The Board of Liberty Arts
President of the Board of Liberty Arts, Past Vice-President 2012
Jackie MacLeod originally trained as a MD and worked for many years in the U.K. and Germany as both a surgeon and anesthesiologist. After moving to the United States in 1998 and concentrating on raising two boys, Jackie turned to nurture her artistic side. Drawn to the power and beauty of metal, she spent two years as an apprentice with Jimmy Alexander, a local blacksmith and President of the North Carolina Blacksmith Association and started her own metal design and fabrication business afterwards. In 2011 Jackie joined Liberty Arts as one of its resident artists.
She served as PTA president of Carolina Friends School in 2009 and 2010, and also co-founded Carolina Kinder, a Triangle based organization dedicated to supporting families that raise children bilingually and has served on the board of Liberty Arts for the past year.
Vice President of the Board of Liberty Arts
After decades as an award-winning network television news producer in New York, Denise moved to Durham, NC in 2003 looking for a rewarding but less stressful life. She found that and more working at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival and later becoming one of the founding producers for the public radio program The Story with Dick Gordon, broadcast nationally from WUNC.
Retirement meant time to focus on her historic home and garden in Old North Durham, and the chance to adopt a dog (a Plotthound named Abby). Happily it has also presented a fantastic volunteer opportunity at Liberty Arts Sculpture Studio and Foundry. She admires the organization's sense of community and is proud to be part of it.
Treasurer of the Board of Liberty Arts
Rick brings a wide array of skills including engineering, robotics, course design, vocational training and customer service. He has been working with artists in the Liberty Arts community since 1996 starting out in steel and blacksmithing with Jimmy Alexander – a beloved founding figure at Liberty Arts. Rick got his start as a service manager with a Chevy dealership and then spent 12 years training adults to drive tractor trailers through Johnston Community College. With degrees in computer engineering and automation robotics, Rick spent nearly 20 years with the North Carolina Department of Transportation first training employees and contractors on signal equipment installation then serving as his division's IT technician and finally working with traffic signal systems on North Carolina's highways.
For over ten years, he served as an advisor at Wake Technical College in the Automation curriculum. And for the past 17 years he’s served as scoutmaster for a Raleigh Boy Scout Troop receiving numerous awards for his leadership and helping over 30 scouts reach Eagle Scout rank. Rick’s proficiency with machines and trouble shooting, his long history in vocational training, and his love of the arts make him a unique asset to Liberty Arts where he plays a key role in supporting a growing curriculum of public classes.
Secretary of the Board of Liberty Arts
Diane Fening is originally from Ohio and has lived in Florida, California, Virginia, Iowa and now North Carolina for over 5 years. She studied art history in college and graduate school and has worked in an art museum in Cincinnati and an art gallery in San Francisco. Diane homeschooled her children while living on a small farm and was able to pursue her love of gardening and cooking.
She worked in administrative assistant and bookkeeping positions part-time while her children were growing up. Diane now works for Durham County Social Services, serves on the county’s Public Art Committee and is happy to be a part of the Bull City Sculpture Show Committee. She is passionate about art and wants to see art integrated into Durham’s everyday life.
Past President, 2010-2012
Since moving to Durham in 1997, Cassandra Gooding has lived in many up-and-coming artistic neighborhoods, including Durham Central Park and Duke Park. With over 25 years experience in industrial and architectural design and construction, Cassandra has worked for internationally recognized, award winning architecture and manufacturing firms as a designer, team leader, project manager and construction administrator. She is now self-employed as a designer and builder of residential projects. In addition to her dedication to Liberty Arts, Cassandra was a volunteer site captain for the public art project, Bending Spaces: Georges Rousse & the Durham Project.
Originally from Michigan, Carol McLaurin has called the Triangle area home since 1994. Since 2001, Carol has held senior management positions at the Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC) – a statewide non-profit that assists entrepreneurs, small businesses and communities throughout North Carolina. She has over twelve year’s experience designing and implementing programs and partnerships across the university, government and private sectors. In her various roles at the SBTDC Carol has directed small business economic development programs that support individual entrepreneurs, as well as towns, counties and regions aiming to use entrepreneurship as a growth strategy. Over the years, she has observed the strong role that the arts play alongside entrepreneurship in revitalizing local economies. Carol has expertise in the areas of program development, strategic planning, leadership development, workshop facilitation, social entrepreneurship and event planning. A fan of artists, makers and craftspeople, Carol has also studied clay, painting, woodworking, blacksmithing and metal working.
For Robert O’Reilly, the arts have always been a part of life. He graduated from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Art History, while adding to his perspective with courses such as “The Philosophy of Art.” His own artistic interests include 20th century modernism, particularly within the post-WWI and post-WWII periods. Robert, or ‘Bo’ as he is fondly known, has had a diverse career spent working in the fields of advertising/marketing, the music business, operational office management, and accounting. For the last twenty years he has worked at Duke; the last eight of which have been in the business office at the Duke University School of Nursing. Prior to that, Mr. O’Reilly worked with Duke Management Company, which is the university’s investment wing. Bo has lived in Durham’s historic Trinity Park neighborhood for 30 years, and served on the Trinity Park Neighborhood Association Board of Directors for six years. He has a keen interest in Durham’s history and architecture; and regularly explores the city on bike searching for remnants that speak of our old tobacco town’s vibrant past.
Paul Vernon is a materials engineer by training who has always had an interested in applying that knowledge to art and sculpture. Paul has a BA in chemistry from UNC and a MS in materials engineering from Clemson and has worked professionally in manufacturing medical devices and research in biomaterials. Paul is an entrepreneur who has funded two medical device start-ups with research grants from the National Institutes of Health. Paul first became involved in Liberty Arts in 2005 by casting bronze in the foundry and has served on the board for six years.
Leigh has enjoyed a 40+ year career as an engineer with the past 20 years in executive management positions at two engineering companies. In his last venture, Leigh started a technology based supply chain company which gave birth to a new industry known today as Chemical Management. After leading that company through 10 years of double digit annual growth, he retired in 2012 to focus on glassblowing.
Throughout his career as a chemical engineer, he maintained a passion for the beauty and science of glass. He started glassblowing classes in 1998 at the Urban Glass Institute in New York City and today works out of several glass studios in central North Carolina. Leigh’s interest in glass leans towards transparent glass objects because of their visual depth and gem-like richness of the colors he uses.
A native of Kinston, NC, Michael received his BFA in Sculpture from East Carolina University in 1997. He has worked professionally as a Foundryman and Metalsmith at Carolina Bronze Foundry and Vega Metals. In 2003, he started WallerFoushee Studios with his wife and sculptor Leah Foushee Waller and began working as a full-time artist. In 2010 he partnered with life long friend and artist Kirk Davis to form Carolina Shuckers hand forged oyster knife company. In addition to creating personal work and historical restoration projects, they have created over a dozen public art projects throughout North Carolina- most notably ‘Major’, the over life-size bronze bull pasturing in downtown Durham, NC. They live in Hillsborough, NC with their two children.
Michael has been involved with Liberty Arts since 2001, working closely with the founding members in the development of the George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts. After 12 years of working as Liberty Arts Facilities Manager and Artist in Residence, Michael joined the board of directors in 2013 and served as co-administrator of The Bull City Sculpture Show.
Diane is originally from Massachusetts where she worked as a Program Manager for General Electric. After moving to North Carolina in 1996 she became very involved in art and philanthropy. She opened a photography studio, photographing artwork for local artists as well as making and exhibiting her own work. Diane also worked at The Durham Art Guild as a gallery assistant for 7 years. In the last several years she has taken classes in welding and glassblowing, which has become her new passion.
She was on the board of Durham Habitat for Humanity Restore as Treasurer and then President. She also served on the board of Chatham County Arts Council as Treasurer. In 2009 she founded The Art of Giving, a giving circle committed to granting money to non-profits in the Triangle whose programs benefit women and children. Since its inception, $90,000 has been awarded.
Mike Shiflett is the retired owner of the Durham-based medical laboratory equipment company American LAbor/LAB ACM. His resume is filled with decades of community service, leadership and activism, which includes recognition for his work in community housing, environmental protection and crime prevention.