Get To Know Our Board of Directors
We’re lucky to be able to support the arts community in and around Calgary, and it takes a village to do that. Whether you’re a member, resident, or fan of CAAF, you get to see and experience a lot of incredible art, but what you don’t see as much of is the team of people working to keep this organization running like the well-oiled machine that it is! Well folks, the waiting is over, because we’re giving you an inside peek into our Board of Directors – a group of talented, passionate, dare we say good looking folks who are dedicated to furthering the efforts of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation in the community!
Over the past several years, we’ve all had the absolute pleasure of serving with two women, Samantha Malach and Claire Fern, who have been integral in the operations and decision-making at CAAF. Their terms may have ended with us as of this March 2021, but they are absolutely deserving of a shoutout because of the magnificent marks they left on the organization.
Samantha Malach // Former CAAF President
Seven years ago, Sam learned about the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation. A friend of hers was on the board and it sounded so sophisticated, so of course she wanted to be a part of it. After nudging him to get her an introduction for a year, she joined the board.
Sam says she had no idea what she was doing (though you’d never be able to tell). Sam had just opened her own art gallery, so she thought she had the right background… instead she sat back in awe. These board members knew so much and supported the organization and each other unconditionally.
Over time Sam learned the ins and outs of CAAF. She helped publish our book, chaired the Residency and the Gallery 505 committee, pushed to move the residency to cSPACE, and ultimately became the President.
Claire Fern // Former CAAF Board Member
In her time as a Director on the CAAF Board, Claire stood up the governance platform by creating policies and procedures to align with the Calgary arts community while maintaining commitment to the original intent of the benefactors.
Claire has been in management and leadership roles since 2001 and was a Director on the Board from 2017 to 2021. She is known for positioning her successor for success and left the Board governance in a purely sustainable state. She is also known for her appreciation of fine wines and in her spare time, can be found outdoors, hiking, biking, or cross-country skiing.
Current Board of Directors, 2021
Brian “Bunny” Batista // CAAF President
Brian “Bunny” Batista is the incoming president of the Calgary Allied Arts Foundation Board and a practicing artist. He operates the art school Atelier Artista at cSPACE King Edward. He joined the CAAF board to “pay back” his first big break through the CAAF Start Four Five residency opportunity which led to a solo exhibition at Untitled Arts Society titled “Sacred Images” and followed that up with another solo show “Divine Inspiration” through the Stride Gallery.
Bunny instructs classes all over the place, hosts figure events and workshops, and spends most of his time in the studio. If you’d like to check out his work or livestream videos you can do so on his personal site, brianbatista.com, or the site of the school, atelierartista.com.
Justine Jones // CAAF Vice President
Justine Jones was born and raised in Newfoundland but now lives in Calgary with her husband and three small kids. She is the Director of Business Development Canada for Revenew International, an audit and consulting firm.
Justine joined CAAF in 2019 to support fund development to promote the growth of the artist residency program. Before sitting on the CAAF Board, Justine served two terms on the Luge Canada Board of Directors and completed her Executive MBA at the University of Calgary. When not working or volunteering, Justine enjoys spending time outdoors camping with her family, golfing on her ladies league, and cooking for friends and family.
Gavin Mahabir // CAAF Treasurer
Gavin is in his fourth year on the board and first year as the treasurer. Gavin has worked in finance for the past 9 years, with the last 7 years focused primarily on investment management.
He grew up in Calgary, attended school and post secondary in Calgary (MRU) where he got his Business degree.
Gavin decided to join CAAF to provide support using his finance background but also learn about an art community in Calgary that he had little familiarity with.
Aldona Barutowicz // CAAF Board Member
Aldona is now in her second year as a Board Member with CAAF, where she began her journey as Chair of Gallery 505 and is now leading the communications team. She’s been a publicist for the past 11 years and works on other communications, photography and fashion projects through her company, Aldona B Creative. She loves working with arts and lifestyle brands, with an emphasis in theatre, and she’s had the pleasure of working on a lot of cool productions and projects in Calgary and beyond.
Her lifelong love of fashion led her into street style and fashion photography, styling and leading/presenting styling events that are anchored in wellness.
“I wanted to join CAAF and do my part in supporting the artists in our community. I love that we are able to provide space and funding to artists as they create, imagine and enrich our culture and our city.”
Aldona’s newest hobby is cooking, so make sure you follow her fashion, communications and cooking adventures on @aldonabcreative.
John F. Ross // CAAF Board Member
John F. Ross (b. 1984, Toronto, Canada) is a Canadian painter creating contemporary works charged with personal and sociopolitical narratives. A graduate of Studio Art from York University, John has been exhibiting his work since 2006 in Ontario and Alberta and can be found in private collections across Canada and Europe. John lives and works in Calgary.
John’s involvement with CAAF is multifaceted with a focus on Gallery 505 operations.
Nina Hart Morris // CAAF Board Member
Nina Hart Morris has been a board member at CAAF since 2018 after completing the CAAF residency at cSPACE. She currently co-chairs the Residency Committee, sitting on the residency jury, and initiated a partnership residency with National Arts Access Centre (formerly known as “Indefinite Arts Center”). One of Nina’s main tasks on the CAAF board has been to co-run the fundraiser Petits Masterpieces, raising money for artists adversely affected by the pandemic.
Nina is a working artist with an emphasis on sculpture and embroidery. Her studio is at Burnt Toast Studios, where she also serves on the board. You can find her work at www.ninahartmorris.com.
Stacey Walyuchow // CAAF Board Member
Stacey joined CAAF as a Board member in April 2020 and jumped right in with fellow members to launch Petits Masterpieces, a fundraiser for artists affected by Covid-19.
Stacey has had a long career in sales in Marketing in Calgary over the past 18 years, and recently, has been able to pursue her passion for the arts. She started a small art collective and online gallery in 2014 with 13 local artists called FosterMAK.com. By 2019, that number had grown to 45 artists and many great shows and successful sales.
Stacey has been creating her own work since 2017 and recently decided to focus solely on creating and growing her own art practice. She describes her medium as hand-painted collage/mixed media and strives to create pieces with sting narratives and dreamlike qualities.
“I was thrilled to be asked to join CAAF! As an artist and supporter of the arts, this is a great opportunity to really make a difference for artists in Calgary.”
When Stacey is not creating art, she is assisting with creative opportunities at Loft 112 in the East Village and spending time with her family. You can find Stacey on IG @staceyw_art and at staceywalyuchow.com.
Olivia Steckly, BFA // CAAF Board Member
Olivia is a Fine Arts graduate turned marketing and communications professional who is in her first year on the CAAF Board of Directors. Her involvement in the arts on a larger scale began in 2016 with a studio residency and curatorial project in Brooklyn, NY and has evolved into a series of collaborative and personal enterprises, including upstarting a creative agency, Apostrophe Studios, and a soon-to-be published book of essays.
From working as a press writer for New York Fashion Week FW16 to attending Desert X in the Coachella Valley in 2019, her creative influences are constantly evolving and making way for forthcoming projects. She hopes to resume travel to her favourite art and culture hotspots soon!
When she’s not working on communications projects, she can be found reading, cooking up her favourite Italian dishes, working on her next book, or deep-diving in to arts documentaries with a glass of Merlot. To follow along with Olivia’s endeavours, take a look at @oliviagracefully.
Nick Austin, JD // CAAF Board Member
As a third generation Calgarian, Nick is eager to give back to his community and is thrilled to be part of CAAF. He is currently in his first year on the Board.
In 2015 Nick achieved his BFA with Distinction at the Alberta College of Art and Design (ACAD) where he majored in Drawing. His darkly humorous character studies and figurative abstractions earned him a Board of Governor’s Award nomination in his final term. He also served as Vice President of Academic Affairs with the ACAD Students’ Association (ACADSA) for one term.
Following art school, Nick began pursuing a legal career. In 2020 he completed his Juris Doctor (JD) Law Degree at the University of Calgary and is currently working towards admission to the Alberta Bar.
Nick is also a musician and music collector. You can follow his 90’s/2000’s rock picks and interviews at: https://naustins90s.blogspot.com.
Bahaiya Nabeel, Hons. B.A., LL.B. // CAAF Board Member
Bahaiya Nabeel is one of the newest elected board members at CAAF.
Professionally, she is a Barrister/Solicitor and is very excited to be a member of CAAF. Bahaiya will bring her skillsets and experiences to ensure CAAF is compliant with the rules/policies and help mitigate any risks that might arise.
Personally, Bahaiya and her family relocated to Calgary from Toronto in 2019; they are excited to make Calgary their home and to embark on this new journey.
Melissa Cole // CAAF Administrator
As a university student, Melissa found herself working in the basement of the Leighton Art Centre. After graduating in 2007, Melissa went on to earn an MA in Art History and work at the National Portrait Gallery in London, England. Upon finishing her education Melissa returned to Calgary and has immersed herself in the Calgary arts community. She is Chair of the Leighton Art Centre Board of Directors, sits on the Calgary Stampede Art Gallery committee and has been involved in putting on numerous arts events in and around Calgary. She has worked at the Okotoks Art Gallery, Heffel Fine Art Auction House and now works at Loch Gallery.
Melissa joined CAAF in 2017 as our Administrator. You can find Melissa on Instagram at @melissaellencole.
We’re grateful to each and every one of our Members for their dynamic contribution to the Board and to CAAF as an organization! If you want to learn more about CAAF’s history or ways to get involved, take a look here.