ArtsWA Commissioners

  • Commissioner Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Karen Hanan, members of Seattle Latino community
    Commissioner Gabriella Gutierrez y Muhs, Karen Hanan, members of Seattle Latino community
  • Tour of Ellensburg's Gallery One - July 26, 2016
    Tour of Ellensburg's Gallery One - July 26, 2016
  • Board tour of Yakima Valley Museum - August 6, 2014
    Board tour of Yakima Valley Museum - August 6, 2014
  • July 26, 2016 commission work session - John F. Clymer Museum, Ellensburg
    July 26, 2016 commission work session - John F. Clymer Museum, Ellensburg

Nineteen commissioners are appointed to three year terms by the Governor. Four commissioners are appointed by the Legislature (two from the House, two from the Senate). Terms generally begin with the first meeting of the fiscal year, in August.

Commission Appointment Process and Orientation

Commissioner Biographies

Twila Barnes, Vancouver
Twila retired in June 2015 as Superintendent, Chief Executive Officer of Educational Service District 112 in Vancouver, Washington. During her tenure as superintendent, she provided guidance and technical assistance to district staff as they worked to fulfill Art in Public Places requirements in the district’s school construction programs. She’s been a member of the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust, the Clark County Skills Center Board of Directors, past president of the American Association of Education Services Agencies, served on the Washington State University Advisory Board for 15 years, and is the president-elect for the National Commission for Service Learning. Twila was named the 2014 "First Citizen" by the Community Foundation of SW Washington. She now sits on the Foundation's Board of Directors. Though her background is in education, Twila has been a strong arts advocate throughout her long career. She initiated Artist in Residence programs throughout Southeast Alaska; helped to start the local arts council in Skagway, Alaska; was an independent piano teacher; taught choral and band in the Skagway schools; and played the organ in her church. (Appointed August 2015 to July 2017)

Bassem Bejjani, MD, Sammamish 
Dr. Bejjani is Vice President of CARAVAN, a non-profit organization dedicated to building bridges through the Arts between the creeds and cultures of the East and West and for promoting interreligious and intercultural dialogue and understanding.  A native of Lebanon, he has degrees from the American University of Beirut, Boston University, the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.  Currently, he is Clinical Professor in the College of Medical Sciences at WSU where he teaches medical genetics. Dr. Bejjani has served on the Spokane Symphony and on many art and medical/scientific organization boards.  He was the co-founder and chief medical officer of Signature Genomics, a company he co-founded in 2003 and sold to PerkinElmer, Inc. in 2010.  A life-long supporter of the arts, he is interested in the role of art in enhancing creativity, critical thinking, and scientific innovation. (Appointed July 2012 to July 2015 and reappointed August 2015 to July 2018) 

Sue Coliton, Seattle
Sue is a philanthropy professional with more than twenty-five years of experience developing and leading public, private, and corporate grantmaking programs. She served as Vice President of the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation from 1999 to 2014. In addition to management of the Foundation’s grantmaking programs, she advised project teams on the development and operations of new museum projects, including the Experience Music Project (EMP) Museum, Flying Heritage Collection, and Living Computer Museum. Prior to working at the Foundation, Sue directed the San Francisco office of the Nonprofit Finance Fund, providing grants and loans to arts organizations developing facility projects. She spent six years as a Program Specialist in the Visual Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts. She serves on several boards including, Americans for the Arts, Philanthropy Northwest, the Seattle Seahawks Charitable Foundation, and the Washington State Building for the Arts Allocations Committee.  Sue lives in Seattle, Washington and is a life-long advocate for the arts. (Appointed July 2014 to July 2017)

Lisbeth Cort, Coupeville
Lisbeth is a professional artist and an exhibiting member of the Penn Cove Gallery in Coupeville. Her award-winning work has been featured in juried and solo shows, as well as galleries across Whidbey Island. She served on the adjunct faculty in the Master of Arts in Historic Preservation program at Goucher College (Baltimore, MD) for 13 years. In a career spanning nearly 30 years, Lisbeth was involved in leading and staffing nonprofits in the arts and various historic preservation and conservation organizations. Her work experience includes leadership positions with Grantmakers in the Arts, Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the Utah Heritage Foundation, and the Western Regional Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. (Appointed July 2016 to July 2019)

Ginger Ewing, Spokane 
Ginger has spent the better part of a decade as an arts advocate and organizer in Spokane. She is the Founder of Window Dressing, a storefront gallery program that fills vacant buildings and disused spaces with short term art exhibits and pop-up events. She is also the cofounder of Terrain, a non-profit organization showcasing emerging artists in the Spokane region. Additionally, Ginger is an Ambassador for Artist Trust, a Spokane Arts Commissioner, and the former Curator for Cultural Literacy at the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture. She also loves dogs. Especially pugs. (Appointed August 2015 to July 2018)

Jolyn E. Gardner, Seattle
Jolyn E. Gardner is an award winning artist and practicing attorney from Seattle. She has found a way to integrate both art and law seamlessly into her life. She currently serves as curator for various virtual art exhibitions and enjoys helping emerging artists define their own artistic paths. Jolyn also assists many creative professionals with their legal needs and is passionate about finding ways to artistically express the gaps in our laws through the medium of art. Prior to starting her own law practice, Jolyn worked in the King County Prosecuting Attorney's office from 2005-2008. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, volunteers as a coach for Nathan Hale High School Mock Trial, and is a member of the African American Leadership Forum. (Appointed July 2014 to July 2017)

Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs, PhD, Seattle
Gabriella Gutiérrez y Muhs is a Chicana poet, literary critic, cultural worker, and Professor at Seattle University in Modern Languages and Women and Gender Studies. She received her BAs in French and Spanish from Occidental College, her teaching credential from UCSC, and her Masters and Doctorate degrees from Stanford University. Gabriella worked for several years as a social worker, educator, and counselor in California. She arrived in Washington in 2000 to become Assistant Professor at Seattle University. She has lived and traveled in various countries, and her research focuses on subjectivity, spirituality, transnationalism and indigeneity. Dr. Gutiérrez y Muhs' interests lie principally in the areas of American Ethnic and Latin American literatures and cultures, cultural studies, immigration, and the shifting of international positions toward ethnicity and identity. She is a renowned poet, and in 2011 she represented the United States in India as one of the three featured American poets at the Kritya International Poetry Festival. Dr. Gutiérrez y Muhs is often invited to deliver keynote speeches, readings, and presentations at national and international conferences. Gabriella is the author of several books, articles, poetry collections, encyclopedia entries and, in 2015 was awarded the Provost's Inaugural Award for Scholarship, Research and Creativity at Seattle University. She was also recently selected university-wide as the Director for the Center for the Study of Justice in Society. (Appointed July 2014 to July 2017)

Amanda Jackson Mott, Twisp 
Amanda is the Executive Director of the Methow Arts Alliance in the Methow Valley. She is also an independent consultant for nonprofit organizations, specializing in strategic management, program development, and grant writing. Previously, she was the Director for the Center for Health and Aging at RUSH University Medical Center, in Chicago, and Director of Curriculum Development and Community Organizing for refugee populations at the Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, also in Chicago. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Service Administration and Non-Profit Management from the University of Chicago, and a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative and German Literature from the Colorado College. Current board responsibilities include the Washington State Arts Alliance and the Okanogan Economic Alliance. She is also the Artist Trust Regional Ambassador for the arts in Central Washington and serves as a presenter on the Artsit Trust Speaker's Bureau. She has worked extensively in strategic management, capacity building, community organizing, and cultural training. (Appointed July 2012, reappointed July 2015)

Rick Johnson, Port Townsend
Rick lives in Discovery Bay, near Port Townsend, and refers to himself as a “Stone Sculptor-Lineman-Union activist.” He is also president of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 77 and serves on the Governor’s Industrial Safety & Health Advisory Board, the Washington State Labor Council, and the Northwest Stone Sculptors Association. He previously worked for 22 years in power line construction for Puget Sound Energy. (Appointed to a second term: July 2016 to July 2019)

Linley B. Logan, Bremerton
Linley grew up on the Tonawanda Seneca Nation. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology for Industrial Design and Fine Art, and the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe, NM. As a multi-disciplinary artist/designer/art and cultural consultant, Linley's employment and contract experience includes: program specialist at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; presenter on Native Art Marketing Strategies for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF); and as emcee for the NACF's first National Native Arts Convening. Linley's contemporary artistic experience includes printmaking, painting, pottery, traditional beaded jewelry and contemporary jewelry, three-dimensional arts, sculpture, and design work. His fine arts background includes industrial design and graphic design. He serves as the director of artists workshops for the Northwest Heritage Program at the Evergreen State College Longhouse Education and Cultural Center. (Appointed July 2016 to July 2019)

Mariella Luz, Olympia
Mariella is the general manager at K Records, an independent record label in Olympia, Washington. K Records is one of the oldest alternative music labels in the United States, founded in 1982.  She is also the founder and director of the Olympia All Ages Project, a non-profit, volunteer organization that is dedicated to bringing music and art to people of all ages.  She is a graduate of The Evergreen State College. (Appointed July 2014 to July 2017)

Diane Martindale, Friday Harbor
Diane lives in Friday Harbor, where she owns an art consulting business. She is a life-long supporter of the arts and currently serves on the Friday Harbor Arts Commission. She is also the Chair of the Art Committee for the San Juan Island Public Library, advisor, volunteer, curator and board member of the San Juan Islands Museum of Art; member of the San Juan County Arts Council, and supporter of the 100 Friends of Old Island Barns. (Appointed to a second term: July 2016 to July 2019) 

Representative Joan McBride, Kirkland
Joan represents the 48th Legislative District, which includes Kirkland, Redmond, Bellevue, and the point cities. She formerly served as the Kirkland Mayor and served on the Kirkland City Council.  A longtime Eastside leader, Joan has served on the boards of the Kirkland Performance Center, Friends of Youth, Kirkland Arts Center, Feet First, Together Center, Kirkland Interfaith Network, Washington Bikes, and on several local the PTAs. Prior to her service to the City of Kirkland, Joan worked in non-profit development and community relations.  Joan recently married her partner of 14 years; together they enjoy a large extended family including their first grandchild. (Appointed August 2015)

Monica Miller, Ellensburg
Monica holds a Masters of Arts from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and a Bachelor of Arts from the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, VA). She is the executive director for Gallery One Visual Arts Center in Ellensburg and a member of the Ellensburg Arts Commission. Monica has worked with arts organizations for over 15 years in fundraising, grants management, and professional development for artists. Among her many achievements, Monica and the Ellensburg Arts Commission successfully lobbied the City of Ellensburg, which recently voted in favor of a sustainable revenue stream to fund arts and cultural activities in the city. She is an active member of the Ellensburg Downtown Association and Punch Gallery. Prior to moving to central Washington, she oversaw artist grants and professional development at Artist Trust in Seattle and was a member of an artist collective called SOIL. (Appointed July 2016 to July 2019)

Faaluaina S. Pritchard, Lakewood 
Faaluaina is an experienced executive director in social services, community development, primary/secondary education, and food/nutrition education. She currently serves as executive director of Tacoma's Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC). APCC conducts multiple cultural and educational activities that showcase 47 Asia Pacific countries with over 50 cultures and hundreds of languages. Faaluaina also volunteers on several boards and commissions in Pierce County, including serving as chairperson of the Pierce County Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, trustee of Clover Park Technical College, board member of the Tacoma Urban League, and member of the Sound Transit Citizen Oversight Panel. (Appointed July 2016 to July 2019)

Justin Raffa, Richland
Justin has been a professional singer since 2004. He received a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Westminster Choir College (Ryder University, Princeton, NJ) and a Masters of Music for Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ). Justin has led the Mid-Columbia Mastersingers as its artistic director since 2008 where he has worked to expand audiences and establish collaborations with many Tri-Cities organizations. The City of Richland Arts Commission honored him with its 2011 award for Outstanding Individual Contribution to the Arts. He also received the Washington State 2013 Outstanding Emerging Choral Conductor award and the Columbia Basin Music Educators Association 2014 Friend of Music award. Justin serves on the Arts Center Task Force, Columbia Basin Badger Club, Visit Tri-Cities, Washington Choral Directors Association, American Choral Directors Association, and Chorus America. He also chairs the City of Richland Arts Commission and serves as the chorusmaster for the Yakima Symphony Orchestra. (Appointed July 2016 - July 2019)

Rebecca Redshaw, Mt. Vernon
Rebecca is an author and playwright who worked in the film industry in Los Angeles for twenty-five years before moving to the Northwest to write. She has published articles and short stories in national publications and magazines, and was awarded First Prize in the 2009 Lakeview Literary Review for her short story, Somebody Special. In addition to the recent productions of Spider on the Sill and Dear Jennifer by Olympic Theatre Arts, her plays Hennessey Street, A Conversation with Hattie McDaniel and FOUR WOMEN, were performed in the Pacific Northwest and Canada. Hazel Speaks! and Vignettes: A Good Time with Wine were recently commissioned and produced by the Clallam County League of Women Voters and Camaraderie Cellars respectively. Redshaw’s SOFA CINEMA: An Easy Guide to DVDs, Vol. 1, as well as Dear Jennifer, a novella, are available in book stores and online.  She is currently working on her third novel and eighth play. (Appointed August 2015 to July 2018)

Zithri Saleem, Seattle
Zithri is a non-profit executive and developer of several award-winning STEM education programs. As director of Program Strategy and Innovation for Technology Access Foundation (TAF), he is responsible for bringing innovation to TAF and providing strategic direction for all programs and organization. Zithri also consults with Hack the CD, a collective of self-determined social innovators focused on the creation of sustainable and equitable growth through entrepreneurship. As the principal for Saleem and Associates, Zithri works with executive leaders and business managers on all stages of organization and program development.(Appointed August 2015 to July 2018)

Latha Sambamurti, Redmond
Latha served on the Redmond Arts Commission from 2003 through 2010 in various roles, including Chair of Performing Arts, Chair of Community Programming, and Chair of the Arts Commission. From 2005 through 2011, Latha served on the Arts Advisory Board of 4Culture. She continues to serve as a panelist for 4Culture. She is currently the Artistic Director of Ananda Mela: Joyful Festival of India, and is a board member of the Seattle Latino Film Festival. She is a trained musician in the Carnatic (southern Indian) tradition, as well as a teacher, lecturer, and singer with a number of solo and ensemble performances in the Pacific Northwest, Canada, and India. She is also the founder and leader of the band "Chai Tea Latte." In addition, she has written, directed, and choreographed numerous productions for children that are based on the heritage and culture of India. Latha has a Master’s degree in English Literature from the University of Madras in India. (Appointed August 2012, reappointed July 2015)

Gail Sehlhorst, Seattle
Gail is the Visual and Performing Arts Manager for Seattle Public Schools. Prior to this role she was the Director of Education for Book-It Repertory Theatre’s Arts & Education Program. Gail has worked as a teaching artist in K-12 classrooms for the last 16 years with ACT, Arts Impact, Book-It, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and Seattle Repertory Theatre. She has been a consultant for arts-based program evaluation and curriculum design such as the Washington State Teaching Artist Training Lab and the University of Washington’s Arts for Learning Project. Her focus as a teaching artist and educator have been to develop curricula and programs that integrate theatre and literacy, as well as teacher professional development to incorporate arts into the classroom. Gail has a BFA in Acting from New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, an M.Ed. from the University of Washington in Curriculum and Instruction: Language, Literacy, and Culture, and she serves on the board of the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA). (Appointed July 2011 to July 2014, reappointed through July 2017)

Representative Luanne Van Werven, Lynden
Luanne represents the 42nd Legislative District, which includes much of Whatcom County. She was born and raised in Whatcom County and is the fifth generation of her family to live, work and play in Whatcom County. Luanne and her husband Larry and have four children and five grandchildren. They, along with his parents built their Whatcom County family business into a successful enterprise. Managing their small business, Luanne learned excessive government regulations often stifle growth and can stall job creation. For more than 20 years, Luanne has worked to encourage others, particularly women, to participate in the political and legislative process. She decided to run for state representative because her experience, service and leadership prepared her to be an effective legislator. Whether she is in Olympia or Whatcom County, Luanne is fighting for economic vitality and more job opportunities for Washingtonians, because the health of our community is dependent on a strong and functional economy. After the 2016 legislative session she received the Guardian of Small Business Award from the National Federation of Independent Business for her 100 percent voting record in support of small business issues. Luanne is also working on viable solutions pertaining to water rights for our farmers and fights for school reforms that fund classrooms and not bureaucracies, because our kids deserve priority. She always votes to protect family budgets from tax increases, because she understands that people work hard for their money and deserve to keep as much of it as possible. These are Luanne’s priorities to ensure Whatcom County residents have the quality of life they deserve. (Appointed March 2017)

Senator Lisa Wellman, Mercer Island
Lisa Wellman represents 41st Legislative District (Mercer Island, Bellevue, Newcastle and parts of Issaquah, Sammamish, and Renton) in the Washington State Senate. She was elected in 2016 after a 25-year career in technology and marketing including executive level positions in Fortune 100 companies. A passionate advocate for education, Lisa began her career as a public school teacher but changed course in the 1980s becoming a systems analyst and programmer. She was recruited by Apple Computer to head up commercial publishing for the company’s U.S. markets. Her success with Apple in the 1990s led to her promotion as VP of Worldwide Publishing, Entertainment, and New Media Markets. In the Senate, Lisa serves on the Senate Agriculture, Water, Trade & Economic Development Committee and the Energy, Environment & Telecommunications Committee. She has been appointed to serve on the board of Thrive, focused on early childhood education. She also serves on the Washington State Public Works Board and Partners for Rural Washington, and is a mentor for MBA candidates at the Foster Business School at the University of Washington. She earned a B.A., Summa Cum Laude, from Barat College of DePaul University and in her spare time enjoys photography, travel, reading, and bridge. She has two daughters and a grandson and resides on Mercer Island. (Appointed February 2017)

Executive Committee

FY 2016 Executive Committee

Bejjani, Bassem – Chair

Jackson Mott, Amanda – 1st Vice Chair

Coliton, Sue – 2nd Vice Chair

Advocacy Committee

Diane Martindale (Co-Chair)

Mariella Luz (Co-Chair)

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