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The Word On The Street is a non-profit organization that celebrates Canadian reading, writing, and champions literacy primarily through a free, annual outdoor festival. Each September, in communities from coast-to-coast, we invite everyone to participate in hundreds of author events, presentations and workshops, and to browse a marketplace that boasts the best selection of Canadian books and magazines you’ll find anywhere. And it’s free!
Holly Kent, Executive Director, Ontario Book Publishing Organization and the Open Book Foundation (President)
Holly Kent has worked in book publishing for seven years and has been a member of The Word On The Street Toronto’s Board of Directors since 2012. Having previously worked with the National Reading Campaign, the Canadian Children’s Book Centre, and Scholastic Canada, she is currently the Executive Director of the Ontario Book Publishing Organization and the Open Book Foundation, which runs the popular websites Open Book Toronto and Open Book Ontario.
Barbara Howson, Vice-President, Sales and Licensing, House of Anansi Press and Groundwood Books (Vice-President)
Barbara Howson is a sales, licensing, and business strategist with a strong background in publishing and other media sectors. She’s worked with small to mid-size companies in Canada and the United Kingdom and has also worked as a consultant to industry organizations and government agencies. At present she is enjoying her sixth year with House of Anansi and Groundwood Books as Vice- President, Sales and Licensing.
Bhavna Chauhan, Editorial Assistant, Random House of Canada Ltd.
Bhavna Chauhan is a lifelong lover of books, the written word, and The Word On The Street. She has worked in the publishing industry for fifteen years, including time as a bookseller. She joined Word On The Street’s Board of Directors in 2011, and is currently Editorial Assistant at McClelland & Stewart.
Ven Seshadri, Vice President, Project Development, CarbonFree Technology Inc. (Treasurer)
Ven Seshadri is Vice President of Project Development at CarbonFree Technology Inc., a Toronto-based solar energy developer and financier. Prior to joining CarbonFree, Ven was President and CEO of The SPi Group Inc. Before joining SPi, Ven worked for the IBM Software Group where he worked to bring innovative technologies from the IBM Research Division to market. Ven holds both a BASc degree in Engineering Science and an MASc degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Toronto.
Helena Aalto, The Word On The Street Canada National Co-ordinator
During her career, Helena Aalto has worked at ABC Life Literacy, Editors’ Association of Canada, Canadian Children’s Book Centre, Kids Can Press, Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Chapters and Coles. Her consulting clients include Association of Canadian Publishers, Ontario Media Development Corporation, Access Copyright, Work in Culture, and Storytellers of Canada. Past board and committee service includes IBBY Canada, Canadian Coalition for School Libraries, Book and Periodical Council, and Canadian Booksellers Association.
Elyse Friedman, Author and screenwriter
Elyse Friedman is a Toronto-based author and screenwriter. Her most recent novel, The Answer To Everything, was published by HarperCollins in 2014. Elyse’s books include Long Story Short, a Novella & Stories (Anansi); Waking Beauty (Crown US); Then Again (Random House Canada); and the poetry collection Know Your Monkey (ECW). Her work has been short-listed for the Trillium Book Award, The Toronto Book Award, the Relit Award and the National Magazine Award. Elyse’s short fiction has appeared in Best Canadian Stories and The Journey Prize Anthology, and her story, The Soother, won the Gold National Magazine Award for fiction.
Alan G. James, Partner, Gowling WLG (Canada) LLP
Alan James is a partner in Gowling’s Toronto office and head of the firm’s National Technology Industry Group. Alan practices in corporate and commercial law with an emphasis on venture capital investments in technology companies and strategic transactions relating to the development, acquisition, licensing, and use of technology. Alan has advised investment funds and corporations in connection with numerous cross-border investment transactions and acquisitions.
Christopher Johnson (Past President)
Christopher Johnson has had a long career working in the retail book business, beginning in 1985 as General Manager at Edsed Wholesale Books. In 1987 he started his own company, C. Johnson Bookseller, a respected independent bookstore in London, Ontario. In 1999 he moved to Toronto, joined Nicholas Hoare, another fine independent bookstore, and became Manager in 2007. Along the way he has served on committees of the Canadian Booksellers Association, and organized regional book fairs. Christopher joined the board of The Word On The Street Toronto in 2008 and served as Board President from 2012 to 2015.
Eleanor LeFave, Owner, Mabel’s Fables (ex-officio)
Eleanor LeFave is from a family of school teachers and grew up surrounded by books. She studied art history and design at York University. She and her sister, a teacher-librarian, opened children’s bookstore Mabel’s Fables, in Toronto in 1988. Eleanor served on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Booksellers Association from 2003 to 2007 and was V.P. and President for 2006 and 2007.
Jennifer Murray, President, Porch Light Consulting
Jennifer Murray is a senior professional with over 20 years of experience in strategic marketing and communications in the cultural industries. In 2006 she founded Porch Light Consulting, a consulting company that provides marketing services to the cultural sector. Clients include the Canada Council, WorkInCulture, National Reading Campaign, and the Ontario Media Development Corporation. Jennifer teaches Marketing at Humber College’s Book Publishing Program. Previously she was Director of Marketing at Penguin Books Canada and Vice President of Marketing at Kids Can Press.
Don Oravec, former Executive Director, Writers’ Trust of Canada
A graduate of the University of Guelph, Don began his career in the arts community in the marketing department of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. In 1989 Don bought a home and pursued business opportunities on Montserrat. After Hurricane Hugo, Don returned to Toronto where he purchased and operated The Fare Exchange Cafe before returning to the Toronto Symphony where he managed the customer service centre and telemarketing operations. Don was the first full-time Director of Development for Tafelmusik. He has worked for the Writers’ Trust of Canada for nine years, the last seven years as Executive Director. Don currently serves on the board of Project Bookmark Canada and Coral Ridge Towers South in Fort Lauderdale. Don and his husband Jim Harper divide their time between Toronto and Fort Lauderdale.
Anna Porter, Author, co-founder of Key Porter Books
Anna Porter’s recent books are Buying a Better World: George Soros and Billionaire Philanthropy and The Ghosts of Europe: Journeys Through Central Europe’s Troubled Past and Uncertain Future, winner of the Shaughnessey Cohen Prize for Political Writing. Kasztner’s Train, the True Story of Rezso Kasztner, Unknown Hero of the Holocaust, was the winner of the 2007 Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Award and of the Jewish Book Award for Non-Fiction. She has also written three novels, a memoir called The Storyteller, and numerous newspaper and magazine articles.
She is co-founder of Key Porter Books, a company with a wide-ranging author list that included Farley Mowat, Allan Fotheringham, Howard Engel, Joan Barfoot, Fred Bruemmer, Norman Jewison, George Jonas, Margaret Atwood, The Right Honourable Jean Chretien, Sylvia Fraser, Modris Eksteins, John Keegan, Martin Gilbert, Irving Abella, Josef Skvorecky, Italo Calvino, William Trevor, Conrad Black, and Janet Lunn. She sold majority interest in the company in 2004.
She is an Officer of The Order of Canada and has been awarded the Order of Ontario.
Meredith Tutching, Director, Forest of Reading, Ontario Library Association
Meredith Tutching has been with the Ontario Library Association since 2001 and joined The Word on the Street board in 2014. As the Program Coordinator at OLA, her main responsibility is the Forest of Reading Award Programs and the Festival of Trees. These programs see 250,000 young people participate every year and is the largest children’s choice program in the country of its kind. Each year they culminate in Festivals around Ontario for tens of thousands of young people.
Sarah Dunn, Senior Publicist, ECW Press
Sarah Dunn has been with ECW Press since 2006. As Senior Publicist, she is responsible for creating and implementing publicity campaigns for approximately 20 titles per year. She previously worked in the publicity departments of McClelland & Stewart and Thomas Allen & Son.