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Ontario Arts Council

Board of Directors

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) is directed by 12 volunteer board (council) members, who come from various regions of the province. They are appointed by the government of Ontario for a three-year term. Currently, there is one vacant board position.

The OAC's board is responsible for setting OAC policies and overseeing the organization's operation. Board members play an important role as advocates for the arts in Ontario and as representatives of OAC in communities across the province.

Rita Davies, Chair

Rita Davies was appointed Chair of the Ontario Arts Council’s board of directors on July 22, 2015. Rita is well-known in Toronto’s arts community in her former role as Director of Culture for the City of Toronto from 1999 to 2012. Among many initiatives during her tenure at the city, she oversaw the development of a first-ever culture plan, establishment of the wildly successful Nuit Blanche annual festival, and the first major increase in the city’s support of the arts in more than a decade.

From 1984 to 1999, Rita was Executive Director of the Toronto Arts Council, during which significant reports were commissioned, including the Cultural Capital report, the Cultural Diversity report and No Vacancy, the affordable live-work space report, which also led to the creation of Toronto Artscape.

Most recently, Rita established Culture Capital, which provides consulting services on cultural planning, cultural policy development, and governance and board development. She has sat on a number of not-for-profit arts boards, including the Art of Time Ensemble, Fall for Dance and Theatre Passe Muraille.

Judith Gelber, Vice-Chair

Judith Gelber was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in February 2013 and named vice-chair in March 2015. She chairs the board’s Human Resources Committee, and is a board member for the Ontario Arts Foundation.

Judith’s commitment to the arts in Canada has deep roots. She is a past chair of Canada’s National Ballet School, and vice chair of the Art of Time Ensemble, where she worked to strengthen governance, finance, and administrative and community supports. From 2009 to 2011, she served on the steering committee of the Canadian Arts Summit. Ms. Gelber has also served as a board member of the Tarragon Theatre and the Community Arts Council of Vancouver.

Judith Gelber is an experienced consultant, specializing in relationship and stakeholder management. Previously she was chair of the Board of Referees, Canada Employment Insurance Commission, and a vice-president and managing consultant, DBM Canada. Her earlier working life includes careers in labour relations, corporate marketing and philanthropy, and executive search.

She has served as vice-president of Toronto Jewish Family and Child Services. She is past chair of the Lionel Gelber Prize Board and remains involved with the Canadian International Council, the International Women’s Forum, the Women’s Musical Club of Toronto, and as a volunteer at Market Lane Public School.

Judith Gelber graduated with an MBA from Columbia University, New York, and a BA from the University of Toronto.

Marie-Élisabeth Brunet

Marie-Élisabeth Brunet joined the board in April 2013. She is a former journalist and communications executive with extensive experience and strong connections with the Franco-Ontarian arts community, including volunteering with Théâtre la Catapulte in Ottawa, with the arts magazine Liaison and with Ottawa’s French-language community radio station, CJFO-FM. She worked as a reporter for Radio-Canada in Sudbury, Toronto and Ottawa and as a freelance communications consultant for various organizations, namely the National Arts Centre and TFO. She was Director of Communications for the Association des enseignantes et des enseignants franco-ontariens until her retirement in January 2013.

Eliza Chandler

Toronto resident, Dr. Eliza Chandler was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors in September 2017.


Eliza is an Assistant Professor in the School of Disability Studies at Ryerson University where she teaches courses in disability arts and culture, representation, and community activism. She is the co-director of a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)-funded partnership project, Bodies in Translation: Activist Art, Technology, and Access to Life.


Eliza is also a practicing curator and regularly delivers talks on topics related to disability arts and culture in Canada. She founded Toronto’s Tangled Art Gallery 2015.


From 2014 to 2016, Eliza was dually appointed as the Ethel Louise Armstrong Post-Doctoral Fellow in the School of Disability Studies and Artistic Director of Tangled Art + Disability, an organization in Toronto, Ontario, that is dedicated to cultivating disability and Deaf Arts.

Karim Karsan

Toronto resident Karim Karsan was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors in August 2016.

Karim has served as a member of the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema Capital Campaign Cabinet and as a member of the board of directors for Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. In addition, he has served as vice-chair of Casey House Capital Campaign, and chair of the AIDS Committee of Toronto (ACT).

He has more than 15 years of experience working in the public sector having previously held leadership roles for the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation and the Ontario Energy Board. Karim is currently a regulatory consultant offering advice in the areas of administrative law and process improvement to various regulated sectors. As the founder of Karsan Strategy and Design, Karim provides advice on building art collections and facilitates conversations between emerging visual artists in Canada and new audiences.

Karim graduated with a Kellogg-Schulich Executive MBA, a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Manitoba and a BA in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario. He is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in recognition for service to the community.

Jill Reitman

Toronto resident Jill Reitman was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors in August 2016.

Jill was chair, vice-chair and a board member of the Koffler Centre of the Arts from 2008 to 2015.

In addition to her interest in the arts, Jill has a longtime commitment to many community organizations. She was president of the Jewish Women’s Federation, chair of the Business and Professional Women’s Network, and has served on human rights advocacy boards including the Canadian Council for Israel and Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) and the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre.

Her volunteer work for Mount Sinai Hospital includes the Patient Care and Safety Committee, the Audit and Risk Committee, the Jewish Identity Committee, and she presently sits on the Alzheimer Support Centre Advisory Board.

Currently Jill is chair of the Arts and Culture Committee for the United Jewish Appeal Federation, and sits on the United Jewish Appeal’s Community Capacity Building Committee. She is also the vice-president of Jillcy Capital ULC.

Jill has a background as a psychologist having worked with children and adolescents. She is the recipient of the Young Leadership Award of the United Jewish Appeal Federation, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and the Woman of Action Vicki Campbell VAST Community Award.

Mary Alice Smith
Mary Alice Smith
Longbow Lake (Kenora)
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A life-long resident of Northwestern Ontario, Mary Alice Smith was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors in May 2016.

Mary Alice has spent four decades working with organizations and First Nations in Nishnawbe-Aski Nation, Treaty 3 and Robinson-Superior territories, her Metis home lands. Over these years, Mary Alice has worked and volunteered with numerous organizations including the Kenora Anishinaabe Kweg Aboriginal Women’s Organization, Saakaate Women’s Shelter, the Kenora Race Relations Committee, and the Anishinaabe Peace and Justice Coalition. She is a founding member of Biindigen Women’s Shelter in Thunder Bay, the Sioux Lookout First Step Women’s Shelter, the Sioux Lookout Community Legal Clinic, and Oshki-Ayaa’aag Mino Bimaadiziiwin (Good Life for Young Peoples), a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to bringing to life the dreams of Aboriginal youth in Ontario.

In 1997, Mary Alice completed a B.A. at the University of Winnipeg, where she was honoured with the President’s Gold Medals in Conflict Resolution Studies and Political Science.

Mary Alice is an Elder with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres and a freelance consultant and writer. She is also a certified mediator and life skills coach. A mother and stepmother of nine and now ‘gookom’ (grandmother) and ‘gobis’ (great grandmother) in an ever expanding circle, Mary Alice lives on Longbow Lake, near Kenora.

Janet E. Stewart, Q.C.

Janet Stewart was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council Board of Directors in September 2014. Based in London, Janet is an active member in the community and currently sits on boards for the Orchestra London Foundation, London’s Junior Achievement and Operation Walk Canada. Previously, she has acted as Chair of the London Community Foundation and was a founding member of Big Sisters in London.

She is a partner at Lerners LLP in London and has been with the firm since starting as an Associate in 1969 after being admitted to the Bar. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from Osgoode Hall and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto. She has a lengthy list of achievements which include receiving the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2013, the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012 and the Law Society Medal in 2001. In 2009, she was awarded the Order of Ontario for her work advocating for the advancement of women in law and for her compassion and commitment to philanthropic activities.

Janet has a great love of opera, enjoys travelling to unusual destinations and spending time with friends and family.

David Tsubouchi
David Tsubouchi of Baltimore, Ontario, was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in mid-December 2018.

David is a former Ontario cabinet minister and MPP for Markham. Notably, he served as Ontario’s Minister of Culture under Premier Ernie Eves in 2003, having previously held several other cabinet posts. Prior to his work in the legislature, David served as a councillor for the Town of Markham, and was the first Japanese Canadian person elected to any public office in Ontario.
David has received numerous awards and distinctions, including the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal, and many honours for his work as an advocate for diversity and inclusion. His memoir Gambatte: Generations of Perseverance and Politics was published by ECW Press and was nominated for a Speaker’s Book Award. He also lectures on leadership and diversity at the Directors College (McMaster University) and at York University.

David currently sits on the board of directors for the OMERS Pension Fund and Women’s College Hospital. He has served on boards for a variety of arts, culture and heritage organizations – such as the Markham Museum, the Varley Art Gallery, and the National Ballet of Canada – along with organizations in the fields of health, business and education.

David holds a B.A. from York University, a J.D. from Osgoode Hall Law School, an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree (LL.D.) from Assumption University in Windsor, an Honorary Doctorate of Sacred Letters (D.S.Litt.) from Huntington (Laurentian) University in Sudbury and a Chartered Director (C. Dir.) from the Directors College, McMaster University.