Board of Directors
DARKSPARK is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors
D'ARI LISLE, Director and Co-founder
D'Ari Lisle is a proficient producer, songwriter, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist who has been a touring performer and front man in several successful Canadian bands for over 15 years. He has been involved in every aspect of the music industry – writing, recording and producing records, working in management and agency offices, as well as producing short films and music videos. In 2012, he assisted Melissa Larkin in developing the Darkspark program and contributes his skill in recording and multi-media to the experiential learning experience of students participating in Darkspark.
D’Ari studied New Media at Ryerson University, Toronto.
MELISSA LARKIN, Director and Co-founder
Melissa Larkin is a skilled vocalist and songwriter. She has toured and performed for over 10 years, and worked as an arts educator since 2010. In 2007 she created The Forgotten Tour, which brought live music to people and places abandoned by mainstream touring acts. She toured 36 cities in Canada and the western United States facilitating song-writing workshops for at-risk youth, homeless shelters, old age facilities and more. Throughout her career she has used song writing to facilitate engaging educational programs. In 2012, she became an accredited arts educator through the Royal Conservatory of Music. Following this, Melissa created and launched Darkspark with creative partner, D'Ari Lisle, to educate and empower students.
Melissa graduated with a Scholars Electives honours degree from University of Western Ontario in literature and social justice studies.
JEREMIAH MACKENZIE, Director
Jeremiah J. MacKenzie is a communications and marketing professional who has enjoyed success in all three sectors of professional life: the private sector - as the co-founder of a successful communications agency; the public sector - as an advisor to a Canadian Senator; and the not-for-profit sector - as chief executive of a public-private partnership focused on regional economic development.
Over the past 5 years, Jeremiah spearheaded the destination marketing and investment attraction for Prince Edward County and the Bay of Quinte region, where he developed award-winning campaigns that continue to deliver significant year-over-year results. This past year (2016), he returned to the private sector as co-founder of a communications & advertising agency that specializes in brand strategy for digital content. He is also currently a volunteer and strategic advisor to Quintevation, a non-government organization with the mandate to unify the Bay of Quinte region as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, thinking and action. Jeremiah volunteers as strategic communications advisor for Darkspark.
SIMON JONES, Chair / Treasurer
Simon Jones trained and practiced as a Certified Accountant in the UK for over 20 years and after moving to Canada 11 years ago. His career includes working with small businesses and a large multi-national corporation, through to Chief Financial Officer (CFO) of Queen Mary, University of London, England, and CFO of Tides Canada Foundation in Vancouver, BC.
Simon has always worked to help people better understand their finances. In recent years, as owner and principal of Veridity Financial, Simon provides financial planning, investment advice, and business modelling consultation to individual and companies.
Darkspark is inspired and guided by a Circle of Advisors who, like members of the Board of Directors, generously share their expertise and view points on a volunteer basis.
JEAN-PAUL RESTOULE, Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Jean-Paul Restoule is Anishinaabe and a member of the Dokis First Nation. He is an Associate Professor of Indigenous Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto. Jean-Paul’s research is concerned with Indigenizing and decolonizing teacher education; supporting Indigenous student success; Indigenous pedagogy in online learning environments, and Indigenous research methodologies and ethics. Jean-Paul recently served as Indigenous curriculum lead for an innovative online course for First Nations school Principals and is the curator of The Deepening Knowledge Project an effort to infuse Indigenous peoples' histories, knowledges and pedagogies into all levels of education. Jean-Paul is the instructor of Aboriginal Worldviews and Education, a MOOC examining how Indigenous perspectives can benefit all learners.
DR. SARA NICKERSON-WHITE, Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Dr. Sara Nickerson-White (PhD) is a passionate researcher and evaluator. She firmly believes in the ability of collaborative research and evaluation to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, families and communities. Due to her developed methodological expertise and continuous curiosity, Sara has been a successful researcher and program evaluator for over 15 years. Throughout the course of her career, she has designed, implemented and managed research and evaluation projects for communities and agencies across all Canadian provinces, and has managed large-scale national and international research projects. Her research and evaluation findings have given rise to such outcomes as: additional program funding, improved client and workplace supports, continuous quality improvement of programs and funding decisions for community services. Sara is published in the areas of mental health, healthcare and cultural studies. Currently, Sara is a Professor at Humber College in the School of Community and Social Services. She lives in Cambridge, Ontario with her family and her dog, Pax.
AMANDA RHEAUME, Artist / Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Amanda Rheaume is an award-winning Métis singer-songwriter who has extensively toured Canada, Germany, Austria, France, Denmark, England, Scotland and Ireland.
In 2016 Amanda was nominated for Aboriginal Songwriter of the year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards. In 2014 Amanda received a Canadian Folk Music Award for Aboriginal Songwriter of The Year as well as a Juno Nomination for Aboriginal Album of the Year.
Proceeds from the sale / stream / download of her song “Red Dress” are being donated to the Native Women’s Association. Amanda recently sang the anthem at the Governor Generals Performing Arts Awards and had the honour of singing "Red Dress" at the National launch of the Inquiry into the Missing Murdered Women and Girls in Canada.
NICOLE ROBINSON, Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Nicole Robinson is of mixed Haudenosaunee and European ancestry and a proud member of the Oneida Nation of the Thames. Nicole lived most of her life in Ontario’s ‘Near North’ and moved to the Waterloo Region in 2007 for her Master of Social Work degree. Nicole has been working at the Waterloo Region District School Board as the Equity and Inclusion Officer – Aboriginal Focus since 2009. Nicole's own experiences in education often left her feeling isolated and defeated, which is what drives her work each and every day. In her role, Nicole’s passion for raising Indigenous awareness in the classroom is fundamental to the supports she provides to educators and students alike. Her vision is for an education system that acknowledges Indigenous histories and helps students to feel proud, hopeful and empowered in their school experiences.
PHILIP DAVIS, Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Philip Davis is a celebrated musician and educator. Being of the Mohawk of the Six Nations of the Grand Territory, he has resided in the Niagara Region most of his life. He is an avid singer and drummer of the pow-wow trail and enjoys the community spirit, beautiful teachings, ceremonies and the family element associated within the experience. He facilitates traditional hand-drum making workshops in treatment and correctional settings and has worked with the Ministry of Attorney General. Philip records and produces contemporary and traditional music. He has performed at many festivals, been a judge at the Native American Music Awards, and toured across-Canada with world-renowned musician, Xavier Rudd. As a Cultural Worker in the Niwasa Nya:weh Program (Hamilton, ON), Philip offers guidance towards informing and educating the staff and students on the history of Indigenous Peoples, and assists with studies with perspectives not shared within the current educational curriculum.
ESTHER MERCIER, Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Esther Mercier is a professional translator and editor from Quebec who has lived and worked internationally. While French is her mother tongue, she is fluent also in English, Spanish and Italian. She provides translating and editing services in English, French and Spanish and has worked within marketing, retail, legal, and not-for-profit sectors, as well as done subtitling for Netflix films, and other videos and documentaries. Esther has travelled extensively, living in Argentina, Costa Rica and British Columbia, and teaching both French as a Second Language and English as a Second Language in Guatemala, Russia, Spain, Italy and French West Indies. In between her jaunts around the world, Esther always returns to her home province where she grew up, studied and currently resides.
SONIA GALLIMORE, Corporate Secretary / Governance Advisor to the Board (volunteer)
Sonia Gallimore was a leader in the health and social services arena for over 35 years, serving as the CEO of two charities for 28 of them. Dedicated to serving the wellness and well-being of children, youth and families for her entire career, she supported innovative teaching methods in mainstream classrooms as a means of doing so.
Sonia was an early adopter and tireless promoter of social enterprise as a strategy for sustainability within the not-for-profit sector, and was recognized for her special expertise in not-for-profit board governance. Now retired, Sonia now continues to work with leaders of charities and not-for-profits to adopt effective business models, good governance, and earned income strategies as means of furthering their missions. Sonia brings post-graduate training in non-profit business, a graduate degree in social work, entrepreneurial spirit and a multi-racial perspective to her professional and volunteer roles in Ontario and British Columbia.