Helen Toomer Appointed AIRIE Executive Director

Helen Toomer Appointed AIRIE Executive Director

Miami, Florida – April 17, 2020 – The Board of Artists in Residence in the Everglades (AIRIE), is pleased to announce that Helen Toomer has been appointed as the organization’s new Executive Director. A well-known figure in the art world, Toomer is an energetic leader with over 15 years of experience organizing art fairs, exhibitions and residencies, as well as supporting and furthering the careers of artists. She currently serves as the Co-Founder and Executive Director of STONELEAF RETREAT, an artists residency and connective space in the Catskill Mountains focused on supporting women artists and families.

Toomer joins AIRIE at a pivotal point in its history as it approaches its 20th anniversary in 2021. She will lead AIRIE through a new phase of organizational development and programming that includes increased emphasis on diversity and inclusion and a heightened focus on the critical environmental issues affecting the Everglades ecosystem.

“Helen’s breadth of experience, depth of knowledge and inspiring vision will be invaluable to our organization and our artist Fellows,” said Valerie Ricordi, president of AIRIE’s board. We are thrilled to welcome her to the AIRIE family.”

“I am excited to be joining AIRIE, an exceptional organization which has been committed to connecting artists with the Everglades for nearly twenty years. We are in a time of much uncertainty, but what becomes clear in such times is how important artists are in lifting spirits and telling stories of what is, what was, and what could be,” said Toomer. “I’m honored to lead AIRIE into its third decade and reflect upon its rich history while looking forward to artists immersing themselves in the Everglades to shed light and share stories on environmental issues, climate change and their exploration of the natural world.”


About Helen Toomer

Helen Toomer is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the artists residency and connective space, STONELEAF RETREAT. Formerly, she was the Director of the IFPDA Fine Art Print Fair, PULSE Contemporary Art Fair and Collective Design Fair. She lectures on art fairs and professional development at universities and arts organizations in the US and the UK and was an adjunct professor at Sotheby’s Institute of Art and the Fashion Institute of Technology.  Toomer co-founded and managed a contemporary art gallery, toomer labzda in New York and graduated with Bachelors in Fine Arts from the Arts Institute of Bournemouth, England. She serves on the Advisory Committees for ProjectArt, Foundwork and the Baxter St Camera Club of New York.

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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.