The Lewiston Council on the Arts on Wednesday announced the appointment of its new executive director, Maria Fortuna Dean.
LCA explained, “Maria is a native of Niagara Falls, New York, who has enjoyed an international career as a performing artist, educator and director. She has sung leading roles with opera companies and orchestras throughout the U.S. and Europe, and has taught on the voice faculties of UCLA, CalArts and Carnegie Mellon University, and was director of opera at Pasadena City College.
Maria Fortuna Dean
Fortuna Dean said, “I’m thrilled to be coming home to Western New York, and I’m looking forward to continuing all the wonderful programs that Irene and Eva have nourished all these years – in addition to exploring new creative possibilities with our cultural partners throughout our community.”
Outgoing Executive Director Irene Rykaszewski said, “I really can’t imagine anyone better than Maria to take LCA into the future. With her experience and creativity, she will certainly bring fresh perspective and ideas as she continues to build community through the arts – and with her deep roots in Niagara County, the transition will be seamless. Hiring Maria makes me very optimistic about the future of this organization. “
LCA Board President Tod Kniazuk said, "Following a search and interviews with multiple strong candidates, it was clear Maria stood out, and we were thrilled she accepted our offer to become the LCA's new executive director. Between the hiring of Maria and the addition of our new board directors, the LCA is ready for 2023 and beyond."
The following new LCA board members will begin their terms in January 2023: Michelle Kratts, adult services librarian and genealogy and local history research specialist at the Lewiston Public Library; Edward Millar, folk arts curator at the Castellani Art Museum of Niagara University; Cynthia Sanchez, art teacher at Lewiston-Porter High School; and Chelsea Sears, photographer and owner of Chelsea Modern Images.
They join current board members Kniazuk (president), Anna Fontana (vice president) and Suzanne Brown (treasurer), plus directors Pat MacDonald, Gene Kulbago and Marian Granfield.
Board member Mary Helen Miskuly has completed her terms and leaves the organization along with the staff who will retire as of the first of the year: Rykaszewski, Artistic Director Eva Nicklas, and staff members Kathryn Serianni and Tim Henderson.
Sitting, from left: Kathryn Serianni, Maria Fortuna Dean, Irene Rykaszewski and Anna Fontana; and standing, from left: Marian Granfield, Tim Henderson, Cindy Sanchez, Mary Helen Miskuly, Tod Kniazuk, Pat MacDonald, Eva Nicklas, Michelle Kratts, Gene Kulbago and Sue Brown.