Amanda Karioth Thompson
Interim Executive Director
Amanda supervises all COCA operations, management and programming and serves as a liaison with public agencies, private organizations, and community groups regarding cultural initiatives, arts and heritage programs, and events. She is also responsible for COCA’s Arts Education programs and represents COCA on several advisory boards and committees relating to the arts and education. Additionally, Amanda oversees the Art in Public Places program and she curates a rotating season of exhibitions for both the Artport Gallery and the City Hall Art Galleries. Born and raised in Tallahassee, Amanda attended FSU and earned two bachelor’s degrees in Studio Art and Art Education, and a master’s degree in Art Education. She also holds a K-12 Florida Art Teacher Certification. She is a practicing artist working in glass, ceramics, and a variety of other mediums.
Communications & Marketing Manager
Formerly a radio executive with more than 20 years of broadcast media sales, integrated marketing, and management experience, Erica expanded her professional skills as the General Manager of the Tallahassee Symphony Youth Orchestras (now known as the TYO) and discovered a passion for non-profit work and a commitment to arts advocacy. Erica also worked at WFSU-TV and radio (NPR and PBS affiliates) securing corporate underwriting, grants, and event sponsorships. Erica serves as a volunteer for the Tallahassee Bach Parley, providing all publicity for the baroque ensemble, and is also an enthusiastic violin student herself. A graduate of UCLA with a degree in Political Science, Erica is a San Diego native, but proudly calls Tallahassee her home, along with her husband, two kids, and three Hungarian Vizslas.
Nick is charged with strengthening and aligning administrative and financial functions with COCA’s core missions of assisting and service. In this role, Nick oversees budget and financial planning, purchasing and contracting, and administrative functions related to personnel.
A Macedonia native, Nick Pavlovik is a Garnet and Gold Scholar that graduated from the Florida State University, College of Business with Bachelor of Science degrees in multinational business, accounting and finance, and Master of Business Administration degree. Nick has over 10 years of accounting and finance experience and has brought to this position a broad range of operation management, finance, accounting, and budgeting experience.
Dr. Kevin Carr
Grants & Strategic Partnerships Manager
Kevin manages all aspects of COCA’s grant programs including the Cultural Grant Program, the Cultural Tourism Marketing Grant Program, and the Cultural Facilities Matching Grant Program. The latter two programs he recently helped to design and implement. He also provides operational support including business related to the COCA Board of Directors as well as records management. Originally from Boston MA, he previously worked as House Manager for the Huntington Theater Company and the Artistic Operations Coordinator for the Boston Ballet. Since moving to Tallahassee in 2006, he has become very involved in the local theater community as an actor, director, and acting coach who regularly teaches acting workshops in the area. Kevin is also the founder of Canopy Roads Productions. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Monticello Opera House, where he served as Interim Executive Director in 2013. Kevin is also an adjunct faculty member at Tallahassee Community College. He received his PhD from Florida State University in 2013.
Community Engagement & Membership Coordinator
Pre Reid is responsible for working with COCA team members to support current initiatives and develop new programming that encourages growth in the organization and across the cultural community. Raised in Jacksonville, Pre developed an early love of art that has never left her. She is a 2016 Florida A&M University graduate earning a bachelor’s degree in Fine Art with a concentration in graphic design and curation. She has worked with the Wells’ Built Museum of African American History and Culture in Orlando, and has done freelance curatorial work with local organizations such as the Meek-Eaton Black Archives and Alien Astronauts, LLC. Pre is a practicing visual artist and works in a variety of media. She has a passion for community outreach and engagement and plans to further these efforts with her role at COCA.
Chair, Seat: Marketing (County)
Lucia Fishburne is a life-long advocate for the creative industries in Florida. Most recently, she served as the Executive Director of the Florida Book Awards, administered by Florida State University’s Strozier Library. The Florida Book Awards - the most comprehensive state book awards program in the United States - is an annual competition that recognizes, honors, and celebrates the best work written by Florida authors and about Florida culture in the previous year. Lucia has also assisted the FSU College of Communication and Information (CCI) as a research associate. Prior to her work at FSU, Lucia directed the Executive Office of the Governor as Florida’s State Film Commissioner where she was responsible for leading the state’s efforts to build, expand and retain the film, TV and digital media entertainment industry sector. She was appointed to that position following ten years of service in the workforce and economic development arena in Florida.
Lucia holds a MS degree from Florida State University in marketing communications and an accreditation in public relations (APR). Spurred by her love of music and performance, Lucia has toured as a professional singer/songwriter throughout the southeast. Highlights of her creative accomplishments include an original composition featured in the Victor Nunez film, “Ruby in Paradise” (the top film at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival), and Composer/Performer/Producer credits for “Algebra TV,” winner of the Milia ’95 international multimedia conference in Cannes, France.
A Florida resident for most of her life, Lucia enjoys being a tourist in her own state whenever she can with special emphasis on enjoying Florida’s unique natural assets, historical sites and creative talent.
Lucia Fishburne has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.
Vice Chair, Seat: Business/Finance (County)
Kati Schardl has been involved in the area cultural community for more than 30 years, both as a participant and as a chronicler. As the former, she performed as a vocalist in local band Cold Water Army, with songstress Jen Kermeen and with Tallahassee bard Pat Puckett. Kati also exhibited artwork and installations and participated in performance art happenings as a member of the SPACE Arts Collective in Railroad Square. As a chronicler, she documented the music and theater scenes for 15 years as an arts and features writer and editor at the Tallahassee Democrat. During her tenure there, Kati was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship for a three-week residency to attend a theater-writing workshop in Los Angeles. Kati currently works as an associate editor for VISIT FLORIDA, the state tourism agency. She recently picked up writing the weekly music column for the Democrat again and also freelances for such publications as VIRES (the FSU alumni magazine), The Local Palate and Tallahassee Magazine. Kati is an avid amateur naturalist and birder, loves to travel and believes in the magical and healing properties of artistic expression.
Katie Schardl has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2016.
Treasurer, Seat: At-Large (City)
Curt Blair serves as administrative director of the Franklin County Tourist Development Council a post he has held since 2007. In that capacity he serves on the Visit Florida Industry Relations Committee, the North Florida Tourist Development Coordinating Council Board, Riverways South Board of Directors and as special consultant to the US 98 Corridor planning committee. He is a graduate of Florida International University.
He is a former Monroe County Commissioner during which time he sponsored both the Monroe County Tourist Development Council and Monroe County Fine Arts Council. His professional career includes hotel and restaurant construction and management, governmental consulting with specialties in health care and local government and management of a number of community organizations.
Curt and his wife Beth enthusiastically support a variety of art related activities and organizations in the community. He is a founding patron of the Great American Plein Air Paint Out an annual event in Franklin and Gulf Counties. Both he and Beth have performed in a number of theatrical productions over the years. Their joint passions are family, art collection, theater, and the Boston Red Sox.
Curt Blair has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2016.
Beth J. LaCivita
Secretary, Seat: Tourism (County)
Beth J. LaCivita moved to Tallahassee in 1980. After obtaining a Masters Degree in Public History from FSU, Ms. LaCivita worked in the Division of Historical Resources of the Florida Department of State. She served as the Executive Director of the Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation, Inc. (TTHP) and in 2004, she created her consulting company, Historic Florida Consulting, LLC. Also in 2004, Ms. LaCivita began a guided tour business, Guided Tours in Florida’s Capital & The Forgotten Coast, serving Florida’s Big Bend. She has an intimate knowledge of Florida’s capital city and the Forgotten Coast’s historic and cultural sites. The tour company provides step-on-guide and itinerary planning services and conducts guided driving and downtown walking tours. Her company also produces the Ghost Walking Tours in Downtown Tallahassee, employing many local community actors and theater students.
Beth LaCivita has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2014.
Adriene B. Wright, Ph.D.
At Large, Seat: Volunteer (County)
After many years as an executive leader in the corporate sector, Adriene Bryant Wright has returned to the Tallahassee community as Founder and President of Abelita LLC, a Diversified Services Consulting Company. Adriene is often recognized for persuasive public speaking abilities, amazing and insightful coaching abilities, and diplomatic and engaging qualities. Prior to launching Abelita LLC, Adriene served as a university administrator overseeing fundraising, grant funding, marketing and communications. She also has extensive experience in the corporate and state government sectors in marketing, business development, and as a government administrator overseeing diversity, certification and compliance programs. She is also a former Brookings Congressional Fellow, where she managed Science and Technology issues. Adriene is a graduate of Florida A&M University with a B.S. Degree in Civil Engineering Technology and advanced degrees in Theology including a Certificate from the International Academy of Apologetics, Evangelism and Human Rights, Strasburg, France.
Adriene has a love for the arts having studied various dance forms during much of her upbringing and was a dance minor at Florida State and Florida A&M Universities. Upon her recent return to the Tallahassee community, Adriene is honored to volunteer her time to several area non-profit organizations including the Tallahassee Ballet Board and the COCA Board. She is an active member of St. Peters Anglican Church and serves on the Adult Formation committee.
Adriene Wright has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.
Immediate Past Chair, Seat: Finance (City)
Spencer Ingram is the managing principal of Ingram Accounting and Consulting, LLC, which has provided accounting and consulting services to hundreds of small businesses, insurance agencies, individuals and other non-profit organizations since 1994. Spencer earned his bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Florida A&M University and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from The Florida State University. He received the Certified Public Accountant designation shortly after.
Since 1999, Spencer has hosted a weekly talk show called “Business Insight” on WTAL 1450 A.M. His other community footprints include: John G. Riley House Museum (advisor and supporter); The United Way of the Big Bend (finance committee); Capital City Chamber of Commerce (board of directors); The Greater Tallahassee Chamber of Commerce (board of directors); Leads Group 3 (founding member, officer); Frenchtown Outreach Center (advisor); Leon County Contractors’ Licensing and Examination Board; Premier Bank (community advisory board). For his public service, Spencer has received many awards and accolades, most notably, the Small Business Administration Service Award (2002) and the Capitol Outlook Small Business of the Year (2011), and recognition in the Cherry Hall Alexander African American History Month Calendar (2012).
Spencer Ingram has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2010.
Board of Directors
Seat: Practicing Artist (City)
Del Suggs is a singer/songwriter and guitarist from the beaches of North Florida. He has released numerous recordings, has over sixty published songs, and has performed in concert across the US, Caribbean, and Japan. Del is considered to be one of the founders of “Trop Rock” (tropical rock) music, and he is featured in the book “Trop Rock Songs: Stories and Tales” by Andy Forsyth (2011). After having performed at over 500 college campuses, Del became the first artist inducted into the National Campus Entertainment Hall of Fame. He helped to found the Florida Chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences (the Grammy Awards). He has also served on the board of the National Association for Campus Activities, the Florida Flambeau Foundation, and is past president of the Tallahassee Museum. Del is also a popular leadership speaker and author, and his latest book is “Truly Leading: Lessons in Leadership.”
Del Suggs has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2014.
Seat: Business (City)
Faith Clarke is the director of the Agricultural and Environmental Development Institute (AEDI). For more than 20 years, Faith provided training, conducted research, developed youth leadership programs and administered federal and international projects in agriculture; environmental management; business development; food safety and tourism. Prior to AEDI, she worked with the Florida Cooperative Extension Service. She is the founder and chair of the Florida Chapter of the National Women in Agriculture Association and volunteers with the American Red Cross.
Faith Clarke has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.
David C. Self
Seat: At-Large (City)
David C. Self, Esquire is an Associate General Counsel at Florida A&M University with more than 25 years of private sector experience. He specializes in real property, leases, debt management, public finance and general contract law. Mr. Self is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Columbia, B.J. and the University of Florida, College of Law where he served on the Law Review, and is an active member of several legal and civic organizations.
David Self has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2010.
Seat: History & Heritage (County)
John Lawrence is a native of Durham, North Carolina. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from North Carolina Central University and two master’s degrees from Florida A&M University. He also studied marine biology at Florida State University. He worked as a biology teacher at the original Lincoln High School and taught science in the adult education program in the Leon County School District. Later, at Godby High School, he was promoted to assistant principal and eventually became the school’s first African-American principal. He also worked for the Florida Department of Education as program director and later as bureau chief of adult and community education. In 1995, the Adult and Community Educators of Florida named the annual statewide administrator’s award for him. He has been active in the community through the Code Enforcement Board of the City of Tallahassee, Leon County Teacher’s Credit Union, Tallahassee Area Club of Frontiers International, Tallahassee Urban League, Kappa Delta Pi, Phi Delta Kappa, Leon County Housing Finance Authority, and the Leon County Investment Oversight Committee. He has been recognized as a Tallahassee Democrat Volunteer Educator of the Year, Tallahassee Area Club of Frontiers International Man of the Year, and National GED Outstanding Educator of the Year. He was also inducted into the FAMU College of Education Gallery of Distinction.
Lawrence is the CEO of JVL Education, Inc, a consulting service. He and his wife, Virginia Landers Lawrence, have two children and two grandchildren.
John Lawrence has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2011.
Seat: At-Large (County)
Claudia Davant has vast experience in procurement processes and strategies and is a founding partner at Adams St. Advocates, a governmental and business development consulting firm. Claudia is also a founding member of the Florida Technology Council (FTC), a newly-formed association that is focused on the needs of the technology sector. She currently serves on Executive Steering Committee at Florida TaxWatch, the Take Stock In Children Board, the Florida After School Network Board and the Tallahassee Downtown Improvement Authority.
Claudia Davant has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.
Seat: At-Large (County)
Rosanne Wood is recognized as one of Florida’s pioneer educational innovators. After graduating from FSU with a Master’s Degree in Social Studies Education, she served as a teacher and then principal of SAIL (School for Arts and Innovative Learning) High School in Tallahassee, Florida for 36 years. Wood served as President of the Leon County Principals’ Association in 1988 and 1995 and as the State President of the Florida Association of Alternative School Educators in 1989-91. She was selected by the Commissioner of Education for the “Principal Achievement Award for Outstanding Leadership” in 1990, honored as a “Woman of Courage and Vision” by Tallahassee Community College in 2001, and Leon County Administrator of the Year in 2010. In October, 2012, she was honored as the FSU College of Education “Distinguished K-12 Educator” alumni award. In 2013, Wood was chosen as one of five “Trailblazers” by the Oasis Center for Women and Girls. Wood was a Keynote speaker at the International Conference for Invitational Educators in Orlando, Florida, September, 2013. She served as a Panelist at the National Public Radio/TV American Graduate Town Hall on reducing dropouts and increasing options for high school graduation, October, 2013. Wood served on the Citizens Editorial Board for the Tallahassee Democrat and is the Vice Chair of the Executive Board of Directors for Council on Culture & Arts, COCA, in Tallahassee, FL. Wood is currently President of Reform Works, Inc., an educational consulting firm that aids school districts in creating effective learning environments for all children.
Rosanne Wood has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2012.
Nathan Archer is a research communicator and editorial cartoonist residing in Tallahassee, Florida. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Nathan received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2000, before obtaining a Master of Arts degree in arts administration from Florida State University in 2006.
Having sharpened his communications and marketing skills throughout the non-profit and public sector, he currently works for the Florida Center for Reading Research, disseminating research findings in an effort to promote literacy across the state and region.
A passionate arts and free speech advocate, Nathan uses editorial cartooning to voice his own opinions online and in the pages of the Tallahassee Democrat. He is also the appointed LGBTQ liaison to Mayor Andrew Gillum’s office.
Nathan Archer has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2018.
Srinivasa Bharadwaj Kishore
History & Heritage (City)
A master’s degree holder in Engineering, Scientist turned management professional turned IT Architect, is wanting to retire ASAP from the the professional front and focus more on the passions. On the artistic front, has several achievements to his credit. As a long term resident of Tallahassee, he is well known in circles of people from Indian and Asian origin.
As a music composer arranger, his compositions fusing eastern and western style melodies have been performed by several bands all over the country, mainly in Florida and Georgia. He is artistic director of a chorus “swaravAhni” which has “Eastern melodies on the western landscape” as theme, has performed his compositions along side Tallahassee Community Chorus singers in Unity concerts. He wrote music and directed several musicals, the latest being “Nature the magnificent” was staged in February 2018, in Jacksonville and Tallahassee as a fundraiser for hurricane victims of Puerto Rico. “Mother Teresa”, “Universal Ambassador of Peace”, “Vivekananda”, “Neeharika”, “Chanakya”, “Bhuvanavijayam” are a few notable musicals he wrote music for and directed. He wrote several message oriented musicals for children like “Unity is strength”, “Gurukul”, “Journey to freedom”, “Home sweet home”, “Smarter or Stronger” which were staged in Tallahassee in various forums.
As a songwriter, “We belong” a theme song he wrote for Asian Coalition of Tallahassee is performed at the inauguration of “Experience Asia” every year. His composition “Gandhi - harbinger of non violent movement” was performed by singers of TCChorus. Songs “Peace in this world”, “Time is ripe to arise” spreading the message of humanity and peace were performed regularly at several forums including in peace concert organized by Rotary Club. His compositions with patriotic theme “Celebrate America”, “Peace begins with a smile”, “Braveheart”, “Heaven of freedom” have been performed in City of Tallahassee’s “Celebrate America” and other forums.
There are numerous songs he wrote and got performed in three Indian languages, Telugu, Hindi and Sanskrit. One song was adopted in the audio release function of a Telugu movie. As a poet, he has a few publications to his credit including “kadaMbaM”, a compilation of his poems in classical “Telugu” an Indian Language. His poems, short stories, and plays in Indian languages were published in several e-magazines.
Scores provided by him for eastern melodies are performed by several children of Indian origin in various forums. Most of these can be watched on his youtube channel.
Srinivasa Bharadwaj Kishore has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2018.
Seat: Practicing Artist (County)
Dan Taylor is a Tallahassee artist best known for his abstract oil paintings featuring bold, striking color palettes. His paintings have become highly sought-after and have been featured regionally at the Tampa Museum of Art and locally with the Council on Culture & Arts, LeMoyne Center for Visual Arts, Venvi Art Gallery, Gadsden Art Center, Hotel Duval and FSU’s Oglesby Art Gallery. He has volunteered countless hours of his time and been generous with his talents to raise funds for organizations and causes he cares about including Tallahassee’s Big Bend Cares, where he serves on the board, and 621 Gallery. Taylor also works in precious metal clay to create unique jewelry designs and he produces large scale garden sculpture in steel, wood, and various other materials.
Ex Officio Members
City of Tallahassee
This Ex Officio seat is currently vacant while a new representative is confirmed.
Former Commissioner Nancy Miller served as the City of Tallahassee representative from 2014-2018.
Commissioner Nick Maddox was elected to the Board of County Commissioners to serve the citizens of Leon County in 2010 with the goal of bringing diversity, increased transparency and a competitive edge to a county he has grown to love. Recruited to play football in 1999 for Florida State University, Nick left North Carolina for Tallahassee and found the place he would call home. As a running back with FSU, Nick was a part of the 1999 National Championship Team and left in 2001 to play at the highest level, the National Football League.
After spending three years in the NFL playing with the Browns, Chargers and Panthers, Nick returned home to Tallahassee and the Florida State Seminoles graduating with dual degrees in business & real estate while working with the Seminole Boosters.
Nick’s passion for football and winning has translated quickly to success for Leon County. He has committed his time in office to focusing on building up Tallahassee’s youth, bringing in new businesses to Tallahassee and growing local businesses. In 2005, Nick met his wife, Tina and knew that Leon County would be the best place to raise a family, and his tenacious support of redevelopment areas, quality of life and environmental preservation is ensuring it remains that way for years to come.
Nick Maddox has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2017.
Alva Swafford Striplin
Leon County Schools
Alva Swafford Striplin was elected to the Leon County School Board, representing District 1, in August 2014. She is also the Director of Marketing and Donor Development for Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Big Bend. Prior to her election, she was a classroom and virtual teacher in Leon County. Alva has three children who attend Chiles High School and is the mother of an aspiring young artist who’s art has been showcased in several Tallahassee galleries. Alva was honored as a “Woman on Fire” by Oasys Center for Women and Girls and Tallahassee Woman Magazine in 2014. She has volunteered in Leon County Schools and at Wildwood Presbyterian Church. Alva is a member of Gulf Winds Track Club and alumnae of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.
Alva Swafford Striplin has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2015.
Tracy Woodard-Meyers Ph.D.
Tallahassee Community College
Dr. Tracy Woodard-Meyers is the Dean of Communications and Humanities at Tallahassee Community College. Prior to her employment on June 1, 2016 at TCC, she was the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies and Professor of Sociology at Valdosta State University for the past twenty-two years. As an active scholar who champions social justice causes, she often incorporates the arts into her community work. She was instrumental in creating a visual display called “The Clothesline Project” for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Students designed t-shirts in honor of someone they know who was a survivor or victim of Intimate Personal Violence. The t-shirts told the person’s story and honored them or their memory. The shirts are hung on campus for a week during the month of October. Currently, there are over 800 shirts created by students. She has also organized benefit concerts to violence against women and girl issues.
Tacy Woodard-Meyers has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2016.
Florida State University
In her role as the Education & Engagement Manager, Ms.MacNamara focuses on community engagement, expanding K-12 programming and creating professional development opportunities for Leon County Schools teachers. Ms. MacNamara serves as the Florida State University ex officio member of the COCA Board of Directors since 2016 and serves on the Board of Directors for Southern Shakespeare Company. She graduated from the University of Central Florida with a BA in Theatre Studies. As a Tallahassee native, she is truly passionate about developing and supporting the arts throughout her community.
Calla MacNamara has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2016.
Florida A&M University
Kimberly K Harding received her formal undergraduate education in drama at Spelman College in Atlanta, GA., and earned her MFA degree in the area of Performing Arts Management from Brooklyn College. For several years she toured professionally as a stage manager and has two Off-Broadway credits to date. Her residency in New York City afforded her opportunities to work in administrative and production offices of The Acting Company, Manhattan Theater Club and Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Harding left New York to pursue a desire to work in theatre education at her alma mater, Spelman College.
Currently, Harding is employed at Florida A&M University where she is an Associate Professor of Theatre. In addition to her teaching load she serves the theatre program as the Ticket Sales & Services Manager, Educational ArtReach Coordinator, Director of Marketing and as the theatre’s Sound Designer. Harding has two published articles to her credit on the lives and works of theatre artists Micki Grant and Vinnette Caroll, both which appear in African American Playwrights: A Sourcebook (2004). In 2008 she was the project manager and an editor for the National Black Arts Festival’s 20th Anniversary commemorative book, a summer festival for which she stage managed events during its first twenty years.
As a leisure pursuit she enjoys creative writing and has written several family/youth theatrical works that have been produced by the Essential Theatre and the Irene C. Edmonds Youth Theatre. Currently she is working on her first full-length play, Between Goodbye and Hello which had its first public reading at the BlackTheatre Network Conference in Atlanta, GA.
Kim Harding has served on the COCA Board of Directors since 2017.