Mentor in Residence

Meet the artists and arts workers offering free mentorship in 2021!


Sean Lee, Director of Programming at Tangled Art + Disability

Sean Lee is an artist and curator exploring the notion of disability art and accessibility as the last avant-garde. His methodology reframes embodied difference as a means to resist traditional aesthetic idealities. Orienting towards a “crip horizon”, Sean gestures towards the transformative possibilities of a world that desires the way disability can disrupt. Sean holds a B.A. in Arts Management and Studio from the University of Toronto, Scarborough and is currently the Director of Programming at Tangled Art + Disability. Previous to this role, he was Tangled’s inaugural Curator in Residence (2016) as well as Tangled’s Gallery Manager (2017). Sean was involved with the launch of Tangled Art Gallery, and has been integral to countless exhibitions and public engagements throughout his tenure at Tangled Art + Disability. In addition to his position at Tangled, Sean is an independent curator, lecturer, and advisor, adding his insights and perspectives to conversations surrounding Disability Arts across Canada and the United States. Sean currently sits on the board of CARFAC Ontario, Creative Users Projects and is a member of the Ontario Art Council’s Deaf and Disability Advisory Committee and Toronto Art Council's Visual and Media Arts Committee.

His areas of expertise include Disability arts and culture, Accessible curation, and Crip aesthetics.

Mona Afshari, Marketing & Communications Manager, WorkInCulture

Over the last fifteen years, Mona Afshari has worked as a marketer, art administrator, and art educator in Ontario, Qu├ębec, the Northwest Territories, and Washington D.C., developing and implementing strategic plans as well as programs for diverse audiences. She has a Bachelor’s in Visual Arts and Art History from Western University, a Master’s in Art Education from Concordia University, and a Graduate Diploma in Management from McGill University. Mona is passionate about bridging the gap between the arts and business through her marketing efforts. As the Marketing & Communications Manager at WorkInCulture she supports the professional lives of artists, creatives, and cultural workers. 

Derek Spooner, Executive Director, Scarborough Arts

Derek Spooner, M.A., joined the team at Scarborough Arts in 2018 and has since had the privilege of working alongside talented colleagues, community members, collectives and artists in delivering several community arts projects and installations in Scarborough. Derek has been working for 16 years in the non-profit, post-secondary and corporate sectors with a focus on nonprofit management, fund development, operational design, data analysis, communications, marketing and team building. Derek has built profitable fundraising teams and his portfolio includes $9.04M in fulfilled gifts between 2011 to 2016 for the Toronto International Film Festival, Save The Children Canada, Free The Children (now We Charity), The New England Aquarium, The Boston Museum of Science, The Chicago Memorial Children’s Hospital, The Canadian Music Therapy Trust Fund, and Mirvish Theatre Productions. A trained actor, Derek studied theatre and film at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and the New School University in New York City. He loves to paint, draw, sing and play music, act and write. Derek is excited to be working with the Scarborough Arts' team to continue making direct community arts impacts in the Scarborough community, and beyond.

Syrus Marcus Ware is an Assistant Professor in SOTA at McMaster University. He is a Vanier scholar, visual artist, activist, curator and educator. Syrus uses painting, installation and performance to explore social justice frameworks and black activist culture, and he’s shown widely in galleries and festivals across Canada. He is a core-team member of Black Lives Matter – Toronto, a part of the Performance Disability Art Collective, and an ABD PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental Studies. His on-going curatorial work includes That’s So Gay (Gladstone Hotel, 2016-2019) and BlacknessYes!/Blockorama.

Visit his website at

Konrad Skorupa works as a Cultural Development Officer, Economic Development and Culture at the City of Toronto. His primary role is to develop and implement cultural programs and projects that foster and enhance the growth of Toronto as a creative city. Currently, he works on the City of Toronto's cultural grants portfolio (operating, capital, project and Indigenous), develops cultural policy, and oversees the City of Toronto Cultural Community Space Tenancies. He is a graduate of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education with a Master's in Education and Community Development and the Graduate Professional Certificate in Cultural Sector Leadership from the University of Victoria, B.C. Konrad is committed to elevating the creative and cultural identity of the city. 

His areas of expertise include Grant writing, Project design. Strategic planning, HR, Accessibility, Volunteer management, and Communication Skills Improvement.

Parul Pandya has been skillfully working in non-profit in various roles through the past decade, including as a community builder, consultant, programmer and producer. After managing in community granting for the largest government funder in Canada, she seamlessly transferred her knowledge, passion and skills to open her own consulting practice. Community Impact Non-Profit Consulting strategically enables community engagement and equitable innovation. She has had the honour to work with such clients as StreetART Toronto, North York Arts, WorkinCulture and many other local service organizations. Parul is a highly in- demand teacher and facilitator, delivering over 30 trainings around anti- oppression, equity and community-engaged arts education. Her attraction to advocacy emerged with her work as a Queer South Asian freelance writer/poet, over a decade ago. She strongly believes representation matters and it’s important to share stories. She has a deep passion for ethics and social justice, which she teaches at Centennial College. She feels fulfilled when using community arts as a tool for community engagement and colourful expression. Her approach to exchange is a high-engagement approach, encouraging participation through self-reflection, empathy, creativity and common understanding. She is also lending her expertise to a variety of Canada-wide initiatives to foster better understanding towards social justice when working with racialized communities. You can check out her work here.

Her areas of expertise include Grant writing, Project design, Communication Skills Improvement, Professional Network Expansion, and Community arts.

Juan M Gonzalez-Calcaneo's was filmmaking; his appetite for storytelling is one that transcends forms and platforms. He believes in the power of a well-crafted story that can be told in multiple ways while resonating uniquely with each member of his audience. Juan has worked tirelessly assisting brands in finding their core identity while leading them into the growingly complex and often puzzling world of brand communications, helping them direct their message to desired, targeted audiences. He began his career working in some of the most recognized non-profit arts organizations in Canada. Juan’s dynamic career also includes a successful four-year run as a panelist on a hit MTV show, which allowed him to build strong relationships with journalists and other key media leaders and tastemakers in the country. Spearheading campaigns with brands such as Bandit Brewery and Buffer Festival, has established Juan as a creative force and a unique voice in the industry. When not working behind his computer or at a client meeting, you’ll find Juan exploring the city’s best breweries, watching a classic film, or meticulously planning culinary escapades. 

His areas of expertise includes Communication skills improvement.

Julian Carvajal is a multifaceted, colourful and vibrant queer Latinx Canadian Arts Manager/Producer with over 19 years of experience managing and delivering arts festivals and cultural events. He has worked across the city leading large high-level events, coordinating personnel, producing shows, developing marketing concepts and has significant experience budgeting, managing staff, and building a strong community and media relations across cultural boundaries. He has worked for 5 years at Art Starts as a Special Projects Manager, while also producing the largest PanAmerican Food and Music Festival and mentoring people through the Neighbourhood Arts Network & other organizations. Julian is currently working at North York Arts as the coordinator of their Seniors Animation Program & Second Act Program, which focuses on youth and seniors who are learning English. He is also facilitating digital storytelling program he has curated exclusively for seniors experiencing isolation due to Covid19 for Latin American Community. 

His areas of expertise include Project design, Technology, Strategic planning, Volunteer management, Communication Skills Improvement, Professional Network Expansion, Event Production, Evaluation, and Reporting.