Stefan has been involved in landscape architecture and urban design since 1985 in variety of professional positions in both the private and municipal public sectors in Winnipeg, Manitoba and Windsor, Ontario. A graduate for the Masters of Landscape Architecture Program at the University of Manitoba, he has been in actively involved with the CSLA as Chair of the Awards of Excellence program from 1999 to 2001. He is currently employed with the City of Windsor as a Landscape Architect in the Planning Department, as well as an Acting positions at the Parks Department where he prepared the Parks Master Plan, which proposed the Ojibway National Urban Park and paving the way for UNESCO Heritage designation of the Detroit River both culturally and environmentally. In addition, Stefan is well published in the horticultural industry and is an active member of several OALA Committees. As a member of the Board of Directors of Northscaping Inc., you can often find him with a camera locked to his eye taking landscape and architectural photography in botanic gardens and urban spaces around the world.
Aaron Hirota Vice President
Aaron is a Senior Landscape Architect for Architecture49 as well as for CENTRUS, the Centre Block Rehabilitation Project in Ottawa. He enjoys working on all facets of the profession especially project management, urban design, parks and open space development. His current interests include heritage and cultural landscapes, accessible and equitable design, and sustainability. Aaron is working on projects in Ottawa and across Eastern Ontario. He is a full member of the OALA as well as an out of province member of the MALA and SALA. He graduated from the University of Manitoba with a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree in 1998 and a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture in 2005.
Steve Barnhart Past President
Steve Barnhart is a Senior Director at Niagara Parks responsible for parks operations, horticulture programming and environmental planning. Prior to Niagara Parks Steve was responsible for managing forestry and horticulture operations and design development and implementation of open space capital projects for the City of Hamilton. Steve has worked on a wide range of projects including master plans, waterfront development, transportation, storm water management systems and visual impact assessments. Steve has been a full member of the OALA since 2000 and graduated with a Master of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph. Steve has previously served for 6 years as a volunteer on the OALA Continuing Education Committee. Steve is also an Adjunct Professor at the University of Guelph Environmental Design and Rural Development. In 2016 Steve received the OALA Public Practice award.
Cameron Smith Treasurer
Cameron Smith is a senior landscape architect working in the federal government with Public Services and Procurement Canada, Real Property Branch’s Architecture Group. He wears the hats of a Design Manager for federal major recapitalization works and as a senior site specialist in urban design and master planning for federal assets. Cameron is an active participant in the OALA Professional Practice and Ethics Review Committee and local OALA Ottawa Chapter. A graduate of the University of British Columbia’s Master of Landscape Architecture program he believes strongly in the profession of landscape architecture’s principles of good stewardship to ensuring safe, healthy, accessible, livable and sustainable communities. But equally he sees landscape architects as critical advocates in the next decades to lead and actively participate to help effect the necessary changes to improve urban landscapes as Canadians and the world face the challenges of climate change, high-density living and significant socio-economic change. Cameron is looking forward to having this opportunity of working with his fellow councilors to both advance and support the profession of landscape architecture in Ontario, and, to assisting the organization and its members in their endeavour to better serve and protect the public interest.
Justin Whalen Secretary
Justin is a Senior Landscape Architect and Project Manager at GSP Group, in Kitchener. He is involved in a wide range of projects from streetscape, park and trail master plans to residential developments and institutional designs. Justin has a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph and upon graduating in 2014, entered straight into the profession. Since then, he has gained a deeper understanding of the positive impacts that the landscape architectural profession can have on communities, both large and small. Justin has a strong interest in the design of trails and public spaces, with the intent of creating meaningful spaces to connect people to the places where they live, work and play. Justin has been serving on the OALA Council since 2016, when he was first elected as an Associate Representative, and then to a Councillor position in 2018. Now in his fourth term, he is honoured to continue representing both existing and new members of the OALA membership as well as work with Council to further advance the profession within Ontario and support the OALA.
Matthew Campbell Councillor
Matt is a Senior Contractor Administrator at CF Crozier & Associates in Collingwood. He has worked on projects of all sizes, which include, large four-season resorts, transit projects, public parks, trails, private sector development and small residential designs. Matt obtained his Bachelor of Landscape Architecture from the University of Guelph in 2014. He has a strong background in plant material and construction. Having the ability to translate ideas into practical and workable designs, Matt enjoys bringing projects full circle from concept design to the final built form. He is looking forward to the opportunity to represent the OALA membership and to work with Council to advance the profession of landscape architecture in Ontario.
Shawn Watters Councillor
Shawn Watters is the Design Lead and Senior Landscape Architect at R.J. Burnside & Associates Limited’s land development and landscape architecture business. He has a multi-faceted role focusing on growing and building in multiple municipalities in Southern Ontario while supporting other broad initiatives of the firm. For 25 years, Shawn has worked on numerous private and public sector projects, which have included golf, resort, park, and trail development. He has a strong foundation and understanding of landscape design and construction practices, which have included work on commercial buildings, high rises, public spaces, streetscape, parks, parking lots and residential development projects. Shawn has also served on numerous boards and was an elected official on various Councils including the Village of Elora, Centre Wellington and the County of Wellington over a 20-year period.
Matthew Perotto Councillor
Matt Perotto is a Senior Associate with Hargreaves Jones Landscape Architecture. In this role, Matt manages projects in the United States, Europe, and Asia, leading teams in the production of design studies, text narratives, presentation graphics, construction documents, construction observation processes and leads multi-disciplinary consultant teams through coordination with clients and public engagement workshops. Matt is spearheading Hargreaves Jones’ transition into the world of BIM technologies using Revit, and the integration of parametric computational tools directly within the studio’s design process.
Matt has been a full member of the OALA and the ASLA since 2022. He is a Sessional Instructor at the University of Toronto’s Masters in Landscape Architecture program where he teaches second and third year Visual Communication courses and is a Thesis Advisor for graduating students, and is a Sessional Instructor at the Academy of Art University, School of Landscape Architecture in the Graduate and Undergraduate Landscape Architecture Program online streams.
Layal Bitar Senior Associate Councillor
Layal Bitar completed her Bachelor of Science degree in Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management at the American University of Beirut, where she was involved in several activities that engaged the student body in the promotion of the developing profession of Landscape Architecture in Lebanon. While pursuing her Master of Landscape Architecture degree at the University of Texas at Arlington, she held a Teaching Assistantship position in graduate courses related to GIS, Environmental Planning, and Landscape Graphics. She was involved with Texas ASLA for three years and organized the volunteer program for the state-level ASLA conference. Prior to joining STUDIO tla in Toronto, Layal worked for several years at multi-disciplinary firms located in Beirut (Lebanon), Dallas (Texas, USA), and Shanghai (China).
Sujana Devabhaktuni Junior Associate Councillor
Sujana Devabhaktuni completed her master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Manitoba and her bachelor of Architecture degree at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University in India. Since graduation, Sujana has worked at Fathom Studio, a multi-disciplinary firm in Atlantic Canada. Here she is involved in cultural, recreational, educational, mixed-use-residential and streetscape projects.
Elise Shelley Appointed Educator, Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape and Design, University of Toronto
Elise Shelley is an Associate Professor at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto and the Director of Landscape at gh3*. She a registered landscape architect with 20 years of experience in projects of all scales. Shelley’s background and training in both architecture and landscape has enabled a method of practice that emphasizes the physical, experiential and functional connections between interior and exterior space. Her teaching portfolio includes Site Engineering, Studio, Planting Design, Professional Practice and Thesis advising.
Focused on the interdisciplinary nature of urban places, Shelley’s work addresses material innovation, community. engagement and ecological resilience. Award-winning urban playspace projects include gardens and playgrounds for city daycares, public schools and non-profit organizations. In addition to having her Landscape Architecture licensure in the United States and Canada (Ontario and Alberta), Shelley is certified in Playground Safety Inspection by the U.S. National Recreation and Park Association.
Shelley has lectured throughout North America and Europe and her work on resilient landscapes and contemporary children’s playspaces has been presented at several international conferences.
Afshin Ashari Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture at the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, University of Guelph
Afshin Ashari is an Assistant Professor in Landscape Architecture at the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development (SEDRD). Prior to joining SEDRD, he was engaged in a range of architectural and landscape architectural projects in both public and private sectors and most recently working with Brook McIlroy Inc. in Toronto; an interdisciplinary firm of architects, landscape architects, planners, and urban designers.
He has a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Toronto and a Bachelor of Computer Engineering from the Azad University of Tehran. Afshin has always been passionate about merging the two worlds of computer science and design. He is interested in implementing novel approaches that bridge traditional and computational design processes, with the hope of avoiding analogue habits of design and landscape homogenization.
Taking advantage of his interdisciplinary background in landscape architecture and computer science, his research interests lay within the fields of computational, parametric, and digital design representation activities for landscape architecture involving advanced technological tools in contemporary design media and professional practice.
Karen Liu Lay Councillor
Dr. Karen Liu is the Green Roof Specialist with Next Level Stormwater Management. Karen is an engineer by training and passionate in using nature-based solutions to address climate change. Upon receiving her PhD from the University of Toronto, Karen joined the National Research Council in Ottawa, where she established the first North American field facility for green roof research. She led the green roof research team at the British Columbia Institute of Technology in Vancouver and was involved in the development of CSA A123.24 national wind testing standard for vegetated roofing. In the past 15 years, Karen has worked on many green roof projects across North America, Europe and Asia, often alongside talented landscape architects. She appreciates the important role of landscape architecture plays in creating a beautiful and sustainable future. Karen is honoured to serve the OALA as the lay councillor.
Adrienne Kou Student Representative, University of Guelph
Adrienne Kou is currently a third-year University of Guelph student at their Bachelor's of Landscape Architecture. There, she works to maintain her place on the OAC Dean’s Honours List. She is also a current member of the Landscape Architecture Student Society exclusive to the University of Guelph, wherein she aids OAC social events and is responsible for looking after the printing room. Adrienne has a passion for all species Carolinian and the positive effects of green spaces on communities.
Adrienne is as thrilled as she is honoured to be the 2023/2024 OALA Student Representative for the University of Guelph.
Emiley Switzer-Martell Student Representative, University of Toronto