Member of the Board

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. 

Clare Wildenborg

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Although a native Midwesterner, Clare moved to Durham after spending 17 years in the San Francisco Bay Area. Durham was love at first sight – literally. After just days in town, she announced her move across country and within months she was a NC resident. The Iron Pour was her first introduction to Liberty Arts and has since taken classes, attended events, and found friends.

Clare is Senior Associate Director of Development for the Energy and Environment Institutes at Stanford University. She originally joined Stanford’s Office of Development in 2005 at Stanford Law School and later served as the Assistant Director of External Relations for the Multidisciplinary Initiatives during The Stanford Challenge. She earned a BA in English from Loras College in Dubuque, IA and an MA in English from Winona State University in Winona, MN.

Emily N. Wismer

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The first time I saw a letterpress shop, I knew I was doomed. Luckily for me, a fascination that began when I was 19 has turned into a career as a printer.

I love working on machines that have their own histories that I feel only add to what I can do with them. I love the smell of the ink and the feel of working with type or polymer and the tactile process and result of feeding paper into a press. Itʼs a medium that is slow, outmoded, exasperating, and also completely compelling and reborn in new methods and collaborations. I see myself as someone who is constantly being taught by the presses as well as other printers and artists what the medium is capable of, and I love the idea that this is an unending learning process.

Iʼm inspired by a vast array of things- poster art of the 1920s, Joseph Cornell, fireworks, mosaic tile, photographs found in thrift stores, and always by many peers working on presses around the world.

Aubrey Zinaich

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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.