Ronni Aronin, Founder
Ronni Aronin is a familiar presence at Baltimore Clayworks. In 1980 she joined with eight colleagues to found the non-profit ceramic art center to promote the ceramic arts through public classes and workshops, exhibitions and sales, offering studio space and mentoring for emerging and established ceramic artists now known as Baltimore Clayworks. Ronni’s career as a studio potter took off when she participated in a Baltimore American Craft Show, a juried show run by the American Craft Council. Her works has been exhibited and sold at the annual show for over 35 years. For 25 of those years Ronni has achieved her aim of supporting herself primarily through her art.
Deborah Bedwell, Founder
Deb Bedwell is a ceramic artist and teacher who, with eight fellow artists, founded Baltimore Clayworks in 1980. She served as Clayworks’ sole Executive Director through 2011 when she retired and assumed the title of Founding Director. During her tenure, Bedwell created professional opportunities for hundreds of ceramic artists nationally; planned, organized and built 18,000 square feet of exemplary studio space; developed a 14-year old international residency program with Taiwan; and crafted more than 26 collaborations with individuals and institutions designed to bring classes, murals, and artists residencies into the reach of Baltimore’s most economically marginalized neighborhoods.
In April 2012, Bedwell was named President of the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts (NCECA), the recognized professional association in the field of ceramics; Bedwell attracted that association’s conference (est. 8,000 attendees) to the Convention Center in Baltimore in 2005, which generated 210 concurrent visual art exhibitions and an estimated $5.9M in revenue for the City of Baltimore and its environs. In addition to NCECA, Bedwell serves on the boards of The Greater Baltimore Culture Alliance and The ReFire Development Group, an emerging senior living community for artists. She has twice been named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women, and twice received the coveted “Innovator of the Year” award from The Daily Record, a business and law publication. She is a graduate of the 2002 Greater Baltimore Committee’s LEADERship program. Bedwell also teaches ceramics and produces highly decorated functional porcelain wheel pots and earthenware slab-built succulent planters.
Alan W. Cooper
Alan W. Cooper has been Executive Director of Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation in Baltimore, MD since 1994.
Previous positions have included Associate Director of the North Carolina Arts Council, Executive Director of the Winston-Salem (NC) Symphony and Associate Director of Development for Special Gifts at Washington National Cathedral. He has served as a Board Member for Grantmakers in the Arts and is a past advisory board member of National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, and a past member of the Regional Council of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts. He has served as a panelist for the NJ State Council on the Arts, site visitor for the National Endowment for the Arts, and President of the NC Association of Symphony Orchestras.
Carla Dunlap is the recently retired Senior Program Director of the Maryland State Arts Council (21 years, August 1994 – September 2015). A lifelong Maryland resident, Carla’s experience and connections to all aspects of the arts community, including organizations and funding sources, will be vitally important to Baltimore Clayworks in the years to come.
Earlier, Carla was a full time potter, showing at ACC Baltimore and in galleries throughout the state. She has taught ceramics and courses in marketing your crafts at Howard Community College. She is currently a student at Baltimore Clayworks.
Ann Geddes discovered Baltimore Clayworks 6 years ago where she has taken classes and workshops focusing on functional ware. Ann Geddes currently divides her time between design consulting for several local contractors and parenting her 3 teenage children.
On graduating from Beloit College in 1975, where she majored in Anthropology, Ann went to work for the Office of Historic Preservation in the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection as the staff archeologist. In 1983 she went to the Graduate School of Fine Arts at the University of Pennsylvania where she studied architecture and historic preservation planning, graduating in 1986 with a Masters of Architecture. Moving to Baltimore in 1988, she worked for Ziger Snead (formerly Ziger Hoopes & Snead) and Marks Thomas. Her experience spanned small scale residential and commercial renovations to large scale public and private institutional projects. In 1992 The School of Architecture and Planning of The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. invited Ann to teach architectural design which she did for for the next 8 years. With her father Robert Geddes and former partner Mark Demshak, they opened Geddes Demshak Architects & Planners in 2000. They completed campus planning projects for The College of the Atlantic Maine and space planning projects for John Hopkins University. Their design of Bloomberg Hall, home to The Institute for Advanced Study School of Natural Sciences in Princeton, New Jersey won a design award from the New Jersey Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
Pat Halle is an Associate Artist member of Baltimore Clayworks. With a considerable working history with nonprofit community organizations, she has a far-reaching network in Baltimore’s civic and art worlds. Pat has a 34-year history of making pottery at Clayworks, primarily functional porcelain pots, and more recently low-fire sculptures. Most notably in 2008, Pat created the Mary Nyburg Fellowship at Clayworks after her close friend and mentor died. Pat recently retired from a 37-year career as a paralegal with a nonprofit law office, Disability Rights Maryland (DRM) where she provided legal advocacy assistance to families in Baltimore City related to their children’s educational rights. Baltimore Clayworks joined the Baltimore Out of School Time (OST) Inclusion Project and collaborated with Pat and her colleagues to advance Clayworks’ inclusive practices and to ensure access, safe and effective participation for youth of all abilities.
Susan Patz has been connected to Clayworks for over 25 years as a student, a donor and an advocate for Clayworks’ exemplary teaching staff, resident artist programs, and community involvement.
Susan has regulatory and private sector job experience. Her early career as a hydrogeologist included working for the US EPA Hazardous Waste Division (overseeing multi-million dollar contracts), the Maryland Department of the Environment (MDE), and in the private engineering sector.
Combining her technical and education backgrounds, Susan developed urban hydrogeology curricula and co-wrote an environmental history of the Port of Baltimore for the Maryland State Department of Education. She has also lectured on public health and ecosystem impacts due to climate change for University of Maryland Extension classes. While Director of Education for Baltimore City Parks, she developed programs for Baltimore City Public Schools, adults, families, and youth.
Susan is active in the Baltimore non-profit community where she uses a collaborative leadership style to achieve positive programmatic success and significant results fundraising. Her Baltimore Board experience (some with executive level position) include: Cylburn Arboretum Association, Central Scholarship, and Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc. (CHAI).
Rima Semaan has been a Baltimore resident for 12 years. She has been a student at the Potters Guild, and at Baltimore Clayworks. Her background and experience in commercial and investment banking brings valuable perspective, resources and skills to Baltimore Clayworks.
At the United Kingdom office of the Byblos Bank, the third largest publicly listed Lebanese bank, Rima gained experience in commercial banking. Over 15 years she was responsible for managing client relations, involving overseeing loans, deposits, credit facilities and operations, correspondence with the Bank of England about capital adequacy requirements and assets/liability management. Rima was also a member of the credit committee for European operations. Following this, for 5 years, Rima worked at a boutique investment firm which provided investment services to private group of Arab investors with operations in construction and affiliated industries. She is enthusiastic about lending her skills and knowledge to supporting and guiding the future of Baltimore Clayworks.
Marsha Smelkinson has been an active member and student at Baltimore Clayworks since 2010. She is a regular volunteer at gallery openings, fund raising events and has been a work-exchange participant for many years. Marsha has been a faithful donor stepping up as an individual sponsor of the 2014 Gala. She was one of the original organizers of the Student Sale, and has participated in that event for each of the past four years. Her work has been included in “Clay from the Classroom” numerous times, and is currently featured in “Natural Beauty,” in the Community Arts Gallery. She was most recently enrolled in two classes during the Winter 2017 Session. A particular favorite of Marsha’s has been Samuel Wallace’s Jamaican Coil class, which she has taken 10 times, and she organized a pottery group trip with Sam to Jamaica in 2015.
A native of Baltimore, Marsha recently retired from a 40-year career in marketing, advertising, public relations and special events. She founded Smelkinson, Cerrati & Co. advertising agency in 1978, building it into a successful regional business with 16 employees and $1 million in annual billings. In 1986, Marsha sold her agency in a merger with a national firm. Marsha has experience in nonprofit and civic organizations including 5 years as Executive Director of a San Diego 1000-member bar association, 10 years as an elected member of the Board of Directors of the Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce, and was twice elected for two-year terms as President of that organization. She brings this broad knowledge and experience in marketing, management and planning with the private, civic and non-profit sectors to the furtherance of Baltimore Clayworks many programs.