LAURA STRAUS founded Piermont Straus Gallery, which opened in 2011. Laura is also the founder and president of three non-profit organizations, the Piermont Chamber of Commerce, Rockland Culture and the Piermont Straus Foundation. Laura was a professional photographer for 25 years, and has published ten photography books. In 2002, she won the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Photography and then went on to teach through a NYFA fellowship at Cornell University. She spent 17 years with the Artists Rights Society (ARS), an organization in Manhattan representing the estates of Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, and 65,000+ other artists. She has also worked for Magnum Photos and Abbeville Press. Her new work in the non-profit sector has been aimed at finding public and private funding for issues related to climate change, public arts, and the promotion of tourism in areas of need. Her gallery in Piermont, NY is also home to her new ceramic studio, CeramicEden.
JOHN ALEXANDER is Laura Straus' husband. He is a Private Banker with over 30 years experience in Latin America, Spain, US and Switzerland. John has a degree in French Literature and Philosophy from Oxford University. He is very happy to help with the gallery, and heads up the Piermont Straus Foundation, a capacity builder for other not for profits involved in the Arts, History and Culture across the Hudson Valley.
SYLVIA WELCH is a founding board member of several not-for-profit organizations in Rockland County, including the Piermont Historical Society, Strawtown Art and Garden Studio, Empowering Productions. She formerly served as Executive Director of a Neighborhood Preservation Company in NYC funded by New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal-securing financing and grants to restore buildings in Harlem; Executive Director of the first training and employment program for femaleex-offenders in NYC, serving more than 200 clients annually; Development Director for the People with AIDS Coalition; Development Director for the Lower East Side Redevelopment Area for the City of New York. Sylvia is currently a consulting grant writer and development specialist for more than fifteen years for municipalities, hospitals and healthcare organizations, community-based service organizations, museums and cultural centers, downtown revitalization organizations and historic preservation organizations.
MELISSA WITTHOFT A 30+ year vocation in Human Resources (and an even longer avocation as a musician) has allowed Melissa to contribute her time and talents to many different organizations. In her pro bono work, Melissa has served on the board of the Putnam Arts Council, she’s worked with UNICEF on global girls education initiatives, and is a volunteer with Regional Hospice of Western CT. In her “day job”, she develops financial wellness solutions for Deloitte & Touche, a global consulting, auditing and advisory firm.
HILLARY BESON began working with Piermont Straus in December, 2011. Her interest in the arts began at a young age, studying drawing, painting, and photography both in school and at private art classes. In the fall of 2007 Hillary began her next chapter as an artist and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts at Ithaca College. During her undergraduate studies, Hillary studied both studio and art history. Hillary has had internships with the Pomona Cultural Center, the Edward Hopper House Art Center, The Ink Shop, and Art21 Inc. In addition to working at Piermont Straus, Hillary is also a Senior Development Associate with Aperture Foundation in New York City.