Photo Jury

All photographs featured in MyCity products, materials and public exhibits were selected by a jury of photography experts, social service professionals and influencers.

Paul Ryan

COFOUNDER, CAFE ART AND MYLONDON

Paul Ryan is a journalist who, along with Michael Wong, co-founded Cafe Art (UK) Community Interest Company, an organization that raises money for artists and art groups for people affected by homelessness. The MYLONDON annual photo contest kicks off with a camera handout and results in an art exhibition and fundraiser featuring the MYLONDON calendar, which is sold in markets, giving work experience to the participants. Paul's passion for MYLONDON has inspired several cities to develop similar projects around the world, from Toronto to New Orleans, Sao Paulo to Sydney, Australia.

Dahae Song

VISUAL ARTIST

Dahae Song is a South Korean Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist who aims to reset the boundaries surrounding art. A graduate of OCAD University, she holds a BFA in Drawing and Painting. Her work reflects fluid states of being, grounded in subjective perceptions rather than objective realities.  A self-declared visual philosopher, Dahae uses the act of creating to materialize a reality that is perceptively alternative. Her fluid, interdisciplinary art is a vibrant contribution to Toronto’s arts and culture scene, including various exhibitions, events, installations and performances.

Suzanne Stein

SOCIAL DOCUMENTARY/STREET PHOTOGRAPHER

Suzanne Stein is a social documentary/street photographer currently living in New York City. Suzanne thinks of herself as a social realist and feels driven to present life as she sees it unfolding. She has photographed in Los Angeles extensively, with a special interest in the people who live on Skid Row, where she has been forever changed by her interactions and shared moments with them. Suzanne feels strongly about social justice issues and is highly motivated to present visual narratives that highlight these complexities as they appear in our day-to-day lives.

Shay Markowitz

MULTI-GENRE PHOTOGRAPHER

Shay Markowitz is a Toronto-based photographer with a passion for capturing joy, love and beautiful surroundings. Her passion for photography sprouted from her desire to engage with many different communities. While Shay offers high-end event photography and portraiture, she also feels a special connection to the not-for-profit community. She believes in sustainable living and working with organizations that further social responsibility. As a landscape photographer, nature feels like home to Shay, who enjoys climbing mountains and camping, and capturing textural and bright fine art landscape images.


Mark Aston

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, COVENANT HOUSE

Mark Aston is Executive Director of Covenant House Toronto, Canada’s largest agency serving youth who are homeless, trafficked or at risk. His more than 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector includes Executive Director and CEO of Fred Victor, where he transformed the organization into a leading agency addressing homelessness and poverty. Mark founded and leads the Toronto Alliance to End Homelessness, a volunteer organization comprised of 50 organizations focused on ending chronic homelessness in Toronto. He has extensive experience in public policy development, system change initiatives, Board and sector leadership, revenue development and volunteerism.


Yaron Einie

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

Yaron Eini is an award-winning photographer with versatile photography experience, including corporate headshots, personal and family portraits, product photography, events, photography lessons, wildlife and nature, prints and canvases. Photography has been Yaron’s passion since he was 14 and bought his first professional camera. His work has been featured in galleries and exhibitions worldwide, and has received international recognition and awards. But what matters most to Yaron is that his images make a difference in people’s lives and that they are cherished by those they touch.


Evan Back

DIRECTOR, YOUTHLINK

Evan Back is Director of Fund Development and Brand Building at YouthLink, a mental health agency and multi-program provider for young people in Scarborough/GTA that designs state-of-the-art shelter facilities to break the cycle of homelessness. Evan has worked to build the brand into a recognized leader in the mental health community, and has raised funds to open a 52-bed youth homeless shelter and transition home. Evan is focused on fundraising to supplement COVID safety costs and is building online video counseling services for youth, parents and third party referral agencies around the city.

Kim Smiley

FASHION DESIGNER AND EMPATHY EDUCATOR

Kim Smiley is a Harvard-educated fashion designer, empathy educator and artist, who has attracted international media attention for her cause of “stitching together fashion with social justice.” With the aim of igniting a compassion and fashion revolution, Kim has been dubbed the “Queen of Empathy.” She is working to spread beauty with a purpose, inspiring more than 260,000 social media followers in more than 75 countries through her movement The Empathy Effect. In October 2020, Kim opened a flagship store on Eglinton Avenue West in Toronto.


Dave Brosha

PHOTOGRAPHER, DREAMER, DOCUMENTOR

Dave Brosha is a photographer, dreamer and documentor who lives on Prince Edward Island. He is on a continual journey to seek out and capture the beauty of existence, from the most extreme and pristine environments to the beauty of humanity. A true creative, Dave tries to avoid labels and enjoys, first and foremost, storytelling with photography. He is proudly a Sigma Pro Photographer, a StrobePro professional, and a regular contributor to Photo Life Magazine and Outdoor Photography Canada. He offers photographic workshops and tours across Canada and the world.


RJ Skinner

ACTOR, WRITER, COMEDIAN

RJ “City” Skinner is an actor, writer, comedian, and wrestler, but he prefers to be known as a “shirtless raconteur”. RJ played the role of Gildar in the kids show Splatalot airing on Nickelodeon, BBC and in more than 100 countries worldwide. He has also made appearances on the Disney Channel, ABC Spark and Teletoon and starred in Monster Brawl, currently available on Netflix. He became the first man to sing an Ethan Merman song in a wrestling ring, and can be seen making coffee in his underwear on Sunday mornings on YouTube.

Aaron Sambey

DIRECTOR AND CINEMATOGRAPHER

Aaron Sambey is a Canadian director and cinematographer who has worked on short films, music videos, commercials, and documentaries. Using a focused, daring visual style, Aaron is always able to find the story within. Born and raised in a small town, Aaron left for Toronto at age 18. No stranger to adversity, he approaches work with confidence, which was achieved through years of struggle and taking risks. While he did go to school for film production at the Toronto Film School, it was in the field that Aaron developed his voice and visual style.


Kevin Frankish

CANADIAN TV PERSONALITY

Kevin Frankish is a Canadian media personality who co-hosted Breakfast Television Toronto on Citytv from 1991 to 2018. A pioneer in the industry, he got his start on a high school TV show. Kevin worked as a videographer, journalist, news anchor, and producer at various stations before landing at Breakfast Television where he was instrumental in propelling the show to the most watched in the country. Kevin developed such a comfortable rapport with his audience that it later served to help him deal with the onset of depression and anxiety. A strong mental health advocate, he is now a blogger and podcaster who teaches journalism at Seneca College.



Andy DeLeo

CAMERAMAN AND SOUND ENGINEER

Andy DeLeo, CEO at Renaissance Video Production Services in Oshawa, Ontario, was born in a small village in southern Italy and immigrated to Canada in 1961. He has spent 40-plus years in the TV industry working as a cameraman and sound engineer and more than a decade at  Global Television, where he was responsible for all facets of audio production, including mixing newscasts, dramas, and sporting and live events. A photographer since age 12, Andy is also a motorcycle enthusiast and uses his camera to document his travels as he explores new places.

Becky McFarlane

SENIOR DIRECTOR, THE 519

Becky McFarlane is a community organizer who brings more than 17 years of experience working in the community sector to her role as Director of Programs and Community Services at The 519, where she oversees programs, services, education and training initiatives. Becky has also worked with UNITE HERE Local 75 to develop the Hospitality Workers Training Centre and its social enterprise restaurant. For several years, she was the Director of Working for Change, an organization that provides employment and leadership opportunities to individuals with mental health and addictions issues and other people marginalized by poverty.


Blake Fitzpatrick, Ph.D

PROFESSOR AND CHAIR, RYERSON SCHOOL OF IMAGE ARTS

Blake Fitzpatrick, Professor and Chair at the School of Image Arts at Toronto’s Ryerson University, has exhibited his photo-based work in Canada, the United States and at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin. His collaborative project with artist Vid Ingelevics, Freedom Rocks: The Everyday Life of the Berlin Wall, has been exhibited internationally and at Prefix ICA and Harbourfront Centre. He is co-editor of Critical Distance in Documentary Media, a collection of essays from artists and scholars exploring new developments in documentary studies, which includes his essay on the aerial image in contemporary documentary art.

Dawnmarie Harriott

PROGRAM COORDINATOR, WORKING FOR CHANGE

Dawnmarie Harriott is a Program Coordinator at Working for Change, an umbrella organization for social purpose enterprises that provides employment and education opportunities to people who have experienced poverty, mental illness and addictions. Dawnmarie speaks publicly about the significance of community engagement and the importance of including people with lived experience of marginalization in discussions in order to create systematic change. With more than 20 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, Dawnmarie is skilled in community engagement, working with marginalized groups, peer support, community research, public speaking, anti-oppression, facilitation and creating workshops.


Emilia Ianeva

FINE ART CURATOR 

Emilia Ianeva, founder of Berenson Fine Art in Toronto, has more than 25 years of experience in cultural institutions. As Associate Director of the Pasquale Iannetti Gallery in San Francisco, she built a reputation for bringing modern masters within public reach. The holder of two Master’s Degrees, one in Art History, she has worked with European and North American contemporary artists and has curated public and private art collections in Canada, USA, Russia and the Middle East. She has published three books, and writes the “Art and Other Verbs” column in the Distillery District magazine.


Hector Vasquez

PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER

Hector Vasquez is a Toronto-based editorial and commercial photographer who shoots what he calls “a little bit of everything.” Since graduating from the Humber College Creative Photography program  in 2015, he has specialized in media coverage, event and food photography. Hector has worked with many notable clients, including Starbucks, Scotiabank, BlogTO, Kia Motors, Toronto Life, and Liberty Entertainment. Hector has worked as staff photographer at blogTO in Toronto since 2012 where his media coverage includes events, fashion shows and pop up markets, restaurant reviews and the grand openings of local retailers.


Michèle Pearson Clarke

VISUAL ARTIST

Michèle Pearson Clarke is a Trinidad-born artist who works in photography, film, video and installation in Toronto. Using archival, performative and process-oriented strategies, her work explores the personal and political possibilities afforded by considering experiences of emotions related to longing and loss. Michele holds an MSW from the University of Toronto, and an MFA from Ryerson University, where she received two achievement awards. Her exhibitions and screenings have been shown in Canada and the US, and her works appear in Canadian Art, Transition Magazine and Momus. A lecturer in the Documentary Media Studies program at Ryerson University, Michèle has been appointed the second Photo Laureate for the City of Toronto.


Rudy Ruttimann

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, SKETCH – WORKING ARTS 

Rudy Ruttimann is the Executive Director of SKETCH – WORKING ARTS, an organization that creates opportunities for homeless and marginalized young people (ages 16 to 29) to experience transformation through the arts. Rudy is responsible for the overall long-term organizational and administrative vision and direction and resource development at the organization. A passionate leader and an advocate for education and community arts practices for all, Rudy is adept at spearheading change and conceptualizing and achieving innovative and sustainable initiatives. She fosters a working environment that encourages collaboration and diversity.


Kael Rebick

FREELANCE TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHER/INSTAGRAMMER 

A freelance travel photographer, social media strategist and content creator, Kael Rebick has a talent for documenting her surroundings. Kael began her career in 2006 when she found a digital camera in a drawer at her parents’ house and discovered a new passion. Based in Toronto, she has spent years capturing the beauty of her city and travels around the world, where she has participated in global campaigns. Kael's images of cityscapes showcase vivid colours and detailed compositions that are captivating. They are displayed on her Instagram feed, which so far has attracted almost 500,000 followers and counting. 

 

Susan Bender

MANAGER, TORONTO DROP-IN NETWORK

Susan Bender is passionate about challenging all the ways that oppression and injustice manifest in communities and in people's everyday lives - and she is committed to working toward a better world. This commitment has motivated her frontline, community organizing, and project management work in community-based housing, health and legal clinic organizations in Toronto and outside Canada. As Manager of the Toronto Drop-In Network, Susan continues to seek ways to support both the critical work of drop-ins across the city and the people who use them to find sanctuary, dignity, friendship and opportunities.

Kishan Mistry

CONTENT CREATOR/DESIGNER, MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

Since 2015, Kishan Mistry has solidified himself as a household name in the Toronto photography scene in the arenas of sports and music. Over the years, Kishan has worked with the likes of TSN and Yahoo Sports Canada and is now employed by the Major League Baseball organization as a Live Content Creator and graphic designer. His favourite aspect of photography is the idea of storytelling through photos and the impact they may have in the future. His goal is to pass along this passion to not only inspire the next generation of photographers, but also to set them on the path to success.

Lee Jefferies

SPIRITUAL STREET PHOTOGRAPHER

A self-taught British photographer, Lee Jefferies reveals to the world who people experiencing homeless are through his art. He experienced a life-changing event when he stumbled upon a young girl in a sleeping bag near Leicester Square and started taking her photo. When she noticed and got upset, he apologized and started talking to her, changing his approach to photography forever. He gets up close, stays and talks, and offers what he can — food, money or a hug. Lee’s aim is to capture emotion through intimacy and to break down common misconceptions about people living in the streets by showing their humanity.