Winter 2022 Mentors
Thank you to Diana Castaneda, Kael Cruz, Jason Dauphinee, Melanie Di Tullio, Jesse Gibb, Michael Gioffre, Gillian Goldie, Sasha Goldstein, Teodor Herman, Rebecca Hirsekorn, Amy Janzen, Kevan Kalyan, Irina Khvalova, Denis Leclerc, Josh McInerney, David O’Connell, Brad Pyne, Maninder Singh, Ashlea Spitz, Ronald Tau, Sabrina Young, Stephanie Yung and Yan Zhang!


If you have any questions about the program or you would like to be a mentor, email .




"As your mentor, I will be an avid listener and offer my experience in brand design, design thinking, lean entrepreneurship and facilitation, give you insights on how to communicate your creative value and how to establish solid relationships with your collaborators and clients that lead to products they love. As a mentor and educator, I care a lot, I trust your grit and I challenge your comfort zones."

Diana Castaneda RGD, Senior Graphic Designer at TRIUMF in Vancouver, BC

In her role at TRIUMF, Diana has art directed award-winning projects through close collaboration with scientists, engineers and science communicators. Diana dedicates her spare time to the Blueridge Chamber Music Festival as a board member and lead designer. She believes in the permanent relevance of design for making the world a better place. Her obsessively curious mind never stops producing innovative and crafted solutions for the causes that she believes in.


"I honestly believe good design makes people’s days better. I’ll help you learn to do this by jumping into Experience + Product design, Human-Centred Design, Accessibility and Inclusive design with you. We'll touch on design streams like Art Direction, Branding and Motion Design. We’ll talk about your goals—whether it’s improving skills, building relationships or developing your communication skills—then I’ll do my best to help you get there."

Kael Cruz, Product Design Lead at Loblaw Digital in Toronto, ON

Kael (pronounced like the vegetable) works with Canada’s largest loyalty and rewards programs. He also works with Humber College by mentoring their UX students. He started his design career in advertising, as an Art Director—both for corporate and social-good agencies—before moving on to consulting, branding, then experience and product design. He is passionate about accessibility and inclusive design—and building a safe, inclusive and fun culture for the people around him.


"As your mentor, I will pass along my diverse industry knowledge. I've had the unique opportunity to have worked in virtually every discipline from Pre-Press Operator and Production Artist to Art Director and now Creative Director and Chief Creative Officer. My experience has also taken me from being a lone wolf on my own, a member of a national agency as well as the operator of my own design and marketing agency. I'm happy to pass along all that I know."

Jason Dauphinee RGD, Chief Creative Officer & Creative Director at eclipse360º in Victoria, BC

With a career in the design and advertising industry spanning 25 years, Jason is a seasoned and recognized conceptual thinker with a host of local and national expertise. His ability to connect with a client’s needs and communicate it in a simple, clever and effective manner, is second to none. Jason has spent years honing his skills in developing large and small business brands, each with a focus on clear and effective communications that drive results across multiple platforms. Over the years, Jason’s work has been featured in Applied Arts, he’s been interviewed for articles in BC Business and has also been the recipient of multiple Awards.


"As your mentor, I will work with you to achieve your goals, providing insight and guidance as we explore the avenues of design that excite you. Together we’ll define key tactics and steps you can take to grow as a designer and further your career."

Melanie Di Tullio RGD, Director, Graphic Design and Digital Communications at CPCA in Ottawa, ON

With close to two decades of experience, Melanie combines strategic thinking with a client centric approach to her design process. Her work has spanned traditional print publications and communications, brand strategy and identity, UI/UX and website architecture and design. She has worked for several leading Canadian organizations in both the public and private sectors, leveraging her experience and creative leadership skills to deliver targeted creative solutions.


"As your mentor, I’ll do my best to impart the knowledge I’ve collected as both a business owner and employee, share why I prefer the former but also relish latter, and divulge the mistakes I’ve made and the wins I’ve celebrated along the way."

Jesse Gibb RGD, Owner & Creative Director at Gibb Design in London, ON

A couple of decades deep into his design career, and after stints as Art Director and Design Director at big and small firms, Jesse is back where he’s happiest - flying his own flag and working directly with great clients on interesting projects.


“As your mentor, I will share my insight and experience in creating compelling brands for companies of various sizes, and my experiences on the path from designer to agency owner. I can help you with developing successful design processes so you can work more efficiently and output creative at a higher level."

Michael Gioffre, Principal & Creative Director at Channel 13 in Toronto, ON

Michael is committed to developing thought-provoking design in every project he works on. Michael’s experience spans multiple industries and disciplines, with specialization in Branding, Advertising, Web Design, Creative Direction and Project Management. His hands-on approach and sense of strategy have allowed him to gain the trust of clients and exceed their expectations.

"I've worked in different styles of agencies, small and medium, some fast-paced and some more creativity focused. But I also have 6 years of freelance experience I can pull from, and I hope to chat about all the best bits from each of these experiences."

Gillian Goldie RGD, Creative Director at Bonfire Stories in St. John, NB

Originally from the Maritimes, Gillian is an award-winning graphic designer who has lived in Fiji and Australia and has now settled back home in New Brunswick. Now with 15 years’ experience, she confidently creates new visual experiences with the use of strategy and design, taking good ideas to great ones. Since coming-from-away and swapping g’days for right-goods, Gillian has worked as a creative problem solver on a variety of campaigns for television, web and print, among many other projects, including logo development and children’s books. Gillian leads the creative development for all of Bonfire’s clients.


"As your mentor, I'll share experiences and lessons learned over my meandering and atypical 12-year design career. I can be most helpful to designers trying to break into new industries or areas, and anyone struggling to find their “fit" in a world that places a premium on traditional pedigrees."
Sasha Goldstein RGD, Digital Product Designer at Eame in Squamish, BC
Sasha's eclectic “design" career has landed him jobs involving such varied responsibilities as editorial design, web development, copywriting, marketing, brand-building, advertising and strategy in addition to UI and UX work. He’s worked as a freelancer, an art director for agencies, a senior designer at Fortune 100 companies and has led design and engineering teams for tech startups. In 2019, he launched a small fully-remote design studio, and currently works as the creative director for a digital product agency based in Oregon. Sasha first taught himself graphic and web design while studying liberal arts in Ontario.


"As your mentor, I will share my knowledge and experience in creating signage and wayfinding strategies for public spaces, offering help with designing a wayfinding products, generating three-dimensional renderings, understanding materials, drawing in scale presenting ideas and other areas related to the business of environmental design.”

Teodor Herman RGD, Designer & Project Coordinator at Entro in Toronto, ON

Teo has a Master of Digital Media from Ryerson University. He studied graphic design at OCAD University and spent a year as an exchange student at the prestigious Berlin University of Arts Universität der Kunste in Germany. His focus is on UX/UI and web application development, robotics, augmented reality, signage & wayfinding and experiential design. Teo wrote a philosophy for new assistive wayfinding technologies, which was adopted into the Canadian archives for future signage strategies. His augmented reality exhibition for at the Toronto Zoo successfully raised the overall Net Promoter Score (NPS) amongst visitors that viewed the exhibit by 90%. 


"As your mentor, I will share how experiences continually shape my love of design and typography. I’ll provide insights into my career, and in return will learn about your goals and ambitions in design so that together, we can work on who you want to be as a designer. Where do you want to go? How do you get there? What do you need to do? I will help you learn how to find the solutions and skills to define your career path forward."

Rebecca Hirsekorn, Senior Graphic Designer at Outcrop Communications Ltd. and Art Director at North Marketing Communications, in Yellowknife, NT

With 20 years experience as a graphic designer and art director, Rebecca is a talented creative with extensive experience in typography, branding and the development of print and digital marketing materials. She has seven years experiences teaching at the Alberta College of Art and Design (now the University of the Arts), instructing students on how to make the most out of words, colour and imagery. She is adept at working with established brands and exploring new design layouts and formats while maintaining brand continuity.


"As your mentor, I will share insights on collaborating with an in-house marketing team. I can share how I acquired entirely new skill sets on the job, and how to consistently advocate for better and more accessible design within an organization."
Amy Janzen RGD, Graphic and Multimedia Designer, Mercatus Technologies Inc in Toronto, ON
Amy is an in-house designer in the tech world. She works in-house because of the constant variety and the opportunity to build rewarding working relationships with internal stakeholders. Over the years, she has rebuilt websites, edited podcasts, designed white papers, annual reports and animated logos.


'The rabbit-hole went straight on like a tunnel for some way, and then dipped suddenly down, so suddenly that Alice had not a moment to think about stopping herself before she found herself falling down a very deep well.'
"If you're interested in unlocking that little door at the bottom of the well that gives you a glimpse at the creative process as well as the agency life (especially the creative department), I will gladly jump down the rabbit hole with you."

Kevan Kalyan, Creative Director at blackiron agency in Ottawa, ON

Kevan is a collaborative creative leader and problem solver who believes in elevating ideas and the people around him. Over the last 20 years, he has worked at agencies in Dubai, Halifax, Newfoundland and currently resides in Ottawa as a Creative Director at blackiron. Some of his clients include Emirates Airlines, United Way Halifax, Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, Parks Canada, Blue Cross, Atlantic Lotto, Ace Hardware, Jazz Aviation, Accora Village and Ottawa Tourism.

*Note: Kevan would prefer a mentee from an underrepresented community, potentially a designer from the African Canadian community


“As your mentor, I will share my insights into consulting and business sides of design to help you produce the most inspired creative solutions.”
Irina Khvalova RGD, Principal of Colourphill in Toronto, ON
Before founding Colourphill in 1998, Irina worked as a senior designer at and at AON, a leading North American human resources consulting firm. These experiences gave Irina a unique perspective on the business of design – from both the designer’s and the client’s points of view. Her creative, production and consulting experience helps Colourphill’s clients minimize business risks associated with implementing creative and design initiatives. Irina’s personal passion is food and packaging design. 


"Together, we will explore ways to find and develop your unique attributes and deploy them to your advantage. What is your creative process? Are you a doer or a thinker first? How do you deal with a design problem? Are you shy or bold? Do you like to work alone or as a team? Are you intimidated by co-workers or clients? Print, Web or Social Media? At the end, you’ll have a better idea of how you fit in the design industry."

Denis Leclerc RGD, Creative Director & Principal at Costa Leclerc Design in Toronto, ON

Denis has more than 25 years experience and is comfortable managing projects in both English and French. He has worked in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto before starting his own business. His experience in marketing and his artistic approach guide CLD’s strategy as well as the development of interactive initiatives, visual identities and integrated brand campaigns in either official language. His active collaboration with several professional associations and his participation in numerous international design conferences attest to his enthusiasm for visual arts and graphic design. As a visual artist, Denis has more than 60 exhibitions and numerous installations.


"As your mentor, I'll share my experiences and career story from graphic designer to business owner to in-house design lead to creative in-house manager. My experience covers industries like publishing, start-ups, finance, automotive and education. I've worked with small and big budgets, good clients and difficult ones and have learned how to navigate some (not all!) of the pitfalls of a creative career. Together we can explore your career path, where you want to grow and your personal goals."

Josh McInerney RGD, Manager of Creative Services at Bow Valley College in Calgary, AB

Josh is a creative director, graphic designer, public speaker and brand strategist with over 18 years of experience. He was the Manager of Design and Creative at Ryerson University and is the former Creative Director and Partner at Modu Design Communications. Josh has worked with clients like BMW, Manulife Financial, Cineplex, The Writers Trust of Canada and Grand and Toy (among others). An obsessive idea guy who ignores silly things like sleep, Josh likes to make big ideas even bigger by intersecting storytelling, graphic design and technology to create a memorable user experience. 


“As your mentor, I will share my insights working with various clients and projects, offer guidance on the importance of staying focused on communication objectives -- the house you’re trying to build, rather than the tools you are going to use.”

David O’Connell RGD, Executive Creative Director at BANG! creative in Milton, ON

David has been in the communication arts industry for over two decades. He has worked on both the agency-side and client-side of the industry. He has helped cultivate elegant branding and impactful marketing solutions for his clients who include with local, national and international organizations from industries such as pharmaceutical, automotive, manufacturing, financial, retail, consumer goods and services, not-for-profit and government.


“As your mentor, I can share my experience, help identify what drives you creatively, and guide you in using that to set you apart.”

Brad Pyne (He, Him), Senior Designer, Motion & Illustration Lead at Context Creative in Toronto, ON

Brad has been working in the field for just under a decade, with experience at smaller-sized studios, on in-house teams and as a freelancer. Working in both physical and digital mediums, he specializes in illustration and motion-based work. Brad often volunteers his skill and time to the LGBTQ+ community, with a focus on using design as a tool for inclusion. As a hobbyist-potter-turned-instructor, he can often be found covered in mud by a wheel.


“As your mentor, I will share my knowledge and experience in creating identity and branding. I can give you insights related to pricing, client relationships, pitching and presenting and other areas related to the business of design. I am always open to frank discussions that can help you become a better creative."

Maninder Singh RGD, Multidisciplinary Designer and Photographer at House of Singh in Toronto, ON

Maninder is a multidisciplinary designer and photographer with more than eight years experience in the industry. His journey includes the first-hand experience of running a design business. He has an edge in collaborative projects from inception to execution. He has worked with clients in industries that include retail, education, human resources, real estate, fashion, fitness and pharmaceuticals.


"Are you a go-getting creative ready to master the skills-currency needed to confidently build your own profitable freelance design business? I'm your modern design mentor here to help you get clear on your goals, and support you in achieving them. Let's explore new perspectives, build your confidence and take your creative skills to the next level."

Ashlea Spitz RGD, Brand Strategy & Digital Media Designer at Pixsoul Media in Vancouver, BC
I’ve taken my 20 years of experience in the design field, blended it with my history as a professional design educator, and then shaken in the practical knowledge I gained empowering companies to reach their brand and marketing goals. The result? A cocktail of complete professional development tailor-made for go-getting creatives.


“As your mentor, I can share practical methodologies for designing systematically, as well as share my strategies for building trust and genuine, honest relationships with clients. I will help you understand how the design industry is where art meets commerce, authorship meets service. It is important to make note of these opposite ends and make it a mission of our design practice to have them meet gracefully."

Ronald Tau RGD, Founder of Meat in Toronto, ON

Ronald (@rontau) is a Chinese Canadian art director and graphic designer specializing in visual identity design. Born in Hong Kong, raised in Toronto, based in both Toronto and Beijing, Ronald creates in multicultural creative contexts, crossing cultural borders through creativity and design. His work has been covered and awarded in a variety of awards and media, ranging from the Type Directors Club, Tokyo Type Director’s Club, It’s Nice That, Applied Arts Awards, Brand New UnderConsideration, VICE and 032C.


“As your mentor, I want to hear what your passions are and how this partnership could be best utilized to drive your career forward. Leveraging my experiences and industry knowledge, I will assist you with aligning your personal goals and career objectives while providing honest feedback.”

Sabrina Young RGD, Senior Graphic Designer at Canada Life in London, ON

Sabrina is a multidisciplinary designer with 17 years of industry experience. Her career spans working in small advertising agencies to large in-house creative teams, and has also run her own freelance design business. For just shy of a decade, Sabrina has worked at Canada Life, leading several large user-centred design initiatives as part of the Creative Services design team. She brings a unique analytical and strategically creative perspective to her role and is known as a digital document accessibility expert.


“Design has the power to show people what is possible, and that’s also my approach to mentorship. Together, we’ll co-create an action plan tailored to what’s most meaningful and relevant to you and how to best get there.”

Stephanie Yung, Executive Creative Director at Zulu Alpha Kilo in Toronto, ON

Stephanie believes that great design and empathy can solve for real-world problems and human needs. Leveraging over 20 years of experience across disciplines and industries— from studios like Blok Design to agencies like TAXI to innovation consultancies like Smart Design in New York where she spent the last 10 years focusing on front-end innovation and the strategic translation of brands into new products and experiences. She now brings this experience to Zulu Alpha Kilo. Stephanie’s award-winning portfolio includes Sephora, Under Armour, Amex, BMW, Harry Rosen and Bell. She is a sought-after speaker, who’s taken part in conferences at Yale, Adobe 99u and Microsoft covering topics like human-centred design, behaviour change and designing for women. 


"As your mentor, I can provide leadership mentoring, digital career path consulting, energy management coaching, UX/UI feedback, healing methods and personal development mentoring."
Yan Zhang RGD, Senior Director of Delivery at Northern Commerce in London, ON

Yan is a caring coach who values sharing knowledge and experience to make a positive impact on people. At Northern Commerce, she manages a large team of talented directors, managers and digital delivery teams. She is a key member of the executive decision-making team. She is UX Certified by the Nielsen Norman Group and has the unusual complement of both graphic design and web programming skills to make online solutions both aesthetic and functional.