NFU Staff

Meet the NFU Team

Executive Assistant

Ann Smith is the Executive Assistant, working in the NFU’s national office in Saskatoon. She is the oldest of a large family, raised on a small mixed farm in northeastern Saskatchewan. She has worked with agricultural organizations for much of her career. For the last 22 years she has worked with the Agriculture Council of Saskatchewan, first as a Senior Project Officer reviewing and furthering applications for federal funding programs designed to position Canada’s agriculture and agri-food at the leading edge to capture new and innovative opportunities, and then as Manager of Levy Central, a program created to assist Canadian agricultural organizations to accurately record and collect regulated agricultural levies. Ann retired from her position with Levy Central at the end of July, 2022, and is excited to be working on a part-time basis with NFU. Ann has two adult children and enjoys classic rock music, reading, gardening and landscaping, interior design and home improvements, beekeeping, cooking (and eating).


Director of Research and Policy

Cathy Holtslander is the Director of Research and Policy at the National Farmers Union. In addition to policy research, analysis and writing articles and briefs on NFU policy issues, she convenes working groups of NFU members addressing policy issues. Prior to joining the NFU staff in 2011 she taught ABE in Northern Saskatchewan, was the Coordinator of the Saskatchewan Eco Network, co-published Synergy Magazine, and was a founder of, and worked for the Beyond Factory Farming Coalition, an organization promoting sustainable livestock production. Her Master’s degree focussed on social movement adult education and the history of women’s leadership in the farm movement in Saskatchewan. She also has degrees in Sociology and Regional and Urban Development. She and her partner have operated a certified organic grain farm near Mont Nebo, SK since 2009.

Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action

Darrin Qualman is Director of Climate Crisis Policy and Action for Canada’s National Farmers Union.  He is a former farmer and the author of the 2019 report Tackling the Farm Crisis and the Climate Crisis and the 2019 book Civilization Critical: Energy, Food, Nature, and the Future.  His research, writing, and educational pursuits over the past 25 years have all aimed at creating a long-term, big-picture view of food, farming, and energy systems.  He is active in social justice and food system struggles and has helped organize many campaigns, including the successful struggle to prevent the introduction of genetically modified wheat into Canada.  He has academic degrees in history, biology, and political studies.


Director of Administration & Finance

Joan Lange is Director of Administration & Finance.  She has seen the NFU through thick & thin and is always happy to answer members’ questions and fix any issues that arise.  Joan lives with her husband and dogs in Dalmeny, SK and is the proud mother of 5.


Executive Director

Mara Shaw is the Executive Director.  Mara brings technical training and non-profit management to her work. Former Executive Director of a good food NPO in Kingston, Ontario that changed the conversation about food and the food system in the region. Mara managed the interface between agriculture, development, and the environment as Watershed Management Coordinator of the Cataraqui Region Conservation Authority.  She holds a M.Sc. in Environmental Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology and B.S. Honours in Chemistry from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.  She has chaired the Food Policy Council for KFL&A and serves on other local boards.  She is the recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Award and the Inspiring Woman of the Year from the BanRigh Foundation.


Communications Manager

Gillian Cormier is Communications Manager for the National Farmers Union and the National Farmers Union in New Brunswick / L’Union nationale des fermiers au Nouveau-Brunswick. She has a bachelor’s degree in Community Development with Environmental and Sustainability Studies from Acadia University. She co-founded and runs a farmers market over the summer months in Hampton, New Brunswick. She also serves as a board member of the newly founded TOASA farm co-operative in Norton, NB. When not out in the community, Gillian loves to cook, bake, read, explore and learn in nature. Gillian speaks  English, French and Portuguese. Any and all ideas for communicating with members and the public can be sent along her way!


International Programs Committee Coordinator

Terran Giacomini is NFU’s International Programs Committee Coordinator and a European settler learning how to live as a treaty relative on Haudenosaunee, Wendat and Anishinaabe territory. She is a long-time member of the NFU, formerly serving as the co-chair of the NFU’s Indigenous Solidarity Working Group. Terran is also a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. Her community engaged scholarship explores the feminist transformative politics and activism within movements fighting for justice, life and liberation for all. She can be found most days doing what she loves best – walking in the woods near her family’s home, writing, cooking and in meetings collaborating for change. 


Farm Worker Organizer

Hannah Kaya is the NFU’s Farm Worker Organizer. She supports farm workers across Turtle Island in the fight for labour justice within our food systems. She is a farm worker with experience on small-scale organic farms. She has a Bachelors from Concordia University in the interdisciplinary humanities where she focused on ecology, poetry, and visual culture. She brings her experience in the Labour movement, environmental justice organizing, and community oriented art to her work with the NFU. Her recent obsession is learning about fruit and nut trees hardy to her region in Wakefield, Quebec – unceded Algonquin Anishinaabe territory.


Communications and Project Manager—Depth of Field

Nasseem Hakimian is a seasoned events and marketing professional who found her way into agriculture in 2020 through WWOOF, trying her hand at rural and urban farming along her travels. What began as an escape from pandemic isolation in the big city quickly became passion about the global food supply. She has since decided to apply her project management skills to the agricommunications realm. During her free time, she works as a greenhouse aid at Lufa Farms, enjoys volunteering and seeks novel adventures. You can find her building community for diaspora misfits at No Rules Nowruz and sharing her photography at Skies of Home.


BIPOC Engagement Organizer

Camille Yu-San Koon is the BIPOC Engagement Organizer. In her role she brings people into the fold of the work in the BIPOC Caucus, supports deepening member engagement, and supports the BIPOC Caucus initiatives. Camille is a first generation grower, and part of the first generation in her family to be born in what is currently known as Canada, having family hailing from China and Switzerland. She is a farm worker with experience farming vegetables on small-scale organic operations, with a keen interest in growing, building knowledge, and addressing accessibility of cultural crops. She currently farms on unceded, unsurrendered Algonquin Anishinaabe territory. Having moved through adjacent but connected work in field biology, environmental education, environmental justice, literacy work, and organizing, Camille comes to agriculture and the National Farmers Union with a diversity of experiences which shape how she moves through the work. Outside of work, Camille spends time wandering, birding, enjoying food with friends, and playful art-making.


Policy Assistant

Johnny Mills is a Policy Assistant at the National Farmers Union. He grew up on a hundred acre farm in Ojibway territory, just north of London, ON. He has worked with food in myriad roles, including as a farmhand, cook, researcher, and advocate. In each of these positions, he strives to build a food system that nourishes all beings and communities. Johnny has an MA degree in Sociology from the University of Victoria and a BA in International Political Economy from Bishop’s University. His Master’s thesis examined gender roles in family divisions of foodwork during the COVID pandemic.


The NFU also has staffed regional offices in NFU-New Brunswick (Region 1, District 2) and NFU-Ontario (Region 2).