Director of Public Impact
Laurel Mitchell is an arts management professional as well as an exhibiting artist and photographer. Prior to joining EAC, she spent over 13 years with the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh, where she led the photography and copyright licensing efforts for exhibitions, events, and nearly 30 major books, including Storyteller: The Photographs of Duane Michals, which was named by TIME Magazine and The Daily Beast as one of the top coffee table books of 2014. In addition to certifications in digital asset management and copyright leadership, she graduated summa cum laude from Slippery Rock University with a B.A. in Studio Arts, Photography, and Art History. A native of Volant, PA, Laurel is excited to serve the northwestern counties of Pennsylvania and reconnect with familiar communities.
“It is a true honor and pleasure to have the opportunity to work in Erie and the surrounding counties - a place I have long admired and treasured. Through this role, I hope to share my passion for the arts and this region - building a stronger, more vibrant community, that’s accessible and in support of all people.”
In her free time, you’ll find Laurel enjoying the outdoors, most often through gardening, camping, kayaking or days spent at Presque Isle State Park, often with her dog and husband. As a live music enthusiast, Laurel also enjoys traveling to concerts. She also works as a freelancer, assisting authors with photography and rights clearances for publishing projects.
DaVona is a multifaceted visionary who has turned her passions into action. She is a truth seeker, life-long learner, and open-hearted being who enjoys being involved in initiatives that cultivate and create social change, along with birthing new beginnings. Born and raised in Erie, she currently resides in the City of Erie with her wife. DaVona has a BA in Sociology from Edinboro University of PA.
She has 15 years of experience in working with the community in the retail industry and public sectors, specifically in the area of behavioral and mental health. In 2019, she was the first open Black queer womxn to run for an Erie City Council seat with her vision of creating an inclusive and diverse environment focusing on the well-being of the Erie community. To create a solution, she collaborated with her wife and a college classmate to create a culture of Black excellence and wealth in Erie that serves as an inspiration for generations to come birthing the non-profit organization, Erie’s Black Wall Street.
DaVona is no stranger to the efforts of EA&C and hopes to continue to assist in the current efforts as well as extending her knowledge and expertise to support future programs and initiatives. She believes Erie has great potential and wants to create opportunities that boost community consciousness. DaVona believes that EA&C’s collaboration with the community supports growth, expansion, and change.
In her spare time, she is a trained Birth Doula with a focus on being a community advocate for pregnant and potential birthing persons; especially within the LGBTQIA+ and BIPOC communities. DaVona is also a co-producer and host of the Our Erie Podcast which has opened the door for transparent, honest and heartfelt conversations with different community members throughout Erie County and beyond.
When she is not championing change in the community, Davona enjoys spending time visiting the local restaurants, Erie’s Art Museum, art galleries, and community spaces with her wife, friends, and family. She loves to have deep and meaningful conversations with people, listening to music, meditating, cooking (when she’s in the mood), talking and watering her plants, and simply just enjoying life.
Dr. Rhonda Mathews
Dr. Rhonda Matthews is an Associate Professor of Politics at Edinboro University. She has taught sociology, gender studies and politics for 30 years. As a graduate of the University of Oklahoma Department of Sociology, she developed specialties in the primary areas of intersectional study, as well as theory, politics, popular culture and the study of organizations. Dr. Matthews has also put her academic and theoretical study into practical administrative work as a director of diversity affairs and sexual harassment officer.
Paula Gregory's interest in the arts began when she was a small child. At age four she began taking dance classes and also joined her church's children's choir "The Gracenotes”. Piano lessons and learning to play various instruments followed. She sang in various church choirs throughout the years but settled into a position with St. Paul's Cathedral Choir in Erie, PA from 2001 to 2018. In 2020 she rejoined the group from afar, recording music from home for their online services. Paula is also a member of the Lake Erie Choral Artists (formerly the Erie Renaissance Singers), joining the group in early 2006.
Paula, originally from Albion, PA, earned her Bachelor of Arts from Gannon University. She served the Erie County Bar Association for over 26 years as an Administrator overseeing their financial, referral, and publication departments. She left the ECBA at the end of 2019 and started a new adventure taking on the position of Controller for the Erie Downtown Development Corporation. Paula lives in New Wilmington, PA with her husband, Matthew Stinson, stepson Brendan, currently a Junior at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, and their lovable furry children, Phoebe and Joey, both miniature dachshunds.
Adrecia Milsap is a software engineer at Erie Insurance Group and founder of TryHard Athletics. Adrecia has been with Erie Insurance for 20+ years in Information Technology. She has held several positions throughout the IT organization and currently she is contributing to their data program and business intelligence initiatives.
Adrecia values health and family, above all. This drives her passion for working with people who seek positive change in their lives. Outside of work, Adrecia is active in community theater and the arts. She debuted in her first show for J&J Productions in 2020. She is also a member of the Board of Directors for Erie Theater Company. Adrecia is also an active volunteer with the American Heart Association, serving as the employee lead for Erie Insurance's corporate walk team.
Adrecia is a lifelong resident of Erie, PA. She graduated from Penn State Behrend with a degree in Management Information Systems. However, her greatest accomplishment and most important job is supporting her son, Malachi, who is currently a senior at Cathedral Prep and plays basketball.
Amy Cuzzola-Kern is a lifelong resident of Erie, PA. For the last 24 years she has held various positions in nonprofit management, philanthropy, and politics. As Vice President for Programs at the Erie Community Foundation, she managed and directed all aspects of charitable grant making which included an average distribution of over $7 million dollars annually. She served as District Director for United States Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper (PA3) where she oversaw district operations for 7 counties in western Pennsylvania. Amy has held adjunct teaching positions at a variety of local colleges and universities; she has earned degrees from University of Michigan (BA, Political Science), University of Pittsburgh (MPIA, Public Administration), and Case Western Reserve University (PhD, Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, Social Welfare) where she was a Gund Foundation Dissertation Fellow. She provides nonprofit management consulting services in the Erie area. At present she is working toward an MSW in Advanced Clinical Practice at the Columbia University School of Social Work in New York City. She is an Intern at the CSSW Center for Complicated Grief.
Amy has received several honors for her volunteer service to the Erie community including in 2005 by the Mercy Center for Women, as a Woman Making History, in 2007 by the Young Erie Professionals with the Generation-E Leadership Award, in 2017 the Youth Service Award from the Martin Luther King Center, the Spartan Award in 2018 from the Erie Day School and the Coretta Scott King Award in 2019 from the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday Committee.
She is married to B. Scott Kern, Vice President and owner of C.A. Curtze Co, a wholesale food distributor in Erie, PA. Curtze has been owned and operated by the Curtze/Kern families for five generations and offers broad-line food services throughout 8 states in the Northeast and Midwest regions. Amy and Scott live in Millcreek and have three daughters Gabrielle (25), Francesca (20), and Mary Olivia (17).
As a life-long resident of Erie, Pa Peggy Laughlin is devoted to the Erie community. She grew up going to the beach, riding her bike all over town, skiing at the Peak, and participating in theater. Always interested in science, math, and how things worked, Peggy graduated from Gannon University with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. In 1986 she joined LORD Corporation, now known as Parker LORD, in the Graduate Development Program. Throughout her career, she has had assignments in Aerospace, Industrial, and MR Fluids. Her current position is as a Sustaining Engineer in Noise, Vibration, and Harshness.
In 1986 women were an underrepresented group in most engineering disciplines and certainly in manufacturing. As an outspoken advocate for women and minorities in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Peggy has served as a mentor, PJAS judge, Aerospace Days presenter, community school science teacher, and is currently the LORD Women in Business Global Leader. From an early age, she was taught to appreciate everything from the culinary arts to the performing arts. As a student, Peggy participated in what is now the Footlights Theater Program which at the time was under the direction of her father. More than an opportunity to make friends and perform, the experience of performing gave her the confidence and communication skills she needed to succeed.