Board & Staff

Board of Directors

Daniel FiSONY DSCschlin, Chair

Daniel has worked as a classical composer, having studied with Alan Belkin, an experienced improviser. He is a founding member of the Vertical Squirrels, an acclaimed quartet whose most recent recording with musique actualle label Ambiances Magnètiques Time of the Sign has been critically received as a ”masterpiece” (featuring Jane Bunnett, Ben Grossman, and Scott Merritt). He is Research Chair at the University of Guelph and a leading Canadian humanities researcher who has produced important cross-disciplinary work, including some sixteen books with a wide variety of international presses. His most recent books include (with Ajay Heble and George Lipsitz) The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Cocreation (Duke UP) and a co-authored book with Martha Nandorfy entitled The Community of Rights • The Rights of Community (Oxford UP), the third in a trilogy of books co-written with Martha Nandorfy on rights issues. Daniel has received several major awards for teaching excellence and is to date the only winner from the Humanities of the prestigious Premier’s Research Excellence Award. He is a multiple award winner of SSHRCC grants as an independent researcher and as a core investigator on the MCRI and Partnership Fund grants and is associated with the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice (ICASP) project and the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI).


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Gary Diggins, Vice-chair

Gary has worked for over three decades as an expressive arts therapist. His practice combines counselling, soundwork, and mindfulness. As an educator, Gary teaches in the Expressive Arts Department of Fleming College and lectures at various universities in Canada and abroad. He is the author of Tuning the Eardrums – Listening as a Mindful Practice. The content of Gary’s book has been shared in contexts such as leadership training programs and the Social Work department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. In addition to Gary’s therapeutic practice, he continues to perform internationally as a multi-instrumentalist artist. He plays a range of acoustic instruments collected from around the world. Combining ancient sounds with modern music, the airwaves become a canvas for his imaginative soundscapes. Gary has appeared on dozens of recordings and composed for three films. His musical collaborations have taken him to India, Israel, Europe, South Korea, and throughout North America. He has collaborated with artistic projects ranging from Cirque du Soleil to Canadian composer, R. Murray Schafer. Along with three other artists, Gary is co-owner of an arts space in Guelph that houses Silence, a not-for- profit collaborative devoted to new music. His personal sound sanctuary and therapeutic studio is based in the Silence facility.


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Robert Harris, Treasurer

Robert is a founding member of the Silence board and currently serves as Treasurer. He is founder and Chairman of The PEER Group Inc. in Kitchener, Ontario, an industrial automation software company employing 130 people. After retiring as a successful entrepreneur, Robert rediscovered his long lost love of playing concert band music and joined Guelph New Horizons and Kitchener Musical Society concert bands playing bass clarinet. After reconnecting with music, Robert came to the realization that today’s society values and respects the corporate arena more than the cultural world. In an effort to provide musicians affordable playing venues. Robert joined the Silence team. His goal is to provide a listening space where artists can develop their audience, build new repertoire, and, most importantly, advance their craft by pushing boundaries through experimentation, improvisations, and sharing with others.


11745638_10152927644081345_690536425303279052_nAlan Armstrong 

Alan is founder and CEO of Eigenworks, a boutique strategy and research firm that services B2B software companies ranging from series-B startups through large public companies. Eigenworks currently employs 10 people and has demonstrated 35% CAGR for the past 5 years. Eigenworks clients include industry giants such as Oracle and Cisco, mid-size companies such as Blackbaud and ReturnPath, and rocket-ship startups including Gainsight and VictorOps. Mr. Armstrong is a regular contributor of articles and expertise to industry publications including Pragmatic Marketing, Gainsight’s Pulse series, and the popular blog OnProductManagement, of which Alan is a co-founder. Alan speaks regularly at industry events, including Pulse (San Francisco 2015, 2016, 2017), TSIA (Las Vegas 2016), Strategy & Competitive Intelligence Professionals (Atlanta 2017), and Product Marketing Community (Toronto & San Francisco 2016, Boston 2017). Prior to founding Eigenworks, Alan held senior director and vice president roles in three startups and participated in three successful exits including Fortiva (to Proofpoint, 2008), Wily Technology ($400M to CA in 2006), and Canada’s largest self-funded exit of Sitraka to Quest Software, where Alan was Director of New Products and Innovation. Alan’s experience includes Vice President-level positions covering Product Management, Business Development, and Sales. Alan holds a B.A.Sc in Systems Design Engineering from University of Waterloo. Alan’s passion for Silence arises from his life-long romance with the saxophone and jazz music, which he has played at a semi-professional level for 25 years. Alan joined Silence’s board in 2016 with the belief and vision of Silence as a “third place” that offers transformational experiences for listeners and players, and a crucible for innovation and social change. In addition to his work on the Silence board, Alan has supported several arts and cultural institutions. He is the founder and seed funder of the A. James Reimer Award for Theological Studies, now a $300,000 fund, and previously served on the board of Abundance Canada, a $250M charitable foundation. Alan supports numerous charitable organizations including the McMichael Gallery as a Patron Member, and The KW Jazz Room as a Gold Corporate Sponsor.


Ex-officio members

CatherCatherine Kormendyine Kormendy 

Catherine is the founder and director of Red Water, a social enterprise that offers programs, services, and support to individuals moving through the cycle of womanhood: girl to elder. She hosts Red Tents in Guelph, an opportunity for women to share their experiences on the journey from menstruation to menopause. As a facilitator, she draws upon her diverse background:  a specialist in movement, Fine Art Studies from York University, gymnastics coaching, Reiki, psychotherapy, and as a Soundwork Practitioner. Catherine is a certified Advanced Moon Mother Mentor and provides Womb Blessings and Womb Healings for women. Catherine has studied Healing the Inner Maiden and is in the process of attaining her Mentoring Girls certificate. She is dedicated to releasing womb repression and restoring womb wisdom. Catherine was a national gymnastic coach and has experience with the not-for-profit sector. She has served as Community Liaison for the Chatham Capital Theatre and was on the Performing Arts Advisory Committee for the Chatham Cultural Centre. In addition to being a mother of two children, Catherine has maintained a social activist focus and worked on projects ranging from the protection of water to protesting the use of diesel trains.  As a movement practitioner, she has cultivated a practice based in Gabrielle Roth’s 5 Rhythms discipline. For over 15 years, Catherine has collaborated with her partner in creating community-building events in Toronto and Guelph. Together they shaped gatherings that brought dancers and musicians into ceremonies, rituals, and seasonal celebrations such as The BIG BEAT. Under the guidance of Jan Sherman, a First Nation’s teacher, Catherine has consistently participating in a drumming circle for women.


Martha photoMartha Nandorfy

Martha is a professor of English at the University of Guelph, where she teaches in postcolonial literature and literary journalism. Her work focuses on social and environmental justice issues in the borderlands and the Americas generally. She is author of The Poetics of Apocalypse: García Lorca’s Poet in New York (2003), and co-author of a trilogy entitled Eduardo Galeano: Through the Looking Glass (2001), The Concise Guide to Global Human Rights (2007), and The Community of Rights/The Rights of Community (2012). Her current research and teaching focus on literary journalism and creative nonfiction by such authors as Charles Bowden and Rebecca Solnit, especially their storying of place in the nuclear southwestern US. She has published extensively on the intersection of storytelling and communitarian politics, and also works on the widespread influence of Aboriginal storytelling as alternative source of knowledge, inspiration, and social practice. She is one of the original ex-officio board members of Silence, and currently chairs the Art Curation Committee that selects visual artists to exhibit.


Executive Director


Petra NyendickPetra Nyendick, Executive Director at Silence copy (1)

Petra received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors at York University in Toronto and a Master of Fine Arts with distinction at Indiana State University. As a visual artist, she has had one-person shows at the Gaslight Art Colony in Illinois; 4 Star Gallery, Marion University Gallery and the Saint Mary-of-the Woods Gallery in Indiana; and a two-person show in Paris, Illinois at the Bicentennial Art Museum. Nyendick has exhibited in invitational and group shows in Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and throughout central Canada.

She was co-founder of Toronto’s Broken Fence Society, a group of artists and activists concerned about the natural environment. In Indiana, Petra founded Watermark, a collective of artists that created two major public outdoor installations.

Originally from Toronto, Petra moved to Indiana in 2001, living in Indianapolis and Terre Haute. After realizing the need for a commercial art gallery in Terre Haute, Nyendick was founding director of 333 Visual Art Gallery for one year. The success of that gallery and attached working studio morphed into an opportunity to launch Halcyon Contemporary Art Gallery at the Sheldon Swope Art Museum. Petra’s success as founding director of Halcyon and director of the Swope Art Museum’s Summer Youth Art Program led to her position as Director of Indiana State University’s Community School of the Arts.

At the Community School of the Arts, Petra secured and implemented over 30 national, state and endowment grants for projects including “Street Art!”, a visual art program designed for the 14th and Chestnut Community Center, providing children from under served populations quality arts instruction; “Music For All”, a collaboration resulting in the gift of instruments and private music lessons to children attending the Terre Haute Boys and Girls Club; and “FUSION”, a theater program held at a title 1 middle school in West Terre Haute. She was a member of Arts Illiana’s Regional Advisory Council, was on the board of directors of The Terre Haute Children’s Choir, Blues at the Crossroads Festival and Wabash Valley Art Spaces, where she also served as Chair of the Site Selection and Acquisition Committee.

Petra recently accepted a position in Guelph as Executive Director at Silence and currently serves on the Guelph Arts Council’s board of directors. These positions are the most recent facets in a life’s work in art; a long, strong involvement in the arts as a successful artist, agent and arts organizer. Nyendick brings to Guelph her committed vision of the guild of the creative community and its importance to society as a whole.


Event Technician

Dru Jacey

Dru is a lover and writer of eclectic and alternative music. Usually taking a very natural and raw approach to his writing, songs can take years to complete. He plays guitar and bass as well as several percussion instruments. He loves to participate in both collaborative and solo works.

As a young child, Dru suffered a traumatic accident to his eye, nearly losing it. In and out of hospitals, through countless years of patience and healing, he found refuge in music – changing his life and ultimately becoming one of his main passions. He realized the healing power of music, and his potential to create and share his original work.

After a few years of moving around Ontario, Dru hopes to finally settle in Guelph and, as a part of Silence, wishes to help nurture the arts scene. Friendly and personable, he is approachable and diplomatic when it comes to sharing ideas and looks to do so as frequently as possible. He is honoured to be welcomed into the community and hopes to share his music and ideas with everybody.