Member Profiles

Don’t Mess with the Don was founded by volunteers and has always been fully run by volunteers. We started with a small board of just five members and now are at 8. Here is a little info about who those folks in the red shirts are:


I have a lifetime of wandering the Don Valley. My childhood was made up of bike rides through the forest, splashing through the streams and finding adventure in Toronto’s largest green space. My adult life is pretty much the same. Trail running, dog walking and finding community there with DMWTD. I believe in the power of small acts and the barn raising ability of people. We are active partners with our planet and city. Protecting each other and offering help as needed.

Irene Van der Top

Irene is a mother of two who spends a great deal in the outdoors, walking, trail running and exploring with her kids. Having grown up in the Netherlands, she used to bike and horseback ride from a young age on endless forest trails. Since moving to Toronto’s east end in 2010, she finds her sanctuary in the Don Valley, where she now takes her own two little children exploring wildlife and helping out at clean ups. Irene is a vocal advocate of the preservation of our natural spaces and has lobbied the city of Toronto on various occasions to act on the problems in our ravines. In her professional life as Digital Media Producer Irene worked on many projects to create awareness around climate change including The Polar Sea 360 (TVO/ARTE), and Equator 360 (Discovery). Irene recently finished a training program with Toronto Nature Stewards and has become a Lead Steward of a pilot site in Charles Sauriol Conservation Preserve.

Sean Symes

Since he was young, Sean has loved the Toronto trails, exploring, biking, running, and hiking the woods. A self-proclaimed naturalist, he loves to witness life ever-changing in the woods, from trees, plants, and animals right down to insects and fungi. He enjoys capturing the beauty he sees and is passionate about ensuring these shared spaces are taken care of, advocated for, and accessible to all.

John Scott

John loves the outdoors particularly if it is garbage-free and he loves helping free nature from garbage. John is CEO of Our Human Company, a wellness Consultant and Coaching business.

John Miller

In a youth spent growing up on a farm north of Bowmanville ON, John developed a real appreciation and working knowledge of his natural surroundings. Fast forward 35 years, we find him finishing a career of hands-on and managerial leadership in the world of communications based in Toronto and New York City. As a former Managing Director and COO of several advertising agencies, John brings with him a deep set of organizational and strategic skills & experience. A desire to marry these skills with an ability to make a meaningful impact within the local environment led him to the DMWTD team. He is passionate about working with other volunteers and getting his hands dirty in the efforts to restore the natural integrity of the Don Valley. An avid bike rider & canoeist, John and his family are long-time residents of the Cabbagetown neighbourhood. Through the work with DMWTD, he wants to inspire family, friends and the community to take up the cause as well and make a lasting difference in the Valley.