Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability

What is CAFES?

Community Associations for Environmental Sustainability (CAFES) is a network of residents and citizens’ associations in the City of Ottawa, established in 2010 and active on unceded Algonquin territory. Members of CAFES are community association environment committee chairs or green point persons in citizens associations. We also have individual members who are citizens active in their communities and concerned with living in ecological balance. 

As of March 2021, there were over 200 members in our network, from 43 different community associations and 6 citizens’ organizations. Our members include representatives from urban, suburban and rural communities in the municipality of Ottawa.

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). We partner with other community organizations such as Ecology Ottawa, the Greenspace Alliance of Canada’s Capital, Waste Watch Ottawa, the Healthy Transportation Coalition and City for All Women (CAWI) and lend our support to efforts by local groups to make Ottawa a better, more healthy and livable place. CAFES is a member of the Peoples’ Official Plan group.


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

Who we are - Meet our board members!

Joan Freeman
Interim Chair of the Board


Joan has recently retired after a  38-year career mainly as an independent environmental management consultant assisting communities and government institutions to develop and manage resources sustainably. She has extensive experience in impact assessment (including analysis of climate change impacts), monitoring and reporting, capacity building, and governance of multi-jurisdiction environmental organizations. She has authored guidance and manuals for international and domestic organizations. Joan has an undergraduate degree in biology and geology (Queen's) and a Master’s degree in planning and resource management (University of British Columbia). Now Joan is retired she is very actively involved with CAFES, her community association (Glebe) and a group of other retirees (C3) working on climate action.  Joan is a keen naturalist and outdoors enthusiast and when not behind a screen or locked down is likely to be outdoors pursuing her other interests - citizen science (ecosystem and bird population changes), skiing, canoeing and Arctic exploration.

Dinah Robinson
Acting Treasurer of the Board


Dinah moved to Centertown in 1984 and has continued to live here, except for some time in Sandy Hill while attending UOttawa. She studied Commerce and has worked in financial management for the majority of her career. She was the treasurer on the Bike Ottawa Board of Directors for many years and has also worked as a volunteer with Epilepsy Ottawa and the March of Dimes, helping people with disabilities find work so they can live independently in the community. Most recently, she has been involved with the Centretown Citizens Community Association. She is an active member of the Trees, Greenspaces and Sustainability Committee and the Dundonald Park Gardening Group. She was previously on the Board and Head Gardener in Dundonald Park. I helped to establish the Off-Bank Community Garden and I work with local Community Gardens to ensure they have beautiful pollinator plots to attract bees and butterflies, which will enhance their food crops. Her primary passion is pollinators. She is an experienced beekeeper and educator and has delivered presentations and workshops about beekeeping and native pollinators.  Dinah has beehives in three locations and is working on a pilot project with CCOC to install rooftop beehives in Centretown. She has been engaged with the CAFES network for several years and looks forward to the exciting work to come with CAFES.

Liz Bernstein
Member of the Board & Strategic Advisor


Liz is the founding Chair of CAFES and served as the co-chair of CAFES from 2015-to 2020, prior to the incorporation of CAFES in January 2021. As of May 2022, Liz stepped down as Chair of the Board and now serves as a Member and Strategic Advisor. She is an activist passionate about collective efforts to address climate change, protect nature and wage peace for all people and our planet. She serves as vice-president on the board of Lowertown Community Association, as a founding director serving on the steering committee of Ecology Ottawa, working to make Ottawa the green capital of Canada, and serves on the board of Succession, a charity dedicated to supporting the environment. She served as Director of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, an organization of Nobel Peace Laureates amplifying feminist peace movements globally from 2006-2021and previously served as Coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines. She lived in Thailand and Cambodia for 10 years, where she worked extensively with local peace and justice advocacy organizations and co-founded the Coalition for Peace and Reconciliation. She found her home in Ottawa in 2005.

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.

Gerry Churchill
Member of the Board


Gerry is a nature lover and environmentalist who sees action at the municipal level as a key component to shaping a green future. He sits on the board of the Hintonburg Community Association and is an active leader in the Capital City Chorus. Gerry’s interests include spending time outdoors, playing music, Dungeons and Dragons and philosophy.

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.

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.

Laura French



Laura grew up in rural Ontario and has always had a love and passion for animals and nature. College brought her to Ottawa, where she has worked in a variety of sectors and gained over a decade's worth of administration experience. Her love of gardening has expanded into an interest in invasive species control and the reintroduction of native wildflowers. Since 2019, Laura has worked with Angela in a variety of capacities.

Mary Stuart

Climate and Environment Coordinator


Mary is from Kitchener Ontario, the territory of the Anishinabewaki, Haudenosaunee, Neutral, Mississauga and Mississaugas of the Credit First Nations peoples. She moved to Ottawa in 2018 to pursue an Honours B.A in Environmental Studies at the University of Ottawa. She is passionate about climate and social justice and organizes with Climate Justice Ottawa. Mary also co-founded Climate Justice uOttawa through which she helped lead a successful fossil fuel divestment campaign. Mary is an amateur naturalist, and loves learning about the interconnected natural world and spending time outdoors.

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, Sustainable Capacity Foundation, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.