Staff Directory



Title: Executive Director
First Name: Leslie
Last Name: Rowland
Phone: 315.686.4123 x 201
Bio: Leslie joined the Arts Center as interim executive director in June 2013, and became executive director in January 2014. Previously she was the principal of LWRPR LLC, an independent consulting firm advising clients on marketing communications and event planning in central New York. Prior to founding LWRPR in 1999, she was district director for U.S. Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, and also spent a decade in the airline industry as a public relations manager for regional and international airlines, and later as a lobbyist for the Air Transport Association, the Washington D.C.-based national trade association of the major U.S. airlines. She also spent several years in the advertising business as an account executive and new business development manager. Leslie has spent most of her summers in the 1000 Islands and moved to the River year-round in 2012.
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Title: Education & Membership Coordinator
First Name: Marcia
Last Name: Rogers
Phone: 315-686-4123 ext. 203
Bio: Marcia was born and raised in Clayton, NY – and after 20 years in the Buffalo area working in sales & marketing for a mid-sized book publisher, she has returned to live and work in her hometown. She loves being a part of the Arts Center staff and bringing quality arts instruction to the 1000 Islands region.
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Title: Events Coordinator
First Name: Joy
Last Name: Rhinebeck
Phone: 315-686-4123 ext.200
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Title: Curator
First Name: Jessica
Last Name: Phinney
Phone: 315-686-4123
Bio: Jessica M. Phinney was born and raised in Clayton, NY. She earned her BA in anthropology from St. John Fisher College, Rochester, NY in 2006. During her time at SJFC she interned at the George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film. Her focus was on the Eastman Legacy Collection, cataloguing photographs from Eastman’s famous 1927 African safari. The animals from this safari became the foundation of the African Hall at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City. For her work on this project and other academic accomplishments, including archaeological field schools, Jessica was awarded the 2006 Departmental Award for Excellence. Following her graduation summa cum laude, Jessica began her graduate work, also in anthropology, at the University at Albany, SUNY, where she earned her MA in 2009. Her particular area of research was colonialism-- specifically 17th Century European “contact-period” interactions with indigenous populations up the Hudson River. She wrote her thesis on the relations between the Jesuit priests of New France (Canada) and the indigenous Huron populations. During her time in the Hudson Valley, Jessica also served as Executive Director of the Ulster County Historical Society, Stone Ridge (2008-2009).

Ms. Phinney moved back to Clayton in 2010 to accept a position at the Antique Boat Museum where she served as Curator of Exhibitions and General Collections until late 2012. Jessica was appointed Executive Director of the Jefferson County Historical Society, Watertown, NY, where she served from July, 2013 to June of 2015, when she joined the TI Arts Center staff.
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Title: Curator Emritus
First Name: Sonja
Last Name: Wahl
Bio: Her affiliations to the Thousand Islands Arts Center ~ Home of the Handweaving Museum, (originally known as the Thousand Islands Museum Craft School) run deep as a Founding member; Steering committee 1973-1977; Board of Directors 1975-1979; and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees, 1978-1987. Sonja was the first Curator of the collection until retirement in 2005. She is currently Curator Emeritus at the Thousand Islands Arts Center ~ Home of the Handweaving Museum and leads the "Wednesday Weavers" group every Wednesday throughout the year.

Sonja’s teaching experience includes: "Fashion Design and Textile Construction" at Jeff Lewis Bohlen Technical Center for 22 years, and she also taught at Jefferson Community College & Empire State College.

Sonja has received many honors including: New York State Fair 1956, 1st prize in garment show; by appointment of Governor Mario Cuomo, "Skilled Worker Emeritus" representing textile trades of the State of New York; and in 1990 Sonja was recognized by the German government with the honorable Industrie und Handelskammer of Sachsen: Golden Master's Degree, 2004.

Her community projects have included: Design and construction of four historic costumes for the French Festival 1974, "Napoleon and his Entourage.” In collaboration with Lee Hoffman, Sonja wrote and funded the first collections catalog: "An Introduction to the Collection" in 2000.

Sonja’s weaving instructors have included Lou Deller, and Barbara Decker as her primary instructor. She has attended workshops and classes every year and is a member of the "Cross Country Weavers," a national group of 30 invited weavers.

Sonja’s long affiliation to the "Thousand Islands Arts Center, Home of the Handweaving Museum" has been her most important "relationship" in addition to her family. She hopes to remain active with the TI Arts Center for a long time, in appreciation for all those countless people who spent their time assisting the growth of this important treasure of the Thousand Islands.
Title: Staff Potter
First Name: Serena
Last Name: Buchanan
Phone: 315-686-4123x 205
Bio: Serena Buchanan is the staff potter at the Arts Center and an accomplished artist and potter. She was born in Pisa, Italy and is a self-proclaimed DIY’er, teaching herself acrylic painting, ceramics, and jewelry making. She has exhibited her work throughout upstate New York, including the Arts Center.
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Title: Finance Manager
First Name: Alan
Last Name: Hutchinson
Bio: Has been finance manager at TIAC since 2010. Owner of Corbin River's Heritage, a photography and bookstore since 1996.