Léonicka is a publishing professional and a passionate advocate for diversity and equity in the publishing industry. She is the Junior Product Manager at Festival du Livre Scholastic, the French division of Scholastic Book Fairs Canada and regularly appears as a panelist at Canadian Book Professionals’ Association (CanBPA). In 2014, she launched DiverseCanLit, a Twitter hashtag that helps facilitate online discussions on diversity in publishing. In 2012, she earned Certification in Book and Magazine Publishing from Centennial College. Her freelance writing has appeared in CBC Books, the 49th Shelf, and Open Book Toronto. She lives in Brampton, Ontario.
Marina Willats, Vice-Chair
Marina Willats is a Vice-Principal with the Peel Board of Education where she advocates for learners by building collaborative relationships with students, parents, and teachers. Marina has a Masters in Adult Education and Community Development and has worked as a librarian and a teacher at the primary, intermediate, and secondary levels. She leads workshops on Arts and Literacy, and she chaired the Peel Elementary Teachers’ Union Status of Women Committee. Marina participated in Project Overseas, a project that sends teams of teachers to teachers’ unions in developing countries to share best practices, provide professional development and create international partnering, where she assisted teachers with curriculum development and introduced teaching strategies that were relevant to their environment and student population. She lives in Brampton, Ontario where she currently serves on the board of the Free for All Foundation, which works to empower youth to reach their potential.
Mark Richardson, Director
Mark Richardson: Coming Soon
Jael Richardson, Aristic Director
Jael Richardson’s first book, The Stone Thrower: A Daughter’s Lesson, a Father’s Life, came out in 2012 and is the subject of a TSN documentary based on her father’s life. The book received a CBC Bookie Award and earned Richardson an Arts Acclaim Award and a My People Award as an Emerging Artist. A children’s book, based closely on the memoir, is due out in March 2016 with Groundwood Books; excerpts from her first play, my upside down black face, are also published in the anthology T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers. In 2013, Richardson was one of the Toronto District School Board’s Writers-In-Residence. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Guelph, and she lives in Brampton, ON where she currently serves as the Artistic Director for the Festival of Literary Diversity (The FOLD).
Karen Mason, Secretary
Karen Mason has more than fifteen years experience writing and performing poetry at venues around Canada. She was the host of a popular Toronto multidisciplinary performance art series called La Parole, which culminated in the publishing of T-Dot Griots: An Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers (Trafford, 2004), a collection of poetry, prose, and photography by 40 African Canadian artists which she co-edited with Steven Green. The book has been used as a text in Dr. George Elliott Clarke’s African Canadian Literature courses at the University of Toronto. Karen has worked as both Program Coordinator and Interim Executive Director of Urban Arts Community Arts Council (Formerly the Arts Council for the City of York). She has served on arts juries for both the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts. She now resides in Brampton with her husband and son, where she was awarded a City of Brampton Arts Acclaim Award in 2004.