Board of Directors:
Dr. Connors holds a Ph.D. in decorative arts from New York University and teaches and publishes widely in the field of Caribbean decorative arts. He has been a member of the Fundación Amistad Board of Directors for many years and has assisted on many trips to Cuba delivering supplies and furthering his research and writing.
Dr. Furman is a Clinical Professor of Child Psychology at the Child Study Center at the NYU Medical School. She has served as the Chair of the Children's Task Force of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and is currently a member of several boards focusing on educational/emotional needs of children worldwide. Her experience and support has aided FA in our mission and studies of women and children in Cuba.
Jean Marie Gath is a Principal with Pfeiffer Partners, a national architecture, planning and interior design firm with offices in New York City and Los Angeles. She serves as Principal-in-Charge of the firm's New York office. For the past twenty-five years her focus has been on the planning, programming and design of educational and cultural facilities. She is particularly well known for her skills in public facilitation and consensus building. Her involvement with Fundación Amistad dates back to 2000, when, funded through a grant by FA and the Ford Foundation, she assisted Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba in their planning for a new library facility. She has since worked with other international non-profit organizations in similar efforts, including CIRMA in Antigua, Guatemala in their planning for a new library as well as a regional cultural arts complex. Ms. Gath holds a Masters Degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Fundación Amistad Secretary
Mrs. Lord, a graduate of NYU, worked at Sotheby's auction house for 14 years. She spent her 1st six years running the Sotheby's Palm Beach office and then moved to New York as Vice President and head of the International Department. Over the past few years, she has collected Cuban art and has made frequent travels with FA to Cuba in order to pursue her interests.
Mrs. Pessino has appeared in a variety of theatrical works off Broadway and on the East End. As the Founder and Artistic Director of Oddfellows Playhouse in East Hampton, NY, she has spearheaded local theatre and numerous productions of the company. Mrs. Pessino is the honorary chairman of Robert Wilson's Watermill Center Community Board. She has participated in and supported many FA projects over the years and played a large part in the organization of the FA Friendship Fireworks, an annual fundraising event.
A graduate of NYU's Institute of Fine Arts with a degree in art conservation, Ms. Lowinger is one of the nation's leading experts on conservation of modern and contemporary art and architecture. Her Los Angeles based practice has tackled large-scale restoration projects and management of conservation for entire collections and architectural details throughout the United States and in the Caribbean. She has traveled extensively throughout Cuba and was a leading study group leader for art and architecture tours throughout the 1990's. She is a frequent contributor of articles on Cuban culture for such publications as ArtNews, Preservation, Sculpture and the Philadelphia Inquirer. A playwright and novelist, Ms. Lowinger is also the author of Tropicana Nights, the Life of the Legendary Cuban Nightclub - for which she received the Fundación Amistad 2005 TITLE award.
Olga Garay is the executive director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA), a position she assumed on August 1, 2007. Reporting directly to the Mayor of Los Angeles, and managing a $30-million budget, the executive director is the chief administrative officer of the DCA. Prior to joining the DCA, Ms. Garay served as Program Director for the Arts for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation from March 1998 to December 2005. Reporting directly to the Foundation President, Ms. Garay has been responsible for the planning, design, management, and evaluation of the Arts Program, which provides approximately $13-$20 million annually to leading performing arts organizations throughout the country, making it one of the largest national performing arts funders in the United States. Ms. Garay was also the Executive Producer of the contemporary opera Balseros, created by Cuban American playwright Maria Irene Fornes and based on real testimonies of Cuban rafters. Olga started working in the arts as a program officer in the mid 1980s at the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Department and went on to become assistant director of the agency. In 2006 she received a "Bessie," the New York Dance and Performance Awards and was named the Cuban Artists' Fund Distinguished Honoree. She received the 2003 "Fan Taylor Distinguished Service Award" for exemplary service to the field of professional presenting from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.
Ms. Eguizabel is the director of the Latin American and Caribbean Center at Florida International University. Before moving to Miami and joining FIU she served as a program officer at the Ford Foundation Mexico City office working on Peace and Social Justice issues. Her portfolio included grants on peace, security, and regional cooperation in Latin America, the Caribbean and the Western Hemisphere in general. Between 1995 and 2003 she was a member of the Human Rights and International Cooperation unit at the Ford Foundation in New York. She has held research and teaching positions at the University of Costa Rica, University of Bordeaux, University of Miami, and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences and has served as advisor for regional projects at the Confederacy of Central American Universities, the Central American Institute for Public Administration, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the United Nations University (UNU). Eguizábal holds a Ph.D. in Latin American Studies from the University of Paris-Sorbonne-Nouvelle.
While attending Wake Forest University, Volker studied abroad in Spain and Cuba. He attended the University of Havana in 2002 where he studied afro-cuban cultural expression, cuban literature, and history. Since graduating he has worked with Fundacion Amistad toward its educational, cultural, and humanitarian efforts to bridge understanding across the Straits of Florida. He is the President and Managing Member of Efficiency Energy LLC. The company provides energy efficient project and incentive management services to commercial and governmental entities. Mr. Volker has a B.S in Analytical Finance, a B.A. in Spanish Language and a M.S in Accounting.
Lana Mullen works in Disaster Response, Casework, and Volunteer Recruitment and Training at the American Red Cross of Greater New York where she also serves on the Volunteer Advocacy Board. She has traveled several times to Cuba with Fundación Amistad in support of our mission with children’s programs, and is committed to humanitarian outreach and education within New York City and beyond. Ms. Mullen is an accomplished artist and has illustrated numerous children's books in addition to travel and cooking titles.