Our Board – High Park Initiatives

High Park Initiatives (HPI), is a community-based, volunteer-led, registered charitable organization that operates and oversees environmental education and park stewardship programs at the High Park Nature Centre.

Our Board of Directors

High Park Initiatives obtained charitable status in November of 2003. It is made up of a volunteer Board of Directors, Committees and Members. Board meetings are scheduled on the second Wednesday of every month. To contact the board of directors or for more information please contact: Kara Lysne-Paris klysneparis at gmail.com

Board of Directors 

Kara Lysne-Paris, President and Board Chair
Kara has lived in High Park since 2000. She holds a BAH in Communications, an MA in Japanese Studies, a Certified Human Resources Professional designation and a Certificate in Digital Media Skills from Ontario College of Art and Design. Kara is currently the Manager of Marketing & Communications at The York School, where she is responsible for the management of brand collateral, the website and publications supporting the mission of the school. Kara has over 15 years of experience in private foundations, the federal government and in the private sector in programme management and communications. Kara has volunteered for 8 years with the City of Toronto Museum Boards and joined the Nature Centre as a Board Member in 2010. She is passionate about the benefits of nature for children and adults and is proud to work with the talented staff at the High Park Nature Centre. Kara has two children who have greatly enjoyed classroom visits, weekend programmes, walks and birthday parties with the Nature Centre Programmes. Kara has also walked her dogs in the park for 15 years, enjoying the seasons and beauty of High Park. Board member since: 2010/08/12

Michelle Hounslow, Vice Chair & Director: Memberships & Community Support

Michelle is a designer turned fundraising professional, and is currently the Associate Director of Development, University-Wide Initiatives at Ryerson University, where she is a proud alumna. After enjoying a successful and satisfying 14-year career in the fashion industry, Michelle now uses her creative, communication and relationship-building skills as matchmaker—connecting donors to innovative projects that are meaningful and rewarding to them, and that create lasting benefit for students and the university as a whole. Previously, Michelle was Development Officer, Campaign on the Major Gifts team at CAMH Foundation, where she was instrumental in developing process and business rules for the Foundation’s use of their relationship management tool—Raiser’s Edge—while managing a portfolio of major prospects and contributing towards the $200M Breakthrough campaign.  She has also shared her knowledge of the fashion industry as part-time instructor both at Ryerson University’s School of Fashion and Seneca College.  Michelle lives on the west side of Toronto near High Park, is an avid nature lover, urban vegetable gardener and locavore.  Board member since: 2013/05/10

John Jazwinski, Treasurer
John advises shareholders, executives and boards on complex corporate and transaction decisions, including corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions, divestitures and raising capital.  John has advised some of North America’s largest companies as well as mid-market Canadian businesses across many industries.  He lives in the Roncesvalles area and brings expertise in financial matters to the board.  John is an avid outdoorsman.  He spent his youth in a rural, forested area north of Toronto, camping, building forts, tracking animals, fishing and generally having daily adventures in nature.  He is a strong believer in the importance of building a deep connection with nature through lifelong learning. Together with his wife, John is imparting a strong connection with nature on his children and believes that this is an important counterbalance to a busy, technology filled world for all children.  Throughout the year, John and his family are active camping, canoeing, foraging, looking for bugs, making herbal medicine, identifying trees, and generally being present in nature.  High Park is his family’s home base for running, playing and exploring. Board member since 2015/11/11

Tracy Loconte, Secretary
Tracy has her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and went on to obtain her LLB from Osgoode Hall Law School, being admitted to the Ontario Bar in 2001. She practices in the area of commercial real estate law and has acted as in-house counsel for both Tim Hortons and Sobeys and is currently Counsel with Dentons Canada LLP. Tracy loves to explore High Park with her family and her children have enjoyed the fantastic programming offered by the High Park Nature Centre. Board member since 2015/10/10

Robin Sorys, past Chair and Director: Human Resources
Lifetime resident of High Park, Robin has been volunteering in High Park for over 20+ years. She first became involved with the High Park Advisory Committee which she chaired for over 10 years and was one of the original volunteer co-ordinators for the Jamie Bell Adventure Playground.  Robin has received many volunteer awards and the most notable is the Diamond Jubilee commemorative medal to mark the 60th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II for her commitment and dedication to High Park.  Robin retired from the HR profession after working for over 27 years as a HR Generalist and is currently working at Vivid Health Toronto. Board member since: 2004/06/23

Natalie Harder, Director: Programs
Natalie has developed, directed and taught nature-based education programs for children and families for over 10 years. She is an education program supervisor with the TRCA (Toronto and Region Conservation Authority). Natalie worked as Executive Director of the High Park Nature Centre from 2013 to 2015 after several years as a teacher and supervisor at the Toronto Botanical Garden. She is an avid nature enthusiast and spends most of her free time camping, hiking and exploring nature with her young son. Natalie believes that every resident should have the opportunity to explore, learn and simply spend time in the natural world. Natalie holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from the University of Toronto. She is a certified member of the Ontario College of Teachers. Board Member since: 2015/11/11

Helen Sousa, High Park Supervisor (ex-officio board member)
Helen is the current City Supervisor for High Park and as part of the HPI lease agreement with the City is a non-voting ex-officio member of the board.  Board member since: 2005/06/01