SMAC Board of Directors
Term expires 12/2020
John White of Ortonville is a photographer, retired journalist, and writer. He has served on many boards, including CURE, Chippewa County Historical Society, Entrepreneurial Assistance Network, Pioneer Public TV board, and the Upper MN Valley RDC’s tourism board, to name a few.
Georgette Jones of Watson teaches English at Lac qui Parle Valley High School, where she is also the fall play director and a speech coach. She was a founding member of the Montevideo Music Boosters and is a board member for Lac qui Parle Players. She has also been involved with the Marshall Area Stage Company as an actor and director.
Anna is a fiber artist who invented the concept of using 3D glasses and certain colors of fabrics to create 3D quilts and wall hangings. Her work has been featured in many exhibits, including four solo shows. Anna has been a teacher for 42 years and started the art program at the Alternative Learning Center in Windom. Anna says becoming a SMAC board member will be an exciting, new experience where she can expand her horizons, meet new people, help people, and gain new perspectives. She has had experience applying for, and receiving, a SMAC grant to take her ALC students on a field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, after which they held a community art show. She says, “I remember the excitement of it all and want to help others as I was, to give my students new experiences and culture.”
Kristen is a musician, actor, and writer. In the past year since returning to Jackson, she has spent time volunteering for various community projects and organizations, especially at Jackson Center for the Arts. She is a freelance organist/pianist/vocalist for many area churches and enjoys connecting with people of all ages. She says she has a “desire to see a larger presence of the arts in Jackson County” and is “not afraid to reach out to artists and organizations who could benefit from working with SMAC.”
Term Expires 12/2022
Cherri is the Production Coordinator at the Willmar Community Theatre/The Barn Theatre and is an arts advocate and supporter. She has served on grant review panels for SMAC for many years, attended many MN Arts Advocacy days at the capitol in St. Paul, communicated information about our grants to her communities, supported many annual SMAC fundraisers and attended many arts events hosted by SMAC. When asked why she was interested in serving on the board, Cherri said “working at the theatre gives me the opportunity to continue to raise awareness, opportunity and support of the arts bringing balance and harmony to a community in many aspects. The SMAC board and its staff have been tremendous in educating and supporting me, the theatre and all of our region. I find serving on panels provides an opportunity for me to give back to this organization and to grow, support, mentor and learn with veterans and first time panelists, through the grant applications and discussions.”
Lac qui Parle
Lauren K. Carlson
Term Expires 12/22
Lauren is a poet and writer, mother and wife living in rural Dawson Minnesota with her husband and three school-age sons. Her chapbook Animals I Have Killed won Comstock Review’s 2018 chapbook contest. She has received financial support for her writing from the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council, Artplace America, the Collegeville Institute, the Loft Literary Center, Sewanee Writers’ Conference and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for writers. For more see www.laurenkcarlson.com. When asked why she was interested in serving on the SMAC board she said, “As someone who has been supported by several SMAC grants, is a published poet, a member of the Dawson Boyd Arts Association, has participated in shows at the Prairie Arts Center, attended the Arts Meander, and is actively involved with various arts organizations, I think my experience with SMAC, the arts, and connection to the local arts community demonstrate my deep and sustained interest in my community and the arts. I’m excited about representing my county! As a parent with three children, I want to help sustain our arts community and its opportunities for future generations.”
Mark has served 23 years on the Lake Benton Opera House Board of Directors and is currently the president of their board as well as the Artistic Director for the Opera House. He has also worked as a newspaper editor since 1997 in Lincoln county and is currently managing editor for the Tyler, Lake Benton and Hendricks newspapers. Wilmes has been honored multiple times by the Minnesota Newspaper Association in the areas of ad creation, photography and as a columnist. When asked why he was interested in serving on the SMAC board of directors he said, “I am a strong believer in SMAC’s mission and would like to ensure Lincoln County is represented. SMAC has been a great benefit to our organization over the years and I would like to give back in a small way by helping other small groups benefit in the same way.”
Michele enjoys drawing, making crop art and using iron pours. She has participated in multiple Marshal Area Stage Company (MASC) performances, plays a variety of musical instruments and is experienced in traditional American Indian style dancing. Michele says that through her work with the “Access, Opportunity, and Success” program at Southwest Minnesota State University, she has had the opportunity to work with artists from many backgrounds and cultures who work in many mediums, as well as experience with a wealth of diverse performance based programming.
Term expires 12/2020
Lisa Hill of Hutchinson is an associate attorney at Melchert Hubert Sjodin and she recently relocated from Mankato. In Mankato, Lisa was actively involved with the board for the Minnesota Valley Chorale and the Mankato Area Youth Symphony. While involved with those boards, she gained experience with writing grants, fundraising, and administrative duties. Now that she’s in McLeod county, she is joining Crow Rivers Singers has also volunteered for the Hutchinson Marching Band and Phoenix Drumline. She looks forward to becoming further involved with volunteering on behalf of the arts in McLeod county!
Term expires 12/2020
It’s funny where hot dogs can lead. For Greg, they led to the Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF). After 30 plus years working in advertising, marketing and sales, he retired early. That didn’t last. In 2009, he came out of retirement and opened the first Chicago hot dog cart south of the South Fork of the Crow River in northern downtown Hutchinson, with help from a SWIF loan. Soon he became the ‘poster senior’ of SWIF’s newly created Encore Entrepreneur program. He later helped guide entrepreneurs of all ages in their Microenterprise Loan Program. Today, still at SWIF, he works in fundraising.
Greg holds a master’s in business communications, an associate degree in photography and a PHD (Proprietor of Hot Dogs) from Vienna Beef’s Hot Dog University.
In addition to the SMAC board, he serves on the board of the Hutchinson Center for the Arts and is a member of the Hutchinson Public Arts Commission and Hutchinson Rotary.
A self-described “very happy kid,” he likes to laugh with his wife Betty – the funniest person he knows. Greg says when you mix in grandkids, friends and a little golf, life is good.
If you are interested in becoming the Meeker county representative on the SMAC board, please visit: https://swmnarts.org/about/become-a-board-member/
Term expires 12/2020
Carisa Clarke is a visual artist and the project director for the Slayton Community Mural, founder of the “Challenge the Art” Facebook group, has assisted in multiple art classes such as “Paint & Sip” and “Chalk Couture”, taught jewelry making classes, is a board member for the DAC of Murray county, has been a member of the Prairie Music Association and is a volunteer for Relay for Life, Lunch Buddies, Meals on Wheels, various church positions and been a part of many other fundraisers. When asked why she was interested in becoming a member of the SMAC board, she said “I look forward to networking with fellow artists, but mainly I’m excited about bringing arts awareness to the county I live in, and encouraging youths.”
Lehman has assisted with the Worthington International Festival for six years, doing fundraising and logistics. He has also served on the boards for Worthington City Band, Worthington Concert Association, Plum Creek Food Co-op, and Shalom Hill Farm. Lehman enjoys creating art glass, playing trombone in the Worthington City Band, and occasionally performing as a vocalist/guitarist.
Term Expires 12/2018
Erica is the Executive Director for the Pipestone Area Chamber of Commerce. She has a liberal arts education as well as a law degree and is a board member for many organizations in the Pipestone and surrounding area. When asked why she was interested in representing Pipestone county for the SMAC board, Erica replied, “I would like to help enhance the quality of life in southwest Minnesota to include exposure to and experiences with a wide variety of arts for all ages. One’s exposure to quality artistic performances, exhibits, and events should not be dependent upon either geography or income.” She also added that she has a great interest in public art and the arts as “economic development drivers to create beautiful spaces to live, work, and play” and that she is personally greatly inspired by the arts, both through attending and organizing events of all types.
Term Expires 12/2020
David has been awarded two SMAC Individual Artist grants in the past for developing into an experienced screen printer. He has a BA in graphic design, experience in electronic music and hip hop DJ-ing, sound board operation, experienced in film post production editing, and has written and self published the book, “New York City Record Stores: A Pocket Guide.” David holds public “printing parties,” events that are free, with the goal of increasing the public’s awareness of local arts and artists. David says, “I hope I can be a progressive, active voice on the board. I desire to bring my expirience and alternative approaches to promoting the arts in the area.”
O’Keefe-Jackson is the Human Resources Director at Jackpot Junction Casino. She is a Dakota from the Lower Sioux Community, enjoys beading and quill work, and her art background includes an art history minor from Augsburg College (Mpls, MN).
If you are interested in becoming the Rock county representative on the SMAC board, please visit: https://swmnarts.org/about/become-a-board-member/
Term expires 12/2020
Alison Nelson is involved with many arts disciplines, including a studio art degree, music (piano and saxophone), writing a weekly column published in four local newspapers, dance throughout her life, as well as choreographing local musicals on occasion. When asked why she was interested in serving on the board, she said “I think it is important to have our county represented in the region and be up to date on SMAC offerings and activities, as well as have the inside track as to how grant dollars work to be able to utilize them to promote the arts in the region. We do ‘okay’, but we could always improve!”
Term expires 12/2022
Betsy is a long-time musician and leads the bi-weekly “Open Mic” on Fridays (7pm) and weekly Sunday (4 pm) “Open Jam” sessions at the Bluenose Gopher Public House in Granite Falls. When explaining why she is part of our board she said, “I am happy to serve on the board for SMAC because it gives me an opportunity to help connect people within the region to the arts, and to share the different grants that are available with them. As someone who comes from the area, it is nice to see that there are outside resources that can be received through grant funding with SMAC on their side. This provides a way for individuals and organizations to create without so much financial restraints, because they may not have had the ability to do so otherwise.”
Financial & Grants Administrator
Marketing Coordinator & Receptionist