Member of the Board

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.