BOARD & STAFF BIOS

BOARD BIOS

Lawrence Axmith came to Word-Play in 2007 as a Teacher Candidate at York University. Upon graduation in 2011 he was hired as a Performing Arts/Language Arts teacher at The Leo Baeck Day School. Lawrence graduated with a BFA in Film, Television and Radio from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and served as Managing Artistic Director at New York Youth Theater (NYYT) for 10 years. After returning to Toronto in 2002, he successfully adapted the NYYT model at the Randolph Academy for the Performing Arts, serving as the Artistic Director of the Randolph Young Company (RYC), where he was also the school’s Managing Director (2009-10). Lawrence has extensive experience working in summer camp settings and in the entertainment field specializing in children and youth culture.

Andrea Curtis is an award-winning writer for both adults and children. Her latest books for young people include the YA novel, Big Water, and Eat this! How Fast Food Marketing Gets You to Buy Junk (and how to fight back). She was the Program Director for Word-Play’s Writing in the City, a creative writing workshop for Grade 6 students, from its inception until 2019. www.andreacurtis.ca

Susie FitzPatrick began her teaching career as an occasional teacher, working in both elementary and secondary schools across Toronto. She then taught primary students at St. Raymond’s Catholic School, followed by teaching ESL and Special Education at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. For the past 23 years, Susie has taught general Special Education across all divisions at St. Mary Catholic Elementary School in Toronto. In fall 2011, she assumed a new portfolio teaching students who have a language impairment, and require specialized instruction. In 2013, Susie began teaching the Empower reading intervention program in her classroom. She has volunteered as a teacher liaison with Word-Play since its inception.

Kirsten Hanson has worked in the Canadian publishing industry since 1990, and is formerly a senior editor with HarperCollins Canada. She chairs the board of the Metcalf Foundation, and is a director on the Toronto Public Library Foundation. Married with two daughters, she loves reading, cooking and tennis.

Kiran Kang is a union-side labour lawyer, workers’ rights advocate, bookworm and aspiring human rights documentary filmmaker (time permitting!). She works closely with public sector unions, including those representing teachers and educational workers who share her passion for cultivating and spreading a lifelong love of reading and writing. Kiran is the treasurer of the Word-Play board.



Kyo Maclear is an essayist, novelist and children’s author. She is associate faculty with The Humber School for Writers and University of Guelph’s Creative Writing MFA and served as writer-in-residence with the Toronto District School Board (2013-2015). She shares a home with two children, two cats, and a singer.

Pat Saul, one of Word-Play’s founding members, volunteers in the Reading in the City program and serves as chair emeritus of the Word-Play Board of Directors. Pat’s experience as an educator spans many decades and includes teaching in the Toronto District School Board and at York University’s Faculty of Education, as well as curriculum writing and research. Pat also serves as a board member of Success Beyond Limits, a community-based education program within a secondary school setting.

David Stimpson came to Canada in 1964 and retired from a 50-year career in bookselling and publishing in 2011. He was manger of the University of Toronto Bookroom until 1980, when he founded the University Press Group, a sales agency for leading American and Canadian university presses. He was on the board of the Toronto Duke Ellington Society for several yeas, and is a trustee of the Ken Page Memorial Trust. He was a founding partner of Sackville Recordings and was active in the company from 1967 until 1978. David volunteers for the Out of the Cold program at St Andrews Church in Toronto and has been a volunteer at Word-Play for the past six years.

STAFF BIOS

Melanie Cheng is the Program Coordinator for Book Club in the City, a monthly book club aimed at Grade 7 and 8s who have previously participated in Word-Play programs. She is an aspiring young publishing professional who began her journey with Word-Play by volunteering with Reading in the City in 2018. She brings a background in English literature to her role, as well as experience working with children and extensive knowledge of children’s and Young Adult literature.

Michelle Mohammed is the Word-Play administrator and coordinator of the Reading in the City program. She is also an undergraduate student at York University, pursuing a Bachelor of Environmental Studies and a Bachelor of Education. She joined Word-Play in 2014 as a Teacher Candidate for her first year placement. After witnessing the  positive influence a community-based program offers children, she decided to continue volunteering. Her passion in life is helping children to understand the power of knowledge and their potential as future leaders.

Lindsay Zier-Vogel is the incoming Program Director for Writing in the City. She is a writer, arts educator and bookmaker. Since 2001, she has been teaching writing and movement workshops in the community and in schools. She has worked with hundreds of students to find their own creative voices and create their own works of art. Lindsay is also the creator of the internationally acclaimed Love Lettering Project, a place-based art project that has been bringing love letters to strangers since 2004. Kids Can Press is publishing Lindsay’s two picture books based on the project, with the first coming out in 2021. loveletteringproject.com