Shoe Project Executive Director Lilie Zendel

Lilie Zendel has spent over three decades translating vision into action in the arts. Prior to joining The Shoe Project, she worked at the City of Toronto, where she launched StreetARToronto (StART). In less than five years, StART developed six different initiatives, all focused on how artists together with community can explore civic values, evolving histories and make Toronto’s streets more beautiful, inviting and reflective of its cultural diversity. 

Before launching StART, Lilie served as Senior Cultural Affairs Officer at the City of Toronto and led the Cultural Affairs section at the Canadian Consulate General in New York. With a background in theatre performance, Lilie started her career in the 1980s at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre.

Whether advocating as an artist, policy maker, administrator or cultural leader, Lilie has always been an outspoken champion for gender equality and her work has always been informed by a commitment to social justice and human rights. The child of postwar immigrants, Lilie was drawn to lend her expertise to The Shoe Project at a time “when we are witnessing a cavalier indifference to equality." She has an intimate appreciation for and understanding of the difficulties faced by newcomers who have left so much behind, yet bring many rich stories and tradition with them. 

By leading our team, she hopes to add to the contributions so many unsung heroes before her who have helped to build a more inclusive, and welcoming Canada.