Local residents serving on the TFAC Board

 “Our resourceful, seasoned leaders and our knowledgeable and experienced new members bring depth and perspective as well as an understanding of the arts and our community to the Board table,” said TFAC Executive Director Marianne Carruth.  “As we move forward out of the pandemic, I am grateful for their vision to help re-open with strength.”

Creative arts and community leadership at Tryon Fine Arts Center continue as the Board of Directors welcomes a new President, Vice President, Past President, and two new members at large to the team.  The Board of this 52-year-old nonprofit is comprised of business, educational, cultural, and philanthropic leaders representing a broad range of experience and expertise to oversee the management of the facility.

“Most importantly, I want to thank TFAC’s many donors and patrons for the strength of their ongoing support. They are truly the bedrock upon which TFAC was built and will continue to thrive.”

The President of the Board is Bob Penfold.  Bob has been a TFAC board member since 2017. He enjoyed a 40+-year career in the financial services industry with stopovers in 9 different cities along the way. His final position was in Atlanta as a Managing Director with Prudential Private Capital. Bob and his wife Susan have had a home in Tryon since 2006. During that time, they have been active volunteers with many local non-profit organizations.  Regarding his role as President, Bob says, “I thank the TFAC Board for giving me the opportunity to partner with them as we continue to lead TFAC through the many challenges presented by the pandemic.”

“I am grateful to be included on this dedicated Board as we strive to fulfill our mission for the community!  As true with our latest facility addition, TOGETHER we will make it happen!”

Sue Truitt, Vice-President, returned to the TFAC Board in 2020.  Upstate residents since 2006, Sue and her husband Dave have been involved in many area equestrian and arts activities.  Previously Sue had a career in Development with the State of Florida. In 1999, she pursued her dream career as a certified horse trainer and instructor. Sue recently retired from North Greenville University as an Adjunct Professor of Biology/Animal Science.  When asked her thoughts regarding Board membership, Sue says, “Being involved with Tryon Fine Arts Center has been one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the facility and its various exceptional offerings, Marianne Carruth and the staff, volunteers, donors, and patrons together make TFAC such an enjoyable and valuable asset to our community!”

Serving as Past President after serving 3 years as President is Tara Brannon. Of his predecessor, Bob Penfold says, “I want to acknowledge the superb job done by Tara as TFAC’s President.  In addition to normal duties, she oversaw the construction and completion of the Pavilion addition. Then the last year of her term brought the pandemic. Tara’s strong and rapid responses, many involving tough decisions, put TFAC in a position to weather the financial and organizational stresses we faced.”

New to the Board since the Covid-19 shutdown are Gwen Suesse and Melvin Cox.

“I am honored to join the TFAC board.  Tryon just would not be “Tryon” without Tryon Fine Arts Center, a facility that would be the envy of many large cities”

Gwen has been active in the arts community in Tryon since moving here in 1999, and has volunteered with various local nonprofit organizations. A former music teacher and choral director, she is also an author and life coach. Most recently, Gwen spent twelve years as President of Tryon Concert Association, shepherding that organization into the digital era. She was also a key member of the Tryon Fine Arts Center Capital Campaign Committee. Regarding TFAC and her service on the Board, Gwen says, “TFAC serves as an essential hub for our community, offering a vast array of cultural and social activities. I look forward to working with TFAC’s steadfast staff and dedicated board members.”

“I am deeply honored to work with TFAC and hope to bring a diverse, international perspective to the organization.”

Melvin and his wife, Pamela, have recently moved to Polk County where they have hosted the annual Day of the African Equestrian Gala and the Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sport.  During a multi-faceted forty-six-year career, Melvin found success as a television producer, educator, and technologist. An avid student of media and international relations, he is a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is a co-founder of the Focus on Africa program at UCSC’s Merrill College. He has been a member of the Alameda County Steering Committee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California and was active on the Bay Area Africa Initiative steering committee.

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