Ruth was born in New York and raised in Orlando, Florida. She studied Business Administration and Psychology at the University of Central Florida. Ruth holds a Masters in Business Administration and two professional Human Resource certifications. Ruth’s passion for the arts and supporting children in disenfranchised communities led her to work in the public sector at both her alma matters Valencia College and the University of Central Florida. Once she transitioned to the private sector she looked for more ways to give back, and found that ArtReach Orlando was a perfect opportunity to pursue her passion.
Bickley has a passion for children and art. Her most recent profession for 25 years and before starting ArtReach was Marriage and Family Therapy/Mental Health Counseling, working with addictions, leading group therapy and therapeutic camps for the children of addicts who were in treatment.
After retiring, Bickley literally had a dream about creating a safe space for the children in an underserved area where children could come and do art. The only rules: do not paint on the walls, and do not paint on one another! This dream came to pass in 2012, when ArtReach Orlando was established as a 501(c)3. She has maintained her Marriage and Family Therapy license in order to be qualified to help the children when issues that need attention come up during the art.
Rachel Allen is a life-long educator and practitioner who supports others to practice and educate for peace and justice in their work and personal lives. She earned her B.A. degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Northwestern University and her M.A. degree in Theater from the University of Oregon. At Valencia College in Orlando, Florida, Rachel is a tenured Professor of Humanities and founding member and director of the Peace and Justice Institute. She presented a credible pathway to peace at a High-Level Forum at the United Nations in 2018 and was noted as one of the people making a difference in Central Florida by the Orlando Sentinel. She is an avid fan of ArtReach Orlando and believes in the power of art to change the lives of children and nurture community. Rachel is a proud parent of two children; they live in Maitland, Florida.
Suzie Caffery has always been a committed champion for underserved communities. Completing her studies at Indiana State University, she began her teaching career in one of Indiana’s lowest income counties. This experience fueled her passion for service which continues today in east Orange County, FL. As an Instructional Specialist at UCF’s Educational Research Center for Child Development for close to 20 years, Suzie broadened her perspective of education. She was awarded UCF’s Community Connection Award, and UCF’s highly regarded Service-Learning Community Partner Appreciation Award for distinguished leadership and outstanding contributions to Service Learning in 2011. Suzie established herself as an educational leader, speaker, and published author. She has presented on local, state, and national levels. In 2015, Suzie accepted a position as Director of the Orange County Academy in Bithlo and began her partnership with ArtReach Orlando. She immediately recognized the compatibility of her educational philosophy with ArtReach Orlando’s mission and programs. Suzie has been actively involved as an advocate for ArtReach Orlando for seven years. She is honored to serve on ArtReach’s Board of Directors to continue to be of service to underserved communities and help encourage young people through art.
Birte is an artist (not only) at heart, with a passion for philanthropy. The German native has a Masters degree in advertising and communications, and an ICF certified education as co-active life coach. Next to her professional life, Birte always found the time to integrate and explore her creativity and her innate passion for philanthropy. Her dedication, creativity and initiatives, led to her earning the Melvin- Jones-Fellowship Award in 1998.
Since her arrival to Florida in 2011, Birte continues to concurrently expand her professional and creative skills, while also finding time to express herself to the world through her own artwork. Almost immediately she began serving her new community, quickly earning a seat as a board member of Council of 101 for the Orlando Museum of Arts.
From her own experience Birte believes in the magic of creating art, and was immediately intrigued by ArtReach Orlando’s wonderful mission.
Greg is a partner at the law firm ShuffieldLowman and a Martindale-Hubbell AV-rated attorney practicing in non-profit law, estate planning, including high-net worth estate tax planning, corporate law, tax law, and probate, representing individuals and families with complex business and estate planning needs.
Born and raised in Central Florida, Greg particularly loves seeing the positive impact ArtReach has on young people within the local community and how art empowers them to develop their self-confidence and emotional resilience.
William Watson is currently the organizer of the Commodity Roundtable, (CR) an informal share-group of CEOs and Executive Directors who come together to solve issues facing their respective agriculture research and promotion boards. Examples of these grower organizations include The Cotton Board, National Pork Board, National Dairy Board, Cattlemen’s Beef Board and the United Soybean Board. Watson has been with the Commodity Roundtable since its inception, in 2003. He is also the Managing Director of the newly created Colombia Avocado Board.
Prior to the Commodity Roundtable Watson served as the Executive Director of the National Mango Board, (NMB) from 2006-2014. In 2006, Watson became the initial executive director of the National Mango Board, which represents mango production from around the world and promotes higher awareness and consumption of mangos in the United States. As the NMB’s first Executive Director, he hired staff and built the program structure including marketing, research and industry relations plans which are increasing mango consumption while adding value to the crop in the US.
Watson was also the original Executive Director of the National Watermelon Promotion Board (NWPB), 1990-2003. At the NWPB, he guided the NWPB from its inception into a highly successful national promotion program. By the time Watson departed the NWPB, Watermelon usage among US consumers was the highest it had been since the mid-1960s.
The National Watermelon Promotion Board and the National Mango Board are currently members of the Commodity Roundtable.
From 1988-1989, he served as Assistant to the Manager of the Texas Vegetable Association and Texas Citrus Mutual. Watson began his career growing and shipping sweet onions, watermelons and blueberries from Tyler, Texas, where he also owned and managed a retail/wholesale produce market and a herd of registered Black Angus cattle.
When he is not creating organizations to help growers, Watson pursues his passion of photography while hiking, biking or kayaking throughout Florida’s wilderness. He also documents his unique journeys in other countries through the lenses of his camera.