The Foundation Staff
Christa Blatchford, Chief Executive Officer for the Joan Mitchell Foundation, directs the vision of the Foundation with the Board of Directors, and oversees the programming, administration, and operations of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s New York City headquarters and the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans, LA. Christa previously served as the Foundation’s Artist Support Director, and then Deputy Director, overseeing national programs including the inaugural years of the CALL Program.
A visual artist herself, Christa has been dedicated to the support of visual artists throughout her career. Before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Christa spent three years as a Program Officer at the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA), working to provide a variety of professional development opportunities for artists. She has also worked with a range of non-profit visual arts organizations including Minetta Brook and Eyebeam. At Minetta Brook she worked on critically acclaimed programs such as Robert Smithson’s Floating Island to Travel Around Manhattan Island. Christa Blatchford received her Masters degree in Fine Arts from Hunter College in 2005, taught at Hunter’s Undergraduate Art Department, and has shown her artwork throughout New England. Christa resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.
As Director of Facilities, Derrick Biney-Amissah coordinates technology deployment and ensures that the Foundation's various facilities are able to support its programs, functions and mission. He studied philosophy and fine art at Georgetown University and received an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Working in academic administration and on various capital projects for more than a decade at Pratt Institute's Media Arts Department and New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, he developed a strong interest in organizational design, applied technology, and the power of creative collaborations to affect institutions and society. He has served on the Church Council at the Riverside Church in New York, where he has been a longtime member, and is a mentor with the Moriah Institute. While it amuses him to write about himself in the third person, he would like it to be known that, among many other things, he enjoys cycling, soccer, art, design and his colleagues.
Aimee Solomon is the Senior Director of Finance of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and a member of the senior management team. Aimee is accountable for the financial, and risk management operations of the Foundation, which includes the development of a financial and operational strategy, metrics tied to that strategy, and the ongoing development and monitoring of control systems designed to preserve company assets and report accurate financial results. Additionally, Aimee oversees the Human Resource function of the Foundation.
Before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Aimee spent 5 years as an auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers, LLP in the Entertainment division. Aimee then left PwC to work as the Accounting Manager and then Director of Accounting and Financial Reporting at Sonar Entertainment. Additionally, Aimee then spent 2 years working exclusively with nonprofit organizations fulfilling financial needs at various clients as their part-time Controller. Aimee received her Bachelors of Science, Accounting degree from Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she currently resides.
As Senior Director of Artist Programs, Kay Takeda oversees the Foundation’s diverse roster of artist-centered initiatives, including its grants, residencies, and professional development programs. As part of the senior leadership team, she spearheads the Foundation’s activity to refine the focus and enhance the impact of program offerings as an essential facet of Mitchell’s legacy.
Takeda has worked for over 20 years to advance artists and the arts sector. In her previous role as Vice President, Grants & Services at LMCC, she developed and oversaw grantmaking, professional development programs, and community initiatives. She designed and guided the implementation of LMCC’s $5 million Downtown Cultural Grants Initiative, oversaw the long-standing Manhattan Arts Grants, and led a renewed focus on professional development programs for artists and organizations. Prior to joining LMCC, Takeda led national grantmaking programs at Arts International and managed exhibitions and programming at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art at Snug Harbor. She has served on the boards of the artist-run Goliath Visual Space and Tickle the Sleeping Giant, Inc./Trajal Harrell, has sat on numerous funding panels, and lectures widely on professional issues affecting artists.
A graphic designer and artist, Melissa began her work for the Foundation as a consultant, and came on as staff in 2012. As the Design & Media Manger, she oversees the Foundation’s websites and visual media projects, and works collaboratively with the Communications Manager on communications projects and strategy. Melissa holds a BA in Photography from St. Mary’s College of Maryland, a MFA in Printmedia from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and is proud to count Joan Mitchell as a fellow alumna.
Melissa has long worked with non-profits and progressive causes as a former freelancer and designer for Revolution Messaging, where she completed work for clients such as ACLU, Amnesty International, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, MoveOn.org, and Planned Parenthood. Melissa has additionally worked as an arts educator, and has taught graphic arts, printmaking, and photography to high school, college and adult students.
As Controller, Melissa McBride Elmasian monitors and confirms the financial condition of the Foundation. Melissa is responsible for the production of monthly financial statements, maintenance of the accounting records, comprehensive budgeting and ensuring the Foundation results comply with generally accepted accounting principles.
Melissa earned a MS in Business Administration and Finance from Salve Regina University while becoming a CPA. She started her career in public accounting before moving into the private sector as the CFO of a national newspaper chain where she worked for 15 years. Melissa subsequently shifted to a nonprofit accounting outsourcing service for 2 years before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation.
As Communications Manager, Jenny Gill works collaboratively with all staff to plan and implement communications projects that support the mission, vision, and values of the Foundation. Previously, she was Director of Communications at Creative Capital, where she spent seven years developing artist-centered communications strategies and content. Jenny has held positions with a range of other arts organizations and galleries, including the American Craft Council, Sewanee: the University of the South, Joan B. Mirviss Ltd., and Vanderbilt University’s Fine Arts Gallery.
Using the other side of her brain, Jenny also worked for many years as a letterpress designer/printer at the historic Hatch Show Print, studied at the International Workshop for Ceramic Art in Tokoname, Japan, and was an artist assistant for Nashville sculptor Alan LeQuire. She holds a BA in art and art history from Vanderbilt University, where she was awarded the Hamblet Award for studio art, and an MA from Bard Graduate Center in Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture. She and her family split their time between Brooklyn and Livingston Manor, a small town in the Western Catskills where she bases her ceramic studio practice.
Bio coming soon.
Janice Teran is the Administrative Associate at the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, she was a full-time student at Rutgers University where she earned a BA in Art History. Janice oversees the maintenance and use of the Foundation's home office, in addition to performing various administrative and office support activities for multiple departments, and provides direct administrative support to the senior management team.
Artist Support Department
Shervone Neckles-Ortiz manages the New York City and national programs for both the Creating a Living Legacy (CALL) Program and Professional Development Program. Before joining the Foundation, Neckles-Ortiz worked as an Art Education consultant and Adjunct Professor for Pratt Institute and other leading NYC art institutions and organizations. For several years, Neckles-Ortiz served her Brooklyn community as a high school teacher in the NYC Department of Education before moving into roles as a Department Chair and contributor to the Arts Achieve: Investing in Innovation (i3) Grant Program.
As an interdisciplinary artist Neckles-Ortiz has held residencies at the Youlou Arts Foundation, the Elizabeth Foundation SHIFT Program, the Center for Book Arts, The Fabric Workshop & Museum, and The Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Previous awards include grants from Queens Arts Fund, The Puffin Foundation, Joan Mitchell Foundation, as well as fellowships from Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and Manhattan Graphic Center. Her work has been shown worldwide in both solo and group exhibitions. Her practice also has included curatorial projects with Pratt Center for Community Development and Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and at the Ice Box Gallery in Philadelphia. She’s earned an M.A. from Teacher’s College, Columbia University, MFA from Queens College and BFA from the College of New Rochelle. Her work can be seen at www.shervoneneckles.com.
As the Artist Programs Manager focused on Young Artist Initiatives, José Ortiz runs a mentorship and portfolio development program for participants age 12 to 25. He holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts, NYC, and is a painter, multi-media artist and arts educator, committed to connecting art with our everyday world. In addition to exhibiting his work both regionally and internationally, he has curated visual art shows, designed sets for dance performances and was a key collaborator on several large-scale multi-media installation projects at the Bronx Museum of the Arts and The Point, CDC. As an art educator, José has worked for The Children’s Art Carnival, Henry Street Settlement, Romare Bearden Foundation, The Anyone Can Fly Foundation and other national and international arts organizations.
As the Artist Programs Manager, Grants, Lilia serves as the first point of contact for artists around all artist programs, supports the Artist Centered Program Department, and oversees the logistics of the Foundation's grant programs. Prior to joining the Foundation, Lilia spent three years as a Program Officer at a private family foundation focused on child welfare, where she managed that foundation’s grant programs, including programs in many art disciplines. She holds a BA in Art History and Anthropology from New York University and while she is not a skilled artist herself, in her free time she enjoys knitting, baking, traveling, and reading, and is always looking for new and exciting experiences. She is also a passionate supporter of animal rescue shelters, and dreams of one day owning a farm so she can rescue all the dogs.
As Director of Archives and Research, Laura Morris oversees the Foundation’s archival and artwork collections and facilitates access to these collections for scholars, curators, students, and others with an interest in Mitchell’s life and work. She manages Mitchell-related research projects and fellowship programs at the Foundation, and provides research and logistical support to exhibitions, publications, and educational projects internationally.
A Tennessee native, Laura earned a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Virginia, where she was an Echols Scholar. She spent a year abroad in France as an undergraduate, and later returned to Aix-en-Provence to live and paint. Laura holds a master’s degree in Library Science, with an Archives Management concentration, as well as an MA in History, from Simmons College. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2012, Laura worked as an Archivist for the Harvard Art Museums, the Harvard Business School Historical Collections, the Harvard University Archives, and the New York Public Library / Manuscripts Division.
As the Assistant Archivist, Courtney Lynch processes archival collections and oversees copyright permissions for Mitchell’s artwork. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2017, Courtney held positions at Burlington City Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Additionally, she has worked on projects at the Museum of the City of New York and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Courtney holds a Master's degree in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts at NYU, where she authored a Master's thesis on the anomalous WWI-era sculptures of Paul Klee, as well as a Master's in Information and Library Science from Pratt Institute. Her interests include the study and creation of works on paper, organizing things, and telling dogs how good they are.
As Collection Manager, Heather Roach ensures the care and stewardship of the Joan Mitchell Foundation’s art collection. Her responsibilities include managing outgoing loans, conservation initiatives, storage, inventory, and documentation. Before joining the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Heather worked as the Registrar of Richard Gray Gallery, the Collection Manager for the Department of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago, and Associate Registrar for Collections at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. She holds a Master of Arts in art history from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné
As the Project Director for the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné, Suzi is responsible for overseeing the Catalogue Raisonné project, identifying necessary areas of research, overseeing the team of researchers, developing a timeline and budget for the project, and will manage the eventual production and publication of the multi-volume book. Prior to beginning her research on Mitchell, Suzi was the Editor and Project Manager for the Hans Hofmann Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, and has served as the Director of Membership for the Catalogue Raisonné Scholars Association since 2013. She has also worked with contemporary artists, including painter Terry Winters, at Matthew Marks Gallery in New York, and at the intaglio etching studio Paulson Press in California. She received a BA in art history from Northwestern University and MA from New York University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two sons, and cat.
As Researcher for the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné, Marley Lewis is responsible for provenance research and image coordination. Previously, Marley was Research Associate for the Agnes Martin Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, a Collection Manager for a private estate and has held positions in the Department of Photography at the Museum of Modern Art and in the Post-War and Contemporary Art department at Christie’s in New York.
Marley currently serves on the Athena Leadership Council at the Athena Center for Leadership Studies at Barnard College and has previously served on the board of the Ojai Music Festival. She is a member of the Artemis Council at the New Museum and the Brooklyn Museum Chairman's Circle.
Marley holds an MA in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies from Columbia University and a BA in Art History and Political Science from Barnard College.
At the Joan Mitchell Catalogue Raisonné, Alexandra Tagami performs research focused on exhibitions and bibliographic materials pertaining to Mitchell’s work. Prior to joining the Catalogue Raisonné, Alex worked at Driscoll Babcock Galleries (established 1852) in Chelsea, where she led the gallery's research program for five years. During her time at Driscoll Babcock, Alex researched the exhibitions and publications record of John Frederick Kensett for the gallery's forthcoming Catalogue Raisonné on the artist. Alex has served as lead researcher on several gallery and museum publications, including Charting New Waters: Redefining Marine Painting, Masterworks from the Burrichter/Kierlin Collection (Minnesota Marine Art Museum, 2013), which was awarded an Honorable Mention in the 2014 American Alliance of Museums Publications Competition. Previously, Alex worked in the art department of The Atlantic, where she researched and commissioned editorial photographers and illustrators for the magazine. Alex received a BA in art history from the University of Virginia, where she graduated with distinction for her thesis on the paintings of Ad Reinhardt.
Joan Mitchell Center on Bayou Road, New Orleans, LA
Silvia Chamale is the Joan Mitchell Center’s Housekeeper and Hospitality Associate. Born in Guatemala, she has lived in New Orleans for 15 years. Silvia is the mother of three and has been working as a housekeeper for 10 years. She’s worked in restaurants as a waitress and making desserts. Silvia used to work at the House on Bayou Road Bed & Breakfast and has been with the Center since February of 2013.
Steffani Clemons works as the Artist Centered Program Manager at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. Previously she worked in Local Programs at the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network, where she managed the day-to-day aspects of the program’s capacity building efforts for artists and cultural workers. She has 10 years experience working in artist engagement, which she started at Kentuck Art Museum and Festival, in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. There she worked closely with Southern folk, craft, and outsider artists and served on the festival’s steering committee. She has advocated for Louisiana state artists at Americans for the Arts’ Arts Advocacy Day in Washington D.C., and served as a panelist for the Arts Council New Orleans and the Ana & Adeline Foundation. As a facilitator, she leads peer-to-peer conversations for artist including NPN/VAN’s Arts In Motion Workshop, most recently for South Art’s Performance Arts Exchange. She participated with Arts Align, a local advocacy group of art leaders and served on the host committee for the National Fiscal Sponsorship Conference in New Orleans. In 2016, she participated in the Urban Bush Women’s Summer Leadership Initiative. When she is not assisting artists, Steffani enjoys spending time crafting jewelry and making ceramics.
Frank Gleber brings a wide range of experience to his position as the Joan Mitchell Center’s Hospitality Manager. Over the past 8 years, he worked first as a travelling Inn-Sitter and then as an Innkeeper in bed and breakfasts both in Florida and Louisiana. As a boy, Frank often worked in the kitchen with his French mother preparing the family meals so it is little wonder that he has been either head cook, owner/operator, manager, or some combination of those roles for several Louisiana restaurants and is known among the staff and residency artists at the Center for his delicious home-style cooking. If that were not enough, Frank has likewise been a floral arranger, the owner/operator of a daylily nursery, a wedding cake catering service, and a dairy farmer for 28 years, first in his family’s business and then on his own.
As the Digital Media Lab Assistant, Dave Greber manages the Center’s media lab, provide the Joan Mitchell Center's Artists-in-Residence with technical support in the utilization of the Center’s media equipment and design software as well as related technical advice and assistance.
Greber is an installation artist who offers a mystic reading of contemporary, capitalist society using video and sculpture. He began exhibiting artwork as a member of New Orleans-based collective, The Front, and since has been featured in Crystal Bridges’ State of the Art, Lorna Mills’ Ways of Something (Dreamlands, Whitney Museum of American Art), C24 Gallery’s Double Crescent, and solo exhibits with the Arthur Roger Gallery in New Orleans. In the past few years, his artistic identity has expanded to that of a secular pilgrim on the Appalachian Trail, a metaphysical healer in Taos, NM, a brewer of wild-foraged beverages in Norway, and as the AV Manager of the Prospect.4 Triennial. Most recently, he completed studio residencies at the NCCA in St. Petersburg, Russia and Narva Kunstiresidentuur, Estonia. He currently has a 52 Channel synchronized video, commissioned by MTA Arts & Design, exhibiting in the Fulton Center transportation hub in Lower Manhattan.
As the Joan Mitchell Center Studio Assistant, Jones works closely with the Joan Mitchell Center’s programs team to stock and maintain the Center’s studio facility, provide the Artists-in-Residence with general technical assistance and assists in addressing artists’ practice-related needs while in residency.
Jones is a practicing artist, arts educator, and community organizer currently living in New Orleans, LA. He holds an MFA from Tulane University (2016) and a BFA from Indiana University (2014). Jones’ visual art has been shown in galleries across the nation, and he has given public lectures at Newcomb Art Museum, New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, Tulane University, and Notre Dame University.
Veronique Le Melle is serving as Interim Director of the Joan Mitchell Center, effective January 2019 for a period of 7-8 months. Veronique is a seasoned arts professional with extensive experience in executive management, advocacy and programming. She is currently an independent arts consultant, having most recently served as Executive Director of ArtPace in San Antonio. She has held leadership roles at organizations including The Boston Center for the Arts, Louisiana Division of the Arts, Cultural Affairs & Tourism for Queens Borough President's office and Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
Sandy Thornburg serves as the Joan Mitchell Center’s Weekend Property Coordinator and is here to help ensure a smooth flow of the Center’s operation from weekday through weekend. Weekdays, Sandy teaches in the primary grades at a local school. She loves being part of the Joan Mitchell Center team and is happy to help our artist residents have a successful stay at the Center.