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Board & Staff

Canadian Sport Film Festival

Sharing Our Passion
for both Sport and Film

Who we are

Meet the CSFF Team:

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Thanks to our CSFF Board Members!

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Canadian Sport Film Festival

BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The CSFF Board of Directors is the governing body of the Canadian Sport Film Festival and works to fulfill our mission and mandate of provoking dialogue on the power of sport to inspire social change. The Board sets the vision and direction for CSFF and ensures the organization is complying with all legal obligations.

Russell Field, Executive Director & Founder

Russell founded the Canadian Sport Film Festival in 2008 out of his passion for both sport and film – a passion reflected in his work as associate professor at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches the course “Sport, Film, and Society.” Russell is a past film review editor for the Journal of Sport History. His knowledge of the international landscape of sport film ensures the annual Canadian Sport Film Festival includes a selection of provocative films from around the world. Born out of a desire to showcase the power of sport and film, the Canadian Sport Film Festival brings together committed staff and volunteers to organize dynamic, inclusive events throughout the year that engage Canadians from coast to coast to coast.

Elliot Saccucci - CSFF Board Member

Elliot Saccucci, Co-Chair

Elliot is a Partner in the Labour & Employment group at Loopstra Nixon LLP, and the Head of its Sport Law practice. He practices management-side employment law, administrative law and sports law. 

In sport, Elliot has acted as counsel for professional and amateur athletes, coaches, national and provincial sports organizations, case managers (and other independent third parties) and professional teams, including National Hockey League clubs. He represents clients in professional and amateur athletic issues, including salary negotiation, endorsement advice and negotiation, as well as investigations, and arbitrations involving salary, carding, team selection, discipline, and Safe Sport and UCCMS complaints.

In 2021 Elliot was appointed as an arbitrator to the Independent Supervisory Board for Alpine Canada, and in 2022 Elliot was elected as a member of the Adjudicatory Body of World Aquatics’ newly-created Aquatics Integrity Unit, representing Canada.

Elliot is a true believer in the transformational value of sport and has previously been involved in young professionals boards for Right to Play and You Can Play, the latter of which he helped to co-found.

Kenyah Coombs, Member at Large

Kenyah is the founder of Coombs Law, a boutique business and entertainment law firm in Toronto. She has extensive experience and expertise in the legal intricacies of the entertainment industry, supporting Toronto-based creatives to create, launch, and finance their independent projects. Kenyah has a deep-rooted passion for pop culture and its profound influence on society and actively engages in writing, directing, and producing her own projects, ranging from short films to compelling series and engaging exhibits.

Christa Costas, Secretary

Christa has expertise in physical activity and health promotion built on thirty years of employed and volunteer experience and an academic foundation in health care, physical education and applied health science. Christa has worked with ParticipACTION in roles including National Project Coordinator, Director of Health Communications and Relationship Manager, with Hamilton Public Health Services as a Physical Activity Specialist, and as an Instructor with York University and Sheridan College.

Christa currently operates a consulting business, working with government and non-government organizations in the physical activity, recreation and sport sectors. She is also the Director of Partnerships for the Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability and the Director of Partnerships and Education for the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. As a volunteer, Christa serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute and is Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors for KidSport Ontario. Christa is a Registered Nurse, holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Physical Education and has two certificates from York University: a Certificate in Fitness Assessment & Exercise Counselling, and a Certificate in Sport Administration. She also holds a Master of Arts in Applied Health Sciences (Health & Physical Education) from Brock University.

Christa is excited about the opportunities that CSFF films and their messages can contribute to our broader society in a number of ways – from stories that highlight and encourage social change, to the importance of participating in physical activity and sport for the benefits that individuals and communities can realize.

Based on her 30-year career in physical activity promotion, Christa sees the potential of film as an innovative way to inspire people to move and engage more in physical activity and use sport in a positive way to bring change to the world. And based on current world events, the timing couldn’t be more important.

Photo of Ekua Cudjoe, brand marketing manager at Nike Canada and CSFF Board Member

Ekua Cudjoe, Member at Large

Ekua Cudjoe is a brand marketing manager at Nike Canada and occasional elementary teacher with the Toronto District School Board. Ekua has an Honors Bachelor of Science and received the Award in Athletic Achievement at the inaugural Black Graduation at the University of Toronto after setting the Varsity Blues weight throw record. She continues to pursue her passions as an athlete by training and competing with the University of Toronto Track and Field Club. Off the track, she founded a group called Soleful Runs, a running & walking group designed to offer a safe space for Black folks to engage in recreational sport.

Ekua is excited to contribute with the Canadian Sport Film Festival and create impactful experiences to amplify conversations about the power of sport.

Photo of Joe Doiron, CSFF Board Member since March 2024.

Joe Doiron, Member at Large

Joe Doiron’s career working in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors spans 30 years and includes policy and program development in population health, health promotion, chronic disease prevention and community well-being.

Joe supports governments, not-for-profit/voluntary organizations, social enterprise, and communities to advance healthy public policy underpinned by the social determinants of health. Joe’s services span project management, group facilitation, stakeholder engagement, partnership brokering, public speaking, technical writing, and thought leadership.

Joe’s career includes roles with ParticipACTION where he led public communication and education campaigns. More recently, Joe spent over two decades with the Federal Health Portfolio, including 15 years with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) facilitating innovative, intersectoral health and social policy initiatives in physical activity, healthy living and chronic disease prevention.

Joe is acknowledged as a national leader and champion for healthy living and population physical activity in Canada. Between 2015-2018, Joe led a multi-sectoral process to develop Canada’s first-ever, pan-Canadian policy aimed at increasing population-level physical activity. A Common Vision for Increasing Physical Activity and Reducing Sedentary Living in Canada: Let’s Get Moving informs physical activity policy development across sectors and levels in Canada.

Joe’s affiliations include volunteer membership on the Board of Directors with the Canadian Fitness and Lifestyle Research Institute, the National Research Committee for the ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity Among Children and Youth, and the Outdoor Play Canada National Panel on Licensing Outdoor Early Childhood Education, as well as others.

Joe is the recipient of the Chief Public Health Officer Medal for Canada. Awarded by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam, the CPHO Medal recognizes Joe’s career-long commitment and national public service in promoting healthy living for Canadians based on community values, ethics, respect, engagement, transparency, honesty, integrity, expertise, and excellence.

Joe lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia where he is an avid outdoors enthusiast, writer, and community volunteer.

Anthony Murira, Member at Large

As a film and television industry professional and streaming programming veteran, Anthony’s experiences and expertise lie in producing fictional narrative, documentary, commercial and branded content nationally and internationally. He has been a part of every facet of the film and television industry, learning new skills at every turn. He’s worked with the National Film Board of Canada as a Production Coordinator for various feature films, TV series and documentary projects in various capacities. 

Tony has served on many festival committees, including the Toronto International Film Festival, and possesses a genuine love of all forms of cinema, from arthouse to blockbuster films. He is excited to be able to contribute his expertise to an organization that uses cinema to uplift and showcase sport through cinema.

Viswanathan Nagarajan, Member at Large

Vish is a qualified physiotherapist and a sports enthusiast. He has healthcare experience that spans across India, the Middle East, the United Kingdom and Canada. Vish is currently a Director at Deloitte Healthcare Consulting, based out of Toronto and works closely with healthcare providers and policy makers across Canada. Through his role at Deloitte and with CSFF, Vish is looking to contribute to society by sharing sport films that highlight the importance of physical activity and the benefits that individuals and communities can realize. Vish is excited to contribute to the community with the Canadian Sport Film Festival team.

Photo of Vanessa Smit, CSFF Board Member since March 2024.

Vanessa Smit, Member at Large

As a marketing manager at Deloitte Canada, Vanessa leverages her M.Sc. in Human Decision Science and background in psychology and behavioural economics to create engaging campaigns and experiences that resonate with diverse audiences and stakeholders.

Vanessa has over seven years of experience in communications and marketing, working in both public and private sectors, and leading cross-functional teams and projects. At Deloitte Canada, she is focused on elevating the firm’s brand and positioning, while contributing to its vision and values. Vanessa is a strategic thinker, a former high-performance student-athlete, yoga instructor, and creative at heart.

Leanne Spier profile photo - CSFF Treasurer

Leanne Spier, Treasurer

Leanne Spier is a strategic and results-driven executive with more than 20 years of senior financial leadership experience in both the private and public sectors. She excels in business strategy and planning, acquisitions, commercial contracting, real estate, administration and compliance. Leanne just finished her term as board treasurer for a non-profit organization and is an advisory board member for the CFO Leadership Council

Leanne is passionate about sports and the importance that physical activity has on mental health, and she is excited to join the CSFF board as Treasurer.

Naveed Tagari, Member at Large

Naveed is the Manager, Partnership Development, Music & Live Entertainment for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment Partnership (MLSE). Before joining MLSE, Naveed was the Strategic Programs & Partnerships Lead for the DMZ’s Pre-Incubator program, Basecamp, where he also led all student entrepreneurship programming.

Currently, Naveed is an MBA candidate in the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU). He also serves as a Strategic Advisor in the MBA Sport Leadership Association

Naveed is a graduate of the Sport & Event Marketing program at George Brown College and has a Bachelor of Arts in Politics & Governance from Toronto Metropolitan University. Naveed brings a rich background in the sports business world and the not-for-profit sector, focusing on strategic partnerships and marketing.

Neil Wright, Member at Large

Neil is one of the original directors of the Canadian Sport Film Festival and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Festival ever since its inception. He is also the Chair of the Harbord Street BIA and Broker of Record for Wright Real Estate Ltd Brokerage – both longtime sponsors of CSFF. Throughout his career, Neil has generously shared his time and real estate expertise with the community and numerous media outlets across Canada.

Canadian Sport Film Festival

CSFF STAFF MEMBERS

Dedicated CSFF Staff collaborate with the Board to plan, coordinate and deliver successful CSFF events year-round, including the annual Festival.

Alicia Tyson, Managing Director

Alicia is a Health Promotion Specialist who works with communities and organizations to create social and physical environments that promote health and wellbeing for all. She has provided leadership and support to individuals as a fitness instructor and personal trainer and has led sessions in chronic disease prevention for municipalities and the Province of Ontario at the Muskoka Parry Sound and Simcoe Muskoka Health Units.
Alicia has been a leader in health and physical activity promotion at Active Healthy Kids Canada and has led community engagement in provinces and territories across the country through ParticipACTION‘s Sports Day in Canada program — a national celebration of sport to build community and facilitate healthy, active living.
Alicia produced the short documentary The Power of Sport, about the key role sport and physical activity play in the rehabilitation and ongoing recovery of three stroke survivors. A driving force on the Canadian Sport Film Festival team since 2019, Alicia is always excited for CSFF Opening Night and currently works as an independent consultant.

Image of Mary Margaret Powrie, CSFF Lead Programmer & Digital Advisor

Mary Margaret Powrie, CSFF Lead Programmer & Digital Advisor

Mary Margaret Powrie is the CSFF Lead Programmer, coordinating film submissions and working with the programming team to review and select festival films. Mary Margaret is also the festival’s Digital Advisor, managing the CSFF website and CSFF on FilmFreeway and collaborating with the CSFF Board and Staff to plan and promote film events year-round.

Like CSFF, Mary Margaret has a passion for both sport and film. Her award-winning short documentary MARATHON WOMEN had its world premiere at the Hot Docs Festival in 2007, the same year she ran her first marathon. Mary Margaret founded her production company HAIKUGIRL MEDIA in 2012 and has attended the Toronto International Film Festival TIFF for 30 years and Hot Docs for 18 years.

MM is excited to bring her festival experience and twenty years of public sector digital communications and strategic planning experience to the CSFF team. She looks forward to welcoming everyone to the 16th annual Canadian Sport Film Festival November 7, 8 and 9, 2024 at TIFF Lightbox in Toronto. See you at CSFF!