Meet The Team
TFTA Board Members are all different, but they ALL believe in two things: The arts change lives and the revenue from the Specialty License Plates program helps to fund some of the organizations and programs that make Tennessee so amazing. TFTA's Board of Directors are a diverse group of individuals that govern the organization. This group is comprised of Tennessee natives as well as more recent residents; from small towns to big cities across our great state. Board members serve three-year terms and are eligible for a consecutive reappointment. Many are trustees, board members, or executive directors of other nonprofit arts organizations. Some are amateur singers, dancers, painters, or musicians; while others have been professionally trained. Some love ballet while others like buck dancing but at the end of the day, they join together to advocate for the arts in Tennessee.
In the fourth grade, I went on my first school trip to the Cumberland County Playhouse to see ANNIE. I instantly fell in love! I remember distinctively feeling that this is where I belong and that I had found my tribe. I feel so honored to now serve as Producing Director of the Playhouse. The theater that changed my life forever!
Producing Director / CEO
Cumberland County Playhouse
When I was little growing up in Brazil, my parents played music on the stereo every night when my Dad got home from work. At that time, children were to be "seen, not heard", so I amused myself by pretending to be a ballerina in the far end of the living room, popping out from behind a big leather club chair onto my "stage" in front of the stereo. In my heart & my mind, I was beautiful, graceful & strong, dancing with emotion & joy. I had only seen dance on a couple of occasions, but it inspired me and gave me a safe place to be.
Director of Development
Germantown Performing Arts Center
One of my most vivid first art memory would be my mom playing Hall of the Mountain King loudly over the speakers at home and dancing around the house to it as a whole family. Complete with stomping at the loud parts and tiptoeing at the quiet moments.
Executive Director of Bryan Symphony Orchestra
Founder / Owner of Lakeside Inn at Dale Hollow Lake
I was in fourth grade at a Catholic School in New York. I was asked by our music teacher to stay after class which sent shivers up my spine as the last thing a student ever wanted to hear was that a Nun wanted to see you after class. She informed me that I had a lovely soprano voice and that I would be joining the church choir to sing in Handel's 'Hallelujah Chorus' for Easter Sunday services. The adult choir members were extremely welcoming and we spent two evenings a week working together for six weeks of rehearsal. This was a truly inspiring experience that revealed to me the beauty and the power of the arts. And I made a Nun happy for the first time in my life.
Theatre Director & Arts Management Consultant
East TN Vice President
At age five, Oklahoma — a ballet — is my first remembered live arts experience. My mother (who served on the community concerts planning committee in my hometown) took my brother, sister and I to this amazing performance. Little did I know that this experience would lead to a fulfilling 20+ year career in the arts!
Served 23 years as Executive Director of Arts & Education Council and the Fellowship of Southern Writers
Middle TN Vice President
As a little girl growing up in East Tennessee, my family and I attended the World’s Fair in Knoxville. I was in awe of the various art and art forms represented from all over the world! That exposure led me to a lifelong love of the arts and appreciation for how important art is in our lives.
Former Chair, Tennessee Arts Commission
West TN Vice President
My mother made sure I was exposed to all forms of art when I was growing up, but the one event that changed my life was when she took me to see the musical Grease. After the show I turned to her and said "I want to do that!" The next week, she enrolled me in the Hurrah Players in Norfolk, VA and I began my career in theatre. That was 38 years ago.
Managing Director of Playhouse on the Square
At a young age I decided not to be too disappointed in myself for not painting or singing or playing an instrument well. My freshman year of high school, I became a Junior Docent at Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and experienced an unfamiliar excitement as I toured children through the galleries pointing out the use of colors and dimensions. To maintain that feeling throughout my life, I have decided to dedicate myself to becoming the best "art consumer" possible.
Director of Memphis Music Room
I have been a part of the arts since I was 6 years old in my school's first grade Christmas play- I was a cookie and it was a big deal. The arts have given me a sense of purpose and community my whole life.
Executive Director to Welcome to Memphis
I live in the same small mountain town where I grew up in the far Northeast corner of Tennessee. I learned about the power of the arts from the sound of my grandpa's fiddle as he played on his front porch into the wee hours of the morning. In my work as a painter, I do my best to capture the authentic story of Appalachia, and I strive to show that creating makes it possible for us to transcend the difficulties of life. I also serve as Director of Johnson County Center for the Arts, the first in our area, an organization whose mission is to empower our community and bring them together through the arts.
Executive Director of Johnson County Center for the Arts
My mother always wanted to play the piano, but growing up in a large family they were unable to afford lessons. She often commented, “when I have kids, they will learn how to play.” True to her word, when I was almost 4, she enrolled me in Suzuki piano lessons and we never looked back. She took me to orchestra concerts, instrumental recitals, theatre performances and opera. Those experiences formed a life-long passion for which I am grateful, and to this day, I can’t imagine a week without experiencing some form of artistic expression!
CEO of Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
I was lucky to grow up in Columbia where we had art & music teachers from the earliest grades & a drama teacher, Mrs. Prince, from 5th grade through high school. In 6th grade she picked me to be Sunny, in the community musical Sunny of Sunnyside (roughly following the plot of Annie), & I was hooked. On a high school trip to NYC we saw The Great White Hope starring James Earl Jones & Jane Alexander which was mesmerizing. Our home was always filled with music more than TV & one of my first jobs in Nashville was handling PR for the Symphony and the Tennessee Performing Arts Foundation. Later, part of my job in the Governor’s Office included serving as liaison with the TAC & the larger arts community. I wish every child and adult could know the power & the joy of performing or enjoying plays or exhibits or ballets or concerts & the life-lessons the arts teach us.
As a student at the local public elementary school in Mt. Pleasant, TN, I never thought much about having art regularly during class time, participating in an after-school chorus or being part of the big, annual program featuring students of all ages singing and dancing on stage. In hindsight, that was pretty unique. I wasn’t great at any of it but took part and loved it! I still have great appreciation for the two teachers who made those arts programs thrive for kids from all walks of life, and perhaps their influence was the basis for my love of art museums, music of all genres and the stage (from my seat in the audience, of course!)
Fundraiser / Events Manager at Kaegi Resources
The arts are important to me because they help us connect across cultures, they allow us to envision and create a better future, they are transformational for individuals and communities, and they are how we express our humanity.
President of ArtsBuild
Pat Mitchell Worley
I was an avid reader as a child and words led me to theatre. At the Lucille Ewing Children's Theatre I found my voice, my people and my passion. Theatre allowed me to travel the world, build my confidence and learn how to connect to my fellow human beings - it was essential to shaping who I am today and continues to impact me.
President & CEO of The Soulsville Foundation
Virginia Salazar Buda
When I was 6 years old one of my dad & mom’s parishioners - a married couple - asked my parents if they would let my two older sisters & I listen to a song in their Cadillac. It was an odd request although my parents agreed. I remember the door of the Cadi as it shut with this strong and solid sound. The married couple sat in the front seat, my sisters and I sat in the back. They turned on classical music (prob a popular song) - really loudly - I remember being stunned by the beauty, richness and depth of classical music. Since then, I’ve been listening to a wide range of music. In my 30’s, I had the privilege of working for the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra for, in large part, because of this experience.
Founder & Executive Director at Artlandia, Inc.
I have always loved art and my favorite painter growing up was Norman Rockwell. I really became more enamored with paintings when I was in Amsterdam a few years back and was invited to the Van Gogh museum. We were also invited to view the Rembrandt paintings at the Rijksmuseum. Those experiences have really enhanced my enthusiasm for the arts.
Retired City-County Manager
When I was growing up, my maternal grandmother and her sister lived with my family. My earliest memories are filled with art experiences created for me by these two wonderful women. They include painting, making rag rugs, costume-making for my dolls, assembling collections of all sorts, producing plays, playing dress up, being read stories and reciting poems. It was an idyllic childhood. Fueled by their creativity and my imagination these memories formed the foundation for my life-long belief in the power of the arts.
Government & Community Relations
Business & Membership Manager
I was always fascinated with music as a child, so learning to play piano and read music, then playing in my elementary and high school band were wonderful experiences. My enjoyment of music has continued via friends in Nashville who are singers and musicians. A steady diet of food for the soul.
Owner at Sherrill & Weir, Inc.
TN Arts Commission
Tennessee Arts Commission
Executive Director of Tennessee Arts Commission
Design & Marketing
Brand Designer & Illustrator
Growing up my mother sectioned off a wall in our garage and drew a scene with pencil. On pretty Tennessee days she would open up the doors and let the children in the neighborhood paint, adding to it each year. As a child I thought it was a fun activity to keep us busy. Now that I am grown and a professional Artist I look back at the influence it had on my life. I was given the opportunity to mix and experiment, fail and try again, and play with the art I was creating, the only boundary being the edge of the wall. I now have many murals under my belt along with creating illustrations and graphics daily for so many of my amazing clients. I am grateful to my mother for giving me that freedom as a child.
Owner + Creative Director, Knoxville Graphic House