Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) Announces Its Leadership Transition

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Robert Shick to serve as President of the Board Melanie Cohn elected as the new Executive Director

The Board of Directors of the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI) announced recent changes in its leadership structure to lead the organization into the next phase of its development.

The COAHSI board voted unanimously to make the following appointments:

  • Robert (Bob) Shick has been elected as President of the Board of Directors and in special consultation with its membership body and Board of Directors,
  • Melanie Cohn was elected to serve as COAHSI's Executive Director

Further, COAHSI took the unique opportunity to enhance the diversity of ideas and culture of its board and voted to elect the following members to its executive body:

  • Dr. Amin Hakim, Vice President, Medical Services, Group Health Incorporated will serve as Treasurer
  • Andrew Wilson Youth Web Producer at The New York Public Library was elected to serve as 1st Vice President and
  • Rosalind (Roz) Joseph, Global Communications and Relationship Marketing Professional will serve as 2nd Vice President
  • Hal Minsky and Chris Benbow will serve jointly as Recording and Corresponding Secretary

Robert Shick is a long-time member of the board and has previously served as president of the board of directors. The new executive leadership team is charged with working to ensure a strong continuance in realizing COAHSI's mandate of supporting creativity in the arts and humanities and making the arts more accessible to Staten Island communities.

COAHSI maintains a rich tradition of supporting individual artists and arts organizations on Staten Island. Through a competitive process the organization recently funded 54 projects totaling $118,000. Applicants represented individuals and organizations from all art and cultural disciplines--humanities and cultural studies, digital and interactive media, literary, performing and visual arts, crafts, folk arts media. The grantees were honored at the 2008 COAHSI Grants and Awards ceremony held on Saturday, February 23 at Gallery 6.

In acknowledging his appointment, newly elected Board President, Bob Shick commented, "I am honored to have another opportunity to play a key role in advancing COAHSI's mission. I look forward to working closely with the members of COAHSI's Board of Directors, its new Executive Director and the staff members to meet the organizations fiscal goals and bring attention to the significant impact of COAHSI's work on the art community of Staten Island".

As Executive Director, Melanie Cohn is charged with overseeing COAHSI's day-to-day operations and cultivating fundraising efforts and strategies to propel the organization in meeting its mandate. Cohn will also work closely with COAHSI's Board and staff in forging new relationships and creating new opportunities to enhance public awareness of COAHSI's work and championing its rich history of contributions to the Staten Island art and humanities community.
In recognizing her role as new executive director, Melanie Cohn said "I look forward to establishing relationships and working with everyone involved in Staten Island's vibrant arts and humanities in support of COAHSI's mission."

Melanie Franklin Cohn is an arts administrator, curator, and editor. She has worked as a publications manager, editing major publications for the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, New York; and Creative Time, New York, among others. She spent a total of seven years at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, beginning as a curatorial administrator in 1996 and most recently working as the head of the museum's publication program. She spent three years at the Everson Museum in Syracuse, New York as Director of Public Relations, where she worked with local community groups, such as FOCUS Greater Syracuse and the Cultural Resources Council of Syracuse and Onondaga County to strengthen the local arts and culture community. From 1998 to 2003, she served as the Arts and Leisure forum host at the New York Times on the Web. She has organized many exhibitions including "NY NY NY" (2007) at the Flux Factory, Long Island City, New York, a group exhibition that collectively re-imagined the five boroughs of New York; "Counter Culture" (2004) at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York, featuring site-specific Installations on the Bowery; "Club 57: Where Are You?" (2005), a one-person show of Harvey Wang's photographs of the East Village from 1973-1982; and the zine and internet portions of the New Museum Exhibition "alt.youth.media" (1996). Her recent editorial work includes Unmonumental: The Object in the 21st Century (Phaidon Press/New Museum, 2007), Keith Edmier (Booth-Clibborn Editions/CCS Bard, 2007), Who Cares (Creative Time, 2006), and Witness to Her Art (CCS Bard Hessel Museum, 2006). Melanie Franklin Cohn received her MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 1992.

Long-time COAHSI Executive Director, Laura Jean Watters, offered this statement on Melanie's appointment to head COAHSI, "Melanie's background and experience is just the right fit to honor COAHSI's founding principles and take our local arts community into a vital and exciting future."

About COAHSI: The mission of the Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island is to develop, foster and promote the arts, cultural and humanities activities on Staten Island. To meet its mission COAHSI: provides technical assistance to organizations and individual artists; offers a variety of workshops and seminars; administers a multi-tier regrant program; rewards excellence in the performing, exhibiting, literary, and folk arts through annual awards; publishes a bi-monthly newsletter, Arts & Letters; maintains a comprehensive calendar of Staten Island-based cultural activities; operates the V.I.S.I.T. Center in Whitehall Ferry Terminal; (V.I.S.I.T. = Vital Information for Staten Islanders and Tourists) provides networking meetings where individual artists of all disciplines can share work and works-in-progress; collaborates with other Staten Island organizations on arts & humanities projects; disseminates information regarding arts partnerships and professional development through weekly email blasts; maintain an artist registry. COAHSI is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization.

For further information, please contact:
Council on the Arts & Humanities for Staten Island
Snug Harbor Cultural Center
1000 Richmond Terrace
Staten Island, NY 10301
Phone: (718) 447-3329
Fax: (718) 442-8572

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Racquel Cornali
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