Board + Staff

Artists in
Residence in

Meet Our Staff

Helen Toomer Headshot
Helen Toomer
Executive Director
Helen Toomer is a recognized leader in the arts, having over fifteen years experience organizing art fairs, producing exhibitions and directing residencies. She is Co-Founder and Executive Director of STONELEAF RETREAT, an artists residency and connective space in the Catskill Mountains of New York focused on supporting women artists and families. Formerly, Toomer was the Director of the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair and Collective Design Fair in New York and PULSE Contemporary Art Fair in Miami. She is dedicated to supporting and furthering the careers of artists.
Tommy Pace Headshot
Tommy Ralph Pace
Director of Strategy & Development
Tommy Ralph Pace has over a decade of experience developing and leading arts organizations and cultural institutions, and has dedicated his professional life to enhancing public engagement with contemporary art and visual culture. He is a 2019 Getty Leadership Institute Fellow, and prior to joining AIRIE, he most recently served as the Deputy Director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; South Florida’s newest museum providing an international platform for the work of local, emerging, and under-represented artists.
Giselle Heraux
Giselle Heraux
Project Coordinator
Giselle Heraux is a graduate of Florida International University with a masters in Mass Communication. She has worked with various organizations and businesses, fine tuning communication, writing, public speaking, event planning, grant writing, social media engagement, and non-profit management skills.

Board of Trustees

Current Board

Valerie Grace Ricordi

Tyler Emerson Dorsch
Vice President

Tracey Robertson Carter

Donna Fields

Lisa Fernandez
Tami Katz-Freiman
Akash Goel
Linda Levy Goldberg
Tommy Ralph Pace
Grant Smith
Esther Park

Current President
Valerie Ricordi
Valerie Grace Ricordi
Valerie Grace Ricordi has worked with non-profit arts organizations for over 35 years. She was on the staff of the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Miami, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh and The Saint Louis Art Museum and has served on the boards of support organizations for the Diabetes Research Institute, Florida Grand Opera, and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and served for two-terms on the Coconut Grove Village Council.
Presidents Emeriti

BJ Sheffield,

Christy Gast,

Donna Marxer,


For the safety and well-being of our artists, community and collaborators, AIRIE has postponed all residency activity and programming in the Everglades. The AIRIE Nest Gallery inside the Ernest F. Coe Visitors Center is closed, as is the main entrance to Everglades National Park, until further notice.

The AIRIE Application for 2021 residencies has been postponed. The application window and new deadline will be announced shortly.

We know that you share our concerns during these uncertain times with the spread of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and appreciate your understanding and support. If you have any questions, please contact us at with the link below.