Board of Directors
President: Valerie Smaller
Valerie Smaller, born and raised in Vancouver, holds a Bachelor of Arts from Simon Fraser University in Communications and Publishing; a Marketing diploma from Capilano University; and a Canadian Association of Gift Planning certificate. She worked at the Rick Hansen Foundation as Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships, and as a consultant for a broad range of not-for-profit and corporate clients in marketing, communications, and event management roles. In 2012, she was the inaugural event organizer of SWITCH!, the council’s successful annual fundraiser for 7 years raising nearly $700,000.
Valerie believes strongly in the potential of arts and culture to develop and build stronger communities and the council’s ability to bring together diverse groups engaged in a variety of practices defining community arts. The creative process has always fascinated Valerie leading her to become an admirer of the work of many artists and a lifelong participant creating art forms ranging from macramé to paper mache boxes sold through the Vancouver Art Gallery gift shop, leatherwork, and sewing, cooking, and calligraphy, to painting, and her favourite pastime – photography. We all possess creative abilities, not limited to self-proclaimed artists and the magic happens when we put our talents to use and begin our creative journey.
Vice-President: Shelley Freedman
Shelley Freedman is a digital business strategy consultant, helping clients reimagine their current processes. Prior to this, she has held management positions in retail footwear and the recycling industry, as a Manager of Information Services in the latter. She holds a User Experience Certificate in Interaction Design from the Nielsen Norman Group and a B.A. in French from the University of British Columbia. Outside of work, she is an active volunteer, a book lover, and a painter. Since 2010, she has facilitated a monthly community art workshop for seniors. She enjoys listening to live music and going dancing. An avid cook, she shares recipes on closetfoodie.ca. Shelley is married and has three grown stepchildren.
Past President: Pierre Leichner
Between Arts and Sciences, I first chose science. Curious about the mind, I eventually became a psychiatrist. But my frustration with the business mentality that has infiltrated health care led me back to question my early decision. I received my BFA from Emily Carr in 2007 and my MFA from Concordia University in 2011. I am presently a full-time interdisciplinary artist with a socially engaged practice. My works have focused on environmental and mental health issues. I am a member of the Gallery Gachet and the Art Is Land collectives, a board member of the Community Arts Council of Vancouver and the Emily Carr Alumni.
Treasurer: James Carter
James Carter has contributed to the community as a Board member for many organizations including Chor Leoni Men’s Choir, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Economic Partnership North Vancouver, St.John Ambulance and the North Vancouver Chamber of Commerce. James’ artistic ability is well known as a member of the Chor Leoni Men’s Choir for nearly 25 years, the Vancouver Chamber Choir and, more recently, the Phoenix Chamber Choir.
Member-at-Large: Brittany Downey-MacDonald
Vancouver based writer, accessibility advocate and educator, Brittanny is the founder of the Judy Jamieson Foundation for Education, and the Play4EveryBody project — dedicated to building universally accessible, public play spaces. She held positions with Calgary Magazine (Red Point Media) and Transcontinental Media before striking out on her own as a freelance copywriter, editor and language educator. She has worked on projects ranging from short fiction and screenplays to legal textbooks and Ph.D. dissertations. Her last park project became a model for the Rick Hansen Foundation Schools Program. She serves as a panel judge for the annual About Love Playwright Festival. Brittanny studied creative writing at UBC where she earned degrees in Literature and Education.
Member-at-Large: Kristen Larsen
Kirsten Larsen is a BC born artist and creative consultant, currently residing in Vancouver, British Columbia. She is deeply committed to collaborative projects that benefit the Arts and Culture community.
Her passion for art has always been at the forefront of her career portfolio which includes: brand and business development, art curation, social media strategies, graphic design, event production, and fundraising. Using her background in business and art Kirsten works closely with corporate, private clients and not for profits, connecting them to their new favourite artists. Past clients include Disability Alliance BC, LuluLemon, The Social Concierge, Dilawri Group and the Waterfall Building.
Collaborator, advocate, business mentor and volunteer; she is the founder and artistic director of Vancouver Art Attack, a creative consulting agency founded in 2013, now specializes in curated art experiences, acquisitions, artist representation and the Vancouver Art Attack Award of Excellence in Visual Arts at Emily Carr University of Art & Design.
Currently, she sits on the board of directors at the Vancouver Biennale, Vancouver’s only Outdoor Public Art Museum featuring world-class art from around the world.
Member-at-Large: Stephen Lytton
Stephen is a member of the Nicomen Indian Band within the Nlaka’pamux First Nation. He lives with a disability (cerebral palsy) and is a survivor of St. George’s Indian Residential School. An accomplished actor, writer, and presenter, Stephen has presented in western and eastern Canada to groups regarding his personal experiences in residential school as an Aboriginal person living with a disability. He has lived in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside since 1992. He loves the character, the heart, and the courage of this community where he’s learned about the human spirit and its will to survive in spite of all the challenges it encounters. He enjoys people he meets, poetry, creative writing, acting (The Downtown Eastside Community Play, Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Storyweaving).
He serves as President of BC Aboriginal Network on Disability Society (BCANDS). Stephen is the recipient of the 2016 Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in recognition of his significant, sustained, unpaid contribution to his community. He believes that the arts are one of many ways to build bridges culturally and socially.
Member-at-Large: Jason Chan
Jason Chan is a communications professional with experience in internal and external crisis communications, social media, project management, stakeholder, and government relations. He has held positions in several industries in Vancouver and Toronto, including not-for-profits, real estate, transportation, and engineering/construction. In Vancouver, he worked as the Public Affairs Manager for Canada LIne, Corporate Sponsorships Manager for the Rick Hansen Foundation, and was the Corporate Programs Manager for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Michigan and has a Social Media Marketing Certificate from Northwestern University. Jason is a member of the Board of Directors of Red Housing Society – an affordable housing society for low-income families in the Lower Mainland. He has a lifelong interest in music and the arts.
Member-at-Large: Matthew Ramsey
Member-at-Large: Andrew Dawoud
A business development and marketing professional since 2010, Andrew Dawoud has built a skill set for developing, implementing, and managing a broad range of business development, marketing, communications, brand management, and client relationship initiatives that support strategic objectives. Andrew has overseen and developed the implementation of strategic plans and budgets to acquire new business and expand existing client relationships in his positions in regional, national, and global law firms, and most recently, in the tech sector.
His highlights include business writing, competitive analysis, market research, client service, digital marketing, advertising, and brand awareness. In his spare time, Andrew can be found appreciating local art installations, playing sports, or dining at a new restaurant. Originally from Cairo, Egypt, Andrew came to Vancouver, BC at the age of 5 and has been a true West Coaster ever since.
Member-at-Large: Laura Zeman
Laura Zeman currently works with Thoughtexchange, a crowdsourcing platform that cultivates community dialogue and engagement. Laura is also a Co-Founder of The Earth Network, a media production company with a purpose to share stories that generate social impact. Previously, Laura was an Associate Producer on the feature documentary The Search for Freedom, a story about living in the moment and doing what makes you feel the most alive. Laura has a Master of Arts in Leadership, where she studied the intelligence of emotion for personal and organizational leadership.
Executive Director: Eric Rhys Miller
Program Director: Johnny Trinh
Communications & Membership Coordinator: Patrycja Kamska
Reframing Relations Program Director: Ronnie Dean Harris
Artist-Facilitators for Reframing Relations:
Festival Coordinator: Lisa Goebel
Bookkeeper: Barbara Pollard