Board of Directors and Staff

We are governed by a 13 - 18 member volunteer Board of Directors who are elected for three-year terms.

Meet Our Board of Directors and Staff:







Hope Surpris


Hope Surpris is a transplant from Westchester County, a suburb just north of New York City. She is a Life Coach and prior to relocating she had a Life Coaching and small business consulting practice. Previously, she worked several years as an administrator in the training and development areas for the financial and healthcare consulting sectors.




Originally from Alleghany County NC, Emily Miller, her partner Daniel, and their two children moved to Lenoir in 2011. Emily has a long history of involvement with the arts. She is an avid maker, largely in the disciplines of fiber art and wood working. Emily completed undergraduate degrees in English Literature and Psychology with a concentration in Creative Writing, a Master of Arts in English Education and a Doctoral degree in Educational Leadership with a graduate certificate in Expressive Arts Therapy. Emily's work explores art and craft practices as an extension of human wellbeing within the context of an economic metanarrative. Delighted by the vibrant arts community in Lenoir, Emily is thrilled to join the Board of Directors for the Caldwell Arts Council.

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John Francis serves as the Northwest Regional Associate for the North Carolina Community Foundation where he works with NCCF's local affiliates and endowment funds across ten counties in northwestern NC. Prior to joining NCCF, John worked for three years with City Year Boston, an AmeriCorps organization, and served as Fellow with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation. John is particularly interested in local art as a community asset and economic development tool.



My husband, John, and I moved to Lenoir with our family in August of 2007 from Syracuse, New York. The first public event we attended in our new town was the Sculpture Celebration. At this event I immediately fell in love with sculpture and the Arts Council! I am employed with Bernhardt Design and am the proud parent of 8 children and 3 wonderful grandchildren.




Susy Barnett


Susan Barnett, Susy to her friends, grew up in upstate New York, the daughter of a hospital administrator and teacher. She is a graduate of Marshall University and Appalachian State University. Now retired from Caldwell County Schools, Susy enjoys reading, knitting, watching movies, gardening, volunteering at the Caldwell Arts Council and entertaining friends. She and Scott, also recently retired from Caldwell County Schools, have two grown sons.


Helen (Nell) Fisher


Nell and her husband Bill Karr serve as a Board Member Couple for the Arts Council. Originally from Westchester and Dutchess Counties in New York, we now live at The Coves in Collettesville. We are extremely excited about the area with such natural beauty, culture and history, the wonderful people, and the outstanding work The Arts Council offers here in Caldwell County. As a retired preschool and elementary teacher, I know how much inspiration and culture the Arts Council contributes to every aspect of the county, the people, and most importantly, the children. We can't help but get more deeply involved in such a great effort.



Originally born and raised in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Jimmie Griffith attended Appalachian State University and moved to Lenoir, NC in 2004 where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He currently works at Caldwell Community College & Technical Institute as an instructor and amongst other things coordinates the College’s Brazilian educational partnerships and co-chairs the CCC&TI Global Diversity Committee. Jimmie is also a musician/composer that has participated in several different musical projects (
Banana da TerraMaisCéu and UNC- Chapel Hill’s Viva Cackalacky – Latin Music in the New South) promoting Brazilian music in NC since 2000. As an educator, artist and Caldwell County resident, Jimmie is delighted to be a board member of the Caldwell Arts Council in order continue to bring cultures and people closer together through the arts, education, and business.



Bill Karr


Bill and his wife Nell Fisher serve as a Board Member Couple for the Arts Council. Originally from Westchester and Dutchess Counties in New York as well, we are very happy to have found The Coves, Lenoir and The Caldwell Arts Council. As a retired guidance counselor for 6th-8th grade students, The Arts, in all its forms, are some of the best influences kids and adults can have in their lives. So I am looking forward to being more involved in the great work the Arts Council does for our community and people. The visitors who see Lenoir and what the Arts Council does, cannot help but be touched and impressed.

Pete Lupo


My wife, Sheree and I are native North Carolinians. We currently live in the Kings Creek area of Caldwell County. My wife and I love the outdoors and try to spend as much of our free time there as possible. I have been a practicing artist for 30 years and recently my wife has become involved more with her passions of pottery and photography.Becoming involved with the Caldwell Arts Council has introduced us to like minded people who share the love of small town living and an appreciation of the incredible amount of artistic talent that the area has to offer. Pete served as Secretary of our Board of Directors in 2013 & 2014.



Dawn Mathews is a native of Caldwell County and has been displaying art at the Council since high school.  She is the owner of The Thankful Goat, a local goat milk soap and bath products business in Granite Falls. Dawn is a homesteading, homeschooling mom of two boys, wife to Steve, and a local author. Connect with her at


Kim Greene McClure


Kim’s art focus has primarily been in the performing arts. She played clarinet in the Happy Valley School band, before switching to bassoon in 9th grade at Hibriten High School. Kim continued playing bassoon at Appalachian State University, as a member of the Wind Ensemble. She currently plays in the Harper Band, part of the James C. Harper School for the Performing Arts. Kim has been on the board of directors for the Caldwell Arts Council since January 2012, and also serves on the board of directors for the Historic Happy Valley Old-Time Fiddler’s Convention.



Erik and Kourtney have been Lenoir residents since 2005. Although careers brought them here, the aesthetic of the Appalachian Mountains, its culture, and its art forms were a definite draw. While here their family grew with the birth of their two girls. Kourtney is an English teacher at Hibriten High School, and Erik is an Associate Professor and Area Director of the Recreation Management Program at Appalachian State University. Originally, Erik is from Virginia and Kourtney from the midwest. While from diverse backgrounds, both Erik and Kourtney were exposed to the arts throughout their whole lives and their appreciation for art, in all of its forms, has blossomed. The Rabinowitz family is proud to be new Caldwell Arts Council board members.



Ginny is a Senior at Hibriten High School. She owns a small photography business, VGS Photography, and specializes in senior portraits, weddings, event photography, etc. She also works part time at The Harper School of Performing Arts, a non profit music and dance school. She is currently finishing up her senior year and is hoping to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 



Kelsey Smith is a Caldwell County native. After graduating from the Caldwell Early College High School, she attended Lenoir-Rhyne University, majoring in Public Relations and Communications. She now works as Public Relations Specialist for Fairfield Chair Company in Lenoir, NC.  Kelsey is a member of the Lenoir Service League and serves as Board Member for the Caldwell Council on Adolescent Health.


 Matt Underwood


Matt is Network Systems Engineer at Siemens Healthcare for Caldwell Memorial Hospital, and is also owner/operator of the famous Mystery Hill in Blowing Rock, NC.  Matt served as President of our Board in 2013 & 2014. 





Adrienne Roellgen




Adrienne is the director of the Caldwell JAM program (Junior Appalachian Musicians) located at Granite Falls Elementary, Happy Valley School, and downtown Lenoir. JAM runs a summer program that is tied into the Happy Valley Fiddlers Convention as well. Adrienne is the volunteer coordinator and manages our Satie's Gift Shop. Married to Enno, they have three children.



Cathy McCoy




Cathy takes care of the office needs for the Arts Council, answering the phone and keeping everyone updated on arts events in our region. Married to Mitchel, they have one daughter.

 Bob Fitzgerald


Bob has been Facilities Manager for Caldwell Arts Council since 2003 and helps with many tasks in the office, keeps the gallery lights shining as nicely as the floors!



My family and I moved here from Syracuse, New York in 2007 and I am following in the footsteps of my mother, Nancy Crawford, and proudly working here at the Caldwell Arts Council. I have been involved here since my mother has after we attended that year's Sculpture Celebration, and plan to be here for many years to come. I am also a proud mother of my beautiful daughter Sophie.