Denese Matthews is a dancer, singer, actor, choreographer and producer whose been performing over thirty years throughout North America.
Inspired by Josephine Baker who adopted 12 children from around the world (dubbed The Rainbow Tribe) to afford them better opportunities, Denese conceptualised and founded SuiteLife Arts for Youth (SuiteLife) in April 1996. Her objective was to provide free intensive multi-disciplinary performing arts workshops to young people (14 - 25yrs.) – making quality arts education accessible to all youth. Denese has been successful in her endeavours, SuiteLife is moving into its 20th year!
To afford young people additional arts opportunities, Denese created the youth-led initiative StArt Youth Presenting Art (StArt YPA) in the Scarborough Village area - mentoring a dedicated group of young people who have taken the challenge of creating and implementing an annual youth arts festival for their peers, therefore becoming positive role models and contributors to their communities. Denese is extremely proud of the youth’s accomplishments. StArt Youth Presenting Art is moving into its 7th year.
Marie Lampropoulos is the Chair of the Board of Directors, a role that allows Marie to combine her law background and fundraising experience with her creative pursuits. As someone who has used art and music as an important form of expression since a young age, she is enthusiastic to support this exploration in the next generation of youth.
Marie started painting in high-school, discovered the magic of live music at Queen's University where she studied Biology, became a big fan of theatre during law school, and has recently started trying her hand at poetry. Always interested and inspired by various art forms, Marie has focused her legal studies in creative applications, earning a concentration in Intellectual Property as part of her J.D. and a Certificate in Entertainment Law in 2018. She is licensed in Ontario (2014), New York (2013), and Massachusetts (2012).
Recognizing the healing and community building capacity of the arts, Marie has organized fundraisers for various Toronto women's shelters that showcased musical performances and artwork from local women. Marie utilizes her leadership skills to foster art and community through co-creation, while looking to her inner child as her most potent muse.
Vice Chair/Chief Legal Officer
Michael Sniderman is the Chief Legal Officer/Vice Chair on SuiteLife's Board of Directors. In this role, he combines his legal expertise with his passion for the arts and youth education.
Michael was called to the Bar of Ontario in 2017 after earning his Juris Doctor at Queen’s University. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of King's College in Halifax, Nova Scotia. At law school, he was a Managing Editor for the Queen’s Law newspaper and Social Coordinator for the Queen’s Law Student Society. These roles let him flex his creativity while enabling him to plan charitable events for great causes.
Michael’s background puts him squarely in line with SuiteLife’s values. Having played music since he was a babbling toddler, Michael is always looking for opportunities to help young people tap into their artistic potential. While working at a summer camp for 6 years, he also learned to emphasize the importance of youth education and empowerment.
Connie Xi is the Treasurer on SuiteLife’s Board of Directors, a role in which she combines her experience as a Commercial Banker and the passion for art education and empowerment.
Connie has an undergraduate degree in Statistics from Simon Fraser University and Post Graduate Degree in Economics from Carlton University. She has held various positions in one of the major banks in Canada in the areas of portfolio management, risk management and commercial banking. Connie has volunteered at number of non-for- profit organizations before joining the board at SuiteLife.
Connie’s personal life is fill with arts, from music, dance to theatre and visual arts. Her personal experience have taught her the transformative and healing power of art. Connie is always looking for opportunities to help more people to be exposed to arts and to be empowered by arts.
Jack is a technology professional with a knack for building innovative tools. He holds the CAIA and CFA charters and has extensive experience in operational efficiency, insight analytics, data re-engineering, and process automation. In addition to SuiteLife, he also sits on the board of Etobicoke Historic Society and the Canadian Society of Decorative Arts.
Jack believes that it is an untold truth that certain aspects of today’s education system is fundamentally flawed. Today, the ultimate goal of an education is to land a job, yet corporations are focusing on increasing efficiency, which eliminates jobs. The solution in its ideology form, is simple: innovation, which leads to new perspectives, new ideas, and eventually new businesses that create jobs. Jack joined SuiteLife Arts for Youth because art, unlike any other field or discipline, by definition inspires innovation. With Samual Morse as a quintessential example: a painter who invented the telegraph and co-developed the Morse Code, Jack contends that parts of the intriguing agency that’s required for innovation are incredulously found in the passionate, un-deterministic, beautiful and yet sometimes fortuitous practice that we call ... ART.
Business and innovation requires art, yet art itself is a business. Jack is a dedicated advocate for transferring cardinal business and financial skills to young artists. He believes there’s an significant untapped market in the realm of independent design – whether it’s fashionable clothing, one-of-a-kind accessories, or a long-lost artistic trade. All artists need is the right set of “tools”, whether it’s a pair of double pointed bamboo needles, a robust round-nose piler or perhaps a set of social-media marketing skills.
Chief Technology Officer
Volunteer Management Officer
Connie Tong is a member of the Board of Directors, who represents a youth perspective in increasing arts engagement in her neighbourhood of Scarborough. She combines her artistic practice and community development experience as a Festival Manager for StArt Youth Presenting Art.
Connie is an artist + designer + art educator, who has a Bachelor's degree in Design in Material Arts and Design at OCAD University.
She has held various roles in the arts and culture sector, working in non-profits and public institutions. Connie has a passion for arts education – facilitating art workshops and programs in her local neighbourhood and organizing community arts events. She held positions within the City of Toronto as a Diversity Events Coordinator, Art Instructor, Youth Program Supervisor, and has spearheaded community mural projects in Scarborough. Recently she received a small grant to turn her passion into a business with her event planning company called cater2create, which focuses on planning and facilitating social and community events.
Connie is always looking for opportunities to stimulate her creative spirit. She is a peer mentor who inspires youth to collaborate, and connect with people and places in order to develop awareness and understanding around them.
Agatha Love is the former Chair of SuiteLife, a role in which she combines her unique blend of non-profit and government experience to manage and provide leadership to the Board of Directors of SuiteLife Arts for Youth. She is a long-time advocate for youth empowerment and education. Agatha is passionate about community involvement, cultural diversity, leadership development and strengthening the arts community in Toronto.
Agatha has an undergraduate degree in Humanities from York University and a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Public Administration and Leadership from Ryerson University. She has held various administrative positions at the City of Toronto over the last 6 years. As well as holding other operations management roles, she has volunteered at several non-profit organization's in the GTA area including, Toronto's Youth Assisting Youth to empower youth and help gain life skills. International development and cultural diversity have always been a great interest to her.
Agatha is an advocate of change in the community and works on developing her leadership skills by engaging with the community through volunteerism. With a keen interest in governance and policy, Agatha applies her knowledge to further the mission and values of SuiteLife Arts for Youth.