Our Board

Karen Ray – President

Karen is a lawyer by profession. She spent almost her entire career at the law firm of Fraser, Milner, Casgrain (formerly Fraser & Beatty and now Dentons) as a partner in Toronto, Canada before retiring from private practice in 2004. She served as national counsel to The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC) from 2005-2015. Throughout her association with NCC she played an important role in the management of American Friends of Canadian Nature (AFCN), attending all Board meetings, updating organizational and operating documents and providing practical advice. Beyond her interest in non-advocacy conservation, Karen enjoys travel, especially nature travel, gardening, reading and golfing at her country clubs in Toronto and Bonita Springs, Florida.

“Robin Fraser inspired me to get involved in the world of conservation. Robin was a long-time partner at Fraser & Beatty and a long-time volunteer at NCC and AFCN, where he served over the years as chair of both corporations. He hired me at the law firm and later introduced me to NCC and AFCN and their admirable missions, for which actions I will be forever grateful.” Karen, on who inspired her to get involved in the world of conservation.

Michael Rea – Vice-President

Michael’s primary career was at Key Publishers, where he served as a Board member and as Chair of the Canadian Magazine Publishers Association until 2001. In 1997, he joined the Board of the Nature Conservancy of Canada and became Treasurer, before his appointment as the NCC’s Chief Operating Officer in 2001. After retiring in 2009, Michael remained involved at NCC in a voluntary capacity for several years. He also sat on the Board of the Friends of MacGregor Point, a noted bird migration flyway in Ontario, and is currently the Board Chair of Canada’s National History Society, dedicated to expanding the popular knowledge of Canadian history. He was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for his work with the Canadian Geographic Magazine.

“The decline in the health of our environment and the reduction in the population of many species is very alarming to me. My involvement in AFCN is my small way of helping with this issue.” Michael, on why nature conservation matters to him.

Tim Gardiner

After obtaining his MBA, Tim – who was born in London, Ontario and is a dual Canada/US citizen – built his career in wholesale metal sales and trading, specializing in precious metals. He worked at Mitsui & Co., JP Morgan and Toronto-Dominion Bank before retiring in 2016. He spent much of his life moving around the world alongside his wife Nancy and four children, with whom he lived in Toronto, Geneva, London, Singapore, and New York. They now split their time between New York City, Jackson Hole, WY, and Westport, ON. Over the years, Tim and his family have made significant gifts to support conservation in Canada, especially in the Frontenac Arch Biosphere, a critical nature connection between the Appalachian and Canadian Shield geographies.

“I came to quickly realize there are no borders in nature conservancy. This is especially true between the United States and Canada, which is why AFCN greatly contributes to NCC’s overall vision, mission, and values.” Tim, on why cross-border conservation is relevant today.

V.W. (Tim) Holt

Tim, a mechanical engineer, worked for three large oil and gas companies before starting his own business in the same industry. Throughout his business ventures, he has consistently focused on ensuring that all activities conducted were undertaken with the highest level of care for the environment. After having spent several years in Alaska, he moved to Calgary in 2000 and became involved on the Board of the Alberta Region of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. His everlasting love for the outdoors has led him to Colbert, WA, a beautiful small town where he currently lives with his family.

“We are surrounded by our amazing natural world and working to help conserve as much of this as we can gives me great pleasure.” Tim, on why nature conservation matters to him.

Dr. Chris Lane

After completing his undergraduate studies in Connecticut, Chris spent nine years in Atlantic Canada, where he earned a PhD in Biology at the University of New Brunswick and became a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dalhousie University. During this time, his wife worked at the Fredericton and Dartmouth offices of the Nature Conservancy of Canada. Through his research and her involvement at NCC, Chris built a strong connection to the region and its NCC office. In 2008, he was hired as an Assistant Professor at the University of Rhode Island (URI), where he was promoted with tenure in 2014, and to Professor in 2018. At URI, Chris runs a research program while teaching both undergraduate and graduate courses. Chris and his family live in North Kingston, RI, near the ocean that has always fascinated them.

“Issues of conservation and sustainability are some of the most pressing problems that will face the next few generations. Without modifying the ways in which we see, interact with, and take from the world around us, we are endangering those who will come after us. Conservation is part of the effort towards sustainability.” Chris, on why nature conservation matters to him.

Nathalie Zinger – Executive Director

An exceptional leader with over 35 years of experience in the area of nature conservation, Nathalie has an excellent understanding of issues associated with the protection of natural areas and natural resources management. She has greatly contributed to strengthening conservation across Canada while establishing unique, innovative partnerships to help build a legacy that is enjoyed today, and that will be by generations to come. In 1981, Nathalie received her B.SC. Agriculture (Wildlife Management) from McGill University and, subsequently, obtained her M.Sc. in Landscape Planning at the University of Montreal in 1991. She joined the Nature Conservancy of Canada in 2007, where she acted as Regional Vice-President for the Quebec Region for ten years. She currently acts as the Executive Director of American Friends of Canadian Nature, is a Governor of Les Amis de la montagne and sits on McGill’s Advisory Board for the Faculty of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. In 2013, she was recognized by the Quebec Government for her contribution to environmental causes with the prestigious Cercle des Phénix award. In addition to her deep commitment to nature conservation, Nathalie enjoys sketching, hiking and traveling.