Board of Directors

Kevin O'Connor

President

In the 1970s, Kevin often visited the Rouge to ‘borrow’ some pond water and show his students the abundant life found in a single drop of water.

After a wonderful canoe trip through the wilds of Ontario, Kevin was inspired to help preserve nature and started volunteering with Save the Rouge, which linked back to his many visits to the Rouge years prior.

As President, Kevin enjoys participating in FRW’s ecological restoration work, which educates the public and increases natural biodiversity. He believes that people who've helped restore nature will be more likely to help protect and preserve the Rouge. Kevin has also provided informed input for many Rouge Park studies and lobbied government for improved legislation and management plans.

Kevin remains optimistic that governments will act in the public interest to produce a Rouge National Park with true ecological integrity. He encourages continued citizen involvement and oversight of government decisions and actions.

Allison Gacad

Member 

Allison began with Friends of the Rouge as a volunteer in 2013 alongside a few eager friends after a high school field trip pulling out invasive species in the Rouge Park. Since then, she’s grown as a volunteer to help lead tree and wildflower plantings, mentor students in the annual Grey Tree Frog Apprenticeship Program, and now contributes her time off-site through her position on the Board of Directors. Allison brings diverse experiences in local politics, environmental education, and community engagement to the Board of Directors.

Her love for nature, stemming from her time spent in the Rouge Park, has led her to the mountains and ocean of the West Coast where she is currently an undergraduate student at the University of British Columbia. Allison studies nutrition within the context of food security and environmental sustainability. Outside of school, she is an avid journalist, hiker, and always on the lookout for a new country to backpack throughout.

Hashveenah Manoharan

Member 

Hashveenah discovered Friends of the Rouge in 2013 as a 9th grade student and has been volunteering ever since. She is currently studying Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo and aspires to find innovative ways to merge ecological restoration and urban development. Hashveenah is passionate about environmental education and reconnecting people with nature. In her spare time, you can often find her doing origami or drawing birds and plant diagrams in her sketchbook.

Nida Rashid

Member 

Nida has a long standing connection with the Rouge since the age of five. Located right in her backyard, Nida developed an appreciation from the lessons of resilience found in the Rouge. Thus upon discovering Friends of the Rouge's Grey Tree Frog Apprenticeship program in 2014, Nida was amongst the first batch of apprenticeships trained in environmental advocacy, community leadership, and conservation. She has since been a volunteer for community tree plantings, environmental outreach projects, and tabling events speaking to hundreds of local citizens about the importance of protecting the Rouge. In 2016, Nida was invited to the Board as a representative of the student voice. 

Nida is currently in her final year at the University of Toronto Scarborough studying Molecular Biology, Immunology and Disease, learning about the multiple interactions that occur within the body and outside of it, hoping to integrate her passion for research and health into the importance of preserving ecosystems with dynamic interactions. 

Sujeethan Vigneswaran

Sujeethan Vigneswaran

Member 

Sujee started his journey with Friends of the Rouge Watershed through the Grey Tree Frog High School Apprenticeship Program. Over years following, he took on several roles from Front End Web Development to Conservation Technician. Through his dedication to Friends of the Rouge Watershed he has shown his abilities in leadership, education, outreach, conservation, and advocacy. This work hasn't gone unnoticed as he has been awarded with a Canada 150 Youth Award for Environmental Stewardship and is named as one of the Top 25 Under 25 Environmentalists by Starfish Canada (2018).

Sujee is currently at the University of Waterloo studying Environmental Engineering, with a passion to solve the world's environmental problems through the use of technology