Board of Directors:
Michael Connors, Ph.D.
Dr. Connors holds a Ph.D. in decorative arts from New York University and teaches and publishes widely in the field of Caribbean decorative arts. He has been a member of the Fundación Amistad Board of Directors for many years and has assisted on many trips to Cuba delivering supplies and furthering his research and writing.
Gail Furman, Ph.D.
Dr. Furman is a Clinical Professor of Child Psychology at the Child Study Center at the NYU Medical School. She has served as the Chair of the Children’s Task Force of the Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, and is currently a member of several boards focusing on educational/emotional needs of children worldwide. Her experience and support has aided FA in our mission and studies of women and children in Cuba.
Olga Garay-English is Senior Advisor on Local and International Cultural Programs to City of Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge. She is Creative Strategist to UCLA Center for the Art of Performance Executive and Artistic Director, Kristy Edmunds; Program and Resource Development Consultant at the Emerson College Office of the Arts and its three campuses in Boston, Los Angeles and The Netherlands; Senior Advisor on International Cultural Affairs to Fundación Santiago a Mil in Chile; and Senior Advisor on Latin American/Latino Initiatives to Steven Lavine, President, CalArts. From 2007 to 2014, Olga was Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) where he managed a $50-million budget portfolio in FY13/14. During her tenure at the City, DCA and its programs were awarded more than $23 million in funding from private and public entities such as the National Endowment for the Arts, ArtPlace and the Trust for Mutual Understanding. In 2011 she helped conceptualize and launch the biennial RADAR LA Festival of International Theater, which took place again in 2013 and was a critical and popular success.
Prior to joining the City, Ms. Garay-English was an independent producer and consultant with organizations such as the Lincoln Center Festival and the Surdna Foundation. As Founding Program Director for the Arts for the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (1998-2005), Ms. Garay-English was responsible for one of the largest national arts funders in the United States. She developed several major programs, including the Leadership Presenting Institutions, Mid-Sized Presenting Organizations and College and University Presenters Programs, and a Theatre Initiative created in collaboration with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that awarded more than $34.5 million and resulted in the creation of the acclaimed Under the Radar Festival at the Public Theater in NYC. $145 million was awarded to arts organizations during her seven-year tenure at DDCF.
Jean M. Gath
Jean Marie Gath is a Principal with Pfeiffer Partners, a national architecture, planning and interior design firm with offices in New York City and Los Angeles. She serves as Principal-in-Charge of the firm’s New York office. For the past twenty-five years her focus has been on the planning, programming and design of educational and cultural facilities. She is particularly well known for her skills in public facilitation and consensus building. Her involvement with Fundación Amistad dates back to 2000, when, funded through a grant by FA and the Ford Foundation, she assisted Casa de las Americas in Havana, Cuba in their planning for a new library facility. She has since worked with other international non-profit organizations in similar efforts, including CIRMA in Antigua, Guatemala in their planning for a new library as well as a regional cultural arts complex. Ms. Gath holds a Masters Degree from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn.
Mrs. Lord, a graduate of NYU, worked at Sotheby’s auction house for 14 years. She spent her 1st six years running the Sotheby’s Palm Beach office and then moved to New York as Vice President and head of the International Department. Over the past few years, she has collected Cuban art and has made frequent travels with FA to Cuba in order to pursue her interests.
Michael Eleazar Parmly
Michael E. Parmly has been a member of the Board of Directors of the Fundacion Amistad since 2013. He is the former Chief of Mission (Ambassadorial rank) of the US Interests Section in Havana, Cuba, where he served from 2005 to 2008. Since he left Havana, Mr. Parmly has continued to speak and write on the subject of Cuba. In September 2013, his article “Cuba, the United States and Guantanamo Bay: Dealing with a Historic Anomaly” was published in the Fletcher Forum of World Affairs. Mr. Parmly retired in 2010 from a 33 year career in the U.S. Foreign Service, which took him, inter alia, to Spain and France, the US Mission to the European Union in Brussels, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania, and several tours in Afghanistan, including extended stays in Kabul and Kandahar. Among his other distinctions, upon his retirement, Mr. Parmly was given the Distinguished Service Award by Secretary Clinton. Mr. Parmly holds graduate degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy of Tufts University. In addition to his Fundacion Amistad duties, Mr. Parmly is a member of the Cuba Study Group. He has been married for over 33 years to Marie-Catherine nee Schutte. Mr. and Mrs Parmly are the proud parents of a daughter and a son. He and his wife reside on the outskirts of Geneva, Switzerland.
While attending Wake Forest University, Volker studied abroad in Spain and Cuba. He attended the University of Havana in 2002 where he studied afro-cuban cultural expression, cuban literature, and history. Since graduating he has worked with Fundacion Amistad toward its educational, cultural, and humanitarian efforts to bridge understanding across the Straits of Florida. He is the President and Managing Member of Efficiency Energy LLC. The company provides energy efficient project and incentive management services to commercial and governmental entities. Mr. Volker has a B.S in Analytical Finance, a B.A. in Spanish Language and a M.S in Accounting.
James Counts Early has served in various positions at the Smithsonian since first coming on board in 1972 as a researcher in Brazil and the Caribbean for the African DiasporaFolklife Festival program. He has served as assistant provost for educational and cultural programs, assistant secretary for education and public service, and interim director of the Anacostia Community Museum. A long-time advocate for cultural diversity and equity issues in cultural and educational institutions, he focuses his research on participatory museology, cultural democracy statecraft policy, capitalist and socialist discourses in cultural policy, and Afro-Latin politics, history, and cultural democracy. He has curated several Folklife Festival programs, including South Africa: Crafting the Economic Renaissance of the Rainbow Nation (1999) and Sacred Sounds: Belief and Society (1997). James holds a B.A. in Spanish from Morehouse College and completed graduate work (A.B.D.) in Latin American and Caribbean history, with a minor in African and African American history, at Howard University.
Stephen Johnson, FAIA, is an architect and urban designer with four decades of experience working in over twenty countries around the world. He brings an international perspective in shaping preservation and planning strategies that foster community, pride, and economic sustainability. As former President of CannonDesign International, he led the development of transformative projects in urban planning, education, technology, and cultural facilities in emerging nations. His work in preservation and adaptive re-use has been recognized with three Honor Awards from the National Trust for Historic Preservation as well as Mr. Johnson’s election to the AIA’s College of Fellows.
From 2000 to 2004, Mr. Johnson worked with Fundation Amistad and fellow Board member, Jean Gath, in developing planning and design strategies for the renovation and expansion of the library at Casa de las Americas in Havana, presenting the project at the Havana Biennial of Architecture in 2004.