Today, March 8th is International Women’s Day – a global day to celebrate women’s social, economic, cultural and political achievements. On this important day, The Nature Trust of BC recognizes the contributions of Dr. Sally Otto and Emily Griffiths-Hamilton, members of our volunteer Board of Directors and former Chairs. Their insights and expertise have impacted not only our organization, but conservation throughout British Columbia.  

Dr. Sarah (Sally) Otto

Acclaimed evolutionary geneticist and professor in the Department of Zoology and Biodiversity Research Centre at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Otto has been honored with numerous prestigious awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship – commonly known as the “Genius Grant”. Her perspective has been instrumental to the growth and development of The Nature Trust of BC.  

As Chair of the Board from 2019 to 2021, Dr. Otto’s leadership helped The Nature Trust acquire nine conservation areas across British Columbia. With her guidance and expertise, The Nature Trust expanded protection for this province’s rich natural heritage. 

“As we lose species, we’re pruning the evolutionary tree of life. With each lost branch, we lose the treasure trove of genetic adaptations that allowed the ancestors of a species to survive in a changing world. So as a scientist, I see that protecting nature is protecting this evolutionary legacy,” says Dr. Otto.   

In addition to Dr. Otto’s many contributions to The Nature Trust, her long list of achievements include helping to establish the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution and launching the Liber Ero Fellowship Program in conservation biology. Her work and legacy continue to better provincial, federal, and global conservation.  

Emily Griffiths-Hamilton

Emily Griffiths-Hamilton is a chartered accountant, family enterprise advisor and author who brings three generations of experience in long range planning to her work guiding family enterprises in transition. During her tenure on the Board, she has guided The Nature Trust with the future in mind for wildlife and communities.  

From 2021 to 2023, Emily led The Nature Trust’s Board of Directors as Chair, drawing on her experience as owner and former director of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment, which included ownership of the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Grizzlies and Rogers Arena (formerly known as General Motors Place). Her commitment to community also led to her role as a Director for The Boys and Girls Club of South Coast B.C, a member of West Vancouver’s Finance Commission, and past Chair of Simon Fraser University’s Foundation Board.  

Emily’s emphasis on long-term planning continues to inspire The Nature Trust’s staff, Board, and supporters. She describes the natural legacy of The Nature Trust as akin to an heirloom:  

Stewardship is fundamentally about inheritance. When we view nature as an heirloom, we recognize it as something we must treasure. It is in our hands to cherish and consider deeply, not only for the present but also in how we steward and manage it, ensuring its preservation for the benefit of future generations” 

During her time as Chair, the Nature Trust protected eighteen new conservation areas across the province, a remarkable accomplishment made possible by Emily’s leadership and guidance.  

The Princeton Grasslands, one of the conservation areas acquired during Dr. Otto’s and Emily Griffiths-Hamilton’s tenure on the Board of Directors

A Conservation Legacy

As Dr. Sally Otto and Emily Griffiths-Hamilton enter their eighth and final year on The Nature Trust’s Board, we applaud their dedication to safeguarding the biodiversity of this beautiful province. They have helped create a conservation legacy. And they will continue to inspire.