Board Leadership

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Bill Palladino – Board President, Traverse City, MI.  Based in Traverse City, Michigan, Bill has spent decades assisting both for-profit and nonprofit businesses around the world. He has sustained roles as CEO, Executive Vice President, Executive Director, Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Instructional Designer, Economic Development Director, and Keynote Speaker with over 30 years of management and business ownership experience. His client list includes Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits, community groups and governmental agencies. 

For the past decade, Bill has focused his attention on innovation, change management, and employee engagement through his work developing and delivering training content with the International Thought Leader Network and their author/partners. He has worked closely with John Kotter, Shawn Achor, Vijay Govindarajan, and Chris Trimble to bring their research and intellectual property to life.

When he's not traveling the globe, Bill also remains engaged in his home community of Traverse City, Michigan, helping to use his expertise to lead the growth of Michigan's local food system as executive director of the Grand Traverse Food Innovation Hub and acting as board member for Blackbird Arts and other nonprofits.

 

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Samir Moubarek – Board Vice President, Traverse City, MI.  Samir is a community activist and is passionate about disability rights and advocacy. He is a member of the Disability Network Advocacy Council and has served as co-chair of the RIC through Michigan Disability Rights Coalition. As an artist with cerebral palsy, he has advocated for inclusion in the arts in schools, recreational facilities, and performance venues.

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Dayna Valpey – Board Member, Traverse City, MI.  Dayna is an avid supporter of the arts and environment.  She relocated to Traverse City from southeast Michigan in 2009, and has worked several years in event management, communications, and marketing.  Dayna currently oversees Disability Network’s Fund Development program and the Access for Everyone campaign, which focuses on making beaches and natural areas accessible for all abilities to enjoy.  She graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in Textile and Apparel Studies, and studied abroad in London, UK.  When not working or volunteering, Dayna enjoys spending time with her husband, Rody, and their dog, Moon.  She also loves getting into creative projects, usually including elements of creative reuse.  She believes in building inclusive communities, celebrating diversity, and considers art an important part of all communities

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Lynn Geiger – Board Treasurer, Traverse City, MI.  Lynn works as an assistant trainer for Northwestern Michigan College Training Services, the corporate training arm of the college. Prior to that she spend nearly 20 years in the media industry as a writer and editor, and continues to freelance for several local publications. She also has a background working with children and adults with disabilities, and volunteering for programs serving the senior population.

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Joshua Davis, Board Member, Traverse City, MI.  Joshua is a musician and songwriter. He has gained recognition as a successful guitar and songwriting instructor and folk historian. Mr. Davis held a private studio at Michigan State University’s acclaimed Community Music School for a number of years before moving to the Traverse City two years ago. He is active in community social justice efforts, most recently as a music ambassador to Palestine and continues to work in music education/outreach for youth in underserved communities.

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Brianne Farley, Board Member, Traverse City, MI. Brianne is a freelance illustrator and picture book author who grew up in Traverse City, Michigan, where she spent most of her time in the woods, in Lake Michigan, drawing, or reading. She earned her BA in Creative Writing from Macalester College, and then received her MFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She moved to Brooklyn to work for Random House Children's Books and, as luck would have it, sold her first picture book to Candlewick Press that same year. Now she lives in Michigan once again writing and illustrating picture books for a living, and spends most of her time in the woods, in Lake Michigan, drawing, or reading. Her editorial clients include The New York Times, McSweeney's, The Rumpus, and Junior Great Books. Local clients include The Little Fleet, Darling Botanical, Grocer’s Daughter Chocolate, and the Traverse Area District Library.

 
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Lisa Newhouse, Board Member, Traverse City, MI. Lisa  is the Owner of The Ancillary Marketing Studio, and she is a Traverse City local. She brings creative innovation to her marketing projects, while working diligently to create unique branding for each project. Ms. Newhouse received a BA in English from the University of Montana, Missoula, and an MFA in Creative Writing from New York University's Creative Writing Program. At NYU, she received a Starworks Foundation Fellowship, and a Goldwater Fellowship. Ms. Newhouse was formerly an english and writing teacher at The Putney School and the Ashley Hall School. She is active in the Northern Michigan tennis community, and enjoys hiking with her dog.

Staff & Teaching Artists

 
MELISSA JOHNSON - Executive Director Melissa holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She spent 10 years in archaeology and cross-cultural studies and later became an exhibit developer for The Field Museum. While there, she was introduced to the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) program and decided to pursue an M.Ed in Elementary Education at DePaul University and become a classroom teacher.  Throughout the last 15 years, Melissa has been involved in education and arts integration for children. She began as a classroom volunteer with the Lakeview Education and Arts Partnership (LEAP) in Chicago and later worked with educators through The Art Institute in Chicago to integrate the arts into school curriculum. She was a middle school teacher in Chicago Public Schools before moving back to Traverse City. Melissa has taught archaeology classes for children and adults, prehistoric art, and developed cross-cultural art and education programs for inside and outside the classroom. She lives in Interlochen with her husband, two curious children, three chickens, an old dog and a cantankerous guinea pig.

MELISSA JOHNSON - Executive Director

Melissa holds an MA in Anthropology from the University of Illinois in Chicago. She spent 10 years in archaeology and cross-cultural studies and later became an exhibit developer for The Field Museum. While there, she was introduced to the Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) program and decided to pursue an M.Ed in Elementary Education at DePaul University and become a classroom teacher. 

Throughout the last 15 years, Melissa has been involved in education and arts integration for children. She began as a classroom volunteer with the Lakeview Education and Arts Partnership (LEAP) in Chicago and later worked with educators through The Art Institute in Chicago to integrate the arts into school curriculum. She was a middle school teacher in Chicago Public Schools before moving back to Traverse City. Melissa has taught archaeology classes for children and adults, prehistoric art, and developed cross-cultural art and education programs for inside and outside the classroom. She lives in Interlochen with her husband, two curious children, three chickens, an old dog and a cantankerous guinea pig.

PHIL WILSON - Teaching Artist For 30 years PHil Wilson has worked with porcelain as a studio potter, developing functional and decorative pottery with an emphasis on contemporary design and elegant utility. His work has been featured in galleries and art fairs around the country. He has pursued a parallel career teaching with clay in his stuido, school classrooms and art centers, special event and other situations. Much of his work has been with special education and impaired popluations from nursing homes to classroom groups and as an artist in residence with Very Special Arts (VSA) organization in Michigan.  He currently lives in northern Michigan with his wife and dogs and woods and fields and water.  

PHIL WILSON - Teaching Artist

For 30 years PHil Wilson has worked with porcelain as a studio potter, developing functional and decorative pottery with an emphasis on contemporary design and elegant utility. His work has been featured in galleries and art fairs around the country.

He has pursued a parallel career teaching with clay in his stuido, school classrooms and art centers, special event and other situations. Much of his work has been with special education and impaired popluations from nursing homes to classroom groups and as an artist in residence with Very Special Arts (VSA) organization in Michigan. 

He currently lives in northern Michigan with his wife and dogs and woods and fields and water.

 

LAUREN PANIAN - Teaching Artist Lauren was born in Ann Arbor michigan. She found her passion for ceramics during her freshman year of high school. Working closely with her teacher, Monica Miller, she decided to follow in her foot steps. Lauren graduated with her Bachelors in Fine Art from Albion college. There she focused on ceramics, but also dabbled in sculpture, figure drawing, and photography. After Lauren graduated from Albion, she went to Johnson and Wales of Denver and received her culinary degree. She now uses ceramics as a medium in her installation performance food pieces. Lauren and her wife moved to the Traverse City area just one year ago. The are living off grid, with the goal of becoming self sufficient. Lauren is very passionate about knowing where her food comes from, and living in harmony with the land. These are her two main focuses in her work.  

LAUREN PANIAN - Teaching Artist

Lauren was born in Ann Arbor michigan. She found her passion for ceramics during her freshman year of high school. Working closely with her teacher, Monica Miller, she decided to follow in her foot steps. Lauren graduated with her Bachelors in Fine Art from Albion college. There she focused on ceramics, but also dabbled in sculpture, figure drawing, and photography. After Lauren graduated from Albion, she went to Johnson and Wales of Denver and received her culinary degree. She now uses ceramics as a medium in her installation performance food pieces. Lauren and her wife moved to the Traverse City area just one year ago. The are living off grid, with the goal of becoming self sufficient. Lauren is very passionate about knowing where her food comes from, and living in harmony with the land. These are her two main focuses in her work.

 

CHAD PASTOTNIK Chad Pastotnik initially earned a BFA in printmaking and focuses on intaglio copper and relief wood engraving techniques which nd their way into book forms as they are both highly detailed types of prints and lend themselves well to the smaller format. Chad has also had formal training in bookbinding as well as restoration and repair techniques, these skills led him to establish Deep Wood Press in 1992 along the banks of the Cedar River in northern Michigan’s beautiful Antrim County. Within the first few years there was a determined need for text for these book forms and the rst press and a few scattered cases of type began the formal act of publishing for Deep Wood. Since then the equipment, the workplaces and the vision have continued to evolve and improve and the ever continuing explorations of “the book as art” is at hand. Over the past 23 years Deep Wood Press has produced over forty book titles and countless commissioned works and is present in some of the nest museums, libraries and university collections around the globe.   

CHAD PASTOTNIK

Chad Pastotnik initially earned a BFA in printmaking and focuses on intaglio copper and relief wood engraving techniques which nd their way into book forms as they are both highly detailed types of prints and lend themselves well to the smaller format. Chad has also had formal training in bookbinding as well as restoration and repair techniques, these skills led him to establish Deep Wood Press in 1992 along the banks of the Cedar River in northern Michigan’s beautiful Antrim County. Within the first few years there was a determined need for text for these book forms and the rst press and a few scattered cases of type began the formal act of publishing for Deep Wood. Since then the equipment, the workplaces and the vision have continued to evolve and improve and the ever continuing explorations of “the book as art” is at hand.

Over the past 23 years Deep Wood Press has produced over forty book titles and countless commissioned works and is present in some of the nest museums, libraries and university collections around the globe. 

 

HANNAH SAFFORD-Teaching Artist Hannah moved to Traverse City this last summer to be part of the vibrant art community. She studied at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, where she received her Studio Art and Art Education degrees.  Before moving to Traverse City, she worked at a studio member at Sunset Clay Studio in Lansing, MI. While in Lansing, Hannah was able to work on her hand building skills with clay. If she's not in the studio, you're likely to find Hannah off exploring in the dunes. She spends as much time as she can enjoying the outdoors through hiking and camping. Her favorite thing about drawing is that you can do it anywhere. She can't wait to share her joy of making art with the students at Blackbird in the After School Studio Arts Program.  

HANNAH SAFFORD-Teaching Artist

Hannah moved to Traverse City this last summer to be part of the vibrant art community. She studied at Montana State University in Bozeman, MT, where she received her Studio Art and Art Education degrees.  Before moving to Traverse City, she worked at a studio member at Sunset Clay Studio in Lansing, MI. While in Lansing, Hannah was able to work on her hand building skills with clay. If she's not in the studio, you're likely to find Hannah off exploring in the dunes. She spends as much time as she can enjoying the outdoors through hiking and camping. Her favorite thing about drawing is that you can do it anywhere. She can't wait to share her joy of making art with the students at Blackbird in the After School Studio Arts Program.

 

SUSAN GLAZIER - Teaching Artist Teaching Studio Sprouts joins Susan’s passion for teaching, the arts, and nature.  She loves to help young children explore their creativity. Susan has been immersed in Montessori philosophy her whole life.  She was raised as a Montessori child through age 12, was a Montessori teacher for 13 years, has presented at national Montessori conferences, and is now a Montessori mom.  She values the way this approach fosters creativity and independence.  Susan is also a musician.  Trained as a Music Together teacher, she weaves songs and movement into her work with young children and has taught guitar, voice, and songwriting with Jr. High students.  Her latest creative endeavor is pottery.  When she’s not teaching, you’ll find her most days up to her elbows in clay in the Blackbird Arts pottery studio.  Susan has a B.S in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in Environmental Education from the University of Vermont, and an M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland.  Susan lives in Leelanau County with her husband, son, dog, and turtle.   

SUSAN GLAZIER - Teaching Artist

Teaching Studio Sprouts joins Susan’s passion for teaching, the arts, and nature.  She loves to help young children explore their creativity. Susan has been immersed in Montessori philosophy her whole life.  She was raised as a Montessori child through age 12, was a Montessori teacher for 13 years, has presented at national Montessori conferences, and is now a Montessori mom.  She values the way this approach fosters creativity and independence.  Susan is also a musician.  Trained as a Music Together teacher, she weaves songs and movement into her work with young children and has taught guitar, voice, and songwriting with Jr. High students.  Her latest creative endeavor is pottery.  When she’s not teaching, you’ll find her most days up to her elbows in clay in the Blackbird Arts pottery studio.  Susan has a B.S in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan, an M.S. in Environmental Education from the University of Vermont, and an M.Ed. in Montessori Education from Loyola University Maryland. 

Susan lives in Leelanau County with her husband, son, dog, and turtle. 

 

CLAY MAAS- Teaching Artist A transplant to Traverse City, Clay moved north from rural Northwest Ohio three years ago. He received his B.A. from the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Indiana. During his time at Saint Francis he found is his passion for ceramics and studio arts. After college, while working as a professional graphic designer, Clay worked as an artist and resident at Defiance College, studying ceramics and letterpress printing. His functional pottery is in stark contrast to his expressive letterpress and screen printing styles. Clay lives his live to create and inspire others to use their talents to help each other. 

CLAY MAAS- Teaching Artist

A transplant to Traverse City, Clay moved north from rural Northwest Ohio three years ago. He received his B.A. from the University of Saint Francis, Fort Wayne Indiana. During his time at Saint Francis he found is his passion for ceramics and studio arts. After college, while working as a professional graphic designer, Clay worked as an artist and resident at Defiance College, studying ceramics and letterpress printing. His functional pottery is in stark contrast to his expressive letterpress and screen printing styles. Clay lives his live to create and inspire others to use their talents to help each other. 

ELARA COLEMAN Elara Coleman is a local artist who lives in Traverse City with her husband and two kids. She graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy as a Visual Arts major. With a strong passion for metals, she went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art where she got her BFA. Now she is a studio jeweler who uses copper, silver and enamel to create simple, nature inspired jewelry.  

ELARA COLEMAN

Elara Coleman is a local artist who lives in Traverse City with her husband and two kids. She graduated from the Interlochen Arts Academy as a Visual Arts major. With a strong passion for metals, she went on to study at the Cleveland Institute of Art where she got her BFA. Now she is a studio jeweler who uses copper, silver and enamel to create simple, nature inspired jewelry.