Meet our team

We are made up of a compassionate, experienced and dedicated group of experts who believe in the power of people and trees.

Leadership

Kahlil Baker, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Kahlil is the co-founder and CEO of Taking Root. He leads the organization to accelerate the restoration of the world’s forests. He has spent over 15 years dedicated to tropical reforestation with smallholder farmers, and has served as an advisor for leading forest carbon standards including Plan Vivo and the Gold Standard. A featured CBC changemaker and a recipient of Canada’s Meritorious Service Cross, Kahlil holds a Masters in Forest Statistics and a PhD in smallholder economics from the University of British Columbia.

Jean-Benoît G. Rousseau, PhD

Chief Operating Officer

Jean-Benoit is the COO of Taking Root. He oversees the organization’s structure, coordinating execution activities across different departments and ensuring a cohesive working environment. Jean-Benoit has 13 years of experience as a Management Consultant and Partner at McKinsey & Company, working across a variety of sectors developing corporate strategy, operations transformations, and lean management. In addition to having served as the President of Taking Root’s board of directors for 10 years, Jean-Benoit has a PhD of Economics from the University of Michigan, and a M.Sc., in Economics from the University of Montreal.

Meredith Karazin

Chief Growth Officer

Meredith leads the growth of our impact by identifying key areas to increase value that Taking Root provides to partners. They have worked extensively in Executive Leadership as President, COO, and Co-Founder at multiple international companies focused on technology and international development. With over 15 years of experience building organizations, Meredith brings strengths working with cross-functional teams on strategy, expansion, and growth.

Will Sheldon

Chief Commercial Officer

Will leads the growth of Taking Root’s impact, working with our carbon buyers, and funding partners to unlock financing to grow more trees and remove more carbon with farmers. He has a background in scaling technology and environmental solutions. Will led the marketing function at Concentra Analytics, worked as a sustainability consultant with Systemiq, and has supported the growth of some of the largest smallholder forest carbon projects in the world. He holds a Degree in Social Sciences from Cambridge University and is a member of the On Purpose leadership program.

Our Team

José Miguel Rojas Doyharçabal

Production Director

José Miguel oversees the delivery of carbon credits across our projects, working closely with our local reforestation partners to achieve production targets within budget. He brings extensive experience to the role, having previously worked in production and operations within the agribiotech and food sectors. José Miguel is an Agricultural Engineer and holds a M.Sc. from the Pontifical Catholic University of Valparaiso, and is currently studying for a Master’s in Business Administration from Simon Fraser University.

Nicole Wachtel

Project Manager (Production)

Nicole manages the recruitment phase of our forest restoration projects, working closely with our reforestation partners to expand our impact. She brings extensive experience in project management, having previously worked on the implementation of initiatives for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, and the City of Toronto. Nicole holds a Bachelor of Urban and Regional Planning from Toronto Metropolitan University and a Master of Management degree from UBC.

Rachel Speechley

Project Manager (Production)

Rachel manages tree planting and plantation maintenance for Taking Root’s CommuniTree program in Nicaragua. She has experience working in carbon footprinting, emissions reductions, international biodiversity, and non-profit affordable housing. Rachel holds an MSc in Environment and Development from the London School of Economics and a BA in Hispanic Studies from McGill University.

Vanessa Milost

Project Manager (Production)

Vanessa develops the value chains in our CommuniTree program so that farmers can improve their livelihoods from their trees in the medium and long term. Previously, she worked as a project manager and business analyst in the tech sector. Vanessa holds an MA in International Studies from Simon Fraser University, and a BA in Economics and International Studies from Bryn Mawr College.

Laura Morillas, PhD

Quality Director

Laura oversees Taking Root’s work supporting our reforestation partners to manage and grow their smallholder carbon projects. A biologist by training, she has a PhD in eco-hydrology, and more than a decade of experience working in natural agricultural ecosystems. Most recently, Laura acted as Research Manager at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems at UBC. Laura has a PhD in Environmental & Applied Sciences from the University of Almeria and has 20 scientific papers published in international peer-reviewed journals.

Marylin Bejarano, PhD

Project Manager (Quality)

Marylin works alongside our local reforestation partners to monitor the impacts created and implement strategies to support farmer and parcel success. She has a background in the restoration, conservation, and sustainable use of Latin America’s landscapes. Marylin holds a PhD in biogeochemical cycles of tropical ecosystems and a Master’s in Ecological Restoration from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She also has a diploma in business intelligence from Anahuac University.

Penelope Rivera

User Success Lead

Penelope supports Taking Root’s reforestation partners in the field by working with their field technicians to deliver reforestation programs through Taking Root’s technology platform. Her previous work for a travel-based SaaS company focused on customer success and satisfaction, and will carry over to her role at Taking Root. Penelope is currently pursuing a Bachelors of Business Administration at the Acsenda School of Management and will graduate late 2022.

Cheenar Shah

Project Design Lead

Cheenar leads the implementation of our forest carbon projects in Africa. She has worked on policy and program development with a focus on climate adaptation with smallholder farmers, for both the BC provincial government and the United Nations. Cheenar holds a Masters of Food and Resource Economics from the University of British Columbia.

Emilie Coulon

Project Development Manager

Emilie leads the development of new forest carbon projects at Taking Root, from partner selection to in-field feasibility assessment and project design. She has 5 years experience developing community-based ecosystem restoration projects with smallholder farmers, and holds a masters degree in Management and Social Entrepreneurship from Audencia Business School in Nantes, France.

David Baumann

Methodologies & Standards Director

David develops Taking Root’s best practice methodologies to ensure that the carbon removals our reforestation partners create are science-based and aligned with industry standards. One of the original Directors of Taking Root, David has more than 14 years experience working with carbon and environmental data and reporting. His past experience includes developing the early concepts of Taking Root’s technology platform and working as a senior analyst at Dunsky consulting. He holds a Master’s Degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas.

Kwame T. Awuah, PhD

Forest Carbon Lead

Kwame develops and updates Taking Root’s methodologies for forest carbon quantification. He works closely with engineering and reforestation teams to ensure their integration within Taking Root’s platform and ease of use in the field. He previously worked as a project researcher at the Chair of Forestry Inventory and Remote Sensing – University of Goettingen. Kwame holds a Masters in Sustainable Forest and Nature Management,  from the University of Goettingen & Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences and a PhD in Physical Geography, from Edge Hill University.

Meike Siegner, PhD

Market Certification Lead

Meike leads certification reporting activities for Taking Root’s forest carbon removal projects. She has a background in sustainable natural resource policy and governance, and extensive experience working in community-based forestry with the FACT Lab at UBC and the BC Provincial Government, and consulting for UNDP and smallholder reforestation programs in South America and the Philippines. Meike holds a PhD in Natural Resources and Sustainability from the University of British Columbia, and a Master’s in Socioeconomics from WU Business School.

Becky Hill

DESIGN & MEDIA LEAD

Becky uses compelling visuals to enhance the design of our technology platform, create support materials for our reforestation partners and communicate our impacts. She has a background in Graphic Design, Illustration and Project Management, working with clients such as North Face, Gastown, and Travel Alberta. She has a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Illustration at Arts University Bournemouth.

Eric Warner

Strategic Partnerships Lead

Eric builds relationships with grant funders to develop projects around our work restoring forests with smallholder farmers. Previously, he has helped build brands for major Canadian music festivals and worked with sustainability based not-for-profits, including acting as Co-President for Connecting Environmental Professionals Vancouver. Eric  holds a Bachelor of Commerce with a dual focus in marketing & sustainability from Concordia University.

Lottie Laken

MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS LEAD

Lottie shares and amplifies the impact stories from Taking Root’s forest carbon projects. Prior to joining Taking Root, Lottie worked as a freelance copywriter building powerful messaging for brands in a variety of industries. Before that, she was a content writer for a large legal services provider in the UK. Lottie holds a degree in English Literature from Cardiff University.

Sydney Davenport

Corporate Partnerships Lead

Sydney is responsible for overseeing project deliverables and carbon credit sales by collaborating with Taking Root’s buyers and funding partners. She has a background in international business development in the agriculture technology industry, and in environmental consultancy with a focus on assessing and remediating contaminated land. Sydney holds a BSc in Environmental Science with a major in Agrology from Mount Royal University.

Anna Davies

Senior Software Engineer

Anna is responsible for developing Taking Root’s web application, including building new features, and improving the frontend infrastructure and codebase. She has a background in web development, having previously worked as a software developer at both BC Cancer and Bitly. Anna has contributed to three published bioinformatics papers and holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Victoria.

Anupriya Tewari

Senior Android Developer

Anupriya is responsible for developing Taking Root’s mobile application to improve the performance, functionality, and user experience for Taking Root’s users. Previously, she spent eight years at Samsung Research as a Senior Developer, where she helped shape the development of future technologies. Anupriya holds a Master’s in Software Engineering from Delhi Technological University.

Gagan Kaur

Senior Quality Assurance Engineer

Gagan helps to improve the quality of our mobile and web applications. With over 7 years of experience in product engineering, she previously worked for a health care company as a QA Manager, developing their QA process and training her team members. Gagan has a Masters of Science in Software Engineering from the International Technological University.

Graeme Harvey

Engineering Director

Graeme leads Taking Root’s engineering team, helping to build technical solutions and processes that scale. Graeme has worked in software his entire career and has extensive experience leading engineering product teams, data teams and testing teams. He has presented at many software conferences and is also a sitting board member for the not-for-profit Kitchener-Waterloo Software Quality Association. Graeme holds an Electrical Engineering Technician Diploma from Conestoga College.

Grant Burnard

Lead Engineer

Grant leads the backend engineering team to improve the performance, infrastructure, and quality of Taking Root’s technology platform. He has many years of experience working both as a developer and team lead, focusing on backend development for technology companies. Grant has a Bachelor of Science at Simon Fraser University majoring in Computer Science.

Kaio Brito

Lead Engineer

Kaio helps the Taking Root mobile and web application team implement new features, maintain process flow, and increase the quality of the codebase. He has a decade of experience working as a developer, focusing on the creation of mobile apps for start-ups and scale-ups. Kaio has a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the Federal University of Alagoas.

Kieran Devlin

Senior Software Engineer

Kieran is responsible for supporting the backend development, cloud infrastructure, and architecture of our technology platform. In addition, he implements developer best practices to streamline the development cycle. Kieran previously worked as a React-Native developer for an international start-up and helped build a social platform for sports clubs.

Malcolm Kennedy

Data Platform Engineer

Malcolm is responsible for managing Taking Root’s data strategy by establishing, maintaining, and improving our data infrastructure and tooling. Before joining Taking Root, he worked at Whale Seeker, where he applied his programming expertise to help with the detection of whales and other marine life. Malcolm holds a BA in Linguistics from Cambridge University, and an MSc in Neurobiology & Behaviour from McGill University.

Newton Tse

Senior Software Engineer

Newton developed the original prototype system for our technology platform and continues to improve and build out backend functionalities and features. Having worked as a software analyst at the forestry department of the University of British Columbia, Newton possesses a unique blend of computer science and forestry knowledge. Newton holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of British Columbia.

Carlina Kim

Senior Data Analyst

Carlina develops Taking Root’s data science and analytics to improve monitoring and management quality across our reforestation projects. She brings extensive experience to her role, having previously worked in data science and data analysis for Visier, University Health Network, and Metro Vancouver. Carlina holds a BSc in Environmental Science and a Master’s in Data Science from UBC.

Hikmat Rafiqzad

Senior Product Manager

Hikmat is responsible for our overall product strategy, defining our product roadmap, prioritizing features, and collaborating with cross-functional teams to create product requirements. He has experience in fintech and consulting, and is both a Certified Scrum Product Owner and a Certified Scrum Master. Hikmat holds a Bachelor of Commerce from Toronto Metropolitan University and has completed the UX Design Program at the University of Toronto.

Jacob Model, PhD

Product Director

Jacob leads product development for Taking Root’s technology platform to make it easy for our reforestation partners to gather data, track project progress and automate the reporting required to generate carbon removals. Previously, he worked as the Vice President of Product and Data at Community Connect labs where he helped governments and non-profits revolutionize service delivery through mobile messaging. Jacob holds a PhD in Organizational Behaviour Studies at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Sahaj Shah

UX/UI Lead

Sahaj leads user research and design for Taking Root’s web and mobile platforms. With a background in International Development, she has dedicated her career to leveraging technology and inclusive design for social change. Prior to joining Taking Root, she designed digital products to combat online hate speech, using NLP and generative AI. Sahaj holds a Master’s in International Studies and Diplomacy from SOAS, University of London.

Vijay Venkataraman, PhD

Data Scientist

Vijay leads our carbon modelling efforts alongside Taking Root’s Product & Engineering and Methodologies & Standards teams. Previously, he helped build data products to improve software incident response and identify fraud. Vijay has a PhD in Physics from the University of Toronto, and a Bachelor of Technology in Engineering Physics from the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

Marc Deveau

Senior Human Resources Manager

Marc’s role is to develop and oversee all aspects of Human Resources strategies, systems, and procedures to support the amazing culture and people we’re continuously building at Taking Root. He has spent the last 10 years working in HR within government and non-profit. Marc holds his CPHR designation and a BGS in Human Resources from the University of the Fraser Valley.

Alex Little

Controller

Alex works with the accounting team to oversee Taking Root’s finances, working closely on reporting and auditing. Previously, he worked as a controller for a lumber company that focused on mass timber, as well as working for Grant Thornton. Alex has a CPA Designation and a Bachelor of Management from the University of British Columbia.

Analee Kathuria, CPA, CA

Finance Director

Analee takes care of the financial and business health of the organization so that Taking Root can continue to sustain and grow our impact. She combines her experience of working with both impact-driven organizations and large corporates. Analee has spent the last 10 years in leadership positions in public and private accounting, including Deloitte and LiveCA, Canada’s first and largest online accounting firm. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Alberta School of Business.

Luis Guzman

Finance Manager – LatAm

Luis supports CommuniTree’s financial decision-making, leading the processes of budgeting, forecasting, and quantitative measurements to guide project operations. He has a background in economics and finance, having worked in financial planning and analysis across a diverse range of industries such as banking, construction, and oil. Luis holds an MBA from the University of British Columbia’s Saunder School of Business.

Tassia Victorino

Accountant

Tassia helps keep Taking Root’s books in order while also taking care of various HR functions. She previously worked at a property management company in accounts payable where she posted and paid invoices, answered vendor requests, filled tax forms, and supported the accounting team. She has a degree in Psychology, and a Certificate in Financial Management with a Professional Accounting specialization.

Join our impact-driven team.