Ottawa Little Theatre Board of Directors

Geoff Gruson
President, Board of Directors

With over 35 years of active volunteering at the OLT in almost every capacity, Geoff was an OLT Cornerstone Project inductee in 2015.  He has been involved in well over 50 shows at OLT. In addition to his work as an actor and director, he has served as assistant to the director, fight director, scenic designer, member of the Board of Directors for approximately 20 years, member of the Operations Committee, Chair of the Artistic Committee, and member of the Play Selection Committee. He brings into the community of OLT a wealth of experience from the professional world – both in strategic and HR management, as well as in professional film, TV and stage, and Presidency of ACTRA Ottawa.  In the 2006-2007, he received the Audrey Ashley Award from the Capital Critics Circle for ‘outstanding work on community and professional stages and contribution to theatre in Ottawa’.


Chris Ralph
Vice-President (Artistic)

Chris is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Acting Company, Ottawa’s largest creative centre for performance arts education. As a sought after vocal coach and presenter, he has worked with professionals from a wide range of business sectors. His political passion has led to involvement in political campaigns and to providing vocal and presentation coaching for Members of Parliament. Chris also teaches at Invest Ottawa, where he leads communication workshops for budding entrepreneurs. Chris is the 2014 Dr. Paul E. Garfinkel Award Winner for Entrepreneurial Achievement. As a professional actor, Chris has worked across the country from Prince George, BC, to the NAC right here in Ottawa. Chris is a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada and York University’s MFA Acting program.


Paul Hession

Paul Hession is a graduate of the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean/Royal Military College, where he obtained a Bachelor of Civil Engineering, and subsequently McGill University and University of Ottawa, where he obtained his Master of Engineering and MBA, respectively. He is a registered Professional Engineer in Ontario and an active campaign leader for United Way Ottawa. He is a former Treasurer of the Ottawa Arts Court Foundation and a current member of the GTEC Advisory Board.


Rob Brooks

Rob has been on many boards of different organizations over the years including a local cultural association, different local schools and the University of Waterloo, as well as a political party local riding association. Rob graduated with a B.A Sc. in Systems Design Engineering in 1985. He is now semi-retired. Rob is an entrepreneur and has manged his business in the Ottawa area since 1988. Rob’s experience with theatre is both as a recent volunteer at OLT as well as experience with the Aylmer Community Theatre and as Technical Director with a local high school theatre department. Rob’s theatre experience is mainly behind the scenes. Rob’s non-theatre expertise is primarily in the IT area, with strong emphasis on database and customer relationship management applications.


Cheryl Jackson

When people ask Cheryl about her interest and connection to the Ottawa Little Theatre her answer is usually “I was brought up there!” That is a fairly true statement as much of her family was involved there before she was. Her father was a long past president as well as a director ….. he was also Chairman of the EODL and governor of the DDF. Her mother did some acting but mostly costumes and makeup (yes we had people who ‘did’ makeup). Her sister has a lengthy resume at OLT in acting and costumes. As she says …. “I was brought up there ….. it is in my DNA!”

As a child she took the streetcar for Saturday drama classes run by Bill Glenn or Lynn Gorman or Barbara Meiklejohn. As a teenager when social interactions are at best awkward, the OLT was a place that was open, safe and accepting and where there was always something to do …..props, costume, bit parts.

Cheryl intended to attend RAMDA in London after high school but while attending a drama festival in Deep River with the OLT entry, Peter Symcox, the adjudicator and misplaced Brit, invited her to join his stock company in New York where She remained for two years.

I was on the Board of Directors in the early 2000 and was one of the original House Managers when we started that program and continue to participate as Front of House volunteer as well as acting and costume sorting.

My work experience has mostly been in tourism and customer service and I have education in special events. I have been a seamstress all my life and have a good eye for design and décor.


Charles William (Bill) Milner

Bill has been involved onstage and backstage at Ottawa Little Theatre in more than twenty (20) productions since 1986.  His other credits in Canada and abroad, include television, radio and a short stint doing sound and lights off-off Broadway.  The latter includes 15+ productions including acting, directing, producing, set design/construction, and publicity.

Acknowledging that theatre experience is vital to the understanding of OLT, he also brings thirty (30) years managing in the federal government, working in Ottawa and abroad for what is now Global Affairs Canada.  His work with the government has involved directing programs that include: contract management, human resources, finance, security, IM/IT, consular and visa services, and resource allocation.  He has worked with budgets between $20k to over $1.25 million throughout a variety of cultures, including various legal and political frameworks.  His global experience has included problem-solving in over a dozen different countries, from Afghanistan to the former Yugoslavia.

He notes that most importantly, as a Board member, he hopes to make his own contribution to keep this theatre (OLT) vibrant and able to provide many, many more years of quality entertainment.


Paul Pieper

Paul first came to OLT in 1976, but his career took him to Toronto. Upon retirement from his own successful businesses and from being a Business Professor, Paul and his wife returned to Ottawa and immediately volunteered at OLT. Although Paul acted early in his career, winning acting awards in Niagara drama festivals, he has preferred to volunteer behind the scenes. He was one of the longest serving members of a community college’s Board of Governors and for 12 years sat on an Audit Committee overseeing multi-million-dollar budgets. He was past president and is now treasurer of another non-profit association. Paul was elected to the OLT Board of Directors at the 2014 AGM and now is also a member of the board’s Operation Committee. He continues to volunteer with the Front of House team.


Paul Slater

Paul Slater began his career with Welch LLP, a firm of Chartered Accountants, as a co-op student while attending the University of Ottawa. In December 2007, he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce with Specialization in Accounting and returned to Welch LLP full time. Paul gained the required practical experience and passed his examinations to be designated a Chartered Accountant in 2009. He worked at Welch LLP (with a break for traveling the UK and staying in hostels) until November 2016 when he began a rewarding new position as Controller at The Perley and Rideau Veterans’ Health Centre. At the Perley, Paul attends Audit & Risk Management Committee meetings and supports the management team to tackle the challenges faced by a non-profit corporation with static revenues from Government funding, research grants and fundraised donations as well as business-like revenues that help ensure sustainability.

While in University, Paul played guitar, complete with harmonica rack, at open mic nights and knows the excitement, the nerves and the fun of performing. His interest in music is broad and inspired by the strangely beautiful, jazzy growl of Dave Van Ronk and the attitude of Joe Strummer. Paul plays second position on a team at the Ottawa Curling Club and has shown perseverance in his fifth year learning a notoriously difficult sport. He enjoys literature and his favourite author is Charles Dickens although he also reads political history. The Memoirs of Lester Pearson were consumed in a very short period of time. Paul has an appreciation for the truly great communicators of their day, the descendants of ancient philosophers, the brilliant and always enigmatic, poets. John Betjeman quickly became and remained his kindred among this group of society’s minute-takers.


Lindsay Wilson

Lindsay Wilson has been volunteering with the Ottawa Little Theatre for the past seven seasons. In that time, she has been involved in over 50 productions, primarily as a sound technician (with occasional forays into lighting or stage crew). Since the 100th season, she has been the sound designer on two to three plays per season. Lindsay has mentored numerous new OLT volunteers in sound operation and design, and worked with a wide variety of directors and volunteers from many different backgrounds. As a backstage volunteer with extensive and diverse experience at the OLT, Lindsay brings a unique perspective to the board, representing volunteers from the technical side of the theatre directly, rather than via the volunteer committee. Given the amount of time she spends at the theatre and the number of volunteers with whom she regularly interacts, Lindsay believes she is uniquely positioned to speak to the real-time needs and priorities affecting backstage volunteers. An epidemiologist by day, Lindsay is always up for a conversation about how handshakes spread the flu (so that conversation will probably begin with an awkward smile and a wave).