Women’s Wisdom Art
-supports artistic and spiritual growth
-provides a safe, nurturing environment for women of diverse cultures
-builds confidence and coping skills
-offers a variety of affordable art experiences in an informal setting
Laura Ann Walton founded The Wisdom Project in 1991 as part of Maryhouse, a daytime hospitality shelter for homeless women and children. The program was designed as an art empowerment program for women overcoming poverty, homelessness, violence and abuse.
Women’s Wisdom ART, as the program is now known, operated under the wing of The Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services from 2000 until 2012. Beginning in June of 2012, the organization began operating as a non-profit corporation under the umbrella of Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission (SMAC), receiving additional small grants and depending mostly on private donors to fund the program.
In June of 2016, Women’s Wisdom ART became an independent 501.c.3. The organization’s artist members now include a diverse range of women from across a broad spectrum with two things in common: they are all women and artists. They gather in our supportive community to create art as they forge new friendships, recover from or manage illness or loss, avoid isolation, and become empowered to transform their own lives and the lives of others in their families and communities.
STAFF & BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We are a team of artists, educators, and activists dedicated to empowering women through engagement in the arts in a welcoming, affirming community.
Olga Blu BrowneStaff
Blu was born in Denver, and moved to California in 1995. She is a published poet and storyteller who has been a happy member of Women’s Wisdom ART for almost five years. Blu loves the diversity of art and women represented at Wisdom, where she helps with morning set-up and teaches occasional Visual Journaling classes, and teaching classes for Wisdom at Mercy Housing. She is a radio producer and host of Pen to Paper and co-host of Everything Woman on Sacramento’s KUBU 96.5 “The Voice.”
A native of San Antonio, Texas, Steff Echeverria is a long-time Sacramento resident who considers herself a “transplanted native Californian.” She has been a member of the Women’s Wisdom ART community for over ten years, beginning as an artist-member. Her art is inspired by nature, fantasy, and whimsy. Steff has studied with many local artists, including Aiyana Peterson, Teresa Steinbach-Garcia, and Susan Kelly-Dewitt. Steff currently teaches the popular Visual Journaling class.
Sharon Hope Fabriz, M.Ed.Program Support Staff
As a middle and high school English teacher and curriculum coordinator, Sharon Hope collaborated with the fine arts department and arts organizations to bring poets, visual artists, dancer, and storytellers to her classroom to invigorate the personal writing, literary interpretation, and performance confidence of her students for nearly 30 years. Retiring from teaching has given Sharon Hope time to join Women’s Wisdom ART’s classrooms as a student in classes ranging from acrylics to collage to multi-genre writing to yoga. Her passion for the WWA mission, her belief that creating art empowers, and her experience in promoting communities of trust all support the WWA vision. Sharon Hope provides administrative, program, and classroom support.
Jen Nousen, A.A.Studio Manager
Jen has been involved with Women’s Wisdom for many years, and began working with Wisdom in April 2015 as a dedicated volunteer assisting teachers and the director. With an art school and professional background, she is well versed in fine arts as well as in arts management and business practices. Although Jen was born in Alaska, and spent much of her youth in Germany, she considers Sacramento her home base, living here permanently since 1994. A baseball fan, Jen enjoys creating art and helping with all aspects of the program.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Roberta Beach, B.A., M.A.Treasurer
Roberta worked as a social worker and used art therapy with her clients. As a long-time volunteer with Wisdom, Roberta joined the board in 2011. She notes the exceptional benefits the program provides women, and the importance of having a safe, welcoming place where women can participate in an arts program. Roberta is glad to have the opportunity to serve as a board member, where her goal is to help Wisdom grow financially stronger and enhance its standing as a respected and recognized asset to the Sacramento arts, health, and general communities.
Vicki Boyd, B.A.Promotion/Publicity Committee Chair
Vicki grew up as a military brat, and came to the area when her family transferred to the Antelope area during middle school. She left for college and lived in several major cities while pursuing a career in the Creative Arts. Since returning to Sacramento a couple years ago, she’s been actively involved in several political and community organizations. Vicki wanted to learn more about Women’s Wisdom Art after she saw a “beautiful eye catching postcard, painted by a member artist that spoke to my creative soul.” Women’s Wisdom Art combines the passions for which she advocates: art, education, and health. Vicki joined the Board of Directors to help support the organizations mission and the life affirming, creative outlet it provides for women of all walks of life in Sacramento.
April Breis, B.A.Chair, Social Media Committee
April is a Sacramento native. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from CSU in 2011 with a B.A. in Art History. April considers herself a “jack of all mediums,” and has worked in everything from woodworking to cake decorating, with a passion for the non-profit sector. Throughout her career, April has merged her love of the arts and her passion for serving her community with teaching art classes to diverse populations. She has donated art works to non-profit organizations and served in various professional and volunteer roles within community programs. April currently works with Mercy Housing to coordinate community engagement opportunities, develop enrichment programs, and design community art projects for Mercy Housing residents.
Yvonne Evans, M.A.Outreach Committee Chair
Yvonne currently works as an Education Programs Consultant with the California Department of Education. She began taking classes at Women’s Wisdom Art during the summer of 2014. As a board member, Yvonne’s desire is to help further the mission of Women’s Wisdom Art by sharing the program with diverse groups of women. Yvonne loves being in the presence of art and artists as it inspires her to create. Women’s Wisdom Art is a place of creativity, adventure, fun, inspiration and empowerment. Yvonne hopes to further the mission of Women’s Wisdom Art and help women express their inner creative self.
Sharon Liberatore, B.S.N.Vice-Chair/Fundraising Committee Chair
Sharon has been living in Sacramento since the late 1970’s. She is an Air Force Veteran, honorably serving for seven years. Sharon worked as a Nurse Practitioner in private practice until 1998, moving to clinical research before retiring in 2010. Her time now is spent working to preserve and expand the arts in Sacramento. Sharon is involved with two local community theaters, and has been an active volunteer with Women’s Wisdom Art for the past four years. She joined the board in January 2016, bringing her passion for the arts, creative energy, and tireless enthusiasm. She is a mosaics artist, teaching the mosaics class.
Ali Lichtenstein, Ph.D.Board Chair
A Denver native, Ali moved to Sacramento from New Hampshire in late 2014. She taught women’s/gender studies, literature, and writing at Keene State College for nearly 20 years. As a textile artist, Ali has taught fiber arts in the U.S., India, China, Vietnam, and Peru. Ali brings years of experience serving on non-profit art boards in various capacities, including member-at-large, secretary, and chair. She is the mother of four grown children. Ali teaches writing, fiber arts, and mixed media classes at WWA, and ESL with Sacramento ESL. Visit alilitchenstein.com and alichtenstein.typepad.com for my blog.
Laura Ann Walton, B.A.Founder
Laura Ann founded Women’s Wisdom in 1991 to provide an arts empowerment opportunity for homeless women as well as for women of all backgrounds. She is a poet, artist, activist, and author. A native of Sacramento, she served and advocated for the homeless throughout the 1980’s and 1990’s. Laura Ann is active in the poetry community of Sacramento, publishing God is a Lion in 2015 and Lift it Tenderly, as editor and contributor, in 2017. These books are testimony to her conviction that engaging in the arts can transform us at the deepest level of our beings. Visit Lift It Tenderly and godisalion.com.
Sandy Fong Whetstone, M.A.Secretary
Sandy is a native of Sacramento. Her travels throughout Asia and Europe led her to her passion for teaching English as Second Language, which she does at Sacramento City College. She is a visual artist, having studied ceramics with Yoshio Taylor, Robert Schumacher, and Mark Boguski, as well as painting with Michaele LeCompte, and printmaking with Emily Wilson and Chris Dacre. Her focus has been on ceramic sculpture, but she has recently been developing her skills as a printmaker. Sandy’s work is inspired by nature, and is mostly whimsical and fun, but at times she explores more serious issues. Sandy shows her work locally at the Sparrow Gallery and at the Crocker Museum Store, as well as in Nevada City, Davis, and Winters. She is excited to be part of Women’s Wisdom Art, and to help bring art to Sacramento women.
2018 Business Partners
Dean’s Pool Service