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COCA Staff and Board

Staff

Kathleen Spehar

Executive Director

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Kathleen oversees all COCA strategic and business initiatives, board development, operations, funding, and programming. She has served the arts in many leadership roles, including director, manager, educator and advocate, in organizations throughout the Midwest, Florida and Japan. Her experience includes the creation of strategic community partnerships, marketing, communications and sales campaigns, community engagement events, project grants and fund development initiatives, and business and administrative operations. She has presented and produced a variety of performances by national and local artists, and managed collaborative projects between the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Kathleen has served in advisory and board capacities for organizations including the New England Foundation for the Arts, Minnesota State Arts Board, Minnesota Theatre Alliance, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and the Arts Leadership Certificate program, University of Minnesota. She has been a leadership fellow with the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and the Shannon Institute. Kathleen holds a bachelor’s degree in music from Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, and a master’s of liberal studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She’s a flautist, enjoys entertaining, and loves to garden and travel.

Erica Thaler

Communications & Marketing Manager

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Erica implements all communications and marketing activities for COCA and for COCA’s constituents. Erica promotes COCA services to the community to increase awareness of arts and cultural events, and to educate and assist local artists, arts businesses, cultural organizations, educational institutions and patrons. Additionally, Erica works individually with arts and cultural organizations, individual artists, and various community organizations to help them better promote their programming and services across the cultural community to residents and visitors to our service area. Formerly a radio executive with more than 20 years of broadcast media sales, integrated marketing, and management experience, Erica expanded her professional skills working in management and on the board of several local non-profit music organizations where she discovered a passion for non-profit work and a commitment to arts advocacy. Erica also worked at WFSU, our local NPR and PBS affiliate, securing corporate underwriting, grants, and event sponsorships. She earned her BA in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Erica enjoys making modern quilts.

Hillary Crawford

Grants Manager

Pronouns: She/her/hers

Hillary manages all aspects of COCA’s grant programs including the Cultural Grant Program, the Cultural Tourism Marketing Grant Program, and the Cultural Facilities Matching Grant Program. She has an extensive background in cultural grants administration and is formerly an arts consultant and statewide local arts agency coordinator with the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs. She has also worked as a gallery director and as the curator at Western Carolina University Fine Art Museum and the Center for Craft. Hillary believes passionately in the ability of the arts to transform individuals and to build strong and healthy communities. Hillary holds a Masters Degree in Arts Administration from Florida State University. Hillary is a member of the Junior League of Tallahassee, working to support basic needs of children and families in Leon County.

Nick Pavlovik

Business Manager

Pronouns: He/him/his

Nick is charged with strengthening and aligning administrative and financial functions with COCA’s core missions of assisting and service. In this role, Nick oversees budget and financial planning, purchasing and contracting, and administrative functions related to personnel.

A Macedonia native, Nick is a Garnet and Gold Scholar that graduated from the Florida State University, College of Business with Bachelor of Science degrees in multinational business, accounting and finance, and Master of Business Administration degree. Nick has over 10 years of accounting and finance experience and has brought to this position a broad range of operation management, finance, accounting, and budgeting experience.

Executive Committee

Dan Taylor

Chair, Seat: Practicing Artist (County)

Current Term: 2018 – 2022

Dan Taylor is a Tallahassee artist best known for his abstract oil paintings featuring bold, striking color palettes. His paintings have become highly sought-after and have been featured regionally at the Tampa Museum of Art and locally with the Council on Culture & Arts, LeMoyne Center for Visual Arts, Venvi Art Gallery, Gadsden Art Center, Hotel Duval and FSU’s Oglesby Art Gallery. He has volunteered countless hours of his time and been generous with his talents to raise funds for organizations and causes he cares about including Tallahassee’s Big Bend Cares, where he serves on the board, and 621 Gallery. Taylor also works in precious metal clay to create unique jewelry designs and he produces large scale garden sculpture in steel, wood, and various other materials.

Dan Taylor has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2018.

Katherine Maiorana

Vice Chair, Seat: At-Large (City)

Current Term: 2020 – 2024

Katherine Maiorana is the SVP of Strategy and Business Development at Sachs Media. As a communications professional with more than 25 years of experience, she is skilled in B2B and corporate marketing communications, strategy, public relations, employee communications, thought leadership, reputation management, and production. Additional corporate and agency experience includes DeVry Education Group; Alinea Group; Ogilvy; Boston Consulting Group; Schwarzkopf USA; NYNEX; and the Florida State Lottery. Katherine received her bachelor’s degree in marketing from Florida State University and her MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. In her free time, Katherine enjoys spending time with family and friends, outdoor activities, reading, cooking, and the arts. An amateur artist, Katherine enjoys sketching and acrylic and oil painting.

Katherine Maiorana has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2020.

Lucia Fishburne

Past Chair, Seat: Marketing (County)

Current Term: 2019-2023

Lucia Fishburne is a life-long advocate for the creative industries in Florida. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Florida Book Awards, administered by Florida State University’s Strozier Library. The Florida Book Awards – the most comprehensive state book awards program in the United States – is an annual competition that recognizes, honors, and celebrates the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture in the previous year. Lucia has also assisted the FSU College of Communication and Information (CCI) as a research associate. Prior to her work at FSU, Lucia directed the Executive Office of the Governor as Florida’s State Film Commissioner where she was responsible for leading the state’s efforts to build, expand and retain the film, TV and digital media entertainment industry sector. She was appointed to that position following ten years of service in the workforce and economic development arena in Florida.

Lucia holds a MS degree from Florida State University in marketing communications and an accreditation in public relations (APR). Spurred by her love of music and performance, Lucia has toured as a professional singer/songwriter throughout the southeast. Highlights of her creative accomplishments include an original composition featured in the Victor Nunez film, “Ruby in Paradise” (the top film at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival), and Composer/Performer/Producer credits for “Algebra TV,” winner of the Milia ’95 international multimedia conference in Cannes, France.

A Florida resident for most of her life, Lucia enjoys being a tourist in her own state whenever she can with special emphasis on enjoying Florida’s unique natural assets, historical sites and creative talent.

Lucia Fishburne has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.

Rachelle McClure

Treasurer, Seat: At-Large (County)

Current Term Ends: 2022

Rachelle has both a business and design background – and believes that art, culture, and good design – have the power to transform communities, power economic development, and shape hearts and minds. She currently works as a designer + strategist at DAG Architects.

Rachelle McClure has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2019.

Nathan Archer

Secretary, At-Large (City)

Current Term: 2021 – 2025

Nathan Archer is a research communicator and editorial cartoonist residing in Tallahassee, Florida. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Nathan received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000, before obtaining a Master of Arts degree in arts administration from Florida State University in 2006.

Having sharpened his communications and marketing skills throughout the non-profit and public sector, he currently works for the Florida Center for Reading Research, disseminating research findings in an effort to promote literacy across the state and region.

A passionate arts and free speech advocate, Nathan uses editorial cartooning to voice his own opinions online and in the pages of the Tallahassee Democrat.

Nathan Archer has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2018.

E. Marie Sissle

At-Large, Seat: At-Large (City)

Current Term: 2020 – 2024

E. Marie Sissle is a native of Tallahassee, FL. and has over 25 years in the entertainment field. She founded Midtown Entertainment Group, Midtown Enrichment Corp, SoMo PlayHouse and SoMo Coalition of the Arts in Tallahassee, Florida. Sissle is proud to be a graduate of Theatre TCC, Florida A&M University where she earned a B.A. in Performance Theatre, and Full Sail University where she earned an M.S. in Entertainment Business. Sissle has created two children’s books, over 10 original plays, one television animated script, and recently completed her first screenplay.

E. Marie Sissle has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2020.

Kristen Summers

At-Large, Seat: At-Large (County)

Current Term: 2020 – 2024

Kristen Summers currently works as an attorney for the Florida Department of Health. When she’s not practicing law, she manages her business as a watercolor artist where she combines her passions for art, birds, and Florida’s unique natural systems.

Kristen graduated from the University of Florida School of Forest Resources and Conservation with a Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Conservation in 2010 and from the Florida State University College of Law in 2014.

Kristen is passionate about the arts, the environment, and fostering community relationships. Kristen believes that art and cultural programs are essential parts of a strong, sustainable, and thriving community. She is excited to continue to support these programs throughout Leon County by serving on the COCA Board of Directors. Kristen also serves on the Board of Directors for Sustainable Tallahassee and volunteers as a big sister with Big Brothers, Big Sisters.

In her free time, Kristen enjoys being in nature, working in her garden, and spending time with her cat and chickens.

Kristen Summers has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2020.

Aynalem Markos

Seat: Finance (City)

Current Term Ends: 2024

Over the past two decades, Aynalem has served at Florida State University (FSU) in various capabilities. As part of a technical support team, she is a contact person to the oversight of budgetary and financial activities of a complex administrative unit. She is responsible for budget formulation, presentation and enactment. She applies regulations, policies, methods, and techniques to manage the unit’s budget and financial activities. She also provides analysis of operating performance, reviews funding requests, and offers recommendations for approval of funding requests. Additionally, she serves as a liaison with internal and external partners to develop and administer the FSU License Plate Marketing. Aynalem is committed to community service and is a member of a variety of different groups including Golden Key International Honor Society and the National Scholars Honor Society. She is also a volunteer with the Guardian ad Litem program and Junior Achievement Big Bend and is a Board member of Catholic Charities of North Florida and the FSU Black Faculty and Staff Network. She serves as Faculty Advisor for Alpha Kappa Delta Phi FSU Chapter and as the FSU United Way Campaign Coordinator.

Aynalem Markos has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2021.

Kati Schardl

Seat: Business/Finance (County)

Current Term: ends 2023

Kati Schardl has been involved in the area cultural community for more than 30 years, both as a participant and as a chronicler. As the former, she performed as a vocalist in local band Cold Water Army, with songstress Jen Kermeen and with Tallahassee bard Pat Puckett. Kati also exhibited artwork and installations and participated in performance art happenings as a member of the SPACE Arts Collective in Railroad Square. As a chronicler, she documented the music and theater scenes for 15 years as an arts and features writer and editor at the Tallahassee Democrat. During her tenure there, Kati was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for a three-week residency to attend a theater-writing workshop in Los Angeles. Kati currently works as an editor for the Senate Bill Drafting Office and freelances for the Democrat and for such publications as Across the Spectrum, The Local Palate and Tallahassee Magazine. Kati is an avid amateur naturalist and birder, loves to travel and believes in the magical and healing properties of artistic expression.

Kati Schardl has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2016.

Board of Directors

Faith Clarke

Seat: Business (City)

Current Term: 2018-2022

Faith Clarke is the founder of the Agricultural and Environmental Development Institute (AEDI). For more than 20 years, Faith provided training, conducted research, developed youth leadership programs and administered federal and international projects in agriculture; environmental management; business development; food safety and tourism. Prior to AEDI, she worked with the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. In addition to COCA, Faith serves as a volunteer with the American Red Cross and chairs the Tallahassee Chapter of the National Women in Agriculture Association.

Faith Clarke has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.

Amanda Clements

Seat: Tourism (County)

Current Term: 2021 – 2025

Amanda Clements is a native Tallahasseean and graduate of Florida State University. She currently serves as the Director of Strategic Communications at Tallahassee Community College where she is responsible for College-wide communications, media relations, and community relations. Her career has included positions at Cumulus Broadcasting, VISIT FLORIDA, United Way of the Big Bend, and Coton Colors. She is a graduate of Leadership Tallahassee and a past president of the Junior League of Tallahassee. Amanda and her husband, Bruce McCullough, live in Waverly Hills with their two children.

Amanda Clements has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2021.

Haiqiong Deng

Seat: History & Heritage (City)

Current Term: 2021 – 2025

Haiqiong Deng is a master player of the 21-string Chinese zheng. She has performed throughout North America and premiered dozens of new compositions by American composers. Haiqiong has also explored diverse world music traditions, including her decade-long learning with master Indian sitarist, Nalini Vinayak.

As a cultural bearer and ambassador, Haiqiong has received many awards including: the 2021-2022 Florida Specific Cultural Project Grant, 2017 Florida Cultural Heritage Award, 2012 the Master Artist of the Florida Folklife Apprenticeship Award, and the Outstanding Performance Prize at the 1995 Chinese National Zheng Competition in Shanghai.

Haiqiong received her Bachelor of Music in guzheng Performance from the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, Master of Arts in Arts Administration and Ethnomusicology, and Ph.D. in Musicology from the Florida State University. Haiqiong taught at Florida State University, University of South Florida, and Tallahassee Community College. She also directed the FSU Chinese Music Ensemble for seventeen years. In 2020, Haiqiong founded the Mindful Plucking Music Academy to provide a live and virtual platform to cultivate mindful listening, nurture cultural understanding, and contribute to human wellbeing to people from all over the world.

Haiqiong Deng has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2021.

April Fitzpatrick

Seat: Practicing Artist (City)

Current Term: 2021 – 2025

April Fitzpatrick is a registered art therapist, mixed media visual artist, and CCO of Pineapples with Purpose, LLC, a mental health organization that introduces art therapy to communities impacted by race-based traumatic stress. Her artistry marries contemporary abstraction with experimental narrative to produce paintings and collages that capture the layered realities of Blackness, racial trauma, and oppression. Fitzpatrick’s principle purpose is helping individuals uncover, assess, and externalize challenges that affect their wellbeing.

 

Fitzpatrick’s current project, The Pineapple Metaphor: Expanding the Narrative, explores the use of art, art therapy and symbolism to regenerate communities. Her work has been featured in Black Minds Mag: Issue 2 and ART4EQUALITY x LIFE, LIBERTY, PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS Exhibition Catalog. April has exhibited her work in over 10 cities with one being a group exhibition in Tribeca, New York which was featured in Forbes magazine and a bus station ad of her work in Miami. Currently, April manages an art therapy program in Tallahassee and is committed to using art to create a sense of place for members of the local community. April believes that in order to turn pain into purpose, you must “Make Room for Your Crown!”

April Fitzpatrick has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2021.

Beth Keating

Seat: Volunteer (County)

Current Term: ends 2023

Beth Keating is a shareholder in the Gunster Law Firm’s Tallahassee office. Beth’s practice is focused on federal and state regulatory law, particularly as such regulation is applied to utility companies. Beth’s experience includes the legal representation of and policy consultation for competitive telecommunications, cable and technology companies, as well as electric and natural gas utilities before state and federal agencies and the Florida Legislature.

A native of Mississippi, Beth came to Tallahassee for law school and decided to make the Capital City home. A long-time board member of the Foundation for Leon County Schools and a member of Leadership Tallahassee Class #37, she firmly believes in the importance of community engagement. As a music lover (and former radio DJ), she’s also a firm believer in the beneficial impact the creative arts can have on individuals and the community as a whole.

Beth Keating has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2021.

Paul Lewis, Jr.

Seat: History & Heritage (County)

Current Term: 2019 – 2023

A 1973 graduate of the University of West Florida, Paul Lewis’ areas of study included philosophy, psychology and art. He did postgraduate study at both Duke and Northwestern Universities. Lewis moved to Tallahassee in 1995 after assuming the Director of Regulatory Affairs position with Duke Energy Florida. His career with Florida Power Corporation and Duke Energy spans nearly 40 years though he retired from the corporate world in 2014. Lewis has served with multiple community service organizations including as the President of the Mary Brogan Museum of Arts and Science in Tallahassee. His legacy project was establishing and serving as the founding president and board chairman of the Main Street Winter Garden project. Among other efforts to bring redevelopment and revitalization to the historic downtown district, he assisted in creating a community redevelopment taxing authority that began a funding mechanism for future redevelopment.

Paul Lewis, Jr. has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2019.

Ex Officio Members

Jeremy Matlow

City of Tallahassee

Raised on Tallahassee’s south side with a passion for the public good, Mayor Pro Tem Jeremy Matlow believes that citizens and neighborhoods should drive the priorities of City Hall. By bringing more people into the political process and advocating for the concerns of everyday people, Jeremy is committed to building a city that works for everyone through dedicated public service

Jeremy helped lead the revitalization of Gaines Street and the All Saints District as President of the Gaines Street Community Association. He is the co-founder of Gaines Street Pies, a successful business he and a partner built from the ground up into an enterprise with 85 employees right here in Tallahassee. Jeremy was also appointed by the Mayor’s Office to serve on the Municipal Code Enforcement Board.

Jeremy lives with his wife Sarah and two sons, Declan and Ethan. He was elected to the office of City Commissioner in 2018.

In addition to sitting on the CRA and Blueprint Intergovernmental Agency, Commissioner Matlow serves as Chair of the Capital Regional Transportation Planning Agency and a member of the Downtown Improvement Authority.

Jeremy Matlow’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2019.

Kristin Dozier

Leon County

First elected to the Commission in November 2010, Kristin is serving her third term as a Leon County Commissioner representing District 5. In 2013, she was selected by her fellow Commissioners to serve as Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners for 2013-14.

Prior to her election, Kristin spent eleven years at Mad Dog Construction holding numerous positions including Green Building Advisor and Vice President.

 

Kristin holds an Associate’s degree from Tallahassee Community College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion and a Master’s degree in Religious Ethics and Philosophy, both from Florida State University (FSU). She completed coursework in a Ph.D. program focused on Comparative Religious Ethics, Catholic Moral Theology, and Human Rights Ethics. For three and a half years, she also taught an undergraduate course in Religious Ethics at FSU.

Kristin Dozier’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2019.

Donmetrie Clark

Tallahassee Community College

Born in Miami, Florida, Donmetrie Clark attended Florida A&M University, and earned both a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education in English Education, with additional coursework in Educational Leadership. After graduating from FAMU, he taught high school English for two years, and later accepted adjunct positions at FAMU and TCC in what was Academic Support (now Transitional Studies). In 2001, he was hired full-time in the Communications and Humanities division, which houses courses in English, Speech, Foreign Language, Fine and Performing Arts (studio art, music, theatre), Humanities, Art History, Religion, and Philosophy. Also housed in the division are the state and national champion Forensics Speech and Debate Team and an outstanding theater program, Theatre TCC! that produces three major productions annually. The Division supports the Ralph Hurst Gallery, and the TCC Fine Art Gallery, which annually features nine different shows, including local artists, faculty, and student exhibits.

Currently in his 20th year at TCC, he has taught composition, children’s literature, American literature, African-American literature, college success, and developmental reading and writing. In 2016, he accepted the position of Associate Dean for the Communications and Humanities division, and he was appointed Dean of Communications and Humanities on July 1, 2021. For the last 16 years, he has also served as a reader, table leader, and question leader for the Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition examination.

Donmetrie Clark’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2021.

Kimberly K Harding

Florida A&M University

Kimberly K Harding received her BA degree in drama from Spelman College, and earned her MFA degree in the area of Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College. For several years she toured professionally as a stage manager and has two Off-Broadway credits to date. In New York City she worked in administrative and production capacities for The Acting Company, Manhattan Theater Club, Negro Ensemble Company, and Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Currently, Harding is employed at Florida A&M University where she is an Associate Professor of Theatre. Harding left New York to pursue a desire to work in theatre education at her alma mater, Spelman College.

In addition to her teaching load she serves the theatre program as the Ticket Sales & Services Manager, Educational ArtReach Coordinator, Director of Marketing and as the theatre’s Sound Designer. Harding has two published articles to her credit on the lives and works of theatre artists Micki Grant and Vinnette Caroll, both which appear in African American Playwrights: A Sourcebook (2004). In 2008 she was the project manager and an editor for the National Black Arts Festival’s 20th Anniversary commemorative book, a summer festival for which she stage managed events during its first twenty years.
As a leisure pursuit she enjoys creative writing and has written several family/youth theatrical works that have been produced by the Essential Theatre and the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre. Currently she is working on her first full-length play, Between Goodbye and Hello which had its first public reading at the Black Theatre Network Conference in Atlanta, GA.

Kimberly K Harding’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2016.

Calla MacNamara

Florida State University

As a Tallahassee native, Calla MacNamara is genuinely passionate about developing and supporting the arts throughout her community. In her role as the Education & Engagement Manager at Opening Nights at FSU, MacNamara focuses on community engagement, expanding arts education programming, and creating professional development opportunities for the community.

MacNamara also serves on the Board of Directors for Southern Shakespeare Company. As a Knight Creative Communities Institute Catalyst for the 2019 class, she helped turn the stormwater pond behind Railroad Square into a place where people of all ages can engage creatively with musical elements.

She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Theatre Studies but has finally become a proud Seminole during her employment at FSU.

Calla MacNamara’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2016.

Heather Thomas

Leon County Schools

Heather Thomas is a former high school English teacher, and was the Executive Editor at Tallahassee Woman Magazine for 14 years before becoming the Marketing Coordinator for Leon County Schools. Heather is a longtime board member and a past-Chair of the Foundation for Leon County Schools and a current Board member for 211 of the Big Bend. She is a former, founding board member for Girls on the Run of the Big Bend and is a Leadership Tallahassee Class 36 graduate. She is married to Gerry Thomas and they have two children—Grace (16) and Cooper (13).

Heather Thomas’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2020.

Michelle Personette

Tourism Development Council

Michelle Personette is an executive and communications professional specializing in the education, entertainment, and tourism industries. She received her B.A. in English from Florida Gulf Coast University and her M.A. in communication with a concentration in advertising and public relations from the University of Central Florida. Michelle has worked on campaigns and promotions for the Florida Everblades, Florida Gulf Coast University, Universal Studios, Holiday Inn Family Suites, and the Challenger Learning Center of Tallahassee.

As the first marketing and communications manager at the Challenger Learning Center, Michelle was responsible for planning and executing the pre-opening promotions, marketing, group sales and fundraising efforts of the center. In 2005, Michelle was promoted to the Executive Director of the Challenger Learning Center and oversaw all aspects of the center’s daily operations, budgeting, marketing, grant writing, personnel management, project management, contract negotiation, and fundraising. While in this role, she had the opportunity to work on communications campaigns for both documentary and commercial films with over a dozen film distributors.

For the last several years, Michelle has found great pleasure in sharing her business and communications experience with undergraduate students as an adjunct professor at Flagler College. 

Michelle Personette’s term on the COCA Board of Directors began in 2022.