MEET THE NEW
The ACCV Board Members are elected and represent the following roles:
The ACCV Board celebrating the previous President, Ed Smart and previous head of PR and grant writer for the ACCV, Patrica Smart with the new President, Christina Alvarez Cox and board members and their family in the fall of 2023
Christina Alvarez Barrett has worked in the payment services industry for 30 years. She started out in electronic check services right after her first child was born. She worked her way up through the industry, succeeding against the odds as a self-educated, minority, single mother of two. Her professional accomplishments led to the launch of her own business in 2016, whose clients currently bring in +$38 million in processing volume per month. What she enjoys the most in her work is building long-term relationships with her clients. She enjoys anticipating needs and problem solving. At the end of the day, there is no stronger feeling of accomplishment than taking care of other people.
Susan Calkins has been a public school instrumental and vocal music teacher for more than 25 years. She’s taught in both Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Susan holds both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in music. Along with teaching for LAUSD for the last 16 years, Susan has worked for the Young Artists Ensemble for 21, having been involved in more than 50musicals. She serves as conductor, pianist, arranger and musical director for them. You will also find her playing piano for many schools in both counties to keep the arts alive. Susan is always willing to lend a hand. Susan resides in Newbury Park and wishes to do anything she can to help the community get past a pandemic that has forever changed us. Serving on the Arts Council of the Conejo Valley would enable her to become involved in the needs of the community as she prepares for retirement from LAUSD in October.
TREASURER/DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
TONY GITT - Please click here for Tony's credentials.
KRISTINE CLARK - I am a proud and fortunate mother to an ever curious and creative teenager. Artistic expression, in many forms, are part of our daily life- participation, as well as, pure enjoyment of. As a former para-educator in Special Education for fourteen years in the Las Virgenes Unified School District, I am a strong advocate for the Arts to be accessible and taught to all. I graduated from UCLA, majoring in Art History, and have volunteered at various organizations, including the Getty and the Malibu Stage Company. Also, I served on the Native American Cultural Resource Advisory Committee and the Trails Committee for the City of Malibu. Art is a passion of mine, and I am a strong believer that a community needs various artistic platforms where people may acquire, manifest, and benefit from creativity and culture.
DIRECTOR OF MEMBERSHIP
LAURIE HANIG - Laurie is a credentialed Art and Special Education Teacher who has taught for over 25 years in both the private and public school settings. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Art from UC Santa Cruz and Credentials from California State University, Northridge. After retiring from Los Angeles Unified School District, she went on to pursue her passion in the arts by creating and implementing a curriculum to teach Judaic Art to children. Through teaching creative art lessons that incorporated a variety of new techniques and materials into her mixed media projects, Laurie’s career as an artist began to grow. She has showcased and sold her work at local art and craft fairs, boutiques and is frequently commissioned by private parties. Her painting of The Tree of Life is part of the permanent collection of art at Temple Etz Chaim. As a mixed media artist, she focuses on subjects related to Jewish history, traditions and symbolism. Laurie’s art also seeks to raise awareness around social and global issues. Her current project speaks on the pandemic and depicts a series of decorative mixed media face masks constructed on canvas, that were submitted to the WLVG Members Art Show for January 2021. Laurie is certified by Monart School of the Arts and is a member of the Westlake Village Art Guild.
DIRECTOR OF PR/MARKETING
CRAIG MORTON - A native of Michigan, Craig is an avid and well traveled photographer, award winning digital artist and champion for the visual arts. After earning a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Craig worked for 26 years in the plastics industry where he held numerous professional, managerial and executive positions. He is a recognized authority in the field of engineering thermoplastics and their commercial application. In 2003, Craig joined his wife, Julie (BFA Art Center College of Design), to form Morton & Morton Art Studio and became very active in support of fine artists in the Greater Conejo Valley. He is past president of the Westlake Village Art Guild, served as visual arts chair on the Thousand Oaks Arts Festival planning committee and was a member of the Agoura Hills Cultural Arts Council for five years. He is the recipient of an “Excellence in the Arts” award from the City of Thousand Oaks. He currently serves as co-chair of the "Greater Conejo Valley Student Awards Juried Art Show" and is active on the ACCV's "Richard & Elaine Williams LEGACY Scholarship Fund" visual arts committee.
DIRECTOR OF EXHIBITIONS
Debra Sokolow is a native California artist, best known for her drawings and paintings. Her compositions reflect an abstract and spiritual form of expression where the process is as important as the product. Whether drawing or painting at a site or in the studio Sokolow finds inspiration from nature, humanity and the urban environment. As an arts educator Sokolow designed and developed a discipline-based curriculum for drawing, painting, architecture and design integrating sustainability, innovation, problem solving and reflection. Her artwork can be viewed in exhibitions and competitions. Sokolow is the recipient of arts educator awards, a California Arts Council grant and a Fulbright Memorial Fund Scholarship. Sokolow is actively involved in community minded organizations.
DIRECTOR OF INFORMATION SERVICES
JOHN PILLSBURY - I am the incumbent Director of Information Services. I have also served the ACCV as treasurer and as head of the Bylaws Review Committee. I am at present: the producer and corporate secretary of the Ventura County Gilbert & Sullivan Repertoire Co. and treasurer of the Philosophical Research Society. I should also note that I do have significant experience with computers and networks, and have arranged for the donation and servicing of all of the computer related equipment which the ACCV currently possesses. I look forward to continuing to help the ACCV to promote the arts and education in our community. I would also like to thank all of our member organizations both for their support of the ACCV and the good work that they do.
DIRECTOR OF EVENTS AND HOSPITALITY
Pat Johnson is one of the founders of the Arts Council and has served as President, Secretary and Member at Large. Pat has been the driving force for some of the key programs such as the Conejo Cottontails, a public arts work project in partnership with ArtTrek and scholarship prgams such as "Hang with the Best". Fresh off as a role as Member at Large, Pat is back acting as the Director of Events.
DIRECTOR OF ELECTRONIC MEDIA
BRIAN GAFFNEY - is currently the Senior Business Development Director for Unity3d.com. Brian leads the professional artistry organization with a focus on ArtEngine, a real-time 3D materials design tool featuring AI-assisted creativity. Brian is also the Chair Emeritus of SMPTE, the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers and a member of the Science and Technology Peer group for the Television Academy.
DIRECTORS AT LARGE
BRANDON SHARKEY- Artistic Director of The California Shakespeare Company, Brandon Sharkey, began performing in front of audiences at the age of 11 (his parents needed to pay the bills somehow). He started doing stand-up comedy at 15 years old (as a work release program). After graduating high school (he tests well) Brandon attended UCLA school of Theatre, Film, and Television. There Brandon joined the UCLA Comedy Club and performed Stand-up, Improv and sketch comedy throughout southern California. He eventually moved on to Whittier College earning a degree in Playwriting. Since then, Brandon has settled in Los Angeles and has worked as an actor, comedian and writer. His playwriting credits include “Without Doors”, “The Realities” and “Phat Trane: FOUND”. Brandon joined the California Shakespeare Company in 2006 and became Artistic Director in 2020.
CONNIE TUNICK is a prolific artist and for the past twelve years she served as Hillcrest Galleria's Co-Curator. Connie’s art ranges from experimental paintings with collage and mixed media to printmaking. Connie Tunick has worked as a professional artist for many years, and is well known in the art publishing world. She belongs to the Thousand Oaks Art Association and Women Painters West, both juried art organizations, and also is a member of Westlake Village Art Guild. As a Board Member of Arts Council of the Conejo Valley, she is involved with the Conejo Cottontails, a public art project with collaboration between ACCV and Art Trek. She spends much of her time working and teaching at her industrial studio in Newbury Park. A Northwestern University graduate from Illinois, she is an educator and children's art specialist with a California teaching credential and MA degree in Education from CLU, Thousand Oaks. The experimental quality and artistic sense of play that can be found in children's art is integral to her work.
GERI SCHONBERG -After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Philosophy, I moved to Manhattan while my husband completed medical school. While living in Colorado I completed my graduate studies in Art History at the University of Denver. Thousand Oaks has been my home for most of my life. I served as a docent at The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Finally, about 30 years ago, I took some art classes and painting and art began to be the focus of my life. In addition to my membership on the board of the Arts Council, I am a member of the Thousand Oaks Art Association, the Los Angeles Art Association and Women Painters West. Increasing participation in the arts and public art in our community is the reason for my work for ACCV.