The Colleagues of Calligraphy Board of Directors
Our current board members' stories are much like those of many before us: calligraphy somehow captured our attention, became a part of us, and now includes service to our organization.
We hope they will inspire you to volunteer with the organization.
Board members serve a term of three years, and no more than two consecutive terms in the primary positions of president, vice president, treasurer and secretary.
Maura Lynch, President
Maura got hooked on calligraphy in 6th grade after receiving an instruction book as a gift. Five years ago, through a community education class with Judith Michalski, she returned to calligraphy for the long term. After a couple of meetings, she was recruited to be Membership Director. She took advantage of all our learning opportunities. In 2015, she was awarded the Jo White Scholarship. "Being a part of this organization has given me the ability to find my artistic self. I've tried my hand at other art forms but making letters feels like part of who I am."
The key learning from her scholarship year? “For a long time, when learning the fundamentals, there will be a gap between what your aesthetic eye aspires to and what your hand can deliver. The only way to close that gap is through careful study of the best quality letter forms and practice, practice, practice. I feel like I’m slowly closing that gap.”
In 2016, when the guild was facing tough decisions about the future, she decided to throw her hat in the ring to be President. "There is never a good time to trade lettering time for much of anything else, in my opinion! But if I was going to do it, leading our organization was the trade-off I was willing to make. I love the Colleagues and have received too much from this group not to give back.”
Rebekah Anderson, Vice President
After learning about the Colleagues at a local art store demonstration, Rebekah attended her first program, and joined on the spot. “I realized that being in this group would feed my creative spirit and give me opportunities to learn from experts in the field of hand lettering without a huge financial investment. Under the calligraphy umbrella, I suspected that I would also find avenues to learn about related arts, too. I wasn't wrong.”
Thankfully, Rebekah said yes to serving on the Board at a critical time, sharing her considerable skills, including as a designer. She is a great support to all our board members, and great wingman for our President. She always manages to operate with great grace and good humor.
“I'm proud to be part of a group of creative people who desire to learn a craft and to improve their skills. We have a range of talents and abilities. Everyone is welcome at where they are on their artistic explorations. And I wanted to do what I could, using the skills I have, to help the Colleagues grow as an organization. I'm no tech geek by any means, but I'm excited to find ways that technology can help us spread the word about how cool calligraphy is and get more folks to join us!”
Judith Michalski, Secretary
Judith is a gift giver in many ways, but three stand out: First, for many, many years, she has been giving interested learners the gift of her teaching skills. So many students have become members, we can’t even count them!).
Second, Judith creates calligraphy gifts for family members and friends that are truly unique. “Really,” she laughingly says, “who needs another sweater?! Store-bought items cannot compare with unusual gifts of calligraphic nature, for commemorating special events that call for celebration!”
Finally, all these years later after receiving a gift membership in 1978, Judith has given us the gift of a second stint on the Board! We are grateful to her 7th grade teacher, Sister Mary Eulalia, and later, a calligrapher tutor at her church, for igniting her passion for beautiful lettering. Her joyful and infectious enthusiasm are what make her a such valuable member.
Judith has said that when she first joined she “was quite surprised at the way everyone shared their experiences with each other so freely, without expecting anything in return! That has never changed - it is still the case.” She would never credit herself we being one of those most generous souls, so we will: she is, and we are so grateful!
Phyllis Stratman, Treasurer
As a child, Phyllis wanted to be involved in art, as her dad was rather good at it and she enjoyed it in school. Many can probably relate to her situation as a “math nerd,” however: “I was skeptical of ‘coloring outside the box’ so when I found a community school class on calligraphy I thought it would be just the ticket. I loved it and wanted more, but was stymied as to where to find it…..Then one summer I went to the Renaissance Fair and found someone demonstrating lettering at the Scribes Hall. He told me about the Colleagues and I joined immediately.”
For Phyllis, the Colleagues represents “the opportunity for advanced study of calligraphy and exposure to additional art forms.” It also means volunteering! “I like being involved in making a difference.” And what a difference she’s made. For 6 years, she and fellow Colleague Joyce Francis orchestrated the wonderful Midwest Art and Lettering Retreat (sponsored by the Colleagues of Calligraphy). What a treasure of a gift it was to hundreds of eager students. Every year they brought an outstanding slate of teachers to Minnesota for this artistic get-away.
Of course, we appreciate Phyllis’ financial acumen as Treasurer, and her great sage counsel. Her contributions help us fulfill her - and our - hope for our future: that “we continue to exist and support like-minded artists.”
Ann Hoffman, Membership Director
Back in the 70’s Ann found a Speedball book and started teaching herself calligraphy. Life intervened, and many, many years later the calligraphy of The Saint John’s Bible reignited her interest.
She loves to make cards. So she joined after being invited to a program by her sister (fellow member and Vice President Rebekah Anderson). Experiencing the support and encouragement of other members who were “so ready to teach the rest of us and share new ideas” helped her know it was a place she could develop her skills.
Her most valuable lesson learned while a member has been “not getting hung up on my inexperience and instead to just go for it. It gave me a sense of being okay with where I am at and enjoying the process of creating and learning.”
Looking to the future she says, “I am very excited about our goal to share the lettering arts with a whole new generation of people. It is fantastic that we are starting to see younger members joining and spreading the word. I am very energized by our discussions of reaching out to children, teens, young adults, and others who are intrigued by hand lettering. It's become a cliche, but it is true that they really are our future.”
We are so glad said she yes to be being our Membership Director, and appreciate her warm and welcoming way.
Jean Formo, Programs Director
Jean first saw calligraphy on a fountain pen packaging in 1976 and thought “I bet I could learn that!” And learn it she did. She found a Fred Eager instruction book and for the next 3 months taught herself from it during her infant daughter’s nap time.
She soon learned about and joined the Colleagues. She saw it as “a repository of resources for what I wanted to learn. When I could not afford workshops in those early years, I could learn many things by faithfully attending Colleagues programs which were included in the price of my membership.” Jean eventually became a professional calligrapher!
As for our organization, she says, “Without it, and the resources to which it pointed, I would not be where I am today on my calligraphic path.”
Jean joined our board in 2016. She understood our acute need for volunteerism and wanted to be a part of how we “are a valuable resource for people who are just now finding out about calligraphy, and saying to themselves, ‘I bet I could learn that!’”
Her advice to newcomers? “Take enough time and effort to learn every facet of calligraphy available to you.....Always strive to do the thing that you cannot yet do. Look at the very BEST examples of letter forms for study... there is much more to it than what you see on YouTube!”
Jean welcomes suggestions for programs!
Jill Gebhardt, Workshops Director
Jill was lucky enough to have a second grade teacher who was a calligrapher. “I loved to watch her write. It seemed like magic to me.” Many years later she took her first class (from her now fellow board member, Jean Formo!). From Jean she learned that “there were many talented calligraphers in the Colleagues that I could learn from. I was very impressed by the passion and commitment of its members.”
Jill has been active with us on and off over the years. She would like to continue to study and become more proficient in a variety of hands so she can “have more tools in [her] toolbox." Her advice to newcomers? “Join the Colleagues and take classes" and participate in our activities. For Jill that means she “can continue to grow and be inspired as a calligrapher and artist in community with others.”
Now, as our newest board member as of July 1, 2017, she will be very involved!
“I have always been able to count on the Colleagues to provide great programming and resources. I want to take my turn and do some of the work behind the scenes that others have done for us for so many years. I want to help the Colleagues thrive for many years to come.” We like that alot!
Ruth McCarthy, Workshops Director (Immediate Past)
We are grateful for the three years Ruth gave us in her term as Workshops Director, which ended June 30, 2017. She has put together some outstanding learning opportunities for us.
Ruth has a quiet and unassuming but can-do attitude and gets the job done, and right, every time. She has been a member since the 90’s, and like so many others who volunteer with our group, she "wanted to pay back for all that [she] had received from this organization.”
She will continue to support her successor, Jill Gebhardt, in the transition, and has already buttoned up plans for next year. Then it's back to having more time to enjoy creating cards, books and other gifts for family and friends. And no doubt she'll be digging deeper with her latest interest in Chinese calligraphy.