Our Staff

Michael A. Nelson, Executive Director
After several years with Walt Disney organization, Ringling Bros., Radio, Television and various Sheraton Hotels and Resorts, Mike became the Managing Director of the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in Hollywood California while serving on the host committee of the Hollywood 100th anniversary celebrations. While Managing Director, Mike lead the operating and constructions teams through a $30 million renovation while continuing operations within the hotel. Shortly after the Roosevelt’s grand reopening, Hilton Hotels Hawaii offered the position to relocate to Hawaii as Director of Marketing for the rebranding of the Hilton Hawaiian Village and opening of the Ali’i Tower.

Upon arriving in Honolulu, Mike embarked on repositioning of the Hilton Hawaiian Village; the opening of the new Ali’i Tower and oversight for three other Hilton properties in Hawaii which led to an opportunity with his own event-destination management company providing meeting and convention services and producing special events. Mike has worked with a variety of partners in the Hawaii travel industry, producing events such as the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona, Ko Olina Triathlon and working with the Ko Olina resort master developer’s multimillion dollar plans for a world class resort.

After years of traveling to and from Volcano, Mike commenced building a home with plans to become an active member of the Volcano community. Joining the Volcano Art Center team is truly an excellent opportunity to support the many varied artists in Volcano while contributing to the center’s future.

Cheryl Wilson, Program Coordinator
Cheryl holds a BA in Communication Arts from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. Before joining VAC, Cheryl was the Production Manager and Producer for Paradise Television on Maui, where she produced videos and commercials for the Visitor Channel, Maui resorts and Scenic Hawaii. Prior to that she worked in public relations for several island companies. Cheryl was also a Promotions Manager at KITV and a Producer at KGMB on Oahu. Cheryl and her husband, adventure travel author Brandon Wilson, are avid travelers and long distance trekkers. They have walked across Tibet, climbed Kilimanjaro, completed the Camino de Santiago and most recently hiked the Via Alpina through eight Alpine countries. Cheryl joined VAC in early 2014, assisting with the creation, marketing and coordination of VAC’s educational workshops.

Alyssa Johnasen, Administrative & Program Assistant
Alyssa grew up on the Big Island, spending a great deal of her free time immersed in all of its splendor – from hiking to remote waterfalls and snorkeling in pristine bays, to experiencing close-up lava encounters. She attended both the University of Hawai’i at Hilo and Queens College in New York City, earning her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. A yoga and adventure enthusiast, Alyssa feels there is much more to explore. She joined VAC’s staff in September 2014, managing the membership database, updating VAC’s Web site and social media accounts, managing volunteers for special events, and assisting with programs and workshops.

Emily Catey Weiss,  Gallery Manager 
Emily has years of experience coordinating public art programs and exhibits. She earned a B.F.A. from Ohio State University in 2000, which paved the way for Emily Catey Photography, LLC, which she ran successfully in Hale’iwa on Oahu’s North Shore before moving to the Big Island in 2009. From 2004 to 2009 she was involved in various civic, business and state organization in the revitalization of Honolulu’s Arts District. She also served as President of the Hale’iwa Arts Festival. She joined VAC as Program Director in 2009. Since then, she has held various positions within the organization. Her philosophy is grounded in the belief that cultivating, sustaining and celebrating the arts is essential to a vibrant community.

Angela Applegate, Gallery Sales
Angie has worked at VAC’s gallery since 1994. She truly embodies the spirit of aloha through her warm, outgoing nature. She has established long-term relationships with many repeat gallery visitors, who seek her out and see Volcano as being a part of their lives and memories. She enjoys working with a variety of artists who are inspired by Hawai’i’s landscape and rich cultural influences.

Alison Beddow, Gallery Sales
Alison is familiar to all of our regular gallery visitors, having been a key part of our gallery team since 1994. She is particularly knowledgeable about the various techniques used by the artists we represent.

Claire Nolan, Gallery Sales
Claire was born and raised on the East Coast but has been a Hawai’i resident since the 1980s. She has always possessed a great appreciation for art and artists. On her travels in Southern France and Italy she recognized how the natural landscapes inspired the masters. She joined VAC’s gallery sales team in 2001, shortly after moving to Volcano from Maui. She especially enjoys sharing the inspiration behind the artwork with residents and visitors.