The Team

The Friends of Kananaskis Country is a federally-registered charity incorporated under Alberta's Society Act. It has a small but dedicated staff, a committed volunteer Board of Directors and hundreds of passionate, caring volunteers working collaboratively to keep Kananaskis Country's natural and cultural heritage available for future generations.

Friends of Kananaskis Country Staff
Executive Director – Nancy Ouimet

An outdoor enthusiast, Nancy brings ten years of experience working for non-profits such as The Banff Centre, Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative, and the Biosphere Institute of the Bow Valley. Earlier in her career she spent many summer seasons working as a landscaper, moving dirt and creating unique landscapes.

Nancy oversees the day-to-day operations of the organization. When she’s not in the office, you’ll be able to find her helping out on the trails.

Bookkeeper & Office Support – Lawrence Nyman
Friends of Kananaskis Country Board of Directors

The Friends of Kananaskis Country is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.  Though they bring a diversity of backgrounds and skills to the Board, they all have one thing in common: a passion for Kananaskis Country. Our Board ensures that our programs and projects focus on:

  • Trail care;
  • Environmental education;
  • Volunteer participation;
  • Protection of the natural and cultural heritage of Kananaskis Country.
Derek Ryder — Chairman & Director of Communications

DSCF4599Derek is a long-time fan of the outdoors, having started hiking, backpacking, canoe tripping, rock climbing and skiing in Ontario in the 1970’s. Before moving west, he completed the Bruce Trail end to end, did volunteer work to protect endangered Lake Ontario marshlands, was Ontario’s youngest cross country ski patroller and won the provincial orienteering championships. After moving to Calgary in 1981, he fed his passion with hiking, white water canoeing and downhill skiing in the Rockies. In the last few years, he’s been averaging 30-40 hiking days per year, covering over 250 km of trails and easy scrambles annually, primarily in the northern half of K-Country, plus skiing 70-80 days per year. He has held several directorship positions in community organizations, including acting as President of his Condo Association and his gliding club, managing newsletters at Bow Waters Canoe Club and the Victoria Macintosh User Group, and others.

Derek retired in 2011 after 32 years in the oil and gas industry, with a background in engineering, geology, economics, planning and management, including several national and international assignments. Since retiring, he has expanded his volunteering, and now helps the Bow Valley Stewards with Parks maintenance projects, is a Wildlife Ambassador working with WildSmart to educate trail users on coexisting with wildlife, supports the Kananaskis Ecology's various Back-country Camera Research Projects, assisted with the CIS 2011 Women’s Basketball National Championships, and contributes to several blogs and websites including his own and Powderwatch.com, where he is the reporter on Sunshine ski conditions. In 2011, he started volunteering as a SnowHost at Sunshine Village. In 2017, he gained certification with the Interpretive Guides Association as an Apprentice Interpretive and Hiking Guide. He now resides in Kananaskis Country with his partner Karen, surrounded by the mountains in which he spends his time.

Kevin Smith – Vice-Chair

Kevin retired to Canmore from the Ottawa area several years ago from a career in the aerospace industry. He is very active with the Menaderthals, the hiking group of the Canmore Seniors Association. In the CSA, Kevin has been actively involved with trail maintenance and development, and he has actively participated in trail projects run by the Friends for the last several years.

Loralie Johnson — Treasurer
Kayla Dallyn – Secretary
Manika Suri — Director of Marketing and Events

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWherever Manika goes, she seems to find herself looking for the mountains. Growing up in Vancouver, she spent many weekends up in the North Shore and surrounding peaks, trying to find a place to hike. Vancouver always seemed to be the outdoorsman's paradise, which many take for granted. In 2011, Manika relocated to the UK to complete her MBA, and quickly realized how lucky we are in Canada to be so close to so many beautiful trails and parks throughout the country. Her stint abroad didn't last long, as she knew she yearned to back hiking up the "hills" at home, and booked a flight back as soon as she had her cap and gown. In the summer of 2012, the rockies (and her husband) brought her to Calgary and she almost immediately found herself spending her weekends in Kananaskis (it's lucky her husband is an avid hiker too)!

As a Strategic Analyst in her 9-5, Manika has consistently volunteered in her community since she was a teenager. When she found the Friends of Kananaskis Country upon her move to Calgary, the opportunity to tie her passion for the outdoors to giving back to the region she explores seemed the perfect fit. With a background in Marketing, Event Management, and Strategic Planning, Manika hopes her business experience can benefit the region she enjoys most by promoting and raising funds for Kananaskis.

Outside of hiking and scrambling, Manika is often found marathon training, practicing yoga, and attempting to snowboard.

Dave Neilsen — Director

Dave_NielsenDave worked with the Alberta Government for 30 years including 15 years as Regional Director responsible for Kananaskis Country. He also worked with provincial parks agencies in Saskatchewan and Ontario during a 36 year career in the environmental management field.

Now retired, he continues to have a keen interest in Kananaskis Country and the lands adjacent to it, particularly on issues related to wildlife corridors, park management and the impacts of human use on park landscapes. Other interests include hiking, personal fitness, kayaking and travel. He has resided in Canmore, with his wife Sharlene since 1994.

Tony Paradis - Director
Fred Folliot - Director
Dave Schultz - Director
Ed Engstrom - Director

Born and brought-up in Alberta, Ed has been a Rocky Mountain enthusiast forever, starting as a child when he nicknamed water as “mountain juice”. This love of the mountains grew to include hiking, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, backcountry skiing, bouldering, rock climbing and mountaineering. After the floods of 2013, Ed decided it was time to give back his efforts to repair the damage.

Ed is married to hiker / skier Jackie and has 3 adult daughters who have all been infected with the Rocky Mountain bug. As part of a successful career in IT leadership, is an IT management consultant. Ed’s career as a volunteer continues with commitments to the Calgary Stampede and fitness organizations.

Jamie McPhail - Director

Jamie CroppedAn experienced Industrial-Organizational consultant, Quality Improvement leader, and senior manager with domestic and international organizations. An inveterate volunteer for community and social agencies, Arts & Culture organizations, and inter-agencies at frontline and Board levels. Passionate for time in the hills, whatever the activity may be.

 Alberta Parks Liaisons

The Friends of Kananaskis Country works closely with the Government of Alberta, through Tourism, Parks and Recreation.  We are grateful for the support and guidance we receive from the Kananaskis Country Parks Division Liaisons, who sit on our Board:

Jody Cairns -- Trails Coordinator, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Jennell Rempel -- Community and Partner Relations Team Lead