Our Founders

founder Ruth O'Gawa

Ruth O'Gawa

Ruth never shied away from the seemingly impossible – like creating the Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy to advocate for the health of the whole watershed, not just the Lake or one part of it. “Protect the wetlands and the water” she would say “and we will be healthy too.” As well, Ruth had a big impact on improving community well-being wherever she lived – finding homes for the homeless, improving health care for seniors, and creating waste diversion systems through the 4Rs.

founders Gary and Joanie McGuffin

Gary & Joanie McGuffin

Gary and Joanie McGuffin are explorers, conservation photographers, writers, motivational speakers and interpretive guides. They are National Champions of the Trans Canada Trail. Articles and photos of the McGuffins can be found in print and online. They are authors of eight best-selling books of landscape photography, wilderness journeys and illustrated paddling instruction.

Inspiring people to reconnect with the natural world.


Joanie McGuffin

Joanie McGuffin

Executive Director

I first laid eyes on Lake Superior over 40 years ago while on a 6,000 mile (10,000 km) canoe journey from the Atlantic to the Arctic Ocean. I came to know the Lake and Watershed by canoeing around its whole shoreline, exploring its many rivers, and returning in all seasons to its forests and communities. In everything we do at LSWC, we recognize our important life-giving relationship with water, and what we can do to protect it.

Board of Directors

Governed by an elected board of directors with a full-time Executive Director and supporting staff. The board has representatives from Canada, the United States and the Anishinaabe Nation. LSWC is guided by the bylaws of the two registered charities that are aligned around a watershed-wide approach to protecting Lake Superior.

chair patrick mclean

Patrick McLean

vice chair ted claxton

Ted Claxton

Vice Chair
secretaty kime dutkiewicz collver

Kime Dutkiewicz Collver

treasurer brian stinson

Brian R. Stinson

board member elle jansen

Elle Jansen

Board Director
board director linda weeks-kaleita

Linda Weeks-Kaleita

Board Director
board director richard wells

Richard Wells

Board Director
board director gary mcguffin

Gary McGuffin

Board Director
board director haley comella

Haley Comella

Board Director
board director shana shipperbottom

Shana Shipperbottom

Board Director

Conservancy Advisors

advisor cindy crowe

Cindy Crowe

Indigenous Advisor

Cindy Crowe, Elder, Lodgekeeper, Author, is a band member of the Opwaaganisiniing (Red Rock Indian Band) located an hour east of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada. Since 1994, Cindy has been bridging gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people and communities. Cindy’s life purpose is to share a message of love and interconnectedness and she creates space for change in many different venues with people from all walks of life. She believes in leading by example. Personally, she is the grateful mom of five adult children and three grandchildren.

Since 2004, Cindy’s business Cindy Crowe Consulting represents an award winning Anishnaabe consulting firm with her expertise in community liaison, community engagement and community development.

Since 2005, Cindy has been the Executive Director for Ozhaawashko-giizhig Traditional Teaching Lodge operating as the Blue Sky Community Healing Centre that is an Indigenous, community-led organization based in Neebing, Ontario. Cindy respectfully acknowledges that sacred space as being within the traditional territory of the Binesii-Wiikwedong (Fort William First Nation) and loves to welcome people to the land of her ancestors next to the shores of Ktichigaming (Lake Superior).

Cindy’s seasonal tourism business Niibing Tribal Tours (Niibing is in the summer in Ojibwe) provides opportunities for her visitors to reconnect with Mother Earth while participating in the Anishnaabe culture through land based experiential learning.

Cindy’s Identity and Purpose Coaching business is for clients looking to reclaim their roots, understand themselves better and identify their life purpose. Part of this coaching is delivered through Animal Spirit Guide workshops to better understand messaging from their guides.

Cindy is the author of Walking with Grey Wolf which honours her first vision and the Spiritual journey she has been on since then. She is currently writing her second book entitled, All My Relations. Cindy has also contributed chapters in a few compilations.

The Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy respectfully acknowledges this place as the traditional, ancestral homelands of the Anishinaabeg. For thousands of years, people lived in a respectful reciprocity with these beautiful waters and the green growing world.

We aim to build mutual respect as we work to be trusted allies in Indigenous-led work for the health of the whole watershed.

“I am so proud to be included in this circle of caring for Nibi and the work of the Conservancy. To tell the stories, to engage people in learning and acting in respectful ways toward the Land, Water, People, Animals, Birds, Fish is so important. Spirit will help us if we act in ways that acknowledge that Water is Life, and without Nibi, we cannot exist.”

- Shirley Horn, The Children of Shingwauk

How To Help

Protecting the greatest Lake on Earth means we all have a role to play in addressing the threatening elements of climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, invasive species, and the diversion of water from the watershed.

We believe in the power of our collective effort to solve these challenges.