Staff

Sheena D. Robertson, B.A., B.Ed., M.Ed

Artistic Director / Co-Founder

Sheena is an accomplished independent director, producer, and photographer whose professional roots lie in the theatre world, and the realm of devised creation work. An expert in arts-education, literacy, youth engagement, and social justice consulting, Sheena has worked extensively in diverse settings both nationally and internationally – both as an artist and an educator. She understands the significance of developing a thorough grasp of the cultural context for each project, and brings her responsive, grounded, and intuitive approach to all the work she does. Sheena taught in Toronto’s inner city community of Regent Park for many years, has a Master’s degree in Education from OISE/UofT, and is much in demand as a consultant. She teaches at OISE, and pioneered the ground-breaking artist-training certification program at the Royal Conservatory. She is passionate about using the arts as powerful tools to create community, engage participants, and establish equitable environments that encourage critical thinking, debate, and creative freedom. Those who have the opportunity to collaborate with her never leave disappointed. Sheena has been recognized for her work by her community – she was a finalist for the TAC’s Diversity Award.


Mandeq Hassan

Lead Artist & Program Manager

Mandeq Hassan is an arts educator and facilitator who has spent years working extensively in the film industry. She started her career at TIFF Next Wave as a youth programmer. Mandeq became a key member of the Toronto-based community events and distribution company Sisterhood Media in 2019 as the Programs and Acquisitions Director. She has been part of KSA’s Regent Park Project for ten years, and a Company Member for five. Mandeq’s credits include popular works Gay Mean Girls (co-writer), The Regent Park Project (co-writer, actress), and the feature film Being Saffiya (lead-writer). Credits include CBC’s Diggstown and Run the Burbs, amongst others. She has also received the Director’s Guild of Canada New Visions Award. Mandeq is the lead artist and program manager for Kick Start Arts, having co-led The Joy Initiative and several other community based youth engagements.


Tajvin Kazi

Manager – Operations

Tajvin Kazi is a writer and actress from Regent Park, Toronto. She has been a key creative for both seasons of “The Regent Park Project”, a web series that focuses on the lives of young people in her home community. She has been a company member of Kick Start Arts since 2014, and produced an arts and social justice project for KSA, focused on reconciliation. This months long initiative was a partnerships with a Master Canoe Builder and Knowledge Carrier, and resulted in the creation of a traditional birch bark canoe, and a community mural – involving over 40 people ages 6 months to 96 years. Tajvin is also a writer on KSA’s recently incubated feature film, Being Saffiya. Tajvin hopes to inspire other young Muslim women through her art, and aspires to bring the experiences of her community to the forefront of Canadian media.


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

Co-Founder

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.