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Staff Directory

It takes a diverse combination of skills to support the many facets of the Humber Arboretum. Meet the team that keeps the grounds beautiful, the land healthy, the learning exciting, the community engaged, and everything behind the scenes running smoothly.

Having a “Nature Name” is a long-standing tradition at our day camps, for kids and adults alike. Most of our staff chose their own, although a few didn’t get quite as much of a say in the matter!

To contact one of our staff members, email or call the Humber Arboretum front desk at arboretum@humber.ca or 416.675.5009.

Alexandra (Alix) Link

Arboretum Director
Nature name: Mountain Lion

alexandra link

Alexandra Link is Director of Humber Arboretum & Centre for Urban Ecology in Toronto, Ontario.  Under Alix’s leadership, the Humber Arboretum was awarded Community Garden of the Year from the City of Toronto in 2013 and a Community Service award from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter in 2015.

She sits on Humber College’s Centre of Innovation in Health and Wellness Steering Committee, Landscape Technician Program Advisory Committee, Humber Galleries Advisory Committee, and Sustainability Coordinating Committee. Alix is co-founder of Humber College’s Nature Education Working Group, created to enhance student skills and knowledge by enabling learning connected to the natural environment. She also is the current Chair of the American Public Gardens Association’s College and University community.

Alix’s background includes founding and operating an urban agriculture co-operative, a consultancy, and a sustainable landscape business. She also worked as a policy advisor with the provincial government focusing on local food and land use where she was awarded the ministry’s Health and Wellness Leadership award. Alix is a graduate of the Royal Roads Masters of Arts in Environment and Management program where she focused her research on best practices in local food system implementation in British Columbia, Canada.  She also holds a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, Canada.

Want to know more? Connect with Alix on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Jimmy Vincent

Coordinator of Education, Camps, and Community Outreach
Nature name: Beaver 

jimmy vincent

Jimmy has been rolling logs and feeding chickadees at the Humber Arboretum since 2005, when he started out as a nature interpreter before becoming Camp Director. A familiar face to over a decade of nature camp alumni, Jimmy now coordinates all of the Centre for Urban Ecology’s camps, school programs, adult education, and community outreach activities. In 2011 Jimmy received Humber College’s staff Community Service Award and in 2015 his team received a Community Service Award from Ernestine’s Women’s Shelter.

Before the Arb, Jimmy worked as a Stewardship Events Leader for Evergreen and has also worked with both the Hamilton and North Bay Mattawa Conservation Authorities on various watershed based projects. He has a Technologist Diploma in Ecosystem Management from Sir Sandford Fleming School of Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences.

A proud father of two boys, Jimmy’s passion lies in connecting people with the natural environment in the hopes that they can find as much enjoyment playing and learning outdoors as he did growing up.

Robert Gray

Horticultural Technologist & Arborist
Nature name: Stump 

robert gray

Once the Captain of Canada’s Men’s Softball team, Rob now uses his leadership skills to keep things running smoothly for the Arb’s horticulture and landscaping team.

Rob first joined the Humber Arboretum in 1997 as a workstudy student while he was completing Humber College’s Urban Arboriculture Certificate. He went on to become an instructor and later the Program Coordinator for Humber College’s Horticulture Apprenticeship and Landscape Technician programs. At the Humber Arboretum he has played an instrumental role in facilitating and coordinating experiential learning course components as well as applied research and capstone projects from over seven different Humber programs.

An ISA Certified Arborist, Rob has a Horticulture Diploma from the University of Guelph. He also has a charming story of workplace romance – he met his bride-to-be through his Arboretum co-worker Talete’s bride-to-be while the women were coworkers at a Humber College daycare centre. Rob is now a proud father of two.

Valerie Leaist

Operations Assistant
Nature name: Will-o'-the-wisp

valerie leaist

For two years Valerie was both a behind-the-scenes organizer and front line contact as the Scheduling and Customer Service Assistant at the Centre for Urban Ecology, where she helped school groups, camp families, learners, and visitors alike take advantage of all the Arboretum has to offer. In early 2018 she moved into her full-time role as Operations Assistant, where she now helps ensure that all the many facets of the Humber Arboretum run smoothly. She holds a B.A. (Honours) in Classics & English from McMaster University and a diploma in Office Administration, Executive Assistant, from Mohawk College.

Valerie enjoys learning new things, being creative, and exploring new styles of art and writing. She loves artistic and outdoor activities like sitting around a campfire, watching the lights play off of the Athenian Acropolis at night, and standing by a river while a breeze whips around her.

Karima Dia

Event Services Representative 
Nature name: Swan

Karima helps set-up a wedding

Karima is a Humber College grad with her Bachelors in Public Relations and a diploma in Travel and Tourism. Before joining the Arboretum in 2017 Karima had seven years of experience in the travel industry, a reflection of her passion for learning about world history, experiencing different cultures, and trying new and interesting foods. Karima is also a nature-lover with a commitment to sustainability so she’s excited she has the chance to use her knack for organization and her love of helping people at an organization like the Humber Arboretum.

Sharon Dahan

Customer Service Representative 
Nature name: Ivy

A young woman in glasses smiles at someone off camera

Sharon began at the Centre for Urban Ecology as a workstudy Office and Events assistant in 2017 before graduating from Humber College with her Diploma in Cosmetic Management and being hired by the Arboretum as a regular staff member in 2018. She previously obtained a Legal Secretarial Studies Attestation of Collegial Studies from O’Sullivan College of Montreal and has experience both in customer service and as a legal secretary.

Sharon loves campfires and feeding chickadees, and is a huge foodie who loves to bake and discover new cuisines. She also loves the idea of making her own cosmetics and skincare as inspired by a workshop she took part in that was taught by Tamarack.

Talete Gallo

Landscape Technician
Nature name: Badger 

talete gallo

Talete has been at the Arboretum since the late 90s, maintaining the grounds and making his mark by designing and building custom projects that enhance the Arboretum experience for all visitors. From eye-catching benches to the Tree of Hope welcome mosaic, Talete’s work can be seen across the North campus site. He also assists with Humber College’s Landscape programs, helping to guide student projects constructed on the Arboretum grounds.

But it isn’t all outdoor work for Talete. He also has a passion for interior design and loves to play competitive billiards – a hobby which recently earned him a trip to a Las Vegas tournament.

Andrea Sudak

Horticulture Technician
Nature name: Chickadee 

With late fall trees in the background, a young woman in heavy coat smiles as she holds a large piece of burlap.

When Andrea began studying horticulture, her father told her to take time every day to sketch a new plant as a way of noticing the small details. Raised to have a deep love and appreciation for nature, it was a natural fit for Andrea to pursue a career in horticulture and conservation. Andrea has worked with the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority and Credit Valley Conservation Authority in habitat restoration, naturalization and reforestation. She also has experience as a Maintenance Foreman for an ecological landscaping company.

Andrea holds an Honours Diploma in Environmental Landscape Management from Seneca College as well as a Diploma in Horticulture through the University of Guelph. She also holds a first-degree black belt in karate and has been studying for 15 years with her father, who holds a fifth-degree black belt.

Valeria Wuschnakowski

Greenhouse Technician
Nature name: Sunshine 

valeria

After earning a Masters of Horticulture in Bucharest, Romania, Valeria came to Canada in 1995 and began working in the Humber greenhouses in 2003. She has been an integral part of many of the Arboretum’s exciting research and community projects, working easily with everyone from novice students to experienced conservationists. In 2015 she received a Support Staff Distinguished Service Award from Humber College.

But just because Valeria’s digging in the dirt, that doesn’t always mean she’s got something to plant. Instead this passionate amateur geologist might be looking for another rock specimen to add to her already impressive collection.

Marilyn Campbell

Communications Assistant
Nature name: Minnow 

marilyn campbell

A graduate of the Fine Arts Cultural Studies program at York University, Marilyn is a creative writer with a special interest in environmental education and young audiences. Along with handling social media and promotions for the Arboretum, she’s also an award-winning playwright, a middling puppeteer, and an occasional assistant to a children’s musical duo. One of her recent works was writing the story for "The Goosefighter," which was published in 2018 in Volume 5 of the Toronto Comics Anthology, Osgoode as Gold.

Marilyn likes to think of herself as a slightly-above-novice birder and is often found wandering Toronto parks with binoculars, camera, and a well-worn copy of a ROM field guide in hand. Find her on Twitter @Shumpgullion and on Instagram @marilyn.cam.

Reid Williamson

Senior Nature Interpreter
Nature name: Tamarack 

Reid gestures while speaking to students outside in winter

Growing up in a rural area, Reid was fortunate enough to always be exposed to the natural world. Wandering barefoot through the creeks and trails beside her home fueled her passion to protect wild spaces and help others to connect to them. 

Reid graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and Minor in Sociology. Being part of the co-op program, Reid did the majority of her work placements in outdoor education and has experience working with both the Durham and Toronto District School Boards.

Reid is currently working to expanding her knowledge of plants and herbalism, friction fire, bird language, and animal tracking.

Tanisha Rajput

Nature Interpreter

Nature Name: Sunflower

Having grown up an urbanite, Tanisha has a great appreciation for the role that a nature connection can play in honing creativity, physical and mental health.

She graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Bachelors of Science and Minors in Economics and Biology and Certificate in French. After working in a couple of roles as an environmental educator, she realized her passion for the great outdoors, and thus acquired a Masters of Environmental Science from University of Guelph.

Apart from being outdoors, Sunflower also enjoys poetry and is currently trying to be an instapoet, leads a volunteer group called Rotaract Club of Brampton, and loves to dance!

Lucas Allen

Jr. Horticulture Technician

A bearded young man in profile, wearing glasses with his curly hair held back by a bandanna, bent forward as he works

Lucas may have only joined the regular staff in 2018, but he certainly isn’t new to the Arboretum. While studying at Humber College Lucas was employed as an Arb workstudy student in 2009, 2010, 2014, 2016, and 2017. During that time he eagerly took on a wide variety of tasks but mostly he assisted with Talete’s many projects.

Lucas has a Landscape Technician Co-op Diploma and a Fitness and Health Promotion Diploma from Humber College, along with a Bachelor of Applied Science Kinesiology from the University of Guelph. He’s collected coins since he was 7 years old and enjoys going to his family’s cottage and staying active through hiking, swimming, wakeboarding, snowboarding, and going to the gym.