About Our Board of Directors
Kayla French, President
Kayla French is a poet and enthusiastic consumer of the arts. She also teaches Language Arts to young humans at Parishville-Hopkinton CSD. Kayla has lived in the NoCo since 2000 and is happily raising her two boys, dog, and 40,000 bees here.
Jim Murray, Vice President
Jim was born in Potsdam and has lived here most of his life. After discharge from the US Navy, he married and raised two children in Potsdam. He continued his education by receiving a Master’s degree in social work and worked at the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center Children & Youth Services as a clinical social worker for 20 years, retiring in 2000. He has always loved to draw and paint and chose to become serious with his skills following retirement. He has been a board member of SLC Arts since January 2020 and is thrilled to be a part of the organization’s growth in his hometown.
David Crowell, Treasurer
David Crowell is a painter and actor based in Canton, NY. He specializes in plein air watercolor painting of North Country scenes and topics. He has also been an active performer with the Grasse River Players since 2010. He has been on the board of directors for SLC Arts since 2016. His skill and interest in the arts allow him to bring to light some of the needs of amateur and professional local artists to the arts council, plus he has experience with an art retail business of his own.
By day, Dave is an Assistant Director for SLC Youth Advocate Program, supporting at risk youth and their families.
Kathleen Mahoney, Secretary
Kathleen Mahoney is originally from Long Island and had a 10-year career as an art director in and around NYC. Kathleen moved with her family to the North Country in 2013, after earning her MFA in Digital Art from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She has taught graphic design and interactive installation art at SUNY Canton and is currently the Program Director of Graphic Design and New Media at SUNY Potsdam. Her work has been shown in NYC, Belgium, and Spain with her most recent show on display now at the State of the Art Gallery in Ithaca, NY.
John Berbrich was born & raised on Long Island. He has lived for nearly 30 years in Russell, New York. He has worked many jobs, the most recent as an obscure paperwork drudge in a gloomy government office building. He has been a bassist & vocalist for several experimental rock bands. In 1997, John co-founded BoneWorld Publishing & MuscleHead Press with his wife Nancey. In April, 2007, he co-founded St. Lawrence Area Poets (SLAP). John has been a Radio DJ at WTSC, 91.1 FM at Clarkson University (currently on pandemic-hiatus). In January 2020, John was voted into the Board of the St. Lawrence County Arts Council. This has been a wonderful experience for him, opening many new doors. Lately people refer to John as “Exotic John”. He likes this.
Lisa Deshnaw is a high school art teacher working for the Massena Central School District. She grew up in the Potsdam area and went to SUNY Potsdam for Art Education. She also did her graduate degree in Curriculum and Instruction at SUNY Potsdam with a concentration in Visual Arts & Stoneware Ceramics. Currently, she is involved with the North Country Art Teachers Association and coaches Varsity Cheerleading at Massena. Lisa enjoys learning and teaching art techniques, as well as working with adolescents and helping them discover their passions in the arts. Ceramics became a way she could challenge herself, and Lisa finds something about working with clay that is very meditative. She thinks Potsdam has always had an amazing arts community and she hopes to foster that for the youth of the community as well.
Robert K. Docker, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of string music education at the Crane School of Music and serves as President of the Crane Faculty Association and member of the SUNY Potsdam Faculty Senate Executive Council. He has previously taught at the University of Arkansas, Penn State and UNC-Greensboro. Prior to his university teaching career, he taught orchestra for a decade in high-poverty urban schools in North Carolina and Virginia. He is a cellist with the Orchestra of Northern New York and the Carriage House String Quartet. He lives with his wife Cathe in Norwood where they’re working to restore a great old Victorian home and garden.
Larissa Fawkner is a corporate social responsibility & stakeholder engagement professional and has held private and nonprofit leadership positions in Boston, New York City, and Washington, DC. She works with social impact organizations that strengthen their communities through arts, STEMM, entrepreneurship, and economic development initiatives. Larissa has worked in diverse roles in museums, national parks, and botanical gardens. She looks forward to assisting the SLC Arts Council in strengthening its support and financial resilience as the organization expands its mission cultivate art appreciation and inspire creative expression.
Jared is a former personal trainer turned finance guru. He enjoys being a local business owner/entrepreneur. He has served in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard since 2016. He holds degrees in Community Health with a minor in Nutrition from SUNY Potsdam and has since acquired investment licenses including the series 7 and 66 as well as Life/Accident/Health and Property/Casualty insurance licenses. He is also currently enrolled in a program to attain the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) designation and is a licensed New York State Home Inspector. Jared is a north country native who has returned home, and is passionate about helping to build our community and create more opportunities for local residents to enjoy. He lives in Massena with his wife Stacey and his English Bulldog Chip. He enjoys working out and playing hockey along with being a Boston Bruins fan.
Megan Riedl is a lifelong lover of the arts and is proud to serve on the board of directors. She is a graduate of SUNY Potsdam and is the Director of Student Accessibility Services at SUNY Canton.
Josh Vink is a faculty member in The Department of Theatre and Dance at SUNY Potsdam. He teaches courses in Arts Management and Theatre, the former of which he helped to spearhead a new program for at the college in 2018. He began his career in New York City where he worked for fifteen years as an arts administrator, educator and artist. As founding director of education at Peoples Theatre Project in Washington Heights, NYC, he brought project-based initiatives in multiple artistic disciplines to schools, community centers, and the public, serving predominantly low income and immigrant communities. As a teaching artist and professional development facilitator for Lincoln Center Institute and The Dreamyard Project, he trained teachers and taught students at a diverse array of colleges and public schools.
Josh is excited to join the board of directors because he appreciate how through its multiple arts programs and partnerships with local businesses and municipalities, the St. Lawrence County Arts Council contributes to the overall development of the community of Potsdam. In particular, he sees the key role the council has in supporting ongoing revitalization efforts, and using the arts and culture to improve the attractiveness and strengthen the economic and social fabric of the North Country.