October 21, 2021

ArtCenter College of Design Welcomes New Trustees, Strengthening Ties to the Artworld, Design Innovation and Business

New Trustees Represent Active Involvement of ArtCenter Alumni in Shaping the Future of the College

ArtCenter College of Design welcomed three new trustees at its fall meeting held earlier today, announced Board Chair Su Mathews Hale. The new trustees—Kevin G. Bethune, Christopher J. Birchby and Sarah Gavlak—deepen ArtCenter’s ties to the artworld, design innovation and business. Additionally, all three trustees are ArtCenter alumni, representing active engagement of ArtCenter’s AlumNetwork and their interest in supporting the next generation of artists and designers.

In making the announcement, Mathews Hale said, “I am thrilled to welcome Sarah, Chris and Kevin to ArtCenter’s Board and I’m grateful to our Governance Committee for identifying such worthy candidates. Each one of our new Board members has seen unparalleled success in their creative and commercial ventures, and will help ensure the College continues to prepare artists and designers to excel in a global marketplace.”

“It’s incredibly meaningful to me to see three alums join ArtCenter’s Board,” said ArtCenter President Lorne Buchman. “Specifically, Sarah, Kevin and Chris each bring with them a unique perspective on the ArtCenter experience, their own successes, and how an education offered by the College can result in personal and professional opportunities that are both unexpected and exciting.”

Kevin G. Bethune (MS ’12 Graduate Industrial Design)
Kevin Bethune is the founder and chief creative officer of dreams • design + life, a think tank delivering design and innovation services using a human-centered approach.  Bethune’s background spans engineering, business and design in equal proportion over his 20+ year career, positioning him to help brands deliver meaningful innovations to enrich people’s lives and experiences. He has given keynote talks at TED, Google Design, AIGA, Design Management Institute, California College of the Arts, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, Yale School of Management, University of Lucerne and Carnegie Mellon University. Bethune’s perspectives have also been featured within Fortune Connect, Core77, Bloomberg News and Design Observer. His first book, Reimagining Design: Unlocking Strategic Innovation, will be published by MIT Press in February 2022.

Christopher J. Birchby (MFA ’01 Graduate Art)
Chris Birchby is the founder of COOLA and Bare Republic. His journey to entrepreneurship began after both of his parents’ fortunate recoveries from melanoma, which inspired him to help prevent skin cancer and dive deeply into the world of organic skincare and sunscreen formulation. Over 15 years later, Birchby is recognized as a leading eco-entrepreneur and expert in the field of sun protection and sustainable business practices. COOLA and Bare Republic are currently sold in over 10,000 locations across 40+ countries. Birchby received a BA in English and Art from  Lafayette College and an MFA from ArtCenter. He’s a passionate art collector, enjoys helping other start-ups, and is an executive board member of the Independent Beauty Association (IBA).

Sarah Gavlak (Graduate Critical Theory)
Sarah Gavlak is an art dealer and the founder of GAVLAK, a contemporary art gallery in Palm Beach, established in 2005. Gavlak attended graduate school in critical theory at ArtCenter College of Design in 1996, which launched her career as a curator, writer and gallerist. In 2014, Gavlak opened a second exhibition space in Los Angeles, expanding the gallery’s network and programming. A lifelong advocate for social change, she is a member of ArtTable, an organization dedicated to advancing the leadership of women in the visual arts. Driven by an uncompromising vision for groundbreaking contemporary art, Gavlak has brought the work of women, LGBTQ+, immigrant and BIPOC artists to the attention of collectors, public institutions and global audiences for over twenty years.

Complete bios of all Trustees can be found on the ArtCenter website.

About ArtCenter
Founded in 1930 and located in Pasadena, California, ArtCenter College of Design is a global leader in art and design education. ArtCenter offers 11 undergraduate and 10 graduate degrees in a wide variety of industrial design disciplines as well as visual and applied arts. In addition to its top-ranked academic programs, the College also serves members of the Greater Los Angeles region through a highly regarded series of year-round extension programs for all ages and levels of experience. Renowned for both its ties to industry and its social impact initiatives, ArtCenter is the first design school to receive the United Nations’ Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) status. Throughout the College’s long and storied history, ArtCenter alumni have had a profound impact on popular culture, the way we live and important issues in our society.

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Triptych style photo of three new ArtCenter Trustees.
ArtCenter College of Design's new Trustees represent active involvement of ArtCenter alumni in shaping the future of the College
Photo of ArtCenter Trustee Kevin Bethune.
Kevin G. Bethune, founder and chief creative officer of dreams • design + life, has joined ArtCenter's Board of Trustees. Photo by H. Boyce.
Photo of ArtCenter Trustee Chris Birchby.
Christopher J. Birchby, founder of COOLA and Bare Republic, has joined ArtCenter's Board of Trustees.
Photo of ArtCenter Trustee Sarah Gavlak.
Sarah Gavlak, an art dealer and the founder of GAVLAK contemporary art gallery, has joined ArtCenter's Board of Trustees. Photo courtesy of GAVLAK Los Angeles | Palm Beach.