Board of Directors

Chaired by Shirley Madill, Executive Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Arts Gallery (KWAG),  ABO’s Board of Directors provides strategic advice as well as arts sector and industry expertise.

Shirley Madill, President

Executive Director, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery 

Shirley Madill is the Executive Director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery.  Prior, she was Curator of Contemporary Art and Photography at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Chief Curator and Director of Programming at the Art Gallery of Hamilton and later Vice-President and C.O.O., Director and CEO at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, and Director/Curator, Rodman Hall Art Centre, Brock University.  In 2009 she completed the Getty Institute Museum Leadership program in Los Angeles and in 2015 completed the International Leadership Programme in Visual Arts Management from Deusto University and Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain and New York University Steinhardt. In 1993 Madill spent a year’s residency in Valenciennes and Pontoise, France.

Shirley has served on the Boards of the International Council of Museums Canada; Ontario Association of Art Galleries and Canadian Art Museum Directors Organization as well as the BIA Board, City of Kitchener, and served on varous public art working committees and arts and culture committees at the City of Kitchener, St. Catharines, Victoria and Hamilton.

She received the Ontario Association of Architects Certificate of Recognition for the Advocacy for Architecture for the Future Cities exhibition project in Hamilton and was the Canadian Commissioner for the Sao Paulo Bienal 2004 featuring the work of David Rokeby.  She won the Ontario Association of Art Galleries Award in 2007 for the exhibition project Sublime Embrace: experiencing consciousness in contemporary art and OAAG 2010 Award for best Art Publication – David Hoffos:  Scenes from the House Dream. She was one of the selected curators for Scotiabank’s Nuit Blanche 2011 in Toronto.  She has written an on-line book on the work of Robert Houle for Art Canada Institute in 2018.

She has also taught courses at the University of Winnipeg, University of Manitoba,Brock University, and Museum Management and Cultural Resource Management at the University of Victoria.

Bryn Jones, Vice President

Professor and Program Coordinator, Building Systems Engineering, Conestoga College

Bryn JonesM.A.Sc., P.Eng., is a Professor of Building Systems Engineering in the School of Engineering & IT at Conestoga College, manages business development with Mapply and is an Adjunct Professor of Building System Services at the University of Waterloo. Bryn has over 15 years of engineering experience in building systems engineering and asset management within the arts and public sectors. Bryn has collaborated with ArtsBuild Ontario for the past 6+-years working through, and helping develop, the Asset Planner for the Arts program, as well as the Creative Spaces Mentoring Network program.     

Bryn works with client organizations and strategic partners to design and execute integrated asset management strategies from the ground up, as well as evolve currently in-place programs. Bryn specializes in facility condition assessments, data management, strategy development, and financial analysis to support decision-making and infrastructure capital spending for building owners and managers while balancing cost, profit, and risk.

As a College professor, Bryn teaches courses in Thermodynamics, building science, HVAC, fire protection and materials engineering to undergraduates within the Building Systems Engineering, Building Interior Design and Architectural Project and Facility Management degree programs. Bryn’s research focuses on improving building systems performance in the areas of occupant comfort and user experience, fire protection, risk-based life cycle modelling, and building analytics through laboratory testing, field monitoring, and economic simulations.

Bryn is also an elected board member of the Rotary Club of Kitchener (established in 1922). The main project of the Rotary Club of Kitchener is the KidsAbility Centre, a Children’s Treatment Centre that services children with a range of special needs.  As well, the Rotary Club of Kitchener takes part in youth development programs, grants, a car draw fundraiser, environmental protection projects, a children’s Christmas party, the Rotary African Women’s Education Fund, study exchange programs and more. 

Bryn’s overall goal is to educate building owners, managers and the next generation of buildings professionals to improve the success of capital projects.

Bill Ralph, Treasurer

Special Advisor, Infrastructure Ontario’s Loan Program

With over 25 years of financial and managerial experience with the Government of Ontario, Bill is a proven leader in shaping the way that infrastructure projects are financed and delivered in Ontario. He established the Ontario Strategic Infrastructure Financing Authority (OSIFA) – an innovative, affordable and efficient public infrastructure loan program and the first of its kind in Canada. Prior to OSIFA, Bill led the development of Ontario’s Infrastructure Planning, Finance and Procurement Framework as well as a number of high-profile projects for the Ministry of Finance.

Bill has an Honours BA in Economics from Queen’s University and an MBA from York University.

Zainub Verjee, Secretary and Advisory Chair

Executive Director, Ontario Associations of Art Galleries (OAAG)

Zainub Verjee, currently the Executive Director of Ontario Association of Art Galleries, Toronto, is an accomplished leader in the art and culture sector and over four decades has shaped culture policy at all levels of governments and contributed to building of cultural institutions and organizations in Canada and internationally.

Newly politicized at Simon Fraser University in the mid-70s, fully engaged with Feminist Labour history as well as Artists-run-centres, the setback of the Applebaum-Hébert Cultural Review Committee Report (1982) and second wave of feminism was seized upon by Zainub to put the agenda of women and race on the table. The following two decades saw major cultural policy work in Canada, and it is appropriate to mention Zainub’s central role in making the case of racial equity right at the centre of this development. She further connected these issues with trade through her work with the International Network for Cultural Diversity included promulgating the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, adopted in 2005. Going beyond her call of duty, she selflessly enabled forming alliances, articulating new aesthetics and embedding issue of racial equity firmly into the evolving discourse. She defies an easy classification: a community organizer; artist and critic; prolific writer and speaker; institution builder; reformer and change agent; educator and mentor; and, public policy and legislation developer.

A trailblazer, she was directly instrumental in the founding of these cultural institutions (In Visible Colours; B.C.Arts Council; Vancouver Asian Heritage Month; Racial Equity Office in Canada Council for the Arts) and developed policy initiatives, advanced vital interests of artists, and created spaces and access for artists across different disciplines in Canada.

Zainub has served as a public servant over decades of an effective role on all sides of the table. At City of Mississauga, her work as the inaugural Director led to setting up of its Culture Division and the first Culture Master Plan. A decade prior to this, she was engaged by Gordon Campbell, Canadian diplomat and the 35th Mayor of Vancouver on his landmark Vancouver Arts Initiative as part of Cultural Planning for Vancouver.

As Senior Policy Advisor, Department of Canadian Heritage and Program Officer at the Canada Council for the Arts, she served on cross-sectoral portfolios. Almost for a decade, she was the Executive Director of Western Front. Prior to that she Co-Directed/Founded InVisible Colours, a widely and critically recognized and impactful International film and video festival of its kind in Vancouver and in Canada.

Zainub is an accomplished writer, critic, curator, contemporary artist and public intellectual. At the forefront of the two decades of cultural politics of the 1980s and 1990s in Canada, Zainub was the co-founder and Festival director of the critically acclaimed In Visible Colours: An International Film/Video Festival & Symposium for Third World Women and Women of Colour (1988-90). She was co-guest editor of The Capilano Review and has published in numerous academic, cultural and critical fora including, Leonardo Journal (MIT), Kinesis, Parallelogram, Fuse, Horizon, Canadian Art Magazine, Journal of Art and the Public Sphere etc. She is invited to speak nationally and internationally, on cultural policy, contemporary art and cultural diplomacy.

Fueled by passion, vision, and a staunch conviction about art as public good, she is a mentor and role model for generations. In the wake of the failure of the Meech Lake Accord, the federal government attempted to reach out to citizens by means of a public commission of inquiry. Known as Spicer Commission, she was appointed as the Official Moderator for Citizen’s Forum for Canada Future (1991). Among many appointments to Boards, she is proud of her work at the B.C. Arts Board that led to the legislation B.C.Arts Act and the formation of the institution B.C. Arts Council. Among others, currently she sits on the Advisory Board of ArtsBuild Ontario and is the Chairperson of the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre. She was invited as an expert for the Opening and Closing ceremonies of Vancouver Olympics 2010.

Her art work has been shown at the Venice Biennale, Museum of Modern Art, NY, Portland Institute of Contemporary Art, Portland US, and resides in private and public collections (Vancouver Art Gallery, Canada).

Kristian Clarke, Past President

Executive Director, Dancer Transition Resource Centre 

As current Executive Director of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC),  Kristian brings many years of experience leading not-for-profit arts organizations.  He was the Executive Director of Canadian Artists Representation/le front des artistes canadiens (CARFAC Ontario) for nearly a decade, and previously was its Membership Coordinator. Most recently, he has been working with performing artists as Senior Projects Manager at Canadian Actors’ Equity Association. While there, he took a leading role in creating and developing the Not in OUR Space! anti-harassment campaign for live performance artists working under Equity contracts.  He obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University, a Master of Arts degree from the University of Leeds, and a post-graduate degree in Cultural Management from Humber College.

Thea Kurdi

President, DesignABLE Environments 

Thea Kurdi has over 15 years of experience in applying her knowledge of barrier-free design and universal design to architectural projects of varying size and complexity. She has also taught courses in universal design and sustainable design to design students at the Sheridan Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning.

Thea has undertaken many facility accessibility audits including the development of audit protocols and checklists, as well as the preparation of audit reports. She is highly proficient with drawing and illustration software including AutoCAD, VIZ, Photoshop, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and maintains her proficiency by teaching the latest version of AutoCAD to professionals at the Sheridan College’s CAD/CAM Institute. Thea is also familiar in developing educational materials and resource information on accessibility for students and the design community at large.

Thea has been learning American Sign Language (ASL) since 2003 for both personal use with her infant son and to better understand the design needs of the deaf, deafened, and hard of hearing community.

Thea is registered with Global Alliance on Accessible Technologies and Environments (GAATES) and is an affiliate member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. She is also the host of the award-winning Accessibility Edge radio show and a member of the RAIC’s Age Friendly Housing Task Force.

Thea has over 15 years of experience helping clients understand what accessibility means, how universal design is better design for everyone and how to achieve the Human Rights Code.

Thea has presented workshops and participated in conferences around the world educating professionals on universal design of the built environment, including at the Canadian Home Builders Association’s conference in 2010 about accessible housing, TRANSED 2012 in India, and this year at IIDEX 2016 “How Smart Green Design Choices Create Accessible Spaces” and as a panellist for the National Accessibility Summit.

ArtsBuild Ontario Strategic Plan 2022-25