Staff & Board of Directors
Melanie Hurley, CEO
Melanie Hurley launched her career in business, fundraising and special events after graduating from the University of Toronto and completing supplemental courses at George Brown College and Ryerson Polytechnic University.
In 1997, Hurley founded Rock Pile Event Management, specializing in the coordination of charity events, concerts, weekend festivals and end-of-year celebrations.
Hurley continued to look for new challenges, and in July 1999, was appointed Executive Director, for The Ireland Fund of Canada. Her responsibilities covered a number of areas including dignitary relations, corporate fundraising, grant management and charity event production.
This ultimately led to Hurley’s position as President & CEO of The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), a role held for more than 11 years.
She immediately had a positive impact, helping to establish the 2003 JUNO Awards in Ottawa as one of the most successful ever with Canadian viewership more than double that of the Grammys, in addition to winning a Gemini Award for Best Variety Program. The following year, the JUNO Awards in Edmonton boasted the largest live audience with over 16,000 in attendance, and garnering Hurley her first of two Gemini Awards for her role as Executive Producer.
In addition to growing the success of Canada’s Music Awards, Hurley significantly increased sponsorship and awareness of CARAS and enhanced its profile as a driving force within the Canadian music industry. She developed the CARAS music education mandate under the banner, MusiCounts, furthering music education in Canadian schools. MusiCounts contributed over $5 million in support of music programs across the country during her tenure.
In 2014, after twelve JUNO Awards Shows, Melanie Hurley left CARAS for the contract position of CEO of Canada’s Walk of Fame where she transitioned the national broadcast to the first nationally televised “Golden Globe Gala” styled production in Canada. Other successes included strengthening existing, and cultivating new sponsor and donor relationships.
Continuing to develop and broaden her experience, Melanie has taken on the role of Interim CEO, “Outside Looking In”, a Canadian charity. Their mission is to empower Indigenous Youth to pursue education, engage in self-expression and celebrate empowerment through the transformative art of dance. Hurley will be overseeing the main dance and education programs, as well as the mentorship and future leader programs. Her responsibilities as CEO include fundraising, sponsor relations, grant management, program expansion, strategic planning, policy and procedure development, as well as marketing and brand advancement, and the production of the Sony Centre performances.
Maureen Hatherley, Program Director
With over thirty years of experience as an educator, Maureen Hatherley has worked as a teacher in both the public and private school systems in Ontario. It was during her association with the Canadian Outward Bound Wilderness School that Maureen came to the realization that powerful life-altering learning experiences most often involve teamwork, persistence, physical endurance, mental fortitude, self-discipline, and controlled risk. With this knowledge, Maureen was instrumental in implementing a wide variety of experiential learning programs during her work at Lac La Croix First Nation, including an introduction to Hip Hop dance with Tracee Smith in 2004. Maureen has maintained a key role in OLI, beginning as one of the lead teachers in Lac La Croix in OLI’s inaugural year, 2008, through to her present role as Head of Programming where she is fortunate to be able to spend time in all of the OLI communities, combining teaching and leadership while working with Indigenous youth, community volunteers and school staff.
Elysia Townsend, Senior Program Manager
With over 15 years of experience working in the recreation field, Elysia brings with her a passion for working with youth and helping them discover what makes them special. While working for the Tim Horton Children’s Foundation, Elysia solidified her belief that everyone deserves a chance to be a kid. She uses her programming experience to help create those opportunities for the youth of OLI. Through her time working as a field placement officer at Conestoga College, Elysia was able to develop key strategies to helping youth with job readiness and workplace skills. She is grateful to be able to share that knowledge with the youth in the program.
Elysia was first introduced to OLI in 2011 when she was blown away at the first performance she attended in Toronto. She has been involved in the program ever since – as a camp liaison, mentor in the Future Leaders program, and now in her full-time role as Senior Program Manager. She is beyond excited to be able to work with Indigenous youth across Canada; to watch them grow, overcome obstacles, and blossom while performing.
Ratna Shrestha, Executive Assistant
Ratna brings over 10 years of experience in office administration and customer service from both public and private organizations. Ratna is an enthusiastic and innovative professional with extensive experience in terms of organizing, event management, team building and communication. In a course of working in various organizations, Ratna has accomplished remarkable experiences which includes being actively involved in arranging aids and basic necessities for the earthquake victims in Nepal during an Emergency situation when a 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit the various parts of the country in 2015. Ratna is known not only for being passionate about her work but she brings her heart with her in terms of volunteering. Recently, Ratna has volunteered in Bike Host which is a program organized by Culturelink to promote cycle as a means of transportation throughout Toronto. She holds a masters degree in Business Studies. Ratna’s active nature defines her positive attitude towards her life. She believes in giving back to the community and charitable organizations hold a special place in her heart.
Laura MacKinnon, Future Leaders Program Manager
Laura is a passionate arts education and non-profit professional with over 8 years of experience in the sector. A dance artist and certified teacher, Laura believes deeply in the transformative power of the arts. She has worked as an artist-educator and professional development workshop leader for organizations including the Royal Conservatory of Music, the National Ballet of Canada, Danceworks, the Canadian Opera Company and OISE. Before OLI, Laura was the Assistant National Program Director at DAREarts where she designed and taught workshops to help young people build leadership skills through the arts. She was also responsible for forging cross-sector partnerships, training staff and partnering with arts and culture institutions to design innovative programming. Through DAREarts, she built meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities and is a passionate advocate and ally for Indigenous youth. She is thrilled to take on the role of Future Leaders Program Manager, where she will use her experience as a teacher, artist and mentor to help Indigenous youth bring their vision for the future to life.
Richard Lewis-Assiniwe, Program Coordinator
My name is Richard A.J. Lewis-Assiniwe and I’m an aboriginal OLI Alumni from Wikwemikong, Ontario. I have danced twice in the regular OLI program in the 2013 and 2015 shows at the Winter Garden Theatre and Sony Centre for the Performing Arts respectively. In 2017, I was invited back to dance in a newly created group called Alumni and performed again at the Sony Centre. From there I was invited to take part of an extension of the Future Leaders program called Alumni Talent. I have also been involved with OLI to help host a booth at the First Nation Directors of Education Conference in Gatineau, QC and was privileged to meet Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a special event in Ottawa for Outside Looking In. In the 2018 program, I stepped into a new role of chaperone at the Tim Horton Onondaga Farms camp where I was able to interact with all of the amazing students in the program from Ontario and Manitoba. Today, I am excited to be working full time for Outside Looking In as the Program Coordinator.