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Ontario Arts Council (OAC)
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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. For more information on Government Appointees please visit the Public Appointments Secretariat's website at www.ontario.ca/page/public-appointments.

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, CM, Chair

Rita Davies was first appointed Chair of the Ontario Arts Council’s board of directors on July 22, 2015, and was reappointed for a third term on July 29, 2021. Rita is well known in Toronto’s arts community for her former role as Director of Culture for the City of Toronto from 1999 to 2012 and for her tenure at the Toronto Arts Council (TAC) from 1984 to 1999. She is recognized for her work at the TAC to  spearhead diverse and inclusive programs and for her involvement in the Cultural Capital report, the Cultural Diversity report and No Vacancy, the affordable live-work space report, which led to the creation of Toronto Artscape.
Among many initiatives during her tenure at the city, she oversaw the development of its first-ever culture plan and the establishment of the Nuit Blanche festival. 
Rita has sat on a number of not-for-profit arts boards, including the Art of Time Ensemble, Fall for Dance and Theatre Passe Muraille.

In December 2020, Rita Davies was named to the Order of Canada in honour of her leadership and dedication to the arts in Toronto and in the province of Ontario.

Dani Peters, Vice-Chair
Toronto-based Dani Peters was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in May 2019 and appointed Vice Chair on October 7, 2021.
Dani is the President of Magnet Strategy Group, a public affairs consulting practice with a presence in Toronto and Washington, D.C.  Dani’s community involvement includes serving as Co-Founder of Cross-Border Health, a US based non-profit organization dedicated to fostering Canada-US dialogue on common priorities in health, a Health Leader-in-Residence for the World Health Innovation Network (WIN) within the University of Windsor’s Odette School of Business, and Co-Chair of the Women in Politics Mentorship Program through the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee (CJPAC).
She also serves on the Industry Advisory Board for Bloom Burton & Co., a healthcare investment advisory firm in Toronto. Dani earned her undergraduate degree from McGill University and a Master of Arts in International Trade Policy from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey in California.
 A life-long lover of the arts, Dani studied both music and dance in her youth and regularly attends theatre performances throughout the year.  She and her husband actively encourage her young children in their arts activities.
Alexandra De Gasperis
Toronto-based Alexandra De Gasperis was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in July 2019.
Alexandra’s community involvement began at a young age when she co-founded and became Executive Director of the Burgundy Brick Foundation (BBF) in 2007. The BBF supports affordable housing and initiatives to combat youth homelessness in Ontario. In 2011, BBF was chosen to be a Women’s Build Ambassador by Habitat GTA – something for which Alexandra is very proud since she is a dedicated supporter of Habitat for Humanity. 
Alexandra graduated with a Bachelor of Management and Organizational Studies from Western University in 2010 before obtaining her law degree from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom in 2013.
She practiced in the area of municipal and land-use planning law for six years prior to entering the development industry. She is currently the Vice President of DECO Communities, a real-estate development firm committed to building complete, sustainable and livable communities in Toronto and the GTA.

In her youth, Alexandra studied music and dance and has carried her love of the arts into all aspects of her life. She regularly frequents musical performances, theatre, and art galleries and she and her husband enjoy collecting art from young emerging artists. Alexandra is passionate about city building, art and design and firmly believes that these disciplines must interact to create vibrant communities.
Simon Foster
Simon Foster was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors on March 31, 2023.

Based in Toronto, he is the CEO and founder of Chatter Research, a customer feedback software platform he created in 2016. Prior to this, Simon spent five years with Blue Ant Media, as senior vice president of digital and corporate development.

Simon is the co-founder and chair of the Framework Foundation, a charity that promotes civic engagement of Canadians aged 22 to 35 through volunteerism. The Framework Foundation has invested almost $1 million into the careers of emerging artists.

From 2007 to 2012, Simon served on the board of Canada’s National Ballet School. In 2011 he was the recipient of Business / Arts' Arnold Edinborough Award, recognizing an individual under 40 for exceptional leadership and volunteerism in the arts.

Simon is a graduate of Queen’s University and has a master’s degree in political economy from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Robin Jones

Robin Jones, mayor of Westport – one of Ontario’s smallest and prettiest municipalities – was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council board of directors in March 2021.

Robin brings a passionate interest in ceramics and enjoys time spent on the pottery wheel in her studio. She also has a love of music enhanced by her years as a chorister in several choirs.

Robin has a deep commitment to social justice issues informed by her years working as a police officer and in Indigenous communities in northwestern Ontario. She is the co-founder of the Leeds & Grenville human trafficking task force.

Prior to entering political life, Robin spent 33 years in policing, holding senior positions with Waterloo Regional Police and the OPP. In 2007, she was seconded to the Ontario Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and was the provincial negotiator for First Nations police services throughout Ontario. She finished her policing career as chief of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service. Robin then taught leadership courses across North America to police officers on behalf of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP).

Robin is a board member of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and was recently elected chair of the Rural Ontario Municipal Association (ROMA).

Robin is active in her church and a member of the executive board of the Anglican Diocese of Ontario. She is  chair of the Westport Arts Council and enjoys travelling, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Mary Meffe, CPA, CA
Toronto-based Mary Meffe was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in October 2019. 
Mary has more than 20 years of financial expertise developed in the private, public and not-for-profit sectors, with demonstrated success advising leadership teams in fast-paced, dynamic environments.
She is the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), responsible for overseeing the organization’s financial planning and operations, data governance, information services and facilities management.
Before joining MPAC in 2018, she was Chief Financial and Administrative Officer at the Ontario College of Trades, where she provided strategic financial and operational guidance to the leadership team of a newly formed organization. Prior to that, she served as Chief Financial Officer at Planet Energy and Just Energy Group.
Mary has had a long-standing passion for the arts since childhood when she pursued ballet and drama lessons. That passion has continued through her daughter, who is enrolled in many arts programs including, musical theatre and dance. Mary is an active volunteer in her daughter’s school, promoting the arts through its annual ARTucate event
Mary has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto and holds the CPA, CA and Chartered Director designations.
David Millen
Ottawa-based David Millen was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in March 2022.
David is a social worker who has devoted his professional life to the protection and well-being of children. He was associate executive director at the Children’s Aid Society of Ottawa from 1987 to 1997 where he was responsible for community development, fundraising and strategic planning.  Between 2002 and 2008, David coordinated three national conferences on safer schools and anti-bullying and served as coordinator for the annual National Child Day celebration in the Senate of Canada.
He is the president and founder of KidsCan, a program designed to reduce the incidence of bullying behaviour in schools and communities and is a certified trainer of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program.
In 2000, David co-founded Youtheatre Ottawa which toured schools throughout Ontario. He was a founding board member of The Gladstone Theatre in Ottawa where he has served for more than 10 years. He was key to the establishment of the Spirit Awards program now in its 25th year.
David has a deep commitment to social justice issues and has conducted community development work in Haiti, Kenya, Ghana and in the Cree First Nation of Eeyou Istchee in Northern Quebec. He is associated with several community organizations in Ottawa and prior to retirement was associate professor in the advanced diploma program for Child and Youth Care Ontario at Algonquin College.
David is a recipient of the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal for service to children and youth.
Kyan Nademi
Kyan Nademi of North York, Toronto, Ontario, was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in June 2019.  Canadian of Iranian heritage, Kyan says she is firmly anchored in both cultures.  She graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce degree from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since then, her professional career has been in the financial sector. She is currently an Index Analyst at the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
Kyan has also built a parallel career in the arts, with appearances in films and music videos. She has served as emcee and host for various cultural events. She has also been on the planning committee of the CineIran Festival, the Phoenix Comedy Film Festival and the Tirgan Festival. In 2015, she was a contestant in the Miss Universe Canada competition.
Kyan is an activist for One Free World International, a non-profit organization that gives voice to minorities persecuted for their beliefs. She speaks about human rights issues and has participated in international conferences about freedom of religion, the rights of minority groups, and women’s rights. Kyan is the organizer of an annual event in support of Operation Smile, successfully raising more than $10,000 for the charity each year.
Kyan grew up in a family where arts and culture played a central role. Despite her youth, Kyan has been a major supporter and advocate for arts. She frequents art galleries, operas, ballets, musical performances and local theatre. She believes strongly that participation in the arts brings out creativity and productivity in everyone. Kyan advocates for the benefits of the arts for participants, especially for the value they bring to mental and emotional well-being.
Lilly Obina
Ottawa-based Lilly Obina was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council board of directors in February 2021. Lilly’s more than 17 years of experience in both the public and private sectors have been focused on security operations, business continuity, disaster recovery, IT software and project management. Currently she is a project executive for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada’s (IRCC) passport program modernization initiative.
Lilly is also very interested in public service, having run for nomination as a candidate in the 2015 federal election for the Conservative Party of Canada. She also put her name forward as a possible candidate for the Ottawa municipal elections in both 2010 and 2014. As a Uganda-born Canadian, Lilly is particularly interested in ensuring that new voices be added to the Canadian political discourse.
She is a supporter of the Uganda Association of Ottawa and is active with the African-Canadian Children's Choir, an after-school program for children. She also teaches traditional African dance to children in her community. Lilly is a former board member of the Black Women Civic Engagement Network (BWCEN). She has a personal interest in photography, culture and travel.
In 2003, Lilly received a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Dalhousie University. She holds a diploma in Applied Information Technology from the Information Technology Institute.
Marek Ruta
Marek Ruta
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Marek Ruta was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in October 2021.

Based in Mississauga, Marek is a community leader, best known for his work as Chair of the Carassauga Festival of Cultures, a family-friendly festival that aims to promote understanding, respect, and cooperation among Canadians of different heritage, and Canada’s largest multicultural festival. In 2021, Marek received the Volunteer of the Year Award from Festivals and Events Ontario in recognition of his leadership of the festival throughout the pandemic.

Marek has also been actively involved in municipal affairs in Mississauga, serving on the community advisory circle for Legends Row: Mississauga’s Walk of Fame as well as the stakeholder subcommittee of the Mississauga Tourism Advisory Board, which produced the city’s Tourism Master Plan in 2017.

Marek’s community involvement extends to his support of charitable organizations, including the Luso Canadian Charitable Society and Community Living Mississauga. He is also a leader in Mississauga’s Polish community and the Knights of Columbus.