Karen (K.C.) Madsen has a background in both business and art. She was partner in a successful small business, holding patents in four countries and ultimately licensing her product to 3M Corp. She served on advisory boards in Portland relating to education and affordable housing before returning to school to earn an MA in studio art at New York University. She has exhibited in New York and on the west coast and was included in the Portland Art Museum’s 2006 Oregon Biennial. Karen has curated local art installations and spearheaded two arts and culture summits, helping to shape a vision for the arts in southwest Washington.
SHARON SVECVice Chair
Sharon Svec is a textile artist and owner of SMS Communication Design. She has an MFA from Southern Illinois University (SIU) and has worked in marketing communications since 1998, primarily in the nonprofit sector at places such as SIU, the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce, and YWCA Clark County. Prior to joining Artstra, Sharon was part of the “underground” arts scene, participating in the Dada Arts Festival and organizing a performance festival for “The Space” in Uptown Vancouver. With Artstra, Sharon facilitated discussions on performance space, offered testimony at public hearings, and is a trusted voice on the board on issues relating to marketing, fundraising, and planning.
Jean LaCrosse was born and raised in Eastern Oregon. After finishing her BFA at the University of Arizona in Tucson, Jean worked as an art director for ad agencies and design firms in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ. She has partnered in and owned two design firms, a fine-art business and established a music and hi-fi magazine currently in its 13th year with worldwide distribution. Some of Jean’s past clients include: Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale Memorial Health Foundation, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Bombardier Canadair. Her fine art business secured licenses to sell images of Porsche and GM cars as well as Ducati motorcycles.
Annie Davern holds a B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Visual Art from the University of Washington. She is a photographer and teacher, with 20 years experience teaching photography at Battle Ground High School. Annie is a former member of the Portland Art Museum Photo Council, the Portland Photographers Forum, and the Clark County Arts Commission. She took a leading role in planning the 2017 Arts and Culture Summit and The Historic Trust’s Common Ground arts workshops. Annie has been an Artstra board member since 2015 and is the current treasurer.
STEVEN BAERBoard Member
Steven Baer holds a B.A. in philosophy from George Washington University and a J.D. from Georgetown Law. Prior to relocating to southwest Washington, he worked at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. on environmental cases including the Love Canal and Times Beach dioxin Superfund cases and the first two enforcement actions brought under the Oil Pollution Act (against Shell Oil and U.S. Oil in Washington State). He was the Director of the Legislative Division of the nonprofit National Center on Black Aged (NCBA) and has done pro bono work for the nonprofit Very Special Arts. Artstra has benefited from Steven’s legal expertise and contribution to the board since 2014.
KARIN CHASEBoard Member
Karin Chase is an interior designer/ event coordinator and sales executive for Holland America Flowers. A former board member of the Clark County Arts Commission, Karin has been on the board of Artstra since 2014. Her business, Karin’s Interiors, has allowed her to collaborate with local artists and support their work. Karin directs the Creative Relief Clark County program, distributing art supplies to communities with limited access to the tools of creativity. She was instrumental in launching the annual Empty Bowls Project for the Woodland Action Food Bank. Empty Bowls is an international grassroots effort engaging artists in raising awareness and money in the fight to end hunger.
JACKIE GENISBoard Member
Jackie Genis is a freelance journalist and resume writer living in Vancouver, Washington. Her work has been featured in The Columbian (under the byline McManus), Vancouver Family Magazine, ClarkCounty Talk, Clearing, and the Portland Tribune, to name a few. She received a first place best news story award from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, and the Edna McCormick talent award. A trained ballet dancer, Jackie is passionate about the joy that dance brings and loves celebrating the arts in her daily life and as a team member with Artstra. She is a contributing writer for Artstra’s newsletter, ARTS brief and helps manage the Poetry Moves program.
KITTY HIBBSBoard Member
Kitty Hibbs is a freelance art director, graphic designer, creative strategist, and team manager for profit and nonprofit clients, design studios and ad agencies from L.A. to the Pacific Northwest. She helped Downtown Camas Association promote events such as Plein Air First Friday and the Vintage and Art Fair. In 2013 Kitty worked with community advocate Val Ogden to upgrade communications for the Southwest Washington Center for the Arts project and was instrumental in helping Friends of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra raise funds to bring back their Concert in the Park. With Artstra, Kitty is passionately pursuing the development of a creative reuse center for Vancouver.
PAT LACROIXBoard Member
Pat LaCroix is a jewelry artist and long-time advocate for the arts. She was a key player in the formation of Battle Ground Art Alliance, Artstra, and the Clark County Arts Commission and held executive positions on all three boards. Pat was also on the boards of Southwest Washington Watercolor Society and the Columbia Art Center. The nonprofits in which she served as treasurer, including Artstra, benefited from her 19-year career in banking, as a loan manager and Northwest National Bank branch manager. Pat’s accounting and business background and her love for the arts have helped build a solid foundation for Artstra.
KELLY NEIDIGBoard Member
Kelly Neidig is an abstract painter with a BA from Penn State University. She has been a professional in the Pacific Northwest art community since 2005 and shows her work locally, nationally, and internationally. Her work has been included in the Tacoma Biennial, the Northwest Museum of Art, and the U.S. Embassy in Doha, Qatar. She has received grants, fellowships, and participated in the SIM residency program in Reykjavik, Iceland. Kelly’s work is in various private and public collections including the Swedish Hospital in Seattle, General Hospital in San Francisco, and Westin Hotel in Columbus, Ohio. Before joining the Artstra board, Kelly served as the President of Portland Open Studios.
JENNIFER WILLIAMSBoard Member
Jennifer Williams is a Pacific Northwest environmental landscape painter. Since graduating from Portland State University in 1996 with her Bachelor of Science and Fine Arts degree, she has developed a distinct style of mixed-media that has led to a strong following that includes corporate and private collections throughout the U.S. and abroad. Painting full time, Jennifer is currently represented by several major galleries in the Northwest. She took the lead in launching the Clark County Open Studios program that she has managed for the past six years, devoting much of her time to artist mentoring and arts advocacy.
LARAE ZAWODNYBoard Member
LaRae Zawodny is an artist/educator who has lived in Clark County since 1982. She holds an M.F.A. in Painting from Claremont Graduate University in California and a B.A. Magna cum laude from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. As a Visual Arts Specialist, she taught in the Vancouver School District, including the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics. LaRae’s artwork has been exhibited widely, and is included in the collections of Mercedes Benz Corporation and Pomona College among others. LaRae also serves as a Clark County Arts Commissioner and recently hosted the Clark County Poet Laureate Celebration.
Other team members
CAMERON SUTTLESMarketing Director
Cameron Suttles is a creative director, writer, and communications strategist with experience developing brands and helping organizations tell their story. He has been a small business entrepreneur and a freelance graphic designer. At Vancouver creative communications agency AHA, he served a range of clients including Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab and NBC Universal. He was marketing director for e-learning company Cenquest, marketing manager and designer for global management consulting firm Oliver Wight, and project manager for Portland agency PMSI. He has also taught graphic design at Portland State University (PSU) and Mt. Hood Community College. He has a degree in graphic design from PSU.
Holly Williams is a nonprofit accountant, community builder, and chair of the City of Vancouver Parks and Recreation Commission. She is a Cornell University alum, has worked at Hewlett-Packard as an engineer and project manager, and served for nine years on the school board of Evergreen Public Schools. Holly received a Post Baccalaureate Certificate in Accounting from Washington State University. She is an avid volunteer, bicycling advocate, and has been accountant for multiple nonprofits including Mercy Corps, Green Empowerment, and the Gifford Pinchot Task Force. She as served as Artstra’s accountant since 2016.