Governor Russell W. Peterson began the tradition of honoring Delaware artists in 1970. Since then, Delaware has paid tribute to 48 distinguished individuals and organizations that have had a profound and lasting impact on the state’s artistic and cultural life.

The 2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts were coordinated by the Delaware Division of the Arts in conjunction with the Delaware State Arts Council and the office of Governor John C. Carney.

2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts Recipients

Individual who has shown sustained, impactful, and visionary executive leadership of an arts organization.

Raye Jones Avery
Raye Jones Avery has been a leader in the arts and education sectors in Delaware for more than 30 years. Since 1991, she has been the Executive Director of the Christina Cultural Arts Center in Wilmington where classes are offered to foster creativity and artistic achievement. During her tenure, she has successfully made the arts accessible to urban children and youth through innovative and affordable programming. Raye has also been a partner in Wilmington’s Creative District, focusing on creative production and consumption of the arts by diverse audiences.

Individual or organization that has made significant contributions through leadership and creativity to advance arts education in Delaware’s schools and communities, or in community organizations.

Charles J. Conway
Charlie Conway joined the staff of the Delaware Theatre Company (DTC) in 1983 and became a part of the Theatre’s Education Department in 1991 when he was named the first Director of Education. He continued as the founder and director of the DTC’s award-winning Department of Education and Community Engagement. Formerly a teacher, Charlie combined a background in Psychology, Education, and Child Development with his experience as an actor. He provided drama instruction to children, adults, and special-needs populations for many DTC programs, as well as numerous schools and institutions throughout the state.


Arts Patron, Corporate: M&T Bank
Individual, foundation or entity that, over time, has sustained and enhanced the arts in their community or the state of Delaware through contributions of their time, effort, or financial resources.

M&T Bank continues Wilmington Trust’s tradition of sustaining and developing the local community and region with a goal of creating an attractive, vibrant, and culturally superior place for residents and for employers to draw workers. They are one of a small number of companies with true statewide reach and interest with ongoing support of arts organizations in all three Delaware counties. In addition to financial support, the company encourages its employees to volunteer for area non-profits, both as direct service volunteers, and as members serving on boards and committees.

Arts Patron, Individual: Carla Markell
For the last two decades, Carla Markell has led by example, showing Delawareans that we all have a vital role to play as patrons of the arts. Consistently, she has made the public case that supporting the arts is an economic responsibility for the benefit of the local community and the state as a whole. As a patron, Carla used her public role as Delaware’s First Lady to underscore the impact of the arts as a jobs creator, community-wellness asset, and a unique tool to impact underserved populations. Carla has participated in numerous small and large fundraising opportunities for the arts. Her commitment and passion has led her to promote and lead major fundraising events and to just as easily work behind the scenes.


Individual or organization that works to create or strengthen interactive arts participation among diverse community members while increasing the public awareness about the role of the arts in community life.

Art Therapy Express
Founded in 2003 by Lisa Bartoli, Art Therapy Express is an organization that provides innovative therapeutic arts programming throughout the state of Delaware. They serve over 1,000 children and adults with mild to severe intellectual, physical, emotional, and communication disabilities within special education school programs, hospitals, and nonprofit organizations.  Their vision has been to provide a safe and empowering space for all people to express themselves, connect with peers, and feel joy through the power and creativity of art. This is often accomplished through the use of adaptive technology with custom-designed tools, art media, and equipment.

This award was created in honor of Peggy Amsterdam, Director of the Delaware Division of the Arts from 1993-2000. Before her untimely passing in 2009, Peggy was a pillar in the arts world – recognized regionally and nationally for her leadership and vision, for expanding people’s access to the arts, and for supporting excellence in artistic expression.

Debora Hansen
Deb Hansen has worked tirelessly to advance the arts in Delaware and in our schools through her work at the Delaware Department of Education, as an art teacher, within arts education organizations, arts advocacy groups, and by contributing her leadership to national arts advocacy and education causes.  Since 2000, Deb has been the Education Associate for the Delaware Department of Education responsible for the coordination of arts education, programs for gifted and talented students, and the implementation of the Professional Learning Standards. Energetic and enthusiastic, Deb has diligently pledged that all K-12 students should receive arts education in Delaware.

Past Honorees

  • Raye Jones Avery, former executive director, Arts Administration
  • Charles J. Conway, retired director of theater education, Arts Education
  • M&T Bank, Arts Patron, Corporate
  • Carla Markell, former first lady, Arts Patron, Individual
  • Art Therapy Express, therapeutic arts programming, Community Engagement
  • Debora Hansen, retired educator and administrator, Peggy Amsterdam Award for Outstanding Achievement

For the Recipients

Each of the recipients of the 2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts will receive a Colonial Blue Filigree Caldera created by Delaware artist Marcie Tauber.  In nature, the inward collapse of a volcano forms a large cauldron-like depression which is known as a caldera.  In Tauber’s studio, patterned glass is slumped (or collapsed) into successively deeper molds in a hot kiln.  The result is a large, cauldron-like bowl, which she calls a “Caldera.”



Award Selection Panel

  • Diane Albanese, Milton
  • Jennifer Gunther, Newark
  • Peter Harrigan, Rehoboth Beach
  • John Moore, Sr., Wilmington
  • Delaware State Arts Council Chair, J. Mack Wathen, Hockessin

2019 Governor’s Awards for the Arts Ceremony & Reception

Monday, October 28, 2019
Location: Rollins Center at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino
Reception: 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  | Award Ceremony: 4:00 p.m.
Free & Open to the Public

To celebrate the recipient’s achievements, an award ceremony will be held on Monday, October 28, at 4:00 p.m. at the Rollins Center at Dover Downs Hotel & Casino.  As part of the celebration, the Music School of Delaware’s Suzuki Violin Ensemble will perform.  A reception with light fare will be held prior to the ceremony from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The reception and award ceremony are free and open to the public.

  • David Amado, leader, Individual Category
  • Sharon Baker, independent filmmaker, Individual Category
  • Xiang Gao, innovator, Individual Category
  • Eunice LaFate, advocate, Individual Category
  • Evelyn Swensson, lifetime achievement, Individual Category
  • Billie Travalini, educator, Individual Category
  • Joshua M. Freeman Foundation, presenting, Organization Category
  • VSA Delaware, inclusion, Organization Category
  • The Music School of Delaware, Organization Category
  • William M. Shea, Individual Category
  • University of Delaware Art Conservation Department and Winterthur Museum and Country Estate, Collaboration Category
  • Michael Kalmbach, Peggy Amsterdam Outstanding Achievement Award
  • Charles Allmond, Sculptor and former attorney
  • Donald Parks, Painter and professor of art at Delaware State University
  • Reuben Salters, Director, Inner-City Cultural League; youth educator; and founder, Sankofa African Dancers and Drummers
  • Marie Swajeski, Founder, Delaware Children’s Theatre
  • Cab Calloway School of the Arts, Wilmington
  • Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, Wilmington
  • Stephen Bruni, Special “Ambassador for the Arts” Award
  • Congressman Michael N. Castle, Arts Advocate
  • Delaware Institute for the Arts in Education, Arts Organization
  • Longwood Foundation, Inc., Funding Support for the Arts
  • Gonzalo Martinez, Esq., Arts Advocate
  • Lynn Herrick Sharp, Patron and Advocate of the Arts
  • Stephen Tanis, Visual Artist
  • Christina Cultural Arts Center, Inc., Arts Organization
  • DuPont, Corporate Patron of the Arts
  • E. Jean Lanyon, Artist
  • C. Lawler Rogers, Sr., Arts Educator
  • Howard Schroeder, Artist Legacy Award
  • The Brandywiners, Ltd., Arts Organization
  • Philip Corrozi, Former Legislator and Arts Advocate
  • Hercules Incorporated, Corporate Sponsor of the Arts
  • Edward L. Loper, Sr., Visual Artist
  • Cleveland Morris, Founder, Delaware Theatre Company
  • Mrs. Helen Farr Sloan, Visual Artist and Patron of the Arts
  • Pamela C. Copeland, Patron of the Arts
  • Delaware Art Museum
  • Mildred Thornhill McGowan, Musician and Arts Educator
  • Delaware Symphony
  • William Winder “Chick” Laird, Patron of the Arts
  • Eugenia Eckford Rhoads, Visual Artist and Patron of the Arts
  • Beatrice “Bebe” Coker, Playwright and Poet
  • Jack Lewis, Visual Artist
  • Wilmington Opera Society (now OperaDelaware)
  • Charles Parks, Gold Medal for Exemplary Contributions to the Arts
  • Louise Chambers Corkan, Governor’s Award for Merit in the Arts