The Furniture Society Board of Trustees consists of up to 22 members at any given time, as provided in the organization’s charter. Trustees serve for a term of 3 years, and may serve two consecutive terms. Candidates for openings on the board are considered by the Nominating Committee, and voted on by the full board. Trustees who have completed their term(s) usually continue to serve by invitation on the Advisory Board.
Officers of the board are elected by the full board and include President, Vice-President, Treasurer, and Secretary. These officeholders form the Executive Committee. Retiring Presidents are invited to serve one additional active year on the board in the position of Past President.
The Board of Trustees is composed of member volunteers who give their time and experience to guide the Society in the fulfillment of its mission. Meetings of the full Board occur twice during the year. Any member of The Furniture Society is eligible to be considered for nomination as a Trustee.
Current Furniture Society Trustees
Officers are elected annually and constitute the organization’s Executive Committee.
Adam John Manley is currently Assistant Professor of Furniture Design and Woodworking at San Diego State University, and has taught full time at Maine College of Art and UMass Dartmouth, and as adjunct at University of New Hampshire. He has also taught extensively at Haystack Mountain School of Craft and in the summer of 2019 at Penland School of Craft. Adam has done residencies at UW Madison, where he was the Windgate Artist in Residence, the Haystack Open studio Residency, and the Lanesboro residency in Southern Minnesota. He is looking forward to an upcoming residency at the Center For Art in Wood as a summer 2021 ITE fellow. Adam was born and raised in the Adirondack mountains of New York State, and attended the SUNY New Paltz, receiving a degree in Political science and International relations. During this time, Adam fell in love with woodworking, founding a cooperative studio and gallery with a group of friends in Kingston, in New York’s Mid-Hudson Valley. Having been Raised by a weaver and a boat builder/carpenter, working with one’s hands came naturally to Adam. After working for several years as a furniture maker, and hoping to deepen his connections between making and ideas, Adam moved to San Diego California, where he received his MFA in Furniture Design and Woodworking. In graduate school, Adam developed a unique voice that blended functional construction methodologies, material exploration, and a focus on the conceptual potential embodied within craft, furniture, and functional familiar objects. Since graduate school, Adam has taught at numerous institutions, from colleges to craft schools, and continued to develop his ideas and work in an ever-evolving way. Adam’s work has addressed issues relating to our unique sense of place and how familiar functional objects link us to that sense, humor, individual and universal relationships to furniture, and, more recently, the relationship between furniture and the historical objects used to inflict violence on others throughout time. This work is currently Adam’s focus and is expanding from an initial small solo exhibition at the Indianapolis Art Center. Adam is the co-founder, along with colleague Kerianne Quick, of the contemporary craft zine/journal, CRAFT DESERT.
Karen Ernst is a Professor in the Art Department at Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, where she has been teaching woodworking and furniture design since 2004. Originally from East Aurora, NY, she received a B.A. in Studio Art from SUNY Geneseo, and her M.F.A in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design. She maintains an active studio practice, exhibiting the furniture and sculptural objects she makes across the U.S. She has been a member of the Furniture Society since 2002.
Abby Mechanic received her BFA from the Maine College of Art with a concentration in Woodworking and Furniture Design. Upon graduating she has spent time working in various design studios such as Luur Design, Nate Berkus, and Matter Practice. In 2015, Mechanic began working at Parsons as a Technician in their woodworking facility. Since then she has assisted in the 2015 New School Architecture Design/Build, and has most recently been appointed the position of Manager of the Making Center at Parsons. Abby is now working closely with upper management to implement administrative support for staff hiring, scheduling, and committee work. She works with Directors as well as Management to align Making Center objectives across all shops, labs, and facilities, by creating systems and support. Outside of Parsons, Mechanic currently leads spoon carving workshops across the country in spaces such as Fort Houston in Nashville, TN and The Wing in New York, NY.
Zeke Leonard is the Associate Director of the Syracuse University School of Design, as well as being the coordinator of the School of Design’s First Year Experience. His research involves the role of social responsibility and environmental stewardship in contextually-relevant design and fabrication practices. Central to his work is the re-purposing of discarded materials and objects in ways that inspire conversation and call communities to action. Zeke regularly partners with community groups and organizations to find ways to put local resources to better use.
He has written about his research-based design practices in ‘The Interior Architecture Theory Reader’ (Routledge, Gregory Marinic, Ed.), and has published in journals as varied as Int/AR: Intervention and Adaptive Reuse and Anthropology News. He previously taught at RISD and NYU, and is a regular visiting instructor at institutions including the Haystack Mountain School of Craft and the Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. Examples of his wood work are in the collections of the Worker’s Arts and Heritage Society in Hamilton, Ontario, The Mystic Seaport Museum, and the Maine Culinary Archive. Zeke holds an MFA in Furniture Design from the Rhode Island School of Design and a BFA in Set Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.
Trustees are elected for three-year terms and may be re-elected to a second three-year term.
Bart Niswonger is a furniture maker in western Massachusetts. His work explores complex surface pattern and texture, employing techniques from hand carving to computer controlled routing as well as a broad range of materials. He received the John D. Mineck Furniture Fellowship in 2011, and has been a member of The Furniture Society since 2004.
Joshua Enck (born 1977) is a sculptor, designer, draftsman, and illustrator who teaches and maintains an active studio practice in Rochester, New York. He trained as an architect and a furniture designer, receiving his MFA in furniture design from the Rhode Island School of Design and his BSAS from the School of Architecture at the University of Illinois. He taught for ten years at RISD: drawing, three-dimensional design, technical drawing, woodworking, and metalworking. He has also taught woodworking at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center and drawing at the University of Illinois, Williams College, and the University of Rochester. Joshua has exhibited his work in solo shows at Simon Gallery, the University of Maine Museum of Art, and Space Gallery. The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, the Society of Arts and Crafts in Boston, and the Center for Art in Wood in Philadelphia have honored his work. Joshua recently returned from five months in India as a Fulbright Nehru Scholar, researching traditional metalsmithing and teaching at the Sushant School of Design.
Kathryn Hall is Curator at Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) in Houston, Texas, where she is responsible for developing and overseeing exhibitions and related programming. She previously served as the Windgate Curatorial Fellow at HCCC from 2012 to 2015. Kathryn received a BA in Art History from Wofford College and an MA in Art History from the University of Georgia. She is a scholar of contemporary craft and material culture.
Jennifer-Navva Milliken is the Artistic Director for The Center for Art in Wood. Prior to her arrival at the Center, she served as an embedded staff member in international art museums, as an independent curator, and as the founder of a cross-disciplinary art space. Her exhibitions have been presented in museums, art fairs, galleries, and unconventional spaces, and her writings have been seen in exhibition catalogues, anthologies, and publications that investigate and critique the intersecting fields of art, craft, and design. With a global perspective, honed through a life split between two continents, she is driven by the extraordinary power of the arts to challenge preconceptions and bridge divides.
Katie Thompson is an independent artist, author, creative consultant and speaker based outside of Charleston, SC. She is a disabled mother of two, and wife and partner to fine furnituremaker Joseph Thompson. They live and work out of their home and shop in the swamps of the Lowcountry.
Katie’s work as Design Partner with Joseph Thompson Woodworks has been featured in publications such as Furniture & Cabinetmaking magazine, Charleston Magazine, and has been exhibited widely at craft shows, Museums, and galleries. She is also an instructor at the Charleston Woodworking School.
In 2013 Katie started Black Swamp as a line of naturally inspired handcrafted jewelry, art, home décor and accessories made using recycled wood offcuts from the furniture making process.
Her ongoing project the Women of Woodworking series features some of the craft’s most talented artisans from around the globe. A prolific writer, Katie is the author of a 2016 children’s book Little Beaver Builds a Bed and is currently working on a second children’s book project (2019). Her latest project, Pen & Chisel, a monthly digital journal for woodworkers, artists, and makers launched, exploring original stories from change-making voices in the craft and trades.
Katie is proudly disabled and lives with multiple neurological conditions. She suffered a spinal cord injury at the age of 18 and experienced complications with surgery and contracted bacterial meningitis. She received a spinal fusion a few years later and now has eight titanium screws and two rods supporting her thoracic and lumbar spine. She went on to graduate from the College of Charleston in 2009 with a B.A. in Communications with a focus on Communication Theory. Katie uses her chronic health conditions to make a positive impact by advocating and sharing her experiences with others.
Sarah Turner is an artist and educator trained in the Northwest, refined in the Midwest and now based in Boston. She is the President of North Bennet Street School.
As an educator, working from both the office and the studio, Sarah has also worked at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, the Rhode Island School of Design, the Oregon College of Art and Craft, and the State University of New York at New Paltz. As the Dean at Cranbrook, Sarah directed the Academic Programs of the Academy and established a Critical Studies + Humanities residential teaching fellowship. She has lectured widely, regularly serves as a guest critic, and has organized exhibitions on contemporary applied art in the US and abroad. In 2005, Sarah was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to the Netherlands to research Dutch contemporary applied art.
In addition to her work in education, Sarah maintains a low-production studio. Her work has been included in exhibitions nationally and internationally.
Sarah has been a volunteer and advisor for a variety of organizations, including the Southeast Michigan Fulbright Association, the Vermont YWCA, the Art Jewelry Forum, the Society of North American Goldsmiths, and the International (dis)Organization of Recent Art-Graduates Applying for Teaching and Grants [I(d)RAGTAG].
Ryan Zimmerman is a recent graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, in the Furniture Design program. Born and raised in Erie, Pennsylvania, he received his BFA from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania in 2017, with a concentration in Wood/Furniture Design and minors in printmaking and sculpture. Leaving undergrad, he completed an internship at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in the furniture program. His work explores the archetype of furniture, while questioning its functionality. Currently working with both wood and clay, the forms he generates are designed and built considering systems of repetition and progression, as well as material limitations and ambiguity. rzimmermanwoodwork.com
Esther Cho (She/Her) received her dual BFA in Interior Design and Craft/Material Studies (with a concentrating in woodworking) from the Virginia Commonwealth University in 2017 and is expected to receive her MFA from the University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2022. She employs a discipline in woodworking and papermaking to seek a place where Korean and Western craft traditions merge to communicate the concepts of self-identification, cultural disconnect, and the loss of lineage. She has been awarded the 2017 Windgate Fellowship Award and traveled to South Korea to study traditional Korean papermaking techniques and its related arts. Instagram: estherjihyecho