Laurie Mefford, President
WSG Board President, found her passion for glass when she joined one of the first introductory classes at Water Street Glassworks in 2004. It was love at first touch. Laurie took every glass blowing and bead class offered. Laurie is dedicated to the selfless vision of our co-founders, Jerry and Kathy Catania, to have WSG serve the Benton Harbor community through our Fired Up! After school program and our open access studio for multiple glass disciplines. Laurie is inspired by the transformation WSG has led in the Benton Harbor Arts District.
Professionally, Laurie is a Division Vice President at Abbott Laboratories and brings her business experience to WSG.
Beth Lichtenberg - Secretary
“I had no idea when I enrolled in Water Street Glasswork’s introductory glassblowing class how ‘blown away’ I’d be by this amazing organization. Its community of artists and administrators stays true to WSG’s mission of promoting the fire arts, education, youth inspiration, and community renewal and development. The Fired Up! and Cardea Beads programs are especially inspiring, emblematic of WSG’s depth of care and compassion for the world it inhabits.”
Beth’s focus on the WSG Board of Directors includes fund raising, grant writing, community development and collaboration, vision and operational strategy.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Beth and her family have lived in the Midwest for over three decades. She is an attorney, essay consultant for college applicants, runner, beach glass collector and ever-aspiring glassblower.
"When I was 8 my parents took me to Cedar Point and I saw glassblowing for the first time. I could care less about the rides, I just wanted to watch glassblowing. Fast forward many years and it still captures me as it did back then. I learned how to create glass beads more than 20 years ago and got to bring a little of that creativity home. I have seen the transformation in the kids of the Fired Up! after school program. Watching Jerry Catania teach this magic, I knew wanted to be part of this. I have taken many classes and learned the art that helps me focus my accounting brain, create and recharge."
Iris Watts is a life-long resident of Benton Harbor, Iris graduated from Benton Harbor High School and attended Siena Heights University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Mgt.
“I grew up with a family of nine including my mother and father. Life was simple, but our parents taught us the fundamental importance of family and community. Both of my parents were actively involved in the school’s PTA and our local church. Family values and having a solid structure help influence my decisions both personally and professionally.”
Iris worked at Whirlpool eleven years and later in the Benton Harbor Area Schools as substitute teacher and admin She served on the BHAS and the Salvation Army Board.
“My greatest enjoyment comes from volunteering with our local students in various capacities and lending a hand to improve the conditions of our community.”
My background in the art world goes back to childhood. I began drawing at an early age, and art has been a part of my life ever since. Over the years I have studied at Kalamazoo Institute of Art, University of Iowa, and of course at Water Street. I have taken classes in drawing, painting, printmaking, metalsmithing, and glassmaking.
I met Jerry Catania some years ago as he was teaching at the Ox Bow Art School. He was demonstrating glass blowing with his students on the final day of a week’s course on the subject. The was the beginning of my fascination with the process of glassmaking of all kinds. I was also impressed at his teaching process, and how all his students were visibly inspired by him. I would soon learn why they were so enthusiastic about learning glass from him. He met every student where they were, and how they learned with an openness to help them understand how glassmaking was accomplished.
It is with his voice still in my ear that I am eager to help preserve the inspiration that he, and Kathy built this school around. It is not simply a place to learn about Glassmaking, but a great asset to the community at large through Fired Up Teens, and the other great programs, and classes that are available. I hope that many more people in the community can experience Water Street Glass for many years to come. See you at Water Street!
Jacquie Johnson is happy to return to the Water Street Glassworks Board of Directors. She has a bachelor’s degree in Art History and started her career at The Art Institute of Chicago where she worked for 12 years in various capacities. She returned to graduate school and received a master’s degree in Adult Education from National Louis University. For many years she was the director of a family literacy program in Chicago in which parents and children worked side-by-side to further their education. Most recently, she worked at Lake Michigan College in a federally funded grant program designed to help adults enter into postsecondary education. She has over 20 years’ experience with grant writing, development, and strategic planning work. She served two terms on the WSG board of directors over 10 years ago, and she is looking forward to supporting the organization once more.
“I’ve been fascinated by glass art for most of my life it seems. I like to dream that there were glassblowers in my Italian ancestry! In February 2020, I finally took the plunge and took a glass heart experience and have been hopelessly hooked ever since. I especially love the amazing staff and instructors who instill
confidence that you can create art you never imagined you could.
I was in the last Glassblowing 1 class just before the pandemic shut down the world, so my newly found glass journey came to a halt. Later on, after vaccines, I asked WSG staff if I could bring a group from my work into the studio to make beads for WSG’s Cardea Bead Program. As we work with the seriously ill, this beautiful program is especially meaningful to us and we look forward to this monthly evening of creativity and enrichment.
Since discovering WSG, I’ve made it a mission to spread the word as much as possible and my friends will attest to my enthusiasm. I’m now deeply honored to serve on the board and contribute to the well-deserved sustainability and growth of this organization that I truly love, especially for what it gives back to the community.”
Angela has worked in healthcare for over 25 years, the past 6 1/2 years as community relations representative for Caring Circle of Spectrum Health Lakeland. Angela also serves on the boards of Kiwanis of South Haven and TRIAD of Berrien County, recently founded Southwest Aging Network, a networking group for professionals focused on aging, serves as a hospice ambassador with the Hospice Action Network and as an ambassador with the South Haven Chamber of Commerce.