Announcing the new AIGA CT Board of Directors

AIGA Connecticut is excited to announce it’s new 2014 Board of Directors. Every two years the Chapter welcomes a slate of new Directors to reinvigorate and progress the organization. In line with the Chapter’s bylaws, our 2014 slate has been formally vetted and voted on by the Board and our Members. 

Our new Board has been carefully assembled to represent the diverse and growing Connecticut design community. The individuals below represent a mix of agency, in-house and independent creative leaders as well as several qualified, non-design professionals, all of whom bring specific expertise to the Board. And, nearly half of the new Board has served at least one term in a different role prior to their new assignment. This mix of experience and new energy will help to carry the organization forward in a sustainable way. 

Executive Board
•    Kim Barker-Craven*, President
•    Rena DeBortoli, Vice President
•    Barbara North, Secretary
•    Stephanie Cleary*, Finance Director

Board of Directors
•    Charmaine Banach*
, Education Director – Student Initiatives
•    Dontrese Brown, Director of Membership & Engagement
•    Monique Duquette, Programming Director – In-House
•    Sara Jamshidi, Programming Director
•    Basia Karpiel, Communications Director
•    Christian LoGrasso*, Development Director
•    Kinga Wlodarska*, Education Director – Emerging Professionals

Committee Chairs
•    Sam Epstein
, Communications Chair, Social Media
•    Anna Gallo, Communications Chair, Online Communications & E-mail

Members at Large:
•    Kristin Holda

•    Victal Lopes
•    Christine Milot*
•    Amy Perry*
•    Amy Ray
•    Jack Tom*

*indicates current Board member continuing their service

——————— Board Bios ———————



Kim Barker-Craven
Kim Barker-Craven is the president of Creative Services Group – an award-winning communications firm offering branding, marketing strategy and graphic design. At Creative Services Group, Kim works with corporate, academic and governmental clients building brand strategies that address identity, positioning, messaging, conceptual development, community-building, and corporate social responsibility. Additionally, Kim conducts focus research, branding workshops, leadership and executive strategy sessions.Kim studied Graphic Design and Marketing at the University of Connecticut and Fairfield University, and attended the Council for Advancement and Support of Education’s (CASE) Integrated Branding & Marketing Institute. Her personal interests in environmental and social issues inspired her to launch Creative Services Group’s Be Seen as Green initiative in 2006 to advocate for awareness and mindful action in the business sector when opportunities arise, leading clients to consider these factors as it relates to their brand and marketing strategies. In 2011 and 2012, Creative Services Group was awarded the GreenCircle award by the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) for the development of educational materials for Connecticut’s Aquifer Protection Area Program. Kim has served on the AIGA Connecticut Board as Sustainability Director and Vice President. She has been a member of the of the US Green Building Council, attending GreenBuild 2007 and 2013, and has taken Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified courses. As a cancer survivor, Kim is involved in raising awareness about cancer prevention and survivorship – at the environmental, governmental and personal level. Prior to launching Creative Services Group, Kim was Vice President at Hughes Design, and Assistant Art Director at Tennis magazine.



Rena DeBortoli
Vice President
Rena DeBortoli’s creative energy and passion has been inspiring her design solutions for 25+ years. This award-winning designer enjoys bringing ideas to life by integrating creativity with message. Rena’s diverse experience has helped her focus in branding and developing communication/marketing materials across a variety of medium. Her work includes a wide range of projects for clients that include Aerosmith, Ashley Foods, Engine Alliance, GTechCorporation, Pepsi, Pratt & Whitney, Stand Up 2 Cancer; and she also consults for various creative firms and agencies. Prior to going out on her own as Rena DeBortoli Design in 2004, Rena was the creative director at Sonalysts, Inc. for 12 years. There she lead a creative team servicing a diverse range of clients in strategic planning and branding, graphic design, 2D and 3D animation, web, video and broadcast design, environmental and set design for such clients as Pratt & Whiney, Kerzner International, Mohegan Sun, Pfizer, ESPN, and Time Life Medical. Rena shares what she loves as an adjunct teacher at Mitchell College, teaching graphic design and gaming courses. Rena served 2 terms as the President of the Connecticut Art Director’s Club and held a position on the executive board for 6 years. She graduated with a BFA in Communication Design from the Pennsylvania State University. Rena’s work has been recognized by numerous industry awards and appeared in publications both locally and nationally. Her work has also been featured in several recent books on contemporary graphic design. Rena has also received a regional Emmy for Individual Achievement in Graphics and was nominated for 2 National Emmys.



Barbara North
Barbara North is a business development and communications executive with experience in organizational innovation, talent and change management, and brand communications. Barbara leads corporate workshops, teaches leadership in management, and speaks at conferences about leadership and communications. She consults with companies on a wide range of organizational and communication initiatives. Barbara currently works with the Associated Industries of Massachusetts (AIM), an 10,000-member business advocacy association celebrating it’s centennial anniversary in 2015, teaching workshops on a range of leadership issues, and writes for their blog. Barbara also consults with PEERS, a California-based non-profit, providing strategic content and policy development and management consultation. Previously, as vice president of organizational development at HealthDrive Corporation, a 225-person firm, Barbara was in charge of organizational communication, educational development, and provider sourcing strategies including social media, outreach and events. With 20 years of experience working with CEOs, Executives and other organizational leaders on strategies to successfully engage stakeholders, Barbara enjoys working with social entrepreneurs and businesses to help craft mission statements, business plans, grant requests, and communication content that allow them to reach new audiences. Passionate about environmental and global issues, Barbara leverages creativity and communication campaigns to help influence change at the corporate and social enterprise level.



Stephanie Cleary
Finance Director
Stephanie Cleary has over 15 years of financial and administrative experience and is a Certified Financial Planner®. She currently is a Financial Advisor Assistant for Wealth Preservation Partners, LLC in SImsbury CT. Prior to that she was Financial Advisor Associate at Asset Strategies, Inc. in Avon, and held administrative positions at the Department of Family Medicine, University of Pittsburgh and Rothstein & Co, LLC in Avon. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Writing with a concentration in Economics from the University of Pittsburgh.



Charmaine Banach
Education Director, Student Initiatives

Charmaine has worked for more than fifteen years in the design industry, both nationally and internationally, as an interaction designer, information architect, educator, and consultant. Some of her clients include the MacArthur Foundation, CIVCO International, SMC Marketing Hong Kong, Eastland Shoes, and the Congressman Loebsack Campaign to name a few. She recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise thousands of dollars for an urban revitalization design project in Youngstown, OH. As an active member in the local design community Charmaine has held a position on the AIGA Pittsburgh Board of Directors and was responsible for updating and maintaining the chapter website and event listing on a weekly basis.  She also helped with the vision and execution of the annual exhibition and awards event, PGH365.  Another event that Charmaine planned completely, which brought the AIGA Pittsburgh and Cleveland chapters together, was a lecture by Patri ck Purdy, which took place on the campus of Youngstown State University, OH and drew over 60 people from the chapter and community.  This event helped form the AIGA student chapter at Youngstown State, gaining around 40 new members for AIGA Pittsburgh.  Add to the list the formation of the reading group, Facing Pages, which was a joint effort with a fellow Board member to unite chapter professionals over a good book and wine. Before teaching at Quinnipiac University, she taught at Youngstown State University in Ohio, as well as the University of Iowa, teaching web design and print design courses.  Working as an Adjunct Professor at the Pittsburgh Art Institute online gave her valuable experience in an online classroom setting — which she integrates into all of her current classes.  Charmaine has won many UCDA and other awards for her designs, and had work featured in Yahoo! Internet Life Magazine.  One of the iPod Apps she designed was ranked # 4 for several months last year.  She earned her B.F.A. and M.F.A. (with honors) in Design from the University of Iowa, and attended the Savannah College of Art and Design with an Artistic Scholarship and earned my M.A. in Interactive Media Design.



Dontrese Brown
Director, Membership & Engagement
J. Dontrese Brown is a motivational creative design professional who has brought passion, inspiration and dedication to each opportunity in his professional journey. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Graphic Design from Georgetown College (KY) as well as a Master of Arts Degree in Graphic Design from Morehead State University (KY) and a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Savannah College of Art & Design (GA). Dontrese has led various teams from a creative and development perspective, building strong relationships and pushing processes and design to the maximum. His thirst for brand design, creative strategy and teamwork was the driving force that led him to his current position as Creative Director for Victorinox Swiss Army, North America



Monique Duquette
Programming Director, In-House
Monique Duquette is the Associate Creative Director at TicketNetwork®, and an award winning designer. She has been with TicketNetwork® for more than four years, and leads the design team, which manages 14 different brands. She has a lifelong passion for design, and is active in AIGA and the Ad Club of Western Massachusetts. Before TicketNetwork®, she worked at Winstanley Associates and Bidwell ID. Monique holds B.F.A.s in graphic design and photography from UMass Dartmouth.



Sam Epstein
Communications Chair, Social Media
Sam Epstein is a New York born, Jersey raised graphic designer living in Connecticut. She studied Interactive Digital Design at Quinnipiac University, where she found her passion for typography and print design. She currently works as an in-house designer for Whitehaus Collection in West Haven, and is also the editor-in-chief and art director for Kitchen Bath Trends Magazine by Whitehaus. In her spare time, she enjoys binge-watching TV shows on Netflix, reading books of every genre, freelancing, and taking photographs.



Anna Gallo
Chair, Online Communications & Email
Anna Gallo is a tech-geek, cat mom, and cupcake enthusiast. Born and raised in Connecticut, she studied English and studio art at Georgetown University before earning her MS in Interactive Media from Quinnipiac. She teaches creative writing and media arts at the Greater Hartford Academy of the Arts and does freelance development.



Sara Jamshidi
Programming Director
Sara Jamshidi is a designer at The Design Observer Group and Winterhouse. She studied Communication Design at University of Connecticut and spent a semester studying abroad at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, concentrating in typography. An AIGA scholarship recipient, Sara has worked with several award-winning designers and is currently assisting Jessica Helfand.



Basia Karpiel
Communications Director

Basia Karpiel received her BFA in Communication Design from the University of Connecticut, and currently works as a designer at CO:LAB. While in school, she worked as a graphic designer for UConn’s School of Nursing and a web designer for UConn’s Web Development Lab, and designed award-winning pieces as part of the Design Center, a professor-led and student-run design studio. Basia has won numerous scholarships and awards for her student work, including CADC’s Gold, Silver, Excellence, and Judge’s awards. With a strong passion for making meaningful connections and a goal to broaden the design community at UConn, Basia became an active student member of AIGA CT, starting an AIGA CT Student group at UConn, participating in board meetings as a student representative, serving as a volunteer, and actively encouraging fellow students to attend events and workshops. Basia was also an active board member of Design Area, UConn’s design club. She studied abroad at the University of Arts London at Central Saint Martins, and interned for Alexander Isley Inc. Prior to starting at CO:LAB, Basia freelanced for Alexander Isley and Taylor Design. Basia uses most of her downtime documenting her surroundings as an amateur photographer, having genuine conversations with loved ones and strangers, and learning how to play the autoharp.



Christian LoGrasso
Development Director
Christian LoGrasso is a passionate and award-winning creative leader with over 13 years of multidisciplinary design and leadership experience.  He currently works as Manager of Campaign Solutions at Valassis Communications, a leader in intelligent media delivery. Throughout his diverse career he has worked with many fortune 500 clients and leading national brands, and has worked in-house, managing branding and marketing communications efforts. He has built and led highly talented design teams and has worked in partnership with many leading state and national creative agencies. Christian has served on the AIGA Connecticut Board of Directors since 2010, most recently serving as Chapter President, and previously leading the areas of Partnership and Membership. During his tenure the chapter has realized over 75% growth in membership. He was also instrumental in developing flagship programs that support students and emerging talent and in expanding the chapter’s reach and influence through the formation of strategic partnerships and alliances. Christian graduated with honors from of the Art Institute of Pittsburgh in 2001, and has lived and worked in Connecticut, Pittsburgh, PA and Buffalo, NY. He currently lives in Manchester, CT with his wife Heidi and son Evan.



Kinga Wlodarska
Education Director, Emerging Professionals
Kinga Wlodarska holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, a formative experience of exceptional learning from internationally recognized designers and educators, where she was inspired to become a Professor of Graphic Design instilling in her students professional, practical, technical, and artistic abilities. With a careful eye towards exercising a student’s capacity to learn and embedding character building virtues she challenges students to examine how graphic design can affect social change and public interest, harnessing it for responsible design, and civic-minded projects. Kinga credits her years of design experience, from being honed at the multi-disciplinary studio of Malcolm Grear Designers Inc., where she expanded her aspirations for knowledge and accomplishment. Here she worked interchangeably in print, web, interface, exhibition, wayfinding and environmental design campaigns, as well as collaborated on brand development. She created elegant design solutions for Harvard University Art Museums, Elegant Publishing, Brown University, Rhode Island Department of Health, Vanderbilt University, Trinity Repertory Company, New Bedford Whaling Museum, Bryant University, MIT Museum, Lasker Foundation and the International Institute of Rhode Island, among others. Kinga developed her design sensibilities for a number of design firms in Rhode Island and Connecticut, contributing creative visual solutions to diverse audiences. She has been recognized for her design capabilities and continues to broaden her professional and scholarly activity participating in exhibitions, ongoing research, publishing, presenting papers on design education as well as providing productive service and outreach to the design community. Since 2012 she has served on the AIGA Connecticut Board of Directors as education director, coordinating the Emerging Professionals Workshop connecting students with industry professionals.



By AIGAConnecticut
Published August 1, 2014