As a 501c3 non-profit organization, The Bay School and Art Speaks Gallery operate under the leadership of a Board of Directors. This group of dedicated, passionate volunteers is instrumental to our continued growth and success and are critical to shaping and implementing our business strategies that align with fulfilling our mission.
Board members serve three-year appointments and can serve two consecutive terms. As youth perspective and involvement is important to our mission, our board also includes the appointment of one high school student who serves a one-year term.
Dr. Michael SwiderskiChairman of the Board
Michael, a business owner in Mathews for over 17 years, is our current Chairman of the Board. As an entrepreneur and educator, Michael’s professional experience is diverse. In addition to authoring many academic publications, he served as a tenured professor and dean at two universities and as an editor of an international academic journal. Currently, he owns and operates Storybound Construction, Inc. across the street from The Bay School in Frenchy’s Historic Pool Hall, which he remodeled.
His love of the outdoors is matched with his passion for art and working with wood, beautifying the interior and exterior of historic structures. When he is not remodeling old buildings or rebuilding his 1930s farmhouse, Michael contributes his business acumen and seasoned experience to the realization of our business goals and plans for the future by chairing the Executive, Facility, and Campus Committees and serving on the Strategic Planning, Compensation, and Finance Committees.
Vice Chairman of the Board
Sherri retired from healthcare after almost 22 years and returned to college to finish her degree. In need of an organization to work with to finalize her last school project, she reached out to The Bay School’s Executive Director Pam Doss, who encouraged Sherri to get involved with us and helped her move in a different direction for her project while completing her degree requirements.
Having a natural love of the visual and performing arts, Sherri grew up performing in her school’s band and chorus and was influenced by her father who had a talent for drawing and performed in theatrical productions that she always attended. Even today, his artwork decorates the walls of her home.
An energetic participant and volunteer, Sherri is committed to bringing art in all forms to the local community through her participation on the board. Her board responsibilities include chairing the Nominating Committee and serving on the Executive, Strategic Planning, Compensation, and Finance Committees. She describes The Bay School, saying, “This organization reaches deep inside and reels you into the work that they do, the mission and vision they live and the level of commitment they demonstrate to the community is something others should emulate. The Bay School pushes you to be the best version of yourself as a board member to ensure that this organization is here for the community now and forever!”
Lisa and her husband have been residents and business owners of Mathews for over 20 years, first arriving via the East River and discovering a property for sale where she could keep her sailboat.
With a degree in mathematics and a Master of Science in oceanography, Lisa is passionate about sailing, scuba diving, yoga, and art. After a career as an oceanographer on the high seas, she returned to Mathews with her husband to design their platinum-certified green home as an artistic expression of sustainability. Most recently, she became a certified yoga instructor and hopes to add yoga classes to The Bay School’s program lineup.
Lisa believes art is critical for children to develop cognitive, social-emotional, and multi-sensory skills and first enrolled her sons in classes at the school. She then began taking pottery classes and has become an avid potter. As the daughter of an artist, she has even gotten her mom to take classes here!
With a love of art and design, Lisa enjoys the opportunities of expression offered to the community by The Bay School, which she states, “brings joy and creativity to all who enter.” As a board member and current Treasurer, her involvement enables her to give back to the Mathews community in a meaningful and creative way. She currently serves on the Executive, Fundraising, Membership, and Finance Committees.
Ray retired to Mathews with his wife Ula Ilnytzky, after a 48-year career as an award-winning photojournalist based in New York City. First with The Associated Press and later Reuters, he covered news and sports events throughout the world, including numerous political conventions, presidential campaigns, Super Bowls and World Series.
While photography has been his lifelong avocation, Ray also is an authority on the American Arts and Crafts Movement, particularly Gustav Stickley, the visionary furniture maker and tastemaker prominent in the early part of the 20th Century. He wrote Stickley’s Craftsman Homes (Gibbs-Smith, 2006), and served for 35 years as a trustee of The Stickley Museum at Craftsman Farms, the site of the Stickley home in Parsippany, New Jersey.
Ray supports The Bay School as an important center for the arts on the Middle Peninsula of Virginia through both its support of local artists and its educational outreach to the community. In addition to serving as Secretary, he sits on the Executive, Facility, and Membership Committees.
Amy has been involved with art since childhood. She grew up in Richmond in The Fan District surrounded by art. She attended classes at The Hand Workshop at The Visual Arts Center, day camps at Virginia Commonwealth University, and enrolled in private art classes.
As a mom, Amy wants her children to have the same experience of the arts as she did growing up and notes that The Bay School offers this. Summing it up she says, “ Mathews is lucky to have such a thriving artistic community and a place to share it! Being part of the Board, I hope I can help the Bay School Community Arts Center grow and share the same joy!”
As part of her Board responsibilities, Amy chairs the Fundraising Committee and serves on the Executive, Membership, Finance, and Campus Committees.
Bill has enjoyed two careers. After completing his BS in Electrical Engineering at Cornell in 1974, Bill worked in the commercial nuclear power business for 36 years, ending as Director of Nuclear Engineering at Dominion Energy. His second career started in 2010 with his wife, Christine, in her personal property appraisal business. He has learned a new skill set and become a whiz at bookkeeping, typing, and filing. He truly enjoys the part-time work, and has plenty of time to devote to other interests.
Bill and Christine purchased their home in Mathews 28 years ago, and have been working on it ever since. 2023, however, will mark the completion of the transformation of their “estate.” It’s time to get active on other pursuits! Along the way Bill and Christine became Master Gardeners, and subsequently they both recently completed the Master Naturalist curriculum which they actively support with the Middle Peninsula Master Naturalists. Bill became familiar with The Bay School while taking several pottery courses with Christine, yoga classes with Kat Sharp, and a stained glass class with Lynn Abrams.
Bill’s board responsibilities include chairing the Finance Committee and serving on the Executive and Campus Committees. He sums up his admiration and passion for The Bay School, by stating, “It is a wonderful asset for our community. It’s not every small town that can boast about having a wide variety of arts and crafts courses for young and old alike and has such a wealth of local artists and craftsmen to draw from. It is a unique treasure I hope to support and help grow.”
Christine is a local artist and estate appraiser. For 35 years, she was a Certified Art and Antique Appraiser and Fine Art Broker, traveling across the United States and serving on various national and international boards and councils. Her appointments include The International Society of Appraisers, The Appraisal Foundation in Washington, DC on the US Appraisal Subcommittee, the Virginia Auctioneers Board, the Historic Richmond Foundation, and as an expert witness for the Appraisal Qualifications Board. Christine has served as co-chair of Historic Richmond’s Council Garden Day Tour and was Auction Director and Senior Appraiser at Shields Auction and Motley’s Auction’s Antique Division for 19 years. In 2007, she started her own Business, Corbin Appraisal Services, Inc. and retired her auction license in 2014.
Retiring in 2023, Christine focuses on painting and creating art, serving the community, and most importantly her family. She is a mother of two, grandmother of five, and happy mother-in-law. In addition to spending more time with family, Christine acts as a board member for The Bay School where she chairs the Membership Committee and serves on the Auction Committee. She also volunteers with the Made in Mathews Open Studio Tour and serves as a Virginia Master Naturalist Volunteer.
Jeannine Kersey Johnson
Jeannine and her family are so thankful to have found the “Pearl of The Chesapeake” when they vacationed in Mathews County for the first time over 10 years ago! Jeannine instantly fell in love with the beauty of the area, the Bay School Community Arts Center and gallery and the people of Mathews! Since moving to Mathews almost three years ago, Jeannine and her husband are thrilled to be full-time residents of Mathews County living on the Piankatank River with their sons.
After receiving a BA in Psychology and a minor in Business from the University of Richmond, Jeannine had a vast and varied career including Marketing, Database Administration and Research in the RVA Real Estate Industry, IT Statistical Analysis in the banking industry, and Performance Management & Training for many years in the Corporate University of a Fortune 500 Company. Most recently, Jeannine has been a full-time homeschooling Mom focused on providing her sons not only the essential textbook learning, but developing their own unique gifts and skills. Jeannine is an active member of Mathews Baptist Church and enjoys supporting many other local organizations including The Fairfield Foundation.
While homeschooling and living in Mathews, Jeannine has been able to attend many Bay School art classes to build her skills in throwing clay on the wheel, beginner sketching, felting art, and painting with watercolors. Jeannine has found her passion in being a member of The Bay School Pottery Guild and takes even more joy in watching her youngest son, Lincoln, create pottery on the wheel and by hand-building, then selling his creations at the farmer’s market and Bay School events.
Jeannine has seen firsthand the impact that building artistic skills has had on her son and wants to help create & implement strategies that continue to extend the breadth of Bay School classes available for kids and adults in our community. Jeannine’s love of The Bay School’s mission, arts and the artistic community are what drove her to join the Board of Directors and volunteer her time, serving on the Auction Committee. When she’s not volunteering, homeschooling or making pottery, you can find her attending Mathews Baptist Church, shopping or dining in Mathews, gardening, reading a good book from the Mathews Used Book Sale on Saturdays, and spending time with her family & friends.
Shelley is a passionate scientist studying oyster genetics and reproduction at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science. Beyond her scientific pursuits, Shelley wears multiple hats that reflect her commitment to equity and education. As the President of the Atlantic Estuarine Research Society, she aims to foster a more inclusive environment within the scientific community. Her community engagement extends further as an active member of the parish council at the Church of the Visitation in Topping, VA.
Shelley joined The Bay School board with unwavering enthusiasm. She sees the school as a beacon of accessibility, a place where art is for everyone. “My first experience with The Bay School was attending the 100 x 100 show in the Art Speaks Gallery. I always had thought collecting art to be something beyond my financial means, but this show allowed me to collect pieces that spoke to me. This really is what sparked my interest in The Bay School. I have been thrilled to see other aspects of the programing reflect that accessibility, allowing everyone, regardless of their financial standing, to participate and benefit. This inclusivity fosters a diverse community, celebrating a range of perspectives and talents, ultimately enriching the experience for all involved.” As a member of the board, Shelley serves on the Membership and Outreach Committees.
In Mathews, she shares a home with her loving husband and son, who is an active participant in the Open Arts After School program. They enjoy traveling as a family, spending time at the beach, and exploring their artistic sides by attending classes and gallery events at the Bay School.
Ruth has worked in Human Resources for the past 32 years for a healthcare organization. Being part of a healthcare organization and human resources allows her to serve her community by taking care of team members and leaders.
When she was approached about any interest in being part of the Board, her thoughts immediately gravitated to her grandmother who taught her how to oil paint at the age of 10. Since that time, she always has been interested in all forms of the arts, whether wanting to learn a new medium or just appreciating other peoples’ work. She enjoys spending her off-time being creative, as it clears her mind and strengthens her spirit.
In reflecting on her experience with The Bay School, she says, “Being part of The Bay School and able to expand my love of art and creativity to our communities bring me much excitement. My personal experience with the several classes I have taken there, has given me the opportunity to see firsthand the commitment The Bay School extends to our community and the arts.” She currently serves the board as Chair of the Strategic Planning Committee.
Her other interests include spending time with her husband and Labrador Retriever, Ginger, and camping on Hatteras Island during the spring and summer. This is a tradition they have continued since the 90s, enjoying days at the campground and beach fishing; reading; taking walks; biking; and photographing sunrises, sunsets, and windsurfers.
Marsha has lived in Mathews with her husband Ashby for over 30 years. A devoted mother of three with a growing crew of grandchildren, she has been a long-time supporter of The Bay School even before joining the Board.
Her first experience with us was shopping in the Art Speaks Gallery and then later taking a class with a friend. She has been hooked ever since and regularly volunteers at and attends our events and takes classes at the school, in addition to fulfilling her board duties. She currently chairs the Compensation Committee and serves on the Facility Committee.
Marsha is a vocal supporter of The Bay School’s diverse class offering and robust program schedule. She is particularly impressed with how The Bay School supports the Mathews community and even during the pandemic kept children of various age groups engaged through the distribution of free Art-to-Go kits.
She sums it all up by saying, “The Bay School has something for everyone, and you won’t be disappointed.”
Sonia and her husband moved to Mathews County over 15 years ago and instantly fell in love with the small town feel and safe environment to raise children. In her opinion, “The Bay School epitomizes this environment, creating a safe environment for our children to allow their imaginations to grow. It gives them the tools and support that they need to let their talents shine. They always make everyone feel comfortable and welcome no matter what skill level you have.”
In addition to her and her sons enjoying classes at The Bay School, Sonia considers the outreach programs that we have for children, long-term care facilities, and children with special needs as very important initiatives within the Mathews community. To support these initiatives, Sonia serves on the Fundraising and Nominating Committees and is a Programming Advisor for the school.
Jennifer is in the midst of renovating an historic farmhouse on Gwynn’s Island and works full time for her Mathews-based architecture firm which she created in 2017 after working in Richmond, VA with a nationally recognized architecture, interior design, and planning firm for fifteen years.
Prior to moving to Richmond, she received her Master of Architecture degree from the University of Florida and her Bachelor of Science in Architecture with a minor in Architectural History from the University of Virginia. After receiving a BS in Architecture, she worked for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) in Birmingham, Alabama. As a graduate student she studied and taught at the Preservation Institute Nantucket (PI:N) and studied at the Vicenza Institute of Architecture in Italy.
She has always touted the value of a humanities-based education and has been a supporter of The Bay School and its mission for the last several years. She looks forward to being an active member of the Board and continuing to help bring arts education and appreciation to people of all ages and abilities. Currently she serves on the Auction and Campus Committees.
She lives in the aforementioned farmhouse with her boyfriend and three dogs. When not working, she enjoys traveling, kayaking, yoga, reading, and gardening.