Governance & Administration

Everyone named on this page, in addition to our esteemed Faculty, is committed to a common goal:

Give everyone the best possible experience while they are on the Conservatory campus, whether they be students, parents or audiences.

We love our students of all ages and levels, and we are proud to play a significant role in their journey of discovering the joys inherent in the arts of music and dance. We strive to keep our costs at a minimum to make lessons accessible to everyone.

For those looking to give the gift of music and dance, please consider a one-time donation or monthly giving through CanadaHelps.

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Board of Governors

Photo of William Webster, PhD

Chair – William Webster, PhD
Professor & Dean, Health Professions, Dalhousie

Since arriving in Nova Scotia 10 years ago, my family and I have had a close association with the Conservatory. My children, Heather and David, studied voice and violin here, and participated in the MCPA Chamber Orchestra, including its wonderful exchange visit to Iqaluit. For a number of years now, I have played violin in the MCPA Adult Orchestra with Pat Wyman, the weekly practices for which are a favorite time when I can get my head out of my day time job as a university academic. With its 130 year history, the Conservatory is one of those understated and hidden gems of Nova Scotia which has touched the lives of so many families. For that reason I am delighted to Chair the Board of Governors which oversees the Conservatory and, in concert with the broader community, seeks to plan its exciting and bright future directions.

Vice-Chair – VACANT

This position is currently vacant.

Photo of Michael Shellnutt

Treasurer – Michael Shellnutt, MSc, CGA
Shellnutt Professional Accountants

Mike obtained a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from Saint Mary’s University, a Masters of Science in Marketing from the University of Stirling in Scotland, UK and a Certified General Accountant designation from CGA Canada. Mike is currently in public practice in Dartmouth and has extensive experience working with small business, IT systems design and commercial financing. Mike began working with the Conservatory in 2009 helping to design and develop a new backoffice-front desk system to manage student registrations and payment. He joined the Board as Treasurer a couple of years later. Mike has three young children enrolled in various programs at the Conservatory including piano and ballet.

Photo of Ben Durnford

Member (Voting) – Ben Durnford, B.A., LL.B

Ben is a partner with the Halifax law firm of McInnes Cooper, where he has practiced civil litigation, corporate commercial and insolvency law since graduating Dalhousie Law School in 2000. As the spouse of a member of the Conservatory’s piano faculty, Jacqueline Durnford, and the father of two children who have studied both music and dance at the Conservatory for most of their lives, Ben has developed a strong connection to the Conservatory over the past two decades. In recent years, Ben has been pleased to provide legal services to the Conservatory on a variety of matters, ranging from the licensing of intellectual property, to matters of funding, construction and production support. Joining the Board in June of 2015, Ben is excited to be a part of the Conservatory’s governing body as it enters an era of increased enrolment and significant and challenging capital improvements, intended to sustain the Conservatory’s valuable cultural contributions well into the future.

Photo of Olga Milosevich

Member (Voting) – Olga Milosevich

Olga Milosevich studied music at the University of British Columbia, and then Broadcast Journalism at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her first job was working as a news reporter for a private radio station in Vancouver. In October 1983, she moved to Halifax for a job with the CBC. She spent the first 3 years with CBC TV working as a news anchor on the “Maritimes Tonight”. During the next 11 years she hosted 2 CBC Radio network shows, “Weekender” and “Music Alive”. For the last 15 years of her career, she worked as host and producer of the regional arts show “Connections”, and produced a daily arts report for “Mainstreet”. She also emceed 15 to 20 community events each year. She retired in July 2012. In November 2012, in recognition of her community service, she received the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal from the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia. Olga is busy in retirement, sitting on several boards and committees, one of which is the MCPA. She is happy to give back to this venerable institution, which provided her daughter with excellent instruction in piano and flute.

Photo of Megan Book

Member (Ex-Officio, Non-Voting) – Megan Boyko, BA Hons

Megan Boyko is a cello teacher, including Suzuki cello lessons, and the Kindermusik manager at the MCPA. Megan lives in St Margaret’s Bay and is also a freelance cellist in Halifax.

Photo of Barbara Dearborn

Member (Ex-Officio, Non-Voting) – Barbara Dearborn

Barbara Dearborn joined the MCPA dance faculty in 1983 as the sole ballet teacher with 5 students. In 1997, Barbara founded the School of Dance’s Teacher Training Program – the only post-secondary program of its kind in Atlantic Canada. Currently, she is the Artistic Director of the Conservatory Ballet Ensemble and, since 2010, is the first MCPA Dean of Dance overseeing hundreds of students annually. An established choreographer, dance examiner and performer, Barbara is a graduate of the Canadian College of Dance (Montreal) and Ryerson University (Theatre Department) with a Major in Dance and is a registered member and certified teacher of the Royal Academy of Dance. She also holds an Honours Certificate in Modern Stage and National Dance from the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dance. Throughout her career, Barbara has been an active volunteer with the Canadian Dance Teachers’ Association (CDTA) holding several senior positions.

Photo of Jennifer Farrell

Member (Ex-Officio, Non-Voting) – Jennifer Farrell, BMUS, Wilfrid Laurier University; MMus in Opera, DMA, University of British Columbia

Soprano Jennifer Farrell performs regularly in the fields of early music, opera, oratorio and art song. She has appeared from coast to coast with Canadian ensembles such as the Vancouver Symphony and Pacific Baroque Orchestra, to Symphony Nova Scotia and Opera Nova Scotia. She has also toured western Canada with the National Youth Orchestra of Canada and Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and eastern Canada with Jeunesses Musicales du Canada. Dr. Farrell is equally active as an adjudicator, examiner, lecturer and choral clinician.

Photo of Walter Toth

Member (Ex-Officio, Non-Voting) – Walter Toth

Walter Toth has a degree in civil engineering from the University of Waterloo and an MBA from the Schulick School of Business at York University. Walter works as a civil engineering consultant primarily in commercial, industrial, and institutional real estate development. Originally from Barrie, Ontario, Walter moved with his wife and daughters to Halifax in 2007, when his exposure to the MCPA started. Since then his two beautiful daughters have attended MCPA classes in piano, violin, orchestra, and ballet and modern dance which keeps him loitering the hallways of the MCPA on a regular basis.


Photo of Conservatory building


Barbara Dearborn, RAD, CDTA, Dean, School of Dance
Jennifer Farrell, Doctor of Musical Arts, Dean, School of Music

Administrative Services:

Walter Toth, Executive Director
Cynthia Creaser, Financial Officer
Jeffrey Hale
Lynn Steeves
Clayton Willie

Custodial Services:

John Richards


Jeffrey Hale, Daytime Front Office Reception & General Administration
Lynn Steeves, Daytime Front Office Reception & General Administration
Clayton Willie, Evening & Weekend Front Office Reception