Our team

Lisa Mintz

Executive Director

Lisa is an environmentalist, fundraiser, librarian and community organizer. She’s been part of many important undertakings over the past nine years to save Montreal’s green spaces. She’s a founding member of Sauvons l’Anse-à-l’Orme, which succeeded in creating the largest municipal park in Canada, the Grand Parc de l’Ouest. She also worked  tirelessly to save the wetlands at Technoparc St. Laurent, a project now bearing fruit.  

Most notably, she founded Sauvons la falaise!  with her silent partner John Symon.  This group has worked very hard to create the seventh grand parc on the Island of Montreal, Grand parc de l’écoterritoire de la falaise Saint-Jacques, now under construction in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce (NDG) and the southwest of Montreal. In 2021, the Canadian Museum of Nature honoured her with a Nature Inspiration Award for her work on this important project. In 2022 Lisa was presented with the Medal of the National Assembly by Member of the National Assembly (MNA) Kathleen Weil.

While saving the falaise, she developed partnerships which she has brought with her to UrbaNature Education.

During educational walks, citizen science activities, cleanups and other events, she demonstrates to people of all ages the joys of nature, and believes in experiential learning, feeling that nature is the best classroom!

She was a board member of the NDG Community Council, and currently serves on the Green Coalition’s advisory board. A passionate birdwatcher, she says  she “does all this for the birds.”

Jean-Pierre Duford


A parent of two teenagers and horticulturist by trade, Jean-Pierre works as a gardener for Le Sud-Ouest borough and has lived in LaSalle for 15 years.

He is a member of Sauvons la falaise!, Projet Montréal and the Green Party of Quebec.  He ran for office in Saint-Henri-Sainte-Anne (Le Sud-Ouest) for the Green Party of Quebec in the last three elections. He is also the party’s official spokesperson for agriculture and forestry.

Jean-Pierre is vice-president of the LaSalle Horticulture Society and cultivates a community vegetable garden there. He is also a member of Demain Sud-Ouest, a popular movement that campaigns for ecological transition in the borough. He does a lot of hiking, combining his love of nature with exercise and an interest in plants native to Quebec.

John Symon


John grew up on Vancouver Island and backpacked around the world as a young adult before coming to Montreal for his university education in the 1980s. 

After earning diplomas from l’Université de Montréal (geography) and Concordia (MBA), he stayed in Montreal to start a family (today he has three adult children). 

He wrote a series of best-selling guidebooks for places to take kids in Montreal and Ottawa. He also wrote a book about bicycling in Montreal in collaboration with Robert “Bicycle Bob” Silverman, and worked for many years as a freelance journalist.

John has been involved with the environmental movement since the early 1970s and twice ran as a candidate for the Green Party of Quebec. Today, he drives a bus for his day job while writing a biography of “Bicycle” Bob Silverman.

David Gamper


David grew up in London, moved to Geneva in the early 1990s, and now lives in Montreal, a city he loves.

He has always loved outdoor activities and observing nature. He was interested in nature from an early age through hill and mountain-walking, an interest encouraged by his grandfather, who was a climber, and which he continued when he had his own family. 

Advocating for nature in urban areas is close to his heart, based on his experience in central London, where nature is both under threat and surprisingly healthy when given a little help!

Lianne Barnes

In addition to a bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies from Concordia University, Lianne recently graduated from McGill University with a certificate in Public Relations. 

Having created a professional career path  at Montreal-based startups, she now works at an online marketplace, supporting the movement of plant and tree materials.

In her free time, she enjoys yoga and cycling and she recently completed her yoga teacher training overseas. A travel buff, she’s  visited more than 40 countries and recognizes the value of travel in her life. She’s always been passionate about climate issues, now more than ever. With a heartfelt mission to make a better future for our younger generations and contribute to climate change, being a part of UrbaNature is a perfect first step.

Emma Despland

Emma is a professor in the Department of Biology at Concordia University and a Fellow of the Loyola Sustainability Research Centre. She is also the mother of three children. Her research focuses on plant-insect interactions, the cornerstone of all terrestrial ecosystems. She  investigates why insects choose to eat the plants they do, the role of social interactions  in the survival of larval insects, and how insect outbreaks explode and then collapse.

Her academic work focuses on nature conservation and developing the role of scientists in informing policy in the face of the current climate and biodiversity crises. She writes broadly for the general public on insect biodiversity and conservation issues. She is also deeply committed to nature education and helping people develop a connection to the natural world.

She has been involved with UrbaNature Education for the past three years, working with students to learn more about the outdoor environments in NDG-Westmount.

Peter Abi Aad

Born and raised in Beirut, Lebanon, Peter is currently studying Business Management in Creative Industries at LaSalle College. In addition to managing students and working in a variety of industries,he has gained valuable experience in many fields. Through these experiences he has  developed his communication and management skills, which have been essential for  his professional success.

He enjoys being outdoors and volunteering his time to support causes that are important to him. As a longtime volunteer with the Red Cross, he provides aid and support to those in need.

He feels it is essential to understand different viewpoints on nature and life. This philosophy has helped him become a better leader and communicator and has driven him to seek new challenges and opportunities for personal and professional growth.

Hedy Dab

Having held executive positions on two separate NGOs, Hedy has a thorough understanding of what it takes to run an educational organization. She served as executive chairperson on the board of the International Youth for Peace and Justice Tour for five years. This program was aimed at educating Canadian youths about world conflicts such as war and famine.

As well, she served as President of Open City 2002, a first-of-its-kind Artist In School program in Montreal for eight years. Both NGOs were aimed at educating young people in different types of learning centers other than public schools, and both were 100 per cent funded by government. This combined experience makes her a great asset to UrbaNature. She looks forward to working with UrbaNature, and helping this environmental education program achieve maximum success.