Arts Council of New Westminster Staff

Executive Director
Laura Grady
Laura Grady is passionate about building relationships between artists and the community. As a creative person who has been surrounded by arts and crafts her entire life, Laura values the role art plays in our lives. Through her work, she is committed to programming spaces and fostering opportunities for artists that celebrate inclusion and diversity. Prior to her role as Program Manager with the Arts Council of New Westminster, Laura spent over 15 years as a freelance writer producing content for various newspapers, online publications and National magazines such as Canadian Living and Today's Parent. Laura spent 10 years operating a monthly film series and partnered with independent movie theatres across the Lower Mainland. Laura has volunteered her time and communication skills to multiple organizations, including Union Gospel Mission, Medical Missions International, and The Vancouver International Children's Festival. When not coordinating arts events, Laura is often behind her camera capturing people and moments in and around New Westminster.
Manager of Finance and Development
Tracy Bijl
Tracy Bijl is known as a music educator, lyric soprano, textiles artist, and professional arts administrator. For over 20 years, Tracy had performed extensively in British Columbia in the genres of musical theatre, opera, operetta, and oratorio. She has performed with numerous music organizations including Vancouver New Music, West Coast Symphony Orchestra, Vancouver Opera, DragonDiva Opera, North Shore Light Opera, Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia Orchestra, Vancouver Bach Choir, and Willan Choir. Tracy was a featured semi-finalist in Bravo Channel's "Bathroom Divas", and has performed in solo variety ranging from Handel’s Messiah to Berio’s Sequenza III. Tracy is also a member of VWAM, Vancouver Women’s Ambient Music collective, creating with experimental vocal techniques, sound, and synthesizers. Ms. Bijl holds a Bachelor of Music Degree, majoring in Classical Vocal Performance, and has also completed university programs in both Business Administration (Marketing & Management), and Apparel Design. She has experience creating costume design for many small musical theatre and opera companies in BC. Tracy has worked in arts programming and management since 2009, with organizations such as Vancouver Bach Children’s Choirs, Arts Umbrella, and The ACT Arts Centre. She has also taught ECE music programs in the lower mainland for over a decade, and has lent her voice to several animation shorts. Tracy is currently in studio as much as possible, creating a body of work in textile sculpture, studying/exploring through art many current women’s issues worldwide.
Gallery Exhibition Coordinator
Brandi Williams
Brandi Williams is an avid arts enthusiast and an engaged member of the arts community in New Westminster. She has been living and working in New West since 2014, and is very passionate about the city and community she calls home. Brandi has an Advanced Certificate (Merit List) in Business Management from Capilano University, and is currently working towards a Certificate in Drawing from Emily Carr University. Prior to taking some time off work to raise her two small children and develop her personal art practice, Brandi worked for many years in Business Management, in the areas of marketing, customer service, and operations. She is an active member of New West Artists Society, an inclusive, non-profit society endeavouring to inspire, encourage, and celebrate visual artists, and currently serves on the Board as Secretary. She has also volunteered her time and skills in the past to organizations such as Easter Seals of BC, assisting in fundraising and event coordination.

The arts have always been a part of Brandi’s life in some capacity or another, and she is passionate about the value that the creative arts bring to individuals, families, and communities as a whole. Brandi looks forward to contributing to the increasingly diverse and inclusive arts community of New Westminster in her new role!
Indigenous Curator
S^yowah (Son/yo/wa)
Timothy Elijah
Shekoli! (Greetings in Oneida)

S^yowah (Son/yo/wa), Tim (he/him/his) is a proud member of the Onyota'aka (Oneida of the Thames First Nation) Nation located outside of London Ontario. He is from a specific Bear Clan family known for their connections to the forests and trees.

S^yowah would like to acknowledge that he is a visitor and a guest on the unceded territories of the Coast Salish Nations. With much love and respect, he is grateful for this opportunity to be here.

Tim has been a traditional storyteller from the time he could speak and read. He has fallen in love with the teachings and lessons that are taught within each legend and story that has been passed down from generation to generation.

S^yowah would like to invite you along this beautiful journey that his Indigenous stories will take you. Give yourself a moment to hear, feel, and embrace the magic and beauty of his stories. Also, he would like to thank the listeners for participating in Reconciliation. S^yowah believes that in order to resolve the conflicts and issues between Indigenous Peoples and Canadians we need to listen, forgive, love and work together as one. Through his stories and legends, S^yowah believes the gifts of knowledge are there for all Humans and of the creations on this earth.

In the traditional words of S^yowah's people

Yaw^ko ne Eso:Kunolunkwah swahkwako!! ( All of you are a great medicine to me/ I have love for you and I thank you very much).
Music Coordinator
Casey Thomas-Burns

Casey Thomas-Burns (she/her/hers) is a trombonist, vocalist, bandleader and arts administrator based in Vancouver, Canada. Casey holds her BMus in Jazz Studies from Capilano University, where she is also pursuing her Advanced Certificate in Arts and Entertainment Management.

Described by Juno-nominated bassist Jodi Proznick as "the future of arts leadership", Casey is an artist on the rise in the Vancouver music scene. She is the founder and director of the 10-woman jazz band The Leading Ladies.

Here at the Arts Council, Casey programs the Summer Concert Series and Queens Park Arts Festival, as well as other musical events. In 2020, she co-hosted the second season of the ArtsNW podcast, interviewing guests Jill Townsend and Bill Coon.

Casey would like to acknowledge with much respect the lands of the Coast Salish people, specifically the Qayqayt First Nation, on which everyone in New Westminster lives and works.

Marketing Coordinator
Mar Merrall
Mar Merrall (they/she) is an artist originally from small-town Ontario who is getting used to all the rain in Vancouver. They have a BA from the University of Waterloo with a Knowledge Integration Minor and an Intensive Studio Specialization, as well as a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum and Gallery Studies from Georgian College.

They get excited about good design and community-engaged arts programming. Mar’s education has increased their passion for collaborative work and taught them user-friendly design as well as ways to make art accessible to everyone.

In their own practice, she uses text and illustration to create tender and playful narratives. Working across a variety of media, they gravitate towards soft sculpture and illustration, but always finds a home in printmaking. They appreciate media that allows for spontaneity, creates surprises, and encourages play. Mar makes work with an emphasis on the type of care we give, in order to explore how we can move to be kinder and gentler in our actions.
Cultural Programmer
Yoobin Shin
Yoobin Shin (she/her) is a MA student in the Art History Department at the University of Toronto. Her current research explores contemporary arts that visualizes intersectional identity and national discourse with multi-media. Prior to undertaking her master’s degree, she received her BA in Art History and Classical Studies, emphasis on Archaeology from the University of British Columbia in 2021. During her graduate and undergraduate time, Yoobin held several assistant positions such as an Educational Research Assistant at Greenwood, Blackwood in Ontario and a Gallery/Event assistant at the West Vancouver Community Arts Council.

With her art historical background, Yoobin has been very passionate about connecting community with arts in various ways and creating public platforms to discuss diverse contemporary issues. She hopes to further contribute herself in a valuable project of building community with her new role as a cultural programmer at the Arts Council of New Westminster in the summer of 2022.