Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts Announces New Board Leadership, Members

Outgoing President Howard Graf (left) and New President James S. J. Liao

The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts (FCCA) elected a new president and leadership team, and named several new members during its annual meeting on June 22, 2016. Effective July 1, 2016, the new President of the 11-member Board of Directors is Jim Liao. On July 21st, 2016, FCCA hosted a reception at Flushing Town Hall to welcome the new Board Members to the community, and honor past President Howard Graf.

“It is bittersweet for me to be stepping down as President of this wonderful organization that I have led for many years, but I am confident that the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts is headed in a very positive direction,” said outgoing President Howard Graf, who is remaining on the board. “I find that FCCA’s variety of performing arts from around the globe and the exposure of these programs to young people is very attractive. Flushing Town Hall has a bright future ahead.”

“I want to thank Howard Graf for his many years of service as President of the FCCA Board. He has put in so much work to bring this organization to where it is today,” said incoming President Jim Liao. “I very much look forward to working with the leadership at Flushing Town Hall to continue to provide global arts to the global community of Queens and beyond.”

James S. J. Liao is an entrepreneur and consultant with a diverse range of experience in the business as well as the non-profit sector. He is president of Salem Consultants Inc., a management consulting firm performing financial and business advisory services, as well as an adjunct professor lecturing on International Business at Skidmore College. A long-time VP of Finance at the Municipal Arts Society of New York, Jim was also a VP at the Crossings TV station, which fulfills the entertainment and information needs of Asian American communities providing programming in Chinese, South Asian, Filipino, and Russian. He is the co-founder and producer of a new comedy series “Laff Lab” at Flushing Town Hall. Jim served as Treasurer on the board of FCCA since 2011.

FCCA is a multi-disciplinary arts presenting organization based in the 154-year-old landmark Flushing Town Hall, located in Flushing, Queens, the heart of one of the most diverse communities in the country. Flushing Town Hall presents “Global Arts for a Global Community”, an incredibly diverse array of music, dance, theater and visual arts that is representative of the surrounding communities, as well as high-quality arts education and family programs that open a window to the world for young audiences.

The board is comprised of committed, passionate arts, community, and business leaders who help expand and shape FCCA’s future mission and programming, develop new audiences and attract new funding streams. Members serve three years terms, and all officers’ terms are one year. The FCCA continues to seek new members, encouraging anyone wishing to apply to contact Executive and Artistic Director Ellen Kodadek at ekodadek@flushingtownhall.org or 718-463-7700 ext. 225.

Returning Vice President Veronica Tsang, who serves as Executive Vice President and Chief Retail Administrator at Cathay Bank, is now being joined by Bill McClure, Dean at Queens College, as the new Board Treasurer, and Mike Sperendi, Attorney at Limoncelli, Sperendi + Li, as the new Board Secretary.

The FCCA additionally appointed several new Board members: Simon Gerson, Managing Principal, Gerson Properties, and President, Greater Flushing Chamber of Commerce; Raymond Jasen, Principal, KPMG New York Financial Services; and, Barbara Garii, newly elected Vice President of Academic Affairs at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn and a Jackson Heights resident.

“Flushing, Queens represents the rich cultural diversity that makes New York City the most dynamic place on earth,” said Mr. Gerson. “The mission of The Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts, to be an accessible home for the presentation and exploration of global cultures, deepens that diversity and strengthens our community.”

“I love the diversities of cultures, communities, and artistic experiences that Flushing Town Hall brings together,” said Ms. Garii. “I want to help extend and expand the experiences that Flushing Town Hall offers to the communities it serves and I want to make sure that these experiences flourish for years to come.”

“I grew up in Flushing, living there from 1971-1991, and working at the Baskin Robbins on Main Street. I always loved the beauty of Flushing Town Hall and, in fact, celebrated my birthday there in the late ‘70’s.” said Mr. Jasen. “As someone who has always been active in the New York arts community, the ability to be involved in supporting the arts in my hometown is irresistible.  I am very honored to be able to help the incredibly talented team at the Flushing Council on Culture and the Arts continue the amazing work they have been doing at Flushing Town Hall for many years. “

Here’s the complete list of the Board of Directors.


Mr. James S. J. Liao, President, Salem Consultants Inc. (President)

Ms. Veronica Y. Tsang, EVP, Chief Retail Administrator, Cathay Bank (Vice President)

Mr. William McClure, Dean, Divison of Arts/Humanities, Queens College, (Treasurer)

Mr. Michael Sperendi, Partner, Limoncelli, Sperendi + Li (Secretary)



Ms. Barbara Garii, Ph.D., Vice President, St. Joseph’s College

Mr. Simon Gerson, Principle, Gerson Properties

Mr. Howard Graf, Partner, Graf and Lewent Architects

Ms. Heather P. Harrison, Counsel, Farrell Fritz, P.C.

Mr. Raymond Jasen, Principal-NY Financial Services-Banking & Capital Markets, KPMG, LLP

Mr. Nelson Lee, Vice-President, Branch Manager, Flushing Bank

Ms. Georgiana Reese-Benatti, Community Relations Director, New York Community Bank


Ms. Carol Conslato, Director, Queens Public Affairs, Con Edison

Mr. Jonathan D. White

Mr. Robert White, Vice President, AKRF, Inc.

Ex-Officio Representatives

Hon. Bill de Blasio, Mayor, City of New York

Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, Speaker, New York City Council

Mr. Tom Finkelpearl, Commissioner, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs

Hon. Melinda Katz, Borough President, Queens

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