Board of Governors

Jim Benson

Mr. Benson’s success in the business world and his impactful service to society is the result of his leadership, foresight, and commitment to excellence. Under his direction as a former Chairman of the UIF Board of Directors’  Campaign Executive Committee, the University of Illinois recently completed the extremely successful Brilliant Futures Campaign by raising a record $2.5 billion and breaking all campaign goals. Jim’s leadership within the United States Olympic Committee, his brilliant career in the financial industry, and his devotion to the University of Illinois are truly admirable.” Mr. Benson is the founder and chairman of Benson Botsford, LLC, a private investment firm. Previously he served as president and chief executive officer of John Hancock Life Insurance Company, a division of Manulife Financial. Prior to joining Hancock in 2002, Mr. Benson was President of MetLife’s Individual Business enterprise, which manufactures and distributes insurance and investment products. During his tenure at the Met Companies, he was Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Boston-based New England  Financial as well as Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of GenAmerica Financial Corporation. Before joining the Met Companies in 1997, he held the dual position of President and Chief Operating Officer of Equitable Companies, Inc., and was Chief Executive Officer of its flagship life insurance operation, Equitable Life Assurance Society. Mr. Benson began his career in the life insurance business with Pacific Life. He later served as one of the  partners of the MCG-LA (now Mullin Consulting), developing insurance programs for some of America’s largest corporations. He is the former director and a long-term member of AALU, as well as a Life and Qualifying member of MDRT. 

Mr. Benson holds a BA in Economics from the University of Illinois and a MBA from the University of Southern  California. Mr. Benson received the University of Illinois Alumni Achievement Award in 2010 and the University of Illinois College of LAS Alumni Achievement Award in 2006. He established the James M. Benson Professorship in  Public Issues and Civic Leadership and the James M. Benson Professorship in English, both in the College of LAS at Illinois. 

Jason Donofrio, Board Chair

Board of Governors

Jason Donofrio is a Phoenix native with a decade of experience fundraising, organizing and coordinating public  campaigns. After graduating college Jason went on to work for public advocacy and environmental organizations in Arizona, Maryland, Vermont and Colorado, leading teams as large as sixty on crucial campaigns affecting environmental conservation, civic engagement, consumer protection and higher education affordability. As a Director of various development departments, he has helped oversee multi-million dollar fundraising campaigns, develop and advocate public policy, and has experience cultivating donors to support organizational programs. 

Jason holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Arizona State University and is passionate about making a positive  difference in our society. He spends his free time enjoying the outdoors and volunteering in the community. In  2008 he embarked on a life-changing experience, spending the summer working on a sustainable farm in the village of Have, Ghana, where he developed a profound appreciation for environmental conservation.

Sarah Herda

As director of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies, Ms. Herda restored the Foundation’s founding vision to produce a robust, free public program composed of seminal work by pathbreaking artists and  practitioners from around the world who are operating at the intersection of architecture and the arts. She levered the international grantmaking program and public program in Chicago to focus on the development  and dissemination of risk-taking, experimental ideas that collectively redefine and expand our understanding  of the designed environment. In addition, under Ms. Herda’s leadership, they also successfully extended  global support of individuals and organizations to Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East, and  developed concentrated, ongoing support, to a cohort of grantees in cities such as Mexico City. In 2017 they  launched a fellowship program to commission new work by artists, to debut in an exhibition in Chicago and  travel internationally. Through extensive civic engagement, Ms. Herda also instrumentalized the  organization’s expertise and program to shape city-wide programs, initiatives, and global platforms, such as  the Chicago Architecture Biennial. 

Eddie Jones

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Edward (Eddie) Jones, with his business partner and brother Neal, was raised in the oil fields of Oklahoma. From a  very early age the two brothers aspired to be architects and share a studio. 

Eddie was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1949 and moved to Arizona in 1973 after graduating from Oklahoma State  University. Eddie became the Lead Designer at Lescher & Mahoney, Arizona’s oldest architecture firm, where he  worked for five years. He founded Jones Studio on June 8, 1979, three months before his 30th birthday. It was not  until years later, he realized he had begun his professional career on the birthday of his two major heroes…Frank  Lloyd Wright and Bruce Goff. 

Eddie’s persistence and innovation has expanded the palette of materials and methods available throughout  Arizona. His long-standing implementation of sustainability and environmental design, matched with an  extraordinary sensitivity to the factors that create space, has improved the experiences of those that occupy, and  moreover, the spaces occupied. 

Chris Koch

Board of Governors

Chris Koch serves as the Chief Executive Officer of Carlisle Companies Inc., a Charlotte, North Carolina-based  company that designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of products that serve a broad range of niche  markets including commercial roofing, energy, agriculture, mining, construction, aerospace and defense  electronics, medical technology, foodservice, healthcare, sanitary maintenance, transportation, general industrial,  protective coating, wood, specialty and auto refinishing. He previously served as President and Chief Operating  Officer of the company, and in 2005 led the acquisition and integration of Carlisle’s $600 million purchase of the  Finishing Brands business from Graco Inc., his former employer. Koch joined Carlisle in 2008 as President for the  Asia Pacific region, and in 2009 was named President of Carlisle Brake and Friction. 

Prior to Carlisle, Koch was Vice President and General Manager of Asia Operations at Graco Inc. He was also  previously VP and Business Unite Manager at Foster Products Corporation. Earlier in his career, Koch served as  President of TEC Inc. at the H.B. Fuller Company.

Jack Lee

Jack Lee

Jack was an apprentice with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin from May 1958 to May 1960. Following his time at  Taliesin, Jack worked for Gunner Birkerts Associates in Birmingham Michigan from 1960 until 1963. Jack then  became Vice President of Alden B. Dow / Dow Howell Gilmore Architects in Midland Michigan and West Palm  Beach Florida from 1963 to 2007. Jack has been registered in planning since 1974 and was appointed by Governor  Engler to the Michigan State Board of Community Planners. 

In 2000 Jack joined the Taliesin Fellows where he proudly served until 2007. He rejoined the Taliesin Fellows in  2017 and currently serves as the organization’s Vice President. 

Qingyun Ma

Qingyun Ma was born in 1965 in Xi’an, China. He obtained his Bachelor of Architecture degree from Tsinghua  University and his Master of Architecture degree from University of Pennsylvania. He has served as a visiting  professor and critic at renowned institutions such as Harvard University, Columbia University, and University of  Pennsylvania in the United States; and ETH Zurich, Berlage Institute, and Berlin Technical in Europe. From year  2004-2006, he was awarded titles including Architecture Vanguard and New Trends Representative of Architecture  in Europe and Asia. In 2006, Ma was appointed as Dean of School of Architecture at University of Southern  California, becoming the first Chinese dean of a foreign university. He founded American Academy of China, which  received high political and economic attention in 2007. He was invited by the Shenzhen government to be the chief  curator of the 2007 Shenzhen and Hong Kong Bi-city Biennale on Urbanism and Architecture. Since 2009, Ma has  been working as the architecture design consultant for urban development for the city of Los Angeles, and in 2010  was invited by Disney Headquarters in California to be a consultant for Shanghai Disney Project. In 2010, Ma was  named one of the World’s Most Influential Designers together with master architects such as Rem Koohaas and  Zaha Hadid. In year 2010, he was also invited as a member of the Awards Committee of Official Exhibitors for the  2010 Shanghai Expo. 

For business practices, he started his own architectural firm, MADA s.p.a.m. in New York in 1996, and moved the  main office to China in 1999. In the past decades, he has led the design team to yield substantial design results  and complete a vast range of projects making MADA s.p.a.m. a global architecture firm, exemplifying Chinese  contemporary design and practical ability. The company’s works have been successfully exhibited in the Venice  Biennale in 200, Pompidou Art Center in 2003, European Art Year in 2004 and 2005, and Greece Petro in 2006,  among others. MADA s.p.am. has entered in many international competitions and has won many special honors. 

Pablo Moncayo

Pablo Moncayo

Pablo joined the Board of Governors at The School of Architecture in July 2019. He is originally from Chihuahua,  Mexico and moved to Arizona in 2000. In 2015, he graduated from Taliesin-The Frank Lloyd Wright School of  Architecture now The School of Architecture with his M.Arch degree. 

Pablo also serves at the Taliesin Fellows board, the official alumni association for The School of Architecture. 

He currently works at Candelaria Design Associates, a 20 year old luxury residential firm in Scottsdale, AZ. He has experience designing and documenting projects in the higher education market, sports facilities, custom  housing, etc. Pablo is passionate about 3D modeling, making videos, dancing, cooking, working out, and enjoys the  hands-on approach to design. 

Sandra Shane-Dubow, Board Secretary

Board of Governors

Sandra Shane-DuBow is a certified mediator with a practice in alternate dispute resolution.  Trained as a psychologist of law, her research focus was on decision-making and judicial discretion.  She lectured on sentencing and related critical justice issues for over 30 years, served as a principal investigator on major studies of judicial decision-making, and wrote numerous books and articles.  Ms. Shane-DuBow was the executive director of a state agency and the director of the division of law and policy at a non-profit research institute.  She was a research fellow and consultant at the Wisconsin Law School, the US Department of Justice, and the University of Chicago Law School, among others.  During her career she has been active as a board member and/or officer for many not-for-profit organizations.  Her contributions to those boards have been in the areas of administrative oversight, personnel matters, board relations, development, and strategic analysis.  She is a former trustee of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and a former board member of Taliesin Preservation Incorporated as well as the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy.  She is also a member of the Board of Directors of American Players Theatre, and also of Chicago area not-for-profit boards dealing with the arts, architecture, and provision of social services for the indigent.  She has a working farm in the Spring Green, Wisconsin, area.

John Sather

Board of Governors

John Sather is the Managing Partner of Swaback Architects + Planners and has been involved in virtually all of its  award-winning Community Design and Architectural projects for over 40 years. He is a skilled Strategist, Manager,  Land Planner and Architect. 

His land planning involvements include some of the most environmentally sensitive projects in the western United  States, Hawaii and Mexico. He has been involved in community design for both the public and private sectors. As  such, he brings a perspective to planning projects that is extremely helpful in visioning, creating value, analyzing  demand, creating markets, and entitlement strategies. He has been the principal community designer for large  and small-scale projects throughout the United States, Mexico, Asia, Russia, and Saudi Arabia. 

Victor Sidy

Victor Sidy

Victor Sidy, AIA LEED AP, is an architect, educational leader, and advocate for quality in the built environment. He  received his architectural training from the Frank Lloyd wright School of Architecture after receiving the Flinn  Foundation Scholarship and Robert C. Byrd Scholarship. He has worked with artists, architects, and planners in  Russia, the Netherlands, France, Vietnam, and throughout the United States. Mr. Sidy hosted a television series on  architecture for EMG Satellite Television that aired from 1996 to 1998 and was the youngest member of  Architecture Magazine’s 1999 feature “Young Americans.” Mr. Sidy has been managing principal of the  architectural firm Victory Sidy Inc./Victor Sidy Architect since 2000 and is professor of practice for the Master of  Real Estate Development program at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. Mr. Sidy  served as Head of School and Dean of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Scottsdale, Arizona and  Spring Green, Wisconsin from 2005 to 2015. 

Nader Tehrani

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Photo courtesy of Carmen Maldonado

For his contributions to architecture as an art, Nader Tehrani is the recipient of the 2020 Arnold W. Brunner Memorial Prize from The American Academy of Arts and Letters, to which he was also elected as a Member in 2021, the highest form of recognition of artistic merit in The United States. Nader Tehrani is the Dean of The Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at The Cooper Union in New York. He was previously a professor of architecture at MIT, where he served as the Head of the Department from 2010-2014. He is also Principal of NADAAA, a practice dedicated to the advancement of design innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, and an intensive dialogue with the construction industry. 

Tehrani received a B.F.A. and a B.Arch from The Rhode Island School of Design in 1985 and 1986 respectively. He continued his studies at The Architectural Association, where he attended the Post-Graduate program in History and Theory. Upon his return to The United States, Tehrani received his M.A.U.D from The Harvard Graduate School of Design in 1991.

Tehrani has taught at The Harvard Graduate School of Design, Rhode Island School of Design, The Georgia Institute of Technology, where he served as the Thomas W. Ventulett III Distinguished Chair in Architectural Design, and The University of Toronto’s Department of Architecture where he served as the Frank O. Gehry International Visiting Chair in Architectural Design, Landscape and Design. He also recently served as the William A. Bernoudy Architect in Residence at The American Academy in Rome and the inaugural Paul Helmle Fellow at California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.

Tehrani has lectured widely at institutions including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, Harvard University, Princeton University and the Architectural Association. The works of Nader Tehrani have been widely exhibited at MOMA, LA MOCA and ICA Boston. His work is also part of the permanent collection of the Canadian Center for Architecture and the Nasher Sculpture Center. His work has been published in a variety of journals internationally which reflect his research on materiality, fabrication and tectonics. Tehrani’s work has been exhibited at institutions including the Museum of Modern Art, the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, LA MoCA, and is part of the permanent exhibit at the Nasher and the Canadian
Center for Architecture.

Tehrani’s work has been recognized with notable awards, including eighteen Progressive Architecture Awards, a finalist for the 2017 Moriyama RAIC International Prize, and a nominee for the 2017 Marcus Prize for Architecture. Other honors include: a 2014 Holcim Foundation Sustainability Award, the 2007 Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award in Architecture, the 2007 United States Artists Award, USA Target Fellows AD award, and two Harleston Parker Medals. Over the past seven years, NADAAA has consistently ranked as a top design firm in Architect Magazine's Top 50 U.S. Firms List, ranking as First three of those years.

Joyen Vakil

Board of Governors

Joyen Vakil has recently joined the Bally’s Corporation as the Senior Vice President of Design & Development to lead design and construction efforts for multi billion dollars new build projects.  In addition, he will also be responsible for heading the CapEx program at 14 of the company owned resorts

Joyen is the CEO of Pluum Design, a consulting firm he founded to share his nearly 30 years of design and development experience with visionaries focused on hospitality, gaming and large scale, mixed-used development projects. Joyen is a licensed architect in Nevada and is NCARB certified. 

Prior to pursuing his entrepreneurial passions, he built a successful 18+ year management career at MGM Resorts International, most recently serving as the Senior Vice President of Design & Development. In this role Joyen was instrumental in leading teams for the development of multi-billion dollar, ground up development projects, such as CityCenter, The Park and Park Theater. In addition, Joyen provided his leadership on MGM’s annual $350MM capex portfolio, comprised of approximately 70 million square feet of various casino, hospitality, retail, food and beverage areas, and 45,000 guest rooms, luxury suites and villas. Few individuals have had as significant of an impact on some of the United States’ most premier, resort casinos including: Bellagio, Aria, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Park MGM, and Beau Rivage. He has also been instrumental in several high profile, MGM branding initiatives and provided input on many of the company’s fine art programs.

Joyen has collaborated with many world-renowned architects and designers such as Cesar Pelli (Pelli Clarke Pelli), Rarael, Vinoly, Foster and Partners, KPF, Gensler, Rockwell, Munge Studios and many more. He is often invited to speak at industry events and thrives on brainstorming new, disruptive ideas to uncover innovative solutions in both building design and technology. 

Joyen serves on the Board of Directors of The School of Architecture founded by Frank Lloyd Wright, where he helps carry out Frank Lloyd Wright’s mission of training architects through the apprenticeship program. He holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Raheja School of Architecture in India, a Master of Science in Building Design from Arizona State University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. 

Dr. Bing Wang

Board of Governors

Dr. Bing Wang, Associate Professor in Practice of Real Estate and the Built Environment, teaches design and real  estate courses at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University. She is Area Head for Master of Design Real  Estate and the Built Environment concentration at the GSD. She is also a faculty co-chair for Real Estate  Management: Design, Finance and Leadership program, a joint program between the Harvard GSD and Harvard  Business School, and a faculty co-chair for Advanced Real Estate Development program at the GSD. She has been a  visiting faculty member at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom and lectures frequently at top-tier  universities worldwide, including Tsinghua University in China and University of Ulster in the UK. 

Tim Wright

Tim Wright photo

Tim Wright is teacher, curriculum designer, documentary filmmaker, writer and occasional lecturer. He studied at Columbia University (BA),
the University of Chicago (MA) and was a Prize Fellow at Harvard University (ABD). He has recently retired from teaching, lives in Chicago and is restoring prairie with his corporate consultant wife on 113 acres of land they own near the Taliesin estate. His relationship to the current School of Architecture goes back to the nineteen fifties where he spent three summers as a non-architectural apprentice while Frank Lloyd Wright was still alive. His documentary film Conservation of Matter, on the recycling of the Boston Elevated Subway won the New England Film Festival in 1997; he taught both Film and Architecture and Visual Literacy to Taliesin architectural students from 2006 to 2017 and developed an illustrated lecture on Wright and his Family Clients for the Lancaster Historical Society. He has subsequently helped fund the school and has lectured on Wright’s life and work for events sponsored by Taliesin Preservation Inc.

Michele Yeeles, Board Vice Chair

Michele

Michele is a 2021 M. Arch graduate of The School of Architecture, founded by Frank Lloyd Wright, a founding partner of Y Studio, and a board member of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust.

With a background in footwear design and entrepreneurship and an MBA from Babson College, Michele and her husband Martin, a graphic designer, created and ran their own branded product business for over twenty years. This year, they founded Y Studio to focus on spatial design and placemaking. Through their work they aim to provide thoughtful design solutions and build modestly, utilizing sustainable practices and humble materials, with the belief that smaller spaces provide comfort and intimacy whilst being gentle on the land.

Gary Zimmer

Gary is a Wisconsin businessman and educator with worldwide clients. Gary is the retired CEO of a
highly successful agribusiness firm, Midwestern BioAg, has taught at technical colleges, and owns
multiple farms in the Spring Green, Wisconsin area. An avid supporter of environmental and
sustainability issues, Gary has a deep appreciation of the relationship of architecture to its setting and
place. Gary has authored three highly successful books on organic/mineralized farming, and multiple
technical reports.