Who We Are
DAREarts is a group of risk takers who are committed to building young leaders of the future, using the power of the arts. We bring hope to children challenged by life by exposing them to opportunities, engaging them in creativity and empowering them to be leaders.
Our Mission: DAREarts will empower at-risk young people to build confidence, courage and their inner leader. By harnessing the power of the arts and the DARE values, they will DARE to IGNITE CHANGE.
Our Vision: Inspiring young Canadians with a lifelong motivation for creative thinking, excellence and leadership in their lives through educational experiences in the arts.
Our Board of Directors
- Marilyn FieldMarilyn FieldDAREarts Founder & President
M.S.M., B. Mus. A., B. Ed., OCT
Losing her mother as a two year old shaped Marilyn to want to help kids caught in life challenges. She taught elementary school with the TDSB for 12 years and volunteered with numerous organizations. Since 1996, her belief in children has driven DAREarts forward. Recipient of the Canadian Meritorious Service Medal, two Queen's Jubilee Medals and Caledon Walk of Fame, she inspires kids to DARE to believe, achieve and lead.
- Tarik MuzaffarTarik MuzaffarDAREarts Chair
Managing Director & Global Head - Financial Institutions, TD Securities
Tarik Muzaffar is Managing Director & Global Head of Financial Institutions within Global Transaction Banking at TD Securities with regional offices in Toronto, London and Singapore. Tarik holds an Economics Major BA from University of Waterloo after a period in Architecture School. Tarik is passionate about helping young people overcome the challenges in life by building inner strength to achieve and succeed.
- Mark LeBlancMark LeBlancDAREarts Vice-Chair
Executive Vice President, Ontario & Atlantic Canada, Northbridge Insurance
Mark has more than 20 years as a business leader in the insurance industry. As Executive Vice President, he is responsible for leading Northbridge Insurance’s Ontario and Atlantic regions. A long-time hockey coach and youth mentor, Mark enjoys working with youth and helping them succeed. Building on Northbridge Insurance’s long-standing commitment to DAREarts, Mark supports the organization’s goal of truly making a difference in the lives of children.
- J.C. PennieJ.C. PennieDAREarts Vice-ChairCEO, Windrush Corp.; Chairman, Zast-Foods Corp. DAREarts’ founding Chairman started as the youngest marketing manager at GE Canada. As an entrepreneur, he built companies in printing, advertising, fast-food, oil industry and wind energy, plus pioneered computer graphics in Hollywood. He is currently establishing the Windrush Estate Winery in Hockley. John draws from experience “that those of us who had an ‘at-risk’ trauma in our youth know it can make you stronger to meet life if someone offered hope.”
- Yanzhi ChenYanzhi ChenTreasurer
Former Banking Executive
Yanzhi worked for Scotiabank from 1998 to 2017, including in Global Banking and Markets, Global Risk Management and Global Transaction Banking and as Vice President and Head of Financial Institutions Americas and Caribbean. Yanzhi has worked in China, Mexico, England and Canada and is fluent in Chinese, Spanish and English. Yanzhi supports DAREarts because she sees its life-changing impact on Canadian youth and the dedication of the team.
- Annie ApplebyAnnie Appleby
Retired System Superintendent for School Effectiveness, TDSB
Recently retired from TDSB, Annie remains committed to the Vision of Equity, Student Achievement and Well-being for All students. She continues to serve TDSB learners in her new role as a Senior Advisor with Ashoka Canada. Ashoka embodies social entrepreneurship for K-12 students and believes in promoting social justice and empathy within youngsters. There is a distinct alignment with global citizenry for the DAREarts delegates.
- Kristal Au-YongKristal Au-Yong
Vice President – Risk Technology & Strategy, Scotiabank
Kristal has 15 years of experience in the financial industry, spanning across financial regulations, global transaction banking and retail risk management. In her most recent roles, she has held global mandates that span across Canada and Latin America. Kristal completed her BA in Economics from the University of Waterloo. Kristal is excited about giving children an opportunity to build leadership skills that can shape their lives positively.
- Peter AumonierPeter Aumonier
Senior Vice President Claims, Northbridge National Litigation & Technical Management
With Northbridge since 1986, Peter has held a number of positions, including Claims Adjuster for Western Canada and Director of U.S. Claims exposures. When he’s not helping drive Northbridge Claims forward, Peter unwinds by running, golf and music. Peter is an accomplished Pipe Band champion, winning the Canadian championship 12 times, the North American Pipe Band Champion four times, and the World Championship! He sees how arts empower kids.
- Mark BakerMark Baker
Vice President, Projects, Noront Resources
Mark is an engineer with 30 years of leading national and international business projects. Currently, he manages projects in Ontario’s ‘Ring of Fire’, as Noront works to responsibly develop the first mines in this northern wetland. Since 2007, Noront and DAREarts have worked together to empower Indigenous youth. They continue the late Paul Semple’s vision of mining companies supporting DAREarts and the ‘Paul Semple Scholarship Fund for Innovative Mines’.
- Chief Morley GoogooChief Morley Googoo
Regional Chief for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia; AFN: Language, Culture, Arts & Youth
As Chief of Waycobah FN for 19 years, Morley was instrumental in Waycobah assuming jurisdiction over its education system. He has spearheaded several youth initiatives which, like DAREarts, encouraged positive attitudes in youth. Since 2011, he has served as the Regional Chief for Newfoundland and Nova Scotia where he has held the educational portfolio for the Assembly of First Nations.
- Ron HuddlestonRon Huddleston
Managing Partner, HCM
A father of 3 and the husband of a Wells Fargo Bank Executive, Ron Huddleston coaches Lacrosse for his sons’ Toronto Beaches Lacrosse teams. He has worked as a professional actor and in financial services specializing in derivatives and foreign exchange. He has structured products for Dresdner Bank, Citibank and Wells Fargo. Currently, he is Managing Partner of HCM, a currency based investment group.
- John LandryJohn Landry
Managing Director and Head of Treasury and Trade Solutions, Citibank Canada
Prior to John’s 17 years with Citi in the US, Australia and Canada, he founded a technology firm and worked for Wachovia and GE Capital. He holds a degree in Finance and Marketing from Richmond University. His three children remind him daily of the amazing potential of a child who has been given attention, love and support. John is inspired by DAREarts’ mission to deliver the same to children across Canada.
- Andre MorriseauAndre MorriseauDirector of Awards and Stakeholder Relations, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB) Andre (Ojibway) is an enthusiastic ambassador for Aboriginal arts, culture and public affairs. He has served as Secretariat for the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation (NAAF) now Indspire; as Communications Officer for the Chiefs of Ontario (COO); and on the James Bartleman Aboriginal Youth Creative Writing Awards jury. He feels strongly that, through the creative force of DAREarts, all Canadians have the opportunity to grow the imagination and potential of less advantaged children.
- Deborah RobinsonDeborah RobinsonExecutive Director, Canadian Litigation Counsel With the Canadian Litigation Counsel since 2004, Deborah is responsible for business development, strategic planning, budgeting, and oversight of advertising programs. Previously, she was Vice President Marketing and Business Development at CGI Insurance Business Services. As a trained artist, Deborah’s artwork is included in private collections. Her own experience with the arts inspires her support for DAREarts.
- Monika Jensen StevensonMonika Jensen StevensonAuthor; Former Producer, ’60 Minutes’ Monika is a former Emmy award winning producer of CBS 60 Minutes; a best-selling author, and recipient of the US National Press Club award. She has lectured internationally on the subject of prisoners of war and is the only non-veteran to receive the Vietnam Veterans National medal. Monika assists with the DAREarts Literature program, helping the children learn to speak well upon self-reflection.
- Lesa Williams GeorgeLesa Williams GeorgeCentrally Assigned Principal, Toronto District School Board (TDSB) Lesa is an educator with wisdom and heart; one who is always on the side of the child. She is currently a centrally assigned TDSB Principal, responsible for student success and school improvement, promoting anti-oppression via practices that honour Equity and Well-Being. A TDSB leader, she has advocated for DAREarts since 2009 as DAREarts sets the well-being and development of children at the centre of all their efforts.
General Rick Hillier
Dr. Eric Jackman
Rt. Hon. Paul Martin
Shamin Mohamed, Jr.
Mark Raynes Roberts
Roy Henry Vickers
Our National Team
- Natasha Hope MoranoNatasha Hope MoranoM.P.S. - National Director of Development
Natasha is DAREarts’ first national voice advocate, bringing experience as the past Vice President of the Economic Club of Canada; an international researcher with a Master’s Degree in Political Science and Private Schools Principal Certification, and a member of the President’s Advisory Council for Canada World Youth. Natasha is a nationally ranked equestrian who keeps one foot in the stirrup and the other firmly planted in philanthropy.
- Holly NimmonsHolly NimmonsTransitional Executive Director
Holly is an accomplished leader and passionate Arts advocate who has focussed on community engagement, youth empowerment and leadership. While leading the Coalition for Music Education in Canada, she coordinated national programs such as Music Monday (Canada’s nation-wide celebration of the power of music), Wise Voices for Music, Women’s Empowerment Through Music, and Youth4Music (a network of youth leaders).
- Brenda Travers-NortonBrenda Travers-NortonE.C.E. - Director of Operations
Brenda just celebrated 10 years with DAREarts! She has worked extensively in the not-for-profit sector and has a keen eye for how small details are critical to the success of DAREarts. She is a motorcycle enthusiast and can often be seen riding her Harley to the office on warm days.
- Lisa NortonLisa NortonB.A. (Hons.) - Program Coordinator
Lisa is working on her 10th year here keeping all our program schools, kids, artists and teachers coordinated. A love of storytelling led to her attainment of a B.A. (Honours) in English Literature from Laurentian University. She enjoys sharing her passion for literature and graphic novels with the DAREarts Delegates and grads.
Our Teaching Team
- Shelley MacDonaldShelley MacDonaldVancouver Lead Teacher
Shelley is a performing artist, educator and filmmaker from the Mi’kmaq Nation with a passion for arts-based projects with youth. For 10 years, she developed theatre, film projects and festivals for the Vancouver School Board. With Simon Fraser University, she co-founded an Indigenous mentorship program for young women. She facilitates teacher professional development workshops in the western provinces and, with the RCM’s LTTA, she trains artists to infuse the arts into school curriculum.
Mary Jane Joe is a member of the Ntle’kepmx Nation, a Salish tribe in BC, and a residential school survivor. As a singer, drummer, storyteller and quilter, she discovered that traditional culture, language and the arts are like medicine that brings healing. She teaches Aboriginal Studies at Langara College, including identity and community.
- Roy MulderRoy MulderVancouver Coordinator
Roy was one of the first to work in video as a new medium. He works with organizations including Cinekids Productions, Tickle Trunk Players, Royal Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts, Britannia Aboriginal Outreach School and DAREarts, creating educational programming for youth and adults. He is an avid supporter of marine conservation.
- Lori Sherritt FlemingLori Sherritt FlemingVancouver Co-coordinator
Lori is an author, playwright, poet, performer and educator. She founded the Tickle Trunk Players Theatre and created several publications and touring plays for youngsters including, “Hungry for Math’ and ‘Poems to Munch On”. As a writer-in-residence for over two decades in diverse communities, she loves helping young people to find their voices as artists and change makers.
- Laura MacKinnonLaura MacKinnonLead Teacher & Assistant National Program Director
Laura was a professional dance and theatre artist before coming to education to enliven children’s learning by integrating the arts into curriculum. She has been an artist-educator and professional development workshop leader for organizations including the RCM’s Learning through the Arts, the National Ballet of Canada, Danceworks, the Canadian Opera Company and OISE. As Lead Teacher, Laura has designed and co-facilitated hundreds of multi-arts workshops for young people that build leadership and celebrate culture.
- Franco SaccucciFranco SaccucciTeacher
Franco is a seasoned arts educator committed to driving arts education forward through his passion and experience in drama education. He has worked with students across Canada, in the inner-city as a drama teacher, with Newcomer and Indigenous youth on reserve, with queer and transgender youth, and with children with disabilities. These experiences are coupled with his years of academic training and own life experiences.
- Mackenzy WillisMackenzy WillisLead Teaching Assistant
Since graduating from DAREarts, Mackenzy has followed her passion for helping others to be their best. Having attended Rosedale Heights School of the Arts, specializing in performing arts, the arts have played a crucial role in shaping her outlook that, with hard work, any challenge can become an incredible learning opportunity. Her extensive work has yielded life-changing results in hundreds of young people.
- Emily IannucciEmily IannucciTeaching Assistant
Emily has over four years’ experience with program development and delivery as a camp coordinator and counselor and after school worker site lead. She has developed arts-based, education-based, recreation-based, and empowerment-based programming for children and youth aged 2 to 26. Emily is particularly passionate about working with children and youth with mental health challenges and/or behavioural disruptions using positive behaviour modification techniques.
- Deirdre PotashDeirdre PotashQuebec Coordinator & Lead Teacher
Deirdre is an art educator, writer, artist and facilitator, with a diverse practice including a specialty in cultural mediation. Introducing and establishing art programs, working with a diverse clientele, from children to seniors in public and private institutions from elementary to university, community groups, business environments and health and mental health institutions. Acting as curator, organizer and manager Deirdre lives her dream.
- Trish GibbonTrish GibbonAtlantic Coordinator & Lead Teacher
Trish sees every day as a teacher the positive and transformative impact the arts can have on young people who live in challenging situations. Studying Recreation Management at Acadia University, she created and led visual arts workshops with local at-risk kids. Since completing her Bachelor of Education, she has worked at various schools within the Halifax Regional School Board.
- Gina ThornhillGina ThornhillAtlantic Teacher
Gina is a Halifax based theatre artist. She has been an instructor at Neptune Theatre School for over 10 years. As an actor she has worked with Luna Sea Theatre, Ship’s Company Theatre, DaPoPo Theatre. She is a co-founder of Tea Time Creation, which is an award winning theatre collective.
- Henricus GielisHenricus GielisAtlantic Artist-Educator
Henricus is a multi-faceted performer and creator based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He is a regular performer with Hello City! Improv, He volunteers with the Canadian Improv Games provincially and nationally, and frequently teaches with Neptune Theatre School.
- Alan SyliboyAlan SyliboyIndigenous Artist - Educator
Alan has shown his work around the world. His popularization of the local Mi’kmaq petroglyphs restored community pride in Mi’kmaq heritage. He participated in the 2010 Winter Olympics, including a 96 foot mural. His band Lone Cloud won the 2013 ECMA award for Best Aboriginal Album. His film, “Little Thunder” received the Best Animation Film Award and inspires the DAREarts children.