2022 Candidate Laura Lawlor
Principal, Natural Resources Lead (Ontario), Senior Ecologist
Candidate for: Member of the Board of Professional Certification
I am a Principal at GHD with responsibility as the Natural Resources Business Group Lead (Ontario) and for leading the strategic direction and growth of the North American Natural Resources business. I am also a Certified Senior Ecologist and an ESA member since 2015. After obtaining a Combined Honours undergraduate degree in Earth Science and Biology from Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) I continue my formal education by completing a Masters of Science in Biology from Queen’s University (Kingston, Ontario, Canada), specializing in Paleolimnology. I have led the initiation and development of a team of 25 ecologists, biologists, arborists and geomorphologists, providing both administrative and senior technical guidance to the group.
I demonstrate leadership beyond technical delivery at GHD (my place of employment for over 16 years) through involvement with the local social committee, inaugural Women in GHD (North America) committee member, inaugural GHD in the Community (North America) committee member, former North American Natural Resources Service Line Leader, and as an active member of the newly formed GHD Foundation working group. Extra-curricular engagements include a non-executive position on the Board of Directors with The Food Bank of Waterloo Region (since 2019), and as a volunteer with the Marsh Monitoring Program through Bird Studies Canada. I have presented technical and summary papers at technical and industry conferences in Canada and the United States.
What interests, experience or skills would you bring to this position?
Having worked in consulting, then returned to academia to complete my Masters degree before settling into a career in consulting, I’ve had the opportunity to explore the application of scientific excellence across a broad market space.
I live in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada with my husband and two children in a home which, to the chagrin of her daughter, remains absent a dog. While I would notably bring Canadian representation to this position, my experience within a global firm and roles developing strategic direction across North America position me well to provide an applied understanding of the value in and need for professional certification. Ontario, for example, does not have a professional ecology or biology certification program which is a notable gap for recognition as a qualified professional or expert. I am passionate about engagement and outcomes, opportunities for personal and professional development, and being part of group success.
How would you support ESA’s mission? How would you plan to promote DEIJ in ESA membership and activities if elected?
I believe we’ve all experienced the value of life-long learning; having a support network of technical professionals and peers through organizations such as ESA is an important element of that. With this comes technical advancement in the science and practice of ecology, as well as learning how we can best reflect our current and future members with a DEIJ lens. In this role I would participate in meaningful representation of and engagement with ESA members. I believe that professional certification has as much to do with our future members as it does current members. I would bring to the role an encouragement to review demographics of current members, those at-large within the ecological scientific community and students. Where our membership may be misaligned with the other groups, I would work with the other board members to understand what barriers there may be to more accurate member representation of the ecological community. Further, I would actively seek to identify my own and organizational unconscious biases, challenge the board where those are identified, and initiate actions to improve.