The Art Academy of Cincinnati’s (AAC) Board of Trustees has voted to add four new members. This brings the number of board members to twenty-five. The new board members began their three-year term on February 24, 2021.

“Art Academy is honored to welcome to its Board of Trustees these instrumental collaborators and innovators to guide the AAC on its upward trajectory,” said Joe Girandola, president of the Art Academy of Cincinnati. “Each brings a unique skill set that will be extremely valuable as we become an open door for problem-solving in the city.”

The Art Academy has continued to cultivate various perspectives, cultures and amplify voices while engaging in new creative practices. “As artists, we have to use our gifts to illuminate struggle in a way that enlightens the world,” said Tyra Patterson, new Art Academy board member.

These members will help support the college’s mission to create and sustain forward-thinking, contemporary visual artists, designers, and writers.

“It’s energizing to have our new board members. I’m looking forward to the new creativity and talents that each of them will bring,” said Rich Homan, chair of the Art Academy’s board of trustees.

The four new board members are:

· Tonya Banks, Case Manager for Residential Housing, Talbert House
· Emily Holtrop, Director of Learning and Interpretation, Cincinnati Art Museum
· Tyra Patterson, Director of Community Outreach, Ohio Justice and Policy Center
· Rob Richardson, International Rep, LIUNA and Producer/Content Manager, Disruption Now Media

Meet Our New Board Members

A photograph of Tonya Banks.
Tonya Banks

Banks is a native of Cincinnati and a graduate of Xavier University, receiving her Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a concentration in professional communication. Currently, she is completing her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.

Banks has served on the Greater Cincinnati Regional Food Policy Council, Curriculum President for Future Leaders of Over-the-Rhine, and The Child Poverty Collaborative. She currently serves as a Case Manager for residential housing at the Talbert House, assisting individuals entering society from prison in finding stable, affordable housing.

An advocate for the underserved and mentor for the youth, Banks has volunteered with Cincinnati Public Schools youth programming and started a small business called Suga in the City in 2016. The brand’s mission is to empower life with love, with a tool called a vision board.

Emily Holtrop

Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Holtrop holds an Associate of Arts in Art History from Grand Rapids Community College, a Bachelor of Arts in Public History from Western Michigan University, and a Master of Science in Architectural History from the University College of London-Bartlett School of Architecture.

With over 20 years of museum education experience, Holtrop has worked in the Division of Learning & Interpretation at the Cincinnati Art Museum since 2002. Her previous position with the museum was the assistant curator for school and teacher programs.

In her current role, Holtrop oversees the Art Museum’s interpretive and educational initiatives, including online and on-site public programs for all audiences and abilities, as well as gallery interpretation.

Holtrop has also served on the Board of Directors for the Association of Midwest Museums and the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.

A photo of Tyra Patterson.
Tyra Patterson

Patterson was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. On December 25, 2017, she walked out of prison after serving 23 years for crimes she did not commit.

Today, Patterson travels the country speaking at law schools, colleges, prisons, conferences, and high schools, leveraging her story to educate people on social justice, mass incarceration, and wrongful convictions.

Patterson currently lives in Cincinnati and works at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center, where she serves as the Director of Community Outreach. Patterson also maintains paralegal duties at OJPC, working on cases on behalf of people, both guilty and innocent of the crimes for which they have been convicted. Patterson is also an Ambassador for Represent Justice.

Her story has been covered by Rolling Stone, Essence, the Guardian, and many others. Patterson is heavily involved in Cincinnati’s arts community, specifically using art to educate people on the issues of social justice and mass incarceration.

Rob Richardson

Richard’s education includes a Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. He established the first student chapter of the NAACP at the University and was elected student body president and received the University of Cincinnati Presidential Leadership Medal of Excellence, Jeffrey Hurwitz Young Alumni Outstanding Achievement Award, and an honorary degree Doctor of Laws.

Richardson’s background includes representation of Laborers’ International Union of North America, a labor union serving the construction trade. Richardson is also the Founder and CEO of Disruption Now Media. This platform connects black and brown entrepreneurs, artists, and leaders through interactive events, educational content, podcasts, and virtual summits.

When Richardson was appointed chairman of the University of Cincinnati’s Board of Trustees, he became the youngest person to serve in this role in the University’s history. He established the 1819 Innovation Hub in his tenure, where industry and talent collaborate to spark groundbreaking ideas and created a leadership development and academic preparedness program for high school students. He also championed reforms to the University’s police policies during a racial relations crisis.