Board of Directors

Becky Butler

Founder and Executive Director, Arts Escape Inc.

After twelve years working with adults in a planned retirement community in Connecticut as the Community Life Director, Becky created the “Art of Living” concept and now the nonprofit Arts Escape Inc. The Art of Living program was designed by Becky for the adults in her community to enhance their quality of life through creativity and learning. She co-founded The Art of Experience, Connecticut’s only senior juried art show, which showcases the work of more than 150 Connecticut artists over the age of 70.

Prior to Becky’s Community Life position, she was the administrator of a dance school and community theater company in Connecticut. She managed both businesses and also created a teen theater summer program for Main Street Theater Company.

Becky received her BFA in Communications Art and Design from Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia. She is a Corporator for Union Savings Bank and was on the governing board of the Arts and Culture Collaborative in Waterbury, Connecticut. Becky has always worked in the nonprofit world and believes people can make a difference and she prides herself in being one of those people. Becky lives and raised her 3 children in Southbury, Connecticut with her husband Paul, and she is the bookkeeper for Paul’s business, GlobalEdg as well.

Ron Oleet

Advisor to the Board of Directors

Ron is currently a Senior Vice President at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management in New York City. He is a partner in the wealth management practice, The Lenox Group. Ron is the Senior Portfolio Manager of the group’s fixed income strategies, oversees the group’s asset allocation process as well as being responsible for the relationship management of a portion of the practice’s high net worth client base.

A graduate of Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Ron began his career in the financial services industry more than 35 years ago. He has worked as a Financial Adviser with Merrill Lynch and Kidder, Peabody before joining a Morgan Stanley predecessor firm in 1987. He has managed firm offices in New York City and Manhasset, New York. Ron is a member of the Investment Management Consultants Association (IMCA®) and the Association of Professional Investment Consultants (APIC), currently serving as a Board Director.

Ron is involved in a number of community organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House of the Greater Hudson Valley Region in Valhalla, New York, where he currently serves as Board President. He is a past President and Board Chairman of Sinai Free Synagogue in Mount Vernon, New York. Ron and his wife of 40 years, Eileen, maintain homes in Hartsdale, New York, and West Dover, Vermont. He has been a downhill skier for more than 45 years and volunteers at Mount Snow as a Mountain Ambassador. Ron is a road bike enthusiast, a lover of classical and Broadway music, and a collector of blown glass.

Debbie Gatto

Board Chair

Debbie Gatto recently retired from her position as the Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of Oxford where she served for 16 years. While in that position, she focused on serving The Town with high quality and affordable programs and activities for residents of all ages while also maintaining and updating the town’s recreational facilities. Starting as a part time director with one seasonal maintenance supervisor, she eventually built the department to as many as 45 employees in the summer.

In 2008, Debbie received the “Young Professional” of the year award from the Connecticut Recreation and Parks Association. In 2010, the CRPA named the Oxford Parks and Recreation Department as the “Rec’r of the Year”. She was very active with the state organization and served on a number of committees eventually being elected to its Executive Board of Directors.

Before working for the Town of Oxford, Debbie and her husband, Joe lived in London, UK where she was the Athletic Director for The American School in London. Prior to her move to London, Debbie lived in Ohio and spent 8 years working as a licensed insurance agent and as an Account Manager for Municipal Lines and High-Risk Commercial accounts.

Betsy Demeyer


Betsy is a businesswoman and art enthusiast. Betsy and her husband owned seven Lawn Doctor Franchises that serviced 3500 households in southwestern Connecticut for 33 years. Betsy served as Operations Manager and was responsible for all finances and marketing. She was on the Lawn Doctor Incorporated National Marketing Panel and was a mentor to new franchisees in the Lawn Doctor system.

Betsy, a native of Ridgefield, CT, holds a BA in Business Administration from the University of Delaware, a certificate in Women’s Studies from Hartford Seminary, and several financial security licenses. She has worked as a registered client associate for Merrill Lynch, and was a personal assistant to an author/lecturer, traveling with her throughout the US. Betsy coached youth soccer for years in Southbury and played both indoor and outdoor soccer in her adult years.

Recently retired, Betsy is now shifting her focus to playing tennis, creating art (specializing in paper cutting), becoming proficient on piano and traveling with her husband in their RV.  Betsy began taking classes at Arts Escape in 2018 and has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn, improve her skills and take part in the community established there.

Betsy and her husband have lived in Southbury for 27 years. They have two children and four grandchildren, all of whom live locally.

Sandra Daignault


Sandra spent 37 years in Information Technology working for Fortune 100 companies, such as, Kodak, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Clairol and General Electric. She has a MS in statistics with accreditations across the field of computer science. In 2011 she retired from Kodak corporation as the Director of Information Technology for their Graphics Communication Division and then continued as a consultant in the NY metro area.

After moving to Litchfield County in 2014, she made a decision to refocus her energy to the arts – a dream since college. Her first experience at Arts Escape was in 2018 when she enrolled in art and writing classes. She quickly became a regular taking up to three classes per week.  Each year since then she has been a member of the Threads program and taken part in the juried shows, reading events and contributed to the Threads book published each February. She has published two poetry/sketch books, Poetry Expression I and Poetry Expression II. She is currently writing a novel and her artwork can be viewed on her website.

Mark Franklin

Mark Franklin is a resident of Southbury and a semi-retired attorney. He has lived in Southbury about ten years and came to know and love Arts Escape over the past three years through its art and photography courses. He has been an amateur photographer for most of his life and was introduced to the magical world of painting and sketching through Arts Escape and other arts organizations.

Mark spent most of his professional career as an attorney, specializing in insurance regulatory law and commercial litigation in corporate, private practice and government settings. Mark became an attorney in a mid-career move; prior to law school, he worked for nine years as a newspaper reporter in Hartford. Mark’s legal career is now confined to pro bono representation of refugee clients who are referred by the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigration (“CIRI”) in Bridgeport.

Mark’s community activities include his work with CIRI representing refugee clients, and volunteering with the Audubon Society at the Bent of the River in nature education and citizen scientist work.

Lynne Gingras

Gallery Director

Lynne is retired from the medical field after forty-two years and was a previous member of the American Radiological Society, and Registered Radiological Technologist.

In 2005 Lynne and her husband retired to North Carolina and this is where Lynne’s interest in the arts materialized. Her son Dana and Husband Dana, a building contractor built “Andre Christine Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Mooresville, North Carolina for Lynne. Lynne was the owner, and sole operating manager for the gallery.  Its success grew and the gallery ultimately represented over 100 artists with an extensive customer following. Patrons enjoyed four-five theme-based shows and openings each year.  Artist taught a variety of classes in different mediums including sculpture.

Andre Christine Gallery hosted the yearly Lake Norman High School annual Student Art show.  Students were allowed hands on experience in all aspects of an art show exhibit including advertising, hanging the show, and organizing and hosting the opening reception for guests which included selling their work.

Lynne was a member of the Mooresville, North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, Davidson, North Carolina Chamber of Commerce, and an active member of the Business Resource Group.

Lynne is the grandmother of six and recently moved back to Southbury, Connecticut.  She immediately embraced the Arts Escape classes and programs. Lynne spends her free time enjoying the arts, travel, writing, gardening, and walking.

Bobbi Knezek

Bobbi is a co-founder of WD Communications, an international training company that focuses on developing and presenting seminars, webinars, and coaching sessions to develop employees, managers, and executives.

During her career Bobbi specialized in providing communication skills training for the pharmaceutical industry, developing  seminars that trained physicians to communicate more effectively with patients, and helping women communicate more successfully in the corporate environment. As an executive coach, Bobbi helped high-level managers prepare for major presentations and strengthen their leadership images.

Before founding WD Communications, Bobbi developed her love for the written word as a newspaper reporter and her passion for using innovative teaching strategies as a college writing professor.

When she moved to Connecticut from New Jersey she took advantage of her new lifestyle to investigate the arts.  She was delighted to find Arts Escape where she has had the opportunity to experience the organization as a volunteer, a student, and an instructor.

Bobbi has a B.A. from Wilkes University and an M.A. from Rutgers University.

Barbara Phillips

Vice Chair

Barbara Phillips is currently a Senior Vice President of Learning Dynamics, a management consulting firm in Wallingford, Ct. Previous to that, she was the Director of Human Resources for People’s Bank.
Early in her career, she was a special education teacher in New York City.

Barbara graduated from Skidmore College with. B.A. in Education and from Columbia University with an M.S. in Special Education. She did post graduate work in Human Resources at Fairfield University.

She and her family lived in Newtown for 35 years and then moved to Southbury 11 years ago. She has been involved in many organizations and commissions including but not limited to Newtown Legislative Council, Newtown Library Board (President), Danbury Child Advocacy Center (President), League of Women Voters, Governor’s Rehabilitation Advisory Commission, Society for Creative Arts, and B’Nai Israel Board of Directors.

Barbra is married to her husband, Arthur, a retired Endodontist. They have 3 children and six grandchildren. Her hobbies include reading, painting, golf, singing, classical music, traveling and political activism.

Anne Marie Quinson

Anne-Marie Quinson-Franklin has been living in Southbury since 2011 and started attending classes at Arts Escape in 2018. She has always been interested in photography and sketching with a passion for street photography and “pen and ink” sketching. She also plays classical guitar and loves to cook. Enrolling at Arts escape was a way for her to discover new techniques (acrylic painting) and new challenges (color and abstract).

On the professional side, Anne-Marie is an M.D. and worked for several years as a treating physician in an Infectious Diseases department specialized in HIV in Marseille (France). She left clinical practice and joined the pharmaceutical industry 20 years ago and now works in Clinical Development for a major international company based in Connecticut. Anne-Marie is fluent in French and Spanish.

“Arts Escape – where creativity and
learning promote well-being.

Priscilla Watson
"Arts Escape provides a calm, supportive environment. Age doesn’t matter. I can see what I’ve taught a 7th grader the same as a senior. It’s an environment where a student is able to do the best thing. They work on projects that vary – they learn concept and ideas. They learn the essentials and are able to use their imagination."