Our Team

Staff

MICHAEL DU MARESQ  MANAGING DIRECTOR, LEAP

Michael was an independent dance artist choreographing, performing, touring and producing his own work for over 20 years. Michael has created over twelve original works and toured his work across Canada and the United States. He has also danced in several other choreographers work in Toronto including Sarah Chase, Denise Fujiwara and Hari Krishnan. Michael also directed and choreographed a dance film “hollow” which has been shown at several international film festivals in South America, Europe and at the Inside/Out Festival in Toronto.

Michael is also an active volunteer in the arts community. Michael was a co-founder of the Series 8:08, a past Chair of Dance Umbrella of Ontario and committee member of the Dance 2020. He was a founding artist and former Chair of the Artists’ Health Centre Foundation which co-founded and partners with the Artists’ Health Centre at Toronto Western Hospital.

In 2005, Michael founded mDm Consulting which provides a variety of services including strategic planning, board governance, organizational change, marketing and outreach planning, career planning, coaching and sector research. Michael has worked with over 25 clients including a cross-section of companies and organizations such as; Art of Time Ensemble, fu-Gen Theatre, Ontario Arts Council, Toronto Fringe Festival, Timmins Symphony Orchestra amongst many others. He also served several years as Grants Officer for various disciplines and as Associate Theatre Officer for the Toronto Arts Council.

DENISE BENNING-REID, CONFERENCE COORDINATOR 

A National, World, and Olympic Team Member, Denise was one of Canada’s top pairs figure skaters competing in three World Championships and the 1988 Winter Olympic Games with partner Lyndon Johnston. After retiring from competition, she earned a Bachelor of Human Kinetics from the University of Windsor with a major in Sports Administration. She is honoured to be a member of the Windsor/Essex County Sports Hall of Fame and the Skate Canada – Western Ontario Hall of Fame. Having experienced the transition from elite athletics first-hand, Denise understands the challenges faced by high performers in dance and sport as they transition to second careers, and the goal of LEAP to create dialogue between these two unique communities.

Denise has organized a wide variety of sport, entertainment, corporate, and special events, bringing over 20 years of event management experience to LEAP. Notable projects include Kraft Hockeyville, Kraft Celebration Tour, Petro Canada FACE Summit, Stars on Ice, and two major festivals for Skate Canada – Light Up London at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships and Canada Skates! 100th Anniversary of the Canadian Figure Skating Championships

Executive Committee

AMANDA HANCOX, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR DANCER TRANSITION RESOURCE CENTRE

Over her 30 year performance career Amanda Hancox worked extensively across Canada as a dancer and actress in theatre, film, and television. She has been Executive Director of the Dancer Transition Resource Centre (DTRC) since 2006. The DTRC is a national, charitable organization with a mandate to help dancers make necessary transitions into, within, and from professional performing careers. Throughout her tenure at the DTRC, Amanda has contributed her expertise to a number of major international and national conferences. Additionally she acts as a career transition consultant within and outside the arts community. She is an Executive member of International Organization for the Transition of Professional Dancers (IOTPD), and Chair of the Dance Media Group.

ROLF WAGSCHAL PHD, ATHLETE CAREER TRANSITION ADVISOR CANADIAN SPORT INSTITUTE ONTARIO

During his time as an elite athlete, Rolf represented Canada at the 1999 World University Games and 2002 World Sailing championships among other international events. After retiring from competition, he carried on with his education, earning a Masters in Sport & Exercise Psychology from Argosy University/Phoenix in 2004 and a PhD in Kinesiology with a Behavioural Science (sport & exercise psychology) concentration from Temple University in 2010. As Rolf recalls, his transition from sport was relatively smooth due to the fact that it was entirely his choice. That said, he’s seen the challenges many athletes face during career transitions, and the consequent effects on their overall well-being “ both positive and negative. Which is one of the reasons this former team sailor finds working in this particular area of psychology immensely rewarding “ i.e. he can help athletes achieve positive outcomes during and beyond their sporting careers. His years of experience working as an educator, mental performance consultant, volunteer hockey coach and Athlete Career Transition Advisor at the Canadian Sport Institute Ontario, have fortified him with the skills necessary to provide athletes with expert-based support and resources needed to plan and manage their non-sport commitments without compromising their sporting performance.

ANDRÉE-ANNE LEROY, CAREER & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ADVISOR, UBC

For more than 10 years, Andrée-Anne was a high performance athlete in competitive swimming. During her athletic career, she competed as a Division I student-athlete and earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Florida State University. She then she set out to parlay her love of sport and helping others into a rich and rewarding career in athletic career counselling.

In 2007, Andrée-Anne took on the role of Life Services Manager at the Canadian Sport Institute Pacific and continued her studies, completing a Post Graduate Certificate in Career Counselling for High Performance Athletes from Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. It wasn’t long before her passion and dedication to providing career transition counselling to athletes landed her the role as National Manager for Game Plan – Canada’s Total Athlete Wellness Program. The program, now in its fourth year, is the first program of its kind in Canada to support the career transition and wellness needs of national team athletes, from both Olympic and Paralympic disciplines. Within both of these roles, Andrée-Anne has proudly served on the Canadian Olympic Committee Mission Staff at the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico; the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, England and the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

Recently, Andrée-Anne transitioned to a role in career development working with students at the University of British Columbia in her role of Advisor, Career and Professional Development. She has noticed many parallels between students and high performance athletes in their drive to succeed, high-achieving orientation, and feelings of uncertainty about their future careers.

Advisory Council

FRANCISCO ALVAREZ, MBA

Born in Colombia and raised in Ottawa, Canada, Francisco received Bachelor of Fine Arts and Master of Business Administration degrees from York University. After a successful nine-year international career as a contemporary dancer, he worked in a number of cultural organizations and government, including the Ontario Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Recreation, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre, and Alliance Broadcasting. He spent almost 14 years at the Royal Ontario Museum where he was Director of Communications, then Director of the ROM’s Institute for Contemporary Culture, producing more than 25 exhibitions and innovative public programs. After serving as Executive Director of Heritage Toronto, he is currently Executive and Artistic Director of the Galleries System at OCAD University. In 2012, he was recognized as one of the Ten Most Influential Hispanics in Canada and was named Person of the Year 2014 by the Inspire Awards.

DR. NICOLE W. FORRESTER, PHD, M.ED

Discovered working at McDonald’s restaurant at the age of 17, Nicole is an Olympian, 8-Time Canadian Champion who has represented Canada on 20 national teams. She is also the reigning Commonwealth Games gold medalist, as well as a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist, Pan American Games silver and bronze medalist, Francophone Games silver and bronze medalist, and a World University Games silver medalist. Nicole, a recent doctoral graduate in sport psychology from Michigan State University, is a professor, and a human performance consultant specializing in sport psychology. Her dissertation topic title, “Good to great in athletics: How and why some athletes make the leap and others don’t” is the first of its kind to consider the psychosocial elements which allow athletes who have spent many years being good internationally, emerge to be the top in their sport and sustain it. She is passionate about improving the culture of sport in Canada and to this end is an athlete ambassador for various organizations including Canadian Tire Jumpstart. Additionally, she is the Vice-Chair of the Pan/Para Pan American Games Athlete’s Advisory Council Nicole received her PhD in Sport Psychology from Michigan State University and her Master of Education, Exercise & Sport Psychology, from University of Texas. She also obtained a Bachelor of Science, Movement Science (conc. Exercise Physiology & Biomechanics), from University of Michigan and Bachelor of Arts, Sport Management & Communication, University of Michigan.

JENNIFER FOURNIER, BA

Jennifer Fournier was a principal dancer with the National Ballet of Canada and a principal dancer with The Suzanne Farrell Ballet from 2001 to 2003. Known for her sensuality, sublime musicality, and unique dramatic power, Ms. Fournier excelled in both the classical and contemporary repertoire. She had a special affinity for the ballets of Glen Tetley, George Balanchine, and James Kudelka. An extremely versatile performer, her lead roles included Odette/Odile in Swan Lake, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, as well as starring in Balanchine’s ballets such as Jewels, Serenade, The Four Temperaments, Mozartiana and Episodes. After retiring from the stage in 2008 after a distinguished 22 year career, she attended Trinity College at the University of Toronto where she received her Honours B.A. (with High Honours) in 2012. Ms. Fournier is married to journalist Marty Cej and has two children, Olivia and Henry.

PATRICIA FRASER, B.A., M.A.

Patricia Fraser’s training included York University (Hons B.A. Dance) and studies in London, England and New York City. She began her performance career with Dancemakers in 1975 (Co-Artistic Director 1980 – 1985), has taught and performed extensively across Canada, Europe, and the United States, and is a founding director of the Teachers’ Collective. A recipient of many grants and awards, Fraser has also been a juror for the Canada, Ontario, and Toronto Arts Councils, the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards, the Chalmers Training Awards, and the Dora Mavor Moore Awards. She has been Artistic Director of The School of Toronto Dance Theatre since 1993. A senior artist’s grant from The Canada Council for the Arts enabled her to undertake extensive international research on professional dance training. In 2009, with the support of a Metcalf Foundation grant, Fraser took a six-month sabbatical to further study dance training in Europe. She was awarded her M.A. in Dance from York University in 2012.

DR. KATE F. HAYS PH.D., C.PSYCH., CC-AASP

Kate F. Hays, Ph.D., C.Psych., CC-AASP offers sport, performance, and clinical psychology consulting through her Toronto-based practice, The Performing Edge. As an independent scholar, she has authored five professional books and numerous chapters and articles regarding sport and performance psychology. Her focus is often on the interface between sport psychology and the performing arts. She has lectured widely across the English-speaking world on these subjects as well. Dr. Hays has been elected to major governance positions within the American Psychological Association, including the presidency of its Division of Exercise & Sport Psychology. She is Art Co-Editor for American Psychologist journal. In Toronto, Dr. Hays has offered mental skills and counselling and consulting services through, among others, the Canadian Sports Center-Ontario, the Artists’ Health Centre, Canada’s National Ballet, and the School of Toronto Dance Theatre. Further information concerning Dr. Hays’ practice is available @ www.theperformingedge.com.

DR. LYNDA MAINWARING, PSYCHOLOGIST, EDUCATOR, RESEARCHER

Dr. Mainwaring is an Associate Professor at the University of Toronto. She teaches, practices and conducts research in the areas of sport, health, and rehabilitation psychology. Dr. Mainwaring has published and presented papers internationally on the psychological consequences of physical injuries in sport and dance. She is a member of the Ontario Psychological Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Academy for Neuropsychology and a member of the research committee for the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science.

MERCEDES WATSON BFA, MA, C. MED, IMI

Mercedes Watson is a co-founder and Senior Partner with the Thought Department Inc., a boutique-consulting firm with offices in Canada, United States and Australia. Ms. Watson holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Honours degree in dance performance from York University, a Master of Arts in Conflict Analysis and Management from Royal Roads University’s School of Peace and Conflict Management is a Chartered Mediator, with national and international designations and has completed the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto’s course for Corporate Directors, a partnership with the Institute of Corporate Directors. She is also an instructor at the Queen’s University’s Industrial Relations Centre (IRC) where she provides her experience to two core courses: Negotiation Skills and Managing Unionized Environments and nationally conducts customized labour relations and human resources training through the IRC. Previous to launching her consulting firm, she was the Chief Negotiator and Chief Executive Officer for the Union of British Columbia Performers (UBCP/ACTRA) and the Director for the ACTRA Performers’ Rights Society (PRS).

While with ACTRA she negotiated national and international, multi-party agreements, established the first collecting society legislated through changes in Canada’s Copyright Act for sound recording rights holders (Recording Artists’ Collecting Society), which society collected and distributed remuneration in excess of $50M from government mandated levies and tariffs and grew the audio visual division’s assets from $1.6M to over $20M. Ms. Watson was also responsible for the first Trust in Canada for child performers, and part of the team that established terms for digital media for performers.

With over twenty years of senior management and administrative experience Ms. Watson has successfully created high performing teams and positive, productive work environments. Her consulting projects have included international work for clients in Canada, the United States, Mexico, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, one assignment of which culminated in a documentary film for the International Development Research Centre. Along with Mediation her consulting work encompasses human resources, labour relations, research and policy writing, grant and communications writing, leadership training, board development, organizational change and change management.