SMAC Board of Directors
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.
Marilee Strom of Windom is an avid arts supporter and has taught art in grades K – 12.
Kathy Fransen of Jackson is a Certified Clinical Musician (harpist), a Vibroacoustic Harp Practioner, and licensed Social Worker. She was a founding member of the Comprehensive Arts Planning Program (CAPP) in the Jackson School System, and is the coordinator of the Rhythm of the River arts festival. Fransen has also been active in Jackson County Art Guild’s theatre productions.
Janet Olney of Willmar is a visual artist who has been weaving baskets for 29 years, with multiple solo shows around the area. She served on the Willmar Area Arts Council Board, including two years as president. Olney is currently the coordination for the Willmar Area Arts Council. She is also a founding member and treasurer of Kaleidoscope: An Artists’ Gallery in New London.
Joyce Meyer of Canby is a photographer and retired art teacher, and has received two SMAC individual artist grants. She is also involved in the Canby Arts Council and the Gary Historical Association.
Pam Blake of Tyler was a K-12 art teacher for 28 years. While teaching, she was involved in the South Dakota Arts Educators Association and she also received numerous artist-in-schools grants from SMAC and the South Dakota Arts Council. Over 30 years ago she helped start the Southwest Minnesota Weaver’s Guild and has acted as president at different times. She has been active in the Tyler Arts Council and involved in putting on the yearly Art Fair at the Lincoln County Fairground during Aebleskiver Days. Pam is also a visual artist and received a SMAC Individual Developing Artist grant in 2015 for continuing to develop her fused glass artwork.
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.
Tom Wirt of Hutchinson the co-owner and potter at Clay Coyote, and a founding board member of Hutchinson Center for the Arts. He has served as a grant panelist for SMAC and for the MN State Arts Board. Wirt also was a member of the Hutchinson Joint Planning Commission.
Joyce Aakre of Dassel is a long term arts appreciator and a Norwegian Rosemaling artist. She has served on multiple school, community education and historical society boards, as well as a volunteered with multiple local organizations, including the Discover Dassel Committee, Master Gardener Tour for Meeker County, Light of Love and Flowers of Mercy/Ecumen of Litchfield, and more, all throughout Meeker county.
Emily Petersen (originally of Slayton) is a visual artist who has been offering art classes to communities in southwest Minnesota for the past three years including Marshall, Slayton, Worthington, and Iona. She’s taught summer classes for Marshall Talents Academy, sessions for the Young Artists Conference at Southwest Minnesota State University, and “Art Day” at Yellow Medicine East High School. Emily also volunteers teaching art projects to at risk teenagers for Hope Harbor in Marshall. Emily says she was interested in being on the SMAC board of directors because art is her passion and she desires to share that passion with others. Emily says, “I hope to bring opportunities for residents in my hometown and surrounding areas to experience art in an enriching way.”
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.
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.
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).
Cindy Reverts of Luverne is a real estate appraiser with a degree in Art/Pottery from Augustana College. Reverts is also a board member of the Council for Arts and Humanities in Rock County (CAHRC) and treasurer for the Rock County Fine Arts Association.
Conroy is the executive producer, director, host, and photographer for several productions at Pioneer Public TV. She is also a film artist, singer, musician, and songwriter.
Claire has been a basket weaver since the 1980’s, and she teaches as well as sells her art work. She has been a member of the steering committee for the Meander Art Crawl since its conception, working with local artists, businesses, non-profits and local government to help facilitate cooperation to ensure a successful event. She is excited to help promote and sustain the arts through her membership on our board, and to encourage artists of all levels to explore their abilities.
Financial & Grants Administrator
Marketing Coordinator & Receptionist