Board of Directors
- January 21-22, 2021
- May 13-14, 2021
- October 14-15, 2021
- January 20-21, 2022
- May 12-13, 2022
- October 13-14, 2022
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, Inc
Jeffrey R. Hotchkiss, Chair, is a retired President of Teradyne (NYSE:TER), a Boston based manufacturer of systems for the testing of electronic products. In Mr. Hotchkiss’ thirty-eight-year career at Teradyne, he has held roles in various sales, marketing, and division management positions, including Chief Financial Officer from 1997-1999. In 2000, he founded Empirix Inc. and served as the President and Chief Executive Officer for four years, before returning to Teradyne as President of the Systems Test Group. He retired from Teradyne in July of 2012. Mr. Hotchkiss is currently on the Board of Overseers for the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and serves on the Research Oversight Committee. He is also on the board of the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) New England Chapter and serves as the Chairman of the Audit Committee. He has previously served on the board of numerous high tech start-ups in the Boston area including, Empirix, Goldwire Technology, Hammer Technology, and RSW Software. He also served on the Advisory Board for the International MBA Program at Suffolk University and lectures at the Suffolk Graduate School of Finance. Mr. Hotchkiss has a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Bucknell University and a Masters in Management Science from The Sloan School at MIT. Jeff and his partner Betsy Winder reside on Longboat Key, Florida and spend their summers in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Dr. Sarah H. Pappas, Vice Chair, was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and spent the early years of her life in Havana, Cuba and Mexico City. Her family later moved to the United States where she attended high school and Penn State University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree, a master's degree from the University of South Florida, and her doctorate from Nova Southeastern University. Her experience in Florida's higher education system includes 44 years of holding progressively more responsible positions at three community colleges and the University of Central Florida. she served as president of State College of Florida (formally Manatee Community College)from 1997 until 2008. From 2008 she served as President of the William G. and Marie Selby Foundation. Dr. Pappas has been a resident of Florida for the past 53 years, now in Sarasota. She is married to artist George Pappas and has two children: Tom, an artist in Brooklyn, and Jane, a bank-training officer in Jacksonville.
Edward M. Swan, Jr., CFA, Treasurer, is a resident of Sarasota spending part of the year on Martha’s Vineyard. He received a BA from Tufts University and a MBA from the Wharton School. He also attended a director development program at the Kellogg School (Northwestern University). He was a captain in the US Air Force. Ed has over 35 years of experience in institutional investment management, marketing and enterprise management. Many of the nation’s largest pension funds were among his clients. Ed has experience serving on both corporate and not for profit boards, including serving as a Trustee on both Tufts and Dillard Universities. He has a longstanding interest in the arts and community service. He has been a furniture maker for over 35 years in parallel with his investment management career. He is a volunteer developing and managing programs at several Sarasota area secondary schools designed to help lower income students understand what they need to do to be successful in high school and beyond.
Dr. Judith F. Shank, Secretary, is a retired physician who first had a career as a nursing educator. She has a history of community service in health-care delivery and policy, the arts and fund raising. She was an Assistant Professor of Nursing at Boston University. After completing medical school and residency at the University of Minnesota, she founded a private dermatology practice. She was also a Clinical Professor of Dermatology at the University of Minnesota. She has served as the President of the Minnesota Medical Association, chaired their task force on healthcare reform, and was Chair of the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the fund-raising arm for the University of Minnesota School of Medicine. She was Vice Chair of the Board of Allina Health Systems, which at that time was the largest health care provider and employer in Minnesota. She was a founding board member of Hennepin Health Systems, a public safety net hospital. While there, she helped establish a philanthropic foundation for the hospital and became its first chair. Judy currently serves on the Sarasota Area Board of United Way Sun Coast, and SPOON Foundation. Spoon Foundation is the first and only organization dedicated to transforming nutrition and feeding for children, with and without disabilities, in orphanages and foster care around the world. Along with her husband, Steve, she serves as Co-Chair of the National Advisory Committee of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. Steve is the former CEO of the Tonka Toy Company and more recently founded Capella Education Company, the first wholly online university. The Shanks have two daughters and two grandchildren.
The Honorable Dennis Archer is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer at Dennis W. Archer, PLLC. He is also Chairman Emeritus of Dickinson Wright, PLLC. Mr. Archer is a trial lawyer and has taught as an associate professor at the Detroit College of Law and an adjunct professor at Wayne State University Law School. He was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court in 1985, by Governor James Blanchard. In 1986 he was elected to an eight year term. Mr. Archer resigned from the Court in 1990. In 1993 he was elected to become the city of Detroit, Michigan’s 59th Mayor. While in office, he had a balanced budget and a surplus every year he was in office. His Administration attracted $20.2 Billion dollars of investment in the City of Detroit. He declined to run for re-election in 2001 and rejoined Dickinson Wright. He has been President of the National Bar Association and in 2003, he became the first member of color to become President of the American Bar Association. Mr. Archer currently serves on the corporate board of Alix Partners Inc., and he has been a member of the boards of Johnson Controls, Compuware Corporation, MASCO, Top Build and the Global Senior Policy Advisory Board of Jefferies Group. He has been a Circle Member since 2014.
Ellen S. Berman’s 40-year career has spanned the intersection of science, technology, and the arts. She served as President of the Consumer Energy Council of America, the nation’s leading public interest energy policy organization, from its founding in 1973 until its closing in 2006. At CECA she sought to advance the public’s understanding of the interrelationship of energy policy and the environment, transportation, telecommunications, and other disciplines. Ellen pioneered a process for developing public policy through consensus of major stakeholders from divergent interests in the public and private sectors, including consumer and environmental leaders, members of Congress, Federal agency officials, utility executives, research organizations, academia, small business and industrial users.
In addition, Ellen has been actively involved in important arts organizations for decades. She has produced plays on- and off-Broadway, including Operation Epsilon by Alan Brody in Cambridge, MA to critical acclaim. She is an art collector and has served as a corporate art consultant. Ellen is an active member of the Council for the Arts at MIT and serves on its Grants Committee. She is also a member of the McDermott Award Selection Committee at MIT. The $100,000 McDermott Award is one of the largest prizes in the nation for an artist of exceptional merit. Ellen is a trustee of the Ringling Museum of Art and the Hermitage Artist Retreat and serves on the board of the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative. She is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC and has served on its board of directors. Ellen is an avid Scrabble player. She holds a B.A. in Russian Language and Literature from Columbia University and resides in both Sarasota, Florida and Washington, DC.
H. Michael Bush is the President/Owner of Home Resource, Inc. located in Sarasota, FL. He and his wife, Kathy, are design and home furnishings industry professionals headquartered on Central Avenue. Situated within the boundaries of the city’s historic Rosemary District, the area represents Sarasota's Design District with its collection of architects, interior designers, home builders, cabinet makers and showrooms devoted to flooring, home entertainment, furniture and decorative accessories. Since 1995, Home Resource has been the place in Southwest Florida to shop for contemporary and licensed modern furniture. Over the last several years, the Home Resource showroom has also been converted into a "fringe theatre" where live performances have been conducted. Home Resource has been Mr. Bush's most recent business turnaround; where he has taken an essentially bankrupt company and successfully led it back to profitability and success. Mr. Bush has held senior executive positions in Europe and the United States for Exxon Mobil, Domino's Pizza, Red Hot Concepts (Chili's), and other smaller publicly traded companies. His specialty is start-up and turnaround environments. In addition, he was a key executive in the creation of Mobil Chemical's Global Petrochemical Operations. Mr. Bush is a licensed CPA. He has served on the boards of the Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Contemporary Dance, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, Theatre Odyssey, SaraSolo, Sarasota Season of Sculpture, and the Sarasota Architectural Foundation in addition to a14 year term as the President of the Rosemary District.
Warren R. Colbert, Sr., CIMA, is a Senior Vice President - Wealth Management at UBS Financial Services, Inc., located in New York, NY and headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. His four-decade financial services experience includes tenures at PaineWebber, Inc. and Kidder, Peabody & Co. His earlier years began with IBM in computer sales, but before that his graduate school experience was with the laser/quantum electronics group within the Federal Systems Division of IBM. Warren’s served on the Board of Trustees of Lincoln University, PA 2000 – 2013, his alma mater, as Development and Investment Committee Chairperson, and on the Executive Committee. Also on the Advisory Board for Lincoln University’s Center for Banking, Finance and Entrepreneurship. Chaired several committees on the Board of Green Chimneys Children’s Services and Schools, 1988 – 2002, lastly as Chairperson. The Twenty-First Century Foundation, an African American endowed public foundation based in New York City, 1995 – 2002, Finance Committee Chairperson. Served as Treasurer and Observer to the Board of Directors for The UNIS Society of the United Nations International School 1987 -1990 and more. Warren has an ongoing mentorship with UBS interns that have worked with him over the last 20 plus years. Civic acknowledgments include: 2006 Proclamation from the City Council of New York City for Community Service and the Green Chimneys Children's Services’ “Exceptionally Significant Service” award. B.A. from Lincoln University, PA in mathematics and completed several years of graduate studies as a doctoral candidate of physics at the University of Maryland. Warren is a Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) achieved at the Wharton School. Warren’s work in photography is a strong part of his artistic interests. Warren and his wife, Marie, are art enthusiasts and collectors. Splitting their time between the New York and Sarasota homes as well as visiting their son and his family who live in California with two beautiful daughters.
Rebecca Donelson Art Dealer; After working at the Corcoran Museum, Washington DC, The National Gallery of Art, Washington DC and at The Art Institute of Chicago, she opened her own gallery, The Dart Gallery, in Chicago specializing in Contemporary Art representing some of the great artists of the last forty years: Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler, David Smith, Jim Dine, Jules Olitski, Larry Poons, Sam Gilliam and Frank Stella. Rebecca worked on retrospective exhibitions at The Art Institute of Chicago with Robert Rauschenberg, William Dekooning, Georgia O'Keeffe, Alexander Calder and The Estate of Salvador Dali. She serves on the International Council of Anderson Ranch, Snowmass, CO, the Board of the Edis-Neeson Fooundation in Chicago, is a Fellow at The Aspen Institute and works with the Aspen Film Festival and Youth Entity in Carbondale, CO. Rebecca shares her time between Sarasota and Aspen.
Leon R. Ellin held a number of senior financial and operating positions, in both large and mid-sized companies. From 2003 through 2016 he was an operating partner/ consultant with Littlejohn & Co., a private equity partnership. At Littlejohn he worked primarily with the Information Technology and Financial Management functions of the portfolio companies. He spent the 20 years immediately prior to his service at Littlejohn managing turnaround, restructuring and strategic business refocusing tasks at a number of mid-sized companies, including Wilton Industries, ITCO Holding Company, Edward Don & Company, Champion Products, Inc. and Voit Corporation. His prior experience includes ten years with Colgate-Palmolive, including Director of Corporate Strategic Planning and as CFO of Helena Rubinstein, Inc., a Colgate subsidiary company. His educational background includes a MBA from the Wharton Graduate Division (member of Beta Gamma Sigma) of the University of Pennsylvania and an AB from the University of Chicago (National Merit Scholar). He served for over ten years on the Board of AgriLabs, Inc. until it’s sale in early 2018 and was active on a charitable foundation board in his home of Sarasota, FL. He volunteers at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the John & Mable Ringling Museum in Sarasota.
Darrel E. Flanel is a lifetime resident of Sarasota. Mr. Flanel is a Managing Director at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in the healthcare investment banking group. Mr. Flanel has over 30 years of investment banking experience primarily serving non-profit hospitals, universities and cultural organizations. He has completed transactions aggregating in excess of $30 million as well as advising on mergers and acquisitions in excess of $5 billion. Mr. Flanel has served on the board of the New York Dram League. In February 2011, the Secretary of the Air Force selected Mr. Flanel for the Air Force National Security Forum at the Air War College. In 2008, The Secretary of Defense selected Mr. Flanel for the JCOC-76 program that included study at the Pentagon followed by travel throughout the US European Command. Mr. Flanel is a board member of the Kaplan Service Organization that provides a forum for education of civilian leaders on current defense topics and support of active duty military personnel. Mr. Flanel holds a Bachelor of Science and an MBA from Florida State University.
Margaret “Meg” Dunwoody Hausberg has ties to The Ringling dating to the 1980s, when her circus enthusiast parents, James and Millicent Dunwoody, retired to Sarasota and became active volunteers in the Museum's circus archives. A graduate of Wellesley College with an M.A. fron the Courtauld Institute of Art in London, Meg has a varied career in the field of art - at galleries and an auction house in New York and London, as an author and publisher of finr art reference books, an instructor in the Appraisal Studies Program at NYU, and a research associate and co-author of the University of Glasgow's online catalogue raisonné of James McNeill Whistler's etchings. She sits on the Committee for Prints and Drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago and was co-curator of the Art Institute exhibition "Whistler and Roussel: Linked Visions" in 2015. Currently a member of the Print Council of America, Meg previously served on the boards of the Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, and the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, New York. She was a Trustee of the Village of Bronxville, New York, in the 1990s, and she facilitated the gift of her parents' circus collection to The Ringling in the early 2000s.
Robert D. Hunter was raised in New York. Bob received his bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College and MBA from Columbia University. He spent 28 years with Chase Manhattan in New York and London. He retired in 2003 as CEO of Barclays Bank Private Clients and returned to the U.S. from London. He and his wife Marie moved to Sarasota in 2006 and became full-time residents in 2009. Bob has served on numerous commercial and non-profit boards and is currently an active Docent at the Ringling Museum of Art and a Guardian Ad Litem for the State of Florida
Thomas F. Icard, Jr. is a fourth generation resident of Sarasota and Manatee Counties. A shareholder and Vice President of the Icard Merrill law firm in Sarasota since 1995, he is a former partner with the Carlton Fields law firm in Tampa, a past President of the Hillsborough County Bar Association and a past Chair of the Forum on Construction Law of the American Bar Association. He is also a member (by invitation) of the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. He has variously served as a mediator, arbitrator or court appointed special master in a broad spectrum of more than 400 legal proceedings ranging from two to nineteen parties. Tom is a graduate of the Leadership Florida program of the Florida Chamber of Commerce and a past Chair of the Riverview High School Foundation. He has also served since 2004 on the Board of Directors of Tampa based Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., a non-profit corporation that provides legal services to the indigent. He received his BA from Mercer University in 1970 and law degree from The Florida State University in 1973. Tom and his wife Cameron now divide their time between their homes in Sarasota and Charlotte, North Carolina and visiting their children in California.
Ambassador James A. Joseph has served in senior executive or advisory positions for four U.S. Presidents, including Deputy Secretary of the Interior for President Jimmy Carter and U.S. Ambassador to South Africa for President William Clinton. He is currently an emeritus professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University and honorary professor at the Graduate School of Business at the University of Cape Town, where he also serves on the board of advisors. A graduate of Yale Divinity School and a former visiting fellow at Nuffield College at Oxford University, he has nineteen honorary degrees.
Joseph served for almost fourteen years as president and CEO of the Council of Foundations whose 2,000 members came from five continents. A former vice president of Cummins Engine Company and CEO of the Cummins Foundation, he has also served on many foundation boards, including the National Endowment for Democracy and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, the world renowned living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia. He was chair of the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation established by Governor Blanco in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and he serves currently as a member of the board of directors of the H.B. Heron Foundation in New York, the Conservation Fund and the Water Institute of the Gulf. He was also the founding chair of the Corporation for National and Community Service, where he helped establish AmeriCorps.
In 1999, the Republic of South Africa awarded Joseph the Order of Good Hope, the highest honor bestowed on a citizen of another country, and in 2008 he was inducted into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. He has also been honored as a Louisiana Legend. A frequent speaker to academic, civic and religious audiences, he is the author of four books, most recently Saved for a Purpose: A Journey from Private Virtues to Public Values published in 2015 by the Duke University Press.
Michael A. Kalman, MD, has keen and wide-ranging interests in art in many forms. He collects paintings, sculpture and other media, and donates to art foundations and museums. Locally, he was the lead donor for the Walker Guest House replica, is a major donor to The Hermitage and a board member of the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, and last year funded the Ringling’s purchase of a video work for the Kottler-Coville Glass Pavilion. On a national level, he is connected by family with the Glenstone Museum in Potomac, MD, which houses a leading collection of post-1945 artworks and has provided substantial loans (including monumental sculpture) to the National Museum of Art’s East Wing. Michael, a retired dermatologist, practiced in New York City for 51 years. After completing medical school at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and residencies, he was not only a self-employed physician but also taught at the medical school level during his career in New York, visiting his mother in Sarasota regularly before purchasing a second home here.
Nancy Kotler earned a B.A. from the University of Chicago, a M.A. in English Literature from Northwestern University where she was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow, and a J.D. from Loyola University. She taught in both the English Department and the Business School at Northeastern Illinois University. Nancy practiced with the firm of Lurie Sklar and Simon in Chicago. She was Chair of the Evanston Arts Council and worked to find collaborative projects with other organizations in Evanston working to serve under-served youth. She then became Chair of the Public Art Committee which was engaged in placing works for the new library and in renovated parks. Nancy also served on the Illinois Humanities council, the Executive Committee of the Women’s Board of the University of Chicago, and the Board of Northlight Theater. Nancy and her husband, Philip Kotler, are collectors of studio art glass and Nancy served as President of the Collector’s Association, The Alliance for Contemporary Glass. She presently sits on the Grants Committee for that organization. The Kotlers have three daughters and nine grandchildren.
Dr. Lisa Merritt is a physiatrist in Sarasota, affiliated with Sarasota Memorial Hospital. She received her medical degree from Howard University after completing undergraduate studies at Georgetown University with honors and has been in practice for more than 25 years. She underwent training in Family and Community Medicine at the University of California at San Francisco, and completed her residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Dr. Merritt is a graduate of the faculty development program at the Morehouse School of Medicine in Atlanta. She is a member of numerous professional organizations, including AAPMR (the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation), NMA (the National Medical Association), and is Executive Director of the Multicultural Health Institute.
Tina Shao Napoli, immigrated to the United States in 1993 from her home country of China. Having studied Journalism and the Performing Arts in People’s Liberation Army, Nanjing Political College, Tina established herself as a professional vocalist in United States performing in many notable establishments such as Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City. Expanding upon her cultural diversity, Tina lent her vocal talents to New York City landmarks supporting international voice-overs for the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the United Nations. For the past few years, Tina has focused her attention towards producing numerous concerts for the Chinese community across the country.
Leslie Pantin is Founder and President of Pantin ‐ Berber Silverstein Public Relations which services includes media and community relations, social media, crisis and special events. It is a unit of Beber Silverstein Group (BSG), a full service advertising, marketing and media placement agency. Pantin and BSG are experts at reaching targeted audiences whether in English, Spanish, Portuguese and even Spanglish. Mr. Pantin serves as public relations counsel to some of the nation’s foremost brand names, including 30 years for McDonald’s. His expertise encompasses business issues, community relations, education, and special events. Among the clients in South Florida was McDonald’s with which Mr. Pantín has represented close to 200 restaurants for three decades. He helped found the famous Calle Ocho Festival, by the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana, and is past president of the Orange Bowl Committee and now serves on the committee to bring College Football Playoff's National Championship to Miami in 2021. Les serves as a board member of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of South Florida, Kiwanis of Little Havana Foundation, City of Coral Gables' Cultural Development, and Goodwill Industries. He was the president of Arteamericas Art Fair and the Cuba Nostalgia Heritage Fair. Mr. Pantin has served on the FSU Board of Trustees and the Alumni Association Board of Directors, the FSU Foundation Board of Directors, and the Seminole Boosters Board of Directors. He earned a BS in Business from Florida State University. He and his wife Martha have an adult son and daughter.
Cynthia Louise Peterson, is the Founder and Board Chair Emeritus of the Center for Architecture Sarasota. Ms. Peterson, MLIS, CA holds a Master in Library and Information Science with concentration in Archival Science and Preservation from Simmons College, Boston, MA. She is a Certified Archivist (CA) and a specialist in the preservation and description of architectural archives. Working in partnership with the University of Florida School of Architecture, she helped establish the UF CityLab-Sarasota graduate architecture program, which now shares space with the Center. Beyond its programming, the Center carries out the vital task of showcasing Sarasota as an important center of Modernist architecture. She was the former curator of the University of Florida Architecture Archives and helped to establish the acquisition and collection of the historical archives in Florida. Ms. Peterson was previously the Director of Operations of the Elling O. Eide Charitable Foundation, Sarasota, FL. She received the Bob Graham Architecture Awareness Award from the Florida American Institute of Architects and, in 2017, Cynthia was given honorary membership in the National AIA for her contributions to the Institute. She serves on the Board of Directors of the Florida Foundation for Architecture. Since retirement in 2017, she and her husband Guy spend time at their homes in Cashiers, North Carolina, Windermere Island, Bahamas, and Sarasota.
Kelly Ann Romanoff has a Bachelors in Marketing, Public Administration, and Health Service Administration and a Master’s in Public Administration and Nonprofit Administration from the University of Central Florida as well as a Certification in Digital and Social Media Marketing, Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia from Eckerd College. She joined the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation in 2015 as the Project Manager. The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation was established in 2014 as a private, family foundation located in Sarasota, Florida. Reporting approximately $95 million in total assets in 2018, the Foundation creates initiatives and awards grants in Sarasota and beyond that promote meaningful changes in the areas of education, humanitarian causes, arts and culture, the environment, and medical research. In 2019, the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation awarded 110 grants to a total of $14 million. Additionally, the Foundation reported partnerships with 154 nonprofit organizations. In 2009, People to Watch, Biz(941) Magazine recognized for her efforts to engage young professionals in charitable giving and civic involvement with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice.
Margaret A. (“Peggy”) Rolando is a native Miamian who returned home when she joined Shutts & Bowen, LLP in 1978. She has been a partner in the firm since 1984. Peggy concentrates her practice in the acquisition, development, sale, financing and operation of large scale real estate projects. She is a member of the Board of Governors of the American College of Real Estate Lawyers (ACREL) and former chair (2013-14) of the Real Property, Probate and Trust Law Section of The Florida Bar. Peggy is a committed supporter of higher education, the arts and historic preservation. She served on the Board of Trustees of Florida State University 2010-2015. She has been a member of the Board of Visitors of FSU College of Law since 1994. She previously served on the Board of Trustees of Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama for 9 years and was recently re-appointed to it. Peggy is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Georgia Museum of Art, Athens, Georgia. She also serves on the Coral Gables Historic Preservation Board. She is a member of the Executive Committee of Seraphic Fire, a choral ensemble that presents under-performed music of cultural significance. She earned her B.A. in English and Education from Spring Hill College and M.A. in English Literature and J.D from FSU.
Mayra Niubo Schmidt was born and raised in Cuba and moved to the United States in 1966, living in New Jersey until 2014 when she and her husband John moved to Sarasota. She attended St. Peter’s College and Rutgers Law School, graduating in 1980. After practicing as a sole practitioner, Mayra retired to raise three children. She has served as a Board member in Hudson County Legal Services, the Garden Club of the Oranges, and the Orange Orphan Society which awards grants to organizations serving underprivileged children. For 10 years, she served as a Commissioner in the West Orange Historic Preservation Commission as well as volunteering at the New Jersey Historical Society and the Thomas Alba Edison National Historic Site. She is currently a member of the Garden Club of the Oranges, the Sarasota Garden Club, and a Circle member of The Ringling Museum of Art.
Mercedes Soler-Martinez currently works with her husband, Tom Martínez, at Solmart Media, LLC. Solmart Media, LLC is their radio and digital media company. As President of the company, she oversees editorial content, community outreach, advocacy and marketing. Tom serves as CEO. Prior to this, she coached media/press strategies to high placed leaders, executives and diplomats as a subcontractor for the US State Department. She is a renowned bilingual keynote speaker at women-girls empowerment and media conferences. Mercedes is a five-time Peabody and GLAAD awards winning media personality and broadcast journalist. From 2010 to 2016, she anchored a daily, live, news issues, and women’s show for CNN Español. Prior to that, she spent two decades at Univision News as an international investigative correspondent. Mercedes co-authored the book Dish & Tell: Life, Love and Secrets (Entre Nosotras de Mujer a Mujer) [Harper-Collins, 2005] with a group of five girlfriends. The book was adapted for the stage as a musical. She has been a columnist for El Nuevo Herald and is well versed in current U.S. and hemispheric affairs. She taught journalism in Spanish through the University of Miami. Mercedes sits on the boards of the following non-profit organizations – The Community Foundation of Sarasota and the Ringling Museum of Art. Mercedes and her husband Tom raised two wonderful children who are pursuing their parent’s passions in their own careers of art and broadcasting.
Debra (Deb) Short grew up in the Midwest and attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, majoring in Art History. After more than 25 years in the retail management and buying arena for JC Penney, Saks, and Bealls Inc., she was fortunate to find her way back to her first love, the appreciation of art. Since 2013, volunteering in various roles at The Ringling has provided Debra with an avenue for personal growth, and the development of many friendships. Her primary assignment is as a Museum of Art Ambassador, every Monday. She thrives on the action of the busiest day at the Museum. For two years, she was a member and the designated secretary of the Orientation and Communications Committee (OCC) and served a 2-year term as Secretary of the Volunteer Services Advisory Committee (VSAC). Debra currently serves in the elected role of VSAC Vice-Chair, representing all volunteers in the Corps and continues her role as the co-editor of The Volunteer Voice Newsletter. Additionally, Debra works closely with the Education Team; assisting with research, training materials, and hands-on help with programming. After retiring in 2013, Debra and her husband, Steve, became members of The Ringling. They have also been aggressively attacking their travel bucket list, visiting 27 countries in the past 6 years. They support both The Ringling and St Jude’s Hospital in their Philanthropy. They live in Bradenton and generally keep a low profile in the Community. Debra’s passion is truly the Museum of Art.
Javi Suarez is an award winning architect with extensive experience in a wide variety of design applications such as cultural, institutional, educational, commercial, religious, and residential projects. He was born in Puerto Rico and moved to Sarasota at the age of 10. He is a product of the Sarasota public education program, having graduated from Ashton Elementary, McIntosh Middle School, and Riverview High School. He received his Bachelor of Architectural with honors from the University of Florida and a Master’s degree in Architecture from the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Javi’s work has been published in numerous local and national publications. Most recently it has been exhibited in “Think Fast Exhibition,” which was displayed at Ball State University in Indiana, Kansas State University, and the School of Design Strategies at Parsons in New York City. Javi is also a graduate of Leadership Florida class XXVII. He currently serves on the Community Redevelopment Agency Advisory Board and is the President-Elect of the American Institute of Architects Gulf Coast Chapter. Javi and his wife Liz are raising two wonderful kids in Sarasota – their 12-year-old son Javierito and 8-year-old daughter Natalia.
Howard C. Tibbals, of Sarasota, Florida and Knoxville, Tennessee, is known as a philanthropist dedicated to enhancing educational experiences. Educated as an engineer and entrepreneur, Mr. Tibbals joined his father in building a successful and innovative manufacturing business producing wood flooring in Oneida, Tennessee. It was Howard Tibbals' love for the circus that led him to the life-long project of creating the Howard Bros. Circus Model and assembling an unparalleled collection of material related to the history of the circus. In 2000 Howard Tibbals donated the miniature circus and funding, which was matched by the state, for the construction of the Circus Museum’s Tibbals Learning Center. The building project initiated a period of growth at the museum in its early years under the management of Florida State University. Mr. Tibbals’ gift also established the Tibbals Endowment, providing funds for the ongoing care of circus collections, staffing, and programing. In 2008, another donation from Mr. Tibbals and his wife Janice was matched by the state to fund construction of an addition to the Tibbals Learning Center which opened in 2011. Today, the Howard Bros. Circus Model is the centerpiece of the Tibbals Learning Center which includes galleries exploring the rich history of the circus. The building is also home to the Archives where researchers can access the Tibbals Circus Collection, assembled by Howard Tibbals over more than 60 years. Mr. Tibbals is the 2001 recipient of the AFP Outstanding Philanthropist Award. In 2018 he was named a Hero of History by the Historical Society of Sarasota County and in 2019 he was recognized by the faculty of Florida State University with the Torch Award.
Kirk Ke Wang has been a Professor of Visual Arts at Eckerd College since 1993 and teaches courses in painting, drawing, digital photography, new genre art, and Asian art. In 1977, Mr. Wang applied and was accepted at Nanjing Normal University at the age of sixteen. Four years later, Mr. Wang became the youngest professor on campus, making enough money to complete graduate school simultaneously. While in Chicago, a professor recommended USF to him, and he headed straight to Tampa. Mr. Wang kept himself busy, commuting from his job at a design firm for Disney to his residence in Tampa to an adjunct professor position at Sarasota’s Ringling College of Art and Design. He joined the faculty at Eckerd College as a full-time professor and shows his work in both Tampa and Beijing. Born into oppressive circumstances, he appreciates the power of free expression more than most. In 1984, he received the Bronze Medal, Ministry of Culture of China's 6th National Exhibition. Mr. Wang has exhibited his art works in such places as the Museum of Modern Art, PS1 in NYC and the National Museum of Art of China in Beijing. Mr. Wang was awarded the bronze medal by the Cultural Ministry of China, and he is also the recipient of numerous grants and awards from many distinguished institutions, such as, the National Endowments for the Arts, the Freeman Foundation, Ford Foundation, National Asian Network, Florida Arts Council, etc. Wang maintains a studio in Tampa, NYC, and, Shanghai.
Dr. Larry A. Wickless, an Osteopathic Gastroenterologist, has been coming to Sarasota since the 1970’s, where his wife Carole’s parents retired and lived in the Museum District. In fact, their son Scott Wickless took his first step in that home. Their younger son Kevin came to Sarasota the first time as an infant in arms! Larry and his wife, Carole Crosby JD, have been interested in the visual and performing arts throughout their lives, visiting museums and music venues throughout the world. After living in Bloomfield Hills, MI for their professional careers, they spent 5 years in Chicago until moving permanently to Sarasota in 2010. Larry has been extensively involved in Medical education throughout his professional career. He has served as Interim Director of Medical Education for the past year and Internal Medicine Program Director for the last 2 years, at the Manatee Memorial Hospital. He has provided medical care for the underserved at the Sarasota Memorial Hospital Outpatient Clinic and at the Turning Points Clinic in Bradenton. Larry has served on many Boards, Foundations and Medical accrediting organizations. He has also served in many leadership positions as President and led multiple organizations at the state, national and international levels.
The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art Foundation, Inc
Board of Directors – Ex-Officio Members
Joan Uranga is the 2020-2022 Chair of the Volunteer Services Advisory Council (VSAC) at The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. Joan is originally from New Jersey, but retired to Florida in 2002 after working for a national insurance company in Northern California. In October 2002, she began training as a Ringling Docent and currently provides tours in the Ca' d'Zan, Circus Museum, and Bayfront Gardens, which she still enjoys. Joan has served on the Docent Advisory Council and was Chair during the 2012–2014 term. She has been an active member of the Volunteer Services Advisory Council (VSAC) Recognition Committee for many years and was recently elected to the role of VSAC Chair for the 2020–2022 term. In 2016, Joan was honored as the Florida Association of Museums (FAM) Outstanding Volunteer. She has also volunteered for Ringling special events and with the Membership Department, and she continues to volunteer as an usher for the Asolo Repertory Theatre. Besides her volunteer work, Joan loves to travel (especially to see her two young grandsons in Germany and one in Hong Kong), play tennis, read, and visit the wonderful cultural offerings of Sarasota.
Leslie Young is the 2018-2020 Chair of the Docent Advisory Council (DAC), and the 2016-2018 Co-Chair of the Docent Candidate Committee at The Ringling where she has been a volunteer since 2013. Her first job at age 8 was volunteering with her grandmother at Church and the Library in Atkinson, New Hampshire. From that point she volunteered at the King Edward Hospital in Bermuda while living abroad with her late husband, Jim Young. From there she spent 5 years volunteering as the designer for the gift shop at the Helen Ellis Memorial Hospital in Tarpon Springs, Florida. Currently as a volunteer for The Ringling, she is a docent for the Ca’ d’Zan, Art Museum, School Tours, special functions, and membership. She also volunteers at the Designing Women’s Boutique here in Sarasota whose primary focus is support of the Asolo Theater and the arts. Along the path of volunteerism, she added a BA in Political Science degree from the University of Tampa, created an export company in Bermuda, and spent 18 years in corporate America on outside sales. Leslie has one granddaughter who just happens to live in Sarasota. “Birdie” is her favorite of all her volunteering jobs.