Staff

Sue Nigra, Director
Sue Nigra has extensive and broad experience in business, communications, public relations and the media. She most recently served as director of communications & outreach at the New York State Chapter of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which represents more than 4,000 members. Prior to her time at ACOG, Nigra worked as director of communications at Bellevue Woman's Hospital in Niskayuna. Sue Nigra is perhaps best known for her early career in television journalism, where she worked for several years as a news anchor and reporter at both WTEN in Albany and WRGB in Niskayuna. 

Lori White, Events Coordinator
Lori White joined Lexington in June 2015 as its events coordinator, responsible for booking events at the Nigra Arts Center. Previously, Lori co-owned and operated The Railyard, a family restaurant, for 20 years. Lori has extensive experience catering a wide variety of events, from small parties to large elegant affairs, including weddings, conferences, retreats, meetings, graduation celebrations, social events, banquets and more. Lori is looking forward to working with you to plan the perfect event! Contact her at (518) 661-993 or at whitel@lexcenter.org. Click here for meeting and event rental information.

Maria Nestle, Flame Manager/Nigra Arts Center Operations Manager
Maria is the manager of Flame, an outstanding cover band made up of talented musicians who happen to have disabilities. Maria coordinates Flame’s busy schedule, which has the band performing more than 70 times a year across the country. Flame’s home base is in the Nigra Arts Center, where Maria also oversees day-to-day operations. Additionally, Maria coordinates our Adaptive Arts classes and provides planning and support for a wide range of events and activities. Contact Maria at
(518) 661-9932 or at nestlem@lexcenter.org. Learn more about Flame here.

Brenda Dwyer, Community Gallery Curator
Brenda is a self-taught artist who expresses herself through the artwork she creates. As co-owner of Adirondack Stained Glass Works in Gloversville, she has explored various styles of art design for more than 30 years. Brenda’s position as environmental and creative arts specialist for Lexington has enabled her to study art in its many forms and media while sharing her wisdom and expertise with others. As the Community Gallery curator at the Nigra Arts Center, Brenda develops and oversees our rotating art exhibits, from submitting calls for artists and selecting pieces to displaying the work. She also teaches a multitude of art classes and participates in our children’s day camp program. Contact Brenda at (518) 661-9932 or dwyerb@lexcenter.org


Art Faculty

Bill Ackerbauer
Bill is a Johnstown, N.Y.-based singer-songwriter and folk musician who performs solo and with bands such as The Bentwood Rockers, The Doghouse Carpenters and Junk Rocket. Specializing in traditional folk, vintage country, blues and other "roots" styles, he teaches acoustic guitar as well as fiddle and mandolin. When he's not playing music, Bill works in human services and teaches writing at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. He lives in Johnstown with his wife and children.


Megan Balser
Megan is a 2014 graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Writing program. Born in Ohio, she lived overseas with her family as a child in Europe and the Middle East before settling in West Virginia. In college she served as an assistant copy editor for District, SCAD’s student-run news source, and interned for two summers at the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper in West Virginia. In addition to editing and proofreading, she wrote for both publications, and between the two has had more than 40 clips published. Currently, Megan is an intern in the Communications Department at Lexington, a Fulton County, NY, agency that supports individuals with developmental disabilities.

Linda Biggers
Linda is a self-taught artist and loves working with mosaic. She has been creating mixed media and eggshell mosaics since 1999. Linda shows and sells her work at art shows and galleries in upstate New York - including here at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. To see more of Linda’s work, CLICK HERE and HERE.

Kittie Coffey Bintz
Kittie taught elementary art in local school districts for many years. She has had paintings, fabric art and collage boxes in local shows and galleries, and has poetry published in several anthologies. Kitttie loves the energy and community created when working with others in both art and writing, especially when combining the two!

Karen Bischoffberger
Karen is a self-taught artisan baker. She started Sugar Pearl Home Baked Goods after being encouraged by her family and friends to share her passion for baking. She prides herself on using only the finest all natural ingredients while taking traditional time honored recipes and putting her own spin on them. She brings pies to a new level that is sought after by pie lovers. You can find Karen’s home baked goods at the Mohawk Harvest Cooperative Market, Bowmans Market, Galway Meadows Farm 2 Market as well as C& R Restaurant. Karen also welcomes personal orders:
sugarpearl12@hotmail.com.

K. J.F. Cooper

Karen is inspired by the New York State landscape and the coastal areas of Maine and Massachusetts. Having been devoted to the arts most of her life, she was a performing member of the Schenectady Civic Ballet Company in her youth and has been a watercolorist with the Oakroom Artists group for more than 25 years. Watercolor has a freedom of movement that she relates to her past dance experience. The arabesques of the tree branches and the natural forms of the landscape allow her to “feel” the strokes before the brush hits the paper.

Dori Daknis
Dori Daknis is a well-known yoga instructor who has been teaching for several years in Fulton and Montgomery Counties. She welcomes you to join her at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts on a path to a happier and more harmonious life through yoga. Dori is certified in:

  • Seven Spritual Laws of Yoga
  • Perfect Health/Ayurveda
  • Primordial Sound Meditation
  • Master Educator for Chopra Center
  • 500 Hour Kripalu Teacher

Deborah Deming
Deborah is a creative visionary and educator. She has been an art teacher at Gloversville High School for more than three decades.

Andrew Dench
Andrew Dench, a native of New Zealand, is thrilled to be in the USA helping busy people learn how to prepare delicious dishes quickly with his Suppers in a Snap series. Andrew joined the Royal New Zealand Navy in January 2004 as an "ordinary chef," but his cooking career over the following ten years was anything but ordinary. He has done everything from manning a hot dog stand on the back of a patrol boat for police divers to cooking for heads of state and governor generals at fancy banquets. He even served with the Australian Army when they needed military chefs during the 2006 East Timorese crisis. In the last year of his naval career he had the privilege to teach at the New Zealand Defence Catering School, where he taught future soldiers and sailors how to cook eggs in any weather. Andrew traveled all over Southeast Asia during his nine years in the navy before meeting his wife. The couple eventually moved to New York in 2013, where Andrew worked briefly at a Lake George restaurant. Now he is happy to be at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, where he has returned to his true passion: teaching others how to cook great food!

Susy Easterly
Susy Easterly, designer and craftsman, is the owner of Easterly Woodwork and Design in Gloversville, NY. Her furniture derives from her innate desire to build functional yet beautiful objects. All of her pieces are handcrafted and traditionally joined. The chair is her favorite object to create because chairs allow her full design process to be exposed. Susy takes a minimalist approach when building furniture and she challenges herself to make simple objects with few materials. Her designs are simple yet sophisticated and her heirloom-quality furniture has style and functionality to last a lifetime. Susy is a 2005 graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she earned an M.F.A. in Industrial Design.

Kate Ehle
Prior to joining Lexington, Director of Communications Kate Ehle was the Art Director for OPERA America (New York, NY) for 11 years. She has also designed for The Glimmerglass Festival, Symphony Space, the National Performing Arts Convention and the National Endowment for the Arts. An avid music photographer, Kate has been an invited regular contributor to nyctaper.com and WNYC’s Culture Hub. She has shot for OPERA America, Symphony Space and the Anthology Film Archives and has been published online by Gothamist and The Village Voice and in print by The Boston Globe and Opera America. Kate is a digital artist and creates digital collages by manipulating and combining photographs and experimenting with color, texture and mood. She has had solo art shows at The American Hotel in Sharon Springs, NY, and the Arkell Museum in Canajoharie, NY, and has participated in several group exhibitions.

Roberta Esposito
Roberta has been passionate about the performing arts since childhood. She has sung, acted and directed her way across the USA and Europe in over 150 shows, cabarets, musicals, revues, films and television shows. As the founding artistic director at the Glove Theatre, Roberta was the catalyst for making its resurrection happen in 1997. She has been the artistic director of Saratoga Children’s Theatre, a director and company director of Theatre Workshop of Nantucket, and an assistant to the producer and company manager of Nantucket Dreamland Theatre. Roberta has created and taught theatre workshop classes for children and young adults within the autism spectrum, including programs such as Arts for All Dream Theatre, Theatre Discovery Camp, and Autism Speaks Walks. In the community, Roberta serves as a drama club advisor and director at local high schools. She has also been a director for Foothills Family Productions since 2007, and they recently completed a production of “Mary Poppins” with a cast of more than 100 children.

Melanie Fay
Melanie loves art, or really artistic expression in any form, not just for the art that is made, but for the creativity in each and every one one of us which makes art possible.  She is the founder of Standard Toykraft, a theater, print shop, puppet shop and art studio space dedicated to providing affordable art space to artists. She studied at The Art Institute of Chicago and graduated with a BFA from the Cooper Union School of Art with a focus in painting and printmaking.

Flame
To the ear, Flame sounds like any other band. The reality, though, is that each of the 11 members of this cover band from Gloversville, New York, has a disability. Flame was born at a 2003 talent show put on by Lexington, an agency that supports people with developmental disabilities. Today, they are known and celebrated worldwide for their music and inspirational message. A segment about Flame aired on Good Morning America in 2009 and People magazine ran a story about them in October 2010. They have performed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the House of Blues in Cleveland, Ohio; New York’s Apollo Theater; Harvard Law School; the Parthenon in Athens, Greece; the 2009 Special Olympics; and the funeral of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Flame performs more than 70 times per year, touring the greater Northeast area and beyond in a custom bus. In 11 years of work, they have produced five studio albums and their repertoire includes original tracks as well as more than 100 classic rock, pop, country and blues songs.

Sarah Goodbread

Sarah Goodbread is a painter, photographer and mosaic artist. She loves art and sharing the idea that artistic ability is not a gift but a learnable skill, and that with practice anyone can be an artist. Sarah has traveled extensively, teaching students and creating beautiful pieces of art in several countries. Her work can be found in private collections and murals around the globe and online at goodbreadart.com. An upstate New York native, Sarah attended Fulton-Montgomery Community College and SUNY Cobleskill. As an art instructor, she loves teaching artists of all ages to see the beauty and complexities of the world around them and express it all through their work.

Lois Gulotta and Dawn Crankshaw

Lois Gulotta has been cooking for as far back as she can remember...and she taught her daughter Dawn Crankshaw everything she knows. Dawn was raised in her mother's Italian kitchen in Fulton County - and is well-known for supplying several area restaurants with her delicious cheesecakes. This mother-daughter team is now cooking up a storm in in the kitchen of the Paul Nigra Center. Both ladies cannot wait to share their sensational secrets with you!    

Wally Hart
Wally has more than 20 years of catering and food service experience. Over the years, he has created countless delicious meals and planned many extraordinary events. From weddings to corporate luncheons, he has prepared a wide range of food and desserts for a wide range of clients. Wally is well known for creating intimate dinners for 6-8 guests based on themes that match the guests, the season or the setting. These dinners have been highly sought after at local charity events and have helped to significantly increase fundraising goals. Wally will be sharing secrets and practical cooking tips about menu selections and the all-important presentation of the finished product.

Alexandra Higgins
Alexandra earned her B.A. from Plattsburgh in 1990, went on to SUNY Albany to earn credits toward a Doctor of Arts and about five years ago went back to Sage College in Albany to earn an associate degree in Interior Design. She is a full-time interior designer, sculptor and oil painter. She has had numerous art gallery showings in upstate New York and is working currently toward opening an art gallery in the Adirondack Region for local and regional artists.

Sue Kaupelis
Sue Kaupelis has been country line and partner dancing for more than 20 years. She took her first lesson in 1992 and began teaching dance in the Fulton/Montgomery County area almost two years later. Over the years, Sue has expanded her teaching to senior citizens and developmentally disabled adults. She has been invited to teach at the Saratoga Dance Flurry, the New England Dance Festival in Boston and on several cruises. Sue reaches out to the community with her demo group, who perform for numerous nursing homes, fairs and festivals. She was born and raised in Amsterdam, NY, and is a graduate of Fulton-Montgomery Community College and SUNY Albany, where she received her BS and MBA degrees in marketing and management information systems. Sue is currently the president of the Country Western Dance Instructor’s Forum.

Erin Kelly
Erin Kelly is a local Johnstown artist with a broad range of specialties, including printmaking, photography, bookmaking and video art. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Studio Art from California State University at Chico in 2012 and her Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art from The State University of New York at Potsdam in 2006. Through her artwork, Erin creates immersive, interactive installations for viewers to enter and engage in. She uses her own personal history and memories to connect with others through shared popular culture references that reflect upon an entire generation. Erin works with objects she collects as source material for her work and uses the camera to record ephemeral moments in time. In addition to the arts, her other passions include teaching, music and, most importantly, being a mother to her son Charlie. Erin has a long association with Lexington, Transitions' founding agency, who has provided supports to her brother Patrick for many years.

Ellen Lauziere
Ellen is a self-taught local artist who has had a love for painting since she was young. She started with oil painting before taking a watercolor class at her local college while living in New Hampshire. In recent years, she has enjoyed the ease and versatility of acrylic paint. Ellen wants to share her enthusiasm for landscape and still life painting with others in her community and is happy to be doing that at the Paul Nigra Center!

Jessica Lewandowski
Jessica Lewandowski, a resident of Amsterdam, NY, is an art teacher, an art therapist and a practicing artist. She earned her B.S. in Visual Arts Education at State University of New York at New Paltz and her M.A. in Clinical Art Therapy at Long Island University. A metalsmith with teaching abilities in fine arts, ceramics, printmaking, bookmaking and more, she spent six months in an artists’ collective in Queens, living with 16 other artists. This inspired her to move to Mexico, where she taught and created before moving back to Fulton County in 2013. She now teaches studio art and drawing/painting at Amsterdam High School.

Salvatore Mannino
Sal is a well-known member of the Fulton County community. For close to three decades he ran Salvatore’s Pizza in Gloversville. Sal enjoys teaching other people the art of Italian cooking and is happy to do so at the Nigra Arts Center.


Diana Marshall
Diana Marshall is a self-proclaimed “foodie.” Her love for cooking started as a teenager and has continued to this day. Her idea of relaxing is going into her kitchen and cooking a new recipe. Diana loves to travel and each new place she goes gives her fuel for new dishes to cook for her family. Her older son has inherited the “foodie” gene. Her daughter is an adventurous cook, always trying new recipes. Her youngest son is only 17 and already enjoys cooking for himself. Obviously, the heart of their home is the kitchen. Diana and her husband own the Gloversville Sewing Center in Gloversville and Saratoga.

Becky Paul
Becky has been in the baking industry for over 35 years. Her experience includes baking, cake decorating, bread making and wedding cakes. Becky, her husband and mother in law also co-owned Tip Top Tavern in Gloversville for 20 years, where she did many of the desserts for catering events. We are thrilled to have her at the Nigra Arts Center!

Nita Preddice
Nita Preddice has worked in food service for more than 50 years, serving at hospitals and managing nutrition programs for children and the elderly. She has owned a bakery café featuring all scratch baking and fresh offerings and worked for two culinary institute chefs, catering for local dignitaries and providing food and dessert for governor’s dinners. Now Nita works at Lexington, contributing to catering, helping with Meals for Seniors and teaching the young women in the S.T.E.P. program how to cook. She is passionate about cooking and teaching and looks forward to sharing her talents at the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts. 

Alyssa Rizzo
Alyssa has extensive experience in piano, voice, percussion and musical theater. She studied Music Education at Nyack College and the College of St. Rose. Alyssa has performed twice at Carnegie Hall with the Nyack College Chorale and traveled through Germany, Austria, France and Iceland with American Music Abroad. She has served as the accompanist at East Glenville Community Church and as Music Director at North Main St. United Methodist Church. Alyssa has also taught piano, voice and percussion lessons at the Performance School of the Arts in Halfmoon. Additionally, she has accompanied and performed in musical theater productions at the Glove Theater. Alyssa is currently the organist at St. John's Episcopal Church. She loves to share her passion for music and the arts with all age groups, especially young children.

Annika Sams
Annika Sams lives on a farm in Upstate NY.  She teaches art, horseback riding & gymnastics on horseback. In her free time she reads, enjoys hiking, swimming, and does various arts & crafts. She has earned her Bachelor’s in Fine Arts & is earning her Masters in Fine Art Photography. Her photography can be found at:  https://odessastudios.org/ And Odessa Studios can be found on Facebook as well.

Sandy Salada
As an Art Education major in college, some of Sandy’s favorite courses were basket weaving, loom weaving and Fibers and Fabrics. She has 20 years of experience in the art of basket weaving and presents workshops for teens and adults. Sandy has presented at the View Art Center, Old Forge; the Arkell Museum, Canajoharie; Pinecones and Dragon Studio, Inlet; the Shaker Heritage Society, Albany and Hancock Shaker Village, MA. She teaches weekly Continuing Education classes in Guilderland and Albany as well as workshops in her home studio in Latham, NY. Sandy is a member of the North Carolina Basketmakers Association, the Northeast Basketmakers Guild and the Shaker Heritage Society. View her designs and reproductions of cultural or historic baskets at www.sandysfiberarts.com.

Gretchen Salvione
Gretchen is a dance instructor with 20 years of experience in choreography, dance and competition. She owns and operates The Dance Company on Route 30 in Perth. A resident of Broadalbin, Gretchen welcomes the opportunity to pass along her love of dance to students at the Nigra Arts Center. 

Terri Salvione
Terri has been teaching art for close to 20 years.  A resident of Gloversville, she enjoys utilizing everything from acrylics to masking tape to let her students show their creative side. Terri is thrilled to be part of the Paul Nigra Center for Creative Arts, where she is looking forward to discovering and nurturing more aspiring artists from throughout the community.

Lisa Schmitt
Lisa - aka “Healthy Momma” - started her career in nutrition in 2011. For 4 years she facilitated “Cooking Matters”, a hands-on cooking and nutrition workshop, for low-income families in Bridgeport, CT. Additionally, Lisa worked at Yale New-Haven and Danbury Hospitals as a clinical diet technician.  Originally from NYC, Lisa recently moved from CT to Northville and currently holds a full-time position as a diet technician at Fulton Center for Rehabilitation and Healthcare in Gloversville. Lisa loves to share her tips for preparing nutritious as well as delicious home-cooked meals on a budget.  When Lisa is not shopping the local farm stands or whipping up healthy dishes, you will find her paddleboarding on the lake, on a hiking trail or practicing yoga. You can find Healthy Momma on Facebook and follow Lisa on Instagram @healthymomma13.

Tom Simek
Tom is an Upstate NY based producer, songwriter and musician. He began playing piano at age 7 and earned a Bachelors Degree in Music Composition from Hartwick College and a Masters Degree in Studio Music Composition from SUNY Purchase. He has performed throughout Europe andthe U.S., has published hundreds of educational children's songs which are distributed worldwide and has appeared on TV and radio. Schooled both classically and in jazz theory, Tom collaborates with an eclectic array of musicians both live and in the studio. When he is notperforming or teaching, he enjoys traveling, writing and extreme sports.

Barbara Sinacore
Barbara Sinacore is a retired youth services librarian who worked at public libraries in Montana and New York for more than twenty years. Barbara enjoys telling stories to multigenerational groups, but she also has experience teaching a variety of crafts to children and teens. She first encountered weaving in a barn at the Montana State Fair and was immediately hooked. Barbara invites you to come experience textiles in a way you never thought you could, focusing on the fun of color choice and the play of yarn in your hands rather than on technique. You will encounter the zany art of weaving with everything from drinking straws to sea shells. Join Barbara to discover new confidence in your own unique way of expressing yourself artistically — no rules to follow!


Beth Spraggs
Being a true Gemini, Gloversville Artist Beth Spraggs says she likes the idea of dabbling in many different artistic mediums. She loves working with things that are dimensional and rich with texture, whether it be glass art or fabric sculpture. She feels that the more texture and diversity, the more interesting the piece. She is happy to be sharing her talents with artists at the Nigra Arts Center.

Jeff Subik
Jeff Subik’s career is certainly a creative one. The Fulton County native has showcased his many talents in theater, television and film, working as everything from a production designer and art director to executive producer and actor. His work can be seen in such movies as Preservation (2014), The Woman (2011) and The Girl Next Door (2006) and on TV shows such as Femme Fatales (2011). Jeff launched his furniture and lighting company, Modern Rustic [modernrustic.com], in 2012 to create one-of-a-kind housewares from mostly reclaimed and repurposed materials. A graduate of Castleton State College, Jeff uses his love for found objects to produce unique pieces dedicated to the concept of “upcycling.” He is thrilled to be able to share his experience and love for the arts with students at the Paul Nigra Center.  

Jonathan Swartwout
A native of Johnstown NY, Jon excelled at art throughout high school and college, attending Fulton Montgomery Community College, SUNY Cortland and Munson Williams Proctor Art Institute. Around age 23, he began focusing on art, mostly oil paintings of trout, fishing and other Adirondack themes. His first attempt at rustic woodworking was to frame these early paintings with simple bark and twig frames and shortly thereafter he began making furniture. In 2005 he started his business, Fisher of the Berry Studio. Although the furniture making takes place in the shop, the creative process begins in the woods with the harvesting of the rustic materials (trees, root bases, bark and twigs). Over the last decade, Jon has continued to develop both as a furniture maker and artist, becoming one of the top rustic furniture makers working in the Adirondacks. Although he likes to explore new ideas, subject matter and techniques with his paintings, Jon will always think of himself as a traditional Adirondack artist.

Tony Vece
Tony Vece has been playing bass for more than fifty years. He has performed in venues as diverse as the Newport Jazz Festival to the Long Island Symphony. He spent several years as a studio musician in NYC and has recorded with numerous artists in all genres.