Maria Qamar

Artist x Instagrammer x Illustrator

Maria Qamar is a Toronto-based artist and instagram phenomenon (@hatecopy) who grew up in Mississauga after moving to Canada with her family from Pakistan in 2000. Maria began working as a copywriter and had loved drawing since childhood, but eventually solely focused on illustration. Since posting a drawing based off of Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art style that was highly relatable to her South Asian instagram followers, she has earned a huge following on social media. Less than three years into her change of career, Maria has published her first book, Trust No Aunty (published August 1.), sold her work at shows internationally, and had her paintings appear on the set of The Mindy Project.

Maria’s artwork is inspired by the unsolicited “advice” she has received from South Asian Aunties throughout the years, making her content largely relatable to such a wide audience and introducing the Desi culture to those unfamiliar with it.

Jesse Thistle

Jesse Thistle is Cree-Metis on his mother’s side and Algonquin-Scot on his father’s side. Jesse is a P.E. Trudeau and Vanier Scholar, as well as a Governor General Silver Medalist. He is a Ph.D. student in History at York University, studying under Dr. Carolyn Podruchny. He is the resident scholar of Indigenous Homelessness at the Canadian Observatory on Homelessness. His journey from homeless addict to successful university student is unusual among graduate students, but his lived-experience path has shaped the way he approaches homeless studies, Indigenous history, social work, and addiction studies.


Karlee Vukets

Financial Security Advisor, Freedom 55 Financial

Karlee has always felt a dual passion for both arts and business, leading her to obtain a degree in Business of Cinematic Arts from the University of Southern California. During her time in Los Angeles, she created a thriving career in television production before moving home to Toronto to become a financial advisor, primarily for professional women and philanthropic minded individuals. She is driven to make an impact in the arts through her roles as Executive Director of The Michael & Karen Vukets Family Foundation, Chair of the First Positions Patrons at Canada’s National Ballet School, and committee member of artScene Toronto through Business for the Arts.

Experiencing the impact that dance had on her life growing up, Karlee firmly believes that exposure to the arts doesn’t just make great artists… it makes great citizens. She shares her diverse expertise with arts organizations to amplify the impact of young patrons in the arts sector.

Gideon Arthurs

CEO, National Theatre School of Canada

CEO of the National Theatre School of Canada, the most important and only national theatre training institution in the country. One of very few CEOs age 40 and under of a large cultural organization in Canada, he operates with the belief that arts organizations must play a more active role in community building, bringing people together to imagine, think and feel collectively and engage with the complexities of our times. He works to advance the interests of young and marginalized people in the cultural sector and fights for better representation of the diversity across the country in the creative industries.

Diane Obam Dallaire

Chair, Southam Club

Diane is a former co-Chair for Business for the Arts’ Ottawa-Gatineau artsScene chapter where she established a result-oriented outreach strategy that attracted business professionals and public servants to the artsScene board, as well as to other cultural institutions in Ottawa. Diane sits on the board of the Rideau Club and was formerly on the Executive Committee of the Canadian International Council, Africa Study Group. Chiefly, Diane is the much-admired Chair of the Southam Club, a thriving group of dynamic young leaders in the Ottawa region who engage in the performing arts through unique events at the National Arts Centre and are helping to promote the arts in Ottawa. Diane is bilingual and has a Master of Arts in Public and International Affairs and a Masters Certificate in Project Management. As the founder of Fidès Partnerships, Diane worked with various organizations to establish beneficial partnerships and assist in strategic project completion. She very recently began working as a Project Implementation Officer for Canada Post.

H. Roger Garland

Boardmember, Business of the Arts

H. Roger Garland is a member of the Board of Soulpepper Theatre Company in Toronto and a Director of a number of public and private corporations. He was Vice-Chairman of Four Seasons Hotels until 2000, having joined the company in 1981 as Senior Vice-President, Finance. Prior to joining Four Seasons, he was a Vice-President, Corporate Banking with Citibank N.A. in Canada and Switzerland. He began his career with Pricewaterhouse and qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 1966.

Duane Green

CEO, Franklin Templeton Investments Canada

Duane Green is president and CEO of Franklin Templeton Investments Canada and of Fiduciary Trust Company of Canada. Leveraging more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry, he oversees Franklin Templeton's Canadian business. Mr. Green previously served as managing director - Canada, responsible for the firm's Canadian retail, institutional and HNW distribution business. Prior to that, he was head of Institutional, Canada. Mr. Green joined Franklin Templeton in 2004 as vice president, Strategic Alliances. Before joining the firm, he was a vice president at an international insurer.

Mr. Green is chair of the board and director of Franklin Templeton Investments Corp., director of Fiduciary Trust Company of Canada and is chair and director of FTC Investor Services Inc. He also serves as president, CEO and director of both Templeton Growth Fund Ltd and Franklin Templeton Corporate Class Funds Ltd. He is on the Board of Directors of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance (CCGG) and Business for the Arts (BftA). He also sits on the Pension Committee of Canada's National Ballet School and is a past board member of Canada's National Ballet School and of Crohn's and Colitis Canada. Mr. Green has a degree in economics from the University of Ottawa and is a fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute. He holds the FMA, CIM, and FCSI designations.


Kate Cornell

Executive Director, Canadian Dance Assembly

Kate Cornell is an arts advocate, and writer based in Toronto. Kate advocates nationally on behalf of the arts sector as the Co-Chair of the Canadian Arts Coalition/la Coalition canadienne des arts. As English-language spokesperson for the Coalition, she has been interviewed by the Globe and Mail, Canadian Press, and CBC’s The National. With a PhD in Communication and Culture, her graduate research focused on Canadian cultural policies for dance at the federal level. Her research has been published extensively in anthologies, journals, magazines, and online. Kate has worked in arts management for two decades at a range of organizations including: the Canada Dance Festival, Toronto Dance Theatre, the CanAsian International Dance Festival, the National Ballet of Canada, the Canadian Society for Dance Studies/La société canadienne d’études en danse, and most recently as the Canadian Dance Assembly’s Executive Director. Over the years, Kate has taught at several university performing arts and education programs; she now acts as a mentor in arts management internship programs. Kate sits on Advocacy Committees at the municipal and provincial levels; notably, she is a founding member of the Mass Culture/ Mobilisation Culturelle research lab initiative. Kate Cornell is the proud recipient of the John Hobday Award in Arts Management (2016) from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Louis-Etienne Dubois

Assistant Professor of Creative Industries Management, Ryerson University's School of Creative Industries (FCAD)

Louis-Etienne Dubois is Assistant Professor of Creative Industries management at Ryerson University's School of Creative Industries (FCAD) as well as Associate researcher at MINES ParisTech's Centre de Gestion Scientifique. He holds a Ph.D. in management from HEC Montréal and a Doctorate from MINES ParisTech. Louis-Etienne's research activities aim at developing a better understanding of collaborative and innovation processes in both traditional and creative organizations. Some of his recent work has been published in the European Management Journal and in the Revue internationale de Gestion.

Communities and organizations increasingly turn to collective activities to design new products, services, processes or public policies with users, employees, citizens and other stakeholders. In that process, design acts as a tremendous space for the creation of “creative communities” where collective action was often the least expected. Drawing on past research, this masterclass explores the power of design on collectives and suggests practical implications on how to structure such activities in order to yield positive results.

Humble the Poet

MC x Spoken Word Artist

Kanwer Singh aka Humble The Poet is a Toronto-bred MC/Spoken word artist with an aura that embodies the diversity and resiliency of one of the world’s most unique cities.

Humble brings fresh tracks, points of view, and huge truths every week on his popular Youtube channel. His distinctive voice and lyrics can be found on his newest EP Righteous/Ratchet, featuring the single H.A.I.R., whose video has now racked up 1 million+ views on YouTube.

Humble also impressed audiences and won the CBC's coast-to-coast literary showdown Canada Reads for his work in defending Andre Alexis' 15 Dogs.

Recently, he was featured in Apple's Portrait of Canada showcasing his country's strength in diversity.

Be sure to subscribe to Humble’s channel as he takes you along with him on his life, his music and his words!

Ravi Jain

Artistic Director, Why Not Theatre

Toronto-based stage director Ravi Jain is a multi-award-winning artist known for making politically bold and accessible theatrical experiences in both small indie productions and large theatres. As the founding artistic director of Why Not Theatre, Ravi has established himself as an artistic leader for his inventive productions, international producing/collaborations and innovative producing models which are aimed to better support emerging artists to make money from their art.

In 10 years Why Not has become synonymous with innovative theatrical experiences which have toured the world. In recent years their RISER project, a unique producing models, which supports artists to make money from their art, has had a significant impact on the Toronto independent community. Why Not has created over 20 collaborations performing on 5 continents, including the smash hit A Brimful of Asha, which stars Ravi and his real life mother (non-actor). Collaborations Ravi has fostered with Why Not Theatre include festivals such as Harbourfront’s World Stage Festival, Luminato Festival and The Pan Am Games Toronto2015 and international companies like The Tricycle Theatre (UK), Complicite (UK) and The SITI company (USA).

Ravi was shortlisted for the 2016 Siminovitch Prize and won the 2012 Pauline McGibbon Award for Emerging Director and the 2016 Canada Council John Hirsch Prize for direction. He is a graduate of the two-year program at École Jacques Lecoq and he was the inaugural artistic-director-in-residence at The Theatre Centre.

Why Not Theatre

Jennifer Lee Koss

Co-founder x Builder of Business, BRIKA

Jennifer Lee Koss is the Co-Founder and Builder of Business of BRIKA--the preeminent retail platform which features under-the-radar artisans and designers both online and offline.

Prior to launching her business, she spent nearly five years at Ontario Teachers' Private Capital investing in consumer/retail companies and in large private equity global funds. Her work experience also includes management consulting at The Bridgespan Group and The Parthenon Group, focusing on private equity due diligence, investment banking at JPMorgan, and serving as Trustee for the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Jennifer is a Juilliard-trained cellist and holds an AB degree magna cum laude from Harvard College, an MPhil from Oxford University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. She is the mother to four children - Aksel (7), Annabelle (5) and Andreas (3) and Aleksander (5 months).

Alen Palander

Creative Director x Photographer x Instagrammer

Alen Palander is a Toronto-based Creative Director and Photographer. Throughout his education and work life in Urban Design and Architecture, Alen dabbled in photography and filmmaking as a hobby, with no formal training in the field. Amassing a fan base in the hundreds of thousands worldwide, Alen's brand and social media platforms grew, new and exciting opportunities began to unfold, and he quickly realized that his hobby had become his livelihood. Alen now works with some of the world’s largest brands, including Mercedes-Benz, Nike, Air Canada, Canon and more.

Alen draws much of his inspiration for his visual pieces from architecture, design, and travel to distant locales. With the propensity to pick up the camera and capture the world at a moment's notice, his lust for creating propels his perspective and represents something much bigger as he continues to seek the extraordinary in the ordinary.


Mitchell Cohen

President, The Daniels Corporation

Mitchell Cohen is President of The Daniels Corporation and has managed the firm’s day-to-day operations since 1984. For over 30 years, Cohen’s leadership has carried Daniels through several real estate market cycles. Committed to community, Daniels offers innovative programs that help people achieve home ownership, and supports numerous charities and non-profit organizations. Building a team with the ability to achieve success in all forms and tenures of residential communities is a hallmark of Mr. Cohen’s leadership. Under his direction, Daniels has developed a strong brand with residential offerings for people at all stages of life. Cohen has a Masters in Social Psychology from the London School of Economics, and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from McGill University. In 2010, Mr. Cohen was honoured with an Award of Merit from the St. George's Society, and is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2013, Mr. Cohen received an Honorary Doctorate from Ryerson University in the Faculty of Community Services.

Ana Serrano

Chief Digital Officer, Canadian Film Centre

Ana Serrano is the Chief Digital Officer of the CFC and Founder of CFC Media Lab, the world-renowned and award-winning institute for interactive storytelling created in 1997.

With her visionary direction and digitally-forward approach to organizational growth, Ana is driving the digital transformation of the CFC into a unique blend of talent, product and company accelerator and creative production house. She continually evolves the CFC's programs as digital media demand new approaches – from the early exploration of web-based storytelling to today’s world of audience-driven multiplatform entertainment. To date, Ana has directed the development of over 130 digital media projects, mentored over 50 start-ups, and produced some of Canada’s seminal works in interactive media.


Nichole Anderson

President & CEO, Business for the Arts

Nichole Anderson, President and CEO of Business for the Arts, holds an undergraduate degree in International Relations and a Masters degree in Art History from the University of Toronto. She joined Business for the Arts in 2006 and has worked with an ever-growing team of volunteers, Board Members and colleagues to develop programs and events of national scale that stimulate business volunteerism and investment in the arts.

Prior to her role at Business for the Arts, Nichole managed the corporate art collection at Hbc, which included Ken Thomson's beautiful Canadian Art collection, and helped develop museum programming and exhibits for the company’s new museum sites and community events across Canada.

Nichole holds a number of volunteer positions, including Board Member of the Arts Access Fund, which gives full year scholarships for children and youth from underserved communities to take lessons in the arts discipline of their choice. She is a Member of the Canada 150 Advisory Committee for the City of Toronto, and an active volunteer in community.

She is a past Member of the Toronto TELUS Community Board (4 years); Board Member of the Art of Time Ensemble (6 years); Member of the Steering Committee for the City of Toronto’s Creative Capital initiative (3 years); and Vice President of the Health Arts Society Ontario (5 years). She studied music seriously from the age of three, with a focus on the violin, and plays informally now with family and friends.

Raji Aujla

Creative Director, Business for the Arts

After having worked as a journalist at AJE and the Caravan, I moved to a career in the arts as the cultural director at a members-only arts and media club and now creative director at Business for the Arts. I’m a multimedia strategist who spends my days plotting interesting ways to culminate exchanges between culture producers and consumers by bridging artists, institutions, and corporate brands under initiatives that push creative growth and deliver value for every stakeholder. When not working in these interstices, my skills serve to bolster causes I am passionate about in innovation, education and mental health awareness.

Robert Foster

Chair, Civic Theatres Toronto

Robert J. Foster is Founder, President and CEO of Capital Canada Ltd., an independent investment banking firm. Robert has provided years of successful support to Canadian companies and entrepreneurs in the aviation, sports and entertainment industries. Robert’s passionate avocation has always been his volunteer work in Toronto’s arts and cultural community.

Robert is currently Chair of Civic Theatres Toronto and Vice-Chair of Business for the Arts. He serves on the boards of the Toronto Artscape Foundation, Canadian Arts Summit and Harbourfront Foundation. In 2011, Robert was the lead Co-Chair for a year-long examination of Toronto’s cultural capacity and priorities, which resulted in the Creative Capital Report for the City of Toronto. Robert was named co-recipient of the Rita Davies and Margo Bindhardt Cultural Leader Award at the Mayor’s Lunch in 2013. Over his lifetime, he has generously donated his time, expertise and financial support to more than 30 city and country building initiatives and organizations.


Salimah Kassim-Lakha

Yoga Therapist x Entrepreneur

Yoga Therapist and entrepreneur, Salimah has been teaching Yoga and Meditation for over 10 years. She is the director of YogaVision Center and one of the CBC’s Yoga Experts. For Salimah Yoga has been a game changer, a conversation starter and a place to call home. Expect the unexpected in her classes and workshops.