Our Board of Directors
Our Board of Directors consists of arts supporters and professionals who direct the operation of our organization.
Susan Crocker, C. M. – Chair
Susan is a volunteer board leader and strategic advisor. She is passionate about community development and social justice, which she pursues through her involvement in education, leadership development and strengthening the cultural sector.
Susan is the past Chair of the Toronto Arts Foundation and has been a Toronto Arts Council Board member since 2011. She sits on the Board of the Gardiner Museum, and has previously served as Co-Chair of the Advisory Board of the Institute for Contemporary Culture at the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Trustee of the ROM, Chair of the Canadian Stage Company and Chair of the Board of Management of St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts. In 2011-12, she served on the City of Toronto Mayor’s Arts Task Force.
Susan was appointed Chancellor of St. Francis Xavier University in November 2015. She is a past member of the Board of Governors of the University and serves as the Chair of the Advisory Board of Coady International Institute. In 2012, she was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws from St. FX.
Susan began her professional career in the global financial sector with CIBC. She joined Ernst and Young Management Consulting as a partner in 1995. She worked for the Toronto Stock Exchange as Senior Vice President of Equity and Derivative Markets before being named President and CEO of the Hospitals of Ontario Pension Plan. Upon leaving the financial services industry in 2001, she assumed a number of corporate board positions, and engaged in volunteer board leadership, strategy consulting and fundraising.
Gaëtane Verna – President
Gaëtane Verna is the Director of The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, Toronto, Canada’s leading public gallery devoted exclusively to contemporary visual art since 2012. Before taking up the post at The Power Plant, she was Executive Director and Chief Curator of the Musée d'art de Joliette in Lanaudière, Quebec for six years. Prior to this appointment, from 1998 to 2006, she was the curator of the Foreman Art Gallery at Bishop’s University, while also teaching in the Art History department of both Bishop’s University and the Université du Québec à Montréal. Gaëtane Verna holds an International Diploma in Heritage Administration and Conservation from the Institut National du Patrimoine in Paris, France; received a DEA and a Master’s degree in Art History from the Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne; and prior to that a Bachelor in Commerce from Concordia University.
She has years of experience in arts administration, curating, publishing catalogues and organizing and presenting exhibitions by emerging, mid-career and established Canadian and international artists such as: Kader Attia, Vasco Araújo, Yto Barada, Ydessa Hendeles, Alfredo Jaar, Luis Jacob, Kimsooja, Kapwani Kiwanga, François Lacasse, Yam Lau, Oswaldo Maciá, Ed Pien, Penelope Stewart, Gabor Szilasi, Javier Tellez, Denyse Thomasos, Bill Viola and YOUNG HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, and Franz Erhard Walther to name just a few.
In January 2018, Verna was presented with the insignia as a Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters) by the Cultural Service of the Embassy of France in Canada to recognize her significant contribution to furthering the arts in France and throughout the world. Prior to her appointment as President of the Board, Gaëtane was Co-Chair of TAC's Visual Arts/Media Arts Committee
Nova Bhattacharya – Past President
Recognized as one of the leading dance artists of her generation, Nova Bhattacharya is the former Chair of the Toronto Arts Council’s Dance Committee and has been a member of Toronto Art Council’s board of directors since 2011. An impassioned advocate for the arts she is a founding member of South Asian Dance Alliance Canada; past treasurer and co-chair of Canadian Alliance of Dance Artists – Ontario Chapter. Nova dedicates many volunteer hours to initiatives that promote the value of the arts in society.
Bhattacharya began her career with the Menaka Thakkar Dance Company and as an independent dance artist appeared with a number of Canadian companies. Her powerful, humanistic dance works have been described as “transforming bharatanatyam dance vocabulary into stunning contemporary dance” (Globe & Mail). In 2008, she founded Nova Dance – the company’s productions have been presented from coast-to-coast in Canada and in Germany and Japan, they have garnered five Dora Mavor Moore Award Nominations. Nova was the recipient of the 2012 Victor Martyn Lynch Staunton Award for outstanding artistic achievement in dance.
Andrew Walker – Secretary
Andrew is a lawyer and technology consultant who works closely with social ventures, artists and businesses. As a passionate lifelong resident of Toronto, he is committed to combatting poverty and fostering arts and culture in the city.
Michael Herrera, CPA, CA – Treasurer
Michael joined United Way in August 2009. As Vice-President, Finance and Administration, Michael provides strategic leadership in accounting and financial management. He supervises the Finance and Administration Department's day-to-day operations and oversees the development and delivery of accurate and relevant reports to United Way stakeholders. Michael has spent a career in service to the not-for-profit sector, having worked with social services, religious and arts organizations. Most recently, Michael was the Interim Treasurer at the Anglican Church of Canada. He has held similar positions at YMCA of Greater Toronto and National Ballet of Canada.
Previously, Michael was a manager at EY and, as an independent consultant, he supported arts and heritage organizations through the development and delivery of financial and governance training to a variety of organizations throughout the province. Michael's community involvement includes past governance roles with organizations such as Social Planning Council, Toronto Foundation, and Ontario Museums Association. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Crow’s Theatre and on the Finance and Property Committee of Sherbourne Health Centre. Michael holds a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto and has been a member of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants in Ontario since 1996.
Kelvin is the Executive Director and CEO of the Gardiner Museum in Toronto. The Gardiner Museum is Canada’s national museum of ceramics, and one of the great specialty museums in the world. Prior to joining the Gardiner Museum in November 2013, Kelvin held several positions at the Royal Ontario Museum – Canada’s largest museum of both culture and nature – beginning in 2004 when he became the Managing Director of the Institute of Contemporary Culture.
Here he produced exhibitions and other programs connecting the museum’s collections with contemporary themes. Kelvin subsequently became the Vice-President of Marketing, and then the Vice-President of Marketing and Major Exhibitions, where his portfolio included marketing, sales, public relations, membership, major exhibitions, and all aspects of design at the museum.
Councillor Shelley Carroll
Shelley Carroll is City Councillor for Ward 17 Don Valley North.
Shelley was first elected in 2000 to the Toronto District School Board where she served as Trustee for three years, including one year as Chair of the Board. In 2003, Shelley was elected to Toronto City Council. As a Councillor, Shelley put her financial background to use as Chair of the Budget Committee during the global financial crisis. As Budget Chief, she delivered four balanced budgets and accumulated a $364 million surplus for the following term. More recently, Shelley has served on the Economic and Community Development Committee, Public Works & Infrastructure Committee and the Toronto Transit Commission.
In her local ward, Shelley introduced the Basement Flooding Mitigation Program, negotiated over 500 affordable housing spaces, delivered renovations to community centres and implemented Toronto’s first-ever Participatory Budgeting process. She was re-elected for her fifth term in October 2018.
Neera is a passionate supporter of the arts, providing thoughtful leadership on several cultural platforms. Neera brings a global perspective to cultural integration issues we face in Canada, having travelled extensively across Europe, Asia and the Middle East, with a keen sense for cultural linkages and parallels with Canada. She has been a pioneer in creating cross-cultural awareness of South Asian art and culture through her volunteer work with various arts organizations, including the ROM and Luminato, and has chaired the Arts Parents Council and Parents' Organization at Upper Canada College. She currently serves on four volunteer committees at the ROM and is particularly proud of engaging the public as a Gallery Interpreter.
Councillor Gary Crawford
Gary Crawford is City Councillor for Ward 20 (Scarborough Southwest) and Budget Chief for the City of Toronto. Gary Crawford brings a passion for the arts to his role and played a key part in securing increased funding for Toronto Arts Council in 2013. He is a professional artist (landscape and portrait painter) with a BFA Honours degree in Fine Arts from York University. Gary sits on a number of boards in addition to Toronto Arts Council, including the boards of Sony Centre for the Performing Arts and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. As Trustee for the Toronto District School Board from 2003-2010, Gary was instrumental in making the vast Art, Archive and Historical artifact collection more accessible to students.
David Dacks is a Toronto-based advocate of creative music in all its forms. He became Artistic Director of the Music Gallery in January 2012 and has since produced five seasons of “remarkably informed artistic directorship” (Toronto Star) featuring innovative, cross-cultural programming. Prior to joining the Music Gallery, David was editor of Exclaim Magazine’s coverage of jazz, R&B, music from around the world, reggae, and experimental music.
His writing has also appeared in The Grid, CBC Music, Huffington Post, Weird Canada, BlogTO, Paste and Musicworks. He has an extensive background in radio as a programmer and host at University of Toronto radio station CIUT-FM for 25 years, and as a producer of four documentaries for CBC Radio.
David’s unique musical expertise has been acknowledged with appointments to Juno Award and Polaris Music Prize juries. He was a Grand Juror for the Polaris Prize in 2011 and today is a member of the Polaris Heritage Prize jury and Toronto Arts Council Music Committee. Further musical activities include teaching at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies and the International Academy of Art And Design, as well as many years of live performance, DJing and audio recording.
Cara Eastcott is a multidisciplinary performance artist and creative producer whose main objective is to contribute to socially conscious artistic endeavors. Cara has developed a wide range of skills that fuse community development and the arts through her work on documentary films, ensemble theatre projects, and youth arts programs. Such initiatives include The Youth Documentary Project (City of Toronto), Urban Griots Project (Art Starts) and Emerge 2008: Kenya, Canada and Brazil (Schools Without Borders). In addition to contributing to a developing youth-driven community arts scene in Toronto, Cara has also worked on community arts projects in India. Currently Cara is the Program Director with Tangled on Tour with Tangled Art + Disability and the Chair of Toronto Arts Council's Community Arts Committee.
As an international media and entertainment executive, educator and cultural strategy leader, Charles Falzon has been developing and marketing Canadian talent, and creating high-quality cultural experiences through diverse platforms and transmedia for more than three decades. Today, Charles is on the forefront of change for the cultural sector in Canada – empowering creators to connect with audiences in new and disruptive ways through creative and commercial innovation.
Charles is currently the Dean of the Faculty of Communication and Design (FCAD) at Ryerson University, home to nine of the country’s leading schools in media and creative industries. In this role, he is a central figure in Ryerson’s curricular innovation, entrepreneurship education and city-building mission, with a focus on maximizing the impact of the creative industries as a catalyst for collaboration, digital innovation and civic engagement.
Dina Graser specializes in urban projects that build and engage communities. She is a leader in the emerging field of community benefits, consulting for governments, foundations and private companies on the use of community benefits approaches in both private development and public procurement. Dina is also a Senior Advisor at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk School of Global Affairs, University of Toronto. Between 2016-2018, she was the Project Director of the National Housing Collaborative, a group of national-level housing stakeholders whose significant policy proposals helped influence the recent National Housing Strategy. Prior to that, she was the Director, Community and Stakeholder Relations at Metrolinx; a lawyer; an arts administrator and a producer of live shows, arts festivals, political campaigns and community events.
Dina has a BA from McGill University, an MFA in Performing Arts Management from the City University of New York, and an LLB from the University of Toronto.
Amanda Hancox is the Executive Director of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC). She is a graduate of the Arts Educational School in England and began her dance career as a member of Les Feux Follets, touring Canada, the United States, Europe and the Middle East. Amanda worked extensively for 25 years as a dancer and an actress in theatre, film and television, and is a member of both ACTRA and the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. Amanda joined the DTRC in 2002 as Director of Administration, a position she held until her appointment as Executive Director in January 2006. She is an executive member of International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD), and Chair of the Dance Media Group (The Dance Current). Amanda has served as a juror for Canada Council for the Arts, and for the Toronto Arts Foundation’s Signature Awards in 2015.
Richard Lee is an award-winning actor, fight director, sound designer and theatre producer, who has worked extensively in both film and theatre. In his career, he’s had the joy of playing many interesting roles. His work has garnered him multiple Dora Mavor Moore Award nominations, out of which he has received three awards: one for his sound design work on paper series (Cahoots Theatre Company) and two in performance for Sultans of the Street and Cinderella: A RATical Retelling (both for Young People’s Theatre). In 2013, he received the infamous Harold Award, an award that celebrates outstanding and often under-recognized dedication to the theatre on or off the stage.
Ayo Leilani (Etmet Musa) is a queer, Ethiopian/Eritrean singer/songwriter, the co-founder and director of Toronto-based music and multimedia collective and label 88 Days Of Fortune, a member of feminist-based electro-dub-hop group Above Top Secret (fka Abstract Random) and a solo artist under the name Witch Prophet.
As the co-founder and director of 88 Days Of Fortune, she has helped organize, host and sustain an artistically diverse, bimonthly showcase of local and international talent, financed music videos and albums, and provided a platform for musicians and artists to showcase their talents since 2009. As an artist, she has shared the stage with and opened for acts such as Diana King, Shad, Njena Reddd Foxxx, Rae Spoon, Zaki Ibrahim, Lido Pimienta, Kae Sun, TheeSatisfaction, Shabazz Palaces, LAL, Lucas Silveira and Michie Mee. She has toured Europe twice, playing shows in Paris, Amsterdam, London and Berlin, as well as performed at top music festivals, including Black Women Rock, Manifesto, Wavelength, Pride Toronto, Soul Of Brooklyn, Montreal Jazz Festival, Ottawa Capital Pride, Allied Media Conference, Afro Punk, CMW, Inside Out, Under The Volcano and International Women’s Fest. Leilani has independently released two mixtapes, Bonjour (2009) and Ayo x Exile (2010), along with a handful of singles from 2013-2015.
She also has written songs and sang on two Abstract Random albums, Disrupt Dis Reality Bluuuurd (2010) and Siren Songs (2012) and has additional vocals on Canadian rapper Shad album Flying Colours (2013). Her band Above Top Secret released their self-titled album via Daps Records + 88 Days Of Fortune with distribution through Outside Music in July of 2016. More recently, she has been releasing solo music as Witch Prophet.
Rob MacKinnon is the principal of Danforth Collegiate and Technical Institute and of Greenwood Secondary School (a high school for newcomer Canadians). Rob was also the principal of Etobicoke School of the Arts, where he worked closely with students, staff, guest artists, city arts venues, arts organizations, and college and university arts programs for over six years to enhance ESA students’ learning experience. These groups included artists, organizations and institutions in the fields of film, music, theatre, visual arts, dance, and drama.
In his present role, he continues to work with these groups to provide arts opportunities for students in the east end of the city and for newcomer Canadians. Rob has also worked on projects with the University Health Network, Kids Help Phone, and sat as a Board Member of Fife House (which provides supportive housing for people living with HIV and AIDS). As a principal, Rob oversees human resources, budget, fundraising and capital projects in his schools. He has been a school principal in Toronto since 2003 and was recognized by The Learning Partnership as one of Canada’s most outstanding principals in 2013.
Product designer and development consultant Richard Paquet is a multilingual, strategic and intuitive merchandising and marketing specialist who possesses a reputation for creativity coupled with a commercial knowledge and understanding. He has over 20 years’ experience in retailing, wholesaling and manufacturing of home decorative accessories and seasonal merchandise and a portfolio of clients in Canada, America and Asia. His scope of knowledge and expertise encompasses administering the entire life cycle of new products/opportunities – from establishing trend concepts to design and development to sourcing, manufacturing, importing/exporting and selling.
When he’s not at the airport suffering through another security line, Richard lives in Toronto with his wife (also a frequent traveler). Richard is an avid runner and a power yoga enthusiast. He has been without a TV for the last 24 years, enabling him to cultivate a passion for books, art, music (especially opera) and food. He is presently working on a Writing Certificate offered through U of T’s online curriculum.
Soheil Parsa is an award-winning director, writer, actor, dramaturg, choreographer and teacher, whose professional theatre career spans 32 years and two continents. In his native Iran, Soheil completed studies in Theatre Performance at the University of Tehran and began a promising career as an actor and director. Arriving in Canada with his family in 1984, Soheil completed a second Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies at York University and then went on to establish Modern Times Stage Company, one of the most innovating theatre companies in Canada. In 1995, Soheil received a New Pioneers Award by Skills for Change for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts by a recent immigrant to Canada.
His artistic direction at Modern Times has been recognized with five Dora Mavor Moore Awards, a Chalmers Fellowship in 2002, a senior artist creation grant from the Canada Council, as well as a number of international prizes and masterclass requests. In 2007 and 2010, he was shortlisted for the Siminovitch Prize in Theatre celebrating directors, the highest honour in Canadian theatre. Most recently, Soheil has been awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his contribution as a theatre artist to Canadian society. Soheil is Chair of Toronto Arts Council's Theatre Committee.
Jason Ryle is the Artistic Director of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival, the world’s largest showcase of film, video, audio and digital media created by Indigenous artists from Canada and around the world. Prior to his appointment as artistic director in 2016, Jason served as the festival’s Executive Director since 2010 and a variety of other roles for the organization since 2002. Jason has served on the board of directors for Vtape and Toronto Council Fire Native Cultural Centre and is an emerging producer. Jason is the Co-Chair of TAC’s Visual & Media Arts Committee.
Anthony Sargent, CBE
Anthony Sargent is CEO of Toronto’s Luminato Festival. For the previous 15 years, he was founding general director of Sage Gateshead, an international cultural centre for music performance and education in England, recognized internationally for its outstandingly versatile orchestra, wide-ranging performance program and commitment to inclusivity, accessibility and social engagement. Earlier in his career, Anthony spent 16 years with the BBC in a range of television and radio management, production and presentation roles in the arts and in current affairs; 10 years as Head of Arts for Birmingham City Council (responsible for the city’s cultural strategy and the leadership of most of its large-scale arts projects and venues); and 5 years as Artistic Projects Director at London’s Southbank Centre, leading many of the centre’s largest-scale festivals and projects.
At other points in his life, Anthony has been a professional musician, a recording producer, a board director of UK and European cultural institutions, and the elected chair of the New York-based International Society for the Performing Arts (ISPA), the leading international network for performing arts, for whom he has hosted 14 editions of ISPA's artistic commissioning pitch session in North and South America, Europe and Asia. An awardee of the CBE, Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Hon. Doctor of Music (and two other university fellowships) and recipient of the Freedom of the Borough of Gateshead in 2008 (jointly with UK football legend Sir Bobby Robson), Anthony has also received the Hotspur Award, given for outstanding contribution to the development (”with bold endeavor”) of Northeast England.
Ana Serrano is the Chief Digital Officer of the Canadian Film Centre and Founder of CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned institute for interactive storytelling created in 1997. Serrano is driving the digital transformation of the CFC into a unique blend of talent, product and company accelerator and creative production house. Most recently, she launched Canada's first digital entertainment accelerator, IDEABOOST, and serves as its Managing Director. To date, Serrano has directed the development of over 130 digital media projects, mentored over 50 startups, and has received numerous awards from the digital media, film, and theatre industries in both Canada and the U.S., including a Digital Media Trailblazing Award in 2015 from the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television.
Jesse Wente is Director of the Indigenous Screen Office, and has been Head of Film Programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox, overseeing year-round onscreen programming, including theatrical releases, TIFF Cinematheque and series programming. He also oversaw Film Circuit, TIFF’s national outreach programme, which assists with screenings in over 170 communities coast-to-coast. Jesse has worked for the CBC as a broadcaster for 18 years, including as a pop-culture critic on Toronto's Metro Morning. He has also appeared regularly on q, CBC Radio's national arts and culture show, and on TVOntario's Saturday Night at the Movies. Jesse is a former board member and programmer of the imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. He is also past president of Native Earth Performing Arts, Canada's oldest Indigenous theatre company.
Alissa York, MFA
Alissa York is a Toronto writer. Her novel Mercy, Effigy was short-listed for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and Fauna was short-listed for the Toronto Book Award. Her essays and articles have appeared in such periodicals as The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, Quill & Quire and Eighteen Bridges. York has been teaching and mentoring writers since 2007, working with the University of Toronto School of Continuing Studies, the Banff Centre's Wired Writing Studio, the Toronto Public Library and Diaspora Dialogues. Her novel The Naturalist was released in 2016. Alissa is Chair of Toronto Arts Council's Literary Committee.
Maayan Ziv is a fashion, portrait and street photographer based in Toronto, Canada. Focusing on black-and-white emotive portraiture, editorial fashion, and gritty street scenes, Maayan has been recognized as an influential Canadian talent. A Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal recipient, her work has been featured on television, in galleries, and magazines. Sitting on a wheelchair gives Maayan a unique perspective that is evident in her work and as a freelance artist. Her goal is to bring awareness to disabilities and the arts – something she prides herself on working on every day.
Arts Advisory Panel
● Margaret Atwood
● Atom Egoyan
● Norman Jewison
● Molly Johnson
● Karen Kain
● David Mirvish
● Joyce Zemans