Stefanie Gerber Darr
Stefanie Gerber Darr is the executive director of the Asheville Area Arts Council (AAAC) where she has served since 2016. Under her purview the AAAC has opened The Refinery Creator Space, home to the Arts Council’s operations, 10 individual artist studios, and 5 community arts organizations; and launched an Arts & Wellness program for Veterans in partnership with the Charles George VA Medical Center, Odyssey ClayWorks, Local Cloth, and teaching artists to offer FREE arts-based experiences to Veterans experiencing PTSD and TBI. Before her time at the AAAC, Gerber Darr was an independent museum consultant with national craft organizations to manage traveling exhibitions and exhibition catalogs. She has also worked as the galleries and collection manager at Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts, an educator for public programs at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, gallery manager at Herron School of Art and Design in Indianapolis, and as a performance artist in Humberto Duque’s Lightning Blues Express project at the Denver International Airport. She combines her training as a museum educator, curator, collections manager, and maker to develop meaningful experiences for people with art.
Janelle Wienke has a life time ingrained in the arts. Her education in anthropology, sustainable development and community and regional planning has propelled her into the field of creative placemaking. Previously the Entrepreneurship, and Small Town Revitalization program manager at HandMade in America, Janelle has developed a well rounded set of skills, and an eye for collaboration in the arts, to inspire creative economic development. Janelle manages the re-granting program for the Asheville Area Arts Council and looks forward to managing Grassroots Arts Program and other community grant opportunities through AAAC for Buncombe County organizations and artists.
Mamie has had a spirited appreciation for the arts since childhood. Always surrounded by creative educators and art enthusiasts, it was only a matter of time before joining the field herself. She is a graduate of Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina and holds a BA in art history with a minor in studio. Before joining the AAAC, she worked as a corporate retail manager specializing in women’s fashion. Mamie joined the team as an eager intern excited to get involved in the community and is now ready to embark on a new adventure as programs manager. She is passionate about serving the council and encouraging a sustainable future for the arts community of Asheville.
Communications & Operations Assistant
Dana loves telling people about opportunities that can help them succeed. Combined with her love of the arts and Asheville, it is no wonder she ended up at the Arts Council. Dana received a BFA in Photography form the State University of New York at New Paltz. After graduation, she spent some time working and living in New England (including a stint as a photo assistant at World Wrestling Entertainment Magazine) before she moved down south. In Asheville, Dana has become very involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of WNC, serving as a Big Sister and the Sectary of the Board. In 2018 she was voted the Big Sister of the Year in NC. Dana is passionate about the ensuring economic stability for children and artists in the area and will work hard to make sure they can flourish in our community.
Sara was excited to begin serving as Full-Charge Bookkeeper for Asheville Area Arts Council in 2011. She majored in Accounting at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and has worked with several local organizations as an independent Bookkeeper since 2006. She enjoys not only the nuts and bolts aspects of accounting that some may find boring (and possibly nerdy), but also the ability to make a meaningful contribution to organizations she works with, allowing them to focus on the important work that is their mission. She particularly enjoys the challenge, and reward, of assisting Non-Profit organizations. When she isn’t focusing on the world of finances, Sara enjoys keeping busy with her husband and their three children. She also likes to cook, coupon and bargain hunt, and work on DIY or craft projects.
2017 Board of Directors
Gar Ragland – Chair
Producer/President of NewSong Music
Gar Ragland is a music entrepreneur, producer, composer and the president and co-founder of NewSong Music, an independent artist development company. A native North Carolinian (Winston-Salem), Gar began his music career while a student at the University of Virginia, sharing bills with acts that include the Dave Matthews Band, Gov’t Mule and the Aquarium Rescue Unit. After working several years in Washington, DC as an environmental economist for the policy think tank Resources for the Future, Ragland relocated to Boston to study composition and improvisation at the New England Conservatory with MacArthur ‘Genius’ Award winning pianist, composer and educator Ran Blake. He then moved to New York City to open NewSong’s Brooklyn studio and office, and moved to Asheville with his family in 2012 to set up shop at Echo Mountain Recording Studios. He is a voting member of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (Grammys), and a member of the Buncombe Cultural Alliance’s leadership council.
Noel Swartz – Treasurer
Shareholder, Johnson Price Sprinkle PA
Noel, an Ohio native, most recently lived in Massachusetts. He moved to Asheville from Boston in 2013 and joined JPS working in assurance services. He is a CPA and holds a B.A. in Accounting and Finance from Ohio Northern University. Growing up, Noel took the requisite three years of piano lessons at an early age and dabbled with pottery and photography during and after college. In his spare time, Noel enjoys cycling, racing cars, playing the guitar and spending time with his wife and extended family.
Michael Manes – Vice Chair and Exhibitions Committee
Gallery Director – Blue Spiral 1
Michael Manes is the 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 currently helps facilitate the Downtown Asheville Art District (DAAD), is passionate about American Craft Week, The Center for Craft Creativity & Design, and many other arts and community 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. Michael is a graduate of Leadership Asheville, holds a BFA in Painting and Art-History from the Columbus College of Art and Design and currently lives in Candler, North Carolina with his wife Hanna and their two pups, Ella and Mabel.
Josh Batenhorst – Secretary and Development Chair
Enterprise and Development Manager for ArtSpace Charter School
Josh Batenhorst is Enterprise and Development Manager for ArtSpace Charter School, a K-8 charter school that teaches 400 students in Swannanoa. He has been a teaching fellow with the A Plus Schools Network since 2007 and has worked across the country to help schools learn to improve their culture and capacity through integration of the arts. He was the Theatre Arts Integration Specialist at ArtSpace until his recent graduation from the Wake Forest Working Professionals MBA program. Josh believes in the power of the arts to engage and prepare students for work in the 21st Century and he currently blogs and writes about this work on the school’s website – www.artspacecharter.org.
Cherry Lentz Saenger – Exhibitions Committee
Retired Professor Mars Hill College
Cherry Lentz Saenger holds a Bachelors in Social Work and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Kentucky as well as a Masters in Liberal Arts from UNCA. 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.
Larry Turner – Events Committee
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.
David Feingold – Development Committee
General Manager and CEO of WCQS
David Feingold is the General Manager and CEO of WCQS – Western North Carolina Public Radio, Inc. He joined WCQS July, 2015, after 16-years at NET – Nebraska’s state-wide public radio and television networks – where he was the senior manager for content. At NET he worked closely with the Nebraska Arts Council and the Nebraska Humanities Council in developing series and documentaries. David spent the first part of his career in public radio news departments in the Midwest before a shift to television, including 11-years at CNN where he served as Business News Editor, National Editor, and London Bureau Chief. In the UK, he also worked for Reuters as Executive Editor Worldwide for television cover. He received a BA in Psychology from the State University of New York at Binghamton, and an MA in Mass Communications from Central Missouri State University, with an emphasis in broadcast and journalism law.
Craig Harris – HR Committee and Finance Committee
Vice President & Senior Investment Strategist, Wells Fargo
Craig Harris is a Vice President and Senior Investment Strategist for the Western Carolinas region of Wells Fargo Private Bank. Craig earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from Belhaven University where he played collegiate soccer. Mr. Harris is a Chartered Financial Analyst® charterholder, a member of the CFA Institute and lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his wife and three children. In his spare time, Craig enjoys all that Asheville has to offer: good beer/great food, a thriving art scene and incredible live music. He also suffers occasionally as a Liverpool Football Club fan.
Eunice Ward – Development Committee
Eunice Ward Recently moved to Asheville from Chicago. She was retired from her law practice in which she was a family lawyer. While practicing for some 30 years, Eunice was an active member of several law organizations, particularly the Women’s Bar Association and Lawyers for the Creative Arts. She was the founding president and a long-time board member of a not-for-profit helping women in the countries of the former Soviet Union develop grassroots organizational skills.
Now making her home in this vibrant creative community, Eunice is most interested in assisting artists to reach their full potential. She desires to use her organizational, business, and professional skills to assist the AAAC to act as a strong leader and mentor for the Asheville creative communities.
Bill Dorfman – Development Committee
Denise M. Drury Homewood – Advisory Board
Executive Director, Bardo Arts Center, Western Carolina University
Denise Drury Homewood is the Executive Director of the Bardo Arts Center at Western Carolina University. Bardo Arts Center is home to the WCU Fine Art Museum, 1,000 seat Performance Hall and Studio Theater. Previous to her appointment at the Barod Arts Center she served as Interim Director and Curator of the WCU Fine Art Museum where she was responsible for overseeing the acquisition, exhibition and care of the permanent collection of 1,500 works of modern and contemporary art and lead 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 Homewood 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 Homewood has previously served on the board of the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design, (Art Section) North Carolina Museums Council, (Chair) Asheville Area Arts Council. She holds an MA in Arts Administration from Florida State University and currently lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
Stephanie Hickling Beckman – Development Committee
Managing Artistic Director of Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective
Stephanie Hickling Beckman is the Managing Artistic Director for Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective and has been active in Asheville’s theatre scene since shortly after moving to Asheville, in 1997. She has worked with several local theatre companies as an actor, stage manager and director, and toured nationally as an actor. In addition to AAAC, she serves on the boards of Directors for the Montford Park Players and Word on The Streets. Her personal mission is use her passion for the arts to bring about a more cohesive and tolerant community.
Angela Lausell – Event Committee
Angela Lausell holds a Bachelor’s in Information Technology and a Masters in Business Administration as well as several technical certifications. She has worked in IT management and IT Professional services for over 20 years. During this time, she has worked as a project manager, IT manager and in multiple technology consultancy roles for companies like Teva Pharmaceuticals, Terremark, Assurant, Florida Power & light and several software startups. Angela enjoys bringing the local community together. She is the co-host and organizer of the annual Snout & Stout event, which brings together Asheville’s local technology startups and businesses for a fun social gathering. Angela also served on the events committee of the “Annual Feast among the Grapes”, a food & wine fundraising event for the Diabetes Research Institute (DRI). In her spare time, Angela enjoys hosting themed parties, event design, photography, Iphoneography, painting, costume design and graphic design.