I recently had a request for a “who’s who” guide to NCECA:
How about a post on Faces to watch?
– NCECA board members – maybe the 4 to 8 most important and or well known faces. A headshot and job description
– Celebrity Potters – who’s teaching at NCECA this year, and what do they look like? (For example, I so know Bede Clark’s pots but I’m not sure I’d recognize his face?)
– Celebrity Vendors?
…I thought that was a pretty smart idea, because even some “seasoned” conference-goers know others by name only or by their work rather than by face. (ask me sometime about my embarrassing Robin Hopper story…)
I thought to get the ball rolling, I’d start with the first thing on the list and introduce you all to the NCECA board and staff (which is really a treat for me. I just LOVE to introduce people to this great group I get the pleasure to work with!) All board members are volunteers and are not paid any kind of honorarium. Additionally, in the past 3 years, the board collectively has also become the largest group of financial supporters to the organization. There are 15 of us, and 6 staff, so get a cup of coffee and settle in….I can’t promise this will be a short one, actually, I promise that it’s NOT short, but a good read I hope. You can also scan down the official board and staff page on the Main NCECA website.
Let’s start with our presidents. NCECA Presidents serve a 6 year cycle on the board – 2 years as president-elect, 2 years as president and 2 years as past-president. Our current president is Deborah Bedwell. Deb first served the NCECA board in 2005 as the on-site Liaison for the Baltimore conference. At that time, she was working as the executive director of Baltimore Clayworks. She brings amazing knowledge and experience to the table and we are so lucky to have her. Deb has been a huge force in the recent and very successful development efforts NCECA has made, which are sure to benefit the entire organization as we wrap up our first 50 years and start into the next 50. She was preceded by our now past-president, Patsy Cox. Patsy is an extremely organized, energetic, witty, artist and professor currently in Southern California. (But originally from the midwest!) Patsy first became involved with NCECA because she wanted to “see more people that look like me”. She ran from the floor for the position of Director-At-Large and won the election. Having Patsy’s voice, perspective & experiences as part of the board meetings provide diversity. Having her attention to detail, her organizational skills and her vision of the whole field keep our meetings productive! At the end of the 2016 conference, our current president-elect, Paul Sacaridiz will take his turn in the hot seat. Paul is absolutely amazing. NCECA identified him and romanced him into being onsite liaison for last year’s conference in Milwaukee. He has such an incredible positive attitude, is ridiculously intelligent, passionate about clay, our field and our organization and is one of the kindest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.
On the staff side of the equation, we have Josh Green. Josh became NCECA’s Executive Director during the summer of 2010. Prior to that, he had served the board as the onsite liaison for the 2008 Pittsburgh NCECA while he was also working at Manchester Craftmen’s Guild. There really just aren’t enough words to accurately convey the magnificence of Josh. He has breadth of knowledge on a variety of topics not just related to clay, but also business and the running of a non-profit organization. He’s eloquent, intelligent & thoughtful in his communications, and fun to have an informal chat with. Much of NCECA’s recent successes can be attributed directly to Josh and his influence in the organization. I often feel smarter just being near Josh, and I always treasure the time I get to spend with him, and I’m certain that there are many nodding heads reading this right now.
Next there are the three “parallel directors”: Exhibitions Director, Programs Director, & Communications Director. These three-year terms carry a very specific set of required skills and responsibilities. All NCECA Members have the opportunity to self-nominate, or can be peer nominated for any of these positions. Additionally the board and staff are encouraged to suggest candidates that would be ideal for the positions. The nominations committee then qualifies and often interviews each applicant. A recommendation is made to the board, and ultimately, the position is then appointed by the President, and that appointment is ratified by a 2/3 majority vote of the board. These directors are eligible to have their position renewed for ONE additional 3 year term with a 2/3 vote by the board. For the last 6 years, Steve Hilton has served as our Programs Director. He works tirelessly year round on putting together the many pieces of the NCECA conference puzzle. The picture at the left shows what he looks like sitting down, but you’re more likely to see a streak of color that vaguely resembles him. He moves SO fast, sometimes I think he must bring roller skates to the conference. He’s always in demand, and yet always seems to have time for whatever anyone needs him for, all while maintaining his sense of humor (and don’t get me started on his particular variety of humor. grin). Steve previously served the board as a student director at large, and though his term as Programs Director will be ending as of the close of the Providence conference and he will be missed more than I can say, I suspect at some point, he may grace the board with his talents again. Leigh Taylor Mickelson joined the board just this past year as our Exhibitions Director, filling the very large shoes of the surprisingly small-footed (but big-minded) Linda Ganstrom. Leigh shadowed Linda for nearly a year prior to the beginning of her official board service to learn the ins and outs of exhibitions. I am thoroughly enjoying getting to know her and am finding out that she is absolutely as beautiful of a person inside as she is on the outside. Leigh brings a fresh perspective to our board. Although she was an integral part of the onsite team for the Baltimore NCECA, this is her first official board service. I’ve found that she asks really great and insightful questions, often just as a simple clarification…but there’s just something about what she says, or her expression of ideas that cause me to rethink my entire perspective. The Communications Director is, well, me, Cindy Bracker. I first joined the board in 2010 as a Director-at-Large. At that time members of the NCECA Board were beginning to realize that as the makeup of the organization was changing, so, to, should the makeup of the board, and that it would be a good start to bring in some voices from outside of the world of academia My experience with NCECA prior to board service was as one of the commercial exhibitors in the Resource Hall. I still remember the day I got a phone call from Keith Williams, asking if I would be interested in running for the position. I think it truly has been one of the top five defining moments of my life. At the Houston conference my term as Director-at-Large ended and I transitioned into the role of Communications Director. You probably already know what I do…(a lot of talking…and blogging), so I’ll move on.
Each of the three directors more or less have staff counterparts. Steve works closely with Dori Nielsen, our conference planner. Dori has been with NCECA since the 2002 conference in Kansas City. She spent that year shadowing our previous conference planner, Minerva Navarette. If you’re an avid follower of the blog, you already know a bit about Dori & her words of wisdom from the post I wrote about conference site selection. I’m pretty convinced that Dori knows at least a little bit about everything. I’m also not sure I’ve seen anyone quite as organized as she is. I have yet to be able to stump her with anything I’ve needed to ask of her. I can’t even begin to calculate the savings Dori has brought to NCECA with her negotiating abilities. If you are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of her at conference, be sure to thank her for all her work. She’s mostly a behind the scenes kind of person, but believe me, you WANT to pay attention to this woman behind the curtain!!!! Kate Vorhaus is the staff liaison for exhibitions, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. I think Kate’s official title is “Projects Manager” She handles all of the work related to exhibitions from troubleshooting for members that are trying to enter, all the way through providing the necessary items to jurors, coordinating with venues….I get dizzy just thinking about it. Kate is also extra special to me because one of her “special projects” is the Resource Hall participants…which is where I started. I think I can speak for everyone in that hall in saying that Kate definitely does make us all feel special! There was also one board meeting where someone thought Kate was my mom (probably because we’re both tall) and I was really flattered…and Kate kind of is like a mom to me…..actually, I think Kate is kind of a mom to ALL of NCECA. ALSO…she’s the most amazing proofreader on the planet! (She’s probably already caught at least 8 errors I’ve made in this blog post….which will likely get fixed later when she tells me what they are) Then there’s the incredible Candice. She’s the staff person that I work with most closely. Candice is NCECA’s Communications Manager. I think a lot of times I end up getting credit for Candice’s hard work. She first worked with NCECA as a temp prior to the Seattle conference. She designed a beautiful full-color roll-out brochure for the Gallery Expo. Josh was smart enough to recognize talent and tenacity and shortly thereafter, Candice came on board full-time with NCECA. In her time so far, she has overseen a complete redesign of the NCECA website (have you seen it lately? It’s GORGEOUS!). Also there was (and continues to be) THE APP So, this was a little brainstorm I had before 2013 Houston. I made a proposal to the board, they agreed with me, and then the magic happened (aka Candice) and voila, we had the first ever NCECA Conference App in Houston. It was improved for Milwaukee (overseen by Candice) and there are even MORE improvements for 2015 coming! (Watch for a blog article and video coming soon). I simply can’t imagine a better partner in crime (and communications) than Candice.
Back to the board…two elected positions, both three-year terms, both eligible for a one term extension are the Secretary and Treasurer. These used to be one position, but were separated in 2010 due to growth of the organization and increased demand on the responsibilities of the roles. Our Treasurer, Lee Burningham, was elected in 2010 and then renewed in 2013. In addition to overseeing the finances of the organization, Lee is responsible for great big bear hugs & silly hats (not necessarily together). In Tampa, we all had flamingoes to wear on our heads, and in Seattle, it was a crab. I still have mine. I wonder if we’ll be wearing squids this year in Providence? Our Secretary is Jill Oberman. She was just elected in Milwaukee and mostly she’s so busy taking really great notes during our meetings that I don’t get to hear her say much, but she has one of the greatest smiles I’ve ever seen. Even at the very early morning start of our board meetings, she’s already got that smile on her face, and I know that it is coming from a place within her that is so happy and excited to be serving NCECA. I just love her enthusiasm.
I have to say, Lee’s job is really made easy by our amazing bookkeeper, Helen, who really does an amazing job of managing an extremely seasonal cash flow, monitoring expenses, investments, balance sheets….and that doesn’t even begin to go into the NCECA budget that she prepares each year (the thing is pages and pages of spreadsheets, and somehow, she keeps it all so clear in her head that she could probably tell you what the specific line item and budget code number any specific program, event or item NCECA handles. She even stays on top of board members to turn in their receipts or the bills for services we ordered that need to be paid (and some of us can be quite a task to manage!), all with a smile on her. We must be a happy organization, because Jacqueline is also rarely seen without wearing her smile. Jacqueline is the office manager…basically, she’s the person that handles just about everything the average member needs, from renewal of your membership to conference registration, and everything in between. She’s bright and witty and ready to help with anything. If it’s something she doesn’t know, you better believe she’ll find out. I can tell you that I ask her for all sorts of crazy things, and yet, even when I call and say “hey Jacqueline…do you think you could find me a report on……..” she cheerfully tells me she can, and she always delivers. I just love her can-do attitude.
Also elected positions on the board are the Directors-at-Large (generally referred to simply as DALs). There are always 3 of them and they serve a 3 year, overlapping and non-renewable term. Directors-at-Large each have their own special projects that they oversee and that cycle with their year. Then, additionally, each has their own individual talents that they bring to the table. The current “senior” DAL is Garth Johnson. He handles the NCECA Connections and Topical Discussion programming. Additionally, his quirky and “weird” knowledge has really opened my mind and, I really think, the whole NCECA board and organization. He will complete his term as DAL at the end of the Providence Conference, but he will still be working on the 50th anniversary book project, and, I suspect he will make another appearance on the board some time in the future. Next in line is Dandee Pattee. She actually took over my role as DAL and has taken the Gallery Expo to a new level. Her work with that project has really made me just beam with pride. Additionally, Dandee has a passion for critical writing and curation. She chairs the Curatorial Task Force and is also working to establish some magazine internships for NCECA members who have a similar penchant for writing. Jane Shellenbarger is our newest DAL, and in her first year has already done an incredible job with the NCECA Residency programs and the Emerging Artists program. I’ve already enjoyed getting to know Jane. We easily talk way too late into the night without noticing any time has passed. We also usually have 2 Student Directors-at-Large on the board. These students serve 2 year, overlapping terms. Due to a highly unusual circumstance, we only have one student right now, but she definitely does the work of two! In her first year, Jen Chua has spent a great deal of time researching and working to revise & more accurately define the term student as it pertains to NCECA. It’s an amazingly dense set of considerations. Additionally, she coordinates the NSJE, the student perspective programming, the crit room and so much more. The role of the SDAL on the NCECA board has really been growing and Jen is an excellent example to take giant leaps forward for the students with the work she is doing.
Last but not least are our on-site liaisons. For each city there is a person that serves 2 years on the board and second person that serves one year. That means at any given time there are three of them – two for the immediate upcoming conference and one for the conference after. These positions are appointed and confirmed by board vote. Right now we have Jay Lacouture who is actually a former NCECA president and professor of art at Salve Regina University in Newport. Jay was even around the last time the conference was in Rhode Island, and if you can catch him when he’s got a few minutes he’ll tell you all about the clam bake they put together for everyone at the conference one night…the organization was a tad smaller back then. Jay is the third former president to act as an on-site liaison since I joined the board. If you are still reading this, and you know who the other two are, write it in the comments section below and I will bring chocolate to the conference for you! Jay is also one of three people that I have served on the board with that knew my dad from the early days of NCECA, which I just think is really cool and special. For the past year, we’ve also been fortunate to have Larry Bush on the board with us as the second Providence onsite. Larry teaches at Rhode Island School of Design, which means we’ve also had access to a workforce of RISD students who have been very helpful in a variety of ways. Larry is a really fun guy to have around too. He’s quirky and funny and he rides a bike everywhere…i think maybe even in the winter, thought probably not THIS winter, because i think the snow might currently be drifted higher than the seat of his bicycle. Last but far from least we have the hard-working Kansas City onsite, Paul Donnelly. Paul gets a gold star in my book, and not just because he’s practically my neighbor, but because he writes me blog articles even BEFORE I pester him for them. I think it’s crazy that Paul and I have lived about 45 miles away from one another for several years now, but in order for us to really meet and get to know each other, we had to take a trip to Providence…..but now that that’s rectified, I’m sure we’ll be seeing each other quite a bit more often. So if you see any of these people in Providence, take a minute and say thanks, and if you have a suggestion, be sure to share it! We are all listening!