Principal Lianna Knight makes it a priority to work collaboratively with all stakeholder to ensure her students receive a challenging, academic repertoire while fostering and encouraging a life-long passion and appreciation for the arts. Ms. Lianna Knight is in her 5th year as principal of LaVilla School of the Arts. Under her leadership, the school has received many awards and recognitions, such as Florida Arts Model School in Dance and Music, Arts Schools Network Innovation Award, Outstanding Art School Award, and North Florida Math Counts Championship. Prior to her role as the Principal of LaVilla School of the Arts, Ms. Knight served as the assistant principal of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts for 8 years. Ms. Knight has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Dance and Masters in Educational Leadership. Prior to her move to Jacksonville in 2005, Ms. Knight served as a middle school and high school dance and math teacher in Houston Texas.
Pamela Haas is a graduate of Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida. After a successful career in the field of design, she decided to pursue her passion for teaching in Osceola County. Ms. Haas currently serves as the Fine and Performing Arts Resource Specialist for Osceola County. Since 2016, she has also been a consultant for FAAE, to bring high-quality arts lesson plans and resources to the CPALMS platform for the use of all arts teachers in Florida. Ms. Haas also serves on the board of directors for the Florida Art Education Association (FAEA).
Grace Kewl-Durfey has worked with Broward County Cultural Division for 18 years and currently serves as its Director of Community Engagement, leading programs and initiatives in advocacy, cultural heritage and arts education. From the trenches to boardrooms, she has over 25 years of rich experience in the public and non-pro't sectors, focusing on arts and culture, creative economy, community and neighborhood development, and non-pro't organizational management and leadership. Her mission is to contribute to the systemic integration of the arts and cultural sector within the socioeconomic and educational fabric of our everyday lives. Grace holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Nova Southeastern University, and a bachelor’s degree in Community Studies from Union Institute and University. She is treasurer and past president of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education, Inc., president of The Association of American Cultures; and former adjunct and guest lecturer with UMass Amherst College of Humanities and Fine Arts, Arts Extension Service. Her professional associations include the National Forum for Black Public Administrators, Broward County Black Chamber of Commerce, Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, and The Recording Academy.
Caroll Vick is the Arts in Education Program Manager for Hillsborough County Public Schools – the 7th largest school district in the nation. The mission of HCPS is “Preparing Students for Life”. Ms. Vick coordinates both in-school and out-of-school experiences for students, ensuring they are receiving a well-rounded education in support of this mission.
Ms. Vick has over 24 years of experience in developing, implementing, and improving programs and organizational performance in a variety of non-profit settings, including education, social services, and cultural institutions. Ms. Vick has previously held the positions of Director of Education for the Hillsborough Arts Council as well as the Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education. In addition, she volunteers with other organizations dedicated to improving the lives of children. She graduated from the University of South Florida with a B.A. in Art History. Ms. Vick is committed to developing programs, resources, and initiatives that support arts education in the state of Florida.
Board of Directors
Michael Caldwell, D.M.A. is celebrating forty plus years of distinction as a higher education professor, concert pianist and cultural leader. With titles ranging from artist-teacher of piano, associate dean, managing partner of a closely held arts corporation to Pianist Foundation of America Pianist of the Year, he most recently served as Founding Director of the Performing and Visual Arts Division of the Farquhar College of Arts and Sciences at Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Caldwell’s civic experience has included symphony orchestra, cultural theatre, music academy and library board memberships in New Mexico, North Carolina, and Tennessee. He currently serves as a board member for Business for the Arts, Fort Lauderdale and Professor of Music in the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at NSU.
John S. Gebhardt is a former Trustee of the Byram Hills Public School Board in Armonk, NY, having served twelve years, where he was President three non-consecutive years. John was also elected to the Board of Directors of the Westchester-Putnam Regional School Boards Association, where he continued to serve in various positions for eleven years. Mr. Gebhardt was elected twice to the Board of Directors of the New York State School Boards Association, was appointed to Representative Nita Lowey’s Education Advisory Committee, representing public elementary and secondary schools, and to the National School Boards Association’s Federal Relations Network, which lobbies Congress on behalf of public education issues. John was also elected twice to the Board of Directors of the New York State Caucus of Black School Board Members. John has served as a money manager and financial consultant to public companies since retiring from over thirty years of experience on Wall Street, where he served as a Managing Director at PaineWebber (now part of UBS Financial) and later as a Managing Director at Knight Capital Group. Here in Florida, John is on the Board of Directors of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Osceola County, as well as the Education Foundation of Osceola County, and is Chairman of the Celebration Community Development District. He also serves as Chairman of the Osceola County School for the Arts (OCSA) Advisory Counsel. In addition to mentoring the high school young men at the Kissimmee Boys & Girls Club, he also mentors students in Florida’s Take Stock in Children program. John is an alumnus of NYU’s Stern School of Business (Economics) and Pace University’s Lubin School of Business (Economics).
Julie Hebert is the Visual and Performing Arts Curriculum Specialist with the School District of Manatee County. Prior to this position, she was the Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education and an elementary music educator for 17 years in the School Districts of Manatee and Sarasota Counties. She holds a Bachelor of Music Education from The University of Central Florida and a master’s in educational leadership from The University of South Florida. Julie is a passionate advocate for equitable high-quality arts education for all K-12 students. She works toward this goal by serving on the Executive Board of the Florida Alliance for Arts Education and the Board of Directors for the Florida Center for Partnerships in Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT). Additionally, she is a Past-President of the Florida Elementary Music Educators Association.. In 2018, Julie partnered with Manatee Education Foundation President, Mary Glass, to launch the Manatee Arts Education Council. Julie serves as co-founder and advisor to the MAEC Board of Directors.
Mary is a visionary, innovator and community initiator with a Masters of Fine Arts Degree. In addition she has over 30 years of experience instructing students at pre-k through college levels, consulting and facilitating for private and non-profit organizations, providing customized instructional materials and implementing arts integrated related programs. Ms. Kelly is the Executive Director and Founder of the Association of Florida Teaching Artists in Sarasota, Florida. She is also a Master Teaching Artist in Theatre and Storytelling. She holds an M.F.A. & B.F.A. from Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona.
Dr. Mary Palmer is President of Mary Palmer & Associates, LLC, a consulting firm specializing in the arts and education. She is also the current President of the Board of Directors for the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. She holds Bachelor's, Master's, and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Illinois. Recently named Professor Emerita at the University of Central Florida, Dr. Palmer was Professor and Coordinator of Graduate Studies in Music Education at the University of Central Florida, Orlando; she also served as Dean of the UCF College of Education. Dr. Palmer is senior author of a Pre-Kindergarten through grade 8 music textbook series published by Silver Burdett Ginn and has authored over 40 textbooks which are used worldwide. Dr. Palmer is the Founder of Arts for a Complete Education/Florida Alliance for Arts Education.
Michael Petty is the Assistant Principal at Deer Point Elementary in Panama City, after three years as an administrator at Jinks Middle School. He has also worked at Bay High School, Rosenwald Middle and High School, and Mowat Middle School, all in Panama City. He has served as an ELA Chair, FOCUS Expert, and an intensive reading and literacy coach. He is passionate about literacy and the arts and the intersection of the two as it relates to student success, and Deer Point Elementary is an inaugraral Advancing Arts Education Grant recipient through the Arts for a Complete Education Grant with the Florida Department of Education. Petty has a Bachelor of Science Mass Media Studies from Florida State University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the University of West Florida.
Sharon Reid-Kane serves as the Chief Officer of Education & Outreach at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. Under her leadership, outreach efforts of the Hall have grown exponentially, now reaching 45,000+ students of all ages and abilities annually with over 82,000 contact hours of high-caliber arts experiences throughout the Tampa Bay area. Prior to joining the Hall, she served as a community relations specialist and educator within the state’s public school system, and as a Director of the United Way in Pinellas County. Throughout her career, she has been the recipient of several prestigious accolades including the Cooperman-Bogue Award for service to children and families, and the President’s Service Award. Sharon holds a Master’s Degree in Arts and Academic Interdisciplinary Education and is currently pursuing her Doctorate Degree in Educational Leadership. Her personal background includes years of appreciation, instruction, and performance in all artistic genres - leading to a lifelong passion for the arts and arts education.
Flutist Donna Wissinger has been called a 'flutist of rare gifts' by the New York Times. Her concerts include acclaimed solo recitals on the mainstages of Carnegie Hall and on the equally renowned Glinka Capella in St. Petersburg, Russia. Her recital tours include Europe, South America, Asia, and the USA. What audiences love about Donna is her beautiful sound and her obvious love for playing and music. Her enthusiasm is contagious! Donna combines fun and real learning for unforgettable educational programs. She is the inaugural recipient of the prestigious Doris Leeper Award for Excellence in Arts Education and is a premier artist with the Florida State Touring Program; The New York based Learning Arts; the Southern Artist Registry, and the South Carolina Arts Commission.
Jennifer Coolidge is an arts and non-profit consultant and curator working with artists and non-profit arts and social service organizations. During her 30 years of experience as an arts administrator, Coolidge has served as Director of Development for the University of Florida, College of the Arts raising over 9.5 million during her tenure; Executive Director for the Museum of Florida Art in DeLand, FL; Executive Director of the Florida Alliance for Art Education and in arts education and curatorial positions for the Atlantic Center for the Arts in New Smyrna Beach, FL, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art and The Arts Council in Winston Salem, NC, and others.
After 20 years serving as an elementary music teacher and 11 years as the Arts Specialist for the county, Debbie Fahmie has recently retired from the School District of Osceola County. She serves as Past President of Osceola Phi Delta Kappa, Osceola Arts for a Complete Education, Osceola Arts, Florida Elementary Music Educators Association (FEMEA) and Central Florida Orff Chapter. Debbie is currently serving on the following boards: Florida Music Education Association (FMEA), United Arts, The Education Foundation, Osceola Arts, and the Florida Alliance of Arts Education. She has worked with the Florida Dept. of Education as an evaluator for Florida Arts Model Schools and spent 6 years as a trainer for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. She served on the Performing Fine Arts State Assessment Task Force and as a Division of Cultural Affairs panelist as well as on the United Arts Large Budget Panel. She was the Project Manager for the Start With The Arts Curriculum Writing Team and headed up the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra’s Young People’s Concert Assessment Project. She has provided music workshops in five states and extensively throughout Florida as well as served as an Elementary Music Clinician for All County events throughout the state and for the Chorister’s Guild. She is the Fusion Fest “Diversitastic Choir” Coordinator for the Greater Orlando area. Currently, she is the Music Education Consultant for Live Music Tutor and oversees the curriculum development of the Share the Care Arts Project with Central Florida Community Arts. Debbie has been a part of the Florida Music Education Association’s Conference Planning Committee since 2010. In 2008, her elementary performing group was invited to debut an original work at the Kennedy Center. Debbie also serves on several cultural committees including the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra Education Committee and the Celebration Concert Series Committee. Debbie is an adjunct professor for the University of Central Florida. She has been the Contemporary Choir Director at Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Kissimmee, FL for the past 34 years. Debbie was a state finalist for the 2008 Florida Teacher of the Year. She was named 2008 FMEA Music Educator of the Year and was inducted into the Arts Alive Hall of Fame in 2015. In 2016, she was selected as the recipient of the Florida Music Education Association Leadership Award and in 2018 was awarded the Florida Alliance for Arts Education’s Administrator Award.
Jennifer N. Jones is the President of the Florida Cultural Alliance and has been with Bay Arts Alliance since 2000 and as Executive Director since 2002. After graduating Florida State University School of Music, she held positions in accounting and marketing which eventually led her to a marketing position with Bay Arts Alliance, Bay County Florida’s Local Arts Agency. Since then, she has acquired the responsibilities of programming and marketing for the organization’s performance series, arts in education activities, promoting the efforts of the county’s artists and arts organization and advocating for both the Arts as an industry and in Florida schools. She also serves on the board of Bay Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Panama City, FL. She is married to Bill and they have one daughter, Maggie.
Nancy Puri has over 30 years’ experience in supporting visual arts programming in Florida and 23 years as a teacher and administrator. She is dedicated to the growth and development of both teachers and students in the educational system as well as a supporter of the arts within the community. Currently, Ms. Puri serves as the Senior Coordinator of Visual Arts for Polk County Schools in Lakeland Florida and has previously served as a school based Administrator and visual arts teacher. Ms. Puri has extensive experience in curriculum support and design, professional development in the Fine Arts and for academic courses. Her experience extends to recruitment and hiring of teachers; new and emerging teacher training and programs; on-site support for teachers; development and oversight of District Assessments and visual arts exhibitions’ development and implementation.
- FAEA Board of Directors
-Director of Supervision & Administration Division
-Executive & Finance Committee
-Chair Exhibitions Committee
- NAEA Professional Materials Committee
- Reviewer/Florida Alliance for Arts Education Florida Arts Model Schools
- Board of Directors Art Crawl for Emerging Artists
- National Arts Education Association (NAEA)
- Art Crawl Board of Directors
- Assessment Review & Development, State of Florida Art Subject Area Exam
Christa Whittaker has been a theatre educator for over 25 years. She was the theatre director at Ft. Walton Beach High School in the panhandle for 23 years, and is currently the director of the theatre department at East Ridge High School in Clermont. Ms. Whittaker has an MA in Theatre Education from the University of Northern Colorado, and serves on several boards and committees for the Educational Theatre Association and Florida Thespians. She is thrilled to be the new Executive Director for FATE, having been a past president and an active board member since 2002.Florida Dance Educators Organization (FDEO)
Lori Madl holds a Bachelor of Arts (BA) of Dance from the University of Kansas, Lawrence where she studied under Murial Cohen, Janet Hamburg, Willie Lenior, Jerald Hilding, and Patrick Suseau. Through conferences and workshops she received additional training from Alyce Bochette, Cynthia Arnellias, Gerry Houlihan, and most notably, Catherine Dunham. While earning a Master of Arts (MA) in Arts Administration from Indiana University, Bloomington she was the Associate Instructor (AI) of the African American Dance Company of Indiana University, under the direction of Professor Iris Rosa. Administrative roles have included work at BIG Arts on Sanibel Island and the Lee County Alliance for the Arts, where she was founder of Dance Alliance, a co-op dance company. Currently she puts her administrative skills to work as the Secretary of the Board of the Florida Dance Educator Association (FDEO). Since 2008, Madl choreographed almost 100 dances for the “Calendar Girls” performance troupe for women ages 60+. “Calendar Girls”, along with Madl’s choreography, are featured in a documentary debuting at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival and will be released in theaters across North America. She has performed professionally at Six Flags, St. Louis, with the Prairie Wind Dancers in Lawrence, KS, and has taught in private studios and public schools for over twenty years. Currently, Madl serves as the Dance Director at North Fort Myers Academy for the Arts, a public arts school located in Lee County, FL. Lori Madl is dedicated to dance education throughout the state of Florida and its ability to facilitate learning for all students through arts integration.Florida Music Educators Association (FMEA)
Kathleen D. Sanz received her B.A. and M.A. in Music Education from the University of South Florida, and her Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Colorado. Presently she is the President and CEO of the Center for Fine Arts Education in Tallahassee, Florida. Prior to that Ms. Sanz served as the Supervisor of Curriculum and Instructional Services and Co-Directed the District School Board of Pasco County Curriculum Department from 2007-2011. From 1985-2006 she supervised the Fine Arts at the K-12 level. Her past teaching experience includes 8 years as a music educator at the elementary level. Ms. Sanz has been instrumental throughout her career in curriculum and assessment development and implementation at the district and state level.
Ms. Sanz served as a grant evaluator of U.S. Department of Education “Professional Development in Arts Education” (PDAE) grants for the Hillsborough County, Florida public schools. She also developed and received grants from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs for the Florida Music Educators Association awarded annually from 2011-2016.
Ms. Sanz is Past President of the Southern Division of NAfME, as well as Past President of the Florida Music Educators Association. Ms. Sanz has also served as President of the Florida School Music Association, 2010-2011. Currently, Ms. Sanz is the State Executive of the Florida Music Educators Association.