Our Team

The Cowichan Green Community is made up of a dynamic group of community members.


Mike has been in the financial service industry for the last 15 years.  Experience has been concentrated in commercial banking with over 10 years working in commercial banking reviewing business plans, working with business owners to achieve their goals and structuring / approving commercial loans up to 10 million.

  • Position: Board President
  • Boards: CGC

Mike Smith

Lucy Thomas

Lucy loves to learn, loves her community, and just loves life. She is married to hereditary Chief of Lyackson for 38 years with 2 children many adopted children, 10 grand children and 1 great grand child. She is a survivor of residential school and has worked for house of friendship since 1982. She will support happy events as well as sad ones.

  • Position: Vice President
  • Boards: CGC

Nadeane is passionate about healthy food, fresh water and the healing power of nature, creativity and nurturing relationships. She enjoys gardening, cycling, paddling, and communing with trees. Nadeane is continually inspired by the energy, enthusiasm and skillsets of CGC staff and by the projects they undertake.

Nadeane Nelson

Eduardo Sousa

Eduardo Sousa is an Advisor with the Indigenous Leadership Initiative which fosters Indigenous nationhood as a way to conserve and manage Indigenous lands. He runs a consultancy, Caminho Do Meio, providing strategic planning and communications, and project management support for Indigenous communities. Eduardo also worked for Greenpeace for over a decade as senior Forests Campaigner, successfully implementing the world-renowned and award-winning Great Bear Rainforest Agreements with First Nations, the BC Government and the logging industry. Prior to arriving on the west coast, Eduardo worked many years as Ontario-Quebec Organizer for the Council of Canadians on public policy issues related to healthcare, water, trade and Canada-US relations. Eduardo was also an environmental planner and special projects coordinator for Toronto Parks, working with communities on environmental stewardship and community gardens. He has a Master’s in Environmental Studies from Toronto’s York University, with a focus on watershed planning and community mobilization, and an Honours BA in Social-Cultural Anthropology / Environmental Studies, from Victoria University/University of Toronto. Eduardo has various articles published in books and magazines and online, regarding watershed stewardship and planning, water issues and environmental history.

  • Position: Director
  • Boards: CGC

Currently, Julia breeds and raises heritage and rare-breed Tamworth and Berkshire pigs, meat chickens, and lambs on her pasture and woodlands at Muddy Feet Farm in the Cowichan Valley.  Previously, for 20 years she shared in a large community farm on Gambier Island while working as a scientist for the National Research Council. She retired early from human and animal sciences to follow her passion for farming and ended up in the Cowichan Valley.  She sells her pork, chicken, raspberries and sunchokes to local chefs and foodies and her weaner pigs to local farms and families in the spring and fall.

She is passionate about healthy local food production, food security, food recovery, and zero waste and has been a strong supporter of CGC’s food recovery program. She picks up waste fruit and vegetables from a local supermarket to feed her pigs and her neighbours’ chickens, goats and sheep. Julia has been a director of Cow-Op for the last 2 years through its astronomical growth and is now looking forward to contributing to CGC’s food related initiatives and to engaging more local producers to redirect surplus produce to needy families in the valley.

  • Position: Director
  • Boards: CGC

Julia Rylands

Penny Lehan

Penny grew up in Sidney and lived in Vancouver for 30 years before gleefully returning to the Island in 2012. She and her husband were drawn to the Cowichan Valley by their interest in local, sustainable food production. Penny loves being connected to her community and volunteers for several local non-profits. Penny enjoys rowing and kayaking in Maple Bay, hiking on local mountains and faithfully attending the Duncan Farmers’ Market for her Saturday social. She also has a law practice in Duncan.

  • Position: Director
  • Boards: CGC
Danielle is a biologist, who worked for Parks Canada from Nova Scotia, Jasper, Banff and Pacific Rim National Parks.  She focused on restoration, species at risk, seabirds and wildlife.  Today she runs Fruit Forest Farm in Cobble Hill, growing heritage apples, cherries, figs and berries, as well as consulting.
Always hiking, playing music, or growing something, she has always preferred to spend her time outdoors.  Through the farm, she got in involved with the Cow-op at the inception, and is an avid supporter of the Cow-op and CGC’s food security programs and great staff.
  • Position: Director
  • Boards: CGC

Danielle Bellefleur


Born in Vancouver, Judy took a long detour through life and other countries before she was enticed back to this gorgeous Valley. Blessed to be living on a float house and working in a fabulous organization that fuels her creative and environmental fire, she’s reminded how much more inspiring life is when working in a place that is aligned with her passions.

Judy Stafford

Leela Hamilton

Leela worked 9 years at the Duncan Garage Cafe, where her beliefs aligned with the cafe’s ethos of home made, organic, vegetarian food with a focus on reducing waste and being less harmful to the environment.  It seems suiting that her next position would be at the Cowichan Green Community, where the principles are the same.

Bobbi-Anne grew up on Vancouver Island, but is new to the Cowichan Valley. In her spare time, she loves to be outdoors and explore all that nature has to offer, whether it’s snowboarding, hiking, rock-climbing, snowshoeing or cross country skiing. She’s also recently started to try and learn more about the specific flora and fauna that BC has to offer. Throughout university, while studying International Business & Finance, it became quite clear to her that the corporate life did not quite compute with what would bring her “success” and happiness. Non-profits however really appealed to her, as she wanted to be a part of something where she could feel like she was contributing to her community. Bobbi-Anne started at the CGC in June of 2020 and is excited to be a part of such a community centred organization.

Bobbi-Anne Piercy

Kristen Panzenboeck

Lifelong Islander grew up on Vancouver Island. Have been living in the Cowichan Valley for 24 years. Passionate about the outdoors, loves swimming and hiking. After 15 years in the restaurant sector, Kristen attended college and received her Medical Office Administration and Office Administration degree. She took an instant liking to bookkeeping and has been working in a variety of office settings.  Starting at CGC in March 2022, she has been instrumental in reorganizing the bookkeeping systems for the CGC Group of Companies.

With a background in marine biology, Nathan originally set out to work solely within marine conservation but since moving to the island 5 years ago, he has developed a new passion for sustainable farming and the Cowichan region. He now owns and runs ‘Local Forage Farm’ in Glenora that focusses on ethically raised animals and an abundance of fruit and vegetables. He has also networked within the community and worked at a number of local farming businesses including Averill Creek Vineyards, Evening Cove Oysters, Haltwhistle Cheese Co, to name a few. Nathan’s new position within the food recovery team aligns his need to connect with community and move towards a more secure and sustainable food system

Nathan Harben

Alyssa Krawchuk

Born and mostly raised in Ontario, Alyssa moved out to beautiful British Columbia in 2008, and has been working at CGC since 2010! With her Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Youth Care, Alyssa’s passions lie in working with children, youth, and families to create an inclusive, safe, and vibrant community celebrating the gifts and strengths of all people. On the side, she thoroughly enjoys playing music, creating art, and taking in the beauty of Vancouver Island by going on mini adventures and hikes.

Born in the Cowichan Valley, Heather has lived here her entire life and wouldn’t dream of living anywhere else. Heather can usually be found either by the seashore or reading her newest book in her back yard in Youbou enjoying the natural surroundings and the occasional visit from the residential elk herd. Heather’s biggest passions are family (which includes her friends) and animals both domesticated and wild. When at home it is next to impossible to find her without one of her dogs or cats trailing behind her or sitting in her lap. Honestly, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Heather McKenzie

Naomi Kulhawy

From a young age, Naomi has been passionate about the environment and growing food. After receiving a degree in Geography, her thoughts turned towards the future. She started to dream about living sustainably and growing most of her own food herself. Returning from a year away in Grande Prairie, Naomi started working in a 2-acre greenhouse as a “temporary” employee, staying for the next two years to learn as much as she could about farming and local food. In her final year she managed the greenhouse, further deepening her appreciation for local food growth. Returning to the work force after a year at home with her now toddler, Naomi is eager to learn all she can about permaculture and urban gardening. She is particularly excited to teach kids and youth about food production, and is hoping she can inspire young people to become just as excited about gardening as she is!

Carol is the Supervisor at KinPark. Farming continues to be her passion, having grown up on a mixed farm in Alberta. Success in growing food and preserving the harvest comes from many years of hard work and practice so naturally working at Cowichan Green Community is the perfect fit, helping to grow food for others. She loves animals and has 4 rescues, 3 cats and a dog. When not at work she enjoys working on her home renovations, outdoor activities, hiking, paddle boarding, and spending time with her  family.

Carol Kastelic

Janice MacKirdy

Janice has lived in the Cowichan Valley since her early teens and has been a passionate gardener and farmer for over 35 years. She has run a small hobby farm, supplying the bulk of her and her family’s needs. Jan’s working career has revolved around plants, growing and creative construction.

Julika just moved to Vancouver Island recently and will be working on CGC’s Community Food Access program as our Administrator and Outreach Coordinator. Before she moved, Julika operated a Zero Waste & Plant Based Catering company in Vancouver. She also has a background in Project Coordination for events & festivals, as well as the film industry. She’s passionate about community building, arts & culture as well as sustainability. After a few years of soul searching, she’s excited to finally get to work with an impact driven non-profit organization. As a nature lover, she’s also fully embracing her new country lifestyle.

Julika Pape

Hannah Auer

Hannah Auer is a homesteader and a community organizer, grateful to be living and creating on Quw’utsun territory. She is a mother of two beautiful wild children. Hannah is also a storyteller and fibre artist, and works with the local environmental arts collective, Mother Rising, working to breath art and ritual into environmental issues. She is working on The Resiliency Project at the Cowichan Green Community, building ecological resiliency and community connection.
Although born and raised in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Dani’s interests and passions for all things outdoors and the environment (catch her snowboarding, hiking, camping, reading environmental and social theory, or tending to her plants in her free time) led her west. She spent the last six years living, working, and studying in Vancouver, and has a background in sociology, human geography, and international development. She is very new to Vancouver Island, only moving here at the beginning of September 2021. She’s passionate about sustainability, food security, and rural development, having focused on that primarily during her studies and will be using these passions and knowledge to work as CGC’s Food Hub Manager.

Dani Stancer

Lekha Hayes

Lekha has a lifelong passion for organic gardening and herbal medicine. She is excited to be a part of the ongoing projects at the Garden Education Centre. She has lived in the Cowichan Valley for 12 years and loves the rich cultural diversity that the valley has to offer.
Holly just bought a ’67 15-ft travel trailer, moved to Cowichan from the mainland in it, and is grateful to be here. She will be doing community engagement, systems design, and program evaluation as she finishes up her masters in social work. She’s passionate about equity, human rights, inclusion, reciprocity (including the more-than-human world), decolonizing systems, and meaning-making. In her spare time you can find her hiking, camping, working out, or listening to podcasts.

Holly Williams