Bravo Niagara! Team
Christine Mori (Co-Founder)
Alexis Spieldenner (Co-Founder)
Sarah Culpeper, PhD
Fundraising and Communications Specialist
Creative Design Director
Miguel Mori, MBA
Artistic Producer, Voices of Freedom Festival
Oscar Peterson International Jazz Festival
Christine Mori & Alexis Spieldenner
Public Relations & Social Media Director
Sven van der Klaauw
Design & Art Director
Board of Directors
Robin Garrett (Chair) - President, Meridian Reservation System
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) - Manager of Business Development, Niagara Parks Commission
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.
Peter Brown, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU (Treasurer) - President, Copper Beach Company, Inc.
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 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 succeeded in having arts issues considered by the Economic Development 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.
Stéphanie Filippi - Research and Communications Coordinator, Venture Niagara
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.
Michael Gruyich, MBA - President, Niagara Duty Free
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 - Co-Founder & Artistic Director, Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts
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, 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 - Director of Strategic Relations, Meyer Sound Laboratories, Berkeley, California
As Director, 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.
Alexis Spieldenner (Ex officio) - Co-Founder & Executive Director, Bravo Niagara! Festival of the Arts
Alexis graduated from Duke University ('13) 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 for 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. Alexis is the recipient of the 2016 Lincoln M. Alexander Award, presented by Lieutenant Governor Dowdeswell, recognizing dedicated leadership in eliminating racial discrimination.
Mike Voelkel - National Piano Product Manager, Yamaha Canada Music Ltd..
Mike's career at Yamaha Canada Music Ltd. spans over 30 years. He specializes in Keyboard technology for Disklaviers, digital pianos, and software.
Doug Widdicombe - Sales Representative, Sotheby’s International Realty in Niagara-on-the-Lake
Doug 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.
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