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Cornish Elects New Trustees and Officers

June 04, 2012

At the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Cornish College of the Arts Board of Trustees, the board confirmed five new trustees, Linda Brown, PhD.; Gloria Burgess, PhD.; Dorothy Holland Mann, PhD.; Maria Renz; and Peggy Otto Swistak. They also elected officers for the 2012-13 term, including Virginia Anderson, chair; Roger J. Bass, vice-chair; John Gordon Hill, immediate past chair; Lawrence E. Hard, secretary; and Sean Owen, PhD. (MU ’97), Treasurer.

“The Cornish Board of Trustees is a phenomenal group of people and I’m so pleased to welcome our new trustees,” said President Nancy J. Uscher. “I also want to recognize the contributions of John Gordon Hill, (chair for the past three years and now immediate past chair) and our retiring trustees Robin Amrine, Joseph Brotherton, Heather Howard, and Carlo Scandiuzzi.”

Remaining trustees continuing their terms include Alex Alben, Glenn J. Amster, C. Kent Carlson, Jody Cunningham, Robin Du Brin, C. Douglas Francis, Michael K. Gibson, Donna James, John W. Jordan, Ed Littlefield, Jr., Dianne Loeb, Lawrence Matsuda, Carol Munro Joan Poliak, Sherry Raisbeck (AR ’88), Ellen Rutledge (AR ‘96), Marianne Sorich Francis, (AR ‘96), and Julie Speidel (AR ’67-‘68).

New Trustees

Linda Brown, PhD., Community Volunteer

With a professional background in community mental health and many years of working in academic environments, including faculty positions in Schools of Nursing at the University of Colorado, Yale and the University of Washington, Linda Brown now pursues her commitment to promoting environments that encourage learning, collaboration, and social well-being by serving on several human services boards.  Shortly after moving to Seattle 20 years ago she and her partner, Larry True, discovered Cornish through student art shows and have, since then, considered Cornish one of the treasures of Seattle.

Gloria Burgess, PhD., Jazz, Inc.
Gloria is a former executive in the computer software industry. In the mid-90s she left that sector and founded Jazz, Inc., her consulting and executive coaching firm; Jazz’s clients include AT&T, Boeing, Microsoft, MSNBC, Vulcan, Providence Health Systems, Girl Scouts of America, International Coach Federation, and diverse non-profits, including Casey Family Programs, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Helene Fuld Trust, and Noel House. A Professor of Leadership at Seattle University and Affiliate Faculty at the University of Washington, Gloria is also an award-winning poet, author, performing artist, director, and inspirational speaker. She counts among her many memorable engagements an invitation by Switzerland’s South African Embassy to present the opening keynote honoring the 50th anniversary of the historic anti-apartheid Women’s March on the Government Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa.

Gloria holds a PhD in Performance Studies and an MBA in organizational behavior and information systems from the University of Southern California and graduate and undergraduate degrees in speech, theater, and education from the University of Michigan, where early in her career she was recognized and honored as a Distinguished Scholar in both Theater and Performance Studies.

Dorothy Holland Mann, PhD,, Arts/Civic Activist
Dorothy Holland Mann, a native of Annandale, Virginia, was the first woman and first African-American to head Region X of the United States Public Health when she was appointed to the position in 1979. She established the first Office on Women’s Health in a federal regional office in the United States. She was also the lead federal official in the Region for the Surgeon General’s C. Everett Koop’s interpersonal violence prevention initiative. 

Dr. Mann, who received a PhD. in 1993 from the Union Institute in Cincinnati, co-chaired Seattle Mayor Norm Rice’s Violence Prevention Project. While on the faculty at the University of Washington Institute for Public Policy and Management (now the Evans School of Public Affairs) she conducted the first study for the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) on the incidence and prevalence of violence in the workplace.

Dr. Mann has contributed to the community through her service on multiple boards, including: Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound, the Kaiser Permanente Hospital and Health Plan, and Virginia Mason Medical Center. Dr Mann is also an adjunct professor in the University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine.

In addition to her work in her expert area of health services administration and policy, Dr. Mann is a community and arts activist. She was a founding member of the Washington Women’s Foundation, a member and past Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, and member and past chair of the Seattle Art Museum’s Development Authority Council. On the national level she is a member of the Board of Directors of the HSC Foundation, an organization dedicated to providing services to children and families with special needs. 

She currently consults by referral with women in professional transition and on nonprofit governance structures, roles and responsibilities. At the end of 2009 she published her memoir, Guide My Feet. In January 2012 she received the 2012 Distinguished Service Award from the University of Washington Health Sciences Center and the University of Washington Medical Center in tribute to Martin Luther King Jr.

Maria Renz, Amazon
As Amazon’s Vice President of Media & Canada, Renz leads all physical media categories, where she manages the on-site customer experience and merchandising, buying, inventory planning and marketing for books, movies, music, video games and software, as well as heading the development of key vendor relationships. She also oversees, where she directs growth strategy and ensures that continues to develop compelling offerings and provides the best possible shopping experience for Canadian customers.

Since joining Amazon in 1999, Renz has served in many leadership positions, managing Amazon’s Consumables group and launching popular customer categories such as Beauty, Health & Personal Care and Grocery. In addition, Renz led the marketing communications department, managing all research and execution of all offline marketing activities.  Most recently, Renz was President of MYHABIT and Vice President of Jewelry & Watches, Shoes and  In 2011, Renz launched, a new online private sale fashion site from Amazon, offering members-only prices up to 60 percent off premium and boutique brands for women, men and children, in 2011.

Prior to joining, Renz worked in Brand Management at Kraft Foods, Inc.  Before joining Kraft, she worked for Hallmark Cards, Inc. and Nelson & Associates. Renz holds an MBA from Vanderbilt University and a B.S. in Interior Design from Drexel University in Philadelphia. She is a native of New Jersey and currently lives in Seattle with her husband and two children.

Peggy Otto Swistak, Community Volunteer

A Washington native, Peggy graduated from the University of Washington (UW) with a Bachelor’s degree in Dietetics, completed her internship at Brown University and returned to the UW for her Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Sciences. Her impressive range of volunteer service includes 10 years as a member (and President for a term) of the Overlake Hospital Auxiliaries; 12 years as a member of the Overlake Hospital Foundation board; 10 years as board member of the Village Theatre (as Chair of the Gala multiple times) where she continues to serve on the Capital Campaign. She has also served on the Board of Seniors Making Art for 10 years. She began her study of ballet as an adult, and is the Consulting Nutritionist for Pacific Northwest Ballet, where she serves on the Advisory Board. Peggy is also the Wellness Dietitian for Overlake Hospital where she lectures in the community on many topics of food and nutrition.