The mission of the Arts Council of Wilmington & New Hanover County is to support artists and arts organizations through innovative public/private partnerships that support jobs, stimulate commerce, and showcase the region as an arts destination.

Our Core Functions

  • To establish the region as an arts destination

  • To promote arts-driven economic development
  • To significantly contribute to quality of life in the region
  • To provide a stream of funding to support the sustainability of artists and arts organizations
  • To facilitate communication and collaboration within the arts community
  • To advocate for the arts at the local, state and national levels

Rhonda Bellamy

President & CEO (Founder)

Rhonda Bellamy is the founding executive director of the Arts Council of Wilmington/New Hanover County, celebrating its 10th year as the nucleus of Wilmington’s dynamic arts community.  She was promoted to President/CEO in 2022.

She is chair of Arts North Carolina, the statewide arts advocacy organization which calls for equity and access to the arts for all North Carolinians, unifies and connects North Carolina’s arts communities, and fosters arts leadership.

Named to Wilmington Biz 100  (four years running), Rhonda has been honored with the White Lotus Lifetime Achievement Award from NC Project Lead, the City of Wilmington’s Living Legend Award, Woman of Achievement Award in the Arts from the YWCA, and Woman of the Year by the New Hanover County Human Relations Commission. She was honored to serve as the official Mistress of Ceremonies for the 59th North Carolina Azalea Festival.

Prior to full-time work in the arts, Rhonda was an award-winning news director/anchor/talk show host with 25+ years in radio, television, and print in the Wilmington market. Currently she is host and executive producer of “Around Town with Rhonda Bellamy” on WHQR Public Media.

A native of New York, Rhonda graduated from Wilmington’s E.A. Laney High School and North Carolina Central University, where she holds a B.A. in English with a concentration in Media/Journalism and graduate credits in Instructional Media.

The mother of two enjoys spending time with her four grandchildren.

The Board of Directors

Joey Toler, Chair

Joey is a retired arts administrator originally from Washington, NC where he served as Executive Director of Arts of the Pamlico, formerly the Beaufort County Arts Council. He has been involved with the arts in some capacity for most of his life. A graduate of Appalachian State University with a degree in Communication and Theatre, he currently also serves on the board of Panache Theatrical Productions. Past professional memberships and committee work include the North Carolina Presenters’ Consortium, Arts North Carolina, panelist for the North Carolina Arts Council’s Community Grassroots Grant, and Steering Committee for the 2007 AE/AIE Charter Conference in Charlotte, NC. He is a devoted advocate for the arts.

Todd Atwood, Vice Chair

Todd Atwood is a retired marketing executive with Colgate Palmolive where he served a number of senior roles in Europe, Latin America and New York. He has served on a number of not for profit boards including chairman of The American Overseas School of Rome and Cape Fear Academy. His wife, Carol, has played local board leadership roles with Good Shepherd, Lakeside, Bnai Israel, and Humanity Now. They have three children including Sylvia who is the artist in the family.

Liz Carbone, Secretary

Liz Carbone is the Community Coordinator for Good Shepherd Center, a local nonprofit organization addressing the issues of hunger and homelessness in the Cape Fear region. Liz received her Bachelors in International Studies with a concentration in Art and Literature from UNC Wilmington, where she is now pursuing a Masters in Public Administration with a focus in nonprofit management and public policy. In her spare time, Liz volunteers at the Cameron Art Museum and the Cape Fear Literacy Council. She is passionate about equity in arts programming and making the arts more accessible to under served communities.

Phil Sindel, Treasurer

Phil Sindel was born and raised in New York City but spent the last 25 years in Boston before retiring to the Wilmington area in 2018 though he has been visiting the area for the past 16 years. He received his BS from Cornell University and an MBA from the University of Hartford and has 45 years experience with the technology and operations within the financial services industry. Joining the founder of Olmstead Associates in 1994, Phil helped it to become a leading specialized consulting firm to the asset management industry. Prior to joining Olmstead Associates, Phil’s experience includes technology management positions at Aetna Life and Casualty and Mass Mutual and work as an independent consultant that took him overseas to England and Australia. Phil also worked for the White House as Manager of Information Systems for the Executive Office of the President. He has always been active in the arts community wherever he has lived, having helped produce concerts, been on radio or performing in community theatre. His wife Deni is a painter and a quilter and on the board of the Friends of the Leland Cultural Arts Center.

At-Large Board Members

Tufanna Bradley

Tufanna Bradley began her role as an assistant county manager on August 27, 2019. She previously served as the county’s Community Affairs Coordinator and, prior to that, worked for New Hanover County Schools and as a director for several nonprofit organizations.

During her first year as an assistant county manager, Tufanna led the Parks & Gardens Department, NC Cooperative Extension & Arboretum, Public Library, Cape Fear Museum, Soil & Water Conservation District, and Board of Elections. Beginning August 25, 2020, she transitioned into overseeing the county’s health and human services departments, including the consolidated Health and Human Services agency (which includes Public Health and Social Services), Senior Resource Center, Community Justice Services, and Veteran Services. As of April 2023, she has also taken on the Board of Elections. Tufanna oversees Port City United, a department approved by the Commissioners on January 24, 2022 to implement community violence intervention initiatives. She also serves as a liaison with the court system and Trillium Health Resources, both of which receive funding from the county.

Tufanna has an affinity for working with, and for, the community to address and solve issues that impact residents. She has a passion and ability to build and maintain strong partnerships that serves New Hanover County well. She has worked in public service for almost 20 years in the nonprofit, education and government sectors; and has a bachelor’s degree in Communications with a minor in Sociology from East Carolina University, and a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNCW.

Chad Cramer

Chad Cramer is the Urban Designer with the City of Wilmington. He partners with numerous agencies and stakeholders to ensure successful projects focusing on sustainable placemaking and walkability. Chad is from New Orleans and earned his Master of Architecture at Tulane University. He served as the Urban Designer for the city of New Orleans and helped guide the city’s post-Katrina redevelopment effort. He also served as a Submission Manager for the Arts Council of New Orleans in addition to numerous other boards and commissions throughout his career. When not making great places for people, Chad spends his time at the beach or walking his cat, Possum.

Shane Fernando

Shane is Vice President of Advancement & the Arts at Cape Fear Community College.  In addition to overseeing the opening of the Wilson Center, he previously served at UNC Wilmington, as Director of Campus Life Arts and Programs, overseeing UNCW Presents, the Arts in Action Performance and the Leadership Lecture Series, Ann Flack Boseman Gallery, and Lumina Theater; he also taught as an adjunct faculty member in the UNCW Department of Communication Studies.  Shane earned a communication studies degree and a master’s degree in public administration from UNC Wilmington.

Alisa Harris

Asheville, NC native Alisa Harris is no stranger to Wilmington’s arts scene. After two degrees from Boston University and a couple years living in London, she settled in Wilmington and worked as a talent agent for film and television actors and as an entertainment promotions specialist and ADDY award-winning graphic designer with her  company, imageBLEND Promotions. In 2011, she started construction on a dinner theater in downtown Wilmington, and TheatreNOW opened in July of 2012 where she produced seven years of award-winning original productions and youth programming and created the not-for-profit group, Theatre Network of Wilmington/Superstar Academy, for the promotion of theater arts education for youth and underserved populations that now lives on as Theatre for All. She also executive produced a multimedia project aimed to promote prominent women in the Wilmington, NC community titled the Women of Wilmington (WOW) Project ( and executive produced a short video of prominent Wilmington women in the arts in 2010/11. In early 2020, Alisa sold the TheatreNOW building on 10th and Dock to focus on her family and film & tv career.

Ashlea Kosikowski

Ashlea Kosikowski has spent decades as a journalist, storyteller and communications professional, working in the news industry and media relations. Ashlea is currently Senior Director, Media at 1AB, an external communications firm for biotech/medtech companies and healthcare-focused VCs. She works with clients on executive coaching, presentation and media training, media relations, messaging, developing communications strategies and more.

Ashlea spent most of her career as an on-air journalist, winning several awards from the Radio Television Digital News Association (RTDNA) for her reporting. Most recently, she anchored daily newscasts at WECT News, where she was recognized as the “Best Local Newscaster” by Encore Magazine in 2020. Previously, she worked as a news reporter at WSOC-TV in Charlotte, NC and WTOV in her hometown of Steubenville, OH.

While she is no longer a news anchor, Ashlea still sometimes plays one on TV. She recently acted as a news anchor on Righteous Gemstones.

Ashlea has been an active member of the Wilmington community, where she has emceed countless charity events, including events for the Alzheimer’s Association, Wilmington Health Access for Teens, Guardian ad Litem and the St. Patrick’s Day Parade which benefited the Cape Fear Literacy Council. Ashlea has been honored by the CUE Center for Missing Persons with the Keeper of the Flame Award, for shining a spotlight and focusing community attention on cases of missing persons.

Ashlea and her husband, Brian Parke, live in Wilmington with their German Shepherd, Bosco. Her parents and several members of extended family live here too. She loves to golf, spend time at the beach, support the arts and try new restaurants. Ashlea is a proud alumna of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University.

Ken Maruyama

Ken was born in Tulelake, a War Relocation Authority Camp, in Newell, CA and raised in St. Louis, MO. Following college (UCLA – MA in Graphic Design), he entered the US Army and spent four + years producing and directing films for the military in Vietnam, Thailand, Korea, Japan and Alaska. Professional experiences include Graphic Design (Advertising Creative); Animation Production and Visual Effects for feature films; 30+ years career included managing, supervising and directing creative teams of technical artists for film production (animation and visual effects) for George Lucas’ Industrial Light and Magic and at Sony Pictures Imageworks.   Following retirement in 2014, taught college level visual communication curriculum at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles.  Wife Susan and Ken moved from Los Angeles to Raleigh in 2016 where Ken revived interests in painting – mostly acrylic – and in serigraphy (silkscreen printing). They now call Wilmington home.

Jennifer Pate

Jennifer Pate grew up in Chicago, lived in Los Angeles for 25 years and now is proud to call Wilmington her home. She was a professional dancer for over a decade appearing in such shows as Song and Dance, Mrs. Potiphar to Donny Osmond’s Joseph and spent a year on the Queen Elizabeth II just to name a few. She then went on to being a casting director for Film and TV founding the casting company, “Colloff, Fishman and Britt” casting shows for creators such as Judd Apatow, Joss Whedon and her husband Jonas Pate. Jennifer then created, produced and hosted the Webby Award winning web series “Jen and Barb, Mom Life”, wrote the self help book, “The Mother of Reinvention”, was a contributor for both Rachel Ray and Katie Couric, starred in the HGTV series “Turnkey Renovation” and is now launching a new show called “Feel Ageless”. She and her husband Jonas have two children; Cooper and Lilah and one furry baby Maddy.

Virginia Pizzi

Virginia Pizzi currently serves as the Director of Design at Cape Fear Development, overseeing interior design for development projects, public art initiatives, and marketing with a strategic and innovative approach. This role allows Virginia to integrate creative expression into community spaces, emphasizing the importance of art in urban development.

Virginia’s professional journey includes significant roles at leading design and entertainment firms. She is also proud to have written an interior design book, published by Rizzoli in 2014.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Virginia is committed to leveraging art as a means to spread joy, enhance community well-being, and stimulate economic development. She is equally passionate about expanding opportunities for children in the arts, as throughout her own childhood, music played an integral part in her development.

Virginia holds a Bachelor of Science in Communications from New York University. She is also Certified in Sound Healing, reflecting her deep respect for the healing power of art, music, and sound.

Dr. Sejal Patel

Dr. Sejal Patel is an Internal Medicine Physician who practiced hospital-based medicine for 8 years but quickly realized that there is more medicine practiced away from the bedside, yet is an integral part of patient care. Being a Medical Director at Novant NHRMC gives her a chance to be a staff and patient advocate at the same time.

She completed a residency in Ophthalmology in India in the year 2000 and moved to USA to join her husband. Due to her keen interest in comprehensive care, she decided to pursue Internal Medicine and trained at Moses Cone Hospital, in Greensboro, NC. During her career as a Physician at New Hanover Regional medical center, she also served as a Medical Director for Community Hospice and Palliative care.

In 2010 Dr. Patel was introduced to the world of Physician advisor which turned out to be her next professional journey. In 2018, She was promoted as the Medical at NHRMC. Dr. Patel has taken on Insurance Denials management as her most recent challenge and has helped overturn denials worth millions of dollars. Thus, protecting patients from expensive out of pocket health care expenses.

She has been actively involved with Cape Fear Cultural Association of India since 2002 and was instrumental in establishing it as a nonprofit organization. In 2020, she became the president and has led the association and the Indian Community during the challenging times of a pandemic through innovative ways to engage and support the members and do an outreach for the broader NH community.

Dr. Patel and her entrepreneur husband have lived in Wilmington since 2000 and are raising a beautiful daughter and a bilingual dog. Family time and food are her weaknesses and therapy as well!

Cornelia “Nini” Rogan

Nini has enjoyed a 40-year career as a script supervisor and is credited in 40 film and television projects, including Super Mario Brothers, Under the Dome, and the Thomas Crown Affair.  Nini has been involved with a number of local organizations, including long standing leadership with the Cape Fear Literacy Council.