5 March, 2024

Meet the Women Shaping Canada’s Trail Sector

Women have always played a key role in shaping trail networks around the world. And the Trans Canada Trail is no exception.  

Three quarters of the organization’s senior leadership team are women, and across the organization, women are leading the charge on trail development, mapping, philanthropy, communications and operational work – many of them as directors and managers. And that doesn’t even include inspiring women like Dianne Whelan, Melanie Vogel and Sarah Jackson, all of whom have undertaken epic journeys traversing the trail.  

In honour of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, meet some of the women on our team who are shaping Canada’s Trail sector. 

Meghan Reddick, Interim CEO and Vice-President, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer

Meghan Reddick A prominent figure in the Canadian non-profit sector, Meghan’s expertise has been instrumental in shaping Trans Canada Trail’s brand, contributing significantly to the growth of the organization over the past four years. Prior to her tenure at Trans Canada Trail, Meghan played vital roles in transforming some of Canada’s most respected national non-profits, including Habitat for Humanity Canada, YMCA Canada, and Kids Help Phone, into globally recognized cause-driven charities.  

“I’ve been fortunate to learn from and collaborate with incredibly inspiring women throughout my career, and this trend has continued at Trans Canada Trail. Women play a pivotal role in our organization, from our senior leadership team through to every department. Observing women actively leading Canada’s national trail network should serve as a beacon of inspiration for countless young individuals. It’s a testament to the inclusive and empowering environment fostered within our organization, demonstrating to the next generation that with dedication and passion, anything is achievable.” 

Cheryl Hanson, Vice-President, Chief Development Officer

Cheryl HansonCheryl has been a leader in fundraising and relationship building in Canadian nonprofits for more than 25 years. She has been a key driver of growth at charities including MS Canada, Canadian Cancer Society, Toronto Metropolitan University, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society. At Trans Canada Trail, Cheryl leads a team of dedicated fundraising professionals who are committed to advancing and stewarding donor relationships in support of Canada’s national trail network.   

“Women are a driving force behind the nonprofit sector, fueling meaningful change, sparking innovation, and nurturing empathy. Many of us, myself included, are passionate advocates for philanthropy, shaping vital organizations like Trans Canada Trail. Additionally, women play a crucial role in managing growing wealth, providing essential philanthropic support to our sector. Together, we’re building communities that are stronger, more resilient, and welcoming to all. I take pride in recognizing the valuable contributions of women in fostering an environment of inclusivity and equality.” 

Trisha Kaplan, Director, Trail Inclusion Initiatives

Trisha Kaplan

Trans Canada Trail’s vision for the trail sector is one that is safe, accessible and inclusive to all. Trisha is the one leading the charge on executing that vision. One of the organization’s longest serving team members, Trisha joined Trans Canada Trail in 2014 with a life-long passion for outdoor recreation. She has worked in the trail and park sectors for decades, starting as a teenager working in municipal parks and recreation. In her current role, her passions are combined as she leads national initiatives to make trails – and the trail sector – more inclusive, accessible and enjoyable for everyone, including accessibility, training and employment, Indigenous partnerships and programs, and the development of resources to advance inclusion in the sector.  

“I’ve always believed deeply that everyone should have access to free, outdoor recreation opportunities that meet their needs and desires. The benefits of being outdoors is well-known and it’s so important that we in the Trail sector make a concerted effort to break down barriers that prevent full participation. I’m honoured to work alongside so many great people as we continue to make that happen.” 

Heidi Tillmans, Director, Trail and Infrastructure

Heidi TillmannsHeidi has been a leader in the signage industry for more than 30 years. At Trans Canada Trail, she uses that expertise to lead the management and funding of more than 100+ infrastructure projects, 200+ signage projects and 30 projects in our 2 Billion Trees program each year. Heidi is passionate about creating positive change for future generations, through her work with Trans Canada Trail and through helping to ensure that young women have supportive mentors. In 2021, she was recognized with a Women in Signs Award from Signs of the Times, for her expertise and lifelong contributions.  

“It’s been incredible to see the strides women have made across all sectors over the last few generations. But there’s still work to do. We’ve made so much progress by focusing on inclusion and making sure that no one is excluded by something like their gender expression. It’s up to us to continue this work to make things even better for future generations.” 

Kristen Gabora, Director, Trail Development and Volunteers

Kristen GaboraKristen is the conduit between Trans Canada Trail and the passionate volunteers across the country who help keep the Trail safe and accessible to all. Through maintenance projects and national strategic initiatives, she partners with volunteer-powered local Trail groups to help them develop their sections of the Trans Canada Trail for everyone to enjoy. Kristen leads the team that collaborates with Trail partners and other stakeholders to improve and grow the Trans Canada Trail network. 

“Every day I get to engage with women who are making a tangible difference in the trail sector and that is always inspiring. There is so much passion and dedication among these women who volunteer their time to help make something better for their community.” 

Lesley Johnson, Manager, GIS 

Lesley JohnsonAn ardent enthusiast of all things outdoors, Lesley manages one of Trans Canada Trail’s greatest assets: an online interactive map detailing the entire national trail network. Lesley works with Trail partners and colleagues to maintain and expand on this robust map that provides detailed information about the Trail from coast to coast to coast. With nearly a decade of experience in the field, Lesley’s collaborative approach and adeptness in leverage cutting-edge GIS technologies have earned her recognition as a trusted advisor to all things geospatial. 

“I am continually inspired by the women I get to work with every day at Trans Canada Trail. I’ve been deeply moved by their dedication to making the trails more inclusive and sustainable for future generations. I count myself as very fortunate to be part of the team having such a profound impact on the trails sector in Canada.” 

Angela Morin, Manager, Infrastructure and Signage 

Angela MorinAngela has dedicated more than two decades to making a difference in the Trail sector. Joining Trans Canada Trail in 2015, Angela is a primary contact for local Trail groups, stakeholders and partners. Her goal is to nurture positive, long-term relationships while overseeing the implementation of trail and signage projects, promoting Trans Canada Trail’s programs and liaising with her colleagues. In her spare time, she volunteers with the Atlantic Provinces Association of Landscape Architects, the Town of Wolfville Design Review Committee, and the Nova Scotia Trails Strategy Coordinating Group.    

“The Trail sector presents so many great opportunities for building community. It’s incredible to see the way many women have taken the lead in building those welcoming, inclusive communities. There are numerous women across the country who are making significant contributions to Canada’s trail network and that is a constant source of inspiration for me.”