Kitty Love has served as the Executive Director of the AAAC since December of 2011. Kitty is a professionally trained artist, and has engaged in a lifetime of creative entrepreneurial projects, including mural art, retail craft, interior design, tattoo, and five years as a downtown gallery owner. In 2001, Kitty became engaged in community-building arts activism, including the creation of one of Asheville’s most popular street festivals. Her service through grassroots nonprofit organization, Arts 2 People produced several outdoor murals, arts education programs, programs in parks, and professional development for artists. She is known locally as a dedicated team player, bringing strong ideas and leadership to bear on community and economic development through the arts. Her service includes the City of Asheville Downtown Commission, the HUB Alliance, The Downtown Social Issues Task Force, The Asheville Mural Project, The Downtown Asheville Master Plan, and City Seeds.
Mica Mead is the Operations Manager for the Asheville Area Arts Council. After graduating from Warren Wilson College in 2007 with a degree in Art and a minor in Education she has served as Outreach Program Coordinator for Lake Eden Arts Festival LEAF in Schools and Streets Program, and taught at public and private schools. She is one of the founders of Woolly Press, a small Risograph printing company based in Asheville that specializes in artist prints and small publications.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Judy Bond - Treasurer
AVP, Store Manager ll, TD Bank
Judy Bond grew up in Asheville, NC and graduated from UNC Asheville with a BS in Psychology and certifications for teaching grades 4-6 and 6-9. Bond has worked in banking management for 27 years. She is committed to community service, as she serves as the Treasurer for the Asheville Area Arts Council, and also serves on the WNC Make-A-Wish Council and United Ways WL Council. She is the Board Chair for the West Buncombe Fire Department and also volunteers with WNC Special Olympics.
Denise M. Drury - Interim Chair
M.A. Curator, Fine Art Museum, Western Carolina University
Denise Drury is the Curator at the Fine Art Museum at Western Carolina University. At WCU she oversees the acquisition, exhibition and care of the permanent collection of 1,500 works of modern and contemporary art and leads special topics courses in arts administration and museum studies. During her 10 years of experience as an arts administrator, she has served in education and leadership roles at variety of institutions in the US and abroad. Previously, Drury served as the Executive Director of 621 Gallery, a nonprofit contemporary art gallery, a position in which she was honored by the Florida House of Representatives at Women in the Arts Day (2008). She has also served as a consultant for numerous arts organizations including the North Carolina Arts Council and the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. Drury currently represents art museums across North Carolina as Arts Section Chair for the North Carolina Museums Council. Denise Drury holds an MA in Arts Administration from Florida State University and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina where she has the privilege of serving as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Asheville Area Arts Council.
Executive Director, LEAF Community Arts
Jennifer Pickering’s mission is to connect cultures and people through music and arts. Since 1995, she has served as the Executive Director and founder of the non-profit organization LEAF Community Arts simply known as “LEAF.” LEAF has three core programs: LEAF Festival, LEAF Schools & Streets, and LEAF International. During this time, she has produced 38 festival events, presented over 4,000 performing artists, created the local arts in education program LEAF Schools & Streets which has empowered over 42,000 under-served youth through the arts, and started cultural music programs in 10 countries through LEAF International connecting youth to their local music and arts traditions. Community Arts Education Leadership Institute 2012 (CAELI) and Duke University’s Advanced Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership were two pillars that lead her forward in her non-profit work. Over the years, she has been a featured presenter with Tedx, NEA, APAP, and other leading arts organizations. She was chosen as “101 Women” Internationally in 2009, and received an E-chievement Award for her visionary Arts Education work. Collaborating and creative partnership has been one of her core principles and personal commitments.
Cherry Lentz Saenger - Secretary
Former Professor Mars Hill College
Cherry Lentz Saenger holds a Bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Kentucky. She worked as a professor of Social Work for 27 years at Mars Hill College and belongs to the Academy of Certified Social Workers. While at Mars Hill College, she served as a faculty advisor for the Student Government Association, was a member of the Admissions and Academic Standards Committee, and was a member of the Visiting Artists and Lecturers. Cherry enjoys being involved in the community as she serves on the Board of Directors for the Asheville Area Arts Council. She has previously served on the Board of Directors for STEAM, Caring for Children, and the Western Carolinians for Criminal Justice. She was a member of the Peaks Society Development Committee. Cherry has been published in the Journal of Feminist Family Therapy.
David Starkey- Vice Chair
Director, Asheville Lyric Opera
David Starkey is the founder and director of the Asheville Lyric Opera. In their 14th season, ALO produces opera and education programs year round. Prior to coming to Asheville, David performed as a professional opera singer and opera director based out of New York City. In addition to working with the ALO, David teaches at Mars Hill College as a music professor and is President of Vision Productions, the areas largest theatrical production company. David regularly acts on the national level as a consultant for cultural non-profits. With over 15 years of arts and business experience David is a champion of the time tested belief that communities are built through the sound disciplines of Cultural Entrepreneurs.
Born in south Georgia and grew up in Zephyrhills, Florida. Attended University of South Florida and UNC Chapel Hill obtaining a degree in history. Received Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Emory University and practiced dentistry for 30+ yrs. before retiring 6 years ago. Has lived in Asheville area since 1974. Passionate about art.
Assistant Gallery Director – Blue Spiral 1
Michael Manes is the Assistant Gallery Director at Blue Spiral 1, a fine art and craft gallery located in downtown Asheville, North Carolina. Blue Spiral 1 represents work by exceptional Southern artists in a light-filled gallery spanning three floors. This spacious setting allows the gallery to offer considerable diversity and an extensive exhibition schedule, curating over 20 shows annually. As the Assistant Director, Michael has a number of responsibilities from art consulting and sales for both a residential and commercial clientele, curating, programming and installing exhibitions, and the overseeing of web and social media maintenance. Michael not only has an integral role at the gallery but is also heavily involved in the Asheville arts community. Michael is currently the Vice President of the Asheville Downtown Gallery Association (ADGA)/Downtown Asheville Art District (DAAD). He is also passionate about American Craft Week, Handmade in America, The Center for Craft Creativity and Design, and all national non profits located in Asheville, where he takes an active role as a volunteer and consultant. He believes American Craft enriches our homes, our wardrobes, our offices, and most importantly our public spaces. It contributes to our economy, our balance of trade, and the fabric of our nation’s history. Most recently, Michael was nominated and selected to participate in Leadership Asheville and is very excited to collaborate with other community leaders. Michael holds a BFA in Painting and Art-History from the Columbus College of Art and Design and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
Founder: Visit and Venture
A native of rural Morganton, North Carolina, Cortina Jenelle Caldwell has always had a passion to serve and connect the surrounding community. After early years of working alongside her grandmother to grow the family catering business, Cortina was intrigued by the power of entrepreneurship. Continuing to grow her obsession with authenticity, Cortina’s nine year history in the hospitality industry and community sector includes leadership roles with Bill & Melinda Gates Millennium Scholars Program; UNC-Greensboro; Quaintance-Weaver Restaurants & Hotels; and the Grove Park Inn.
In 2011, while completing her triple-focused Bachelor’s Degree of Science with a focus in Business, Education & Social Science, Cortina founded Visit & Venture, LLC. Under her company umbrella, Cortina has served as an Advisory Board member for Asheville Natural Wellness; a tourism development consultant for Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation; and a sought-after speaker and instructor for area organizations such as UNC-Pembroke, East Carolina University, HandMade in America and Caldwell Community College & Tech Institute.
As a result of the unique and focused business model created with Visit & Venture, Cortina was named the 2012 Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year by the Minority Enterprise Development Committee of WNC and inducted into the Class of 2013 for 40 Under Forty Asheville. Most recently, Cortina was welcomed into the 33rd Class of Leadership Asheville.
Currently, Cortina is working toward a Master’s of Arts in Management & Leadership and once finished, aims to continue her quest for authenticity and vision for the collective community.
Karen K Brown is originally from New Jersey but raised in Asheville. She is a graduate of UNC – Asheville with a Bachelor in Fine Art. She was an art teacher for 10 years in the private school system and now a full time landscape painter in the River Arts District. Karen has art work in several galleries throughout the southeast. She and her husband Buster have raised 3 artist daughters and live in North Asheville. Karen has been an active participate in the community for over 30 years. She is a member of the Asheville Art Museum, Arts for Life, Asheville Downtown Gallery Association, Asheville Chamber of Commerce and a new board member of the Asheville Area Arts Council. When she is not painting, Karen enjoys photography, travel, riding her road bike and playing tennis.
Hedy Fischer, Pink Dog Creative Studios
Greg Lucas, Dan Lucas Foundation
Michael Cortes VP First Citizens Bank