Our People

SPEC Staff

Ashleen Montgomery

Finance and Operations Manager

Ashleen first joined SPEC as a volunteer with the Zero Waste Team and graduated from the Master Recycler Vancouver Program in 2022. She fell in love with SPEC’s community and now works to help SPEC manage daily operations and finances. She’s a certified Project Management Professional with over 10 years of experience leading projects and programs and is passionate about initiatives with positive social and environmental impact. When she’s not working or volunteering, Ashleen enjoys reading, soap-making, baking, and going for long walks with friends and family.

Ashley Parshyn

Communications and Operations Coordinator

Ashley is a graduate of the University of the Fraser Valley.  She is passionate about community, volunteering, and working together for the greater good. As an avid birder, Ashley has grown a deep appreciation for local ecologies and biodiversity. This interest has highlighted the gravity of climate inaction, both regionally and globally, and has further motivated her to find ways to reduce her impact and contribute to a healthier world.
In her spare time, Ashley enjoys wildcrafting, camping, cooking, and contributing to citizen science.


Alexandria "Andee" Wiedeman

Grant and Programs Manager

Andee is an events coordinator and environmental activist who focuses on community and communication. Residing on the unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh rainforest lands of “Vancouver, BC” since 2015, Andee is an excitable working class queer artist who seeks the most efficient solutions to including all perspectives at the grassroots level: human to human, human to forest, forest to humans.

President and Co-Founder of Not-For-Profit re:FILTER (2018), cigarette waste specialist, Master Recycler (SPEC) graduate, East Vancouver culture enthusiast, grant writer, tree-planter, poet and public speaking aficionado; Andee is continuing the pursuit of inner peace through taking responsibility – and cold ocean dips.

Sharlene Singh

School Gardens Program Coordinator

Sharlene is a graduate from the University of Waterloo and Sheridan College. As a Community Development specialist, she has more than a decade of experience working with the not for profit sector and municipal governments developing community programs, partnerships, volunteer programs and community capacity building. As a Master Gardener,  she is an advocate for the benefits of time spent in nature and in the garden.  Sharlene is a  graduate of the Kwantlen Polytechnic University Farm School program, and is very interested in regenerative agriculture and small scale farming. She looks forward to sharing her passion by seeking to engage and inspire the next generation about the importance of food security, climate resilience and connecting to the natural world.

Emily McGill

Textile Lab for Circularity - Collaboration Strategist

Emily is an experienced Project Consultant with a demonstrated history of working in sustainability and change management. With a Bachelor of Bioresource Engineering, she has specialized in two primary fields: waste prevention and resource recovery and the grassroots evolution of collaborative organizational and governance structures. In the past, Emily has designed and executed waste audits and solid waste management plans for private and public institutions, municipal and regional governments. Emily co-founded and co-facilitates the Master Recycler Vancouver program through SPEC

Crysta Lehmann

Farmland Ecosystem Services Program Coordinator

Crysta lives as a settler of mixed European descent on the agricultural flats along the North Arm of the Fraser River on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the səl̓ilwətaɁɬ (Tsleil-Waututh), kʷikʷəƛ̓əm (Kwikwetlem), sc̓əwaθen (Tsawwassen), qiqéyt (Qayqayt), q̓ic̓əy̓ (Katzie), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), qʼʷa:n̓ ƛʼən̓ (Kwantlen), & Stó:lō peoples.
Crysta has over a decade of small-scale farming experience, a B.Sc. in sustainable food systems, and established relationships with local farmers, consultants, and specialists. They are passionate about promoting equity and inclusion within the agricultural sector, and cultivating practical collaborative solutions for farmers on the ground. Crysta enjoys sharing meals with friends, playing fiddle, and stopping to look at every cool plant they see.

Mackenzie Kuenz

Climate Action Workshops Coordinator

Mackenzie is a settler on the unceded territory of the xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) people, calling on all to recognize that climate action and decolonization are deeply connected. She is a climate justice student, organizer, & activist, who is passionate about education and addressing issues at their root. She has worked with kids across the Americas, specifically in Mexico and Brazil providing environmental education and support. She is a recent graduate from UBC studying climate justice, environmental conflicts, and coastal communities, her studies brought her to Brazil on exchange where she learned the importance of community for climate action. She is excited to work with youth and partners on the ground anchored in her guiding principle “educate and resist”.

Easton Skara

School Gardens Program Assistant

Easton’s passion for education grew through his connection to musical communities, seeing the importance of shared knowledge, group learning, and equal opportunity within public schools. Along with his love of playing music, he has pursued an interest in urban food production through fieldwork on farms such as the Sharing Farm and Rabbit River Farms in Richmond BC. A current Bachelor of Education student at UBC studying to become a music teacher, Easton is excited for the chance to develop as an educator while supporting students through their engagement with urban agriculture.

Sheila Rodriguez

Elder Circle Program Coordinator

Sheila is a graduate of the University of Waterloo with a Master’s in Environment and Business. Her passion for biomimicry, nature-inspired solutions, and circular economy continues to guide her learning path. However, it is the wisdom and stories of Elders that have deeply inspired Sheila and drawn her to her current role. Sheila is thrilled to join SPEC as the Elders Circle Program Coordinator, where she aims to support the emergence of wisdom and learning, expanding the space for these invaluable voices to be heard. Outside her work life, Sheila is an avid dancer and artist, expressing her creativity through flamenco dance and land-based art. With her love of the ocean and birds, you may find Sheila at a beach watching the waves, or simply being mesmerized by hummingbirds drinking from feeders hanging from her balcony.

Amelia Paetkau

Elders Circle Program Assistant

Amelia has joined SPEC for the summer as the Elders Circle Project Assistant, she is looking forward to learning from stories of environmental activism and insights for more just and sustainable futures. She holds an honours degree in Anthropology from UBC and is continuing to doctoral studies at UC Davis in the fall. She is interested in science & technology studies (STS) and energy politics, and has a work background that involves waste management, farming and animal care, and marine life. The Pacific Northwest coast grounds and sustains Amelia’s motivation for climate issues; she loves swimming in the ocean, running in the mountains, and listening for moss and frogs. 

Kira Gawenus

Elders Circle Project Co-Assistant

Kira is thrilled to join SPEC as the Elders Circle Project Co-Assistant. She is from Treaty 6 territory and the Métis Nation of Alberta District 8, where she lived on an acreage outside of Edmonton before moving to Vancouver. Volunteering in long-term care homes sparked a passion for working with older adults, inspiring her to specialize in geropsychology after completing her degree at UBC. With a background in facilities coordination at the University of Alberta, she has held positions working closely with older adults in various roles, including facilitating interviews, leading focus groups, and conducting client surveys. In her free time, she enjoys playing jazz piano, creative writing, and spending time outdoors photographing nature.

SPEC Board of Directors

Robin Hadac

Board Chair

Robin grew up on the unceded territory of the Duwamish Nation in Seattle and is a graduate from the University of British Columbia with a BA in Psychology and Political Science. She works as a Product Manager and Designer at Trellis Social Enterprise, a fundraising platform that helps charities across North America maximize their fundraising potential. She brings her various experience in design, communications and public relations to support SPEC as a board member. Previously, she worked at SPEC for three years as the Communications and Volunteer Coordinator. A life-long environmentalist, she seeks to bring environmental justice into every aspect of her life. 

Enzo Casal

Vice Chair

Enzo is a scientist turned businessman with a passion for sustainability. He has a BSc in Biology with a focus on cell and developmental biology and worked in human disease research for several years. He completed his MBA in 2020 at UBC and transitioned to supply chain and operations where he gained experience overseeing logistics in the waste management industry. Lately, he has started working  and consulting with small businesses in strategy, management, and sustainable operations. He is a mentor at entrepreneurship@UBC where he advises budding start-ups how to explore their business ideas, test the market, and undergo customer discovery. Enzo believes strongly in the saying “what gets measured, gets done” and is exploring options in measuring how waste is generated and how much is traced down the supply chain. He recently has taken an interest in languages and is learning Mandarin. When he is not working or learning new languages, he enjoys trying new restaurants in Vancouver with friends, snowboarding the local peaks, biking the seawall, or exploring Hyrule in the Legend of Zelda series.

Dr. Carole Christopher

Director - Guiding Elder 

Carole has a doctorate in nutrition and has developed and taught university and adult education courses for 40 years, promoting local, sustainable, and just food. She’s been a SPEC director since 1996, and adds her experience being on community boards to the SPEC Executive. She is the past-chair of the Vancouver Food Policy Council, advising City Council on food security; a master gardener, with 35 years of organic gardening experience; and an enthusiastic camper and creative cook with her partner Rick. She speaks and offers workshops on a range of topics that pertain to food security and gardening, is an avid jazz and gospel singer, and is a dedicated meditation practitioner.  In 2018, Carole was acknowledged by the City of Vancouver for her thirty five years of volunteer work in the community as the recipient of the Vancouver Award of Excellence in the category of Healthy City For All.  

Oliver Lane


Oliver is the Manager for Teaching and Learning at UBC’s Sustainability Hub where he supports faculty members teaching sustainability and climate change. Oliver joined the SPEC board in 2023 and was a SPEC staff member between 2012 and 2021, enjoying the role of Executive Director for the last six of those years. He’s a big fan of SPEC, its program and above all the people behind this great work. Oliver holds a Masters in Sustainability Planning from UBC, and an undergraduate degree in Bussines Economics from Universidad Torcuato Di Tella, in Buenos Aires, Argentina (where he grew up). He greatly enjoys road cycling, running, tennis and soccer, and would like to be a musician when he grows up.

Kate Menzies


Kate has been a SPEC Director for 6 years and is currently serving as board Vicechair. She enjoys collaborating with SPEC’s amazing staff and volunteers to do community-building work that contributes to a more just and sustainable future. Outside of SPEC, Kate holds a Masters in Resource and Environmental Management and works with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation as a Natural Resource Planning manager.  Like many of you reading this, Kate is an outdoor enthusiast and follows the words of Edward Abbey who says “It is not enough to fight for the land; it is even more important to enjoy it”.

Chris Gooderham


Chris is a technology integrator and  project manager with a passion for technologies that simply make sense. He works to provide local residents with expertise in resolving their technology needs, from solar cells to bicycles. He enjoys teaching youngsters of all ages how technologies work, with hands-on activities. Volunteering at the Ponheary Ly foundation in Cambodia, to help school children keep their bicycles on the road, was one of his first initiatives. With over 30 years of experience in IT, he has managed projects from garden sheds to data centers. Chris holds a B.Sc in Electronics and is a certified Project Management Professional. 

Eyal Lebel


Eyal has more than 25 year of experience as a waste management coordinator and consultant. For the Vancouver Folk Music Festival, he has volunteered on its waste committee for 27 years, holding the lead role for over a decade. He has been coordinating the Car Free Day Green Team for the last 5 years. As a volunteer on SPEC’s Zero Waste Committee, he was part of the team that developed and launched SPEC’s Master Recycler Vancouver program in 2015. Eyal is a Dr. of traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture, as well as a master herbalist in western herbal medicine. He works in his private clinic in Vancouver. 

Khat Vesal


Khat(ereh) brings with her a broad skill set including 15+ years as a multi departmental Film Technician, experience in Engineering and Mass Timber Project Management and Fear Free Dog Training. Khat joins us in 2024 which lines up with her term on the Vancouver City Planning Commision. She owns and operates a small + mighty local wildscaping company that focuses on pollinator and indigenous plants & education, is fluent in Farsi and currently learning ASL. When not running a small business, Khat can be found continuing her education with all things dogs and plants, assisting as a food runner for our community fridges and helping out rescuing animals and wildlife. 

Kim Peterson


Kim is a fundraising professional with ten years experience working and volunteering with a variety of BC non-profit organizations. She is currently self-employed and spends her working days writing grants and helping small charities build their fundraising programs. She believes that grassroots environmental advocacy and community action are key to building a better world for ourselves and future generations.

Dr. Tara Moreau


Tara is the Associate Director of Sustainability and Community Programs at the University of British Columbia Botanical Garden in Vancouver Canada. She is co-chair of Vancouver’s Food Policy Council and has been a board member at SPEC for over 10 years. She has worked internationally as a consultant with the UN-Food and Agriculture Organization. Her publications, presentations and educational programs relate to climate change, food systems, sustainability education, agriculture, pest management and food policy. Her ideal Vancouver day involves biking to Spanish Banks and spending low tide skim-boarding with her family and friends. She has been car-free since 2006.