®The finest instrument is the mind.

Dr. Peter Simon, President, The Royal Conservatory of Music

Tony Flynn, Chief Operating Officer

James Anagnoson, Dean, The Glenn Gould School

Arlen Bartsch, Vice President, Business Development

Susan Cook, Director, The Royal Conservatory School

Gerry Dimnik, Chief Information Officer

Shaun Elder, Executive Director, Learning Through the Arts®

Angela Elster, Senior Vice President, Research and Education

Sarah Irwin, Vice President, E-Learning

Mervon Mehta, Executive Director, Performing Arts

Meghan Moore, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Elaine Rusk, Vice President, The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program

Barry Shiffman, Director, The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists; Associate Dean, The Glenn Gould School

Shawn St. Michael, Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Donna Takacs, Vice President, Marketing


Dr. Peter Simon, President, The Royal Conservatory of Music

Dr. Peter Simon has served as President of The Royal Conservatory since 1991. During this time, he has overseen a dynamic transformation and dramatic expansion of this venerable Canadian institution founded in 1886.

When first appointed President, Dr. Simon sought to create a climate in Canada in which the arts were broadly recognized as an important means of furthering the personal, intellectual, and social development of all people. He firmly believes arts activities are the best means available to foster creativity and innovative thinking in all areas of endeavour, making them an indispensable element in the future social and fiscal success of our nation. Ultimately he seeks to promote a society in Canada in which the arts are a central part of the daily lives of all people and viewed as an integral element of a fulfilled life. He established The Royal Conservatory mission: to develop human potential through leadership in music and arts education.

With this expanded mission in mind, Learning Through the Arts® (LTTA) was founded as a new division of The Royal Conservatory. LTTA is a landmark educational initiative that places the arts at the centre of public education and creates a systematic means by which teachers use arts-based techniques to instruct the core curriculum. This pioneering program has now reached over 375,000 students and teachers in Canada and has been exported to over a dozen other countries around the worldInspired by the success of LTTA in Canada, Prince’s Charities Canada, which supports the Canadian charitable work of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales, has arranged to have the program brought to the United Kingdom.

The Royal Conservatory’s acclaimed early childhood music education programs were similarly conceived. Based on the latest findings in early childhood development, The Royal Conservatory’s Smart Start and Head Start programs incorporate the use of movement, singing, instruments, games, and positive experiences that foster and nourish children’s sensory ability, as well as their cognitive, emotional, and motor capacities.

The Glenn Gould School (formerly called The Royal Conservatory of Music Professional School) was launched by Dr. Simon in 1997. It has become Canada’s leading training centre for highly-gifted young musicians. Named in honour of The Conservatory’s most acclaimed alumnus, The Glenn Gould School has emerged as one of the most forward-looking and innovative music schools in the world today.

Dr. Simon transformed The Royal Conservatory Examinations, vastly improving and expanding the curriculum, resulting in a substantial increase in the number of examinations given and candidates served. Beginning in 2003, a focused expansion of the Conservatory curriculum was launched into the United States where 100 examination centres now provide over 8,000 examinations to American students annually.

The Frederick Harris Music Co., Limiteda wholly owned subsidiary of The Royal Conservatory, and the exclusive publisher of all Royal Conservatory books, has grown substantially during Dr. Simon’s tenure. Today it is Canada’s largest print music company and publishes works by many Canadian composers.

Dr. Simon undertook the revitalization and expansion of The Royal Conservatory’s Toronto home into the heart of creative education for the nation and a vibrant cultural destination, creating the technologically superb TELUS Centre for Perforance and Learning. This extraordinary initiative included the full restoration of the magnificent historic Ihnatowycz HallMazzoleni Concert Hall, and an array of new learning and performance spaces, as well as stunning Koerner Hallwhich has brought the greatest international artists to perform at The Royal Conservatory and interact with students and audiences.

In 1992 Dr. Simon established The Royal Conservatory’s first Development Department. More than $200 million has been raised since this time and endowments have increased nine-fold.

As a result of all of these initiatives, the number of people across Canada and around the world who learn through Royal Conservatory programs has increased dramatically and now reaches well over 500,000 individuals annually.

Dr. Simon began his relationship with The Royal Conservatory as a student of Boris Berlin. He went on to study at New York's Juilliard School and in London with Louis Kentner. In 1983, Dr. Simon received a Doctor of Musical Arts Degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor studying with the legendary pianist and conductor Leon Fleisher. He subsequently divided his time between performing, teaching at the University of Western Ontario, and overseeing the artistic direction of Preview Concerts in Toronto.

In 1986, Dr. Simon joined The Royal Conservatory as Director of Academic Studies where he was instrumental in planning and implementing a series of post-secondary programs, which led to the rebirth of The Royal Conservatory of Music Professional School, now known as The Glenn Gould School. He also instituted regular classes by internationally acclaimed artists including Leon Fleisher and Jaime Laredo and supervised the compilation, editing, and recording of the Celebration Series of piano publications which have been used by hundreds of thousands of Canadians.

In 1989, Dr. Simon was appointed President of the Manhattan School of Music in New York City, where he initiated several key projects. In the area of programming, he introduced the first Master of Music Degree Program in Orchestral Performance in the United States and appointed the concertmaster and principal players from the New York Philharmonic as members of the faculty. Dr. Simon’s contribution to the school also extended to the area of fundraising, where he persuaded internationally acclaimed artists such as Victoria de Los Angeles and Shura Cherkassky to give benefit concerts. Under his leadership, the Manhattan School of Music began a physical plant renovation program and introduced new promotional materials and activities that led to a significant increase in the number of annual applicants.

Dr. Simon chaired the Arts Education sub-committee of the Minister’s Advisory Council for Arts and Culture, an agency of the Ontario Ministry of Culture. He was honoured by the Salute to the City awards for his contributions to education in Toronto and has received an Urban Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Institute.

In 2006, as part of a series of special events commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Hungarian Uprising, Dr. Simon was acknowledged as one of 50 prominent Hungarian-Canadians whose contributions to creativity and innovation in Canada were celebrated.

Dr. Simon is married to the Canadian pianist Dianne Werner. They have two children, Nicole and Justin.


Tony Flynn joined the Royal Conservatory in September 2008 and was appointed Chief Operating Officer in May 2013.  He is responsible for the overall performance of the organization, developing a strong management team and ensuring that each operating division achieves its goals.  As Chief Financial Officer, Mr. Flynn is also responsible for all facets of financial management including treasury, internal control, accounting and reporting.

Over his thirty year career, Mr. Flynn has been a successful management consultant in diverse industry sectors and held chief operating and senior financial management roles, both in Canada and internationally, principally in the communications and financial services industries. He was previously Executive Vice-President Overseas Operations at Harlequin Enterprises Limited leading to record profitability a portfolio of twenty-one subsidiaries, joint ventures and licensees operating in Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.  He was also Chief Financial Officer of Royal Trust.

Mr. Flynn is a Chartered Account and holds an MBA from the University of Toronto.

 

James Anagnoson, Dean, The Glenn Gould School

James Anagnoson, Dean of The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School, is one of Canada's best-known pianists and pedagogues. He has been on the piano faculty of the GGS since its formation in 1987, and has also taught at the University of Toronto and the University of Western Ontario.

Mr. Anagnoson’s students have won prizes in International Competitions such as the Maria Canals, the International Franz Liszt, the Gina Bachauer, and the Dublin International competitions, and repeatedly are prizewinners in Canada’s National Competitions such as the Canadian Music Competition and the Toronto Symphony Competition. He has given master classes in various parts of Europe, North America, and Asia, and he has been a juror for competitions such as the Dublin International Piano Competition, the Hong Kong International Piano Competition, the Canadian Chopin Competition, the Prix d'Europe, the International e-Competition, the Toronto International Piano Competition, and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra Competition.

In 1976, James Anagnoson began performing with Canadian pianist Leslie Kinton.  The duo Anagnoson & Kinton received unanimous acclaim from both audiences and critics and went on to perform more than 1000 concert appearances around the world. The duo has been heard in concerto appearances with Canada's leading orchestras, and they have recorded 10 CDs which are played regularly across Canada, the United States and Europe.  Anagnoson & Kinton have also performed for the BBC, Czech National Radio, Hong Kong Radio, Hilversum Radio in Holland, and radio Suisse Romande.

James Anagnoson has been heard nationally on the CBC radio as a guest host on The Arts Tonight, and as a piano commentator for both the Esther Honens International Piano Competition and the CBC Young Performer's Competition.

Mr. Anagnoson received his Master's degree from The Juilliard School, and his Bachelor's degree from the Eastman School of Music, which he attended on scholarship.


Arlen Bartsch, Vice President, Business Development

Arlen Bartsch is a senior business executive with 25 years of leadership experience in the private and not-profit sectors.  His expertise in strategic planning, program management, fundraising and stakeholder relationship management was honed in organizations such as Canada’s National Ballet School, Corel Corporation and Getty Images.

Prior to joining The Royal Conservatory, Arlen served as Director of Fund Development and Director of Business Development at Canada’s National Ballet School.  Under his leadership the School secured grants and private donations for core programs leading to five consecutive annual operating surpluses.  Arlen also introduced a successful peer-to-peer fundraising pilot, developed an e-commerce platform for retail sales and advanced the school’s fundraising reach into the U.S.  His experience in stakeholder relationship management and stewardship propelled both sponsorship and philanthropic giving from corporate, foundation and individual donors.

Earlier, Arlen served as Vice President, Business Development with Ottawa’s Hemera Technologies, as Director of Business Development with Toronto’s Idée Inc., and as Vice President, Business Development with Kanata’s Neurolanguage. 

Arlen created, launched, and sold an e-commerce start-up to US-based Getty Images, and received an Innovation Award from Publish magazine for his work.  At Corel Corporation, he recruited and built an international sales team responsible for selling software in 60 countries.  He managed wholesale distribution, retail, and licensing agreements with 160 international partners, and helped advance Corel’s sales revenue from $10 Million to $100 Million through five years of rapid growth.

Arlen earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Ottawa (graduating magna cum laude) and a diploma in Christian Education from Bethany College.


Susan Cook, Drirector, The Royal Conservatory School

Susan has more than twenty years of experience in the area of arts administration. Her career began in the Chicago area where she has held multiple positions at the Merit School of Music, Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College Chicago, and Midwest Young Artists.

Most recently Susan served as Dean of Programs, Merit School of Music, with tenure of close to fifteen years.  She also served as Director of Bridges: Partners in Music and Faculty Development, and the Director of the Tuition-free Conservatory. Under her leadership Susan implemented a shared vision with program staff; strengthened programming by establishing a full continuum through all aspects of Merit’s instruction, implemented more professional development for faculty and staff, created department chairs for all aspects of programming, implemented the A.N. and Pearl G. Barnett Chamber Music Competition in the spring of 2013, provided increased access to students in off-site programs to attend Merit’s main facility in downtown Chicago,  and worked to strengthen communication with staff, parents, students, and donors by creating a weekly newsletter and creating clear processes for all aspects of programming.

In addition Susan has retained an active teaching and playing career as a classical saxophonist. She received her Masters of Music Performance from Northwestern University, and Premier Prix du Saxophone at the National Conservatoire of Bordeaux. Susan also served on the faculty of DePaul University from 1994-2014 and Carthage College for a period of seven years. Susan has toured with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra under Riccardo Muti, and performed with many of Chicago’s premiere orchestras including Grant Park Symphony Orchestra, Joeffrey Ballet, Chicago Opera Theatre and others. She has been the recipient of numerous grants and awards including The Canada Council and Saskatchewan Arts Board and was the first saxophonist to receive the Grand Prize in Canada’s National Music Festival in 1987.


Gerry Dimnik, Chief Information Officer

Gerry joined The Royal Conservatory of Music in September, 2009 and is responsible for providing strategic leadership and effective management of the Information Technology group for aII Royal Conservatory operations.  This includes working with the senior management team to develop and implement plans that will ensure The Royal Conservatory's IT resources will be responsive to both the rapid changes in the world of technology, as well as the organization’s evolving business priorities.

Prior to joining The Royal Conservatory, Gerry was Director, Information Services at Toronto’s North York General Hospital, where he was responsible for the strategic planning and delivery of IT services.  In that role, Gerry was instrumental in advancing the hospital’s eCare project, which established North York General Hospital as one of the most technologically advanced hospitals in North America.  Also at North York General, in collaboration with the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other hospitals across the province, he developed the Ontario Prenatal Database which provided invaluable information for clinicians and researchers.  Gerry also previously provided IT consulting services to organizations such as Barclays Bank of Canada, Ontario Ministry of Housing, and Barnes Security Services.

Gerry holds a Master of Science degree in Management Information Systems from the London School of Economics, as well as a Master of Science Degree from the University of Toronto.   His interests include improving efficiency of IT delivery, data warehousing and business intelligence. 

Gerry is an accomplished pianist and organist, and in 1980 was The Royal Conservatory of Music’s Grade 10 Silver Medalist.  He received his ARCT designation in 1983.  A choral music enthusiast, Gerry has directed various community and church choirs, and currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Orpheus Choir of Toronto.


Shaun Elder, Executive Director, Learning Through the Arts

Shaun Elder has been associated with The Royal Conservatory of Music since 1994 and has worked in a variety of roles, including strategic planning, fundraising, government relations, and technology development.   He served as The Conservatory’s first director of development after its separation from the University of Toronto in the early 1990s and initiated successful campaigns to reconnect with Conservatory alumni across Canada, and also to support the restoration of Mazzoleni Hall. 

Shaun played a key role in securing government operating funding for The Royal Conservatory’s Glenn Gould School.  This led to a role in government relations and grant proposal development in support of various Conservatory initiatives, including efforts to secure funding for the launch of The Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts Youth Empowerment Program in Fort McMurray, Alberta.  

Since 2002, Shaun has led a series of technology initiatives, beginning with a project that digitized a number of successful Learning Through the Arts lesson plans, and then the development and testing of a pioneering music creation software prototype, Sequer.  In 2012, Shaun released an app that allows piano students and listeners to remix famous works in the classical piano canon.  The app attracted positive reviews from leading reviewers, including The Music Void, who described it as “breaking new ground.”

In his leadership mandate with Learning Through the Arts, Shaun’s expertise in app development, institutional advancement and strategic planning will help him guide the evolution of the LTTA program within the burgeoning market for digital learning resources and tools in schools.

A composer and violist, Shaun completed the Orchestral Training Program at The Royal Conservatory after earning a BA in Philosophy at University of Toronto.  His music for harp, guitar, and piano has been heard on CBC and National Public Radio.


Angela Elster, Senior Vice President, Resarch and Education

Angela Elster is an accomplished educator who brings more than 20 years of classroom teaching experience in Ontario public schools to The Royal Conservatory of Music. 

Angela joined The Royal Conservatory of Music as a teacher in 1982, and since that time has excelled as a faculty member and Course Director of teacher pedagogy.  She has been involved in virtually every aspect of the Conservatory, including The Royal Conservatory School’s Children’s Department, teacher education programs, as well as The Glenn Gould School.  For 13 years Angela held the position of Executive Director of the Conservatory’s Learning Through the Arts program, creating and implementing the model for this transformational education program that uses arts-based activities to teach elements of the core school curriculum.

Certified as both an Early Childhood Educator and Orff specialist with advanced training at the Orff Institute in Salzburg, Austria, Angela worked in Ontario’s public school system for more than 20 years.  She also served as a course director in teacher education at McMaster and York universities, and has for decades been a featured presenter at education and academic conferences throughout Canada, the United States and Europe.

Angela began her career in music studying voice at the University of Toronto and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Education before undertaking graduate work at The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto, receiving her Master's Degree in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning.  At the European Graduate School Angela graduated with a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies, Research, Leadership and Training in Expressive Arts: Therapy, Education and Consulting.


Sarah Irwin, Vice President, E-Learning

Sarah Irwin is an accomplished business leader with more than 25 years of public service, education and cultural sector experience. 

As Managing Director of the Independent Learning Centre of TVOntario, Sarah converted the Province of Ontario’s designated provider of distance education into a highly sought-after resource, with a staff of 72 and more than 500 contract teachers, course writers, tutors and test supervisors.  Focusing on the needs of the learner, the ILC under Sarah’s leadership evolved and innovated course development and student support, initiated numerous partnerships and strategic alliances for content development, outreach and marketing.  In addition to running the Independent Learning Centre, Sarah also oversaw the development of a highly innovative and successful online math tutoring resource known as HomeworkHelp, developed for the Ontario Ministry of Education and available to students in grades 7 to 10 across the province.  Under Sarah’s leadership, the ILC won an Interactive Media Award as well as a Canadian New Media Award for Excellence in Learning.

Prior to assuming the Managing Director role with TVO’s ILC, Sarah served as Director of the E-Learning Centre, which housed both the TVO New Media division as well as key projects associated with formal education.  Earlier, she was Head of Business and Skills Development in New Media, and served in educational product development, and marketing and planning functions in Marketing & Development. Sarah is a founding member of what is now Interactive Ontario.

At the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Sarah held a number of successive positions, including Manager of Marketing and Sales in the International Sales division, and Program Acquisitions Officer of CBC Business Affairs.

Sarah earned an M.Ed. from the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, University of Toronto, an MBA from Athabasca University’s Centre for Innovative Management, a Certificate in E-Learning from University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Studies, and a B.A. from Glendon College, York University.

 

Mervon Mehta’s career in the arts has seen him on both sides of the curtain. A student of the late Sanford Meisner, Mehta has performed as an actor in over 100 theatrical productions, including residencies at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, The Citadel Theatre in Edmonton, and two seasons at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. He was a founding member of the Neighborhood Group Theatre in New York City, and has appeared on the stages of the Court, Steppenwolf, and Apple Tree theatres in Chicago. He has made several appearances on television and in films.

In 1994, Mehta put his theatrical career on ‘temporary’ hold and joined the Ravinia Festival in Chicago as programmer for their pop concert series. In 1998, he became Director of Programming and added the title of Director of Production in 2001. Ravinia hosts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra each summer for 20 concerts and presents an international roster of artists in recital and chamber music concerts; a four-day jazz festival led by Ramsey Lewis; some of the biggest names in pop, blues, country, and cabaret; as well as a children’s series, master classes, workshops, and the innovative Musica Viva world music series.

In February of 2002, Mehta was named the first Vice President of Programming and Education at the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. Under his leadership, the Kimmel Center brought an array of talent across many genres of music to Philadelphia. Highlights include the Philadelphia debuts of world music artists Caetano Veloso, Mariza, and Ravi Shankar; the return to Philadelphia of great orchestras from Berlin, Vienna, Boston, Chicago, and New York; recitals by Lang Lang, Yo-Yo Ma, and Renée Fleming; the Alvin Ailey, Garth Fagan, and Urban Tap dance companies; and a focus on jazz that has featured the biggest and brightest stars, including Oscar Peterson, Ornette Coleman, Wynton Marsalis, and a six-year, 30-concert relationship with Panamanian jazz pianist, Danilo Pérez.

Mehta still appears on stage frequently as a narrator of orchestral works. He has performed with the Munich and LA Philharmonics, the National Arts Center Orchestra, the Chicago and Houston Symphonies, the Hungarian National Orchestra, the Gulbenkian Orchestra (Lisbon, Portugal), at the Festival de Radio France, and the Maggio Fiorentino (Florence, Italy), under the batons of Christoph Eschenbach, Lawrence Foster, and Zubin Mehta

Since April of 2009, Mehta has been the Executive Director of Performing Arts for The Royal Conservatory. He oversaw the successful launch of Koerner Hall, The Conservatory’s stunning 1,135-seat concert venue. He is responsible for programming Koerner Hall’s successful series of classical, jazz, world music, and pop concerts, as well as overseeing all of the other performances and events throughout The Conservatory’s home at the TELUS Centre for Performance and Learning.

He was born in Vienna, Austria, and grew up in Montreal. He is the son of singer Carmen Mehta (a Royal Conservatory alumna) and conductor Zubin Mehta, and is married to Carey Suleiman, Senior Director of Marketing for the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. They have a son named Zed.


Meghan Moore, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Meghan Moore is a knowledgeable and innovative cultural leader with ten years of experience in strategic planning, project management, and research and analysis in the public, academic, and private sectors.

Meghan began her career in culture policy, applying her strategic management skills as a Policy Advisor in the Strategic Planning and Policy Unit in the province of Ontario’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and later as a Cultural Development Officer in the Economic Development & Culture Division at the City of Toronto.  At the City of Toronto, she capitalized on her ability to bridge the worlds of non-profit and for-profit arts.  Her work on “Creative Capital Gains:  An Action Plan for Toronto,” a report which she co-authored as part of the City’s 2011 update to its cultural plan, resulted in an increased investment of $6 million for arts and culture in the city.

Meghan was a founding member of Brainmaven, a Toronto-based start-up focused on collaborative research and innovation.  As Vice President of Business Development and Human Resources, she consulted with such clients as TVOntario, TIFF, The Stratford Institute, Corus Entertainment and Rotman Executive Programs, and also oversaw the design of digital tools to facilitate collaborative innovation.  While at Brainmaven, she co-authored two reports evaluating provincial governments’ eGovernment and Open Government initiatives which were featured as part of the 2012 Canadian Digital Media Network’s Canada 3.0 conference.

In her undergraduate career, Meghan studied music cognition and researched the effects of music on the brain.  She was the recipient of an NSERC research grant to work with Daniel Levitin at McGill University. It was this early interest in the effects of music and the brain that contributed to Meghan's desire to work at the intersection of culture, business and society.

Meghan earned an MBA (Dean’s List) from York University’s Schulich School of Business with a graduate diploma in Arts & Media Management.  She attended the University of Toronto as a Loran Scholar where she earned a Bachelor of Music Education (Honours) and Bachelor of Science.


Elaine Rusk, Vice President, The Royal Conservatory Certificate Program

Elaine Rusk is a well-respected business leader, with more than fifteen years of experience in all aspects of The Royal Conservatory’s academic and publishing divisions. 

As Publisher of the Frederick Harris Music Company, Elaine oversaw the publication of the organization’s flute, guitar, and voice series, as well as the award-winning Celebration Series for piano.  In a less than three-year period, she led the development and launch of repertoire, etudes, orchestral excerpts, and technique books and recordings for six new instrumental series including cello, clarinet, viola, violin, saxophone and trumpet.  Elaine is key to the development of new digital initiatives underway at The Royal Conservatory.

In addition, Elaine has more than forty years of experience as an independent studio teacher, specializing in piano and theory.  During her ten-year tenure as Music Director at Knox Presbyterian Church in Milton, Ontario, Elaine directed the chancel choir, a children’s choir, and a four-part men’s choir. 

Elaine is an active contributor to the local, regional, and national musical community.  She is a member of The Royal Conservatory College of Examiners, and has travelled across North America on its behalf. Elaine is also an active performer, accompanist, adjudicator, and guest lecturer on piano pedagogy.

Elaine graduated summa cum laude with an honors Bachelor of Music in History, Theory, and Performance from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario and holds a Master of Arts in Music Criticism from the same university.

 

Barry Shiffman, Director, The Phil and Eli Taylor Performance Academy for Young Artists; Associate Dean, The Glenn Gould School

Barry Shiffman joined The Glenn Gould School as Associate Dean and Director of Chamber Music in September 2010. He comes to The Royal Conservatory of Music from The Banff Centre, where he has served as Director of Music Programs and Executive Director of the Banff International String Quartet Competition since 2006. He also serves as Executive Artistic Director of Vancouver's Music in the Morning Concert Society.

At The Banff Centre, Mr. Shiffman revitalized existing music programs and launched major new initiatives in chamber music, orchestral studies, popular music, and jazz. Under his direction, the music program of The Banff Centre also became one of western Canada's largest presenters of contemporary works. 

Through Mr. Shiffman’s leadership of the Banff International String Quartet Competition, it has grown to include career development, outreach, and commissioning programs, along with a program to nurture the talents of young artists. Its endowment has doubled, and Mr. Shiffman has played an active and ongoing role in major gift fundraising and stewardship.

Beyond his achievements as an administrator, Mr. Shiffman has also had a rich and varied career as a performer and recording artist. Debuting with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15, he has appeared with orchestras and in recital throughout North America, Europe, and Japan.

In 1989, Mr. Shiffman cofounded the St. Lawrence String Quartet through a joint program of The Royal Conservatory of Music and the University of Toronto. During his 17 years with the Quartet he appeared in over 2,000 concerts in venues around the globe and recorded several critically acclaimed discs under an exclusive contract with EMI Classics. 

In addition to performing and recording, Mr. Shiffman is a sought-after violin and viola teacher and chamber music coach. He is the recipient of the Nadia Boulanger Prize for Excellence in the Art of Teaching awarded by the Longy School of Cambridge, Massachusetts. He served as artist-in-residence at Stanford University from 1998 to 2006 and as visiting artist at the University of Toronto from 1995 to 2006. In 2009, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Calgary. 


Shawn St. Michael, Vice President, Institutional Advancement

Shawn St. Michael is a highly respected and accomplished fundraising professional with more than 25 years of senior leadership experience in the development of Canadian cultural organizations.

Prior to joining The Royal Conservatory in mid-2013, Shawn served as Executive Director, Development for the Art Gallery of Ontario, where she oversaw the evolution in the organization’s fundraising and advancement program, rooted in an ambitious strategic plan related to the AGO’s major reconstruction.  As the campaign director for Transformation AGO, Shawn played a key role in an ambitious, complex project that included significant capital and endowment targets.  Campaign goals were achieved, and then surpassed, in advance of the public opening in 2008.  Transformation AGO is heralded as the most successful cultural campaign in Canadian history, having raised $306M.  Also under Shawn’s leadership, the organization introduced new and innovative methods to generate support, including a multi-year corporate partnerships program, special events fundraising, as well as a range of affinity programs, including a Young Patrons membership group.  During her tenure from 1994 to 2013, the AGO’s annual development revenue grew by a remarkable 700 percent, and the organization’s stature as a leader and innovator among North American art museums was firmly established.

As Director of Development for the Stratford Festival from 1990-94, and earlier as Manager, Corporate Funding and Senior Development Officer, Shawn implemented a sophisticated organization structure to enable the Festival to reach its full potential.  She engaged volunteers to play a more active role in fundraising, embraced and harnessed the power of technology to support development efforts, and created unique donor partnerships.  Through her management and resourcefulness, Shawn laid the groundwork for capital and endowment campaigns that would significantly enhance Stratford’s profile as North America’s leading classical theatre.

Shawn was the first Canadian to be appointed president of the Art Museum Development Association in that organization’s then 40-year history, and in 2011 hosted its first annual conference in Canada.  In 2009 she was awarded the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Outstanding Fundraising Award for the many contributions she had made throughout her career to AFPs Toronto Chapter, the largest chapter in North America.  Shawn is active in her community and supports a variety of international development organizations, along with the ROM, Hospital for Sick Children, CNIB, and other health charities.


Donna Takacs, Vice President, Marketing

Donna Takacs is an accomplished business leader with extensive North American and international experience.  With more than 25 years of marketing, communications and business development experience, Donna has been recognized for her achievements in strategic planning, market development, brand management, and stakeholder relations in both the private and public sectors.

Donna joined The Royal Conservatory of Music in 2009.  She served as Managing Director, Learning Through the Arts and The Royal Conservatory School prior to assuming her current position in 2014.  Under her leadership, LTTA established a Youth Empowerment Program in Northern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo region schools, and completed a landmark, three-year study which proved conclusively that using arts activities to illuminate challenging concepts in math, science and language arts offer the most effective way to boost the engagement level and, consequently, the academic success of all students.

Prior to joining The Royal Conservatory, Donna was a marketing consultant for emerging and start-up businesses in the biotechnology, health care, financial services, agricultural research, and web-based technology markets.  Earlier, Donna served as Vice President, Marketing and New Business Initiatives at Lumira Capital, a premier Canadian venture capital company focused on achieving long-term appreciation through investment in emerging health and life sciences companies, and as Vice President, Marketing and Business Development at Frank Schaffer Publications, a California-based educational publisher (subsequently sold to McGraw Hill), where she helped to create and launch an accredited online professional development program for teachers in partnership with the Professional Development Institute and Chapman University.

Donna also held the position of Director of Business Development, Overseas Division at Harlequin Enterprises Ltd., where she directed and assisted 14 overseas companies with the formulation and implementation of their business plans, contributing to record divisional sales growth of over 35% in less than two years.

Donna earned a Bachelor of Commerce (magna cum laude) with a major in marketing and a minor in finance from Concordia University.