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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. 


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.

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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.  

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Karli Longthorne

Research Assistant

Karli (she/her) is a mixed-methods researcher, who is passionate about learning from, and telling stories about diverse lived experiences. As a current graduate student at the Ontario Veterinary College, she is working alongside Dr. Andria Jones-Bitton 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.”

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Sophie Samek

Research Assistant

Sophie is going into her fourth year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph studying Psychology. Her current interests are forensic psychology, behavioural psychology and mental health advocacy. Her research work focuses on violence against women, through this she has seen the lack of knowledge on underrepresented individuals especially those in rural locations. She has worked as a Communications and Media Assistant where she creates content surrounding mental health advocacy. With PARO, she creates engaging content for our media accounts and explores new outlets of research through interviewing others to share their valuable stories. She hopes that through her work on their media accounts and interviews, PARO can build a platform where individual’s stories reach a wider audience


Lauren Chang


Lauren completed her undergraduate studies in anthropology at the University of Guelph in 2021. She was previously a research assistant with PARO, curating stories about Black history, Chinese restaurants, and music. She is passionate about research and knowledge mobilization and has worked on projects about gender discrimination, sexual and mental health, COVID-19 misinformation, and conservation. She is excited to continue her work with PARO, building a community of storytellers and readers who are interested in rural Ontario.

Other Steering Committee Members


Bill Barrett


Brandon Mendonca

PhD Candidate,

University of Guelph


Elizabeth Finnis

Associate Professor,

University of Guelph


Jackie Clark


Shauna Rae


Clearing a New Path Podcast

Advisory Committee Members

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The Honourable
Rob Black



Wayne Caldwell


School of Environmental Design and Rural Development, UoG


Karen Wagner


Wellington County


Deirdre McCorkindale


Department of History, University of Guelph


Ellen Sinclair

Executive Director, 

Rural Ontario Institute 


Owen Roberts

Agricultural Journalist, Faculty

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Our Volunteers

Our work would not be possible without the dedicated work of our social media volunteers and volunteer curators.

Our Current Volunteers

Rachel Sinclair

Abhinav Kapoor

Sara Caverly

Madison Hendricks

Our Past Volunteers

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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