Our rare Team
Meet our passionate rare team, consisting of individuals with varied backgrounds in education, skills and expertise. Their dedication to rare’s mission of conservation, research and education is propelled by their belief in how limitless rare’s growth and potential is.
Click through to learn more about our rare team!
- Stephanie Sobek-Swant, Executive Director
- Roger Oei, Senior Operating Officer
- Allie Abram, Ecological Monitoring Technician
- Alissa Fraser, Conservation Technician
- Taryn Jarvis, Property, Facility and Garden Coordinator
- Erika Kastner, Development & Communications Officer
- Emily Leslie, Gill Ratcliffe Educator
- Jenna Quinn, Program Scientist – Research Priorities, Partnerships & Monitoring
- Kim Robichaud, Administrative Coordinator
- Christine Thompson, Major Gifts Manager
- Tom Woodcock, Planning Ecologist
Stephanie Sobek-Swant, Executive Director
Stephanie is an internationally trained biodiversity researcher, with experience in leading people and administering large collaborative projects. After early experience as a research associate and project manager at Berlin’s Botanic Garden and Botanical Museum, she graduated with a Ph.D in Biodiversity and Ecology from Germany’s University of Göttingen. Since coming to Canada, Stephanie has held research positions at the Universities of Waterloo and Western, and most recently taught as an assistant professor at Ryerson University in Toronto. Stephanie has been in charge of rare as Executive Director since January 2014.
In her spare time, Stephanie tries to read at least 52 books per year, and is also known as a prolific knitter and crocheter.
Contact Stephanie at 519-650-9336 x113 or stephanie.sobek-swant at raresites.org
Roger Oei, Senior Operating Officer
Roger Oei, our Senior Operating Officer, oversees the areas of finance, human resources, legal, IT, administration and facilities. He has been at the charity since 2012, having worked in private industry for several large, publicly traded, multi-national corporations. Roger has chosen to dedicate his time to our charity, cognizant that it will have a positive impact on his community and his family. In his spare time, Roger is a closet-door TV junkie, but we try not to hold that against him.
Contact Roger at 519-650-9336 x117 or roger.oei at raresites.org
Allie Abram, Ecological Monitoring Technician
Allie joined rare in May 2016 as the Ecological Monitoring Intern. Fortunate enough to grow up with a nature loving family surrounded in beautiful trails, Allie developed a love of natural spaces and wildlife from a young age. This love of nature and the desire to protect it lead her to obtain a B.Sc. from University of Guelph and a M.Sc. in Environmental Sustainability from the University of Ottawa.
Currently, Allie is the Ecological Monitoring Technician at rare and is thrilled to be working with a group of passionate, like-minded professionals. Outside of working hours, Allie loves exploring natural gems near and far and attending summer music festivals. On rainy days, you are most likely to find her enjoying delicious food, immersed in a good book, or doing a puzzle with her cat.
Contact Allie at allie.abram at raresites.org
Alissa Fraser, Conservation Technician
Alissa moved to Cambridge from a small farm on the outskirts of St. Marys where she developed a love of the land and wildlife. To her mother’s dismay, much of her childhood was spent outdoors catching bugs, climbing trees, or finding some way to come home covered in mud and burrs. It was only natural that she decided to make a career out of protecting what she loves and pursued an environmental education obtaining an Honours Bachelor of Science in Physical Geography and Environmental Management at the University of Toronto and an Ecosystem Management Technician diploma from Sir Sandford Fleming College. Her passion for ecosystem restoration and working with species at risk is what led her to rare.
She joined the rare team in August of 2016 as an intern and has since been hired on as the Conservation Technician for the Land Management Department where she focuses on invasive species mitigation and ecological restoration. In her spare time she enjoys hiking, attempting to garden, working out with her fiancé Chris and hanging out with friends and family. Although her favorite pastime is arguably snuggling her cats Mew and Pumpkin while watching Netflix or reading a good book.
Contact Alissa at 519-650-9336 x114 or alissa.fraser at raresites.org
Taryn Jarvis, Property, Facility and Garden Coordinator
Taryn was thrilled to join the team at rare in the spring of 2016 and is now the Property, Facilities and Gardens Coordinator. Always having been interested in the natural world around her, she graduated from the Renewable Resource Technician program at Sault College in 1997 and has worked on a variety of wildlife research projects across Canada and in the USA.
Along with being passionate about the environment and the gardens at rare, her home garden is her personal gardening oasis where she tends to raised beds and in-ground vegetable gardens, a couple of Hugelkultures, and a large perennial flower garden that covers her entire front yard.
In her spare time she taps into her resourcefulness and desire to learn by delving into a variety of hobbies, such as tapping her own maple trees for sap, preserving her own food for winter, running long distances, welding and designing and sewing clothing for her own line of women’s active wear.
Contact Taryn at 519-650-9336 x115 or taryn.jarvis at raresites.org
Erika Kastner, Development & Communications Officer
Erika convinced herself at an early age that she was going to be Indiana Jones, so much so that she went to McMaster University to study Archaeology. After discovering that Indiana Jones Archaeology is not real Archaeology, she switched her focus to Anthropology with minors in Classics and Art History. Erika went on to do a post-graduate diploma in Museum Studies at Algonquin College, because she figured if she couldn’t discover artifacts at least she could play with them in institution collections. After several years of conserving/restoring heritage buildings and collections here in Canada and in Scotland, Erika completed a diploma in Office Administration – Executive at Conestoga College, where she had the opportunity to get involved with rare. She has been with the organisation since May 2014, responsible for supporting fundraising efforts, social media, communication outreach and organising the charity’s largest community and fundraising event, the Walk & Run for rare.
As you can imagine, Erika loves to travel, checking places and monuments off her bucket list. She also counts herself as a professional TV show marathoner and amateur chef.
Contact Erika at 519-650-9336 x122 or erika.kastner at raresites.org
Emily Leslie, Gill Ratcliffe Educator
Emily started her role as an Educator at rare in the spring of 2016, where she quickly developed a love for the land and wildlife that makes rare so special. Emily is a qualified teacher with a background in environmental education and nature interpretation, building her passion for teaching about the natural world. As an Educator, she feels strongly about providing opportunities for students to build their own connections to the nature that surrounds us. She loves being out with school groups and experiencing the daily changes of the landscape through the seasons. When Emily is not at rare, you can find her running through the escarpment trails of Hamilton, trying to figure out what bird she just saw, or searching out live music.
Contact Emily at 519-650-9336 x112 or emily.leslie at raresites.org
Jenna Quinn, Program Scientist – Research Priorities, Partnerships & Monitoring
Jenna joined the rare team in spring 2012 and oversees the research and monitoring department. It was her curiosity about wildlife and nature that led her to study biology, and she is now a passionate advocate for our environment. Holding a M.Sc. in biology and a M.Ed. in curriculum development, Jenna is always keen to talk about research projects, field trips, and interesting wildlife sightings. In her free time, she loves being an aunt to her nephew and niece and loudly cheers for her favourite hockey team, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jenna is also a member of the Waterloo Region Nature club and is editor of their newsletter, The Heron.
Contact Jenna at 519-650-9336 x111 or jenna.quinn at raresites.org
Kim Robichaud, Administrative Coordinator
Kim has a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental and Resource Science from Trent University and a Forestry Technician diploma from Fleming College. Before joining rare in May 2014, Kim worked for various governmental and non-profit organisations in the environmental sector. Kim is responsible for office administration, while also assisting with facilities coordination and event planning. Kim is delighted to work for rare, and she is always happy to greet you at the office or speak with you over the telephone!
Kim is currently on maternity leave, but Sarah Doze, who is filling in, would be more than happy to help you! Contact Sarah at 519-650-9336 x125 or sarah.doze at raresites.org
Christine Thompson, Major Gifts Manager
Christine and her husband, Brendan, are raising three children in Niagara Falls – Amanda is just heading to high school and Madison and Travis are in primary school. As a family, they enjoy road trips and picnics around Niagara-on-the-Lake and Fort Erie. In what quiet time she can find, Christine enjoys reading both fiction (crime novels) and non-fiction while relaxing in the hammock. Christine is originally from Parry Sound, Ontario and values expansive green, natural spaces for her family to enjoy and explore – listening to the birds, watching the butterflies, discovering and identifying animal tracks. Christine also enjoys continuing to develop her personal expertise and is committed to philanthropy through both professional and community involvement – she is currently the chair of the younger children’s school council.
Christine joined rare in July 2015. With more than 15 years’ experience as a fundraising professional, she understands the importance of meaningful engagement to strengthen your ties with rare, and is always ready to help you discover what that looks like to you. There are so many opportunities to get involved here at rare, and Christine would be very pleased to chat with you about your specific interests and support.
Contact Christine at 519-650-9336 x118 or christine.thompson at raresites.org
Tom Woodcock, Planning Ecologist
Tom has a PhD in Ecology and has conducted fundamental and applied research activities in a wide variety of North American ecosystems over the past 20 years. His focus has been on broad-scale ecological responses to a variety of stressors, including pollution and land use change. At rare, Tom is responsible for development of long-term management and restoration plans for the charity. At various parts of the day you can catch Tom quoting The Simpsons and Arrested Development much to his office mates amusement.
Contact Tom at 519650-9336 x121 or tom.woodcock at raresites.org