Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability

What is CAFES?

Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES) is a network of local environmental and climate leaders in the city of Ottawa. CAFES was founded in 2010, incorporated as a non profit organization in 2021, and is active on unceded Algonquin territory. CAFES' organizational members are urban, suburban and rural community associations, environmental organizations and citizens organizations. Our community association representatives are often environment committee chairs or green point persons in their local association. Our individual members are citizens active in their communities and concerned with living in ecological balance. (more about membership here)

As of May 2023, the network includes over 150 individual and organizational representatives from across 20 wards and over 50 neighbourhoods.

The mission of CAFES is to support effective environmental action in the local community and at the municipal level towards creating and safeguarding a more healthy and livable city. 

CAFES regularly liaises with, and is a member of, the Ottawa Federation of Citizens’ Associations (FCA), as well as the David Suzuki Foundation Future Network. We partner with other community organizations such as Ecology Ottawa, Forêt Capital Forest, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Waste Watch Ottawa, City for All Women (CAWI) and Synapcity and lend our support to efforts by local groups to make Ottawa a better, more healthy and livable place.

CAFES is a leading member of the Peoples’ Official Plan coalition, and CAFES is a partner in the Canadian Coalition for Invasive Plant Regulation.


Media Contact: Angela Keller-Herzog
(613) 769-3794

Our Impact

CAFES is pleased to present its Impact Report from 2022. Take a look to learn about our mission, mandate, vision, and what we accomplished in 2022! You can download and read the full report.


Who we are - Meet our board members!

John sobol
Chair of the Board


As a digitalist, John was the Manager of Brand and Digital Strategy at the Canada Council for the Arts (2014-2017). Prior to that he co-founded a pair of youth-oriented digital startups, Globalhood and The Media League. He was a senior consultant at both custom software firm The Jonah Group (2010-11) and interactive agency 76design (2006-2009). John is also a professional saxophonist, performance poet and public speaker with over 1,000 gigs to his credit in a dozen countries since 1979. He has travelled widely to apprentice, record and perform with renowned artists and elders from diverse oral traditions. He worked as a story producer for CBC national radio and ran his own record label called Word of Mouth. John’s literate credentials include 7 books published including his most recent, Born (Groundwood Press), as well as hundreds of articles in magazines and newspapers. He has also written scripts for many television series.

John is motivated to be part of the CAFES board because he has children and wants to do what he can to not leave them a dying world. Also he believes strongly in community building and community-based activism.

Nick LePan
Interim Treasurer of the Board


Nick is not currently a member of the board, but has generously agreed to offer his time as interim treasurer. He is also as general organizational mentor, governance advisor, and is helping us with our organizational development.

Nick is passionate about contributing to effective environmental action. He believes this can best be accomplished with a strong, local effort - such as that of CAFES. He has considerable experience in building and sustaining high quality, collaborative board governance in a range of organisations of different sizes. He has previously served on the board of the Ottawa Renewable Energy Cooperative.

magdalene carson
Vice Chair of the Board


Over the past 6 years, Magdalene has become increasingly active on the question of climate and environment in local civic organizations, starting out with volunteering at Ecology Ottawa, and going on to participate in and contributing to the work of Peoples Official Plan, ReImagine Ottawa, Fridays for Future, among other organizations and initiatives. In recent years, she has become more involved with CAFES, participating, for example, in the organization of the mayoral debates in 2022, the preparation of the CAFES 2022-2028 Priorities document, and many online meetings. She particularly feels close to CAFES’ “boots on the ground” approach, working on concrete issues in the life of the city, its citizens and municipal government.

By profession, Magdalene is a graphic artist and owner/operator of New Leaf Publication Design, specializing in book design. As of this year, she is semi-retired. She resides in Barrhaven, Ward 24, where there is a need for community and consciousness building round climate questions in the suburbs.

James Stevenson
Secretary of the Board


James is a practicing lawyer, currently working primarily in employment law, but used to work as a Crown prosecutor when living in Vancouver. He served on the Osgoode Hall Law School Faculty Council while attending law school, and acted on several faculty committees (as a student member). He also worked for the Community Legal Aid Services Programme, serving low income clients who would not otherwise have had legal representation. 

He moved to Ottawa in the summer of 2019 and volunteered with the Shepherds of Good Hope until the arrival of his twin children in February 2020. He currently volunteers as a "hoser", maintaining the Lindenlea Park skating rink.

James is looking to both take action with respect to climate change and to be part of a team with a shared vision for his community. While climate change and environmental degradation are global issues, their solutions must often be applied at the local level, and it is at that level that people experience the benefits and costs of change. He wants to be involved in his community, to help it be the best place to live that it can be. He feels there are few things more fulfilling than being part of a team aimed at doing good in the world, and wants more of that in his life.

john milton
Member of the Board


John is an Instructor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at Carleton University. He specializes in Grassroots innovation; Technology, society and the  environment; and Innovation studies. Currently on sabbatical, John lives in the rural area just south of Ottawa, near Kemptville.
For many years John has built bridges between Carleton and the wider community, in order for fourth year students to earn credits through academic practicums that involve work placements linked to the students interests. With his leadership and support, Carleton’s Geography program offers access to valuable work experience and a network of employers and organizations in the private, public and non-profit sectors in a variety of fields related to geography.

Mary Hegan
Member of the Board


Mary is a community activist focusing on environmental protection, climate action, and public health.   As the pandemic is teaching us, “learning from nature and living with nature”  can lead to a healthier Ottawa for all.  The strength is when communities and neighbourhoods pull together.  Mary is pleased to work with CAFES, which provides a collaborative framework, mutual support, and a strong voice for environmental action.  Having lived in downtown Ottawa (west end) for 36 years and now in rural Ottawa (Burritt’s Rapids) for 17 years on the Rideau River, her passion is waterways, wetlands, and enhancing Ottawa’s rural ecosystem and quality of life for all inhabitants.  She looks forward to working with others, applying university training in community development and years of work experience with different levels of government and Non-Government Organizations to help build a livable and climate-friendly nation’s capital.

Akil Mesiwala
Akil Mesiwala
Member of the Board


Akil is a newcomer to Canada and moved to Ottawa in 2018. He is passionate about creating a human society that is in love with nature and biodiversity, and is the founder of The Box Of Life, a social enterprise that builds beautiful, sustainable worm farms and teaches people how to easily compost at home. Akil joined the CAFES board to help boost Ottawa's circular economy sector and brings some business expertise to the table. He wants to help both non-profits and for-profits to incorporate a social mission and revenue streams in their business models. He loves lounging with his cat in his free time, and spending time in nature on weekends with his partner.

Emma Bider
Member of the Board


Emma is a PhD student at Carleton University, currently in the final stages of completing a thesis on peoples relationship to trees. She is keenly interested in CAFES work on canopy regeneration and other issues around canopy equity and the city's environmental policies.

Emma feels that CAFES does important work that has real on-the-ground impacts on the people of Ottawa. She believes in a multi-pronged approach that recognizes the importance of communications projects alongside engagement with community groups, City staff and other organizations striving to make Ottawa a better place. 

Emma has previously worked as a coordinator at another small NGO, Climate Legacy, and understands both the challenges and the possibilities of small organizations in the crowded space of environmental and climate activism.

Meet Our Staff

Angela Keller-Herzog
Founding Executive Director of CAFES


Angela is the founding Executive Director of CAFES and served as the co-chair of CAFES from 2015 to 2020, prior to the incorporation of CAFES in January 2021.  She is active in the community as an environmental and social justice advocate and active citizen observer of municipal affairs. She serves as a director on the boards of the Glebe Community Association, the Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop and Co-Energy Ontario Coop. She leads Horizon Green, an economic consultancy, and prior to COVID-19 also ran an eco-friendly B&B. Angela is a trained economist and has over two decades of experience in consulting, programme management, policy development, risk management and international development with the Canadian International Development Agency.

Erica Shardlow

Trees and Greenspace Coordinator


Erica grew up in the rural town of Erin, Ontario, on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. She completed her BA in Psychology at Wilfrid Laurier University, and her MSc in Environmental Health at Queen's University, where she supported Indigenous-led research on land stewardship and climate action. Erica is passionate about the ways in which the environment impacts our health, and in 2018 founded a community garden and nature walk program for adults with disabilities while working with the Salvation Army in Toronto, Ontario. Erica loves hiking, kayaking, collecting plants and learning about the natural world.

Jacklyn Cunningham

Climate Program Coordinator


Jacklyn recently joined the Ottawa-Gatineau community. She has been studying and working in the climate sector for the past decade. A trained biologist, with an interest in wildlife conservation, ecosystem services, and coral bleaching; she holds a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Biology from Toronto Metropolitan University. She focuses on organizing strong teams, strategic planning and leadership. She is a co-founder of the Burlington Community Climate Action Hub, where she worked as the regional organizer of a volunteer team working to accelerate strong political action on climate change by growing an inclusive, active, local community movement. She is passionate about connecting people to nature and place, through outdoor naturalist skills and programming. Taking action and connecting with the community has been shown to be helpful for youth experiencing eco-anxiety, therefore her passion for youth engagement and mentorship is at the heart of much of her work.

Phillipa MacDonald

Communications Coordinator


Phillipa has been working for CAFES since January 2023. Initially starting as a practicum student, followed by a summer co-op as our Trees and Greenspace Coordinator. This fall she has transitioned to our Communications Coordinator while she is in her 4th year at Carleton, working towards a BA Honours in Environmental Studies with a minor in Community Engagement. Phillipa grew up just outside of Ottawa and has a lifelong love for the city. She aspires to work in the world of environmental advocacy and community engagement where she hopes to support and mobilize actions towards combatting climate change and building climate resiliency.

Mission, Mandate and Vision

Click here to download the CAFES mission, mandate and vision document:
Download the document

Supporting Organizations

We would like to thank the following organizations for their financial support toward CAFES' initiatives: Alterna Savings, the City of Ottawa, Ottawa Climate Action Fund, Ottawa Community Foundation, Nature Canada, Sustainable Capacity Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.