Who we are

About Us

PARO is supported by a diverse team with a variety of backgrounds and expertise, including academic research, journalism, and museum curation. There is a technical team and an editorial team, who will be responsible for overseeing the website’s functionality and content. The editorial team will be responsible for screening content, ensuring that ethical guidelines are followed, as well as commissioning submissions that are topical. Below are some of the people who are currently working with the PARO. This is a growing list of people and networks. 


Josie Wittmer

Coordinator & Project Manager

Josie is a feminist, anticolonial urbanist whose research and teaching centers around the everyday experiences of urban dwellers who are marginalized by imaginaries and processes of urban development. She is currently a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Queen’s University with the Global Economies and Everyday Lives (GEELS) Lab. With PARO, Josie works to coordinate the everyday goings-on of the archive, leading the team of Story Curators/Research Assistants in collecting and writing stories and managing PARO’s communications and planning. She is excited to be part of advancing PARO’s mission to privilege and support rural voices in an accessible way and to highlight the everyday lives and lessons coming from rural and remote Ontario communities and people!


David Borish

Knowledge Mobilization Associate

David is a visual-based social and health researcher pushing at the frontiers of using audio-visual methodologies to explore and understand relationships between humans and their landscapes. His work focuses on using video, photography, and other forms of visual media as strategies for co-creating both storytelling and research outputs with communities about the effects of environmental change on humans, such as his work with Inuit and caribou in Labrador. With PARO, David works on the knowledge mobilization and communication aspects of the archive. He hopes that PARO will support rural communities across Ontario to preserve place-based knowledge, experiences, and stories for years to come. 


Sharada Srinivasan

Steering Committee Member

Sharada Srinivasan is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Gender, Justice and Development at the University of Guelph. She has spent over 25 years undertaking research on gender discrimination and gender-based violence in rural India. She is currently completing a research project on young people's pathways into farming in Canada, China, India, and Indonesia which introduced her to rural Ontario among other regions. Sharada’s affinity to research in a rural context inspires her engagement with PARO. She hopes PARO will be a repository of stories that rural people in Ontario from all walks of life would like to share, a repository of everyday stories which will transform the ways the rural is engaged with in learning, research and policy.  


Belinda Leach

Steering Committee Member

Belinda Leach is Professor in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph.  She held a University Research Chair in Rural Gender Studies and led a SSHRC funded Community-University Research Alliance, Rural Women Making Change (2004-2010). She uses ethnographic methods to study rural livelihoods, migration, and economic restructuring and has published books on labour in the rural economy, gender and class in rural spaces, and rural women’s health.  Belinda values PARO for the unique opportunity it provides for rural people to tell the stories they want to tell, and by doing that to capture change and continuity, innovation and preservation, in rural communities.

 Alt Text for my photo: Head shot of Cathy Wilson wearing a black blouse and blue scarf. 

Catharine Anne Wilson, F.R.S.C

Steering Committee Member

Cathy is the Francis and Ruth Redelmeier Professor in Rural History at the University of Guelph.  She grew up in rural Eastern Ontario and now teaches Rural History and is the director of the Rural Diary Archive website.  Her research focuses on rural Ontario families and their strategies for survival 1800-1960.  She has written award-winning books on immigration and settlement, farm tenancy, and neighbourhood work bees (barn raisings and quilting bees). As part of the Steering Committee, Cathy provides advice on the PARO repository, monitors its development, and encourages people to tell their stories, especially ones with historical interest.  

Other Steering Committee Members


Bill Barrett


Julie Rochefort

PhD Student,

University of Guelph


Agricultural Journalist, Faculty

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign


Wayne Johnston

Research Librarian,

 University of Guelph  


Jamie Horner

Coordinator, Indigenous Programs, Student Experience, UoG


Brandon Mendonca

PhD Candidate,

University of Guelph


Luke Stempien

Research Coordinator, 

Guelph Civic Museum 

Advisory Committee Members

Rob Black.jpeg

Senator Rob Black



Wayne Caldwell


School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, UoG


Associate Professor,

Ontario Veterinary College, UoG  


Ellen Sinclair

Executive Director, 

Rural Ontario Institute 

Our Funding Sources

Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grant


Francis and Ruth Redelmeier Professorship in Rural History


Canada Research Chair in Gender, Justice and Development

Our Partners

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