Bio and contact information for Art Academy of Cincinnati administration, faculty, and staff. For a full college directory, use the directory button.


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Joseph Girandola

Before assuming his role of president at the Academy of Art Cincinnati, Joe Girandola began his career in arts administration as the Artist Residency Director at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts in Omaha, NE. From Omaha, Girandola was recruited to become the Assistant Director for the Santa Fe Art Institute. His time in Santa Fe opened the doors to teaching where he transitioned to Higher Education in the Art Department at Pomona College in Southern California. From his experience at Pomona College, Girandola assumed the role as Director of the Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Girandola relocated with his family to Cincinnati in 2012 as the Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning (DAAP). Prior to accepting the role as President of the Art Academy of Cincinnati, Girandola served as Interim Associate Dean of Graduate Studies and Research at DAAP.

Originally from Baltimore, Maryland, Joe Girandola is an internationally exhibited artist and is a classically trained stone carver from his studies in Florence, Italy. He has since continued his artistic practice working primarily on two and three-dimensional drawings, paintings, and sculptures using a variety of media ranging from duct tape to milk crates. Girandola is the recipient of numerous grants including the 2017 and 2019 BLINK Artist Grant, 21C Pitch Night ArtPrize Grant, 3rd Century University of Cincinnati Studio and materials Grant, Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Foundation Grant, and a Change Inc. Grant. Joe Girandola will maintain his studio practice while honorably serving the as the 18th leader and President of the Art Academy of Cincinnati.

Academic Dean, Painting & Drawing

Paige Williams

Currently the Academic Dean at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, she exhibits locally, nationally and internationally including exhibitions in Germany, the Ukraine, Chicago, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and New York. She has been selected as an Artist in Residence at the Millay Colony for the Arts in New York, The University of Alaska in Anchorage, The Neu Rathaus Gallery in Munich, Germany and The Vermont Studio Center. Grants include an Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award and a Summerfair Award to Individual Artists.

Associate Dean, Design

Mark Thomas

Mark is Professor and Associate Dean at AAC.  Professor Thomas has developed courses in graphic design, illustration and design history. He is a published author of internationally distributed textbooks on design and design methodology. He has designed numerous exhibitions, catalogs, and posters. An award-winning designer of educational board game design, he also holds a U.S. Patent for a color demonstration device for teaching color theory. He is a past President and active board member of AIGA Cincinnati.

Executive Assistant

Denise Brennan Watson

A native of South Texas, Denise Brennan Watson was a member of the Coastal Bend English Riding Association and King English Riding Association. Denise holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy, and she completed a double major in Philosophy and Journalism with a minor in English. She loves words and culinary arts.

Studio Arts Chair, Sculpture

Keith Benjamin

Keith Benjamin is a sculptor and professor living and working in Cincinnati. His creative work involves repurposing, re-valuing, and rearranging items and materials from the home that he shares with his wife and two children. He has shown his work regionally and internationally. In 2011 he was awarded a grant from the Joan Mitchell Foundation.



Liberal Arts Chair, Creative Writing

Matt Hart

Matt Hart is the author of Radiant Action, Radiant Companion, and six previous collections of poetry. His awards include a Pushcart Prize, a 2013 individual artist grant from The Shifting Foundation, and several fellowships. Additionally, he is a co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio: A Journal of Poetry, Cooking & Light Industrial Safety. He plays guitar and shouts in the bands TRAVEL and THE LOUDEST SOUNDER.

Associate Professor, Photography

Emily Momohara

Momohara has served as visiting artist in many residency programs including the Center for Photography at Woodstock, Headlands Center for the Arts, and Red Gate Gallery Beijing. She received a 2011 Ohio Arts Council Excellence Grant. Recently, she exhibited in the Chongqing Photography and Video Biennial, Japanese American National Museum and the Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center.

Associate Professor, Painting & Drawing

Jimmy Baker

Baker has taught in the Studio Department at the AAC since 2004. He has exhibited work in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, London, Basel, Miami, Chicago, Dallas, and other American cities. His work has been featured in many publications, private collections, as well as permanent collections at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Zabludowicz Art Trust, Taschen Foundation, Cincinnati Art Museum, Columbus Museum of Art, Progressive Insurance Collection, and JP Morgan Chase Collection.


phone :513-562-6292

Director of Financial Aid

Rebecca Carr

Rebecca received her BA from NKU, and her MSM from IWU. She found her calling in the world of Financial Aid where she loves helping students find the funding to obtain their dreams. When not helping students she’s spending time with her family.

Director of Community Education

Jennifer Spurlock

Jennifer has worked in the world of communication and arts for over twenty years. She started out in broadcasting at Jacor Communications, now known as Clear Channel. In the early 2000’s she branched out into the medium of film and video production. Before joining the Art Academy of Cincinnati Jennifer served as the Marketing Manager of the Cincinnati Art Museum while studying history at the University of Cincinnati.

Vice President of Marketing and Enrollment

Amanda Parker

Amanda Parker-Wolery meshes her art background with her love of people as the Art Academy of Cincinnati’s Marketing Specialist. She holds a BFA in Illustration from the University of Dayton and an MFA in Fine Art from the University of Cincinnati. When she’s not on social media, you can usually find her on a bike in the mud.

Associate Director of Marketing

Chelsey Hughes

Chelsey received a BFA from the Art Academy in 2010, with a focus on print media, and illustration. She co-owns and operates Pull Club Studio, a print shop located in Camp Washington.

Assistant Professor

Emily Everhart

Emily specializes in eighteenth and nineteenth-century European art. She has presented in national conferences and received grants and fellowships for research in the U.S. and abroad. A portion of her doctoral thesis will appear in a forthcoming publication by the Georgia Museum of Art. Her current research interest is in manifestations of eighteenth-century sociability in landscape architecture.



Associate Professor, Painting & Drawing

Matthew Dayler

Matthew Dayler’s work has been exhibited at the Telfair Museum of Art in Savannah, Georgia, The Brooks Museum in Memphis Tennessee, and Galerie Edition Schedler in Zurich, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia, Miami, NYC and LA. He lives in Cincinnati, Ohio and currently faculty at the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and is one of the founders of Higher Level Art.

Adjunct Instructor

Lindsey Whittle

Lindsey M Whittle, a fashion/performance artist, with a BFA from the Art Academy of Cincinnati and an MDES from the School of the Art Institute Chicago. She taught English in Japan, was Artbin Director for Kiki Magazine and free-lanced as art director/costume director for Yellowhaus videos and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Whittle makes colorful, transformable/wearable objects and also co-runs PIQUE gallery/Airbnb.

Adjunct Instructor

Brett Price

Brett Price is a poet and editor. He’s been a curator for the Friday Late Night Series at The Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in New York City and the general manager for Ugly Duckling Presse, for which he now serves on the advisory board.

Adjunct Instructor

Terence Hammonds

Director of Finance

Anita E Ruffin

Anita has a MBA and is a Lean Six Sigma Blackbelt. She has a wide range of accounting and fiscal management experience with various organizations in both the public and private sector.


Director of Student Services

Kelsey Nihiser

Associate Director of Professional Development

Audrey Bertaux

Audrey earned her MFA from The Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Academy for Classical Acting at George Washington University. Audrey is professional theatre artist with over ten years of experience across the East Coast.  Audrey is the Producing Artistic Director and founder of Walterhoope, a Cincinnati performing arts non-profit. Audrey is dedicated to setting AAC students up for success after school.

Mental Health Counselor

Casey Riordan

Casey Riordan, LPC, received an MA in Mental Health Counseling from University of Cincinnati and a BFA in Painting from Ohio University. In addition, she maintains a professional studio practice and exhibits her work in museums and galleries throughout the US.


Alex Seibert

Alex is a Cincinnati native who primarily uses music as his creative outlet, performing in a variety of ensembles. He has devoted his career to helping people to reach their full creative potential. He believes that the arts play an integral role in shaping peoples’ lives, and enjoys meeting the creative and unique people that inspire the rest of the world.

Community Education Creative Interactions Coordinator

Tommy Ballard

After neighborhood-hopping around the Miami Valley, Tommy found a home along the Ohio River in Cincinnati. In 2016 he joined the CE Faculty as an instructor of natural-dyeing, textile printing, and fiber work. Since then, he has coordinated outreach programs such as Artist & Writer in Residence and Portfolio Prep. He enjoys bodies of waters, nostalgia, and a bargain.

Office Manager

Alex Tellez

A native of Texas, Alexandria grew up in a military family and lived on the East Coast until moving to Cincinnati in 2000. Alexandria began studies in Business at Cincinnati State after graduating from Oak Hills High School. She began her work at AAC in summer of 2014 in Community Education’s award-winning Camp Art Academy program.

room:2nd Floor Front Desk


Woodshop Technician

Tanner Browne

Community Education Assistant and Regional Scholastic Coordinator

Sam Holloway

Sam graduated from the AAC in 2019 with a BFA in Illustration, minoring in Painting and Drawing. She started her Community Education career in 2016 as an assistant at Camp Art Academy, then excelled as CE’s student work study until her graduation. Sam has a passion to inspire creativity and fun in everyone she meets.

Exhibition Coordinator

Matt Coors

Matt is an artist who has worked in a wide variety of media, including drawing, sculpture, photography, and digital processes. He earned an MFA from the University of California, San Diego in 2009. He is also the co-founder of two former art galleries: Publico in Cincinnati and Double Break in San Diego.

Human Resources Officer

Linda Kollmann

Linda spent 25 years in northern Ohio before moving down to Cincinnati and raising her two kids here.  She has worked in HR for 10 years and loves getting to interact with employees on a daily basis.  Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her blended family, especially her granddaughter.

Executive Assistant

Lacey Haslam

In addition to assisting Joe Girandola, President of the Art Academy, Lasey Haslam is the Director of the Archive of Creative Culture, co-founder of the campSITE Schulpture Park and is an adjunct professor at DAAP UC and Kennesaw State University.  Haslam has her Masters Degree from San Francisco Art Institute and holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Room:Outside Joe's Office


Financial Aid Coordinator

Ciana Jones

Hi, I’m Ciana. The new Financial Aid Coordinator.  I’m excited to be here. I currently hold a BA in Business Management, a Masters in Organizational Leadership and I am also a licensed STNA.  One thing I love is being a mom.  In my free time, I like to research various subjects.

Student Accounts Specialist

Cheryl Schnebelt

I have an Associate’s Degree in Business Administration and I have worked in many different aspects of the healthcare industry.  This is my first position in higher education and I am looking forward to helping the students at AAC with their account needs.

When away from the AAC, I enjoy spending time with my family, friends, and my dog, Chloe and 2 cats, Danica and Rayne.

MAAE Coordinator

Stephen Kenny

Stephen Kenny is a painter, illustrator and educator living and working in Cincinnati, OH


Junior Designer, Admissions Counselor

Lukas Kalinoski

Lukas received a BFA from the Art Academy in 2019, with a focus on graphic design and printmaking.  He is passionate about positivity, pranks and living a colorful life.

Room:Marketing - S266

Admissions Counselor

Brevyn Fleming

Brevyn is a 2018 alum of the AAC.  Having studied illustration and creative writing, she is working on several stories including a webcomic.  She’s extremely passionate and will happily talk about whatever book, game or show she’s currently obsessing over.

Video Production Coordinator

Erik Scheidt

Not much is know about this odd and peculiar specimen.  Some of the few known facts are that Erik graduated with a BFA in illustration and a minor in film and video from the AAC in 2015.  He is very well versed in the skateboarding arts and runs his own skateboarding brand called Ham Wallet Love.  Video is art, video is life.


Room:Marketing - S266

Community Residence Coordinator

Jake Brinkmann

Duck Tape Enthusiast, creative adventurist, and passionate chocolate milk devotee.  Bachelors of Fine Arts at The University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. Minor in Marketing at The Lindner College of Business. Always keep Duck Tape in your car, love yourself, and enjoy the adventures of life.