meet the team


executive director

Deep down, I’ve always been an actor. But life has a way of giving us exactly what we need, when we need it. When I turned 30, I had a business degree from University of Toronto and had just become the fourth CA in my family. Studying business was the best possible introduction to theatre that I could have received. There is a lot of drama in business today.

When my business network heard me talk about integrating the arts into business learning, my credibility encouraged them to find out more.

susan north


My passions are coaching, facilitating and acting. What a gift to combine these passions all in service of learning. I have discovered how deeply theatre can help people build their self-awareness and broaden their behavioral skills repertoire.
In my role as Director, Creativity and Performance Coach, I work with our talented actors to help them access their inner wisdom to be present to learners like only professional simulators can. Professional simulation is a very unique skill – the ability to take on a character while being aware of the emotional shifts and impact to offer the valuable gift of feedback to the learner.
As a coach, facilitator and simulator I have worked with many corporate clients, doctors/medical students, police officers/detectives, veterinarians/students and co-developed/trained programs for York, Queens, Western and Guelph universities.  I currently produce and direct online eLearning videos with my company MOXROC PERFORMANCE utilizing my communication skills expertise in script-writing collaboration with my clients.  I am a Registered Corporate Coach and Business Coaching Advantage Practitioner™.

lisabeth ott


When asked what I do at playsthatwork, I reply that it depends on the day. Some days I’m a rheumatologist and some days I’m a bank vice president. Whether I’m playing an internal auditor or a customer, I am working with real people, simulating real work stories, and inviting them to work through their real life challenges using practical skills and fresh perspectives.
Other days I’m using our clients’ stories to build simulations full of learning opportunities and keeping a focus on helping grow our business.  I leverage my love of learning to challenge myself and grow as a script-writer, director, performer and business developer. Learning from all of our stakeholders, I generate the most value I can for our clients.
Conversations are simply a constant negotiation of meaning. This principle guides me to embrace curiosity in myself and others, identify emergent learning needs in others and offer feedback to help anchor and sustain the learned skills.

dorothy greenaway


I am a Lartivist, a term I coined several years ago, that combines the words leader, artist and activist. The reason my work with playsthatwork is so compelling to me is because it lives the principles of Lartivism. It offers the best of leadership theory and practice, bringing the arts, creativity and theatre into a forum for deep, memorable learning. It prompts participants to apply their learning and to take action in line with their intentions.
I’m a Master Certified Coach and a former executive, from which I draw a wealth of experience into my work as a facilitator, trainer, and coach. I’m am a co-creator of the WABC™ accredited and the ICF ACTP Business Coaching Advantage Program™, and take great delight in training and mentoring leadership coaches all over the world. I co-authored The Leadership Coaching Advantage: A Guide for Practice which has become a trusted resource for leadership coaches. I work with an amazing array of clients in Canada, USA, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia.
The qualities my clients appreciate most about me are my perspective, my playful energy and my dogged commitment to their success.

sandra harris


My first paying job was a Yoga teacher when I was 16; it was the epitome of experiential learning. Not one to shy away from jumping into the deep end, I later moved to Montréal from my home in Toronto, to be the “Directrice Regionale” of a British based telecommunications company at the age of 25. Armed with only a BFA, but showing a talent for sales and administration, I learned by doing. Succeeding more often than failing, I grew the business by 300 percent during my six years in Québec.
A few mergers and acquisitions later, I got my Masters in Adult Education at the University of Toronto/OISE. After eight years in consulting, I turned my passions to coaching, training and facilitation, helping people discover themselves through my certificates in the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, the Bar-On EQi and five years of training in psychotherapy. My joy comes from being part of a dynamic that helps people gain insight into more effective ways of interacting and engaging – a great fit with all of my colleagues here at playsthatwork.

kelly cowan


Learning that is sticky, real, and makes a difference. That’s what I am about. playsthatwork and I met through a shared client who asked us to work together, and it changed the path of my career in learning. I facilitated a team of actors, and suddenly “role plays” became “real plays”.
We share a passion for the format of learning through a story, a real story from the corporate environment, with all its “unfinished edges”, facilitated with authenticity. That is the power of playsthatwork. The emotional hook of a story is incredibly “sticky”. With a facilitator with an eye for the learning in the moment, and a good dose of good humor, “ah-ha” experiences are accumulated and learning happens that makes a difference.
From a career in sales and marketing, to 13 years of management leadership training and executive coaching, in the banking, hospital and learning industry, the highlight of every training design has been the playsthatwork component.  I am also currently a Senior Learning Consultant for Allstate Insurance Company of Canada, developing ways to powerfully engage employees.

Q&A session

with executive director peter gardiner-harding

Q: How did you find your way?
I found my calling gradually. After leaving “corporate Canada,” I spent two years in theology working toward a Masters in Divinity. During that time, I committed to my lifelong dream of becoming an actor and while I found work very quickly, I began finding other forms of theatre at work in the community much more interesting.  I learned that there are many, many ways that theatre can contribute.
Q: How did you relate theatre to business?
Theatre is story telling in action. And there are very rich, dramatic stories to be discovered and told in business. Fortunately, I know the language of both business and theatre. I studied forum theatre and other forms of community storytelling and I quickly realized that this type of theatre could have broad applications in the right kinds of companies.
Q: Who and what are the “right kinds of companies”?
Well, several of them are listed on our Clients Page.
The right kind of company knows that:
  • experiential learning and transfer of learning require that our heads and our hearts be engaged
  • experiential learning like this is unique to each individual and must challenge learners personally, because behavioural choices are learned over years of living and are informed by our personal values and principles
  • this kind of exploration takes courage and patience, and
  • other traditional forms of learning need support when learners leave the classrooms and go back to their lives
Learners don’t often have the ability to transfer their new skills into practice on their own. When it comes to behavioural-based learning, connecting with the learner’s “gut” and giving them a chance to practice new skills is a prescription to a much higher likelihood of transfer.
Q: How long have you been doing this work?
playsthatwork has been directly involved in adult experiential learning since 1999.  During this time, we have learned what it takes to maximize a client’s investment in their staff’s learning – from planning the outcomes, including leaders in the learning sustainment process, supporting the cultural changes that new behaviours will precipitate, etc.  Experiential learning changes culture and is much, much more than simply a learning event.
Q: Who is your inspiration for this unique work?
I am inspired by Sir Anthony Hopkins, who once said that an actor has a chance to see the world in a brand-new way every time he/she takes on a role. The actor’s pursuit of the “truth” for that character opens a whole new perspective on life. Once an actor plays a character, the way he/she perceived that character is changed forever.