Board of Directors

O’neil Edwards BCOMM/LLB/MBA, B.Ed.

O’neil Edwards is an award-winning education professional who has two decades of senior leadership as a Global Education administrator for non-profits, secondary schools and post-secondary institutions. During his over twenty dedicated years of post-secondary leadership, O’neil has been instrumental in guiding planning processes in supporting the development of innovative programs and services that promote student retention, engagement, and success and has led interdisciplinary teams in addressing emerging priorities. He has led collaborative work on implementing access departments, international student foundation programs and strategies at the post-secondary level in Canada. O’neil has experience leading government working groups in addition to university and high-school boards in policies, programs and professional development towards organizational excellence. O’neil has had the privilege of living and working in many different countries, bringing unique insights to his work. Building on a passion for developing people’s potential through education, O’neil continues to be part of programs that bring real social change. O’neil is the Board Chair for Kick Start Arts. “Long ago, I made a promise that I would never act against the best interests or the excellence of my own people – that I would do my best to ensure that we were worthy of the stewardship of our community and country. I made a promise that we leave a better world for generations to come. To make and keep such a promise is to understand that money and position are tools – not goals.  Now is not the time for a failure of imagination.”

Jen Johnson, B.Sc., M.S.Ed.

Jen is the co-founder of Kick Start Arts and has taught, created and performed across Canada and internationally for many years. Artistically, she is known for creating dance and theatre pieces that seamlessly meld the elements of theatre and acting with movement. Jen’s teaching experience is extensive, having presented creative movement, choreography and drama to children, teens and adults with varied levels of dance and theatre training. Jen currently teaches drama at Crescent School in Toronto. Her ability to engage and motivate the students at this all-boys school is clearly evident as the excitement and interest in drama and dance has exploded since she began teaching there. She has directed numerous children’s productions, creating fantastical worlds and rich acting and interpretive experiences for all involved. Jen also spent many years teaching with Learning Through the Arts, a program that teaches core curriculum content through the arts, the Canadian Opera Company’s Outreach Programs, and Humber College’s School of Comedy. She leads numerous workshops directed at classroom educators and peer artists on the topic of bringing the arts into the classroom.

Sarah Papoff 

Sarah Papoff is an Ontario elementary teacher with a passion for Drama, Dance, Equity and Inquiry. Most recently, she has been teaching Grade 1 and is part of the Early Years Team with the TDSB. She has enjoyed co-learning, co-planning and co-teaching as a teacher of Grades 1 to 8 and as a Teaching and Learning Coach with Model Schools for Inner Cities, a program with the Toronto District School Board. She completed her MA in Education at OISE, University of Toronto in 2013, presenting research as part of a panel at the National Drama International Conference in 2013, at NYU in 2016 and Drama Queensland, AU in 2019. She has facilitated workshops for Model Schools, CODE, ETFO, Toronto DSB and York University. She is a former President of CODE, the Council of Ontario Drama and Dance Educators.

Dianne Riehl  

Dianne Riehl is a Global Education Consultant who has a Masters of Arts in Early Childhood Studies and has thirty years of national and international experience leading governments and school boards in early years policies, programs and professional development. Dianne has lead work in various roles including teaching, administrator in the Toronto District School Board and as an Education and Student Achievement Officer at the Ontario Ministry of Education. While at the Ministry of Education Dianne planned, oversaw and led the provincial vision and implementation for Full-Day Kindergarten. She directed and provided expert advice to government and worked alongside school districts as they created their strategic and business plans which directly connected to her authorship of the program document and professional learning plan to lead implementation and professional learning across the province. As an innovative leader, she is driven by a relentless curiosity and commitment to a process of making meaning of how, what and why students learn resulting in the co-creation of inclusive, responsive education that serve all learners.

Dianne led the gathering of multi-jurisdictional evidence from learning initiatives and forecasted the need for dynamic professional learning resources. She collaborated with Ministry colleagues, superintendents, principals and classroom educators to create and design content of videos, curriculum documents, and webcasts as well as delivering the professional learning to support implementation. Publications include Virtual Learning Series for Principals, K-2 Connections Digital Paper, The Full-Day Early Learning-Kindergarten Program, What Principals Need to Know About… Making Thinking and Learning Visible, Inquiry Learning Stance K-12, and Re-Imagining Literacy and Numeracy Throughout the Day Dianne also served as a Vice Principal in the Toronto District School Board. In that role as in all the others she envision a collective transformed view of thinking and learning that leans into the complexity and differences in student’s thinking and learning. A vision resulting in a more equitable process to “future ready” students while honouring who they are now.

Shequita Thompson-Reid

Shequita Thompson-Reid has been working at the intersections of community development and equity for over 15 years. Currently, she brings with her expertise within the fields of Program Development, Youth Engagement, Capacity Building, Housing, Violence Prevention, Conflict Mediation and Equity. 

She is well versed in working from practices rooted in decolonization and Anti Oppression frameworks.

Shequita has worked successfully across various organizations to lead and support a range of broad band and high impact outcomes to achieve the desired goals at multi-level and multi- sectoral non profit and government spaces. 

Shequita has developed, led and facilitated training and education on Conflict Mediation, Violence Prevention, Equity and Anti-Oppression to name a few. She also excels in coaching and professional development for individuals, executives and organizations looking to engage in change management processes.

 In her past-time Shequita Co-founded a grassroots program, Words of Wisdom.  This program used books as a catalyst towards having deeper conversations into intergenerational trauma, identity, equity and healthy relationships.  In 2015, she traveled to Ghana to participate in a knowledge exchange with young women and girls globally, and developed collaborative strategies to end gender-based violence. She holds an Honors BA from the University of Toronto with a specialization in Sociology and Gender Studies.

Shequita was on the original Youth Advisory Committee for Kick Start Arts – she is pleased to return as a Board Member.

“I am, because we are” – Ubuntu, African Proverb