Speaker Biographies


Bonnie Crombie, Mayor of Mississauga
Bonnie Crombie was elected Mayor of Mississauga in 2014. Mayor Crombie has made economic, social and environmental issues key elements of her mandate in office. Her priorities have been to build regionally integrated transit, ignite new economic development opportunities, and to create a more open, engaging and inclusive city. She has also spear-headed an action plan for preparing our city for ongoing and future climate change. Prior to her election as Mayor, she served as the Ward 5 City Councilor, a Member of Parliament for Mississauga-Streetsville and had a 20-year career in business. Mayor Crombie attended St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto, earning an Honours Bachelor of Arts in political science and international relations. She has an MBA from York University’s Schulich School of Business and earned a Corporate Director’s Certificate from the Institute of Corporate Directors at the Rotman School of Management.



Chief R. Stacey Laforme, New Credit First Nation (MNCFN)
R. Stacey Laforme is the elected Chief of the Mississaugas of the New Credit First Nation (MNCFN). Born and raised on MNCFN, Chief Laforme has served his community for more than 18 years, being first elected to council in 1999. As Chief of the MNCFN, he works to increase the profile, welfare and prosperity of the First Nation throughout the traditional 3.9 million acres of territory in Southern Ontario. He was instrumental in having the MNCFN be the first ever official First Nation host of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games in 2015. He is a noted author of books and poetry, with his poem Remember engraved in the Veterans Memorial, and others featured in the short film Sacred Trust and at Fort York in Toronto. Chief Laforme is committed to preserving the land, history, language and culture of the MNCFN.

Meric Gertler, President of the University of Toronto 
Meric Gertler is President of the University of Toronto, Professor of Geography and Planning and the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies. He is one of the world’s foremost urban theorists and policy practitioners, widely known as an expert on innovation, creativity and culture as drivers of the economic dynamism of city-regions. He has served as an advisor to local, national and international governments. Professor Gertler has authored or edited nine books and is the recipient of many national and international awards and honours, including appointment to the Order of Canada in 2015.

Prof. Steward Pickett, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies
Prof. Pickett is a plant ecologist and a Distinguished Senior Scientist in the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. He is widely viewed as one of the world’s leading scholars on urban socio-ecology and an authority on urban resilience and sustainability in the face of environmental and social change. Prof. Pickett was the inaugural Director of the Baltimore Long-term Ecological Research project, which has helped shape our understanding of urban ecology. Prof. Pickett has received numous honours and awards, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Science and Sciences.




John MacKenzie, Toronto and Region Conservation Authority
John MacKenzie is the newly appointed CEO of the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA). Before joining the TRCA, he was the deputy city manager of planning and growth management for the City of Vaughan. The TRCA, one of 36 conservation authorities across Ontario, has a mandate to ensure the conservation, restoration and management of water, land and natural habitats.

Prof. David Smith, University of Toronto Mississauga
Professor Smith is an archaeologist in Anthropology at UTM. He specializes in prehistoric cultures of northeastern North America and the Caribbean. He is an expert on the origins of agriculture in the Northeast Woodlands, stylistic change in Northeast Woodland ceramics, and environmental archaeology in tropical and continental regions.

Prof. Patricia McCarney, University of Toronto
Patricia McCarney is a Professor of Political Science and the Director of the Global Cities Institute (GCI) at the University of Toronto, and President and CEO of the World Council on City Data. Prof. McCarney GCI is leading the way in creating international ISO city data standards that can be used for research, planning and development.

Omar McDadi, Rouge National Urban Park
Omar McDadi has worked as a scientist, educator, guide and communicator for Parks Canada since 2004. Since 2014, Omar has been the External Relations Manager at Canada's first national park in a city – Rouge National Urban Park. He and his team focus on building partnerships, community outreach, volunteer activities and educational programming.

Deborah Martin-Downs, Credit Valley Conservation Authority
Deborah Martin-Downs is the Chief Administrative Officer of CVC. Her 30+ year career in the environmental community includes both private sector consulting and public sector positions. She holds a MSc in Zoology and Environmental Studies from the University of Toronto. CVC is a community-based environmental organization, dedicated to protecting, restoring and managing the natural resources of the Credit River Watershed.

Prof. Andrew Gonzalez, McGill University
Andrew Gonzalez is a Professor at McGill University, the Director of the Quebec Centre for Biodiversity Science, a Canada Research Chair in Biodiversity Science and the Liber Ero Chair in Conservation Biology. His research focuses on the causes and consequences of biodiversity change, including how global change and cities influence biodiversity and sustainability.



Prof. Sandy Smith, University of Toronto
Sandy Smith is a Professor in the Faculty of Forestry at the University of Toronto. Her research focuses on forest health, invasive species and the management of our urban forests.

Prof. Scott MacIvor, University of Toronto Scarborourgh
Scott MacIvor is an Assistant Professor in Biology at University of Toronto Scarborough.  He studies plant-pollinator interactions in cities and the importance of green infrastructure, including gardens, parks and green roofs.

Douglas Markoff, The Riverwood Conservancy
Douglas Markoff is a botanist and Executive Director of The Riverwood Conservancy (TRC). Since 2004, he has led the day-to-day operations and management of TRC’s volunteer-based charity located at Riverwood, a 150-acre urban oasis in central Mississauga. TRC provides programs and services to the community in environmental education, stewardship and gardening.

Prof. Tenley Conway, University of Toronto Mississauga
Tenley Conway is an Associate Professor in Geography at UTM. Her research draws on environmental geography and urban ecology to improve our understanding of the relationship between human activity and the physical environment within urban landscapes.

Michael Cleland, Environment Division, City of Mississauga
Michael Cleland is the Director of the Environment Division at the City of Mississauga. The Environment Division seeks to make Mississauga a world-class green city where people choose to live, work and play.

Jairus Skye, Peel Aboriginal Network
Jairus Skye received a PhD at McMaster University studying urban indigenous health and is the Executive Director of the Peel Aboriginal Network (PAN). PAN is an indigenous friendship centre committed to supporting the First Nation community in the Region of Peel.

Prof. Ronald Buliung, University of Toronto Mississauga
Ron Buliung is a Professor in Geography and the Environment Program at UTM. His research focuses on the experience and health of children and youth in cities, especially as it relates to disabled children and how they are able to access and participate in education.

Kate Kayes, Credit Valley Conservation Authority
Kate Hayes has more than 20 years of experience in the environmental field. She manages CVC’s aquatic and wetland restoration team undertaking habitat restoration projects throughout the Credit River watershed.