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Who we are

About Our Team

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. 

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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.

A headshot of Karli Longthorne.

Karli Longthorne

Graduate Student Coordinator

Karli (she/her) is a mixed-methods researcher, who is passionate about learning from, and telling stories about diverse lived experiences. As a current PhD student at the Ontario Veterinary College, she is working alongside Dr. Andria Jones & and Dr. Basem Gohar to investigate, develop, and evaluate institutional-level interventions to support the mental health and well-being of faculty, staff, residents/interns and students at the OVC. Karli decided to join PARO to gain further perspective on the lived experiences of minority peoples’ living in rural Ontario.


“I take great pleasure in having the opportunity to connect with some familiar rural faces, while learning from those who have such interesting stories to tell in connection with rural Ontario. Working at PARO has sparked creativity, joy, and connection, and has in many ways, re-connected me to my rural roots.”

A headshot of Sharada Srinivasan

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.  

Sofiya Makar

Graduate Student Coordinator

Sofiya (she/her) is pursuing her Ph.D. in Computational Science at the University of Guelph. As part of the Cyber Science Lab, which focuses on cybersecurity research, she dedicates her studies to enhancing the trustworthiness of artificial intelligence systems. A nature enthusiast at heart, Sofiya enjoys hiking and has a fondness for quaint villages. Her involvement with the PARO team is driven by a desire to deepen her understanding of rural communities and to share that knowledge with others.

Meet PARO's Story Curation Team

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Barry Marshall

Graduate Student Story Curator. Specialty: Rural Ontario history, Agriculture

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Dilshan Fernando

Graduate Student Story Curator. Specialty: Disabilities, Inclusion, Equity & Social Justice, South Asian Communities

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Madison Hendricks

Volunteer Story Curator. Specialty: Rural history, literature, community-building, and archives. 

Headshot of Laila Zahra Harris

Laila Zahra Harris

Graduate Student Story Curator. Specialty: Caribbean ancestral history, Cultural identity, Postcolonial perspectives

A headshot of Olivia Hobbs

Olivia Hobbs

Graduate Student Digital Mapping Creative. Bio: Olivia Hobbs is a Master of Landscape Architecture student in the School of Environmental Design and Rural Development at the University of Guelph. Her research interests are in the analysis revegetation of postmining sites using remote sensing indices and in increasing biodiversity in agricultural lands using nature-based solutions. She looks forward to bringing PARO’s stories into the geospatial realm. 


Brandon Asprovski

Volunteer Social Media Manager. 

Meet PARO's Digital Mapping & Social Media  Team

Other Steering Committee Members

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Bill Barrett

Headshot of Brandon Mendonca

Brandon Mendonca

PhD Candidate,

University of Guelph

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Elizabeth Finnis

Associate Professor,

University of Guelph

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Jackie Clark

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Shauna Rae


Clearing a New Path Podcast

Advisory Committee Members

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The Honourable
Rob Black


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Wayne Caldwell


School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, UoG

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Karen Wagner


Wellington County

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Deirdre McCorkindale


Department of History, University of Guelph

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Ellen Sinclair

Executive Director, 

Rural Ontario Institute 

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Owen Roberts

Agricultural Journalist, Faculty

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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Catharine Anne Wilson


Francis and Ruth Redelmeier Rural History, University of Guelph

Past Team Members


Our work would not be possible without the dedicated work of our past story curators and social media team members. 

Past Coordinators

Lauren Chang 

David Borish 

Josie Wittmer


Past Story Curators

Varun Joshi

Aadyashree Pant

Abhinav Kapoor

Sara Caverly

Karli Longthorne

Sophie Samek

Lori Scott

Judy Daniel

Margaret Devin

Nancy Rouble

Shipra Chaudhury

Vanessa Cunningham

Lauren Chang

Jessica Lukaweicki

Cayla Albrecht

Philip Rich

Tasha Falconer

Past Social Media Team 

Brandon Asprovski

Our Partners

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Our Funding Sources

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

Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs


Francis and Ruth Redelmeier Professorship in Rural History


Canada Research Chair in Gender, Justice and Development

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