding member of ClimateFast. Here in Parkdale-High Park, Rita is Co-Chair of Green 13, residents concerned about the impact humans are having on our climate and environment. Green 13’s goals are to:
• increase public awareness about climate and other environmental concerns
• encourage public discourse on sustainability
• advocate for policy and behavioural change, and
• build resilience in our our community.
She is a founding member of CREW, Community Resilience to Extreme Weather, which is doing pilot work in both the Victoria Village Area, and in Parkdale-High Park.

Dr. Lucy Cummings
Faith & the Common Good: Greening Sacred Spaces
Lucy Cummings is the Executive Director of Faith & the Common Good, where she supports diverse faith communities contribute to greener, healthier, more resilient neighborhoods.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Virginia, a Master's in religious ethics from Yale University, and a Ph.D. in global politics from Johns Hopkins University.
Prior to her work at Faith & the Common Good, Lucy lead Seacology UK, a non-profit environmental group devoted to protecting island biodiversity using a community-based approach. A Mandarin Chinese speaker, she was a professor of global politics at the University of Hong Kong for ten years. There she explored the impact of environmental degradation on global security.
She also consulted with the Hong Kong government on its global environmental reputation. She currently lives in Toronto with her husband and two teenaged daughters.

Jill McDowell
Jill McDowell photo_n
Jill joined Toronto Public Health in 2000 as a Health Promotion Specialist in the former Environmental Protection Office. Her work has been dedicated to advancing knowledge exchange, capacity building and community engagement on a range of topics, including air quality, climate change and children’s environmental health. Jill also worked as a Community Health Officer for several years in many of Toronto's neighbourhoods brokering actions, policies and programs to support marginalized communities in reaching their health goals. In 2016, Jill joined Toronto Public Health's Food Strategy team, focusing on building healthier and more sustainable food systems through research, partnerships, and implementing tangible projects.
Prior to joining Toronto Public Health, Jill worked for Pollution Probe – a national environmental non-profit organization. She managed Probe's Clean Air Campaign and Child Health Programme, with a focus on indoor air quality in schools.

Ron Nielsen
Ron is an experienced executive who has led and developed sustainability in business, government and civil society for over 20 years. He’s been a key advisor to the Business Leaders’ Initiative on Human Rights, a Senior Policy Advisor to Ontario’s Round Table on Environment and Economy, and a Director of the Air Programme for the Environmental NGO Pollution Probe where he focussed on climate change and emissions trading. With business, Ron led the integration of sustainability in business systems and company culture for Alcan as Senior Director and Cliffs Natural Resources as General Manager.
Today, Ron leads the International Centre for Business Innovation and Sustainability. He is a Fellow of Tomorrow’s Company (UK), a member of the Executive Committee of the CSR Centre for Excellence (in mining) and chair of the Strategic Steering Committee for Business Management and Sustainability at the Canadian Standards Association. Ron is actively engaged in several new and leading efforts that are helping bring sustainability into mainstream thinking, including the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (US), the International Integrated Reporting Committee (UK) and the Finance and Sustainability Initiative (Montreal, Canada).

Luanne Rayvals

Luanne Rayvals is the Manager at the Victoria Park Hub with Working Women Community Centre. She has been with the Hub since it opened in December of 2010 and has been with WWCC since 2003. She has over 20 years of experience as a manager in Toronto's non-profit sector, with a focus on community development and engagement.

Whelena Sainsbury

A founding member of CREW, Whelena has a background in marketing and communications. She has volunteered with numerous organizations that bring community building and the environment together. Currently she is raising her son and working with CREW.

Ronn Stevenson
Ronn is a Sustainability Catalyst passionate about projects in the City of Toronto that integrates social, economic and the environmental issues in communities. Originally from Western Canada, Ronn trained as a Graphic Artist and recently returned to Ryerson University to study Sustainability and Architecture. He is focused on high Energy Efficiency with Renewable Energy, innovative Cradle to Cradle practices and Food Security. Mr. Stevenson is founding Vice-president of Passive Buildings Canada (Passive House Standard) and is very active on boards and committees such as the Beach Community Energy Cooperative (BCEC), CREW (Community Resilience to Extreme Weather) and others.
Recently, as a Neighbourhood Manager, he has helped galvanize a community in Riverdale, Toronto to become Carbon Neutral by participating in the Project Neutral Carbon Footprint program. He also served as a Workshop Facilitator in schools and communities to promote community Renewable Energy for TREC (Toronto Renewable Energy Co-op) Education. His latest project is The Sustenance Project. Fostering Community Collaboration by Breaking Down Silos by using a Knowledge Map & Systems Thinking along with hands-on workshops to engage and empower people and groups working on making their communities more sustainable and resilient.

Madelyn Webb
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In her original career as a researcher and science teacher, Madelyn recognized that environmental problems would not be solved by science alone, but through dialogue among stakeholders, including local communities, with all parties working toward consensus-based decisions.
As a result, Madelyn turned to studies of organization development and policy and became a certified facilitator.  She led projects that, along with a scientific framework, emphasized relationship-building, mapping and values clarification to strengthen stakeholder understanding on the way to consensus.  She has used mapping techniques to gather local community knowledge on a number of scales, from watersheds to local neighbourhoods in Toronto and Paraguay.  She was a pioneer in the inclusion of the GTA’s ethno-cultural residents in environmental activities, with funding she negotiated for a multi-city agency.  As well, she has served as the volunteer chair of a grass-roots organization in downtown Toronto and a charity working with Somali and Hispanic populations in the City.