About Us

CPAWS Manitoba Staff

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Executive Director

Ron Thiessen

Ron Thiessen has been instrumental in establishing 23 parks and protected areas in Manitoba. That’s nearly three million hectares of healthy lands and waters conserved for future generations.

Ron began his nearly 30-year career in conservation knocking on doors for Greenpeace. These face-to-face interactions taught Ron what it takes to get people interested in environmental issues and how to empower and motivate them to take action. Ron’s leadership skills were swiftly recognized as he moved from leading teams in the Winnipeg office to helping Greenpeace offices across the country revitalize their campaigns.


Director of Communications and Public Programs

Mira Oberman

Mira Oberman was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba where she developed a love of hiking, canoeing, skiing and stargazing in the boreal.

Mira has more than 20 years of experience in journalism and communications. A creative storyteller and strategic thinker, Mira began working with CPAWS Manitoba as a consultant in April 2018 and joined as staff in January 2019.


Operations Manager and Science Advisor

David Swan

David Swan is a behavioural ecologist who joined CPAWS Manitoba because he is passionate about science-based conservation. He has a great love for animals and is dedicated to habitat preservation and animal welfare. David has many science-based interests; however, he is most interested in figuring out why animals behave the way they do.

Before joining CPAWS, David managed a non-profit veterans club and was instrumental in bringing the organization to the best financial situation it has ever been in. He also spent time teaching introductory biology at the University of Manitoba.


Neil Bailey

Outreach and Engagement Manager

Neil Bailey grew up in Gimli, Manitoba. His lifelong passion for nature and stewardship began collecting sticks and rocks on the shores of Lake Winnipeg. He has a keen eye for “lucky stones” and will always take you up on a stone-skipping challenge.

Neil received his science degree from the University of Manitoba, with a major in psychology, and studied community and regional planning at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. 


Environmental Educator

Carly Gray

Carly Gray leads our  Outdoor Education Program.  She is a certified teacher from the University of Winnipeg’s After-Degree Bachelor of Education program in April 2023. She joined CPAWS in June of 2022 and has delivered outdoor learning programming to hundreds of children and students. 

Carly has been working with children since 2010 in many capacities including as: a YMCA day camp counsellor and youth program coordinator; a literacy tutor; an after school program supervisor; and a dance instructor. Carly is passionate about outdoor education and recently obtained her Below Zero instructor certification from the Canadian Wildlife Federation.

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Digital Marketing Coordinator

Katie Borgfjord

Katie Borgfjord is a communications and social media professional with a passion for sustainability and intersectional feminism. She is a graduate of University of Winnipeg with a bachelor of arts in Rhetoric and Communications. Katie joined CPAWS in May 2023 as the Digital Marketing Coordinator. 

Prior to joining CPAWS, Katie was a full-time student at UofW. She worked for local radio, where she coordinated events and managed social media. As well as, created her own business focusing on feminism.

You can find Katie browsing thrift stores, reading feminism books, listening to Taylor Swift, trying out a new vegetarian recipe, or leading a CPAWS hike. 

Obsina Neggussa

Environmental Science Education Coordinator 

Obsina Neggussa

Obsina Neggussa is a dedicated individual whose passion for the intricate web of life on earth has shaped her journey. With a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Manitoba, Obsina's academic foundation is as strong as her commitment to the natural world. Her profound appreciation for the delicate interconnectedness of ecosystems serves as the driving force behind her pursuits.

Obsina joined as the Environmental Science Education Coordinator at CPAWS, where her expertise and enthusiasm converge. Her role not only signifies her dedication to environmental education but also reflects her unwavering desire to share the wonders of nature with others.

Over the years, Obsina's love for the natural world has only deepened, inspiring her to adopt a mindful and sustainable lifestyle. Her personal journey towards greater harmony with the environment is a testament to her genuine connection to the earth and her aspiration to preserve its beauty for future generations.

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Conservation Ambassador

Austin Cirillo

Austin grew up in Winnipeg and learned through travel with his family at a young age about the importance of protecting nature and gaining a worldly view. His favourite locations are sandy beaches where he enjoys everything from water sports to sand castles. Manitoba's Grand Beach is a treasured summer tradition.

Austin's passion for storytelling, and collaboration, have broadened his professional experience as a Conservation Ambassador at CPAWS Manitoba. Austin is currently studying Commerce at the University of Manitoba, where he learned much about adapting to modern environmental sustainability objectives. He has also worked in a variety of customer service positions, from retailers to video game promotion.

One day he hopes to turn his talent and love of storytelling into a published work, from novel to tabletop roleplaying game.

Help Keep Manitoba Wild


CPAWS Manitoba has helped establish 23 parks and protected areas thanks to people like you.

With your help, we can protect half our lands and waters for future generations of people and wildlife.