Arts Center of the Capital Region
Chief Executive Officer
Elizabeth (Liz) Reiss is a life-long arts advocate. Her career has been guided by the simple belief that the arts belong in everyone’s life. Raised in LI, Liz has worked in NYC, Pittsburgh, and the Capital Region, in art museums, childrens’ museums, arts festivals and now as the CEO of the Arts Center of the Capital Region. Her favorite projects have been developing Craft in the Classroom, a K-12 craft education curricula for NYC schools, renovating an empty storefront to become the Children’s Museum of the Arts in SoHo, and presenting public art projects that pushed traditional boundaries of art, such as the skateboard park Roll Rampant and Free. Liz has a BA from Bard College and an MS from Bank Street School for Education. She has played an active role in professional service organizations. In the past, she has served as the Chair of the NYC Museum Education Roundtable, VP of Greater Pittsburgh Arts Alliance, and now serves as the Chair of the Troy Cultural Alliance, and on the boards of Arts NYS and the East Greenbush Education Foundation. Liz has also served as a grants panelist for Institute of Museum and Library Services, Cleveland Percent for Art, New York State Council on the Arts, Pittsburgh Foundation, and the Sprout Fund, Pittsburgh.
Arts Services, Inc. of Western New York (ASI)
Jen is the Executive Director of Arts Services Inc. which empowers the region’s artists and arts organizations with connections to funding, learning opportunities, and community access to the arts.
Since 2011 she has lead the organization to be a resource hub for artists and arts and cultural organizations in Western New York. ASI provides assistance through arts funding, professional development training, bookkeeping services, and advocacy efforts on local, statewide, and national levels. Jen has been in the field of nonprofit arts management for over 15 years and has been supporting thriving arts and culturals through her community-minded focus and involvement in grassroots production. She has provided guidance and consultation to arts leaders and artists, and understands the tools needed for creative entrepreneurs and arts administrators.
In addition to her ASI work, Jen is an Adjunct Professor at Daemen College and the University at Buffalo’s Arts Management Program, Board Member of Arts NYS and Hope for Cats, Finance Committee Member of Grassroots Gardens, writer for the Nonprofit Quarterly, and Member of the Leadership Niagara Class of 2016.
Jen was named Buffalo Spree Magazine’s 2018 Best Arts Administrator and has a MA in Arts Management from the University at Buffalo and a BA in Communications/Broadcasting with a minor in music from Buffalo State College.
Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA)
Viviana, a native of Argentina, brings a social sector career that spans more than 20 years in the areas of resource and partnership development, management, fundraising, strategic planning, board of directors relations, and communications/marketing. Prior to joining the Bronx Council on the Arts (BCA) in 2017, Viviana served as Assistant Executive Director for External Affairs at Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center in The Bronx, and occupied leadership positions at City Year New York, the Inter American Press Association, and People for the American Way Foundation. While in Argentina, Viviana founded Pegasus Solutions, a management consulting firm that provided development, strategic planning, and communications/marketing services to media and culture organizations, and to individual artists. As Project Director for the Paul Robeson Fund for Independent Media, she oversaw the social justice media grant-making of the Funding Exchange, a national network of foundations with central offices in New York City.
Aside from her social sector work, Viviana has been involved in cultural endeavors most of her life as an actress, film curator and festival producer in Buenos Aires, Miami, and New York City. She was Grants Review Advisor for the Dade Community Foundation’s Fund for Community Organizing (Miami), Film Programmer for Cinema Tropical (New York/Miami) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Argentina), and served as Program Officer for the National Film, Video and Photography Competition sponsored by the Argentinean Ministry of Culture.
Viviana is an invited participant at the New York City Office of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and a member of the Hostos College Community Advisory Council. Viviana holds a BA degree in Theater from the University of Massachusetts, and a Master degree in Cinema Studies with a Certificate in Media and Culture from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts.
Immediate Past Co-President
Chief Executive Officer
Janet Langsam is the CEO of ArtsWestchester, an organization that financially and promotionally supports all of the arts in Westchester County. During her 27 year tenure, Ms. Langsam, an artist and journalist, has helped grow ArtsWestchester, formerly known as the Westchester Arts Council, from a $1.8 million to a $4.2 million agency and has made the arts more visible, diverse, and accessible for all. As CEO, Ms. Langsam advocates for funding, supports local artists and cultural organizations, champions the county’s arts community and reports on the positive impact the arts have on the local and regional economies.
Among her many achievements, Ms. Langsam spearheaded the purchase and renovation of an abandoned nine-story historical bank building in the heart of downtown White Plains, NY, led a major rebranding of the organization that added more contemporary marketing synergy and completed a $10 million capital campaign. She has been named amongst 914INC’s Most Influential Women of Westchester.
Prior to her work at ArtsWestchester, Ms. Langsam served as President and CEO of the Boston Center for the Arts and held positions in three NYC Mayoral Administrations including First Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Cultural Affairs, and Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Housing Preservation and Development in which she pioneered the conversion of city-owned vacant properties to cultural sites and artist housing. She is a founder and former Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Queens Museum, honoree of the Queens Theatre in the Park and a former Chairperson of Queen’s Community Planning Board 7 and District Manager of the Rockaways. Ms. Langsam was a recipient of the Americans for the Arts Michael Newton Award. She has also been recognized by the Mental Health Association of Westchester, Westchester County Federation of Women’s Clubs, the Westchester Jewish Council, the Hudson River Museum, the Emelin Theatre and the Association of Development Officers. Ms. Langsam received her Masters from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Vinnie Bagwell is an American sculptor. She preserves African-American history by creating art for public places. She is an inductee for 2022 Who’s Who in America for sculpture. A representational-figurative artist, Vinnie uses traditional bas-relief techniques as visual narratives to expand her storytelling. She casts in bronze and bronze resin. She has won numerous public-art commissions and awards around the United States, including Americans for the Arts inaugural José and Darlene Pérez Prize for civic engagement. She was born in Yonkers, New York, and grew up in the Town of Greenburgh. She displayed a remarkable gift for drawing at an early age and developed a passion for painting in high school. A Morgan State University alumna, Vinnie is an untutored artist and began sculpting in 1993.
Vinnie Bagwell co-authored a book titled “A Study of African-American Life in Yonkers From the Turn of the Century” with Harold A. Esannason in 1992. In the mid-90s, many followed her compelling articles in her weekly column for Gannett Suburban Newspapers/The Herald Statesman. She was also a contributing writer for The Harlem Times.
The District of Columbia Department of General Services commissioned four public artworks, including “‘What’s Going On!’ Marvin Gaye” and “‘The Man in the Arena’ – Theodore Roosevelt”. “Liberté”, a 22” h. bronze, was exhibited in the inaugural, year-long exhibition to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides at the new Freedom Rides Museum in Montgomery, AL. The creative genius of Vinnie Bagwell’s work gives voice to our stories and meaning to our legacies.
Photo credit: Grace Roselli
Melissa Dvozenja-Thomas has been a part of the arts scene for the majority of her life and joined Arts Mid-Hudson in 2015. She holds a BA in Acting for Theatre, a BA in Music Performance, a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in Non-Profit Management, and a Masters Certificate from the International Institute of Event Management. Melissa was a singer, dancer, actor, and photographer for 10 years following undergrad as well as the Managing Director at Allenberry Resort Inn & Playhouse in Pennsylvania. Melissa serves as a board member for Theatre Untitled, and the Greater Hudson Valley Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is also on the advisory board of The Dutchess Community College Academy of Music. In her free time, Melissa loves to cook, bake, travel and spend time with her family.
Annette Jiménez Gleason
The Community Foundation
Senior Program Office, Vitality
Annette Jiménez Gleason joined the staff of the Rochester Area Community Foundation in November 2018. As program officer for vitality, Annette oversees grantmaking and leadership in the areas of arts and culture, historical preservation, and successful aging. Previously, she worked as a reporter for El Mensejaro Católico, a publication of the Catholic Courier, for 13 years.
Huntington Arts Council
Kieran is a practicing artist, arts administrator, and educator. He holds a BFA from Purchase College School of Art and Design and an MFA from Kendall College of Art and Design. Kieran Johnson is currently the Executive Director at The Huntington Arts Council (HAC). At HAC he works to expand the reach of the organization through community projects and collaboration. Previously at HAC he was Director of Community Partnerships and Development, serving as the primary fundraiser as well as expanding the exhibition program and gallery events, and the Business Manager managing the office operations. Prior to coming to HAC, Kieran worked at Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts as the Operations Manager and at the Richard Avedon Foundation as their Office Manager and Financial Coordinator.
St. Lawrence County Arts Council
Maggie McKenna, the Executive Director of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council (SLC Arts), has initiated a bright future for the organization since she took the role in 2019, including originating the North Country Arts Festival and creating a new arts center in downtown Potsdam. Maggie is based in Potsdam, NY, along the northern border of New York State where she is deeply engaged in the rural community. In the role, she is responsible for strategic planning, community engagement, fundraising, and operations. Maggie holds a Master’s in Business Administration from Clarkson University and a Bachelor’s in Violin Performance and Mathematics from the Crane School of Music and SUNY Potsdam. Maggie is a proud graduate of Herricks High School in New Hyde Park, NY. She has served as the executive director of the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce and in other program management roles at the Potsdam Public Library and Traditional Arts of Upstate New York. Maggie serves on the board of ArtsNYS, the St Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and the North Country Women’s Leadership Initiative. She is a regular member of the first violin section in the Orchestra of Northern New York and the first violinist in the Carriage House String Quartet.
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Craig T. Peterson, currently the President and CEO of the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, has served in numerous leadership positions at arts and cultural institutions over the past twenty-five years. For six years he was the Vice President of Visual and Performing Arts at Henry Street Settlement and the Executive Artistic Director of the Abrons Arts Center. Previously he was the Director of Programs at Gibney Dance. From 2009 – 2013, Peterson was the Director of the annual Philly Fringe Festival, and during this time he also launched and directed the Live Arts Brewery (LAB), a research and development program supporting long term residencies for local and national artists. For ten years he served on the staff of Dance Theater Workshop and for four years he served as the organization’s Co-Artistic Director. He is a graduate of the Executive Leadership Program of Columbia University’s School of Business and he received a BA in Theater and Dance from Bard College.
Long Island Arts Alliance (LIAA)
Lauren Wagner is the Executive Director of the Long Island Arts Alliance (LIAA), a non-profit arts organization servicing the creative sector island-wide. With 16 years of administrative, development, marketing, programmatic, and sales experience in both for-profit and non-profit arts organizations, she brings a diverse set of skills and perspectives to her position with LIAA in order to support a culture where artists and arts organizations can thrive on Long Island. Her passion for the arts, in its many forms, stems from her appreciation and respect for those who create, as well as the fundamental belief that the arts are essential to community and connection. She uses her positive attitude and tireless energy to advocate for the arts and support the work of the Island’s world-class arts institutions, creatives, arts educators, and cultural spaces.
Lauren was named one of Nassau County’s Women of Distinction in 2021 for her work with LIAA. She holds a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University and earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Arts Administration from Wagner College.
*Management services provided by Insourcing and Robert Herz.