New Members Join VIAC Board/Advisory Council

(Christiansted, St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands – October 18, 2021) — The Virgin Islands Architecture Center for Built Heritage and Crafts, Inc. (VIAC) continues its mission as a catalyst for growth and development in the St. Croix community.  Recently, the VIAC team elected a new Board of Directors and Advisory Council to govern the organization for the next three years, as it moves forward with its goals for the revitalization of Virgin Islands towns.

New and Re-elected Board Members

Mary O’Reilly Dema – was re-elected Board President. Originally from Rhode Island, Mary has lived on St. Croix since the mid-70s.  As an entrepreneur, she has owned and managed two iconic Christiansted businesses, Tranberg Travel in the 70s and 80s and Quin House Galleries from 1989 through 2014.  Mary is a founding member of the Christiansted Community Alliance and since 2018, first treasurer and now Board President of VIAC.

Donna Christian-Christensenis the newly elected Board Vice President. The Honorable Donna M. Christian-Christensen served the Virgin Islands as a family doctor and health care administrator for over 20 years before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and serving as Virgin Islands Delegate to Congress from 1997 to 2014.  Dr. Christensen served on the House Committees of Energy and Commerce; Natural Resources and Subcommittees on Parks and Insular Affairs; Small Business and Homeland Security.  Her public service to the Virgin Islands includes past tenure with the Queen Louise Home, St. Croix Environmental Association, Women’s Coalition of St. Croix, Central High PTA, Caribbean Dance Company and Faith Moravian Church. She recently established the Christensen Institute for Community Health and Empowerment; she chairs the IGT Scientific, Academic and Medical Council and is a board member of Consumers4QualityCare.

Jerri Weber Farrante – is the newly elected Board Secretary.  With a degree in economics, Jerri returned to her home island of St. Croix after the devastation of Hurricane Hugo to help in the rebuilding.  Jerri has managed the Law Office of Joel H. Holt for over 25 years. Jerri has an MBA from the University of Phoenix and shares the goal of seeing the historic towns of St. Croix revived and rejuvenated. She is a married mother of three.

Christiana Williams – is the newly elected Board Treasurer.  As President and CEO of Bank of St. Croix – United Fidelity Bank, Christiana manages branch operations on St. Croix.  A native Virgin Islander, she started her banking career at Barclays Bank in 1989 and since its founding in 1995, has worked in various capacities at Bank of St. Croix to include retail and electronic banking, executive administration, human resources, operations, and compliance.  Christiana has a B.A. from Allegheny College and has completed training in consumer and residential mortgage lending and commercial lending at Southern Methodist University and bank management training through the American Bankers Association.

Bo Manderup-Jensen – was re-elected as a VIAC board member.  Bo is President and CEO of EU Consult International; Member of the Municipal Council of Vordingborg, Denmark, Chair of Denmark’s Liberal Democracy Programme, DLDP, former President of UNESCO Denmark, Former Director General and Chief of Staff of the European Parliament and Director at the European Commission.

Dr. Chenzira Davis-Kahina is a newly elected VIAC board member. Dr. Davis-Kahina is the Managing Director of Per Ankh Khamniversity Institute that promotes Culture, Healing, Arts, Technology and Spirituality for Life, Inspiration, Freedom and Education (CHATS4LIFE©) and works as the Director of the Virgin Islands Caribbean Cultural Center and adjunct faculty at the University of the Virgin Islands. Dr. Chen as she is known is an educator, artist, cultural and community activist, mother, and grandmother. She is President of St. Croix Toastmasters Club #933 and Vice-President of the Caribbean Studies Association. She served on VIAC’s advisory board from 2018 to 2021.

Robert “Bobby” Schuster is a newly elected board member.  As a Math and Technology Educator for 34 years and an entrepreneur, Bobby brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the mechanical, electronic, electrical and telecommunications fields.  He has extensive hands-on knowledge in computer science, computer education, information technology, multimedia, and hypermedia environments, drafting, graphic design and simulation. A Vietnam veteran, Bobby who holds a Bachelor of Science in Math and Physics and an MBA, he is a problem solver accomplished in logistics, contract negotiation, general project management and operations.  He is fluent in English and Spanish.

New and Re-elected Advisory Council Members

Roland E. Roebuck is the retired Multicultural Programs Director at the DC Department of Human Services.  Roland is active an active member of the Virgin Islands Social History Associates, the UVI Caribbean Cultural Center, and the Afro-Latino Caucus.

Deanna James is the President of the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development.  She serves on the Board of Directors of the Southeastern Council of Foundations.

Garth Rockcastle is a founding principal of MSR Design and leader of its Maryland Branch office.  He has served as a Professor and Head of Architecture at the University of Minnesota and Dean of Architecture at the University of Maryland.

Frandelle Gerard is the Executive Director of the Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism (CHANT).  She has served on the Public Finance Authority, the West Indian Company, the St. Croix Foundation for Community Development, the Caribbean Dance Company, the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix.  She is a former advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

John Paul Huguley is the founder of the American College of Building Arts in Charleston, South Carolina. He is the Principal of Building Art, a for profit company that connects the graduates of the American College of Building Arts with clients in need of their expertise.  Building Art designs and builds with time tested techniques, materials, and craftsmanship.

Gerville Larsen is the owner of TALLER LARJAS, LLC, an architecture firm and art gallery located in Christiansted, St.Croix. He is a V.I. Registered Architect and a member of the American Institute of Architects. He is presently a National Trust for Historic Preservation Advisor, a member of the St. Croix Historic Preservation Committee and a former Chair of the St. Croix Landmarks Society. 

Mogens Morgen is a Professor of Architecture at the Aarhus School of Architecture in Denmark.

Arne Hoj is head of the Royal Danish Academy School of Architecture’s Institute of Architecture and Culture.

Birthe Luel Formand is President of the Historic Houses of Denmark, which provided seed money for the In Search of Identity project.

Monica Marin has just been named the Territorial Chief Curator for the Virgin Islands. She is a curator, artist, educator, arts administrator, grant writer and creative place maker. She is the former Special Projects Coordinator at the Department of Public Works.

Stephanie Chalana Brown is the Director of Virgin Islands Cultural Education at the Virgin Islands Department of Education.  Chalana is a photographer and cinematographer whose work explores coloniality and identity in the Caribbean, especially in that of her native Virgin Islands.

Ulla Lund is an architect and author of “When Architecture Tells the Story,” An illustrated large-format book on the architectural heritage of the Virgin Islands of the United States.

Bente Ahlefeldt-Laurvig-Bille is Vice Chairman of the Plessenske Selsoe Foundation in Denmark and Board Member of the Historical Houses of Denmark, a Board Member of Round Tower, Copenhagen, and Church Deacon at the Trinity Church of Copenhagen.  Bente is the former National Expert for the Danish Ministry of Education concerning EU educational programs.

Michael Keldsen is an attorney and Member of the Danish West Indian Society of Denmark.

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