Meet the HAT Team

creating conservation legacies

Katie Blake, Executive Director

IMG 0511Katie 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 welcome her to the team. 

WendyWendy 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

mushroom and me2

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. 

 Jordana Herron, Land Protection Intern

Jordana Website photo 2

Jordana grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia, but has been working seasonally in BC since 2009. The beauty and biodiversity of BC left such an impression on her that, when she decided to go back to school, Jordana chose the Environmental Technology program at Camosun College for it's focus on sustainability and field work. Jordana enjoys that Victoria has so many opportunities to volunteer with conservation activities, like checking up on the Western Red-backed salamanders at Goldstream park as she's pictured doing in the photo on the left. Jordanas says, "The Land Protection Intern position at HAT feels like the perfect fit and I hope it will lead to a career in conservation."

Over the summer Jordana assisted both Barb von Sacken and Wendy Tyrell in coordinating restoration events  and completing annual conservation covenant compliance monitoring and is back again this fall to do more GIS work with the Land Protection program! 



Alex Mitchell, Bat Coordinator


Alex was born and raised here in Victoria, and is currently nearing the end of his Biology degree at UVic. For his whole life Alex has been enthralled by the flora & fauna of Vancouver Island, and still takes every opportunity to see and learn more about it. Having been a volunteer bat-counter for the past two years, becoming the Bat Stewardship Coordinator was an exciting next step. He has loved bats since his childhood, and finds them more fascinating each day. Alex is glad to be helping HAT to help bats, especially in the face of the impending arrival of White Nose Syndrome and the damage it could do to our bat populations.

When not working or at school, Alex can often be found exploring the island's vast array of underground caves, or caring for his multitude of houseplants.


Donate Now

Sign up for HAT's Newsletter The Fern

Get the lastest tips on gardening, stewardship, and info on HAT projects right to your inbox.


Login Form