Founder & Executive Director Dave is the founder and Executive Director of Park People. Under Dave’s leadership, since its creation in 2011 Park People has quickly emerged as Canada’s leading city park transformation organization. Dave has many decades of experience managing environmental and municipal issues in government and in politics. He has always brought a thoughtful, solutions-based approach to the wide range of public policy challenges he has helped governments and organizations address. Dave has devised and driven many of the Toronto-region’s most significant greenspace and city building initiatives. Before starting Park People, Dave helped guide the successful campaign for the creation of Canada’s first national park in an urban area, Rouge National Park. He was also awarded a Metcalf Foundation Innovation Fellowship in 2010 and released a report for the Foundation in September: Fertile Ground for New Thinking – Improving Toronto’s Parks. Prior to his Fellowship, Dave served as Senior Advisor to the Premier of Ontario, working to develop, implement and communicate the Ontario Government’s agenda in the areas of environment, natural resources, and municipal affairs. He played a key leadership role in many aspects of the Ontario Government’s progressive agenda, including the 1.8 million acre Greenbelt, the GTA Growth Plan, the City of Toronto Act and the Go Green Climate Action Plan. He has served on the boards of LEAF and the Task Force to Bring Back the Don. In 2011, the Toronto Foundation named him one of that year’s Vital People. Dave is a regular media commentator on city park issues, has spoken on numerous panels on city park issues in Canada and the US and written on park issues in many magazines and newspapers. He was a Member of the Design Review Panel for the Back to the River Design Competition, City of London, Ontario.
Jake Tobin Garrett
Manager, Policy & Research
Jake Tobin Garrett leads Park People’s research, policy, and planning work around urban parks and holds a MScPl in Urban Planning from the University of Toronto. He is the author of the paper Making Connections: Planning Parks and Open Space Networks in Urban Neighbourhoods, which examines public space strategies for intensifying cities. He also leads Park People’s work on the Green Line, an initiative to transform the Dupont hydro corridor into a linear park and trail from Earlscourt Park to the Annex.
Jake has worked as both a freelance and staff writer covering urban issues for several years. He has written about city issues in various publications, including Ground Magazine, Torontoist, NRU Publishing, and Spacing Magazine, and has appeared on CBC’s Here and Now and Metro Morning. He continues to write about parks on his blog, www.thislandisparkland.com.
Director of Operations Erika has over 15 years of experience in the non-profit sector working on issues including food, homelessness, and social justice. Prior to Park People Erika worked at Evergreen where she launched a community development program and later played a role in planning and fund development for the organization. A Maritimer at heart, Erika has called five different provinces and a few other countries home over the years. When not hanging out picnicking in parks, her favorite place to be is in the kitchen- making pies.
Manager of Outreach Minaz is Park People’s Manager of Outreach. She works with communities across the City to help them animate their parks and green spaces. She manages the TD Park Builders program, a micro-grant program for marginalized communities. Prior to working at Park People, Minaz worked as a Live Green Toronto Community Animator helping engage citizens across North York take environmental action. The program was part of the City of Toronto’s strategy to meet aggressive targets for reducing greenhouse gas and smog causing emissions. Minaz started her career as a Waste coordinator at the (North) Toronto Green Community, the non-profit organization that brought North America’s first wind turbine to Toronto as well as launching Toronto’s first car-sharing company, Autoshare. She went on to become Executive Director launching seven new programs and coordinating six others ranging from community gardens, stewardship, energy, water, climate change, transportation and waste. Minaz has a degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Waterloo.
Manager, Marketing & Communications Jodi has spent over a decade focused on mission driven marketing. Most recently, she helped the Hospitality Workers Training Centre grow from 40 to 300 participants in under 2 years. Prior to that Jodi was lucky enough to work at some of Canada’s best agencies serving the non-profit sector and progressive businesses, first at Manifest Communications and then at Hypenotic. When she’s not working, Jodi can be found at farmers’ markets, amusing her kids and walking the streets of west-end Toronto. Dufferin Grove and Trinity Bellwoods parks have long been her extended backyard.
Manager of Administration. Sean Brathwaite has worked in the non-profit sector for over 20 years ago, starting in the iconic 401 Richmond St. building, which is of course Park People’s headquarters. Over his career, Sean has worked in the environmental, adult education, food security and retail sectors. Prior to Park People Sean worked for Canada World Youth, a national youth-focused organization assisting with the development of the Global Learner program. When not at work, Sean is busy organizing community events in Regent Park and volunteering at Square Circle, an organization serving youth in underserved areas. Sean is a founding member of the Friends of Regent Park and sits on Regent Park’s Social Development Plan Stakeholders Table.
Program Manager Janice has had a career that spans the worlds of book publishing, adult education and the not-for-profit sector, most recently at the environmental charity Evergreen and at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. She has developed, delivered or overseen projects as varied as environmental and community engagement projects, executive and corporate training programs, granting programs, adult education programs and public exhibitions. Janice has lived in Vancouver and Sydney, Australia but happily returned to hometown Toronto in 2007 with family in tow. When not working at Park People, Janice can be found noodling in the garden or kitchen, walking the beltline trail or kicking through autumn leaves in Sherwood Park.
National Network Manager. Natalie Brown is Park People’s new National Network Manager, leading Park People’s work with national and regional partners to deliver new and expanded programs across Canada.
Natalie brings with her a strong background in project management, communications, and non-profit outreach.
Before coming to Park People, Natalie spent five years at Toronto Community Housing, the largest social housing provider in Canada, where she led their internal communications program before taking on a role leading transformative projects for the organization. This work included designing and implementing a new eviction prevention program for social housing tenants. She won the 2016 City of Toronto Ombudsman’s award in recognition of her work on this project.
Natalie holds a Master’s in Communications and Culture from York and Ryerson Universities. In her spare time, Natalie loves exploring Toronto’s ravines and neighbourhoods, cycling, climbing, and reading great books about cities.
Park Friends Program Coordinator. Brianna Aspinall works on building the capacity of existing local park groups, supporting the creation of new groups, and enhancing the network of park groups to share knowledge and best practices. Prior to working at Park People, Brianna led volunteer engagement at Evergreen Brick Works engaging 600 plus volunteers. She focused on staff training and support, while also overseeing best practices for volunteer recruitment, support, and recognition.
Growing up in Costa Rica, in proximity to the rainforest, gave Brianna a great appreciation for nature. In 2015 she joined David Suzuki as a Park Ranger and started a project to engage her apartment building to start a native and food garden.
Brianna has a degree in Environment and Business, BES from the University of Waterloo. During her time in Waterloo she spent 2 years of volunteering at ClimateActionWR, shaping her interest in community engagement.