Diane Amato

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Past President of the Board

Diane is originally from Massachusetts where she worked as a Program Manager for General Electric. After moving to North Carolina in 1996 she became very involved in art and philanthropy. She opened a photography studio, photographing artwork for local artists as well as making and exhibiting her own work.  

Diane works at Preservation Durham and is currently on the board of Trinity Park Neighborhood Association.  She served on the board of Durham Habitat for Humanity Restore as Treasurer and then President and also joined on the board of Chatham County Arts Council as Treasurer. In 2009 she founded The Art of Giving, a giving circle committed to granting money to non-profits in the Triangle whose programs benefit women and children.  Since its inception, $100,000 has been awarded.

Leigh Hayes

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Leigh has enjoyed a 40+ year career as an engineer with the past 20 years in executive management positions at two engineering companies. In his last venture, Leigh started a technology based supply chain company which gave birth to a new industry known today as Chemical Management. After leading that company through 10 years of double digit annual growth, he retired in 2012 to focus on glassblowing.

Throughout his career as a chemical engineer, he maintained a passion for the beauty and science of glass. He started glassblowing classes in 1998 at the Urban Glass Institute in New York City and today works out of several glass studios in central North Carolina. Leigh’s interest in glass leans towards transparent glass objects because of their visual depth and gem-like richness of the colors he uses.

April Johnson

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Born and raised in eastern North Carolina, April attended the University of NC at Greensboro and graduated with a bachelor of science degree in Economics. After working as an insurance agent, she then matriculated to the University of Virginia and completed her master studies in Urban and Environmental Planning with a masters certificate in Historic Preservation. This southern belle moved back to NC to work for Preservation Durham, then moving on to work in planning and preservation in Winston-Salem. April recently moved back to Durham to work for Preservation Durham as their new Executive Director.

April can be found enjoying cities anywhere in the world, inspiring and empowering people through life coaching, enjoying performing arts, learning about real estate, admiring art in architecture or salsa, bachata, or kizomba dancing in these streets! She volunteers and leads where ever she finds an opportunity to make a difference that improves our cities and empowers peoples’ lives whether its tutoring and mentoring “at-risk” youth, serving on municipal commissions, or leading young professionals.  April currently lives in Durham, single and ready to mingle!

April joined Liberty Arts board in 2019 and looks forward to making the city a happier place by advancing creative arts.

Peter Katz

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As a statistical programmer, Peter Katz works with a team of researchers at Duke University who conduct demographic surveys based in Mexico and Indonesia.  Since, moving to Durham in 2007 with his wife Maria Sanchez he has advocated on behalf of neighborhood and community groups that make Durham a more unique and engaging place to live. 

He has served as president of the Old North Durham Neighborhood Association, vice president of the Inter-neighborhood Council (a coalition of Durham’s neighborhood and homeowner’s associations whose mission is to promote the quality, stability and vitality of Durham’s residential neighborhoods) and currently serves as chair of the Durham City Housing Appeals Board (which hears appeals on housing and building code condemnation cases).  Peter has interests in GIS mapping, computer generated 3-dimensional art, nature photography and is a year-round surfer, paddleboarder, and father to wily preschooler, Lucas Max.

Michael Waller

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A native of Kinston, NC, Michael received his BFA in Sculpture from East Carolina University in 1997. He has worked professionally as a Foundryman and Metalsmith at Carolina Bronze Foundry and Vega Metals. In 2003, he started WallerFoushee Studios with his wife and sculptor Leah Foushee Waller and began working as a full-time artist. In 2010 he partnered with life long friend and artist Kirk Davis to form Carolina Shuckers hand forged oyster knife company. In addition to creating personal work and historical restoration projects, they have created over a dozen public art projects throughout North Carolina- most notably ‘Major’, the over life-size bronze bull pasturing in downtown Durham, NC. They live in Hillsborough, NC with their two children.

Michael has been involved with Liberty Arts since 2001, working closely with the founding members in the development of the George Watts Hill Pavilion for the Arts. After 12 years of working as Liberty Arts Facilities Manager and Artist in Residence, Michael joined the board of directors in 2013 and served as co-administrator of The Bull City Sculpture Show. 

Aubrey Zinaich

Aubrey Zinaich

Aubrey Zinaich

Aubrey began her career in the restaurant world at the local Dairy Queen when she was 16-years-old. “I can deep fry anything and spin the best blizzards—strawberry with Oreo cookies was my personal favorite.” It wasn’t a glamorous introduction to the culinary world, but that (combined with studying literature in college) was a foreshadowing of her future in food and hospitality.

After spending a year living abroad in France, she came home fluent in French and in love with organ meats and stinky cheese. Her host family initiated her into food and dining as an emotional experience. Living and traveling in Europe also taught her an important lesson--food doesn’t have to be fancy or pretentious to be delicious. Knowing what you like and how to prepare food well is what matters most. 

During her restaurant career, Aubrey has worked every station possible from prep chef to dish washer to waiting tables to cooking on the line to creating cocktails to expediting to managing the front of the house. Now a co-owner of Nana's, Bar Virgile and NanaSteak in Durham, her hands-on, intimate knowledge of the food and beverage world, combined with her solid work ethic, made her transition to being a restaurant owner seamless. After 24 years in the industry, she still loves the experience of eating and drinking with friends and family.

Kimberly Foytlin

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Kimberly Foytlin

Growing up in Durham was an adventure. There was a quality to it that you could not find in any other city. It had a starving artist charm that drew you in and kept you here, no matter how hard the lifestyle could be. This place challenged me to become an artist and represent the growing culture that Durham is quickly creating for itself. After leaving Durham for a few years to attend East Carolina University and acquire my BFA in sculpture it wasn’t hard to make the decision to return to my hometown. Durham has become a beautifully creative city. I was lucky enough to discover Liberty Arts and began my life as a sculptor.

Something that Durham has taught me while growing up is to live as freely as possible, making the most out of life. There is nothing on this planet that lives more openly and without boundaries that the animals that coincide with us. Those creatures that do struggle to maintain that spirit only do so because of the consequences of our pour decisions. My body of work centers on these beautiful animals, those still living wildly, and those that need a little help from the people that can save them. I strive to shed light on these issues and create works of art featuring these beautiful animals that deserve out respect.