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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. 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, 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.


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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.


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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.


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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.
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Susan Lahey
Susan Lahey
Mount Albert
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Susan Lahey of Mount Albert, Ontario, was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in April 2019.
 
Fluent in Mandarin Chinese, Susan holds degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of British Columbia, as well as a post-graduate diploma in Asian art from Sotheby’s School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England.  Her interest in Chinese culture and its arts led her to Taipei, Taiwan, for two years studying at Stanford’s Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies at the National Taiwan University.
 
Susan is President of Eastern Art Consultants Inc.  Prior to this, she served as the Department Head for Asian arts at Ritchies Auctioneers & Appraisers, a former Toronto auction house.  Currently she is an Accredited Member of the International Society of Appraisers (ISA), an organization that maintains the highest standards in the methodology and ethics of appraising.  Susan regularly works as an instructor of Chinese art (both ancient and contemporary); engages in public speaking at arts events, and contributes articles to digital and print publications on the Asian art market.
 
Previously, Susan held various work positions at the Royal Ontario Museum's Near Eastern & Asian Civilizations Department.  She also served there as the Program Chair of the Friends of the Far East, Bishop White Committee Executive.
 
Susan is an active volunteer in her community of East Gwillimbury, where she serves on the Town’s Arts & Culture Advisory Committee.  She volunteered as secretary for the Foundation for Appraisal Education and served as the Art Society Convener at the Granite Club, organizing a wide variety of art-themed events and lectures for more than five years. 
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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.
 
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Dani Peters
Toronto-based Dani Peters was appointed to the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) board of directors in May 2019.
 
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.
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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.


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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.
 
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