Bravo Niagara! Team
Christine Mori (Co-Founder)
Alexis Spieldenner (Co-Founder)
Creative Design Director
Terry Queeley - Q Ideas
Production & Technical Director
Alex Heidbuechel - Flashbox Photography
Céline Peterson - Social Legacy
Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival
Public Relations & Social Media Director
Sarah Culpeper, PhD
Fundraising and Communications Specialist
Board of Directors
Robin Garrett (Chair) - Robin is an experienced leader 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, Vice Chair of the Niagara District Airport, Chair of Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts, and a Board member of the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario. In her consulting business, she represented Friends of the Greenbelt Foundation in the Niagara region during the 2015 land use planning review. Robin is currently President of Meridian Reservation System, as well as a professor at Niagara College where she teaches Marketing, Strategic Management & Leadership, Sustainable Tourism Destination Development, and Canadian Niche Tourism in the postgraduate Tourism Management program.
Rick Janes (Vice Chair) - Rick is an accomplished marketing executive and management professional with both not-for-profit and corporate experience. He was the founder of the marketing agency Relationship Marketing Group in 1980 which became part of MacLaren McCann advertising in 1993, a division of the McCann WorldGroup and the InterPublic Group of Companies. As an Executive Vice-President at MacLaren, Mr. Janes was charged with building new marketing capabilities for Canada’s oldest and most celebrated advertising agency. He launched and managed the direct marketing group MacLaren RMG and the experiential marketing company MacLaren Momentum earning both businesses agency of record status at RBC Financial Group and General Motors of Canada. Mr. Janes was President of MacLaren Momentum and a member of MacLaren’s Executive Committee until 2003. Rick is the past Executive Director of the PGA of Canada and most recently Commissioner & CEO of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour now PGA TOUR Canada. He is currently the Manager of Business Development for the Niagara Parks Commission responsible for the marketing of their various golf properties.
Crystal Paolone, LLB (Secretary) - Crystal is currently employed by Andrews Law Professional Corporation in Niagara-on-the-Lake. After obtaining her Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Psychology from Brock University, Crystal attended the University of Leicester in England where she received her Bachelor of Laws. Thereafter she worked as a corporate and estates clerk for Richard Andrews, while completing the necessary exams and licensing process in Ontario, and was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2014. She currently practices estates law, business and real estate law.
Peter Brown, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU (Treasurer) - Peter is President of the Copper Beach Company, Inc. His 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 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.
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.
Betty Disero - Betty worked for 18 years as a Toronto City Councillor and was appointed to the Board of Directors for organizations such as the St. Lawrence Centre for the Arts, Toronto Arts Council, TIFF and Young People’s Theatre. She chaired the Toronto Economic Development Committee and was an advocate for 1% of Art in Toronto. Betty also received recognition by Toronto Council that the arts are an economic development tool for Toronto and had arts issues considered by the Economic Development Committee instead of the Neighbourhoods Committee. She relocated to Niagara-on-the-Lake in 2009 and has served on the Niagara-on-the-Lake Town Council since 2014. Betty was appointed to the Niagara Region Culture Committee and successfully had Niagara-on-the-Lake Town Council acknowledge the need for a Public Art Fund and agree to increase funding for the arts on an annual basis through the discretionary grant process.
Michael Gruyich - Michael was born and raised in Niagara Falls. He 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.
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 - Artistic Director (Co-Founder) - see "Our Story"
Christine, a Toronto-native, 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, Aspen Music Festival & School, and Tanglewood Institute with André Watts 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.
Alexis Spieldenner - Executive Director (Co-Founder) - see "Our Story"
Alexis graduated from Duke University with High Distinction in International Comparative Studies and was accepted to the Hart Leadership Program at Duke’s Sanford School of Public Policy. While at Duke, she worked with the Vice Provost for the Arts on several music and social entrepreneurship initiatives, in addition to working with KidZNotes, an El Sistema-inspired organization. From 2013-2016, Alexis worked as Sales Administrator for Brookfield Residential and The Village founder John Hawley. She currently volunteers on the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Voices of Freedom Park Committee, which is dedicated to creating a significant public art installation commemorating the Town's Black History. Alexis is the recipient of the 2016 Lincoln M. Alexander Award, presented by Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell, recognizing dedicated leadership in eliminating racial discrimination in Ontario.
Mike Voelkel - Mike is National Piano Product Manager at Yamaha Canada Music Ltd., where he has worked for 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 and brings many years of local knowledge and business experience to his clients. Doug 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.
Dr. Dorita Berger, PhD - Author, The Music Effect; Alumna of The Juilliard School
Larry Berger - Former Executive Director, Norwalk Symphony Orchestra; Alumnus of The Juilliard School
Stéphanie Filippi- Francophone Advisor - Audience Development Coordinator, FirstOntario Performing Arts Centre
Donna Ford - President, Central Ontario Network for Black History (Voices of Freedom Festival Advisor)
John & Liz Hawley - Founders, The Village
Wilma Morrison - President, Niagara Black History Association (Voices of Freedom Festival Advisor)
JoAnne Wang - Hospitality Advisor
Robert Weier, CPA, CA - Partner at Crawford Smith & Swallow Chartered Accountants LLP
Donald Ziraldo - Founder, Inniskillin Wines
Teresa Lasiuk - Volunteer Coordinator