People

http://www.imagineart.net/debbie-kizer-artist-page/ ‎

Debbie Kizer, Executive Director

I am the founder and Executive Director of Imagine Art. I was born and raised in Houston and later moved to Austin after graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in 1989 from Sam Houston State University. After working 3 years in a rehabilitation setting I developed a career in the field of supported employment ~ creating tailored jobs for persons with disabilities. In 1996, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and I recognized decades of addiction to both alcohol and drugs. As a result, I entered into the AA community and my sobriety date is September 1, 1997. I found myself unemployed, ready for a new beginning. Imagine Art developed in this period as I explored my own talents, skills and desire to serve. I became a Christian in 1998 when I experienced the love, power and saving grace of Jesus Christ. My life changed at this point ~ I will never be the same. I realized what God had done in my life and what He wanted to do through my life ~ through Imagine Art.Fourteen years later I continue on a journey of restoration. I am married to Brad and have two awesome children, Jesse (21) and Julie (7). I am an artist, exploring painting and mixed media. I enjoy creating whimsical little treasures, games, story cards and paper things.

Renee Greene

Renee Greene, Operations Manager

I grew up in the Bronx in New York City, and came to Texas in 1994 with my husband, Ron, because Texas offered different opportunities for ministry and education, and we thought it would be a good place to raise a family (and it has been!). I earned my Bachelor’s in Applied Arts and Science from Texas State University in San Marcos. After spending years working in the business world in finance, administration, sales, and marketing, I wanted to offer my skills in the nonprofit world. Working at Imagine Art gives me the opportunity to meet new people and to meet the challenges of working in a diverse community. I get to bring my expertise to help build on the organizational foundation that has already been laid here.

In my free time, I am active in my church’s worship arts ministry and am a women’s ministry leader. I like to cook, read, and spend time with my family – my husband Ron (who, after 21 years of marriage, is still my best friend!) and my two gorgeous, talented daughters, Alexandria (13) and Danielle (11).

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Ahna Phillips, Art Program Director

I moved to Austin from Vancouver, Canada, where I earned my Master’s degree in Theology and the Arts at Regent College. My BA is in Literature from Wheaton College (Illinois), and my professional background includes freelance writing and publishing industry experience as an editor and literary agent in Nashville, Tennessee. Equal parts artist and arts administrator, I have organized numerous visual art exhibits and music concerts, taught Creative Writing workshops, supervised collaborative art projects, and been a retreat speaker. I write poetry, and am a singer-songwriter that has released two independent music albums. With regard to visual art, I enjoy learning art history, and have taken studio art classes in watercolor painting and life drawing. It is a privilege to work as the Art Program Director at Imagine Art, because in this role I get to use a combination of my studies, skills, and passions. Theology is put into practice, in loving and serving this community. Creativity is not only allowed but encouraged, as part of integrated personhood. And administrating is channeled into life-giving purposes, in organizing gallery exhibits and working with each of the Imagine Art artists as they grow artistically and personally.

Tony Hyden, Studio Facilitator

As a Studio Facilitator I work in the fine art studio at Imagine Art, helping artists reach their goals while providing friendship and encouragement. I moved to Austin for my first job in 1999 and have been here ever since. I initially became involved with Imagine Art through the Austin House of Prayer which shares the facility and later became a volunteer. I have an Associates in Computer Animation from the Art Institute of Dallas and my professional background is in educational animation and design for children, the military, and the hospitality industry. I enjoy working with my hands and working directly with people. In my free time I enjoy walking, fishing, good food and friends. Imagine Art has given me an opportunity to be a part of building community through prayer and friendship.

Tish Young, CPA

I am the accountant for Imagine Art. As a member of the team it has been my pleasure to participate in the great mission of Imagine Art and to see all of the people that it is affecting on a daily basis. I was raised in Nashville, Tennessee and went to Bucknell University in Pennsylvania where I received a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration in 1998. After graduation – as they say, “I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could!” I married a Texan and have lived in Dallas, Houston and now Austin over the last 14 years. We have two beautiful daughters and it is our honor to teach them about the love of Jesus and how He can make a difference in their lives each day.

Board of Directors

Robert Adams, Chairman of the Board

After I served with the U.S. Navy in the Mediterranean region, I returned to Texas. My college degree is in Engineering from Texas Tech, and I work as a civil engineer, specializing in structural assessment. I got involved with Imagine Art a few years ago when Debbie Kizer asked me to assist Imagine Art with a building project they were considering at that time. The more I learned about the ministry of Imagine Art, the more it seemed like a place I could use my time and skills to serve others and make a difference. I love the artwork that the artists create, and I continue to be impressed by the depth of relationships that form in the Imagine Art community. It’s great to be a part of an organization that is truly helping transform lives.

Vice Chairman
This position is Open.

Mike Meleski, Treasurer

Come visit Imagine Art, something pretty cool is happening there.” A friend of mine told me that several years ago and I became the treasurer and an advisor shortly afterward. I was born and raised in Austin. I attended Emory University in Atlanta, GA and earned a BA in Economics and Mathematics in 2002. In 2010, I earned an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin. In between degrees, I started a retail business called Intellibed, which is still running. The experience of owning and directing a business was fantastic and very educational. After the MBA program, I worked in finance for two years with Symantec in California. I recently relocated back to Austin. My family has several artists, one being a professional artist. I have always loved the way art allows people to communicate with one another and express ideas. The artist community at Imagine Art includes people with mild to severe disabilities and the empowerment the artists get through their artwork is awesome. Come visit us!

Secretary
This position is Open.

Johanna_Adkins-boardmember

Johanna Adkins, Board Member

I am passionate about Community Development, particularly the link between art and business. I got involved with Imagine Art first as a volunteer in 2009, which happened to correspond with a time that Imagine Art was hiring! So, I served as a staff member with Imagine Art in 2009-2010, helping to define the mission of the organization, and advocating for the artists in the broader community. I am a graduate of UT Austin; got my TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate in Ecuador; have worked in various sectors of fashion, film, business development, and artist representation; and am a licensed realtor in Texas. So, my background is varied, but in the end it comes down to people – and out of my own spiritual transformation and healing – seeking to love and to give in as many ways as possible. When I worked for Imagine Art in 2009, I invested a lot of heart and soul in the mission of Imagine Art. Today, I still believe in the mission, the people, and the transformation of lives, and as a Board Member, I want to help our artists become known, their stories heard, with their lives inspiring other artists. 

Curt Voekel, Board Member

I have had a career working at Easter Seals for many years, so working to help people with disabilities is something that is natural for me and very close to my heart. I am a dedicated father, and I am also an artist (a musician), so what Imagine Art is doing really combines my biggest passions: helping people, and being creative! The way that Imagine Art helps people is very empowering to them, which I think is important. They are given space and freedom to pursue what they love — making their art — and a place to belong. I am honored to serve Imagine Art and watch it grow as an organization and watch the artists grow, too.

Shane Whitehurst, Board Member

I was born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and at the age of two, I was diagnosed with a progressive muscle disease that prevents me from being able to walk, and makes many activities of daily living a challenge. I moved to Austin in 1990 in order to attend the University of Texas, where I graduated with a degree in journalism. For the past 17+ years, I have worked for The Longhorn Foundation, which is the primary fundraising arm for the Texas Athletics Department. I work with donor relations, events, and our donor database. I have a strong passion for sports, but I have a larger passion and love for God! I attend the Austin Stone Community Church and I am active in several Bible studies throughout the community. I truly believe in the Scripture: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me”. God blessed me with so many great friends and family, which has allowed me to live my dreams and be as independent as possible. I believe that God gives everyone gifts that are meant to be used for his glory, which is why I am excited about being on the Board for Imagine Art! Imagine Art give people with disabilities the opportunity to express their God-given gifts through art and at the same time learn about the transforming power of Christ!