Meet the HAT Team


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Katie Blake, Executive Director

Katie PicKatie Blake comes to HAT with 17 years of experience in the conservation sector with the Nature Conservancy of Canada. As the BC Manager of Conservation Programs, Katie worked most closely on land protection projects. She serves as the Chair of the Board of Cultivate Canada Society, which runs Sole Food Street Farms, a social enterprise that employs residents of Vancouver's Downtown East Side in an urban agriculture venture. She also helped to start the Centre for Arts, Ecology & Agriculture on Foxglove Farm. Katie brings a strong passion for the non-profit sector and for the natural world. When she's not working or volunteering you will find her in her kitchen perfecting her canning skills or out hiking. Katie lives in Victoria with her husband Ian and her sweet border collie Prairie. Katie recently exclaimed, "I couldn't be more excited to join HAT's amazing team of staff, Board Directors, volunteers, members and partners. I'm ready to safeguard and build on HAT's substantial conservation accomplishments."

We at HAT are thrilled to have her on the team. 

20180712 154133Wendy Tyrrell, Habitat Management Coordinator, BSc

Wendy is originally from California, holds a BSc in Ecology & Systematic Biology and has been working in the field of restoration and invasive plant management for more than 15 years. Wendy has worked as an ecologist for a local land trust developing and implementing restoration projects on covenanted lands and monitoring the efficacy of their invasive plant program. 

As part of HAT’s Land Protection team, Wendy leads the management of our protected lands including planning, assessing habitats and coordinating restoration projects. In addition, Wendy works in partnership with local schools doing habitat enhancement through our Green Spots Program

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Paige Erickson-McGee, Stewardship Coordinator, BSc

Paige first got involved with HAT through a turtle. She later joined HAT as the Conservation Intern in 2012 and 2013 and continued to volunteer until 2014 when Paige became HAT’s Community & Development Coordinator. In January of 2015 Paige moved into the Stewardship Coordinator role leading programs for Species at Risk, Good Neighbours, and works with the Green Spots Program. 

Paige grew up on Shawnigan Lake exploring nature with her dogs. She completed her degree in Geography at the University of Victoria, as well as the Environmental Technologist diploma and Archeological Field Assistant certificate at Camosun College. Paige is the Pollinator Steward for the Haliburton Farm Urban Biodiversity Enhancement and Restoration Project and is co-chair of the Native Plant Study Group. 

Barb von Sacken 2Barb von Sacken, Land Protection Coordinator, BA

Barb von Sacken has been with the HAT team as the Land Protection Coordinator since the fall of 2015. After her work with the Ministry of Environment, Camosun College, and private consulting, she will be taking on HAT’s growing protected land negotiations along with covenant monitoring. 

As the Land Protection Coordinator, Barb works with public and private landowners to assist them in placing permanent protection on their lands through conservation covenants or acquisitions. In addition, Barb performs annual compliance monitoring on HAT’s covenanted properties.


Ashlea Veldhoen 2Ashlea Veldhoen, Community and Development Coordinator, B.Sc.

Ashlea is happy to have recently become a part of the Victoria community and HAT family. With her roots in Ontario and extended family in B.C., she now enjoys calling Vancouver Island home. Through her post-secondary studies in Ecosystem Management at Fleming College and Environmental Science at Trent University in Ontario, Ashlea has gained a thorough understanding of humans as part of ecological systems and the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems through conservation of natural areas.

Ashlea looks forward to doing her part with H.A.T. to ensure resilient and sustainable ecological, social and economic systems - all linked by healthy ecosystems – are here for generations to come.  When she’s not busy with HAT business, Ashlea loves birding on the Galloping Goose Trail and teaching new tricks to her dog Kiyo.  

 Principle Contractors

christianChristian Engelstoft, MSc, Biologist

Christian has working with HAT to locate and help steward species at risk since 2004.  Christian is the Scientific Advisor to the Sharp-tailed Snake and Western Painted Turtle Recovery Teams. Christian provides an important scientific basis to HATs species at risk research and stewardship initiatives guiding surveys, providing training, and writing reports. His studies have been published in a number of journals. 



Kristiina Ovaska, PhD, Biologist

Kristiina has a MSc from Acadia University, Nova Scotia, and a PhD from University Victoria. After completing two post-doctoral studies (with McGill University and University of British Columbia), she has worked as a consultant and independent researcher focusing on the conservation of amphibians, reptiles, slugs and snails, and other often overlooked life forms. She started working with HAT in 2008 in projects aimed towards protecting the endangered Western Painted Turtles and Blue-grey Taildropper slugs and their habitats. In addition to working in BC, Kristiina has conducted studies in the West Indies, Panama, and Ecuador. Kristiina is a co-chair of the COSEWIC (Committee of Endangered Wildlife in Canada) Amphibians & Reptiles Specialist Subcommittee and a former member of the Mollusc Specialist Subcommittee.

Michael Brinsmead, Bookkeeper

Michael has managed HAT's bookkeeping since 2007 through his bookkeeping business, Farhill Accounting. 

Summer Interns

 IMG 1776 photobyBarbVonSackenNicole da Silva

Nicole is studying biology and environmental studies at Uvic. She is passionate about wildlife and conservation. Having grown up in Victoria, she is thrilled to be contributing to the environmental stewardship of the Victoria area while working for HAT.




Virginia and Jessica in a rowboat Fig 4Ronna Woudstra 

Ronna is of Irish and Dutch decent and is currently residing in unceded Lekwungen territory, now known as the Shelbourne community. She is a recent University of Victoria graduate with a BSc. in Biology and a minor in Anthropology. Throughout her studies she focused on ecosystems, ecology, plant biochemistry, and how we as humans understand and conceptualize the physical world around us. In her extracurricular life she is a soccer player, pianist, painter, and a disc golf enthusiast who finds joy in being outside and exploring nature with her dog, Lily.



Summer Bat Coordinator

Estraven Lupino-Smith, BA, MSc 

estraven binos ccEstraven Lupino-Smith is an artist-researcher currently living on unceded Lekwungen territories. Originally from Toronto, they are a white settler from Italian and Scottish immigrant families. Estraven works across the disciplines of arts, social science, and science, and their work is informed by their curiosity and critical engagements with various environments: natural, cultural, and constructed. They are interested in the interactions of human and non-human animals and interrupting dominant narratives about nature and ecologies.

Estraven started their work with HAT through a project funded by the CRD Arts Development Service where they produced sculptural work, sound art pieces, and video that investigated the ramifications of the shifting urban, suburban and rural environments for bats. Through their research and involvement with the HAT Bat project, they became part of the HAT Staff team as the Bat Stewardship Coordinator.



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