POBA Board of Advisors
Shelley Berc, herself an award-winning writer, has devoted much of her life to teaching and encouraging people in all disciplines how to access, nurture, and expand their creativity. Shelley was a full professor at the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program and the Iowa Playwrights Workshop from 1985-2000. Upon leaving academia, she founded The Creativity Workshop with Alejandro Fogel, where she currently serves as Director.
As well as being a prominent educator, Shelley Berc is a well-known author of novels and plays. Her novel, The Shape of Wilderness, was hailed by The New York Times as “a vividly imagined parable…a strange and potent book…a fantastical world of unusual sensuality and invention.” Her numerous awards include a McKnight Fellowship, two Lila Wallace/Readers Digest awards, Rockefeller/Bellagio Fellowship, National Jewish Culture Playwriting award, the prestigious two year Pew/TCG National Theatre Artists Residency, an NEA Opera/Music librettist fellowship, and an Outer Critics’ Circle nomination for best off-Broadway play. Her theatre pieces, having starred many notable actors including Patrick Stewart, Stanley Tucci, and Tony Shalhoub, have been performed at the American Repertory Theatre, the Yale Rep, Seattle Rep, and Classic Stage Company, among others.
Sallie Bernard is the President of the James Kirk Bernard Foundation, under whose auspices POBA – Where The Arts Live® was created. Sallie is a talented painter and illustrator in her own right. Much of Sallie’s career has been devoted to key roles in non-profit organization, especially in the fields of autism and neurological development. Currently, she is on the board of Autism Speaks, following its merger in 2007 with Cure Autism Now (CAN). She had previously served as Board Chair for CAN and as Executive Director of its New Jersey chapter. She was also a member of the Founders Forum for The Autism Center of UMDNJ in New Jersey. She and her husband, Tom, have been major supporters of the Autism Genetic Resource Exchange (AGRE), Clinical Trials Network, Autism Treatment Network, and Environmental Innovators Award programs.
Sallie is co-founder and executive director of SafeMinds, an organization that focuses on the role of environmental factors in neuro-developmental disorders. In this role, Sallie has testified before the U.S. Congress, presented to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, published numerous research papers and letters in science journals and participated in several government committees addressing the effect of mercury on neurological development. She is also co-founder and Board President of Extreme Sports Camp, a nonprofit outdoor recreation camp for children and teenagers with autism. Sallie has also served on the Board of several other non-profits, including the US Cochrane Center, where she has served as Chair and Founding Member of CUE, a program that supports evidence-based decision-making in health care.
Sallie was the founder and former president of ARC Research, a market research and consulting firm, which she sold in 2004 and is now part of Leger Marketing. She is a graduate of Radcliffe College, Harvard University.
Barbara Colwell is a corporate and non-profit Director and a consultant in strategy and e-commerce for both domestic and international businesses. Barbara has more than 20 years’ experience serving on U.S. corporate boards. These board appointments follow Barbara’s successful career as a senior executive in marketing and strategic planning with such companies as Priceline.com, CIGNA and TWA.
Her corporate board appointments include Mutual Trust Financial Group (2000-present), a $2B financial services provider, where she currently serves on audit and compensation committees; Publishers Clearing House (2002-present), the largest direct marketer in the U.S. and Canada, where she serves on the audit, compensation and governance committees; AMEC Americas (2003-2008), an $8B multinational engineering and project management company; and Indemnity Insurance Company of North America (1991-1995).
Barbara has also served on the Boards of many non-profits including ThinkQuest New York City ( where she also served as Executive Director), and as Board Chair for the Innovation Network and Plays for Living. Barbara also serves or has served on numerous advisory boards for nonprofit and cultural institutions, including the marketing council of the American Management Association; the U.S. Council on Competitiveness; and on advisory boards for Avis, KindMark, the Saudi Arabia/American Coalition and the Tourist Boards of Great Britain, Israel and Denmark.
Meredith Melnick is Editorial Director at The Huffington Post, focusing on health, culture and lifestyle. Previously she was a health reporter at TIME Magazine, where she helped launch Healthland, Time’s online health vertical. During her tenure at TIME, Meredith was named a 2011 Fellow of the National Institute of Health. Her work has appeared in the New York Daily News, The Record, House & Garden and on Newsweek.com. Previously, she was a Digital Media Fellow at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where she also taught visual and online storytelling.
Professor Kenneth Schlesinger is a librarian, archivist, scholar, and educator, working as both a Professor and Chief Librarian at Lehman College in New York.
Before holding the title of Chief Librarian, Kenneth was Director of Media Services at LaGuardia Community College, where he also achieved the rank of full professor. He also worked previously at Thirteen/WNET, where he established the station’s first videotape archive, and was also an archivist in the research collections of Time, Inc., the Metropolitan Opera, the Paley Center for Media (formally the Museum of Television and Radio), and the Kurt Weill Foundation for Music.
Kenneth has spoken and published extensively on library architecture, open access, institutional repositories, intellectual property, performing arts archives, and digital preservation. He has received numerous academic and professional honors, including a Fulbright Senior Specialist grant and Summer Fellowship from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. He is vice president of the Theater Library Association and a founder and board president of Independent Media Arts Preservation.
Berta has been a force in developing and leading innovation in arts institutions throughout her career. Through the renowned Berta Walker Gallery, founded more than 25 years ago, she is deservedly credited with re-invigorating a fuller understanding of the significant contribution of the Provincetown Art Colony to the history of American art. In the early 1980s, Berta was Founding Director of the Graham Modern Gallery, a unit of the Graham Gallery, New York City’s oldest art gallery, significantly expanding the repertoire and scope of the Graham’s works and artists. She directed the acclaimed Marisa Del Re Gallery, setting it on course to become one of the most prestigious galleries worldwide in its heyday in the 1980-90s. Berta served as Chairman of the Board of the Fine Arts Works Center (FAWC), for over 15 years. Now in its 4th decade, FAWC is nationally and internationally known for its acclaimed Fellowship residency program, summer workshop program, online writing classes, MFA program in collaboration with MassArt.
Berta has wide experience at other cultural institutions as well, having spent more than two decades working for and with such prestigious organizations as the Whitney Museum of Modern Art, the Neuberger Museum, and Opportunity Resources for the Arts, where she was the Founding Director of the groundbreaking Museum and Visual Arts Program, funded by the NEA and established to find special talent to lead museums, art centers, and arts councils. She has served on selection panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council for the Arts, and has served on the Boards of numerous arts organizations.
Jane H. Willis is past president of the Appraisers Association of America and served on its Board of Directors for twenty-five years (1988-2013). Jane created and taught the Appraisal Writing Workshop for the NYU SCPS Appraisal Studies program, and wrote and revised the seminal textbook from 1995-2011. She is an Americana specialist and expert generalist in antiques, fine arts, silver and residential property. Founder and Principal of Jane H. Willis Appraisal Services, her broad practice covers all estate-related services, including consultations, planning, and appraisal of estates, gifts and donations for tax purposes. Her clientele is full spectrum, including private individuals, museums and foundations.
Jane hopes that her long experience advising and helping in estate and collections situations that are often complex, occasionally problematic, and always personal will be useful to POBA.