The Foundation Board
Board of Directors
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.
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.
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 previously served as a Foundation Trustee and Secretary, followed by a two year term as Board President. 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.
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 started her career at 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.
Marc Chennault has advised the Finance Committee of the Joan Mitchell Foundation Board of Directors since 2017, and was appointed to the Board of Directors in June 2020 for a three-year term. Chennault brings over 20 years of financial markets experience to the Board and is enthusiastic about directing his efforts in furtherance of Joan Mitchell Foundation’s mission supporting artist communities.
Chennault is a Senior Advisor to Cherokee Acquisition LLC and has previously held investment, advisory or sales and trading roles at S.G. Preston Company, Macquarie Capital (USA) Inc., Citadel Securities LLC, Morgan Stanley, and Arthur Andersen LLP in the United States and Europe. Marc earned an MBA from Harvard Business School, and Master of Accounting and Bachelor of Business Administration degrees from the University of Michigan. He is also a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the state of Michigan.
Chennault is additionally a member of the Board of The Reciprocity Foundation, a New York based pioneer of holistic health programs for the Social Services sector, and provider of the first comprehensive holistic program for healing young adults facing homelessness, incarceration and trauma. A native of Detroit, Marc previously served as an advisor to the Heidelberg Project, an outdoor art environment established by painter and sculptor Tyree Guyton in the heart of an urban environment with a mission to improve the lives of people and neighborhoods through art.
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 Executive Director of The Laundromat Project, which advances artists and neighbors as change agents in their own communities. With 20 years of experience in the cultural arena, she is inspired by the immense possibilities for joyful 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 the work of American artists making adventurous new work. From 1998-2004, she was visual arts curator at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. While there, she 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. She has been honored by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Project for Empty Space. She serves on the boards of the Joan Mitchell Foundation and The Broad Room, as well as advisory boards for WNET All Arts and Smith College Museum of Art. A graduate of Smith College, NYU, and Coro Leadership NY, she is also a Sterling Network Fellow.
Photo by Dread Scott.
Paul Ramírez Jonas is an artist and educator. Since the 1990s, Paul Ramirez Jonas has sought to challenge the relationship between artist, viewer, and artwork. Many of his projects invite viewer participation; in his most recent large public work, Public Trust asked participants to examine the value of their word, each individual declared a promise recorded in a drawing consistent with their beliefs. Whimsical and sincere, he thinks of his works as monuments rather than as sculptures—as situations that address a public, often without an author, and communicate collective ideals, histories, and dreams rather than the individual expression of the artist.
His selected solo exhibitions include a 25-year survey at the Contemporary Art Museum Houston in 2017; Museo Jumex, Mexico City; The New Museum, NYC; Pinacoteca do Estado, Sao Paulo, Brazil; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK). He has participated in the 1st Johannesburg Biennale; the 1st Seoul Biennial; the 6th Shanghai Biennial; the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial; the 53rd Venice Biennial and the 7th and 10th Bienal do Mercosul , Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2010 his Key to the City project was presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. In 2016 his Public Trust project was presented by Now & There in Boston. He is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College, CUNY and is represented by the Galeria Nara Roesler in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and New York.
As the Curator of Contemporary Art at the Speed Art Museum in Louisville since 2015, Miranda Lash has organized a wide range of exhibitions, including most recently Keltie Ferris: *O*P*E*N* and BRUCE CONNER: FOREVER AND EVER. In 2017, Lash collaborated with curator Trevor Schoonmaker, from the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University, to organize the widely acclaimed exhibition Southern Accent: Seeking the American South in Contemporary Art. Lash was also a member of the Artistic Director’s Council for the international triennial Prospect.4 in New Orleans (2017-2018).
Prior to joining the Speed, Lash was the founding Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), beginning in 2008. There she curated over twenty exhibitions, including the large-scale traveling retrospective exhibition Mel Chin: Rematch and the exhibitions Rashaad Newsome: King of Arms; Katie Holten: Drawn to the Edge; Swoon: Thalassa; Wayne Gonzales: Light to Dark, Dark to Light; and Parallel Universe: Quintron and Miss Pussycat Live at City Park. Lash has been a Clark Fellow at the Clark Art Institute, a consultant for Creative Capital, and a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a graduate of Williams College and Harvard University.
Photo by Gary Barragan, Speed Art Museum.
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.