Board of Directors
Robin Garrett (Chair) - Robin is President of Meridian Reservation Systems, a provider of innovative and comprehensive software systems and services for the travel and tourism industry. Prior to joining the private sector, Robin served in the not-for-profit and government sectors including: management roles at two of Canada’s leading food industry associations (Food & Consumer Products of Canada and Restaurants Canada), Assistant Deputy Minister for the Ontario Ministry of Economic Development & Trade, President & CEO of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership, and CEO of the Tourism Partnership of Niagara. Robin has been an active Board member serving as Chair of Food Banks Canada, Chair of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts, Vice Chair of the Niagara District Airport, Board Member of the Muskoka Airport, Board Member of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario, and Advisory Board Member of the Willowbank School of Restoration Arts. In her consulting business, she represented Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation in the Niagara region during the 2015 land use planning review. Robin has also served as an adjunct professor at Niagara College where she has taught Marketing, Strategic Management & Leadership, Sustainable Tourism Destination Development, and Canadian Niche Tourism in the postgraduate Tourism Management program.
Peter Brown, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU (Treasurer) - Peter's thirty years of experience in finance and business operations encompasses a wide range from public and corporate accounting, to franchising and business start-up consulting, negotiating business alliances on behalf of clients, personal financial planning and advice. Peter is President of Copper Beach Company, Inc.. He earned his C.A. designation in 1977 from the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants, his Certified Financial Planners designation in 1998 from the Financial Planning Standards Council of Canada and his Chartered Life Underwriter designation in 2004 from the CLU Institute. He has rounded out his financial profile with courses in human relations, arbitration and mediation. As part of an ongoing commitment to education Peter is currently enrolled in the program of the Family Firm Institute which will lead to a certificate as a family business advisor. Peter also serves as Chair of the Kiwanis Music Festival in St. Catharines.
Stéphanie Filippi (Secretary) - Stéphanie is the newly appointed Research and Communications Coordinator at Venture Niagara, a Community Futures Development Corporation. Her main focus will be to create online and print marketing/promotional tools to support the launch of the new www.bonjourniagara.com Francophone community site and awareness campaign to be launched in fall 2018. Two years ago, Stéphanie relocated to the Niagara peninsula to assume the role of Audience Development Coordinator (Bilingual) at the FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre in St. Catharines. Previously, she worked for 14 years at Prologue to the Performing Arts, where she held the role of Outreach, Touring Sales Manager. She worked with professional artists and companies, offering access to enriching Performing Arts experiences to young and family audiences in partnership with schools and family presenters in more than 100 communities across Ontario annually. Stéphanie is an experienced arts administrator, dedicated to supporting the performing arts in rural communities and connecting audiences to a variety of culturally-enriching art experiences. She is dedicated to supporting vibrant community growth, audience development, collaborative partnerships, and programming and services to a diverse range of cross sectoral stakeholders. In Canada, she has also worked in the tourism sector and communications industry for Corus Entertainment. Stéphanie brings over 20 years combined experience in Sales & Marketing, special events management, fundraising/sponsorship.
Wendy Cheropita - Wendy is a marketing professional with extensive experience delivering cost effective strategies and strong results for high profile consumer lifestyle brands. Her expertise includes strategic planning, brand building and management, advertising, social media, collaborative planning, communication and trade marketing. She is a skilled, diplomatic communicator with a deep knowledge of consumer behaviour, channels of distribution and route to consumer. While Director of Marketing at the Wine Council of Ontario, Wendy successfully rebranded Wines of Ontario to the more compelling consumer brand “Wine Country Ontario” and strategically shifted focus from a category of wines to an expression of the entire Ontario wine-country experience. Past roles include Business Development Manager at Andrew Peller Limited and National Wine Category Manager at Diageo Canada.
Michael Gruyich, MBA - Born and raised in Niagara Falls, Michael Gruyich received his BA from Trinity College, University of Toronto and his MBA from Niagara University, Lewiston, NY. Michael and his family has owned and operated business in Niagara area for over 80 years. He is currently President of Niagara Duty Free, an award winning duty free store located at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. Michael is very active in the community and was Honorary Capital Campaign Chair for the Bethlehem Housing and Support Services Kenmore Court Building in Niagara Falls which provides permanent housing for men, women and families in Niagara with low to moderate income. Michael volunteers his time with the Lifeline Humanitarian Organization, helping to support orphanages, safe houses for children rescued from human trafficking, homes for the elderly and hospitals in Serbia.
Rochelle Ivri - Rochelle Ivri is a Canadian citizenship judge and paralegal professor with the McKiel School of Business at Mohawk College. She is a paralegal and immigration consultant licensed with the Law Society of Ontario and the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC). Rochelle has served two terms on the Niagara on the Lake Public Library Board and is also a former member of the Discipline, Appeal, and Review Committee of the ICCRC and spent 8 years on the Council of the College of Midwives of Ontario. Before teaching, Rochelle worked at the Federal Courts and the Immigration and Refugee Board, and coordinated a restorative justice diversion program for the Ministry of the Attorney General. Rochelle received an undergraduate degree in criminology (minor in forensic anthropology) form the University of Windsor and a postgraduate certificate in alternative dispute resolution from York University. Rochelle enjoys spending time with her family and is passionate about the Charter and human rights law.
Caroline Matovic - Caroline’s passion for meeting the needs of clients both through excellence in service delivery and education has driven her career in many aspects. Whether it was developing and operating a health consulting business for the Niagara Region or developing curriculum for the Catholic School Board, she has assumed a number of ground-up project management roles which have allowed her to utilize creativity and organization to develop products, services and programs of excellence, both in the fields of nursing and teaching. Presently Caroline is a marketing consultant for a newly established functional medicine and PRP (platelet-rich plasma therapy) practice in the Niagara Region.
Christine Mori - Christine is Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts. A Toronto-native, she is a graduate of The Juilliard School and concert pianist with over 40 years of experience in the music industry. She performed as Principal Pianist of the Florida Orchestra for 30 years, performed solo concerts with artists from Isaac Stern to Branford Marsalis, and worked with Bobby McFerrin, Victor Borge, and Marvin Hamlisch, to name a few. Christine’s experience studying at some of the world’s top festivals including the Mozarteum Salzburg, Tanglewood Institute with André Watts, and Aspen Music Festival & School provided her with a unique global perspective and the highest standard of excellence for artistic presentation. Christine returned to her Canadian roots with a desire to utilize her knowledge and expertise in creating sophisticated programming and extraordinary concert experiences.
Jerry Placken - As Director of Strategic Relations at Meyer Sound, Jerry serves as the critical link between end users, architects, AV consultants, acousticians and sound designers and Meyer Sound’s audio and acoustic divisions. He has global responsibility and continues to work with the most technologically innovative and creative companies in the world developing unique and bespoke sound and acoustic solutions to improve and enhance the employee and customer experience. Jerry manages the direct relationships with several top Fortune 500 companies including Apple, Google, Facebook and Bloomberg. Jerry studied Jazz at Humber College in Toronto and holds a degree in Music Engineering from the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida, with focus on jazz performance and digital audio engineering. He is a pop, rock and jazz musician, composer and recording engineer. Jerry has worked in the advanced sound and acoustics fields since 1987 and has been with Meyer Sound since 2006.
Mike Voelkel - Mike is the National Piano Product Manager of Yamaha Canada Music Ltd.. His career at Yamaha Canada Music Ltd. spans over 30 years. He specializes in Keyboard technology for Disklaviers, digital pianos, and software.
Doug Widdicombe - Doug is a Sales Representative at Sotheby’s International Realty in Niagara-on-the-Lake. He brings many years of local knowledge and business experience to his clients. He has always been very active in the Niagara community as founder of the Kiely House Inn (now known as the Charles Hotel as part of Niagara’s Finest Hotels), former President of the Niagara-on-the-Lake Chamber of Commerce, and a retailer in the Heritage District.
Patricia Yocom - Graduating from the Library Arts program at Ryerson University, Patricia began her career as a Law Librarian for the largest law firm in Canada, followed by court house library management. Completing her business diploma at Wilfrid Laurier University, Patricia moved into relationship management and strategic program design for clients in the automotive, loyalty and retail marketing sectors. She managed the implementation of projects focused on employee retention, B2B loyalty and customer experience. Patricia held positions in these areas with Bond Brand Loyalty, Toronto (formerly Maritz Canada), Loyalty One, Toronto (AirMilesTM) and Hudson’s Bay Corporate in Toronto. More recently she held retail management roles in the pet food and wine industries. Patricia was a board member for the Waterloo Law Association, Waterloo Region Community Legal Services and her Condominium Corporation.
Alexis Spieldenner (Co-Founder & Executive Director) - Alexis brings to Bravo Niagara! a knowledge and love of classical and jazz music combined with credentials in education, leadership, and business, as well as a commitment to social justice. She is a graduate of Duke University ('13) with High Distinction in International Comparative Studies (B.A.). Alexis is a recipient of the 2016 Lincoln M. Alexander Award, presented by Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell, recognizing dedicated leadership in eliminating racial discrimination. She currently serves on the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Voices of Freedom Park Committee. In 2019, Alexis was one of ten young entrepreneurs selected to participate in Women in Music Canada’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Accelerator.