Meet Our Staff

Chessi Miltner

Executive Director   Email

Born and raised on Galiano, Chessi feels privileged to now work to protect and steward its lands and waters. He holds a MSc in Geography and a BA&Sc in Environment from McGill University. His research has focused on a range of topics, from waste management technologies in urban environments, to traditional agroforestry practices in the Amazonian jungles of Peru. He is an avid kayaker, and has introduced tourists and locals alike to the beauty and ecological diversity of the Salish Sea for over 15 years as a kayak tour guide. When not at the Millard Learning Centre, Chessi is likely to be found outside exploring Galiano’s wild places.

Ken Stauffer

Bookkeeper   Email

 Jennifer Stackhouse

Development Coordinator   Email

Jennifer moved to Galiano Island in 2018, and fell in love with the beauty, nature and the community.  She brings a background of over 20 years in business management and human resources experience and has a passion for organization and efficiency.  Outside of her position at the GCA you will find Jen teaching yoga or in her garden!

Cedana Bourne

Agriculture and Nursery Coordinator   Email

You can find Cedana with her hands in the soil at the Native Plant Nursery and the Millard Learning Centre’s Forest Garden. Cedana is in her element when saving seeds and nurturing plants through each stage of development in the cycle of plant life. Cedana is an herbalist who grows or wildcrafts the plants for the formulas she creates for her apothecary. Cedana is also a Registered Holistic Nutritionist who appreciates a delicious, locally grown, whole foods meal.  She is a passionate preserver and loves to incorporate wild foods into all kinds of tasty creations from baking to bubbly brews to fermented concoctions. 

Reed Osler

Education Coordinator   Email

Reed Osler has been sharing her passion for parks and wild places with the public in a professional capacity for over 15 years. She studied herbalism at Pacific Rim College and is a certified Community Herbalist who is especially passionate about native plants, their edibility and their medicinal uses. She also loves music, theatre and art and incorporates these creative pursuits into her programs with children, youth and adults alike.

Emily Francis

Education Coordinator   Email

Emily earned a BSc in Environmental Science from Royal Roads University. She has worked with a diversity of environmental entities in the clean technology industry, in social-environmental non-profits and in academic communities. As a scientist and visual artist, she combines her technical knowledge and creative approach to teach about unique pacific-northwest ecosystems and to explore the complex relationships between people and the environment.

Adam Huggins

Restoration Coordinator   Email

Adam holds a BSc in Biology and Environmental Studies from the University of Victoria, as well as a Diploma in the Restoration of Natural Systems.  He is primarily diurnal, operating at the intersection of ecological restoration, regenerative agriculture, and conservation.  Over the past decade, he has worked from central California to the north coast of BC on plant nurseries, restoration projects, permaculture farms, and remote field studies.  Currently, he maintains the GCA’s restoration projects and assists the Agriculture and Nursery Coordinator in maintaining the Forest Garden and Native Plant Nursery.  When the sun goes down, he retires to his den, where he produces the Future Ecologies podcast and reads books about plants.

Ria Okuda

Environmental Educator   Email

Ria was born and raised on Galiano; she then went across the country to Montreal where she studied at McGill University. After graduating with a BSc in Biology, Ria’s love for travel took her to many parts of the world where she gained experience in different cultures and field studies. She has now returned to beautiful Galiano to raise her family and share her passion and enthusiasm for education, conservation and Galiano’s community.

Carly Bilney

Administrator  Email

Carly has been a lifelong visitor to Galiano and she and her partner, Sean, decided to move to the island full-time when their daughter was born in 2017. She holds an MA from UVic, a BA from St. Francis Xavier University, and a certificate in journalism from Langara College. She is especially interested in the BC Treaty Process and First Nations territorial issues and her four-part series titled “Treaty Troubles” was published in The Tyee in 2012. She is passionate about the mission of the GCA and feels grateful to work among inspiring people from whom she is constantly learning.


A note from our 2020 Fall Student Interns (from left to right)

Sylvie Hawkes, Ecotourism Technician

My name is Sylvie, I’m in my final year at the University of Victoria, double majoring in Environmental Studies and Geography. I’m passionate about both community and ecological resilience. This focus is exactly what led me to the Galiano Conservancy. 

Throughout the summer I was a Restoration Technician where I assisted with many different projects from infrastructure building to ecological monitoring. I was fortunate enough to extend my contract into the fall where my role has shifted into leading the new public trail project as an Ecotourism Technician. I will be busy until the end of October with trail building and interpretive signage design which I can’t wait to share with the community and visitors.  

Galiano has been a dream and I’m so grateful for the opportunity to live and work here. The community has been incredibly kind and welcoming and it has been such a treat to closely watch the island shift from spring to summer and now into fall. 

After my time with the GCA I plan to finish off my degree this spring and possibly pursue my masters.  After this experience I have realized I would love to continue working in the realm of environmental NGOs on the West coast.

Louisa Hadley, Ecological Footprint Technician

My name is Louisa Hadley, and I am excited to be joining the team as the Ecological Footprint Technician! I completed my Bachelor of Science at the University of British Columbia and I worked in Vancouver for just over a year afterwards as a technician conducting hazardous materials surveys for construction projects. I decided to return to school to realign my career path towards environmental sustainability. This past May I completed my Master of Arts degree in Natural Resources and Environmental Studies at the University of Northern British Columbia. I am grateful to be at the Galiano Conservancy, building off the skills I gained during my graduate studies working as a Carbon Footprint Intern with the Prince George Chamber of Commerce, and as a Project Assistant with the Environment Community Health Observatory Network.

During my time at the Conservancy I will be working on the Ecological Footprint project. The goal is to bring together community members, local First Nations, regional experts, and footprinting organizations to create an ecological footprint for Galiano Island. In order to do this, the existing footprint methodologies need to be re-tailored to the small island context, and data gaps need to be filled from the ground up with the help of the Galiano community. In addition to an ecological footprint, we would also like to create an ecological ‘fingerprint’ that captures the values and oral histories of Galiano residents. Our hope is that the ecological footprint and fingerprint framework developed for Galiano can be used by other islands in the Salish Sea, enabling us to learn from one another and come together to drive sustainable action. These next four months will involve convening partners, hosting a public information session, compiling existing data, designing surveys and interview questions, and securing the funding to launch the project in 2021!  

In the future I hope to continue working in the realm of environmental sustainability at a non-profit organization. I am confident that the skills and experiences I gain working on this project will help me to get there!

Sofia Silverman, Permaculture Technician

Hi my name is Sofia, I am in my fifth and maybe final year at the University of Victoria studying Physical Geography and Environmental Studies, and have recently just finished my second permaculture design course. For the last 3 years I have been fortunate enough to work at several amazingly creative permaculture sites in Norway, and along the Southern BC coast
where I have been able to meet and learn from many inspiring permaculture and regenerative teachers. They have encouraged me to continue learning and pursue different aspects of permaculture that I really love such as sustainable energy, regenerative biodiversity work, community care, and local food systems. This is what inspired me to apply for the position here at the Galiano Conservancy Association. I started working here in May as the permaculture technician and have been lucky enough to continue on into the fall. I have spent my time here at the GCA taking care of the native plant nursery, growing an abundance of annual and perennial fruits and veggies, as well as being a part of the Forest Garden Tea production.

I am excited to transition into the fall and begin harvesting all the new crops coming from the food forest and the surrounding ecosystem. Every day I find myself learning something new either by observing the plants around me or my co-workers, volunteers, friends, and supervisors.
Living on Galiano has also been magical, I am so thankful for all the wonderful people I have
met, and the places I have been able to explore. Once I finish my work term here on Galiano I
will be finishing the last two courses in my degree and then hopefully pursuing future education related to food security and sovereignty. I would also like to continue traveling around the world and meet other people in the permaculture field who share my passion for living intentionally, sustainably and regeneratively.

Sarah Stelte, Environmental Marine Technician

My name is Sarah Stelte and I am the Rockfish and Cetacean Marine Technician! I earned my first degree in Anthropology and Psychology in Alberta. After this I went travelling, and it was during my travels that I realized I wanted to pursue my love for conservation of the environment, which brought me to Victoria. I attended the University of Victoria for a second degree in Environmental Studies and Geography. During my studies I was able to partake in multiple field schools, focusing mainly on the marine environment, which developed my passion even further. During a field school and previous employment, I was brought to the Galiano Conservancy, where I was introduced to the different projects and goals that the conservancy is working towards. Along with this I received my first presentation on their rockfish project, which I found very inspiring. Little did I know that two years after seeing this presentation, it would be me that is giving the presentations on rockfish!

I am currently working on the Rockfish Conservation project which uses community-based education, camera monitoring, and structured recreational fisher interviews to promote Rockfish Conservation Area (RCAs) awareness, monitor recreational fisher compliance, and assess public knowledge of RCAs. I am also working on the Cetacean Conservation project which involves educating boaters about whale-safe boating, along with eelgrass and kelp mapping. I am very lucky to be apart of these amazing projects as I am learning so much about rockfish and cetaceans, conservation, the importance of public awareness, and how these are all connected. My favorite part about working for the Galiano Conservancy so far has been the different experiences I get to take part in, from rockfish and cetacean research, to learning about wildlife cameras, and kayaking and snorkeling, all while being able to work outside immersed in this beautiful environment. At the moment what my future holds for me is uncertain, but as the conservancy has allowed me to further develop my skillset and passion for conservation, I now have the tools to move forward and continue to help our environment!

Austin Tahiliani, Environmental Restoration Technician

My name is Austin Tahiliani and I’m the new Environmental Restoration Technician here at the Conservancy. I recently graduated from UBC’s B.Sc. in Natural Resources Conservation program, and I feel very fortunate to be able to apply myself to the various projects going on here at the GCA. I’m passionate about finding ways society can leave a lighter footprint on the earth, and I think restoring ecosystems to functional, productive, and biodiverse communities is a great way to do that.

While here at the Conservancy, I’ll be primarily working to restore an area of heavily drained farmland to an ecologically-productive western red cedar forest. This project will provide refuge for western red cedars and their associated ecosystems, as they are being threatened by the longer and drier summers caused by climate change. However, I know I will be involved in many of the other ongoing projects at the Conservancy because there is always something to do!

Galiano has been quite the treat since I first arrived a few weeks ago. The people are kind and welcoming, and the scenery is absolutely breathtaking anywhere you go.

In the future, I’d like to either pursue a masters in Sustainable Energy Development at the University of Calgary, or stay within the field of ecosystem restoration and obtain a designation as an R.PBio.

See our past student interns here.