The Foundation Board
Board of Directors
Michele Tortorelli is a lawyer in a private practice in Manhattan. Her 25 years of experience is focused on family law, dispute resolution and residential real estate transactions. Michele received her BA from Rutgers University and her JD from Fordham University School of Law. She has been regularly recognized as a best lawyer by Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers in New York and by Super Lawyers. Michele has been Secretary of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Board of Directors since 2014 and previously served as a Foundation Trustee. Michele's passion and appreciation of art was nurtured by her mother who was a dress designer and a docent at the Newark Museum. Her lifelong relationship with art continues with her work at the Joan Mitchell Foundation, with which she shares a strong commitment to the importance of providing direct support to individual artists. Michele lives in Manhattan with her husband, Tom Kearns, Esq.
Ron Bechet is the Victor H. Labat Professor of Art in the Department of Art at Xavier University of Louisiana. Mr. Bechet also serves as Department Head for the Department of Art. He is a painter, and has exhibited his work nationally and internationally. He has been teaching for 20 years at the college level. He holds a BA degree in Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans, and an MFA in Painting and Drawing from the Yale School of Art, Yale University. In addition to serving on the Board of the Joan Mitchell Foundation, Bechet has served on other boards and commissions, such as Imagining America’s National Advisory Board. He has served as the first director of Xavier Art Department’s Community Arts Partnership Program as well as in many arts and youth programs in the New Orleans area both as an advisor and a practitioner. He was the recipient of the New Orleans Mayor’s Arts award in 2006.
Sandy Lee is honored to advise on the growth, management, and disbursement of Joan Mitchell’s deeply generous gift to her fellow artists.
Sandy has a background in both finance and the arts. Across disciplines, she possesses interest in themes of global exchange and shifts in materials, processes, and technology. Within finance, Sandy has collaborated extensively with institutional and private investors on alternative investments. She is a Managing Director at Kinneret Group, a private investment firm. Additionally, she co-founded Eight Seven Capital, worked at the D. E. Shaw group, and Morgan Stanley.
Sandy received a BA from Yale University and an MA from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and Parsons School of Design. She has taught at Parsons and New York University. She is also active in organizations that support education, women’s health, and financial literacy.
Jean Shin is an artist recognized for her site-specific installations that transform everyday objects into elegant expressions of identity and community engagement. Her work is distinguished by her labor-intensive process and immersive environments that capture collective issues that we face as a society. Her work has been widely exhibited in major national and international museums, including in solo exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, Fabric Workshop and Museum in Philadelphia, Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC, Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art in Arizona and Crow Collection in Dallas. Shin has received numerous awards, including the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Architecture/Environmental Structures and Sculpture, Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Biennial Art award. Shin’s many notable permanent public art commissions include the General Services Administration, New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Metropolitan Transit Authority Arts and Design, City of Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and more. Shin has been featured in a multitude of publications world-wide.
Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in the United States, Shin attended the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1999 and received a BFA and MS from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. She is tenured Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at Pratt Institute. She lives and works in Brooklyn, NY.
Tomie Arai is a public artist who collaborates with writers, architects, historians, curators, and local communities to create visual narratives that give meaning to the spaces we live in. Through the use of autobiography, family stories, archival material and oral histories, she explores the complex relationship between history, memory and art. She is interested in projects that encourage interaction between artists and non-artists; reflecting multiple points of view. Through this framework of collaboration, Arai uses the specificity of her experience as an Asian American as a personal space in which to locate broader issues of race and gender; a space through which a glimpse of common ground is made possible. A native New Yorker, Tomie has been exhibited nationally and is in the collections of the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, the Williams College Museum of Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. She was a recipient a Joan Mitchell Foundation Painters & Sculptors Grant in 1994 and was invited to join the Board of Directors in 2010.
Ted Berger has held positions as the Treasurer of the Board of Director and as a Trustee of the Joan Mitchell Foundation. He is the Executive Director of NYCreates and has served as a consultant as Project Director of the Urban Artist Initiative/NYC and numerous other organizations and projects including among others, the Brooklyn Public Library, the Louisiana Cultural Economy Foundation, the Robert Giard Foundation, and Rutgers University.
He is Executive Director Emeritus of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). Ted joined NYFA in 1973, developing its Artists in Residence program and was named Executive Director in 1980; he retired from NYFA at the end of 2005.
Ted also serves on numerous other boards and committees, presently including: ArtsConnection, the Asian American Arts Alliance, the Center for West Park, the CUE Art Foundation, the Design Trust for Public Space, HB Studio and Playwright’s Foundation, the International Studio and Curatorial Program, and the New York City Arts Coalition. He is also a member of the Honorary Board of the Alliance of Artist Communities, and on Advisory Committees for the Actors Fund, CERF+, and the Research Center for Arts and Culture.
He was formerly Assistant Dean for the Graduate Faculties (now Graduate School of Arts and Sciences) and the School of International Affairs at Columbia University. Ted writes and speaks extensively on the arts and artists and cultural policy and is considered one of the foremost people in the country focused on support for contemporary artists.
Kemi Ilesanmi is the Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which brings art, artists, and arts programming into everyday spaces, to amplify the creativity that already exists within communities. With nearly two decades experience in the cultural arena, she is inspired by the immense possibilities for joy and justice at the intersection of arts and community. Prior to joining The LP, she was Director of Grants and Services at Creative Capital Foundation where she supported American artists making adventurous new work. From 1998-2004, she was Visual Arts Curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While there, Kemi organized several exhibitions, including The Squared Circle: Boxing in Contemporary Art, and ran the visual arts residency program. In 2015, she was appointed by the Mayor of New York City to the Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission, and in 2017, she was honored by The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Multicultural Audience Development Initiative. She also serves on the boards of EmcArts and NOCD-NY. She is a graduate of Smith College, New York University, and Coro Leadership New York.
Painter, photographer, printmaker, and video artist Juan Sánchez was born to immigrant working-class Puerto Rican parents in Brooklyn, New York. He is part of a generation of artists-such as Coco Fusco, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Pepón Osorio, and Papo Colo-who in the 1980s and '90s explored questions of ethnic, racial, and national identity in their work. Among numerous group exhibitions in national and international gallery and museum venues, Sánchez had solo exhibitions at BRIC Arts/Media House, P.S.1/MoMA Contemporary Art Center, El Museo del Barrio, Exit Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, the 5th Havana Biennale, and El Museo de Historia, Antropologia y Arte, Universidad de Puerto Rico. Among several permanent collections, his art is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art, Museum of Modern Art, El Museo del Barrio, and The Smithsonian Museum of American Art. Sánchez has been awarded grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the Joan Mitchell Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Sánchez earned a BFA from The Cooper Union School of Art and a MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts of Rutgers University. He is Professor of Art at Hunter College in New York City.
Dr. Usdin is the president of Swamplily, LLC. In this capacity, she has helped match the strategic interests of philanthropic organizations with the needs and capacity of local non-profits and governmental agencies in diverse areas. In the last six years, she has worked with the Ford, the Open Society, the Conrad N. Hilton, the Louisiana Disaster Recovery, and the Greater New Orleans foundations. She has served on expert advisory panels on community resiliency for the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the Rand Corporation and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. In addition, she has taught courses on building community engagement in public health efforts for the South Central Public Health Leadership Institute, the Centers for Disease Control, and Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, and has facilitated strategic planning processes for groups such as the City of New Orleans, National Network of Public Health Institutes, and Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx. Dr. Usdin was recently awarded a Bellagio fellowship from the Rockefeller Foundation. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in psychology from Duke University, has a master’s degree in public health from the University of California at Berkeley and a Dr.PH. from the international health department at Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The focus of her academic work was on the planning and evaluation of community development and change initiatives.