Board of Directors

Ellen Alexander, WSW Board President, Accord, NY
Ellen Alexander’s career in the financial service industry spans 20 years. She has held key positions at American Express, Citibank and MasterCard, responsible for strategic planning and profitability. Ellen has served on the Board of Directors for the American Institute of Wine and Food with Julia Child and Robert Mondavi. She volunteered at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC until moving full time to Stone Ridge, NY. She lives with her husband David, a jewelry designer, and their dog Sparky.

Gary Swenson, WSW Vice President, Corporate Executive, Data Processing, Kingston, NY
Gary Swenson is originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, and attended the University of Minnesota and the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Gary is currently Vice President of Client Solutions at DiscoverReady LLC, a Legal Technology firm headquartered in New York City. Gary has pursued his career in Legal Technology over the last 30 years while residing in Washington, DC and New York City before moving to the Hudson River Valley several years ago. He now resides in Kingston, NY along with his partner, Haynes Llewellyn. The arts have been a passion for Gary throughout his life and he is very pleased to serve on the board of the Women’s Studio Workshop.

Kate Karakassis, WSW Board Secretary, Attorney, Red Hook, NY
Before moving to Dutchess County full time in 2010, Kate worked as a litigating attorney for the NYC Law Department in the tort, commercial and risk management divisions, and as an administrative law judge for the Environmental Control Board. Currently she is in private practice. Kate is a member of the New York Mycological and the Mid-Hudson Mycological Societies.

Hensley Evans, Corporate Executive and Community Leader, Rosendale, NY
Hensley Evans works with Saatchi & Saatchi across their Health and Wellness groups, focusing on integrated marketing strategy and analytics for clients including biotech, pharma, and providers. Her professional career also includes more than 15 years of financial and strategic consulting at Price Waterhouse and Andersen Consulting. She serves on the boards of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust (where she has spearheaded the efforts to renovate the Rosendale Trestle and to develop a comprehensive land use plan for Joppenbergh Mountain) and the African Medical Research Foundation. She lives in Rosendale, NY with her partner, Jason, and their 5 year old daughter, Kaia, who is a budding artist!

Rich Forbes, Attorney, Newburgh, NY
Rich Forbes is an attorney specializing in real estate with a practice in Newburgh, NY. Rich also is on the faculty at Marist College in Poughkeepsie where he teaches business law.

Rachelle Spero, Partner Brunswick Group, NYC and Cottekill, NY
Rachelle Spero works in digital and social media communications. She specializes in online reputation management with an emphasis on helping clients create integrated media strategies that generate awareness, build community, and establish thought leadership. Rachelle holds degrees in Journalism from Northwestern University.  In addition to her work at Brunswick Group, Rachelle is an adjunct professor at NYU in the Masters of Science Degree program in Public Relations and Corporate Communication. Rachelle lives in New York City and Cottekill and is the owner of the CHRCH performance and exhibition site.

Susan Shaw, Environmental Engineer and Public Health Specialist (retired), Accord, NY
After over twenty years of friendship with Women’s Studio Workshop, Susan has not only become a member of the board, but a neighbor as well. She is excited to be a part of WSW’s current expansion project, as well as continuing her long standing support of our residency and internship programs.

Suzanne Stokes, Associate Professor of Art, SUNY New Paltz, Bloomington, NY
Before coming to SUNY, Suzanne was the Outreach Director and a faculty member for K-12 Art Programs at MassArt in Boston, MA. Suzanne is the creator and artistic director of Cave Dogs, a collaborative performance group that brings together visual artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, and writers in the spirit of experimental inter-disciplinary collaboration. The performances consist of innovative, large-scale shadow projections cast onto a scrim from sculptures, props, and the human body, which move in concert with projected video imagery, spoken narrative, and an original soundtrack. Suzanne also independently shows her work in galleries, as installations, sound pieces and prints and at film festivals and cyber venues. Suzanne received her MFA from SUNY New Paltz and her BFA from Kent State University, OH.

Laurel Sweeney, Associate Broker, Prudential Nutshell Realty, Stone Ridge, NY
A top producing realtor in Ulster County, Laurel is the 2013 President of the Ulster County Board of Realtors and was awarded the 2008 Realtor Associate of the Year. In addition to the WSW board, she also serves on the board of the Mohonk Preserve and chairs their governance committee and Laurel sits on the NYSAR Professional Standards committee.  This community service, coupled with her involvement in the Rondout Valley Business Association, the Rondout Valley Growers Association, The Episcopal Church of Christ the King in Stone Ridge, and the Rondout Valley Food Pantry compliment the networking and marketing that has been a key factor in her real estate achievements.  Laurel resides in Stone Ridge with her husband Tim.

Lauren V. Walling, Artist and Art Educator, Beacon, NY
Lauren has an M.A.R. in Religious Studies and Art History from Yale Divinity School and is currently working on her PhD in Art Education at Columbia University. In addition she has studied art at the School of Visual Arts, the Art Students League, and the Glassell School of Art. She is a painter, costume designer and printmaker. Lauren has been teaching for 14 years and is currently an art teacher at a private school in New City, NY.

Hope Windle, Instructional Designer Ulster Community College, Rosendale, NY
Hope has worn many hats in the interactive educational online world. She worked in Silicon Valley for Simon and Schuster/Viacom making interactive lessons for the k-12 market. She has been an art director, producer and creative strategist creating online educational content for fortune 500 companies. She has an MFA from University of California, Davis and her Teacher’s Certificate from Studio in a School and Pratt Institute. She taught art at number of schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and San Francisco. She has also taught Media Literacy at NYU, School of Visual Arts, and the SF Museum of Art. Presently at SUNY Ulster, as an instructional designer, she works to develop affordances of educational engagement, developing instruction for students to learn from doing. She develops curriculum with professors, providing opportunities for online collaborations, internationally as well as in virtual worlds.

Emeritus Board

Barbara Leoff Burge, WSW Founder, Artist, New Paltz, NY
Barbara is a founder of Women’s Studio Workshop. Her work is in university and museum collections, including Yale, Harvard, Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Museum of Modern Art. She’s a graduate of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a practicing and teaching artist in New Paltz.

Kenneth Burge, Artist, Professor of Art, SUNY New Paltz (retired)
Kenneth Burge was Professor of Art at SUNY New Paltz until his retirement in 2003. He has served on WSW’s Board of directors since its inception. Former husband of WSW founder Barbara Leoff Burge and past instructor of founder Ann Kalmbach, Ken has provided continuity and historical perspective to WSW’s board. Ken graduated from George Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri, earned an MFA from The University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and completed additional studies at Columbia Teachers College and Yale University. In addition to being a practicing artist, Ken is an involved political activist, whose perspective also informs his interest in the activities of WSW.


  • Inside out

    Inside Out chronicles the artist’s and her father’s lives as they unexpectedly crisscross back and forth.

    Nancy Callahan, 2010. Buy it now.