Staff and Volunteers

AX‘s success hinges on hard work and support from our local community – we can offer great programming because we have great staff and volunteers.

Our volunteers help in countless ways, but here are a few examples:

  • Serve on committees
  • Help coordinate events
  • Greet gallery visitors
  • Promote arts and culture programming

Yes, I’d like to volunteer with AX!

Our Staff

Jane Simpson, BA  Executive and Artistic Director

Jane has worked extensively in marketing and communications in both the private and public sector. She holds a Bachelor Degree in Honours English from the University of New Brunswick as well as a Certificate in Business Communications from St. Mary’s University. Jane is also an award-winning writer and a Board Member of the Writers’ Federation of New Brunswick (WFNB).

Laura MacInnis-Fulton, BA – Fund Development and Business Officer

Laura MacInnis-Fulton has a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism from St. Thomas University and worked in the newspaper industry for 12 years as a reporter and managing editor that included efforts promoting the arts. She previously did writing for non-profit agencies. In her spare time, Laura is a supporter of the province’s art, music, theatre, and film scene including involvement in the NB Film Co-op.

Matt Cripps, BA – Ceramics Coordinator

Matt Cripps is a potter and ceramic artist. Born and raised in Miramichi, Matt moved to Fredericton where he completed a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Art through St. Thomas University, and a Diploma in Fine Craft: Ceramics, and Certificate in Advanced Studio Practice from the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design.

Rian Drury – Programming and Administration Assistant

Rian Drury, our part time Programming and Administration Assistant, is the newest addition to the AX Team. Rian joined us in October 2021, just before the end of our fiscal year, and has already made herself invaluable. Rian looks after our programming schedule and acts as a liaison between artists and AX, preparing and managing contracts and coordinating everything from exhibition installations and strikes to music concerts and literary readings. Rian has learned a lot in a short period of time, and we’re already counting on her skills to help keep us organized and on track.

Our Volunteer Board of Directors

Mary Lea Stafford, MAEd – President

Mary Lea Stafford obtained a BA from Mount Allison University in 1975 with a major in history and a music minor, in 1976 a Bachelor of Education from Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, and in 1994 a Master of Education from UNB in Fredericton. Mary Lea retired from teaching in 2006 as the Principal of Sussex Elementary, having taught at elementary schools in Rothesay, Sussex Corner, Apohaqui and Sussex for 30 years. She is currently on the Board of the Sussex Public Library and is a former board member of the Sussex Area Community Foundation. Mary Lea is the choir director of St Paul’s United Church and chair of their Worship Committee, and is an active member of the Sussex Golf and Curling Club and Class Act.

Donna Floyd-Hanson – Vice President

Donna graduated from UNB Saint John in 1999 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and obtained her CGA designation in 2002. Donna has worked in the accounting industry for more than 20 years, in both industry and public accounting, and in 2009, she opened an accounting firm of her own. Donna is actively involved in her community, currently serving on the Board of the Sussex Regional Library as well as past Chair and Treasurer of the Sussex Area Community Foundation Inc. When she’s not in the office, Donna loves baking and spending time with her husband Derrick as well as family and friends.

Stephanie Coburn – Secretary

Stephanie has retired from gainful employment and spends her time gardening, cooking, reading, quilting and thinking about where we are going to end up if we don’t take climate chaos and plastic pollution seriously. She is very happy to be involved in the important work of our beautiful Arts Centre, and proud to see this project contribute so positively to the life of our community. She and her husband raised three children; they have three grandchildren, and still watch grass-fed beef grow on their beloved Spring Meadows Farm.

Mark Webster – Treasurer

Mark Webster graduated from Acadia University in 1982 with Bachelor of Business Administration. After successful careers in Sales (Midland Transport/Cavendish Farms, and the Paper Industry (Rolland Inc/Graphic Papers), Mark entered the investment business in 1991 where he spent the next 30 years working with clientele in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. He sold his practice and retired from Scotia McLeod in 2021. Mark enjoys being active playing hockey and golf, and other general fitness activities, and has enjoyed a growing interest in both music and visual arts. A strong proponent of “giving back” and “paying it forward”, Mark has sat on a number of different boards/committees, including Sussex Area Community Foundation, St. Paul’s United Church and Sussex Golf and Curling Club.

Erin McKenna – Director

​Erin McKenna was fortunate to grow up in a small town that promoted the arts, St. Andrews, NB. In her formative years, Erin’s summers were filled with courses at Sunbury Shores Arts & Nature Centre. This allowed her to try her hand at pottery, batik, weaving, studies in pond life and along the seashore. Skip ahead a few decades and she was living in Winnipeg, volunteering with the Manitoba Crafts Council. It was here that she got “hooked” on rug hooking through one of the Guild workshops, and so for the past 30 years she has been rug hooking, more or less consistently, as she raised her family and worked on the family farm.

Erin is a Board Member of the Hooked Rug Museum of North America and Curator of the New Brunswick Gallery. She is a member of the Nova Scotia Rug Hooking Guild, The National Guild of Pearl McGown Rug Hookrafters (U.S.A.), The International Guild of Handhooking Rugmakers and several other rug hooking organizations. Locally, she is a member of the Sussex Tearoom Rug Hookers and the Carnegie Rug Hookers in Saint John.

Peter Powning, D.Litt, RCA – Director

Peter has been active in arts and culture organizations for more than forty years. His work has been exhibited on six continents and he has an active studio practice producing public art commissions and gallery exhibitions. Peter is a founding director of AX, was on the founding board and vice president of ArtsLink (Arts Association of New Brunswick) from 2008 – 2012, on the Advisory Council of the NB College of Craft and Design 2011 – 2015, as well as the New Brunswick Arts Board as vice-chair 1990 – 1991 and the Premier’s Advisory Committee for the Arts, 1987 – 88.

Peter is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for High Achievement in the Arts, 2017, the 2006 Bronfman Governor General’s Award, and an honorary doctorate from UNB in 2014.

Sloane Ryan – Director

Before joining the AX staff in late 2017 as an Administrative Assistant and Gallery Docent, Sloane attended StFX University where she served as the president of X Pride, a student-led LGBTQ+ advocacy society. Now in Sussex full time, Sloane works as a brewer at the local microbrewery Sussex
Ale Works, continues to participate as a member of the AX Creative Writing Group, and serves as a board member for the Sussex Downtown Business Association.

Joe Waugh – Director

Joe is the owner of J. Waugh Construction Ltd., a residential construction company specializing in energy efficient construction. One of New Brunswick’s first R-2000 builders, Joe has presented training sessions across Canada on a wide range of technical topics related to housing. He is past national chair of the Canadian Home Builders Association’s Technical Research Committee, winner of the Cement Association of Canada’s 2004 award for the most energy efficient R-2000 house in Canada, and a former energy advisor at Efficiency NB and NB Power Energy Efficiency Services.

Heather McCaig – Director

Heather McCaig is a flameworked glass artist from Ontario, who now lives near Sussex, New Brunswick. In 2019 she transitioned from her production glass line to creating one of a kind fine craft. Heather has received a scholarship to the Pittsburgh Glass Center in the United States and generous support from the New Brunswick Arts Board. In August of 2021, Heather displayed her gallery series titled Shadows, a statement about Canada’s threatened ecosystems and the climate crisis at AX: The Arts and Culture Centre of Sussex. This exhibition was selected by Canadian Heritage and the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture to represent New Brunswick at the Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt, Germany. Heather’s upcoming solo exhibition Together we Bloom will be on display at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in November, 2022. Heather is an active board member and the secretary with the New Brunswick Crafts Council (Craft NB).

Emily O’Donnell, BA-Bed – Director

Emily O’Donnell has recently completed her post-secondary studies, graduating this year with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Education from Université de Moncton. During her time at university, Emily was involved in many groups and associations on campus, as well as with organizations such as French for the Future and Canadian Parents for French. Having previously been a summer student and part-time employee at AX, she is excited to continue being involved in the arts community while beginning her career in education.