Staff and Board

Seeking New Board Members

We are looking for Board Members that believe in our mission and are willing to be active in their governance roles. We are open to candidates of all abilities but prefer individuals that identify as living with a disability. Bring your passion for the arts and help us continue to grow and make all of the arts more accessible to all Canadians.

Contact: Yuri Arajs / 604-343- 9141 /


Yuri Arajs, Artistic Director
Yuri joined the staff as Artistic Director in October 2015. His original connection to Kickstart was in 2001 when he presented at the 1st Kickstart International Disability Arts and Culture Festival in Vancouver. Yuri has worked with and represented artists who live with disabilities for more than two decades. Having founded numerous art non-profit organizations and galleries, Yuri has worked with and shown the artwork of hundreds of artists who live with disabilities, from the USA, Canada, and internationally. Yuri has an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art (USA), a BFA from Kean University (USA), and an Associates Degree in graphic design from Middlesex College (USA).

Kait Blake, Administrative Assistant

She is thrilled to be a part of such an amazing organization, as she is extremely passionate about inclusion and supporting everyone to live a happy and fulfilling life. While she is not an artist per se, she has been a lover and supporter of the arts since early childhood. Much of her youth was devoted to participation in every theatre endeavour available to her, whether it be performing, working backstage or attending productions. When she wasn’t doing that she was performing original plays for her family, friends & stuffed animals, creating artistic “masterpieces” (and messes), singing in choirs (or anywhere she was allowed to sing) and writing short stories & angsty teen poetry. These days she is an avid paper crafter, novice seamstress, an enthusiastic dog & cat mom, lover of food/cooking and recently has joined a choir and started writing again. Kait lives with severe depression & anxiety and is vehement about breaking down stigma associated with mental illness. While her educational & career background was mostly tourism, she has recently shifted into the mental health field. She is a trained Peer Support Worker and is currently working for The Kettle Society on their Vancouver Opera partnership project.

Board of Directors

Jake Anthony,President
Actor, theatre instructor and media arts correspondent. I am a professional actor in theatre and commercials living with high-functioning Autism. I have been an advocate for people with special needs and families for over a decade. During that time, I have served as an advocate and Board/Committee member for non-profit organizations such as:, Planned Lifetime Advocacy Network, the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion, Autism Canada, Inclusion BC and the BC Council for Families. I also volunteered as a member of the City of Burnaby Access Advisory Committee for six years. I am a proud graduate of the William Davis Centre for Actors’ Study at the Vancouver Institute for Media Arts.

Jake Anthony @Youtube

Cathy Browne, Vice President
I’m a lifestyle, travel, and events photographer who just happens to be legally blind. I use my unique perspective and camera to capture and share things I actually can’t see.

And I’m good. Take a look!

I’m also a veteran PR gal and accessibility advocate. I believe in the power of community, and I take great pleasure bringing people together. I love the West Coast, and call Vancouver BC home.

I love everything Apple, being with family and friends, writing, photo-walking, travel, food and wine, hot sake, politics, my cats, CBC Radio, trivia and hugs.

Kim Almond, Member at Large
Community Support Worker, Artist.
I am a visual artist. I studied Studio Art at Capilano University and Emily Carr University of Art And Design. I have worked as a community support worker for many years. I teach art classes for the Developmental Disabilities Association and organize community art shows.


Wendy D, Member at Large
Wendy D, professional photographer, capturing moments in life, who we are, what we do and showing it to the world through the visual image. She loves what she does, she helps people tell the story of themselves, their business, their event, their project, their passion. For Wendy, its a collaboration between photographer, her subject and her lens… always.

Some of her clients include, CBC Vancouver, CBC radio-canada Vancouver, BCIT, Sauder School of Business at UBC, Vision Vancouver. Josh Berson Photography, Bentley photographics, Scott McAlpine photograph, SFU, The Cultch, Women in Film and Television Vancouver, Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientist BC, City of Mission, City of Vancouver, Home Depot, Meinharts, Ki Communications.

Kate Collie, Member at Large

For Kate, being alive is making art.

In addition to Kate’s current solo and collaborative art, there is a large body of work from her long career as a full-time visual artist.


Advisory Board Members

Lissette Guajardo
Personal Trainer / Inner Peace Fitness.

Athena Cooper
Email Marketing Specialist.

Emma Kivisild
Artist / Writer.