QUEST is a national non-government organization that works to accelerate the adoption of efficient and integrated community-scale energy systems in Canada by informing, inspiring, and connecting decision-makers. The organization commissions research, communicates best practices, convenes government, utility, and private-sector leaders, and works directly with local authorities to implement on-the-ground solutions. QUEST recognizes communities that have embraced these principles by referring to them as Smart Energy Communities.
Every community in Canada is a Smart Energy Community by 2030.
Getting to this end-state will require that 75% of Canadians are represented by a community energy plan (CEP) by 2018, reaching 100% by
Objective: Independent, non-partisan and committed to the public interest.
Informative: Trusted, credible and balanced information on Smart Energy Communities.
Collaborative: Respectful and inclusive of the QUEST network.
Innovative: Inspiring Smart Energy Communities policy and transformation.
Meet the Team
Interim Executive Director
Based in Ottawa, Ontario
“Don’t miss out on something that could be great because it also could be difficult”~ unknown
Helen Platis, MA (Econ), EMBA
Director, Client Services
Based in Toronto, Ontario
“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
Director, Projects & Advisory Services
Based in Montreal, Quebec
“If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.” ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Tonja Leach became Executive Director of QUEST on October 18, 2019, having been with QUEST since its inception in 2007 in a number of roles of increasing responsibility. She has been instrumental in establishing QUEST’s extensive national network and ensuring that QUEST is known as the Canadian organization that accelerates the adoption of efficient and integrated community-scale energy systems in Canada by informing, inspiring, and connecting decision-makers.
Having spent the past 15 years in the downstream energy industry, Tonja is highly regarded as a strategic thinker and a doer with a passion for finding solutions to complex energy issues at the local level. Most recently, having been the Interim Executive Director and prior to that the Managing Director, Operations and Services, Tonja has taken a leading role in the operations of the organization, developing and implementing the infrastructure, systems and human resources required for QUEST to grow and support the Smart Energy Communities marketplace.
Prior to QUEST, Tonja worked for the Canadian Gas Association in communications since 2003. During that time Tonja acted as the secretariat for a coalition of 19 energy industry associations known as the Energy Dialogue Group, who came together to encourage the establishment of a national energy framework for Canada.
Ericka oversees the development, management, delivery, and strategic growth of projects, research, and advisory services to support the acceleration of Smart Energy Communities in Canada. She also oversees QUEST’s Senior Associates. Ericka’s areas of expertise include energy efficiency, demand-side management, program and project management, and economic development. Ericka is a Certified Energy Manager (CEM) with the Association of Energy Engineers, and a Certified Environmental Professional (EP) with ECO Canada. Ericka holds an Master of Business Administration degree from Saint Mary’s University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science from Dalhousie University.
Senior Lead, Central Services
Based in Toronto, Ontario
“Alone, we can do so little; together, we can do so much.” ~ Helen Keller
Senior Lead, Western Services
Based in Calgary, Alberta
“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.“ ~ Dalai Lama
As Senior Lead, Central Services, Alex leads a number of research and engagement activities at QUEST. This includes facilitating a working group of practitioners engaged in community energy planning implementation in Ontario, and managing the Smart Energy Communities Scorecard Project and the Planning Alignment project. Prior to joining QUEST, Alex was a project manager at a solar PV developer, where she led the regulatory and pre-construction development processes for a 10MW (83 individual project) school rooftop PV portfolio. Alex has a Master of Environmental Studies from Queen’s University; her research used ArcGIS to evaluate and compare remote sensing technologies for bioenergy quantification.
Julie has over ten years of experience as a Project Coordinator across multiple industries including power, energy efficiency, transportation, and environmental services. She is passionate about helping clients improve operations and their bottom-line through sustainable solutions. Julie has worked with utilities to identify how the integration of renewable energy, coupled with smart grid technology, could evolve their services to adapt to the changing energy industry. In the manufacturing industry, Julie helped to identify areas for waste reduction, energy efficiency, and reduced operating costs using innovative methods and technologies. From industry research and business case development through to project execution and coordination, Julie has worked with diverse range of projects, clients, and teams.
As a Research Analyst, Michael supports and delivers research activities undertaken by QUEST. This includes work focused on community energy planning, such as research for the Community Energy Planning: Getting to Implementation in Canada initiative to help communities in implementing their community energy plans and the Ontario-based Energy Community of Practice project to facilitate alignment between energy planning stakeholders. Michael holds a Master of Planning in Urban Development from Ryerson University (2015), and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from McMaster University (2013).
Senior Lead, Projects & Advisory Services
Based in Fredericton, New Brunswick
Senior Lead, Atlantic Services
Based in Halifax, Nova Scotia
“Don’t forget to drink water and get some sunlight because you are basically a house plant with complicated feelings.
For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” ~ Cynthia Occelli
Cheryl Ratchford, MPA
Senior Lead, Marketing & Communications
Based in Rothesay, New Brunswick
“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” -Yogi Berra
Since 1998, Eddie Oldfield coordinated initiatives focused on local sustainability, GHG emissions reduction, clean energy and efficiency, transportation/fleets, climate adaptation and resilience planning. Eddie Chairs the QUEST NB-PEI Caucus, working to advance Smart Energy Communities, and is Senior Lead, Projects and Advisory Services, QUEST. In this role, he helps deliver regional and national projects and supports FCM Partners for Climate Protection members in Atlantic Canada. Eddie also co-chairs the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC)’s Energy and Utilities working group and is a Charter member of the OGC Smart Cities working group. He led development of innovative web-based map services & distributed spatial data infrastructure, to support decision making including for a cross-border pandemic exercise in 2007. He is a board member of the Canadian Risk and Hazards Network, and participated in the Resilient Communities Working Group of the National Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction. Eddie holds a BA (2008), with Interdisciplinary Honours (Sociology, Political Science, Environment, Science & Technology) from St. Thomas University, and owns and operates Spatial Quest based in Fredericton NB.
Samantha currently facilitates a Buildings working group focused on existing building stock, as well as the Municipal Energy Learning Group to support municipalities engaged in community energy planning. She also managed the Atlantic Canada Energy Data Roadmap project and operates as the Regional Climate Advisor for the Partners for Climate Protection Program in NS and NL. Samantha has a Masters of Science in Industrial Ecology from the Norwegian Institute of Science and Technology and a Bachelor of Commerce from McGill.
Cheryl is a communications and marketing professional with more than eleven years of experience from government, stakeholder and political perspectives in the energy sector. She oversees the development, management, and delivery of QUEST’s marketing, communications and stakeholder relations program. Cheryl’s expertise includes communications and marketing, stakeholder engagement, project and event management, conference and event planning, network and partnership building, and public policy and research. Cheryl holds a Bachelor of Political Science and History from Saint Thomas University (2004) and a Master of Public Administration (2008) from Dalhousie University.
Board of Directors
Chair of the Board
Mr. Cleland is a private consultant with extensive experience in energy and environment policy.
He is formerly President and CEO of the Canadian Gas Association. Prior to joining CGA, he was Senior Vice President Government Affairs for the Canadian Electricity Association (CEA). Before joining CEA, he was Assistant Deputy Minister (ADM), Energy Sector in the Department of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), formerly Energy, Mines and Resources (EMR) and before that, Director General of the Energy Policy Branch. From 1987 to January 1990, he was Assistant Director, Resource Policy Division in the Department of Finance.
Before joining the federal government in 1987, Mr. Cleland worked in Nova Scotia where, he was a principal in the firm of Cleland, Dunsmuir Consulting Ltd., lecturer in business/government relations at the school of Public Administration at Dalhousie University and academic editor of Plan Canada, the journal of the Canadian Institute of Planners. From 1982 to 1985, he was Associate Director of the Centre for Development Projects at Dalhousie University where he was responsible for various management training projects in Zimbabwe and the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean. Prior to joining Dalhousie University, he occupied a number of positions at the Nova Scotia Departments of Development and Municipal Affairs.
Mr. Cleland was born in Quesnel, British Columbia, and educated at the University of British Columbia (BA in political science 1972) and Queens (MPL urban and regional planning 1974).
Dr. Karen Farbridge
Vice Chair of the Board
As President of Karen Farbridge and Associates (KFA), Dr. Karen Farbridge has over twenty-five years of experience leading community innovation. She has a diverse background managing complex multistakeholder environments delivering results. KFA specializes in supporting communities in the energy transition offering consulting in government relations, community engagement and collaborative leadership development. Her experience includes seventeen years in municipal politics, eleven as the
mayor of Guelph, Ontario which gained a reputation for sustainability under her leadership.
Karen has a PhD in Zoology from the University of Guelph and a Chartered Director designation from McMaster University. She currently serves on the Meridian Credit Union Board of Directors.
To learn more about Karen Farbridge & Associates Ltd., visit http://karenfarbridge.ca
Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee
Paul Kariya is Executive Director of Clean Energy BC. Prior to this he was Executive Director of Pacific Salmon Foundation. Kariya has also worked in the public sector both federally and provincially. He was CEO of the provincial crown corporation, Fisheries Renewal BC and Executive Director of the BC Treaty Commission, which was established by Canada, BC and First Nations.
Paul holds a BA (Hon) from UBC and a MA and PhD from Clark University in Massachusetts. Paul serves on the board of trustees of A Rocha International (Christians in Conservation) and is affiliated with several other not for profit organizations. Between 2005 – 2010 Paul was a Commissioner representing Canada on the Pacific Salmon Commission.
Doug Leighton has extensive planning and development experience in both the public and private sectors. He is a strong supporter of sustainable development – creating places that are more successful in environmental economic and social terms.
A professional planner and urban designer, Doug has served in executive and leadership positions in Canada and New Zealand and has a long track record of successful projects across a wide range of land uses and scales.
Doug was appointed VP Sustainability for Brookfield Residential Properties, a leading homebuilder and land developer, in 2014. His previous positions include VP Planning – Calgary Communities (Brookfield), Principal of a major New Zealand planning, design and environmental consultancy, and founding Director of Planning and Development for the Town of Banff. He holds a Masters in Environmental Design (Architecture) and BA (Hons) Geography from the University of Calgary; and completed subsequent executive courses at Queens, Harvard and The Banff Centre.
Doug currently serves on the Calgary Planning Commission and on the Boards of QUEST, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation and Urban Land Institute Alberta. He is a past Director of the Alberta, New Zealand and British Columbia Planning Institutes.
Shahrzad Rahbar is the President of Industrial Gas Users Association. Dr. Rahbar brings twenty years of progressively senior experience in the gas industry.
Prior to joining IGUA she served as Senior Vice-President with the Canadian Gas Association for over a decade. She has been an active contributor to the development of energy, technology and regulatory policy in Canada. Shahrzad served on the Executive Committee of the International Gas Union, on the Board of Natural Gas Technology Centre, as Vice-Chair and founding director of QUEST and as a director on Eastern Breeze, a community based art initiative.
Shahrzad Rahbar has a PhD in mechanical engineering from the UK and two patents to her name.
Larry Sault brings 30 years of dynamic leadership of working with First Nations and Inuit in Canada, and Tribal Nations in the U.S. He has held key positions in political leadership, private sector corporations and non-profit organizations.
In 1985 Larry was appointed by Chief and Council to a committee with a mandate to negotiate with Health Canada for establishing a drug and alcohol treatment center within his community of the Mississauga’s of New Credit. Successful negotiations saw him elected to his First Nation Council in 1987.
By 1993, Larry was elected Chief. Throughout his four year tenure, together with his council colleagues, he accomplished numerous community development projects, including negotiating and settling a 200 acre land claim in the city of Mississauga for $13 million, construction of a new Elementary school, phased in water and sewer project, industrial building and commercial plaza, negotiated and situated the first fully automated CIBC branch bank and ATM on Mississauga’s of New Credit First Nation. Simultaneously, he was appointed by the Federal Government and the Assembly of First Nations to Chairman of National Task Force on Access to Capital for First Nations working with domestic and international financial institutions on restrictive policy and regulatory matters.
Appointed to Vice President, CESO Aboriginal Services in early 1998, he took oversight of seven regional offices, budgets, staff and a mandate of assisting First Nations structure business development corporations and governance models.
In June of 1999 at the request of First Nation leaders in Southwestern Ontario, he put his name forward and was elected Grand Chief of the Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians. This position would find him intimately involved on several high profile National portfolios through the Assembly of First Nations.
By 2002 he was recruited and appointed as Senior Vice President, Native American Division of Capital Management firm in Southern California where his role included Investment Advisory Services to Native American Gaming Industry.
Returning to his home on the Mississauga’s of New Credit First Nation in 2013 he was elected back onto Council until December of 2015 during which time he consumed much of his time on smart energy, wealth creation, economic and business development and Nation Rebuilding.
Today Larry Sault is President and CEO of Anwaatin Inc. This is an Indigenous business working in climate change action alongside Indigenous Stewardship Warriors ensuring they are front and center in fighting climate change and leading emerging markets associated with Cap and Trade markets in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and California.
Anwaatin provides technical support, advocating and convening services to Indigenous clients. Our work with policymakers and regulators at the provincial and federal levels ensures critical input and feedback is inclusive of Indigenous rights and interests. We facilitate meetings that bring together diverse actors whose unique skills, assets, and perspectives enable collaborative planning and policy processes to emerge.
Anwaatin also brokers agreements between key industry leaders and Indigenous communities creating win-win situations for both.
Chair of the Governance Committee
Dr. Vicky J. Sharpe is Senior Fellow at the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and a Director on several boards. At the IISD, Dr. Sharpe provides strategic advice to help shape the Canadian cleantech landscape.
Dr. Sharpe was the Founding President and CEO of Sustainable Development Technology Canada (SDTC), and while CEO, she increased the public funding pool from $100 million in 2001 to over $1.4 billion in 2014, and mobilized private sector capital resulting in more than $4 billion of investments for projects and commercialization activities.
With over 35 years of experience in the energy industry, Dr. Sharpe has successfully integrated sustainable development into business practices. As President of GRI Canada and Astral Group, she demonstrated leadership and vision in the use of innovative technologies across Canada’s primary economic sectors. As Vice President of Ontario Hydro International Inc., Dr. Sharpe created new global revenue streams for environmental and energy utilization practices. Prior to that, she held management positions in marketing, business development, and technology innovation.
Dr. Sharpe has served on numerous technology and industry association committees, in particular as an international advisor on sustainability issues; has represented the Canadian energy sector at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Business Forum; and chaired the National Advisory Board on Energy, Science and Technology Vicky sits on EnerTech Capital’s Advisory Board and on the Advisory Panel for Mercer’s Sustainable Opportunities Fund. Dr. Sharpe has broad governance experience with an ICD.D (2005); is a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Alberta Enterprise Corporation, whose mandate is to finance and build new knowledge-based industries in Alberta; Carbon Management Canada Research Institutes (CMCRI); and the Biowaste to Energy for Canada integrated initiative Corp. (BECii).
QUEST Senior Associates are independent practitioners committed to the success of the organization and collaborate to deliver QUEST initiatives as well as the activities of Caucuses and their related working groups and task forces.
Senior Associates have specialized knowledge and expertise, and contribute to the development of Smart Energy Communities by advancing innovative practices and projects, delivering support services, and contributing time for the purposes of broader knowledge exchange and mentoring.
QUEST benefits from the efforts of Senior Associates to support its operations and to help meet its vision and mission.
Bruce Cameron is the Principal Consultant and Founder of Envigour Policy Consulting Inc. Bruce is a long-time leader in energy policy development. From 1999 to 2016 he was with the Nova Scotia Department of Energy (including its precursor the NS Petroleum Directorate), leading the development of energy policies, strategies, plans, programs and regulatory/legislative initiatives. Prior to his retirement in 2016, he was Executive Director, Electricity, Renewables, and Efficiency. From 2014-2015, he led the development of the Province’s electricity plan, which emphasized the importance of energy data collection and management as part of an energy innovation agenda. From 2009-2016 he was a leader in regional energy collaboration (Atlantic Energy Gateway). He retired from the Province of NS in 2016 and founded Envigour Policy Consulting Inc.
Bruce works with QUEST as a Senior Advisor and Consultant on a number of projects including proposal development and policy support to the QUEST Nova Scotia Caucus.
To learn more about Envigour Policy Consulting Inc. visit http://www.envigour.ca/
René Drolet, M.Sc.
Mr. Drolet is the principal and owner of René Drolet Consulting Services, an independent consulting business located in eastern Ontario. He has been working in the field of environmental management and sustainable development since 1990. His main fields of expertise relate to public policy analysis and development as well as policy instrument review and design, in particular as it relates to water, energy, climate change, natural resources development and the transition to a low-carbon economy. He also has more than a decade of experience in multi-stakeholder consultation and engagement, process facilitation and strategic planning. He has an extensive knowledge of government operations, having worked almost 20 years in the federal government, where he led and managed several national and international programs. Mr. Drolet worked in various manager and director positions for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Environment Canada and the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy, where he was Director of Policy and Research until October 2012. He has provided services to a large number of government and non-government clients since he created his own consulting business in 2012.
Rob Kerr is currently an independent consultant, based in Guelph, Ontario, providing community energy services. Rob has over 35 years of experience in many facets of the transitioning energy market with a focus on policy development and implementation of energy and climate change projects/programs in the municipal and community space.
Mr. Kerr’s work experience has been a balance between the private and public sector, having worked with the cities of Guelph and Mississauga, Honeywell, Hydro Quebec, Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc., and Energy Advantage. Rob has held senior positions at ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability providing policy and program support to cities around the world committed to climate mitigation and adaptation activities. He has developed expertise in managing inter-governmental relationships – from his advocacy work at the global level (starting with the UN Climate Conference in Kyoto, Japan in 1997) – to ongoing advisory relationships with the Canadian federal and provincial governments as well as the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Rob works with QUEST as a Senior Associate to further the development of Smart Energy Communities and the implementation of Community Energy Planning through policy support.
To his own astonishment, Richard has now been working on energy and climate policies and technology for nearly 15 years with a variety of public, private and non-profit organizations and has facilitated and spoken at dozens of workshops and events across Canada.
Richard provides customized energy and carbon policy, strategy and communications expertise to corporate, utility and government clients under his consulting firm, Laszlo Energy Services.
As a Senior Associate at QUEST, Richard Chairs the Ontario CHP Consortium, Alberta CHP Working Group, and National District Energy Network, representing hundreds of energy leaders from over 200 organizations committed to moving combined heat and power and district energy policies and projects forward.
Richard’s research and advocacy work with QUEST includes Resilient Pipes and Wires, examining energy distributor actions and government policies in response to extreme weather events and Getting to Implementation in Canada! an initiative aimed at helping communities implement their Community Energy Plans.
Richard is the proud author of Pollution Probe’s first Primer on Energy Systems in Canada, and contributed to the development of the Ontario’s Renewable Energy Approval under the Green Energy and Green Economy Act.
To learn more about Laszlo Energy Services, visit www.laszloenergy.com
Todd Latham is a media entrepreneur with twenty-five years of experience in business publishing, marketing, and communications. He is President of Actual Media Inc. a specialized publishing and creative design firm that produces ReNew Canada – the infrastructure magazine and Water Canada – the complete water magazine. Todd is a cross-industry participant, advisor, and communicator with broad practical knowledge and an extensive network in the environment, infrastructure, and government sectors. He is President of Blue Events Inc. (organizer of Canadian Water Summit), serves on the Board of Directors for the Ontario Public Works Association (OPWA) and the Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM). He is co-founder of the Canadian Brownfields Network, a senior associate of the Canadian Urban Institute and member of the University of Toronto Environmental Finance Committee.
Todd is a trusted advisor and consultant on a number of QUEST projects including the Annual Conference and Tradeshow, the Smart Energy Communities Awards, and the Subscriber Services Program.
To learn more about Actual Media Inc. visit http://actualmedia.ca/
Le Luong, Senior Associate serving as the QUEST2017 Project Manager, is a business strategist with a flair for marketing and events. She is currently the Managing Director of Goals Business Solutions, a management consulting company that consists of a talented team of business professionals with expertise in business strategic planning, event management, marketing, and sales strategy.
With two decades of business and event management experience, Le advises QUEST on marketing, communications, and event management. She is also the Project Manager for the Annual Conference and Tradeshow, QUEST2017 – Smart Energy Communities on the Hill.
Alan Rebane is an emergency management subject matter expert with specialized knowledge and experience with all-hazards risk assessment methodologies, tools, and datasets required to assess potential impacts to communities and organizations. Alan has over 15 years of risk and asset management experience working with government and private sector clients. His educational background includes a B.Sc. in Geography and Environmental Science, a Technical GIS Application Specialist Certificate and a Master’s degree in Disaster and Emergency Management. Alan’s work is dedicated to helping communities and organizations become more resilient.
Alan’s Emergency Management Business Practice provides consulting services and solutions to public and private sector clients including government, infrastructure owner/operator, commercial and industrial organizations. Services provided include all hazard risk and resiliency assessments, emergency management planning (mitigation, prevention, response and recovery phases), business continuity planning, physical and cyber security threat assessments; all of these services which are critical to increasing the resiliency of our communities and nation. His risk-informed approach considers that the risks are changing in the face of climate change and considers all aspects including people, the built environment, the natural environment and the economy and is tailored to the appropriate scale from structure level to country level and all levels between.
Alan Rebane has joined QUEST as a Senior Associate offering expertise in community resilience and emergency management planning.