DJD LEADERSHIP & STAFF

LEADERSHIP

Kimberley Cooper

Artistic Director

Kimberley Cooper is the Artistic Director of Decidedly Jazz Danceworks (DJD) in Calgary, Canada. She has been a part of DJD for almost three decades, first as a dancer (1989-2013), then Resident Choreographer/Artistic Associate (2002-2013), and now as the Artistic Director (2013-present). She has studied, taught and performed all over the world. In 2002, Cooper was named Emerging Artist of the Year by Alberta Dance Alliance, and since 2002, she has created over 18 full-length works on DJD as well as numerous shorter pieces. She has created and performed in countless independent projects as well. She has served as an Artist in Residence during Calgary as Cultural Capital of Canada in 2012 and was awarded Dance Victoria’s Crystal Dance Prize in 2014 for her research in Brazil. Cooper has contributed chapters to the books; City of Animals, for University of Calgary’s Humanities Department about New Universe, a work she created with American jazz bassist and composer William Parker in 2017 and Rooted Jazz Dance: Africanist Aesthetics and Equity in the Twenty First Century (University Press of Florida, forthcoming). She is currently an Artist in Residence with Fall for Dance North (Toronto).

Kathi Sundstrom

Executive Director

Kathi Sundstrom attended DJD’s very first production, Body and Sole, in 1984 and became an instant supporter. In 1989, Kathi joined the DJD Board of Directors and in 1992 became President of the Board. In 1993, Kathi made a courageous career move when she left the for-profit world to become General Manager of DJD. The move offered Kathi myriad new challenges along with a radical reduction in her annual income. She promised to work with the company for two years, and now, over 28 years later, is still at the helm. She was the proud recipient of the 2005 Rozsa Award for Excellence in Arts Management and the 2017 Calgary Awards for Community Achievement in the Arts. In addition to those awards and other achievements, Kathi also led the major expansion of DJD with the opening of the $28 million DJD Dance Centre in April 2016. Before coming to DJD, Kathi worked for 10 years for three different operating divisions of TNT Express Worldwide in western Canada, in roles in sales, management, and as a facilitator and trainer in Total Quality Management. Prior to that, she spent four years in management in western Canada for Mariposa Stores, where she coordinated the openings of their first two stores in the United States. Kathi graduated from SAIT with a major in Business Administration and Consumer Marketing and was listed on the President’s Honour Roll. Kathi served as Treasurer of the Canadian Dance Assembly from 2007-2011, was co-chair of the Mayor’s Lunch for Business and the Arts in 1999 and 2000, and was a member of the executive committee of the Calgary Professional Arts Alliance from 1994-2000.

Jina Abells Morissette

DJD Board Chair

Jina is a Partner at DHR International and is a member of the Legal practice group. She has over twenty years experience as a legal executive and board member. She started her career as counsel at Husky Energy working primarily with the Offshore & International group. She then took a position as General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at UTS Energy Corporation. She was a part of the executive team that successfully defended a hostile takeover attempt by Total Energy and eventual corporate sale. Jina was subsequently appointed Vice-President, Legal & Administration of SilverBirch Energy Corporation. Prior to DHR, she served as General Counsel & Corporate Secretary at Cavalier Energy Inc. In addition to her background as a corporate lawyer, she has experience in governance, human resources and executive compensation. An active member of her community, Jina has chaired and organized many fundraising efforts. In addition to being the Chair of the Board at DJD, she was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of The Calgary Airport Authority. Previously she served for ten years on the Board of Directors at Theatre Calgary including a term as Chair. In 2019 she was one of just five women who participated in the Rescue in the Rockies which raised over $600,000 for STARS Air Ambulance. She received the Top 40 Under 40 award from Avenue Magazine’s predecessor publication Calgary Inc. and the Top 40 Under 40 award from Lexpert Magazine a few years later. Jina has a Bachelor of Administration from the University of Regina with a major in marketing and an LLB from the University of Saskatchewan. She currently resides in Calgary with her husband Paul and two children.

OUR STAFF

Vicki Adams Willis

Founder in Residence

403-228-8180

Kirstin Anderson

Dance Centre & Marketing Manager

403-228-8177

Joanne Baker

Dance School Principal & Arts-In-Education Coordinator

403-228-8189

Meredith Blackburn

Facility Rentals Manager & Administrative Assistant

403-245-3533

Ashley Brodeur

Social Media Consultant

Jackson Buchanan

Interim Production Manager

403-228-8191

Salla Carson

Dance Centre Assistant Manager & Volunteer Coordinator

403-228-8183

Adriana Cueva

Dance Centre Assistant Manager & Marketing Coordinator

403-228-8185

Heather Close

Development & Communications Associate

403-228-8181

Kimberley Cooper

Artistic Director

403-228-8182

Ingrid Diaz

Professional Training Program Assistant Director

Jamie Freeman Cormack

Professional Training Program Director

403-228-8184

Leanne Kidd

Youth Training Program Assistant Director

Laura Kleiner

Artistic Assistant

403-228-8186

Marcia Liber

Interim Production Manager - Family of Jazz

Kathi Sundstrom

Executive Director

403-228-8178

OUR CONSULTANTS

Helen Moore-Parkhouse

Marketing Consultant

Sarah Rogers

Touring Agent

FOUNDERS

Vicki Adams Willis

Founder in Residence

Vicki carries on a family tradition that began when her mother, Alice Murdoch Adams opened one of the first dance schools in Calgary in the 1920s. Vicki’s passion for dance and jazz has taken her all over the globe. Besides teaching and choreographing for countless local and international organizations, including the renowned School at Jacob’s Pillow, Vicki founded the Jazz Division in the Faculty of Fine Arts Program of Dance at the University of Calgary in 1978, and co-founded Decidedly Jazz Danceworks in 1984 where she continued her role as Artistic Director for 29 years. She is currently enthusiastically embracing her new role of Founder in Residence at DJD. Vicki has received U of C’s Superior Teacher Award, Global Television’s Women of Vision Award, The City of Calgary’s Community Achievement Award for the Arts, and an Alberta Centennial Medal. She has also had a U of C Fine Arts Entrance Award named in her honour, has been recognized by U of C’s Women’s Resource Centre, and was named one of the University Of Calgary’s Top 40 Alumni. Vicki received the Established Artist Award at the 2009 Mayor’s Evening for Business and the Arts as well as the MacLachlan Community Beacon Award at the 2016 Mayor’s Lunch for Arts Champions, wrote Canada’s 2013 National Dance Week Message for the Canadian Dance Assembly, was honoured in 2017 with an Alberta Foundation for the Arts 25 Influential Alberta Artists Award and was awarded by the UCalgary Alumni Association with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award for Lifetime Achievement. Vicki was most recently awarded by the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Arts Awards Foundation with the 2021 Distinguished Artist Award.

Michèle Moss

DJD Co-Founder

Michèle Moss (BEd/MA)(she/her) is a dancer, choreographer, academic researcher and community educator. She was born in the UK of Jamaican and British parents, raised in Montréal, and has lived in Calgary since 1978. Michèle began as a tap-dancing tot in the UK before studying at NCC in Montreal (Negro Community Centre) upon arrival in Canada. She participated in further studio training, nightclub practices and urban dance forms as well as earning two degrees that moved her into the academe following a performing career with DJD. She attributes much of her jazz education to Vicki Willis and Hannah Stilwell and is so grateful for the many opportunities to learn and work alongside those women. During the years building DJD and many years since she continues to try to wrap-up the topic of jazz music and dance in a neat package, it can’t be done! She continues to marvel at the topic and enjoys revealing it layer by layer. Michèle is currently serving as an associate professor and chair of the Dance Division in the School of Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Calgary. She continues her jazz research, which started in 1986 on the African continent, and has travelled back to Africa as well as to the Caribbean, and NYC and environs to conduct ethnographic and African Diaspora aesthetics research. She has served on numerous boards, peer adjudication, presented at conferences, written book chapters, and has been the recipient of many grants, choreographic commissions and international teaching opportunities.

Hannah Stilwell

DJD Co-Founder

Now found beaming proudly in the audience at DJD performances, Hannah remains entranced by the rhythms of jazz and enthralled by its evolution. Encouraged by her first (and best) jazz mentor, Vicki Adams Willis, Hannah dedicated herself to the discovery of the many dance forms that fused to become jazz. Starting in 1980, and lasting a couple of decades, Hannah spent countless weeks studying dance of all kinds in New York. In the mid-80s, she adventured to Africa to steep herself in the roots of the DJD style. In the early 90s, she explored movement in India, and in ’94 she began her love affair with Cuban music and dance. Her subsequent years of living in Cuba sowed the seeds and provided inspiration for the DJD production of BULLA!; still a vivid and treasured memory. Seeing all of these influences expressed in original ways on today’s DJD stage is exciting—and hugely rewarding for Hannah. She misses the dance studio, stage and the amazing DJD audiences an awful lot, and is grateful to the thousands of people who have made the long life of DJD possible.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

PURPOSE

The DJD board of directors is a group of community leaders interested in championing DJD’s future and fundraising efforts. Board directors share the organization’s passion for jazz dance performance, emerging artists, enriching Calgary with the city’s largest non-competitive dance school, and inspiring children through education and outreach.

2021-2022 BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Jina Abells Morissette

Chair

DHR International

Kim Wiggins

Vice-Chair

Ernst & Young LLP.

Ann Mallory

Secretary

Community Representative

Margaret Souleles

Treasurer

International Frontier Resources

Pam Corbett

Past-Chair

Cenera

Evelyn Ackah

Director

Ackah Business Immigration Law

Claire Auroi

Director

Breaking Box Ltd.

Frances Behan

Director

Community Representative

Taylor Brown

Director

Stifel First Energy

Sue Han

Director

FRANK Architecture & Interiors

Bill Matheson

Director

Salt-X Amine Solutions Inc.

Ryan McCaffrey

Director

mccaffreycom

Nicole Shokoples

Director

ATB Financial

Colin Szopa

Director

Plankk

Chidinma Thompson

Director

Borden Ladner Gervais

Meghan Vallance Morin

Director

Mark's

DJD Board of Directors

The DJD board is a dedicated group of community volunteers whose role is to steward DJD with a focus on generating financial and community support for DJD’s vision. If you have been reflecting about how you might wish to give back to the community and are interested in learning more about our board and board committees, please contact our Executive Director Kathi Sundstrom for more information.

CONTACT

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