Architect Selection Task Force

Biographies

Architect Selection Task Force chair

Jenne K Britell headshot.

Dr. Jenne K. Britell

Vice Chair of Board
Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc.

Dr. Jenne Britell has been an acclaimed director and trustee of public companies and private organizations for over 20 years, following a successful career as a senior officer of a number of financial institutions, including GE Capital. Retired as the Chairman of United Rentals, Dr. Britell is currently a director of Ocwen Financial Corporation and Zenbusiness.com. Dr. Britell has previously served on other public company Boards, including TIAA-CREF, Lincoln Financial and Quest Diagnostics, as well as having previously served on a number of nonprofit arts, housing, and education boards, including the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Curtis Institute of Music, the New York City Housing Partnership, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Santa Fe Opera. In 2011, Dr. Britell was selected as the National Association of Corporate Directors’ (NACD) Director of the Year. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the advisory board of the Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation. Dr. Britell also has two published case studies from Harvard Business School highlighting her work with United Rentals.

“The arts have the magic and the power to transform lives and communities at every level, for all ages, and for many generations. I have seen this power as a board participant for similar projects in the United States and Europe. The Sarasota Performing Arts Center will be for Everyone today and in the decades to come.”

Mark Famiglio headshot.

Mark Famiglio

Board Member
Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc

Mark Famiglio is involved with real estate, construction, finance, information technology, aviation, and biologics. A 50-year Sarasotan and graduate of New College, he is active in the community and in philanthropic causes in southwest Florida and beyond. Mark has been a major supporter of the Florida State University College of Medicine and The Ringling Museum, where spaces have been named in his honor. He has owned and rehabilitated numerous significant historic buildings and is a co-founding producer and chairman of the Sarasota Film Festival. He has served on the opera and ballet boards as well as having served as president of United Cerebral Palsy. He is a longtime supporter of the Van Wezel Foundation various children’s services organizations as well as being a past trustee of the Economic Development Corporation of Manatee County.

“It’s an honor to be working with the best design minds in the world to make this Sarasota Performing Arts Center project a reality. As someone who has worked on development projects in Sarasota over the past 40+ years, my mission is to make sure everyone involved understands the importance of this project to the future of the arts in our community.”

Michele Hooper headshot.

Michele Hooper

Board Member
Sarasota Performing Arts Center Foundation, Inc

Michele J. Hooper is president and CEO of The Directors’ Council, which consults with major companies on board effectiveness and corporate board of director recruitment, focused primarily on diverse candidates. She is an audit committee financial expert with over 30 years of experience chairing the audit committees of several major companies and is a highly regarded governance expert and business leader. In 2017, Ms. Hooper was selected as the National Association of Corporate Directors’ Director of the Year and in 2022 was named to Forbes 50/50 Women Making an Impact. Ms. Hooper currently serves on the boards of directors of UnitedHealth Group as lead independent director and United Airlines where she chairs the Audit Committee. Ms. Hooper is vice chair of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Board, and a member of the boards of Van Wezel Foundation as well as West Coast Black Theater Troupe.

“I’m involved in this project because I believe that arts and culture can open minds for this generation and future ones. Our current center is wonderful but nearing the end of its useful life. As a businessperson, I know we need to start planning and working for tomorrow.”

City of Sarasota Appointed City Representative

Mary Bensel headshot.

Mary Bensel

Executive Director
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall

Mary Bensel has been executive director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall for over 14 years. She served as general manager of the Barbara Mann Hall in Ft. Myers, the Walnut Street and Merriam Theaters in Philadelphia; and booking director for Troika Entertainment, a producer of Touring Broadway Shows. Bensel is a Tony-Voter, member of the Broadway League, Florida Presenters, board member of Florida Venue Managers and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota. Under Bensel’s direction, Van Wezel was named the #1 theatre in its size worldwide and went from having operating losses to earning surpluses of over one million dollars pre-COVID.

“As someone who has been doing this work for 40+ years, I know that a city’s performing arts center is the heart and soul of any arts-loving community. This is our opportunity to build a hall that will advance Sarasota to the forefront of the nation's most distinguished performing arts centers. We need a modern performing arts center to grow for the future.”

Sarasota Community Member Representative

Larry Thompson headshot.

Dr. Larry Thompson

President
Ringling College of Art and Design

Dr. Larry R. Thompson, president of Ringling College of Art and Design since July 1999, champions the need for businesses to embrace creativity to thrive in the 21st century global economy. A lawyer and an educator, Thompson previously served as Special Assistant to the President of The Ohio State University; CEO of Flint Cultural Center; and the founding Executive Director of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Thompson is former Chair of the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD) and currently serves on its Board; is the former Chair of the President’s Council of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida (ICUF); and serves on the boards of many local arts and civic organizations. Dr. Thompson has been the recipient of numerous academic and humanitarian honors and awards for his service as a visionary leader and educator.

“I am so excited about this new possibility and the opportunities it will bring with respect to the new Sarasota Performing Arts Center. I am a big believer in the importance and accessibility of arts and culture and have supported all of the arts and culture throughout the community firsthand when I served as Chairman of the Arts and Cultural Alliance for over ten years. The arts have always been integral to our community, especially as their presence distinguishes us from other beach towns. Sarasota truly is the gem of the culture coast and this new Performing Arts Center will provide a thriving epicenter for our community and visitors alike.”

Backgrounds

Project management firm

Paratus group

Paratus Group is the project manager of the architect selection process. 

Founded in 1997, Paratus Group is a project management firm that provides cultural and institutional clients with a comprehensive approach to planning and executing exceptional building projects. Paratus Group’s unique method of project delivery emphasizes clarity, inclusivity, and collaboration from initial planning through occupancy. 

Their approach to Project direction balances three components at all phases of development: Building Program, Construction Cost and Total Project Cost. By continually addressing all three, they ensure that a project is programmatically successful, achieves the highest level of design quality and still meets the project budget. 

They approach each project as an advocate for their clients and create successful projects because they understand the client’s goals and limitations, as well as the architect’s and the builder’s intentions and limitations; Paratus Group manages this complex interplay along with identifying project concerns, remaining open to new ideas and working with the teams to resolve problems quickly, collaboratively and with the best solutions. 

Based in New York City, Paratus Group’s team of professionals come from a variety of backgrounds with extensive experience in the design and construction industry. Paratus Group has been deeply involved in the completion of over a dozen cultural projects, many of which have been widely recognized for their institutional success as well as their outstanding design quality. 

Economic Development and Financial Consulting

HR&A

HR&A has guided hundreds of clients in transforming economic development concepts, and public infrastructure, first into actionable plans then into job-producing, community-strengthening assets. They have served a range of clients – real estate owners and investors, hospitals and universities, cultural institutions, community development organizations and governments – since 1976. 

As trusted pre-development advisors with extensive experience designing successful public-private partnerships, they support the planning, transaction, and implementation of complex real estate projects through a full suite of pre-development technical and advisory services. They are the bridge between vision and implementation. 

Their work turns vision into action through rigorous analysis, strategy development, and implementation planning. HR&A has provided strategic advisory services for some of the most complex mixed-use, neighborhood, downtown, campus, and regional development projects across North America and abroad for over forty years. 

Successful redevelopment advances both public and private sector goals. HR&A acts as a critical intermediary between the development community and local government by providing credible third-party analysis, facilitating the approvals process, and crafting innovative approaches to zoning and incentives. 

HR&A’s work has been recognized by numerous prestigious industry organizations and clients across the world; clientele representative of arts and culture include the American museum of Natural History, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, and the New York Public Library.