Staff & Board



Jessica Vellenga [Executive Director]

Jessica Vellenga is an artist, curator and cultural worker, with over 15 years of experience in commercial and non profit galleries and artist run centres.  She possesses a diverse record in arts administration, financial management, art installation, curation, community engagement creation, family and public art classes and tours, event and rental management, as well as collection and archives management. She has her BFA from McMaster University. She is rresponsible for the successful leadership, development and management of the Hamilton Artists Inc. according to the strategic direction set in partnership with the Board of Directors.  Her artistic practice is grounded in community collaboration, which combines art, craft, and activism through textile arts. Performing and facilitating community collaborative textile arts, mending, embroidery, knitting, crochet, yarn bombing, and other interactive textile workshops. She has exhibited her artwork and clothing design in Canada (Calgary, Dawson, Hamilton, Inuvik, Pointe Claire, Montreal,Ottawa, Toronto, Whitehorse), the United States (Brockton, MA) and the United Kingdom (Leeds).  Visit:



Abedar Kamgari [Programming Director]

Abedar Kamgari is an artist, independent curator and arts worker based in Hamilton and Toronto.  Visit


Mary Porter[Chair]

Mary Porter is an artist and arts educator preoccupied with looking at the built environment and landscape as a way to glean some sense of the culture that created it. Her work is rooted in painting and drawing, but in recent years has expanded to include more digital animation. Her projects have been exhibited and screened across Canada and the United States, and have been supported by the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council. She holds a BFA from NSCAD, an MFA from York University, and a BEd from the University of Toronto. Having a strong interest in contemporary arts education, she has worked as an instructor at OCAD University, Sheridan College, and McMaster University, as well as in a variety of community arts settings.  Visit:

Heather Kanabe [Treasurer]

Heather Kanabe is an arts manager with over 15 years of experience working with cultural and corporate partners. Heather is the new General Manager for Hamilton Fringe Festival and serves as treasurer on the Hamilton Artists Inc. Board of Director. She was the Festival Director of The Word On The Street Toronto, Canada’s largest book and magazine festival, for over four years. She was a Project Manager with SALT & PEPPER Events in Dubai, producing large-scale marketing activations for clients including Lexus, Ford, and Nokia. Prior to her MBA, she was the Programming and Business Affairs Manager at Women in Film and Television – Toronto (WIFT-T) where she developed an annual program schedule of over 600 hours of professional development training. Heather is a graduate of the University of Toronto Honours BA, Specialist Designation in Arts Management, Major in Art History and an MBA from the HULT International Business School in Dubai.

Alex Hartstone [Director, Secretary]
[Photo to come]

Alex Hartstone is an emerging cultural administrator, curator, and community engagement coordinator at the Art Gallery of Guelph. Her academic background is in studio art and museum studies, where she received her BA at the University of Guelph and her post-graduate diploma at Georgian College. Alex has worked in various galleries and museums including The Powerplant Contemporary Art Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Currently, Alex is pursuing her MA at the University of Guelph in art history and visual culture with a focus on social practice and the politics of Latin American artists. Her recent curatorial project as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, Ateliers Studios: Creative Spaces, was presented at the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in Toronto. When not busy with work or school, Alex spends her time translating short fictional stories from Spanish to English for an emerging novelist.

Kelly Drennan [Director, Communications Committee Chair]

Kelly Drennan is a graphic designer and emerging visual artist, who has curatorial and sales experience in commercial galleries. She received a BA (Hons) in Studio Art from the University of Toronto Scarborough and a Diploma in Graphic Design from George Brown College. She is a past member of the James North Art Collective, and has exhibited her work in and around Hamilton and Toronto. Kelly works and resides in Hamilton, Ontario. Visit

Karen Schulman Dupuis [Director]
[Photo to come]

Karen Schulman Dupuis is a Business Designer with a specialty in digital and social media. She is a shift disturber, an intrapreneur, and an award-winning communicator who has worked in technology since the early 1990s, and with startups and entrepreneurs for almost 20 years. Karen is currently the Director, Strategy & Business Design at Wise & Hammer, one of Hamilton’s leading digital agencies. She is also the principal consultant at Social Design, Ltd., President of Hive Waterloo Region (part of the Mozilla Foundation’s Hive Learning Networks), an instructor at George Brown College, and she often acts as an advisor to startups in the ICT fields. She is a writer, speaker and a passionate advocate for changing the ratio of diversity and inclusion for technology companies and startups in Canada, and is studying towards a Masters in Leadership.

Mark Prier [Director, Co-Chair Special Events & Merchandising]
[Photo and Bio to come]

Kaylyn Roloson [Director, Co-Chair Special Events & Merchandising]
[Photo and Bio to come]

Boyana Videkanic [Director, Programming Chair]
[Photo and Bio to come]

David Perrett [Director]
[Photo and Bio to come]

Sally McKay [Director, New Committee Chair]
[Photo and Bio to come]


We welcome interest in getting involved with the Inc.  The Hamilton Artists Inc. is seeking engaged, committed and enthusiastic volunteers to submit applications to the Board of Directors. The Board consists of members who possess a variety of skills, knowledge, perspectives and talents. The Board wishes to reflect the diverse community of Hamilton and be a welcoming, inclusive environment and encourages applications from individuals from diverse backgrounds.  Please see the full description here.  You can download the application in PDF here and email it back to us.

We are always interested in hearing from you and encourage our members to join the Board.  For more information email

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