Arts Council Board

The North Carolina Arts Council is governed by a 24-member board appointed by the governor. The board advises the Secretary of the Department of Cultural Resources on the policies and programs of the N.C. Arts Council.

General responsibilities include evaluating staff recommendations on policy, operational guidelines and program guidelines to determine their consistency with enabling legislation; providing recommendations of a budget for the Arts Council as developed and proposed by staff in cooperation with the chairperson; serving as an advocacy organization for the arts; periodically reviewing and re-evaluating Arts Council policy.


Stephen Hill, Kinston – Chair
Stephen is CEO and Chairman of Discovery Insurance Company, Hill Realty, and Mother Earth Brewing, all in Kinston. He is a former president of the Community Council for the Arts (Lenoir County), and is past chairman of Arendell Parrott Academy. He is in the process of the revitalization of his sixth building in downtown Kinston. Stephen has been designated a 2013 North Carolina Mainstreet Champion by the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Stephen graduated from Lee's McRae College in Banner Elk and attended Appalachian State University. After college, Stephen worked for the United States Congress where he met his lovely wife Holly.

Michael Andry, Asheville
Michael has worked in the finance industry for 28 years and is a Wealth Advisor for the Western North Carolina region of Wells Fargo Private Bank. Prior to joining Wells Fargo, he was a Private Client Advisor with U.S. Trust in Asheville for 10 years. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Vanderbilt University and his M.B.A. in finance from Tulane University. Michael cares deeply about the arts and his community. He currently serves on the Asheville Symphony board, as well as the boards of the Mission Health System Foundation, Pack Place and Carolina Day School. Formerly, he was the Chair of the Board for the Diana Wortham Theatre, the Southern Appalachian Highland Conservancy and the UNC Asheville Foundation. Michael also enjoys the outdoors, golf and history and is married with three children.

Larry E. Beckler, Durham
Larry is passionate for the arts, especially music, theater, dance and song. His first acting role was Freddy in a tour of My Fair Lady at age 15. After he spent three years in New York City as the vocal soloist for the U.S. Army Band, he worked as an actor in New York City and was part of 20 professional tours, including Nick in Funny Girl, Paul Bratter in Barefoot in the Park (opposite Tony Award-winning actress Maureen O’Sullivan), Guys and Dolls with David Birney and Meredith Baxter, and Officer Kline and William Shatner’s standby in Arsenic and Old Lace. His TV credits include The Doctors and As the World Turns. Larry is married and resides in Durham with his wife Marlene. They enjoy being surrounded by art in their home. In 2008, Larry was moved to commission a memorial statue in honor of the first responders of 9/11 called “A Day of Service.” The statue can be liked on Facebook at A Day of Service and a video of the making of the piece can be seen at

Robin Rogers Branstrom, Charlotte
Robin was born in Statesville and attended Peace College and UNC-Charlotte. Robin works in the real estate brokerage business and is also a partner and owner of an art consulting business, Robin and Robbins, which assists corporate and private clients in collecting art that enhances the architectural integrity of the office and home. Robin is Chair of Charlotte Mecklenburg Public Library Foundation and has served on the boards of North Carolina Dance Theatre, Children’s Theatre of Charlotte, Charlotte Symphony Orchestra, Spoleto Festival, Peace College, and NC Museum of History. In 2005, Robin was honored with the Star Award, an honor given to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the cultural life of Charlotte.

Chad Cheek, Winston-Salem
Chad Cheek is the owner of Elephant In The Room ( ), a design and brand consultancy in Winston-Salem. Elephant In The Room specializes in graphic design, brand development and creation in addition to various brand communication solutions. Chad has over 20 years of brand marketing and strategic business development experience. He has been active in several community organizations over the years. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees for the Arts Council of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County and the Community Advisory Board of 88.5 WFFD (Wake Forest University NPR member station). Chad is a Winston-Salem native and holds an M.B.A. from Wake Forest University.

Socorro Hernandez-Hinek, Fayetteville
Socorro, a native of San Antonio, Texas, has called Fayetteville home for over 18 years. She is a graduate of University of California, Chico, M.A. and East Carolina University, M.F.A. in Ceramics programs. A lifelong arts activist she has championed the efforts of A+ schools, Smart Start Initiative, Art in Public Spaces and served on numerous Arts Advisory panels for Cumberland County. An exhibiting artist, she frequently exhibits along with other Hispanic visual artists in the state. She was an Associate Professor of Art at Fayetteville State University for many years and was published in the periodical Greenhouse- North Carolinians for Home Education. She also serves as an education advisor for North Carolina Museum of Art. Her proudest achievement is her daughter, Cecelia.

Allen Huffman, Hickory
A native of Hickory, Allen graduated from UNC-CH where he also completed a residency in OB-GYN in 1972. After retiring in 2007, he and his wife Barry continued collecting Catawba Valley pottery and Southern contemporary folk art. More than 150 pieces from their folk art collection form the nucleus of a growing Southern folk art collection and programming at the Hickory Museum of Art. He has served as president of the founding board of the NC Pottery Center in Seagrove and chaired the steering committee of the Catawba Valley Pottery Festival for its 16 years. Allen has been instrumental in the Lake Norman Folk Art Festival, a fund-raiser for the Hickory Museum of Art, and is a founder and past- president of the North Carolina Folk Art Society.

Ira J. Jackson III, ‘Jerry’, Raleigh
Born in Raleigh, Jerry grew up in Vance County, returning to Raleigh where he graduated from NC State in 1964. Before retirement in 2007, Jerry was chairman of FMI, management consultants and investment bankers to the engineering and construction industry. Jerry has served on the boards of Arts NC State and JC Raulston Arboretum; he is currently vice chair for the NC State University Foundation and co-chair of the Capital Campaign for the Gregg Museum of Art & Design at NC State. He is an enthusiast for the arts in most any form and both he and his wife Nina are painters. They have two adult children and four grandchildren.

Marie Junaluska, Cherokee
Marie speaks Cherokee fluently and writes the Sequoyah syllabary. She presents educational programs throughout North Carolina and the southeast where she introduces the Cherokee language, leads activities based on Cherokee history and culture, and teaches songs in Cherokee. Marie is an outstanding translator and educator and has worked with Special Collections at Western Carolina University and has served as a consultant on many projects including the permanent exhibits at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian and the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

Joseph Logan, Winston-Salem
Joe is the former Executive Director of the International Casual Furnishings Association (ICFA), the trade association for the outdoor furnishings industry, based in High Point. Prior to becoming the founding Executive Director of ICFA in 2008, Joe worked in association management, including serving as Vice President of the American Home Furnishings Alliance. He began his career with Deloitte & Touche and Sara Lee Corporation in Winston-Salem. Joe has served in numerous community leadership roles including past chairman of the North Carolina Shakespeare Festival; past president of the Sawtooth School for Visual Art; the Novant Health Triad Region Board of Trustees; and the Tryon Palace Commission. He has a degree in economics from Davidson College and an M.B.A. from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.

John E. McGee, ‘Eddy’, Rural Hall
Eddy McGee is the Executive Director of the Stokes County Arts Council where he has served since 2004. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in non-profit management from Grace College of Indiana and has also completed undergraduate and graduate degrees in business management. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of ARTS NC and the King Chamber of Commerce. He is a former USPTA Tennis Teaching Professional, has been featured in Southern Living Magazine for his Cream Cheese Pound Cake recipe, and sang in the motion picture Junebug starring Amy Adams and filmed in North Carolina. He is married to Anna McGee, a Teacher Coach with Stokes County Schools, and they currently reside in Rural Hall, North Carolina. 

Jean McLaughlin, Little Switzerland
Executive director of Penland School of Crafts since 1998, Jean has focused her energies on strategic planning, external relations, facilities construction and renovation, board development, and fundraising. She currently spearheads a $30 million Campaign for Penland’s Future. Jean came to Penland after serving 16 years at the NC Arts Council as Director of Visual Arts and later Director of Statewide Initiatives. A native North Carolinian, she holds an MA in Liberal Studies from NC State University, and a BA in Studio Art from UNC-CH. She also studied textiles at the California College of Arts and Crafts, NC State University, and Penland School of Crafts.

John B. Mitchell, Hendersonville
John is the Business and Community Development Director for Henderson County. He is a graduate of UNC-Asheville, holds a Masters of Public Administration from Western Carolina University and thru-hiked the Appalachian Trial in 2005. After college, he worked for the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, and then for United States Senator Richard Burr in North Carolina’s far western counties. He continues to serve on boards and commissions in the region, including the executive committee of Land-of-Sky Regional Council and 211 in WNC. A fiddle and banjo player, he has a passion for the musical traditions of North Carolina. With a group of likeminded musicians, he provides music for charitable events in Western North Carolina. John lives in Hendersonville, with his wife Meredith, who is a weaver and quilter.

Edwin Peacock, Charlotte
Edwin is a former elected official serving on the Charlotte City Council from 2007 to 2011 and was a candidate for Mayor in 2013. He currently serves on the Arts & Science Cultural Task Force studying solutions and opportunities to address shortfalls in regional arts funding. Since 2011, Edwin has been a Trustee on the Blumenthal Performing Arts Board. As the son of an artist and former public school teacher, his exposure and appreciation for the arts began early. Edwin’s public service record shows enthusiastic support for public art as a catalyst for revitalization of blighted communities and the importance of a strong arts and cultural community to fuel economic growth in North Carolina. Edwin is a Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual. He and his wife Amy met at their alma mater, The University of Georgia. They have two children and live in the Hermitage Court Historic district in Charlotte.

Lockwood Phillips, Morehead City
Lockwood is a multi-media owner including the Carteret Publishing Co. a family owned community newspaper group (Carteret Count News-Times, Swansboro Tideland News, and This Week Magazine.) and two news-talk radio stations (WTKF FM-107.1 & WJNC AM-1240 in Atlantic and Jacksonville respectively.) A Beaufort native and graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with Journalism degree, he joined his family publishing business after serving in the US Navy. He’s served as president of the N.C. Press Association and National Newspaper Association; Carteret County Chamber of Commerce; and on the board of Carteret County EDC. He has been active in the Carteret Community Theater and Carteret Choral. He currently serves on the boards of the Eastern Carolina Aviation Heritage Foundation, and Core Sound Waterfowl Museum/Heritage Center. Lockwood and wife Nikki have two daughters and eight grandchildren.

Laura N. Raynor, Raleigh
Laura is a native of Raleigh and has been actively involved in the community for 40 years. She has served on various community and advisory boards including Carolina Ballet, Duke Raleigh Hospital Guild, where she initiated an Arts and Healing program to benefit patients, staff, and physicians, Raleigh Fine Arts Society, North Carolina Museum of History Associates, Red Hat Amphitheatre, and the Raleigh Hall of Fame. While serving on the City of Raleigh Arts Commission for seven years as member and chair, she offered leadership and advocated for increased arts funding. Laura is a graduate of St. Mary’s College and is an active member of White Memorial Presbyterian Church and the National Society of Colonial Dames. Recently, she and her husband of 45 years, Hurley, served as Honorary Chairs of First Night Raleigh and The Carolina Designer Craftsmen Guild Show. Special awards received include induction into the YWCA Academy of Women and recipient of the Raleigh Medal of Arts.

Scott J. Relan, Wilmington
Scott is a media and marketing communications campaign veteran, with experience ranging as wide as Retail to Advanced Research – Energy, Entertainment, Manufacturing, Aerospace, as well as a myriad of non-profits and arts and humanities communications programs. He has worked in Community Affairs and Reputation Communications with Fortune 500 companies and large Foundations. He also has extensive experience working with NGOs, International Democracy Projects from the Balkans to Afghanistan to Latin America, and innumerable Public Affairs campaigns throughout the U.S. and abroad. Mr. Relan's communications experience and audience-centric focus comes from stints as director at multiple national advertising firms and Arts Foundation development.

Lorraine Robinson, New Bern
Lorraine’s career in higher education included positions in the English faculty at East Carolina University, Craven Community College, and North Carolina Wesleyan College. In 2013, she retired as the Director of the East Carolina Center for the Liberal Arts and is now an emerita faculty member. She has studied at the Goethe Institute in Germany, served as the Senior Associate Editor of the North Carolina Literary Review, and has won national awards for her creation and editing of the newsletter for the ECU Chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi. Currently, Lorraine serves on the board of the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association, where she has chaired the selection of the recipient for the Hardee-Rives Award for Dramatic Arts and also served as presenter. Lorraine is also a professional musician.

Thomas S. Sayre, Raleigh
Thomas has designed and built public art projects all over the world and has been part of design teams for civic, educational, and museum buildings. He is a founding principal of the multi-disciplinary design firm Clearscapes. Growing up in the shadow of Washington National Cathedral, Thomas' early art education, and his love and respect of natural materials, came from the stonecutters and craftsmen at the cathedral. His education included St. Albans School, University of North Carolina, University of Michigan, and Cranbrook Academy of Art. His commissions extend from Canada, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Thailand and across the U.S., including San Jose, Tucson, Denver, Nashville, Portland, Raleigh, and Washington, D.C.

Nancy Temple, Raleigh
Nancy is a native of Charlotte and lives in Raleigh. In 2009, she retired from Progress Energy as VP-Corporate Communications, where she was responsible for overseeing the company’s brand and corporate reputation, including all internal and external communications and corporate community relations. Before joining Progress Energy, Nancy held leadership positions in health care, government, and politics. She served in the administration of North Carolina Governor Jim Martin and was his chief of staff from 1989 to 1993. Nancy holds a BA in Political Science from North Carolina State University. She is married to Henry Temple, has two sons, and four grandchildren.

Louise Toppin, Durham
Dr. Toppin is professor and Chair of the Music Department at UNC-Chapel Hill and director of Videmus, a nonprofit arts organization committed to educational and collaborative projects on the repertoire of African-American, women and under-represented composers. She has received critical acclaim for her operatic, orchestral, recital and oratorio performances throughout the United States, Europe, Asia, Central and South America, New Zealand, and the Caribbean. Her latest solo CD is Heart on the Wall (art songs with orchestra by African-American composers). A finalist in the Munich International Competition and the Metropolitan Opera regional auditions, she has performed at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and the Kennedy Center.

Janice Travis, Cornelius
A graduate of Duke University’s MBA program and a former IBM consultant, Janice is professionally trained in piano, voice, and saxophone. She developed her love for the musical arts as a child. As a student, she regularly competed in the NC Federation of Music and was named to the All-State Chorus four years. She was in the inaugural class of docents for the Bechtler Museum of Art and served on the Arts and Science Council’s year-long task force. She is the past board president of the Community Arts Project and a past board member of Historic Latta Plantation. She has also served on the Cornelius Arts task force. Her husband Chuck is the current mayor of Cornelius.

John W. Willingham, Yadkinville
John is the fourth generation to manage the family-owned Indera Mills. He received his BA in economics from Yale University. In 1998, he moved his company from Winston-Salem to Yadkinville and became immersed in the community. For the past ten years, he has led Yadkin Arts Council as board president and was instrumental in the creation of the Yadkin Cultural Arts Center. Completed in 2010, the Center consists of several buildings and significant open spaces and is home to Yadkin Arts Council. It has served as anchor for the revitalization of downtown Yadkinville. John is devoted to the resurgence of small town American and the leading role that the arts play in this process.