Elena has more than 20 years of hands-on experience in the education, business and the non profit sector. She has taught Russian language to all grade levels from Elementary School to College. She held positions as a Director of an after school program and also a Director of Training for a Phoenix based company. Elena’s formal education is in the Secondary Education, she holds both a B. A. and M.A. degrees from the University at Albany, NY. She is the past President of the Paradise Valley Artists League. Currently, Elena is an adjunct faculty at Paradise Valley Community College. Elena also served on a collaborative committee at Arizona Art Alliance. Elena’s education and career experience combined with real-life experience makes her the successful organizational leader she is today. Currently, together with the Arizona Consortium for the Arts Board of Directors, volunteer coordinators and advisors, she is spearheading the efforts in developing relationships through networking and partnering with local non-profit organizations that will bridge resources and forge collaborations with individuals, public, private and government organizations and agencies, educational institutions, business community to reach their goals, objectives and ultimately build and sustain a multicultural arts and performing arts center facility. Working closely with all the entities, she is confident they will have the resources, skills and knowledge that will enable them to continue on their path to success, grow and leave a legacy for the next generation. When not working on projects and community involvement, Elena spends much of her time with her husband Jim and their son Jeremy. She also devotes time to her art and poetry. Two of her poems are published in the book “Tapestry: A Collection of Stories Woven by Jewish Women”.
Aris and his family now reside in California. Aris and his wife Zepure were instrumental in the consortium's beginning. They continue to support us and are excited about our progress and growth. His determination and attitude to succeed helped him write his first book "Courage to Change" which was designed to help readers improve both their professional and personal lives. In addition to his experience, Aris serves as a Council Member to The Council of Advisors for Gerson Lehrman Group. This is a global network of executives and industry professionals who provide their collaborative experience consulting to leaders in the investment community.
Editor, Blue Guitar Magazine
Rebecca earned her MFA in poetry from Arizona State University and her BA in journalism from the University of Arizona. Rebecca has been an instructor of poetry and creative writing for more than 10 years, including at Mesa Community College. She has also taught editing for more than three years, including at Arizona State University's Walter Cronkite School of Journalism. Rebecca has more than 30 years of experience as an editor/manager for a publication, and is now at The Arizona Republic. She is a longtime member/contributor to the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She is looking forward to the growth and development of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and the success of "The Blue Guitar" and “The Blue Guitar Jr.” magazines.
Editor, Blue Guitar Magazine
Board Member 2010-2012
Sara Vannucci focuses her tax and business consulting with family farms and businesses in the area of succession and tax planning, as well as planning for physicians and medical personnel. She is a tax consultant to many non-profit organizations. Sara holds numerous Volunteer/Non Profit Positions, the following are just to name a few: President, North Country Conservancy, 501(C)3 Land Trust, Cave Creek, AZ. Director, Black Canyon Trails Coalition, Black Canyon City, AZ. Advisor/Member, New River/Desert Hills Community Association. District 3 Advisory Council, Maricopa County. Sara is a member of several Professional Associations including the Maricopa County Bar Association and she is a Licensed Life & Health insurance agent in Arizona. Sara had a private law practice in the Chicago area for 33 years and she is a Licensed title attorney /agent for over 30 years. Sara is a National speaker, instructor and past chairperson and member of various Illinois bar association seminars and committees for the Chicago Bar Association, the Northwest Suburban Bar and various Realtor Boards, including the Women's Council of Realtors; Arizona seminars in basic estate & business planning, insurance planning, charitable planning, annuities & family foundations, and reverse mortgages. Arizona community activities include participation on Trails Committees, various land/development issues, and the Maricopa County Merit Commissions. Sara is an artist and an arts advocate and supporter. She was also a journalist for two newspapers on land and business issues as well as a former real estate broker (IL).
Board Member 2013
Development Advisor 2010 - 2013
Board Member 2013 - Present
Board Member 2010 - 2012
Board Member 2013
Rick Cibik is a management professional with over 25 years of experience in building profitable enterprises. Rick’s passion for the arts includes playing drums, writing, and film. He is originally from Cleveland Ohio and his son, Jake, is currently attending film school in Los Angeles. Rick enjoys hiking, skiing, and concerts featuring any rock group from the 70’s.
Kim "Max" White
Jessica Moore Aikin
Board Member 2010 - Present
Archivist & Historian
Melanie is originally from Baltimore Maryland where she served in the Air National Guard. She moved to the Valley ten years ago and fell in love with Phoenix! Melanie previously owned a chain of retail stores which she sold when she decided to move to Arizona. Now, she is the proud owner of Dog-Eared Pages Used Books at Bell Rd and 32nd Street. Her book store has become a gathering place for local authors, musicians and artists so it seemed a natural evolution to become involved with the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. Both of her children are now grown and have moved out of state. Melanie enjoys spending her free time with her fiancé. She also enjoys reading, writing, golf and playing with her two Border Collie puppies. Melanie is an author and also writes a column, book reviews of our local authors for the City Sun Times highlighting new Arizona authors. We are honored to welcome Melanie to our Consortium, she brings a true entrepreneurial spirit to us and has graciously invited us to her wonderful book store, where we hold our meetings, activities and events.
Board Member 2010-2012
Audrey Thacker has been in the tax and financial industry for the past seven years. She has served as a volunteer for various art based organizations for the past five years. Along with her tax background, Audrey also attends school full time at Scottsdale Community College studying Accounting with a 4.0GPA. She is also the owner of Audrey Thacker Designs, a small jewelry design company; and Artisan Markets, LLC, an art event planning company.
Dr. Judith Brandstadter
Dr. Judith Brandstadter has over twenty five years of experience in art education, art history, and fine arts. She holds a B.A. from Queens College, M.A. from New York University and an Ed.D from Columbia University. A professional artist, she has exhibited her work in over thirty venues nationwide and is a member of over a dozen professional organizations. Dr. Brandstadter has published numerous articles in both educational and art journals. She is the author of "Acrylics and Other Water-Base Paints for the Artist". She has served on the faculty of many universities and colleges; Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, Ottawa University and the Maricopa Community Colleges. Dr. Brandstadter is a certified art educator in the State of Arizona. She has an art consulting firm offering seminars, workshops and art lessons to interested students of all ages. Dr. Brandstadter will be exhibiting her new projects this year. In addition, she is starting to write another art textbook. Dr. Brandstadter sees an immediate need for the advancement of the arts in Arizona. She is looking forward to the expansion, the promotion, the excitement and the progress of our consortium for the arts.
Ramona Richards is an actor, writer and director who has performed in radio, televsion, film, theater, musicals, skit comedy and done costume design for Paramount Pictures. She has hosted two TV series and her celebrity interview radio show, "A Celebration of Life", aired on five continents for five years. As a writer, she has sold and had published nearly 2,000 articles and stories. Ramona has conducted continuous performance skills workshops in the Valley since 1983. She has directed and/or performed in 72 local productions.
Roger Kirk Nelson
Board Member: 2010-Present
Roger Kirk Nelson is an artist born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago in the Caribbean, he won several national art and music competitions on the island before emigrating to the United States in 1985. He has an advanced certificate in Art and Languages (Spanish and French), a Bachelor’s Degree in Applied Arts, a Master’s in Administration and a PhD with a focus in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. His style has developed from his upbringing in the Caribbean, his travels throughout the US and Europe and from his mentors. Most notable among them are Jackie Hinkson, Trinidadian artist and teacher, and Arizona Artists Henry Stinson, Mary Deloyht-Ahrendt, Joni Falk and Liz Kenyon. He admires contemporary artists such as Henry Valenti, Shant Beudjekian, and Stephen Quiller, and the color theory of the French masters, Monet, Matisse, Chagall, Derain, and Gauguin. He also loves the vibrant abstracts of Kandinski. Roger began painting at a very early age and after more than 30 years of involvement with the arts and a commitment to artist development, the subjects of his paintings are as eclectic as his life and interests. The body of his work includes seascapes, landscapes, human interest compositions, still life and portraits. He uses a variety of media including pencil, watercolor, acrylics, oils and pastels to express subjects and moods. He sometimes experiments with mixed-media in his work. Roger is currently showing at various on-line galleries. He is the former Director of Lending and Administration at a local non-profit and shares his time between painting, running his own gallery and working for equality in home ownership among Native Americans. He is a member of the Arizona Artists Guild, Arizona Consortium for the Arts, International Plein Air Painters, and the Art Society of Trinidad and Tobago.
Tracy Penwell grew up as a “ranch kid” in Durango Colorado. She first came to the Valley in 1981 and is a graduate of Thunderbird, the Graduate School of International Management in Glendale. After an 18 year career in finance which included risk management roles with Chase Manhattan Bank, the Federal Bank of New York and the Government Securities Clearing Corporation in NYC , she returned to Arizona in 2000 to launch Scottsdale’s Rima Fine Art. In 2005, Tracy Penwell found herself at the intersection of style and sustainability when she began creating “fashion re-fashioned” handbags. The former Wall Street executive and owner of a successful Scottsdale art gallery launched her award-winning “Dressed Up Cat” handbags the following year: cleverly designed and entitled wearable artworks made entirely from beautifully-crafted vintage and “up-cycled” components bearing titles like “Along Came a Spider”, “Lillypad Under Siege”, and “The Last Trophy Bag.”
Dance (Youth Division) 2009 - 2010
Fine Art Jewelry
Joyce White was born and raised in Mississippi. In spite of significant challenges and adversity, she started her own floral business from scratch in Phoenix, Arizona in 1996. As a talented and innovative floral designer, she was constantly striving and looking for imaginative ways to create unusual arrangements for her clients. Her first piece of jewelry came about by accident while transforming a regular glass container into something more unique. She called her new creation "Hole-N-My-Soul". Joyce's proprietary technique in her Sculpted Art Jewelry was born. Joyce found another form of working with glass in bottles. She started to create Bottle Art. Sculpted glass pieces that glow with colors are set into intricate tangles of gold and silver metals. These wearable works of art have attracted customers throughout the United States. In her equally colorful African attire, Ms.White presents a striking, proud and joyous persona."Exploring my art has become synonymous with exploring my past and my pain; it has provided significant healing for me. I love the idea of this transformation of mine creating something of beauty for others to cherish and enjoy. It is about sharing hope and looking toward the future". Joyce is very excited to be part of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts. She is looking forward to participating in all the aspects of its growth.
Zepure is a Nutritional Consultant, an artist and a model. She is very proud to be one of the founding members of the Arizona Consortium for the Arts.
Shea's life is in the arts and service to the community. She grew-up in northeast Phoenix graduating from Arcadia High School where she focused her studies in the visual and performing arts as well as journalism. She obtained her B.A. from Arizona State University in Graphic Arts and Secondary Education. Her M.ED, also from Arizona State, is in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Reading and Special Education. Shea spent the first 25 years of her career as a working artist and teacher developing programs for remediation of learning disabilities through the visual and performing arts. Armed with certifications in Montessori International Education, Reality Therapy from the William Glasser Institute and English as a Second Language, Shea has spent the last 12 years as a counselor of at-risk teens. Shea has served her community through the arts in a variety of ways. She was a member of the original committee to write the Arizona State Arts Curriculum for the Arizona State Department of Education. This K-12 curriculum still serves as the foundation for art programs throughout the state of Arizona. She worked with the Arizona Art Education Association as a chairperson for Youth Art Month coordinating exhibits at the Arizona State Capital and local public libraries to promote awareness for youth art and the importance of arts programs. She continues to coordinate the artist in resident programs for the middle school where she works. Over the years Shea has incorporated her love for the arts and community development into a service role in the foothills area. Shea served two terms on the Cave Creek Town Council 2001-2005 actively working toward supporting the arts in her community. Shea has the unique ability to move the arts agenda forward through networking opportunities. Shea has served for the past six years on the board of the Sonoran Desert Center for the Arts, an organization that is bringing together environmental preservation and the arts.
Jerry has over 30 years of experience as a professional scenic/nature photographer/artist . Over 2,500 images have been published worldwide. He also paints oils on canvas. Jerry led a one day seminar on "Searching for the Grand Landscape" to over 100 people. In 2007 he was the Chairman of Photograpy at the Cave Creek Film and Arts Festival. In 2008 he was the Judge of photography at the Arizona State Fair. Jerry has exhibited in many shows including at the Glendale College, AZ., the Desert Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, at the Valley National Bank Center in Phoenix, at the Cincinnati Nature Center, in Cincinnati, at the Picture Perfect Gallery in Scottsdale, at the Tate Gallery in Sedona Arizona and each year he is an active participant of the HIDDEN IN THE HILLS Studio Tour Art Expo. Jerry has received the prestious 60 Years of Arizona Highways award and the National Wildlife Federation Calendar Award. Jerry has published - One man Photographer for coffee table books entitled, America's Southwest 1985, Ohio : Images of Nature 1990 Along the Arizona Trail, 1998. One man Calendars Black and White (Jerry Sieve) 1988, OHIO: Images of Nature 1990-1996. Jerry has taught over 50 photography workshops in various areas across the nation. He was the Artist in residence at the Fountain Hills High School and at the Cactus Shadows High School in 2006. Over the past 16 years, Jerry have taught more multi-day workshops for the FRIENDS OF ARIZONA HIGHWAYS Magazine than any other of their teachers. Jerry's work is in numerous individual and corporate collections.
Jami Lyn Lanser
Jami began art at an early age. She can recall her mother sitting at her isle painting for hours as she scribbled on paper in admiration. Born in 1973, in Denver, Colorado to a mother of many artistic tendencies and a father who enjoyed poetry and music; art came natural to Jami. In 1994, she started her own business called ECCENTRICITIES DESIGN GROUP LLC. while still going to school in Colorado. The company combined modern design concepts with a timeless artistic approach to finish and treating walls, ceilings, columns, floors, cabinets, trim and much more for home or business. By infusing texture and color into the designs, simple structures became works of art. Jami specialized in brilliant custom murals, faux finishes, speciality finishes, trompe l'oeil, venetian plaster, mosaic and sophisticated custom paintings and artwork. Jami continued her passion for art through college attending Colorado University in Boulder. In 1997, she moved to Phoenix and attended Collins College in 1999. Her own personal work was greatly influenced after all the years of experience with such a variety of mediums. In 2008 she began to focus solely on her personal growth and painting, thus ending an era for Eccentricities. Today, she balances family and art and is focusing on developing her 2D works. Jami's work can be seen in local small businesses, galleries and art shows. Her favorite medium is acrylic. She likes the essence of the paint and the instant gratification she gets from it. Much of her work consists of mix media, mixing photography and objects with her pieces. Always having a sincere love of photography since school, and now with more time to explore her personal art, she plans on developing this more. Her subject matter varies, however she is inclined to figurative work. In recent years, the force behind the ideas for her work seem to be coming less emotionally and more psychologically campaigned. She has a passionate enthusiasm for the next era of her art and life... Jami is also excited about the Arizona Consortium for the Arts and is looking forward to all the projects and activities.
Angelika has had a love affair with the arts since childhood. No wonder, both her mother and father had creative talents. Her father was a sketch artist and her mother was a clothing designer. After coming to the Unites States, Angelika started her career in Health Care. Both in New Jersey and here in Phoenix, she has managed the Admitting Department of very busy hospitals. On numerous occasions she had to cover other shifts. She was elected President of the Admitting Association and was the first member of the Admitting Association to be accredited. For many years she served on the Board of the Credit Union. After retiring, Angelika started to devote her time to painting (once again.) She has been painting ever since and likes to participate in Art Shows. She is also very active in different organizations and serves on their Board of Directors, from the Arts to Food Banks and the Park and Recreation Dept. You can usually find Angelika with the paint brush in her hand in front of her easel or outdoors, in our beautiful Parks and Recreation areas.
Jeremy Evan Thornton
Jeremy is an ASU graduate and holds a B.A. and M.A. in Language and Literacy. Jeremy is a musician, singer, actor and a writer. He is very much interested in Music, Art, Culture, and PEOPLE. Jeremy is passionate about passing along knowledge in the hopes of igniting unlimited creativity and supporting the arts as much as possible.
Community Representative 2009 - 2012
Janessa is an Artist and innovator living the Phoenix metro area. She served in the United Sates Navy stationed in Florida, Texas and San Diego. Upon that duty Janessa had pursued her education in Art History, and is earning a B.A. in Art History from Arizona State University. Janessa has helped in the production of multiple fashion shows and video productions in the valley. In addition to decorative ballroom dress design. She enjoys activities in her spare time such as Archery, Drawing, Painting, and exploring new ideas of Evolution Everywhere.
Audio/Video Production 2009 - 2012
Ralph was born in Chicago, Illinois and was taken a top a mountain in Colorado at an early age. He grew up and was exposed to vast forests of imagination. Lost in those forests he decided to walk to the desert of Phoenix, Arizona and had continued writing stories, creating movies and comics ever since. He Dreams of going back to the mountains. Ralph is currently producing and editing Mr. E Comics and writing his comic book Codename Eden. He is also currently pursuing a degree in writing and film from Arizona State University.
Windy Lynn Harris
Award-winning freelance writer Windy Lynn Harris has had short stories and essays published over 50 times in magazines all across the country. In addition, she has earned a 2009 grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts to further the development of her first novel. She is a member of Wise Women Write and The National League of American Pen Women. Windy shares her method to traditional publishing success in the seminar she calls, "Market Coaching for the Unpublished Writer." Please visit www.windylynnharris.com for upcoming speaking dates or to see what she's up to next.
Special Projects - Dance
International award winning Director/Choreographer Nicole Romine has travelled the world in her career. As a professional dancer, she worked for over 15 years in stage, television and film. Classically trained, she began her career in Stuttgart, Germany dancing the role of Carlotta Grisi in Pas de Quatre at the Stuttgart Opera House. She went to have a diverse career dancing in television series like Fame as the lead female dancer. She danced at Paramount Studios, MGM, and for companies in Argentina, Japan, Europe and the US. She moved on to become artistic director for a dance company and created over 28 original works and several full length contemporary ballets. She also choreographed for television and a PBS production she choreographed was nominated for an Emmy. She has taught master classes in Ballet and Contemporary though out the US. She has worked with such legends as Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Dick Van Dyke, and some of the best dancers and choreographers in the world. In 2007 she directed and choreographed an art film 'ing' which received numerous awards internationally. Her work has been seen on over 5 continents to critical acclaim and she continues to share her passion for dance wherever she goes.
Gail E. McCauley
Gail E. McCauley is the President and Founder of Arizona Model and Actor Management, LLC. Gail has over twenty years experience in the fashion business. Gail has worked for Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising as a professional speaker, fashion instructor for Mesa Community College and last 4 years as Agency Director for Model and Talent Management. The Arizona Model and Actor Management, LLC is a new full service model and actor management agency for male and female talent, age 5 and older. Statewide in Arizona. The agency that will be opening soon will be utilizing models and actors for fashion, print, catalog, runway, TV, film and voiceovers. Gail is a Freelance writer for various regional and national shelter publications including: 'Log Home Living', 'House Beautiful Home Remodeling & Decorating', 'House Beautiful Home Building', 'Arizona Foothills', 'So Scottsdale' 'Arizona Home & Design' and many others. Also authored a book, '50 Ways To Paint A Wall', Creative Publishing International, Copyright 2005.
Board Member 2010-Present
Jonathan Gabriel was born in the Philippines where he acquired his Bachelor’s degree in Architecture and had also earned credible extracurricular achievements in the fields of Arts, Entertainment and Martial Arts. His skills as an artist and his love for guitar and folk-singing made him jovially involved with social activities and stage performances. He was a member of The International Art Society of Riyadh in the 80’s and participated in international art shows. As Martial Artist of various forms, Jon was an undefeated National Champion of the Phil. Moo Duk Kwan Association (Tang soo Do - Korean Karate) and a recipient of ‘Best Combat Judoist of the Year’ award. He is a 3rd Degree Black belt in Combat Judo (hand weapon disarming techniques). He maintained a gym with a business partner and a close to a hundred students and members back then. Jon’s passion for visual arts and all his added skills gave him access to the local Movie and Television industry and achieved some involvements as Production Designer, Character actor, Fight Choreographer/Instructor and Stunt Coordinator in more than a dozen movies and a TV commercial. He was a member of Philippine Cinema and Television Actors Guild prior to relocating to the United States. He now lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and kids. Jon is a working artist, interior designer, a performing artist and an arts advocate.
Deborah Kay is a graduate of Southwest Institute of Healing Arts, AOS in Mind-Body Transformational Psychology, with specialties in Polarity, Cranial Sacral, Energy anatomy, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Reiki, Yoga and Spiritual Studies. She is an instrument in the peace and healing of others. Deborah is an instructor, healing therapist, artist, dancer and writer. She facilitates healing through her unique brand of therapy combining knowledge and wisdom. Guiding, inspiring and helping others open to access their own creativity. Email: email@example.com
Sherry Finzer is a professional flutist located in the Phoenix area, and is the President and CEO of AZWMI. After watching the budget cuts and lack of support for school music programs, she felt the need to create the Arizona World Music Initiative. Performers from the Initiative will go into schools to perform for children, and teach them simple rhythms on a variety of percussive instruments. At the end of the session, children will be able to perform and play along with the musicians. The focus is on world music, so performances can be tied in with the current curriculum being taught to the students. Originally from Rochester, NY, Sherry Finzer (Pearl Flute Performing Artist) now resides in Phoenix, AZ and performs as a soloist and also with large number of professional musicians in Phoenix and throughout Arizona. Trained classically, Sherry has chosen to explore other styles of music and has recorded her own CD’s, Desert Journey and Watercolors, and has also recorded CD’s with Diego Andres and with other Phoenix musicians. She performs regularly with Desert Fusion, dulce VAS, Diego Andres, Radiant Sky, CAFE, Trillium Trio and more. She also performs classical music and has won three national competitions, and was selected from hundreds of entrants to perform with the National Flute Association's Professional Flute Choir (alto) in August 2007 at the Albuquerque Convention, and in August 2006 at the convention in Pittsburgh, PA. Sherry was also selected to perform in the Newly Published Music concert at the convention in Pittsburgh in 2006 and has won first place in the Arizona Flute Society Competition - Nov 2008, and the Great Southwest Flute Fair Competition - March of 2006 and 2007, where she was also given the opportunity to perform in master classes with Michel Debost and Mimi Stillman in Tucson, AZ. She has also won the Rochester Flute Association's competition in the 2002 and 2004, and has had the opportunity to play in national master classes for Goran Marcusson, Jill Felber, Jim Walker, Flute Force, Brian Luce and more. Her style and influences have been formed from taking a variety of lessons with professionals such as Goran Marcusson, Nestor Torres, Bradley Garner, Christopher Caliendo, Gary Schocker, Glennda Dove-Pellito, Joe Corral, Emily McKay, Claudia Anderson, Jeanie Pierce, Alexander Viazovtsev and Brian Luce.
For Jack Howell, producing music is his natural passion. I’ve learned my craft not only from higher education, but from some of the music Industry’s A list engineers, producers, musicians, and writers. Since 1989, I’ve produced numerous Album projects and songs for song writers, solo artists, publishing companies, and record labels. Now located in Phoenix, AZ, I continue to live my dream. I’ve set up WilloDisc, my Production House. Since 2006, I’ve written and produced more than 50 songs for TV and Film, produced an award winning CD “Hang On” for Native band Plateros, and partnered with global company LINE6 ... producing more than 50 tracks for their Guitar Port Online experience. I’m not a music buff with some software. I’m a music fanatic with pro gear, multi instrument talent, access to a pool of talented and diverse music and vocal talent, and more than 20 years experience. I’m always seeking opportunities to produce and/or collaborate with song writers, solo artists, film makers, and multi-media artists. For more info: www.willodisc.com
Dr. Trish Dolasinski
Dr. Trish Dolasinski is a freelance writer, educational consultant and online adjunct university instructor. She has published several articles for local and national magazines, and facilitates local writer’s groups. Trish writes a quarterly online book review column for the Wise Women Write newsletter and is currently writing her first novel of teaching and learning in the rural south. She writes a weekly blog, I Believe in You on raising successful children at www.trishdolasinskiwrites.com. As a 30 year + career educator, she has taught elementary and middle school students and served as an elementary school principal for fifteen years. She currently teaches in the online doctoral program at Grand Canyon University. Trish earned her doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University. She is married to her college sweetheart and has seven grandchildren under age ten.
Carla was born and raised in Lima, Peru, has a daughter and has lived in Arizona since 1996. “Prior to moving to the United States, I found myself painting and writing compositions involving real life events in my life and family, I tried to capture the feeling I have and transfer it to paper. I have found events in my frequent trips to Peru to be inspirational. I am passionate about life and family. I try to reflect that in my paintings”.
Elena was born in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, said to be where the traditional plena dance first originated. After traveling to London, England where she began her education Elena returned to Puerto Rico at the age of 8. She first fell in love with Puerto Rican traditional folkloric music and dance living amongst “los hibaros” (mountain people) of Puerto Rico. She has performed at a variety of cultural events and has trained in ballet, ballroom dancing and Flaminco. Elena is a mother and grandmother. She holds a Master of Arts in Education Administration and has worked in the field of higher education for over 30 years. “Being a member of “I’naru” has given me an opportunity to share Puerto Rico’s rich culture and tradition and has kept me young at heart”.
Community Development 2010 - 2013
Ben previously served as the artistic assistant at the NY Off Broadway theater Primary Stages where he helped produce the readings of new plays by Daniel Pearle, Margaret Hunt, Jessica Hinds, and Adam Krarr as well as the Dorothy Strelsin New American Writers Group which featured playwrights David Caudle, Tommy Smith, Cheri Magid, Adam Szymkowics, Rogelio Martinez, and Bekah Brunstetter. While at Primary, Ben also served as the stage manager for the ESPA: Detention Workshop series of world premier 10-minute plays. Ben has served as an assistant director Off Broadway and educationally under Matt Shakman, Tyler Marchant, and Tim Howard. Favorite directorial and stage management credits include: Peter Pan, Death and the Maiden, RENT, The Mystery of Edwin DROOD, Floyd Collins, and A Wicked Parody. Ben served as the artistic director of PLAYERS Theatre Organization at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and is the director of art and photography for Kacie Mischler Photography. Next summer Ben will be assistant directing under Casey Childs on the Primary Stages NY premiere of The Morini Strad.
(photo by Dayvid Lemmon)
Effie Bouras, PhD, principal of mechanik design office llc, received a doctorate in urban planning in 2010- the first ever awarded for the study of Landscape Urbanism in North America- from Arizona State University, following bachelor’s degrees in both civil engineering and architecture, from McGill University and Dalhousie respectively, and a master’s in architecture from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During tenure in Las Vegas the MDO principal worked on the Guggenheim and Hermitage Museums with Rem Koolhaas, Frank Gehry and The Stubbins Associates. MDO continues to work in the architecture and planning fields, both as principal designer and collaborator. Design work has included collaborations with various designers as well as renovations and ground up structures. Recently, MDO was the project assistant for Hanny’s restaurant (2010) in downtown Phoenix, Arizona; a 15,000 square foot renovation of a historic registrar property and a new lounge space for the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, which was headed by Janis Leonard Design Associates, LLC. MDO compliments design work with freelance writing, lectures and artistic pursuit; projects and writing have been featured in several national publications including Modernism Magazine, Architectural Record, Canadian Architect Magazine, the Phoenix New Times, +plusmood online, City Magazine in New York, Coastal Living, and as architecture and planning editor of Hearsight (online) Magazine. Art created by the design office has been featured throughout the United States and Europe and is represented by Perihelion Arts based in Arizona. Most recently MDO/MAO was invited as a lecturer and guest critic at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture, Taliesin West (2011).
In addition to her volunteer work with the Arizona Consortium for the Arts, Colleen Bivona is the Program Manager for the School of Arts, Media and Engineering at Arizona State University. She provides support for research and grant development and administers their graduate programs. She has also held numerous volunteer positions in museums and galleries and is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts. A transplant from Washington State, she loves the desert southwest and Arizona’s unique environment. Colleen is a graduate of Tufts University (BA, Anthropology and Media Studies), Arizona State University (MA, Anthropology and Museum Studies), and Northern Arizona University (Graduate Certificate, Professional Writing).
Special Projects, IT