Board of Directors
Ria G. Hawks, President & COFOUNDER
Prior to full-time devotion to SAORI Arts NYC, Ria was a pediatric nurse practitioner at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of NY Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC). Her focus was providing palliative and curative care for children with cancer and life-threatening hematological diseases.Throughout her career, she has been an advocate for integrative therapies, including interventions that promote healing.
Ria recognized that SAORI weaving could decrease stress and anxiety as well as enhance self-expression and coping skills. She established a SAORI weaving program, which was adaptable to different developmental, physical, and emotional needs, in the pediatric hematology/oncology clinic at CUMC. As an adjunct professor at Bank Street Graduate School of Education, Ria shares her expertise with child life students. She also volunteers in the Arts in Medicine Studio, in the Pediatric Neurology Clinic at CUMC.
Maurine Packard, M.D., Treasurer
Maurine is a retired pediatric neurologist whose private practice was affiliated with New York- Presbyterian Hospital Weill-Cornell Medical School. Reflecting her previous careers as a general pediatrician then child development specialist, Maurine’s focus was on assisting families with children who had severe developmental disabilities and brain injuries access therapies that enabled each child to reach his or her full potential.
She discovered the uniqueness of SAORI when she began weaving and was immediately drawn to this joyful, contemplative art form. She was impressed with the ease with which young children learned to weave on the SAORI loom, how involved and focused they became in the weaving process, and how proud they were of their creations. She recognized how accessible this technique would be for individuals with a variety of disabilities. In particular, the SAORI loom can be modified to accommodate those with motor challenges, her primary interest.
Brandy Godsil, Cofounder
Brandy graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art with a BFA in Fiber Art and a Fashion Design Concentration. She moved to NYC in 2009 and began working as a fashion designer and couturier. She worked for such fashion houses as Etro, Marni, Isaac Mizrahi Couture, and other tailoring agencies in the U.S. and abroad.
From her first SAORI weaving session, Brandy recognized the significant benefits SAORI provides for people with disabilities and found a serendipitous match. In 2015, she spearheaded a successful collaboration between people with disabilities in Japan and fashion designers in NYC. Brandy also introduced the SAORI method to her nonverbal autistic brother Gary.
Jane comes to SAORI Arts NYC after years as a museum educator and developer of family exhibitions. She created a consulting business with a client base that included such institutions as Children’s Museum of Manhattan, Princeton University, University of Rochester, New York Public Library, Prospect Park Audubon Center, and Romare Bearden Foundation. Jane has extensive experience with diverse audiences--toddlers to tweens; underserved communities; and people with special needs—and a passion for nurturing the uniqueness and potential of people of all ages and abilities.
She began to weave during a particularly stressful time in her own life, was impressed by the therapeutic effect of SAORI weaving, and wanted to share its benefits with others. Jane is an ArtWorks Teaching Artist and weaves with patients and their families in the SAORI program in the pediatric oncology/hematology clinic at New York-Presbyterian Hospital CUMC.
Marcia retired after a long career in both for-profit and nonprofit marketing communications. Her avocation has always been fiber arts. She worked as a manager in advertising/public relations agencies and as a vice president and manager of communications in Citicorp’s Corporate Finance Division. In the nonprofit sector, Marcia worked at Beth Israel Medical Center as a public relations manager and at the UJA-Federation of New York as a senior project manager in its Management Assistance Program, a department that recruits and matches skills-based volunteer consultants with UJA-Federation’s network of 100 agencies to solve their most pressing business, management, marketing, and technical issues.
A SAORI weaver herself, Marcia is pleased to be working with SAORI Arts NYC to bring this unique art form to nonprofit organizations that support the needs of a mentally and physically challenged population.