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.
Immediate Past Co-President
Stephen Butler is a native of Onondaga County in New York State. He received his BA in Theatre from Oswego State University and relocated to New York City. During his years in NYC, Stephen worked in managerial positions for the Alliance of Resident Theaters/New York, the Alliance of New York State Arts Councils and at several producing organizations including Manhattan Theatre Club, and the Hudson Guild Theater. His last position in NYC was as the Executive Director of Creative Alternatives of New York, a drama-therapy organization attached to the Department of Psychiatry at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, and serving the greater NYC metropolitan region. Stephen is a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient in Strategic Planning (Advancement). He was also an Actors Equity Association stage manager. He returned to Syracuse to obtain a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, and was then hired to run the Mental Health Association in Onondaga County.
For the past decade, Stephen has been the Executive Director of CNY Arts, a regional arts council providing grants, technical assistance, marketing and promotions among other services for arts organizations of all sizes in six Central New York counties including: Cortland, Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga (its home), and Oswego. CNY Arts provides support to all the counties’ arts, culture and heritage organizations, higher education programs for the arts, residents and visitors alike, and individual artists through promotion, advocacy, collaboration, and community engagement. He is an adjunct professor in Le Moyne College Graduate Arts Administration program, and a guest lecturer who has presented at many schools, including the Herbert H. Humphrey Fellows Enhancement Conference at the Maxwell School, SU Drama Department, and at SUNY Oswego’s graduate program in Marketing.
Stephen’s volunteer work includes serving on the board of the Human Rights Commission of Onondaga County/City of Syracuse, President of the Association of Teaching Artists, Advisory Board Member at SUNY Oswego School of Communications, Media and the Arts, and as Co-President of Arts NYS.
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.
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.
Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice
A Brooklyn boy who now calls the Lower East Side home, Diego is a first generation Italian-American nonprofit business Executive with deep ties to the Lower Manhattan community. During his 15-year tenure stewarding the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), he oversaw the acquisition of the River To River Festival, transformed hundreds of thousands of square feet of space into artist studios, oversaw $15 Million in regrants to artists and community-based organizations, and expanded their footprint with The Arts Center at Governors Island. Prior to joining LMCC, Diego served as Managing Director of 3LD where he played a key role in fundraising, financial planning and project management to establish another Arts Center in Lower Manhattan- the 3LD Art & Technology Center just south of the World Trade Center site.
In addition to his professional duties as Compliance Officer at the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice and Executive Director of the Stuyvesant HS Alumni Association, Diego has been honored to participate on several Boards and Advisory Councils, including Manhattan’s CB3 Economic Development Committee, ArtsNYS, Third Rail Projects, the Vassar Club of New York, the Greenburger Center for Social and Criminal Justice, and the Societa’ Val Trebbia e Val Nure. He holds a double BA in Drama and Mathematics from Vassar College, is a proud alum of Stuyvesant High School, and earned a great deal of experience at Nonprofit Finance Fund where he performed financial and organizational analyses for clients nationwide.
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.
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.
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
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