The 2016 Alumni Board of Directors Bios:
Gail Allouf (Board Member)
Class of 1969
Fashion Illustration. When I speak to students in the classrooms now,I tell the story of a little girl growing up in Brooklyn to a family with little means and a mom struggling with emphyzema.I was fortunate that the public school system supported my talents and sent me to programs at the Brooklyn Museum and Pratt Institute in the 3 through 8 grades. My parents couldn’t afford extra anything ! 1964-1969 were extraordinary years at the High School of Art & design, and I felt like I won the lottery ! I was the VP of the student organization,member of Daisy Aldan’s great creative writing class & won the portfolio award for fashion illustration and a full tuition scholarship to Parsons. Fashion photography eliminated the jobs for fashion illustrators—it was I found myself excelling in the world of baby apparel and product.The ability to illustrate sweet & saleable animals and babies found many homes. I designed layette & playwear , textile prints, gift sets and texture concepts for Target, Kmart,JC Penney.I worked with Martha Stewart’s team & China,Thailand,Europe,I gave baby clothes to villagers on the islands near Bali.Indonesia. Recently, I have set up Illustrivity Design,my home studio in Avenel N. J. I currently freelance for Dollie & Me (sleepwear art & design matching doll and girl clothing),Madame Alexander Doll Co. (Toys R Us baby doll gifts -endcap coming in August) & Weeplay Kids ( newborn playwear) etc. Life came full circle when I was asked to teach 2 classes at Artisan Studio in Marlboro N.J.owned by an A & D classmate. My Imaginistas and Future Fashionistas do fabulous work every Saturday
On Sundays and weekdays, I have started Creation Station in my home studio. I wanted to enrich the creative kids in my own neighborhood with small classes of 1-3 students, I have been an active member of the Alumni Association for many years. My heart belongs to the amazing students of Art & Design. I was an AA former Vice President and have been a member of the Board of Directors for the past 2 years.I have helped with Senior Award Night,& organized my class of 1969 reunions to sponsor a senior award. so important to give students hope for themselves and emphasize the value of drawing skills even in this technology-driven world. Last but not least attended Art & Design just to have $25 a week for art supplies.On the 40 anniversary of her passing I wanted to honor her memory,so I sponsor an annual award in her name for purchasing art supplies. Students selected by teachers write a short essay explaining about how these ‘Tools For Success” will impact their journey ahead.I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I had not spent those years learning from the most incredible teachers.Paying it forward is but a small dose of gratitude. I am the proud mom of 2 sons. Matthew is an iron worker currently welding the Pulaski Skyway He discovered his photography talent and is growing as a self taught photographer every day! Jesse is the national marketing director of YOOX.Com.He accidentally landed in a eld that took o! Success is not about money but about rich life experiences and happiness! I’m grateful for everything! time to switch gears! designing baby gift collections. I never expected work would take me to Japan. a great experience! I also love to do classroom visits during Career Month.
George Alonso (President of A&DAA)
Class of 1980
Being a part of the A&DAA has always been very important for me. As an alumnus of the school giving back, supporting the students and other alumni is what it’s all about. This past two years working with other alumni and other community organizations to support this vision has been immensely rewarding. It would be a privilege to continue to serve the association,the school and you.
In my current position as Co. VP, Proudly I was able to be a part of and create many events for the association.
These events are:
- Planned and helped organize the ﬁrst Meet and Greet event in partnership with FAD. The event brought together school administration, teachers, Students and FAD Tutors. The goal was to promote FAD’S tutoring and introduce the new board and elected ofﬁcers of the alumni association.
- Assisted with planning and organizing the very successful Artist Meet and Mingle in February 2014 held at Cooper Union.
- Assisted in the planning and implementation of the 1st Annual Art & Design Draw-A-Thon, March 2014 now going on its 6th in 2016. An event that has put Art & Design on the map again.
- Worked with my Co. VP to plan menu and assisted in organizing Breakfast with Art Speigelman Event, April 2014
- 2015 brought alumni together and the A&DAA to build a stage supporting the most successful Fashion Style show in years.
- Created the First Annual Urban Arts show Subway car Arts school-wide competition For 2016 in partnership with All City Styles and (Alumni owned buisness) and Alumni Graff Artists from NYC.
- Made possible for the first time in New York “ Salon 2017”. A free to the public a four-day event where 100 of the best master artisans from around the world in the decorative painting field, will exhibit their work, do live demos, paint two murals one involving the students where they will be mentored as they paint together. An opportunity for internships and a scholarship fund will also be established for the school to be awarded to a student or students of Art & Design.
One of my goals was to strengthen our relationship with the community organization, FAD (Friends of Art & Design) that has continuously supported the school. For more than a year I have worked and succeeded in creating such relationship with FAD. In March of 2014, I was honored to be voted in as the VP of FAD (Friends of Art & Design).
As part of the ADAA Board of Directors, I have had the privilege to work with some of the most hardworking and dedicated alumni of A&D. We have strengthened and improved our relationship with the school administration, reached out to other alumni, and encouraged civic involvement among the students, administration, and the alumni of Art and Design High School.
I feel it’s important to give back to those who have given us so much. The High School of Art& Design created an environment that fostered creativity and allowed us to become the people we are today. Giving back to the school and community is my way of paying it forward.
My pledge is simple, I will continue on our mission of growing the Alumni Association and to excite you about all the wonderful events we bring you, to remind you of the creative talents that’s come from our school and the new talent that continue’s to do so.
- Of Hand & Soul – Small Buisness owner Creating sophisticated walls, fine hand painted finishes, textured surfaces, furniture restoration, murals and interior designs, commercial and residential..
Scenic artist and set design for theater.
- Director of Design and Production for Visual Displays nationally and internationally.
- Doing works for the high-end retail and boutique communities.
Danny Cataquet (Board Member)
Class of 1997
Art, music and sports have been passions of mine since childhood. I have always loved and practiced art. I work in the sports and fitness industry, and still find ways to use my creativity in my profession. The most pivotal moment on that path to living an artistic and creative life came when I was accepted into the High School of Art & Design.
While attending A&D I majored in Cartooning & Illustration. Afterward I continued studying art at SUNY Buffalo State where I earned a Bachelor’s degree Graphic Design.
On the side, I do freelance work as a Graphic Designer and continue to draw and paint. I also enjoy doing photography. Along with visual arts I also create my own music- songwriting, producing, recording and performing.
In my profession, I do a heavy dose of creating and maintaining relationships with clients. My years of professional experience include account management, program management, recruitment, event planning, client relations, sales, marketing and customer service.
I enjoy using my talents and expertise to help our alumni association plan, organize, host and promote events.
Being an A&DAA member these past 3 years has been a wonderful experience, connecting with fellow alumni, faculty and other professionals in our fields. I’ve had the honor of serving on the board the past two years.
I see our alumni association as having two great purposes. One, helping A&D alumni network with each other. And the second, even more special purpose, supporting the school and it’s current students.
Many can look back and say, their careers began at Art & Design. And it feels great to give back to our beloved high school. I look forward to continuing our great work!
Class of 1997
Frieda Christofides (Board Member)
Class of 1977
(A&D FRESHMAN PARENT 2016)
Class of ’19.
Myrna Perez-Fung (Vice President of A&DAA)
Class of 1980
Participating on the board for the past 3 years has been amazing. I have had the opportunity to work with some old friends, make new connections and learn from people who have been dedicated to the organization for a very long time. And I thank them for all their support and guidance. I would be honored to continue to serve on the board of the A&DAA.
As one of the Co.VP’s of the association, I have been involved with all projects and events the association has produced. Such as:
- Supporting the FAD and A&DAA Meet and Greet events
- Assisted in planning and executing all the phases of our Biannual Art & Design Draw-A-Thon, which is held biannually in November and March
- AADAA Holiday Toy Drive
Skills I bring to the table:
- Strong Communication and Organizational Skills
- Effective Team Building Skills
- Motivational and Coaching Skills
- Personnel Management
Currently, I work for the Department of Education as a Parent Coordinator in an elementary school in Queens, District 26. Being the bridge between the parents, school and community has given me a unique prospective on the NYC public school system and how as an alumni association we can benefit not just our alumni but the school. As a parent coordinator, I have implemented many community projects such as “Gardens in Transit” and “Wishes in Bloom” which increases awareness of civic responsibility and fosters a sense of community. I work very closely with the PTA and School Leadership Team to ensure DOE compliance.
Prior to taking time off to raise my two amazing children, I was a district manager and corporate trainer for a large retail organization. As a Retail Training specialist, I was responsible for all training programs implemented in approximately 500 stores in the Northeast, for all levels of management.
Although I didn’t pursue a career in art, I am so thankful for the experience of attending a wonderful school as the High School of Art and Design. As a parent of two amazing children, I always wanted them to have the same experience I had. I am a firm believer in change doesn’t happen by waiting for the “other guy” to do it. It happens by being involved. To continue to serve the school and the association would be my way of paying it forward and giving back. Thank you for your consideration.
Michael Kawochka (Treasurer)
Class of 1989
Life-long New Yorker and Brooklyn native, Michael Kawochka has had a few careers, all of them successful. Customer service has been the common thread sewing them all together. Whether as an award winning account executive at NYC’s #1 public relations agency, or as a project manager at the world’s largest pharmaceutical company, Michael has always been a staunch advocate for his clients. At Pfizer, he managed complex million dollar software projects, delivering strong results on time, while negotiating hundreds of thousands of dollars in cost savings. At Edelman PR Worldwide, his team won three of the top four industry awards. Having sat on all sides of the table, Michael brings empathy to both his clients and customers. He has been a landlord and a tenant, as well as buyer and a seller. When working with Michael, you are buying local expert knowledge in a 4th-generation Greenpointer. Active in the community, Michael has served on the Greenpoint YMCA Board of Managers since 2003. He is also a member of the New York Technology Council, a regular at the North Brooklyn Breakfast Club, and a past Berry Street Garden volunteer. He holds a BA with honors from the University at Buffalo, where he double majored in English and Communication. He earned his MBA in Computer Information Systems at night from Baruch College. An avid traveller and music lover, Michael stays put most summer weekends in Fire Island. He ranks himself an enthusiastic intermediate at both yoga and volleyball. After business hours, he can usually be found loitering at local favorites Spoonbill & Sugartown Books, Bembe, Dope Jams Record Shop, or the Whirlybird Café.
Lai Ling Li (Board Member)
Class of 2001
The Art and Design (A&D) High School played an important role in developing my leadership and creative skills. I served in Student Government, founded the Asian Culture Club, sold my artwork through gallery exhibitions, partnered with Friends of Art and Design (FAD), and participated in fundraising events during my years at A&D.
After college, I’ve worked as a management consultant in the financial services industry. I remained involved with A&D through the Art and Design Alumni Association (A&DAA). In 2011, I spearheaded the ten-year reunion for the Class of 2001 with a few former classmates. As a project manager, I led a team of five to strategize, plan and execute our vision for the reunion over a period of two months. In my role, I also utilized my business skills to calculate the budget, partnered with the management team at the venue, and established the Art Scholarship Fund. Following the success of the reunion, we raised sufficient funds and provided over 12 scholarships to the current students. I developed the requirements for the Art Scholarship Fund essay submission process. I also collaborated with two of my former classmates and A&D teachers to coordinate this effort from 2011 to 2013.
Furthermore, I partnered with Junior Achievement New York and served as a Co-Teacher for the Business Plan Competition from February 2012 to May 2012. My role and responsibilities were the following:
- Taught a class of 20 students at the Art & Design High School to prepare them for the Junior Achievement New York Business Plan Competition.
- Identified each team’s product and business plan. Assisted different teams on the following: objective, product design and development, marketing strategies, and market share/customer base.
- Mentored each team throughout the process and provided guidelines.
- Reviewed and monitored each team’s weekly progress on YouNoodle, an online site for entrepreneurship competitions and programs.
I attended the general session in mid-April and met with members of the current Association. Based on our conversations, I was very impressed with their accomplishments and dedication to the students and community. I became interested in joining the Board of Directors as the First Vice President to further develop strategic partnerships with the community and students. Specifically, my plan is to create financial literacy / business education, mentoring, and internship programs. As a board member, I believe my business acumen and project management skills will drive the mission of the Association.
Cindy Rodriguez (Board Member)
Class of 2015
Hello, my name is Cindy Rodriguez and I became a board member because I feel I can offer insight as a recent HS of Art & Design graduate. I hope my experience and dedication to the school can help the students not only express themselves creatively, but also help develop their talents.
While in high school I did volunteer work for the alumni association, I helped and assisted in many tasks that helped support the school and the association from events (i.e. drawathon fund raisers, spring arts festival) to school auditions and orientation. I’m also working along with present seniors and former students on a documentary of the high school. The film will highlight the school’s dedication to the arts/creative fields, the special relationship between the school and its former students and the school’s most notable alumnis. The HS of Art & Design school has given me a new way to express myself and I feel it would only be right to give back and show my appreciation.
Juan Rodriguez (Board Member)
Class of 1992
I feel that my experience in the art field all began with the high school of Art & Design. I love passing on knowledge to help the next generation get to where they want to be. I recently showcased recent A&D graduates Devon Rodriguez & Kreg Franco. I volunteer and help promote A&D events in my area and on social media.
I have 26 years of professional experience which includes framing general manager, frame production, and sales.
I’m also an business owner JoJer Fine Art Framing in New York specializing in custom framing and gallery services. Restoration, mirrors, shadowboxes and museum preservation techniques.
Edward Velandria (Past President of the A&DAA) Class of 1980
I have had the great privilege to with work with a wonderful A&D Alumni Board of Directors. As the current president my job was made easier with the help from my classmates from 1980. I am very proud and amazed of what were we able to accomplished in the past three years , but there so much more to do. I look forward to supporting the new Board of Directors and continue to serve the alumni association, and help to grow the A&D legacy.
What I feel is my biggest contribution as president of the A&DAA 2013 to 2014. My biggest contribution was to bring together an amazing group of people who have the passion and drive to spend a full year of volunteering their time away from their spouses, kids and families to help change the foundation of the association for the better!
What I learned or another way to look at it what it meant to me to be part of the A&DAA The Journey is the reward, especially when you have something to give back. Seeing a different side of people you know as friends and becoming even better friends for it. Celebrating the successes and creating new friendships. I learned so much and am indebted to the fantastic group of people I worked with this year.
What I accomplished (with a lot of help)
- Help win back a lot of love for the organization
- Assisted and Supported the FAD and A&DAA Meet and Greet held in November 2013
- Assisted and Supported Alumni Artist Meet and Mingle at Cooper Union held in January 2014
- Partnered with teacher Richard Weinstein and created the 1st Annual Art and Design Draw-A-Thon. A nine hour painting & drawing event attended by over 400 students, faculty and professional artist from around the city. The event was held in March of 2014
- Coordinated the Breakfast with Art Speigelman- Sharing the Secrets of the A&D Stain Glass
- Supporting the vision of the organization. This includes:
- Partnering with the H.S. of Art & Design administration, students and faculty
- Creating partnerships with sister organizations : Friends of Art and Design (FAD), H.S. of Art & Design PTA and SAC
- Alumni meet-ups
- Supported the efforts to amend the 1995 Bylaws and pass the 2014 bylaws
- Celebrating the achievement of alumni and students
Creative Director/ UX/UI Designer
Managed team of 20 designers and programmers in New York and Brazil 18 years
Past life Madman 15 year
Quote from H.S. Art & Design Illustration Teacher Richard Weinstein
“Ed Velandria is truly the kind of leader the ADAA needs. His commitment to the bettering of A&D’s future is unwavering. He’s got a vision, and works tirelessly to see it through. As an instructor, I’ve been able to observe his involvement and interaction with the current students, and his concern for their needs is unfaltering. I’ve also been able to work collaboratively with him in a truly successful partnership which benefitted current students and alumni alike. From my professional vantage point within the school, there is no question or doubt that the best person to lead the ADAA is Ed Velandria.”