Traditional Arts in Upstate New York. Traditional Arts of Upstate New York
53 Main Street
Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-4289

Board of Directors

A nonprofit incorporated organization, TAUNY is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board meets bi-monthly, usually on the third Friday of each month.


President Jackie Sauter, Canton, is Program Director at North Country Public Radio. She is a member of a variety of community groups, with a special interest in the arts and in assisting individuals with disabilities and their families. Her particular interests include world, traditional, and folk music, which she features on her own public radio program, Music for a Monday Afternoon.

Vice President Ruth McWilliams, South Colton, co-owns and manages Catamount Lodge & Forest LLC with her husband Joe. She is a native of St. Lawrence County, raised on a family-owned dairy farm in Lisbon. Ruth is interested in sustainable approaches to community development and natural resource management. She recently retired from the US Department of Agriculture after 30 years of public service; she last served as the Forest Serviceís National Sustainable Development Coordinator in Washington, DC. She also currently serves as president of a local family foundation created in honor of her parents. Ruth and Joe have a grown son who lives in Virginia.

Secretary Fred Hanss, Potsdam, is the Director of the Village of Potsdamís Planning and Development Office. He is the past Executive Director of the St. Lawrence County Housing Council Inc. Among his professional interests are affordable housing, historic preservation, and downtown revitalization. Fred is also interested in early American and local history. He serves on the boards of several professional organizations and community groups. He and his wife Lisa have two sons at home and a grown daughter.

Treasurer Peter Beekman, Canton, is retired director of principal gifts at Clarkson University. Prior to joining Clarkson, he worked at St. Lawrence University and the University of Vermont. He is a member of numerous professional organizations and values community service. He enjoys spending summers at Trout Lake with his wife Barbara and their two children.

Neal Burdick, a seventh-generation Northern New Yorker, grew up in Plattsburgh and is a Phi Bata Kappa graduate of St. Lawrence University; he also holds a Ph.D. in American Studies. A long-time resident of Canton, he recently retired as senior writer / editor at St. Lawrence, where he continues as an Advanced Writing professor. Burdick is editor of Adirondac, the magazine of the Adirondack Mountain Club; a columnist for NNY Living magazine; and a frequent contributor to Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Life magazines. He is also a husband, father and grandfather.

Angela Gray is a Certified Public Accountant with Hoffman, Eells & Gray CPAs in Canton, NY. She received a BS with Distinction in Accounting from Clarkson University and a Masters of Science in Information Systems from Clarkson University.

Alan Hersker
is the Director of the General Education Program, and Associate Professor of Applied Anthropology at SUNY Potsdam. His research interests include organizational anthropology, heritage management, Gender and LGBTQ studies. He and his partner, Eric King, live in Oxbow with several large rescue dogs, a few cows, some goats, and Sulli the Llama. He also serves on the boards of the Oxbow Historical Association and the Oxbow Volunteer Fire Company.

Madeline Snell Pennington, Parishville, retired from her position as Executive Director of Cornell Cooperative Extension in Saint Lawrence County in 2005 after years of working for the Cornell Cooperative Extension in various roles starting in 1983. She also has a background in teaching and received her Masterís in Education from SUNY Potsdam in 1988. Currently Madeline is Regent of the Nihanawate Chapter of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, President of the Parishville Hilltoppers Senior group, and Vice President of the Parishville Historical Association.  

Madeline loves the North County, especially its rural heritage, which she feels a part of since her family arrived in the area in the early 1800ís. She is passionate about the farmland, forests, wildlife, and rivers and believes we must preserve and protect these aspects of our rural life for the next generation.

Melissa Farmer Richards serves as Vice President for Communications at St. Lawrence University where she oversees all aspects of University Communications including North Country Public Radio. She has 23 years of global experience in integrated marketing communications, brand research and strategy, public relations, special events, and strategic alliances. Prior to her career in higher education, she held senior positions at start-up and global technology organizations and founded two small businesses. Melissa lives with her husband and two daughters in Canton, New York, where they enjoy all four seasons on the Grasse River.

Before moving to the North Country, Melissa lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where she served as a Girl Scout leader and sat on boards and committees for two regional tourism development councils. She cofounded the Blacksburg Childrenís Museum and TEDxVirginiaTech. She has a strong appreciation for regional arts, traditional music, and local food and culture. She loves hiking, kayaking, reading, writing, and cooking.


TAUNY's advisory board contributes their expertise and strategic thinking to the organization.

Hallie Bond, Long Lake

Linda Casserly, Canton

Chris Covert, Jr., Saranac Lake

Melissa Hart, Peru

Sue Ellen Herne, Hogansburg

Allan P. Newell, Hammond

Carol Smith Pynchon, Canton

Tracy L. Robertson, Theresa

Ginny Schwartz, Canton and Upper Saranac Lake

T. Urling Walker, Watertown

Note: All images, text and other material found in this website © 2017 TAUNY. All rights reserved.