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 elle jansen

Elle Jansen

board director gary mcguffin

Gary McGuffin

Board Director
board director linda weeks-kaleita

Linda Weeks-Kaleita

Board Director
board director richard wells

Richard Wells

Board Director
board director cindy crowe

Cindy Crowe

Board Director
board director haley comella

Haley Comella

Board Director
board director shana shipperbottom

Shana Shipperbottom

Board Director

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.