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Statement Strategies Ltd. | May 30, 2023


Toronto, ON (May 26, 2023) – Today, TAAFI (Toronto Animation Arts Festival International) announced that co-founder Barnabas Wornoff will be stepping down as Chair of the non-profit organization's board. The board has appointed Karen Jackson, a long-time TAAFI leader and board member, to assume the Chair role, overseeing the leadership of the non-profit. Additionally, Matthew Celestial, another board member and head of publicity, will assume the role of Treasurer, overseeing the day-to-day operations of the non-profit.

Barnabas co-founded TAAFI in 2012 with Ben McEvoy, Rich Duhaney, Mike Weiss, JoAnn Purcell and Mark Jones. He has served as its Chair since then, guiding the organization through its formative years and establishing it as a respected entity within the animation community. Under his leadership, TAAFI has grown significantly, attracting top-tier talent from across the globe and providing a platform for emerging artists to showcase their work.

In a statement, Barnabas Wornoff said:

Serving as the Chair of TAAFI for the past 10 years has been both an honor and privilege. Being one of the founding members of TAAFI and witnessing it grow and morph over the years has been one of my proudest achievements. Together we have fostered an inclusive community, nurtured emerging talent, and forged invaluable industry partnerships. 

I am confident that under Karen's leadership, TAAFI will reach its fullest potential, while continuing to be a driving force in the animation industry. She has already brought so many innovative ideas and fresh perspectives to the table, and coupled with her deep respect and commitment to our TAAFI community, I leave the board in good hands. Cheers to the future madame chair!

Karen Jackson has also announced that:

On behalf of the TAAFI board and community, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Barnabas for his unwavering commitment to making TAAFI a successful environment for animators, industry professionals and enthusiasts. His leadership has been instrumental in building TAAFI into the thriving organization it is today, and we are grateful for his dedication to our mission.

I am honoured to assume the role of Chair and look forward to working with the board, our sponsors and our partners to continue to foster a vibrant animation community in Toronto and beyond. TAAFI has become a familial name and our community knows that we are here to support them. We have exciting plans for the future of TAAFI, and I am confident that, with the continued support of our community, we will continue to achieve great things.

Karen Jackson graduated from Loyalist College with an Advanced Diploma in Animation and New Media. Prior to accepting the role of Chair of TAAFI, she served as a member of the TAAFI board of directors since 2020 and worked as an outreach coordinator. Jackson has gained valuable experience working with renowned entertainment companies such as Nelvana, Guru Studio, Jam Filled, WildBrain! and Tangent Animation. She currently works at Mainframe Studios and, with her extensive experience in animation industry management, event organization and business operations, she is committed to promoting inclusion, equity and diversity in TAAFI's events and driving the organization towards new successes. As the new Chair of TAAFI, Jackson will be the first female to lead the organization.

Matthew Celestial brings with him many years and deep experience within the animation industry. He is currently the President & CEO of Statement Strategies, a public relations firm that specializes in the animation, video game, technology and consumer products spaces. Celestial moves into an expanded board role that draws on his extensive experience across communications, public strategy, government relations, operations, and arts management. He has led PR campaigns for Emmy Award-winning studio Ado Ato Pictures, Corus Entertainment’s Nelvana and Kids Can Press, Spark CG Society, HaZimation, Finite Films & TV and others. He graduated from the University of Toronto and began his career in film publicity. 

For additional information, please contact TAAFI at emily@taafi.com or visit their website at www.taafi.com.

About the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI):

Founded in 2012, the Toronto Animation Arts Festival International (TAAFI) is a not-for-profit arts organization whose mission is to make Toronto the premiere international destination for animated arts and entertainment. TAAFI hosts a film festival and a variety of recurring industry and public events throughout the year to create unique opportunities that connect animation artists and enthusiasts, and transform the way people create and view animation of all forms. Past TAAFI guests have included Domee Shi (Disney•Pixar’s Bao), Dean DeBlois (DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon), Jorge Gutierrez (Maya and the Three), Elizabeth Ito (Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time), Eric Goldberg (Disney’s Aladdin), Natasha Allegri (Frederator’s Bee and PuppyCat) and Josh Cooley (Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out). 

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For more information, please contact: 

Kristin Celestial

Account Executive

Statement Strategies Ltd.

m: 289.892.5313




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