DESTA’s Team

Kassandra Kernisan
Executive Director

Wanda Huskinson
Office Manager

Amanda Maxwell
Support Services Coordinator

Milo Johnson
Project Coordinator

Scott Clyke
Education Counselor/Outreach

Tamara Chanoine
Project Manager

Carlie Schrouder
Program Coordinator

Berlin Reed
Community Food
Program Manager

Monique Barling
Program & Operations Director

Princess Symonds
Outreach & Communications

Svens Telemaque
Support Services

Ashley S. Montgomery
Legal Administrator

Kyristal Andrews
Buisness Development & Project Coordinator

DESTA’s Board of Directors

Dexter is co-founder of leading sustainable design marketplace GOODEE, a b-Corp certified e-Commerce platform. His most recent endeavour, founded in May 2019 with his identical twin brother, Byron, GOODEE brings together the values of good design and good purpose across home, beauty and accessory brands. GOODEE was recently honoured as a finalist for Fast Company’s “World Changing Ideas” 2020. In 2020, GOODEE joined 1% For The Planet, whose members contribute at least 1% of annual sales to environmental causes, and were most recently recongized by Fast Company’s 2021 World’s Most Innovative Companies.

Mr. Peart was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in 2015, and he received the Accessory Designer of the Year Award in 2014 and 2016 at the Canadian Arts & Fashion Awards. He has also been included regularly amongst Business of Fashion’s prestigious BoF 500 list. Mr. Peart began his career in fashion with the launch of WANT Agency in 2000, where he and his brother introduced many of-the-moment brands to the North American market. In 2007, they founded the critically-acclaimed accessories brand WANT Les Essentiels, which they followed with the multi-brand retail concept store WANT Apothecary in 2011.

Dexter Peart is also a member of the Board of Directors at both Roots Canada and The McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) Foundation.

Evan has been building his career in the non-profit and entrepreneurial sectors. He served as President of Commerce and Administration Students’ Association (CASA) at the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) providing opportunities for employers and students to connect and enhancing the student experience. Following that, he served as president of the Canadian Association of Business Students (CABS), an organization that brings together student leaders from across the country for network building and professional development.

Evan also founded Playground, a brand identity and web design agency specializing in serving businesses in the tech industry. He recently left the company and currently works as Project Manager for MTTR, a media company aiming to change the way we consume news.

A true shutterbug and tech geek, Vincent has several years of experience in customer service, social media, marketing, graphic design and desktop publishing. He has a passion for learning and discovering all the financial world has to offer.

Scott Simons | Ecopreneur | Founder/CEO Organik Corporate Health

Since 2002, Scott’s mission has been to inspire a daily wellness practice. To fulfill his mission, he created four social businesses.

• Organik Santé Corporative (2006): corporate wellness brokers that offer on-site services to companies across Canada.
• Organik Experiences (2018): elevated wellness experiences that gather like-minded people in inspiring spaces to move, breathe, learn and evolve together.
• DESTA (2006): an alternative school for marginalised young adults.
• The Padua Centre (2004): a community wellness centre offering yoga, meditation and TED Talk style dialogue sessions.

Scott is also a yoga and meditation teacher, personal trainer, and health coach.

Maria Varvarikos has more than 20 years of public relations and marketing experience. Prior to founding ZOÏ Agency in 2000, Maria studied at Concordia University where she received her bachelors in Commerce. She then went on to serve as the Director of Promotions for Ocean Drive Magazine. Inspired to establish her own enterprise in order to fully engage her passion for brands, Maria launched ZOÏ Agency to great success.

With offices in New York, Toronto and Montreal, Maria and her team have been an integral part of the successful launches and branding initiatives behind top fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle brands such as, WANT Les
Essentiels, H&M, FENDI, GUCCI, Christian Louboutin, Tiffany & Co., Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards, GOODEE, Fogo Island Inn and more.

Motivated by the brand story above all else, Maria takes pride in her unorthodox approach to public relations: Extracting the essence of the brand, highlighting their story, and communicating their uniqueness in innovative ways.

Maria strongly believes that public relations efforts can only be as successful as the strategy and personal relationships they’re built on, and it’s this outlook that keeps her and her team at ZOÏ Agency deeply committed and
enthusiastic in their work.

Passionate about art & design and giving back to the community, Maria has been a supporter for the CCA (Canadian Center of Architecture) and a patron and a past committee member for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Annual Fundraiser Gala. Currently, she is a board member of C2 Montréal, a board member for the DESTA Black Community Network, as well as a member of the communications committee for the MAC (Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal).

In 2010, Maria was the recipient of the 2010 Young Entrepreneur of the Year DEKA Award by The Montreal Hellenic Board of Trade.

Samm incorporates her passion for community, social justice and mental health awareness into her artistic and community projects. She is devoted to creating safe spaces, sharing stories and advocating for youth. Samm works to instil confidence, self-pride and unity within her community, while encouraging the power of expression.

Centering community-care and taking a collective responsibility approach are fundamental elements in her work as a community collaborator, consultant, facilitator and advocate. Focusing on policy development and community engagement, Samm is committed to promoting knowledge and opportunities amongst youth and within her community, ensuring public policies satisfy public need and opinion, leading her to study Community, Public Affairs and Policy Studies in the School of Community and Public Affairs at Concordia University.

Committed to providing knowledge and opportunities to underserved populations in society, Samm helps to foster positive relationships and facilitates learning opportunities, coordinating and promoting education and awareness around Human Rights jurisdictions and services as the African Nova Scotian Liaison and Education Officer at the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission (hybrid). Through an Afrocentric lens, centering the history, cultural heritage and lived experience of people of African descent, Samm’s work involves empowering the community through this process, as well as supporting the Commission to adopt and engage in Afrocentric approaches for culturally responsive and trauma-informed practices.

Samm is invested in fostering positive relationships, encouraging discussions, supporting healthy development and growth within her community, constantly challenging her own ideas and engaging in critical thinking to affect social change.


Olivier Nignon (he/him) was born and raised in Niger. He credits his decision to pursue engineering studies in France to his parents who fostered a home environment full of curiosity towards other cultures and new technologies.

After graduation, Olivier craved the fast pace of the startup environment and moved to China initially to work as a developer and later as a project manager. This two-year period called Olivier’s attention away from technology design towards its business potential. He returned to France to pursue graduate studies in business and strategy.

Since graduation, Olivier has worked in consulting at Accenture, where he advises companies on leveraging Data and AI to unlock value. After four years at the Paris office, Olivier requested a permanent relocation to Canada. He was eager to return to this country ever since spending a summer in high school learning English in Toronto.

Now based in Tiohtià:ke/Montréal, he is eager to pay it forward to the community of his new home.



Wondering how you can help



Wondering how you can help