Art Ventures is privileged to have these active community members serving on our Board of Directors. Each brings unique skills and talents to the table to ensure our programs are thriving and successful. You may click on each name to read their full bio.
Sharon Killian, President
Sharon is a passionate advocate for discovering cultural connections through the universal language of art. This passion was alive in her throughout her youth and was spent initially to connect her to her own life as one of six siblings in Kingston, Jamaica, and then in Harlem, New York City.
One of the most significant moments in Sharon's life was being shown a letter from the Metropolitan Museum of Art asking her art teacher to recommend students who might be interested in life drawing classes, and her saying she thought that student would be Sharon. This was the real beginning of her life of freedom and independence. Art in all its challenge brought her to new worlds every day after that, both figuratively and literally.
In her work life and as a volunteer she strives to be that person who gets the chance to give a child, a youth, and also adults, the opportunity to be elevated and equalized through art. As president of the board of Art Ventures, Sharon gets to make a similar life-changing impact through art, helping to move the needle toward improving quality of life and cultural understanding through art.
Jay McDonald, Vice PresidentJay McDonald is an award winning Fine Art Photographer who has studied under the tutelage and mentoring of several masters in photography including Jay Maisel, George Lepp, Matt Seuss and Tim Ernst in both experiential and landscape photography. He has traveled the world photographing its magnificent people, urban environments and iconic landscapes. His work is displayed in offices, corporate collections, museums and homes throughout the world.
Karolyn Farrell, Secretary
Karolyn Farrell has enjoyed painting, drawing and winning awards since an early age. She was able to study and visit art museums often. Although she had scholarships offered to prestigious art schools, she combined art, science and education into her undergraduate degree (MO) then completed a Master's and Educational Specialist (AR) degree with Creativityin the older adult emphasis. Additional certification was completed in ESL, grantwriting, and others. She has successfully taught (art and sciences) and served as an administrator in public and higher education, in DC area, KC area, and AR. having retired as Director of Fayetteville Schools Adult and Community Education and workforce development programs.
She is a signature member of National Oil and Acrylic Painters Society (juried shows and award of excellence) and Artists of NW AR (juried). Selected honors include awards in Illinois River Salon shows, Sager Creek Regional Shows, Arts in Ed shows (Little Rock), AAUW Invitational in KC., NOAPS show at Cape Cod, NOAPS show in Castle Gallery, Ft Wayne and NOAPS show at Bolivar, MO.
Her art is in private, corporate, and medical offices throughout the USA and some in Asia. Clients have burst into tears of joy when viewing her commissioned work which they state has brought them moments of serenity and joy!
She has served many nonprofit, and Professional state and local groups as board member and officer, including President. Selected ones - Free Health (Welcome Health) Clinic, YouthBridge, National Art organizations, Art Ventures, etc. She was a charter member of ANA. Her work in intergenerational art was made into a video disseminated world wide. Publications include being featured as "An Artist who helps Artists, Artists as World Changers" due to her "vision, passion and purpose". She continues to enjoy plein air painting in oil and pastels, when traveling to Tuscany, France, Santa Fe, and especially at home in NWAR.
She hopes to continue to bring peace, joy and serenity when clients see the light, shadow, and colors of the citiscapes, landscapes, and seascapes, to bring memories of good times passed along with thankfulness of our great creation. Galleries are in AR and MO.
E. Kent Oliver, TreasurerKent is Partner and President of EK Langdon & Company, a holding company engaged in a broad portfolio of operations including Automotive, Logistics, Services and Investment. Prior to EK Langdon, Kent served in a variety of strategy and finance positions at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where he was instrumental in the development of segment portfolio roles. It is these efforts that were used to define the strategic and financial direction of each operating segments. Prior to Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Kent built his career working with growth companies as a venture capitalist and investment banker. Kent worked at ABS Capital Partners and Riverside Investment Group, where he was responsible for sourcing and executing investments in the Consumer Services, Media, Technology and Telecommunications industries. During these experiences, Kent participated on the boards of Vibrant Media and Control Point Solutions and worked with portfolio companies: Neustar and Captivate Networks. He has also worked in the Financial Sponsors Group at Bear, Stearns & Co. and the Mergers & Acquisitions and Corporate Finance groups at Wachovia Securities where he executed a variety of M&A transactions including VF Corp’s acquisition of Vans, Inc. Kent earned a bachelor's in Finance from Howard University School of Business in Washington, DC. Kent is married and has two sons, Edward and Konrad.
Ana Claudia Aguayo
Ana Claudia Aguayo joined Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in 2015 and has advanced to serve several functions in Membership and Development. In her current role as a Development Officer, Ana supports overall strategy for development initiatives centered on raising more than $1.4 million to support the Museum’s mission and programs as well as growing the next generation of arts supporters. Ana is passionate about access and inclusion and is working to engage the Hispanic community with Crystal Bridges. She serves on an internal task force focused on enhancing the Museum’s inclusivity by helping translate exhibition and membership materials for Spanish speaking guests and coordinating programs to serve diverse audiences.
Prior to joining Crystal Bridges, Ana exemplified community leadership state-wide as the External Affairs Hispanic Liaison for former Governor Mike Beebe by working to enhance the economic, educational, and social opportunities for Arkansas’ Hispanic communities. Ana’s previous experience at the Northwest Arkansas Workers Justice Center (NWAWJC) helped prepare her for the role with the Governor’s office. Here Ana served as the Director of Development and Communications for five years before acting as Interim Executive Director for the organization dedicated to improving the wages, benefits, and working conditions of low-wage and immigrant workers. During her tenure at NWAWJC, Ana developed an annual fundraising plan from the ground up and raised more than $900,000 for the nonprofit. In 2013 she was honored with the Cardinal Bernardin Young Leader Award for her commitment to nonprofit management and social justice.
Ana holds a BS in broadcast journalism and international relations with concentration in economics from the University of Arkansas. She was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico and as time would have it, Arkansas has become her home away from home.
As the daughter and wife of military officers, I have spent a lifetime traveling to places abroad and stateside, staying long enough to learn about the people of each location—the history, the sites, customs, religion and flavors. It has engendered in me a love of people and places and a respect for our differences.
I was born in Santa Monica, California, and attended Department of Defense and local public schools. I received a BA in Interdisciplinary Studies and a Masters in Guidance and Counseling from the University of South Carolina. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) I worked for a number of different agencies and in private practice as we moved, counseling individuals, couples and families in the areas of sexual abuse, gender, and marriage and family issues, and facilitating counseling groups.
In 2002, we moved to Fayetteville, Arkansas. Since then I have been active in Altrusa, and in The Artists of Northwest Arkansas, serving in various positions on the board including program chair, vice president and president. I volunteer at Cooperative Emergency Outreach in Fayetteville and serve on the board of Art Ventures (formerly the Fayetteville Underground Gallery).
As a fine art photographer for many years, my work has been in numerous exhibitions, solo shows, and fine art galleries, in a number of states and overseas. My work is also part of the Arkansas Arts Council’s permanent collection. My interest in the arts and artists at all levels is all- encompassing and a lifelong passion.
Catherine HippCatherine Hipp is a creative leader, entrepreneur, designer, seamstress, gardener, student, and has specialized in cultural institution business development. A native of Arkansas, her professional life unfolded in New York City, where she launched her career as a fashion designer and entrepreneur. Her business focused on professional women’s clothing, and she became known for innovative, sculptural designs in simple luxurious fabrics sourced internationally. Also an expert in knitwear, she helped companies extend exposure in this developing area of fashion innovation. Her clients included specialty retailers from Hong Kong to London to Switzerland, as well as across the US. Her collections and runway shows were featured in many fashion publications. During this time she entered into a licensing agreement with Mitsubishi to produce a line of clothing for the Japanese market. Travelling often to Japan, her designs were informed by a minimalist, neutral aesthetic embraced by Japanese culture. Catherine’s appreciation for art and art history led to involvement with cultural institutions. She created unique products using institutional resources for sale in multiple, synergistic channels. As VP of Retail and Business Development at the New York Botanical Garden she launched retail, online, and licensing businesses, and developed a signature brand identity highlighting art from the oldest and largest botanical library in the US. She led strategic planning and implementation for the retail group, guided by the institutional mission. Later returning to Arkansas, she became a professor at the University of Arkansas Walton College. She graduated from the University of NC at Chapel Hill with emphasis in English, Art History and Religion, and received an MBA from the University of Arkansas.
Esther Silver-Parker is President and CEO of The SilverParker Group, a consultancy specializing in diversity, corporate social responsibility, reputation, strategic philanthropy, stakeholder relationships and leadership development.
Before opening her firm in 2010, Silver-Parker served as Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., where she was charged with the strategic planning and execution of the company’s corporate responsibility, reputation, and relationships among key national and international stakeholders. She also focused on issues that impact emerging markets and small businesses. Prior to this position, she served as Senior Vice President of Diversity Relations for Wal-Mart and was responsible for the strategic planning and execution of the company’s diversity strategy. She was a leader in establishing Wal-Mart’s Office of Diversity. She developed the company’s first diversity and inclusion strategy, grew supplier diversity procurement by $3 billion dollars, established a corporate external advisory council, developed Wal-Mart’s first stakeholder summit and developed a focus on the multicultural customer. She is recognized for her work in transforming Wal-Mart’s reputation. She received Wal-Mart’s Trailblazer Award. Upon her retirement, Wal-Mart established a scholarship in her name at Wake Forest University School of Business to support multicultural business students.
Prior to joining Wal-Mart, Silver-Parker served 28 years in various public relations functions for AT&T, including Vice President of Corporate Affairs and President of the AT&T Foundation. She also directed AT&T’s National Constituency Relations and Issues Management Departments and led the company’s award-winning Corporate Social Responsibility programs, including programs that grew the number of women and diverse people in such disciplines as engineering, business, arts production and small business development. Silver-Parker led AT&T’s public relations field offices in the Northeast, the Mid-Atlantic and the Southeast. She designed and implemented the plan to increase AT&T’s presence in local communities in the U.S., and developed the design for AT&T’s field public relations organizations worldwide. She established AT&T’s first corporate affairs operation in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, developed the company’s first stakeholder relations organization and consumer panel. Other functions she led at AT&T include regional media relations, employee communications, consumer affairs, and executive communications to associates. She also worked for New York Telephone, where she implemented a strategy to cut customer complaints by 85 percent. She was the recipient of the Catherine Cleary Award, the highest leadership honor AT&T gives to an employee.
Silver-Parker also worked as an assistant and associate editor for Essence Magazine and served as managing editor of the Review of Political Economy.
A corporate leader of noted impact, she has served in leadership and volunteer positions for over 50 national and international nonprofit organizations. She developed a next generation women’s leadership organization in South Africa and has directly supported programs to assist women of color in completing their college education. She developed and secured funding for a national leadership program for women and minorities called America’s Leaders of Change, which is managed by the National Urban Fellows organization. She currently serves on the boards of the Bentonville Film Festival, Champions for Kids, The NAACP Special Contributions Committee, The United States Tennis Association Diversity Board and the Southern Tennis Association Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the Leadership Institute at Bennett College, The Haywood Institute, Art Ventures and the International Women’s Forum Foundation. She also serves as the global ambassador for the International Women’s Forum. She served for two years as president of the International Women’s Forum, a global women’s leadership organization with 6,000 members and chapters in 30 countries and led the organization into a new era of global expansion. She grew the organization’s presence in Europe and North Africa. Additionally, she grew IWF’s Executive Development Roundtable Series across four continents, in North America, Latin America, Asia and Africa. She also raised the single most individually-driven funding support for the organization in its 32 year history.
As president of the National AIDS Fund, she successfully led the organization out of bankruptcy to sustainability; and, she wrote the first diversity and inclusion strategy for the United States Tennis Association.
She also serves on the External Advisory Council for Deloitte and The Advisory Council for Honda North America. She previously served on the Wal-Mart,Inc. Advisory Council and AARP Advisory Council. Her past boards include the High Museum, The Global Foodbanking Network, Theatre in the Square and Theatrical Outfit in Atlanta. She also served as the Chair of the Georgia Council for the Arts. She was instrumental in helping establish the National Black Arts Festival and the Atlanta Business Council for the Arts. She has also served on the boards of the Dance Theater of Harlem and the Education Committee of the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She speaks on arts as a convener of diverse perspectives and arts as an economic lever.
Silver-Parker has traveled in Europe, Asia, Africa and South America to study, write and speak about the conditions and quality of life of women and children. She is a frequent speaker on issues pertaining to women, education, empowerment, diversity and inclusion, corporate social responsibility, strategic philanthropy and public relations operations. She has been featured in books on leadership, including “Yes, I Can Do That”, “Do Your Giving While Living,” and “Organizational Champions.”
Silver-Parker received a Masters in Journalism from Columbia University School of Journalism and a Bachelors of Arts, Magna Cum Laude, in Political Science from North Carolina Central University. She is a graduate of Pennsylvania State University’s Executive Management Program and holds an Honorary Doctor’s in Humane Letters from Benedict College.
Silver-Parker has received more than 80 awards for community service and leadership, including Ebony Magazine’ Outstanding Women in Corporate Marketing, The Congressional Black Caucus Unsung Hero Award, The Georgia DECA Award for Outstanding Businesswoman, The Harlem YMCA Black Achievers in Industry Award, New York City Gus D’Amato Community Service Award, The Atlanta Business League’s Outstanding Corporate Person Award, The100 Black Men of America Corporate Excellence Award, The 100 Black Men Lifetime Achievement Award, The National AIDS Fund’s Leadership Award, The Asian Pacific Islanders Women’s Leadership Starfish Award, The Latino Community Development Award, two Native American Blankets, Alpha Kappa Alpha President’s Spirit of Business Award, Just Communities Humanitarian of the Year Award, The Links Spirit Award, The National Coalition of 100 Black Women Torchbearer Award, The Diversity Advocate of the Year Award, The Martin Luther King Lifetime Achievement Award, The National Action Network Corporate Excellence Award, the National Urban League Gammon Award for Corporate Citizen, Women In Entertainment Corporate Citizen Award, and the International Women’s Forum Leading Light Award.
She lives in Rogers, Arkansas and is married to Attorney Ronald I. Parker. They have one son, Jamal O. Parker. She is a member of Saint James Missionary Baptist Church in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Craig Underwood is president of Underwood’s Jewelers in Fayetteville, Ark., is a Certified Gemologist and an accomplished jewelry designer. Underwood’s designs have been seen on the red carpet of the Emmy Awards & Academy Awards as well as being the winner of multiple national jewelry design contests. Craig is also an accomplished landscape photographer and the winner of multiple local and central US photo competitions.
Underwood is involved in many other business ventures in Fayetteville, including co-founding Powerhouse Seafood & Grill, co-developing Cliffs I & Cliffs II Apartment Community, developer of residential and office buildings and currently sits on the Board of Directors for Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company.
Some of Underwood’s past positions include: President of the American Gem Society, President of Northside Fayetteville Rotary Club, Chair of the AGS Diamonds Standards committee, Chair of the AGS Lab’s Gemological Sciences committee, founding chair of the International Cut Grade Task Force, Chair of the national Jewelry Leadership Forum and Chair of the Central United Methodist Finance Committee. Underwood has served on several local boards as well as many national and international boards such as the Jewelers Education Foundation, the Jewelers for Children Board of Directors and the VICENZAORO Advisory Council for the Vicenza, Italy jewelry show.
Underwood is a graduate of Baylor University, the Gemological Institute of America and the American Gem Society. Underwood is married to Laura Underwood and they have 3 grown boys; Kyle (with daughter-in-law Sydney and grandson Mac), Troy & Brent.