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Board of Directors

Bernard Webber - Chairman

Bernard Webber

Bernie joined the CJRT-FM Board of Directors in 1994, became Chairman in 2000, and continues in this role at JAZZ.FM91. Bernie believes that JAZZ.FM91 is a vehicle and an opportunity to provide enlightenment and entertainment through jazz. He is confident that the legacy and reach of JAZZ.FM91 and its message should – and will – be global in impact.

Bernie has had a diverse career: he was a Secondary School Teacher, a senior official in various Ministries of the Ontario government, and a CEO in the Property & Casualty Insurance Industry. Bernie is active in other charitable organizations, and has served with executive responsibilities within the Salvation Army.

Ross Porter - President and CEO

Photo: Janet Jardine

ROSS MURRAY PORTER, C.M., is a Canadian broadcast executive, music authority, event producer, and published author.

President and Chief Executive Officer of JAZZ.FM91 since July of 2004, Ross Porter is acknowledged by jazz lovers from coast-to-coast as Canada’s preeminent jazz broadcaster.

Before assuming the senior executive role at JAZZ.FM in July of 2004, he was widely known for a distinguished career as a Radio and Television broadcaster and producer with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. For eleven years, Porter hosted a daily national show on CBC Radio 2, and covered pop culture for CBC Television's The National and CBC Newsworld's On the Arts, becoming integral to the careers of many of Canada’s most successful performers, including Diana Krall, Molly Johnson, Jane Bunnett, and Holly Cole.

As an executive for CanWest from 2002 to 2004, Porter developed, launched, and spearheaded programming for Canada’s national music channel COOLTV, also managing day-to-day operations at CanWest’s 24-hour jazz station, COOL-FM.

Throughout his early career, he amassed an impressive list of commendations as a producer for network radio documentaries on music icons including Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, and Chet Baker, and created critically acclaimed television documentaries on the lives of legends Oscar Peterson, Joni Mitchell, Moe Koffman, Quincy Jones, George Harrison, Brian Wilson, and Diana Krall.

Recognized for his impeccable taste in music, his unique delivery, and his innate ability to articulate the colorful jazz landscape for radio listening audiences across the country as executive producer and host of CBC Radio’s highly successful daily “After Hours” jazz show, Porter also shared his passion and unique understanding of the jazz genre with international air travelers as host of Air Canada’s in-flight audio jazz channel for several years.

His lengthy list of background credentials also includes stints as a respected print journalist, serving as a music columnist for the Winnipeg Free Press and as a jazz reviewer for The National Post. In 2006, McLelland and Stewart published Ross Porter’s first book,The Essential Jazz Recordings: 101 CDs. A consistent best seller ever since, it is now in consecutive printings.

Since assuming his current position as President and CEO of JAZZ.FM91, Porter has repositioned the station as an important force on the broadcast landscape, regionally, nationally and internationally. As a first priority after assuming the management helm in 2004, he eliminated the station’s $800,000 debt and was responsible for delivering some of the highest ratings in the station’s history.

He relocated the station to its current home in the trendy Liberty Village area of Toronto, and supervised its design which features a live performance hall at its centre, to allow many of Canada’s best performers to appear live in front of an audience, for broadcast around the world.

As a strong advocate of new and social media, Porter commissioned the JAZZ.FM91 iPhone app which has since been downloaded almost 500,000 times, and the recently launched iPad app which has now achieved 50,000 downloads. He also created the station’s four on-line audio streams.

High-impact community outreach initiatives he has spearheaded are extensive and include the creation of the JAZZ.FM91 Youth Big Band, the Jazz 4 Kids music series, the Jazzology radio show (an accredited part of the curriculum at four post-secondary institutions) the JAZZ.FM91 Thinkers Series (an interactive lecture series showcasing eminent speakers who personify some of pop culture’s pivotal moments), and the on-line teaching resource – the Canadian Jazz Archive. The station’s revitalized and expanded Sound of JazzConcert Series recently celebrated its 37th anniversary at the same time as Porter developed a parallel Cabaret performance series.

In 2005, Porter created the landmark annual fundraising event Jazz Lives (now held at Toronto’s Koerner Hall). For the last nine years the live concert hall event has been acknowledged as one the premier jazz events in the country featuring leading performers from around the world, and selling out every year just days after the talent line-up is announced. Pat Metheny, Branford Marsalis, Al Jarreau, Ramsey Lewis, John Scofield, Bill Charlap, Terence Blanchard are among the legendary jazz artists to have appeared in recent Jazz Lives concerts.

Winner of numerous honours and accolades throughout his illustrious career, Ross Porter was accorded the 2000 CanWest Award for his ‘Outstanding Contribution to Jazz’ by friend and mentor Izzy Asper. The prestigious National Jazz Awards named him ‘Broadcaster of the Year’ in both 2002 and 2004. In the Spring of 2009, Porter was nominated, by the Jazz Journalists Association, for the Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting.

His interest in music is diverse. In the late ‘70s, he worked as Road Manager for the Ottawa-based Cooper Brothers, an award-winning rock band who were signed to the prestigious Capricorn Records label in the U.S. Porter worked in the Cultural Industries in Manitoba where he was key in developing the careers of Fred Penner and the Crash Test Dummies. He was a member of the Oscar Peterson National Committee which commissioned Canadian artist Ruth Abernethy to create a commemorative statue at Canada's National Arts Centre. In June 2010, Queen Elizabeth II and The Duke of Edinburgh unveiled the sculpture in Ottawa. He also chairs the Music Advisory Committee at Humber College in Toronto.

Ross Porter studied at the University of Ottawa, Algonquin College and the Schulich School of Business. On June 28, 2013 he was appointed as a Member of the Order of Canada for lifetime achievement.

Renah Persofsky - Director, Serial Entrepreneur, Investor & Innovator

Renah is a widely-respected entrepreneur, strategist, innovator and change agent with a distinguished track record of success in creating 27 start-up companies.

Renah has a rich history of investing in early stage companies where she helps mentor CEOs in the art of bringing MVP products tomarket, and growing their business exponentially. She serves as Board Chair for mobile on-demand senior care and child care start-up BookJane, advises award winning payment card and platform technology firm Dynamics Inc., and board member for retail/QSR automation software specialty firm MeazureUp Inc. She is presently an executive consultant in the Innovation Group at CIBC.

Renah has served as Co-chair of the Canadian Minister's Advisory Committee on Electronic Commerce, leading a Canada Electronic Commerce trade mission to Israel and representing the Canadian business community at the OECD Summit in Turku, Finland. Renah has co-chaired the taxation committee on e-commerce for the federal Minister of Revenue; and served as special advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

In addition to innovation and start-ups, for nearly 20 years, Renah has served as vice-chair of JAZZ.FM91.

Alan Broadbent - Director

Alan Broadbent is Chairman and Founder of Maytree, and Chairman and CEO of Avana Capital Corporation.  He co-founded and chairs the Caledon Institute of Social Policy, Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement, Diaspora Dialogues, and the Institute for Municipal Finance and Governance at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto.  In addition, Alan is a Director of Sustainalytics Holdings B.V., Senior Fellow and Governing Board member of Massey College, Member of the Governors’ Council of the Toronto Public Library Foundation, and Member of the Order of Canada and recipient of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal.  Alan is the author of Urban Nation:  Why We Need to Give Power Back to the Cities to Make Canada Strong, and co-editor of Five Good Ideas:  Practical Strategies for Non-Profit Success, and was awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Ryerson University in 2009.

Denny Christianson - Director

Denny Christianson

Trumpeter and educator Denny Christianson is best known for his recordings and tours with his Big Band of twenty years, as well as his fusion group “Sortie”, his small group with co-leader Jan Jarczyk, and his new “Little Band”. Appointed as Director of Music at Humber College in 2001, Denny has also recorded over 250 albums in a 30- year career spanning Los Angeles, Montreal, and Toronto, performing and/or recording with with pop and jazz greats such as Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, Pepper Adams, Dianne Schurr, Tony Bennett, Bill Holman, Carmen McRae, Benny Carter, J.J. Johnson, Kenny Drew, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Michel Legrand, etc. He also played on the Sammy Davis, Jr. TV show, and has served as musical director for numerous television shows. He has written several commissions, including a full-length musical, and his 7 albums as a leader(Justin Time Records) have earned 8 Juno and Felix nominations.

Charles S. Cutts CPA, BA - Director

Charlie is a consultant to the arts and entertainment community. Retired after 33 years as President and CEO of Roy Thomson and Massey Hall and previously the O’Keefe Centre. These organizations consistently presented the best artists in the world while maintaining an enviable record of responsible financial stewardship. Numerous industry and civic awards mark his achievements both as a professional and as a volunteer contributing to the positive reputation and overall vibrancy of Toronto. Currently Charlie is a director and secretary to the Glenn Gould Foundation and he Co-Chairs a campaign for Scarborough Hospital.

Alan Gee - Director

Alan Gee

Alan Gee is Chairman and Partner at Blammo Worldwide.  An award winning Creative Director, Alan's career spans over 35 years of creating advertising for a wide range of clients in the UK, US, Canada and The Caribbean.  His career started in the UK, where he honed his craft as an art director before arriving in Canada. After a number of years at multi-national agencies, he opened his own agency and has never looked back.  Over the last two decades his agency’s work has won global accolades: Cannes Lions, Clio’s, The One Show, London International, CA Magazine and D&AD not to mention many local Canadian awards.  Alan is active in the advertising community as a member of the Advertising and Design Club of Canada, he also sits on the board of the Globe & Mail’s Cannes Lions Advertising Board, and is frequently asked to speak on the ever changing communications industry.  As a judge, Alan has both chaired and served on local, national and international award show committees and is a passionate promoter of great Canadian creative.

David McGown - Director

David McGown has worked at CIBC as Vice President, Public Affairs, Vice President of Corporate Development and Vice President of Administration, INTRIA Items. He worked as economist and speechwriter at Queen’s Park, and for the Department of Finance in Ottawa, as an economist, as Special Assistant to the Minister of Finance and EA to the Deputy Minister of Finance. David was President of the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs.  He is a board member of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance and sits on the Advisory Board of the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center. He received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal in 2013 in recognition of his volunteer activities. David holds a BA from the University of Western Ontario and an MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Kelly Peterson - Director

Kelly Peterson is a tremendous jazz fan whose favorites include (among many) Ben Webster, Ella Fitzgerald, Clark Terry, Joe Pass – and of course, Oscar Peterson. Kelly has an Honors degree in Theatre, and worked in professional improvisational children’s theatre as well as summer stock before eventually moving to Sarasota, FL and managing restaurants. It was there that she met Oscar Peterson. Kelly moved to Canada in 1986, when she and Oscar were married. In her current capacity as one of the Trustees of the Estate of Oscar Peterson and General Manager of Regal Recordings, Ltd., Kelly manages and promotes the legacy of her late husband. She supports World Vision and Christian Children’s Fund, and just can’t imagine life without music, theatre, and dogs.

Brian Robertson - Director

For 25 years, Brian was the most visible representative of the recording industry in Canada as President of the Canadian Recording Industry Association (now Music Canada). He was instrumental in establishing the Juno Awards as a national organization as well as guiding the industry through the most dynamic growth period in its history. He produced the internationally-broadcast Memorial Concert for Oscar Peterson at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, is a recipient of the music industry's Lifetime Achievement Award and has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. Brian has served on the boards of the National Theatre School, the Shaw Festival, Roy Thomson Hall and Massey Hall, Canada’s Walk of Fame and the Regent’s Park School of Music for inner-city children in Toronto. In December 2017, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada.

John Sadler - Director

John Sadler

John has a diverse background in strategic planning, finance, marketing and public policy.  He currently serves as the Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs and Investor Relations for Element Financial Corporation. For 12 years prior to joining Element in January 2013, John provided capital markets counsel and investor relations services to a broad range of private and public companies as Founding Partner and Managing Director of Genoa Management Limited.  Before founding Genoa Management, John’s career included extensive experience in both the private and public sectors. Based in Toronto and New York, he served as the Executive Vice President of Newcourt Credit Group between 1993 and 1999.  Prior to this, John worked in Ottawa as a Senior Policy Advisor to several federal Cabinet Ministers between 1984 and 1991.  John is an honours graduate from Wilfrid Laurier University’s business school. He has served on numerous charitable and voluntary boards including Safe Kids Canada, the Via Salzburg Chamber Music Series, the Empire Club of Canada, the Toronto Community Foundation and the United Way of Greater Toronto.

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