Get Involved

The College of the Arts Alumni Council (COTA Council) is a group of alumni who return to campus on an annual basis to share their expertise, help the college strategize development plans with college leadership, and discuss how we can achieve the goals of both the College and University as we look to achieving the University's aspiration of becoming the premier university the state, nation and world look to for leadership.

Bill Booth

Bill Booth earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from UF in 1968 and worked as a music professor prior to founding Relative Workshop, a sport skydiving equipment manufacturing company, in 1972. Bill, who is now owner of United Parachute Technologies and holds 12 U.S. and international patents, is a pioneer in the skydiving industry whose inventions have contributed to the safety, growth and popularity of skydiving.

Carl Byrd

Carl Byrd graduated from UF with a BA in Graphic Design in 1989. Over two decades later, this Gator is an award-winning creative director behind many ground breaking and iconic fashion campaigns for some of the biggest retail brands in the world. Carl’s work for brands such as Gap, Target and Macy’s have helped shape the modern view of fashion advertising. To this day, his Gap campaigns of the 1990s have influenced how fashion brands advertise.

In 2007, Carl created his boutique ad agency in NYC, CarlByrd&Co. Carl has continued to create breakthrough work for his many fashion clients, like Gap, Macy’s, Le SportSac, Brahmin, Loft, Who What Wear and Amazon, and has directed hundreds of commercials. Through the years, Carl has always celebrated the brand next door, made pop culture his vocation and optimism his currency.

Dena Rigby

Dena Rigby has worked in the business of fine art since graduating from UF in 1995, founding Dena Rigby Fine Arts LLC in 1998.  She co-owned an art gallery in Los Angeles and currently works with private, corporate, institutional, and civic art collections. Clients include private individuals, large corporations, architectural firms, health care groups, developers, galleries, museums, and property management companies. Rigby is a Certified Member of the Appraisers Association of America, which represents the highest level of membership and expertise in a specific area. She specializes in Post-war, Contemporary, and Emerging art with a certification in Modern and Contemporary Glass. With offices in Seattle and Richmond, Rigby advises clients nationwide.

Ron Edelen

Ron is chief creative officer and co-founder of Myjive, a group of digital service-based businesses that specialize in digital marketing, technology and production solutions. His award-winning career includes work for Fiji Water, Discovery Channel, No nonsense, Ecko Clothing, Jeep, HGTV, Volvo Trucks, Fox Sports, Metlife, NFL Network, Velux, Regal Boats, Duke Energy and Dr Pepper. Ron holds a BFA and MFA from the College of the Arts at the University of Florida and served as Adjunct Professor in the VCU design department. He is a frequent speaker at design symposiums, juror for the Adobe Design Achievement Awards and CSS Awards, a member of the Gator100, an organizing member of TEDxCharlotte and an executive member of SoDA, the Digital Agency Society.

Doug Grimmett

With more than twenty years of experience in design for motion media, Doug has received over 200 national and international awards in advertising, design and broadcast. Doug completed his AA at the University of Florida and went on to found Primal Screen. There, he has served as Creative Director on all Primal Screen projects. His deep experience emphasizes children’s entertainment brands including Nickelodeon, Disney, Cartoon Network, and Boomerang. Recently he served as president of AIGA Atlanta and is a frequent lecturer and author on the future of children’s media and design in general.

Tammy McDowell

Dr. Tammy McDowell has been an associate with Physicians Associates of Florida in Orlando, Florida, since 1991. She earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and cell science from the University of Florida (UF) in 1984, and her M.D. from UF in 1988. McDowell played the trombone in the Gator Marching Band from 1980-1985. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatricians, supports initiatives with the Arnold Palmer Hospital for Children and is a board-certified pediatrician. McDowell’s daughter is currently a saxophone player for the Gator Marching Band.

John Pinckard

John Arthur Pinckard is a two time Tony Award winning Broadway producer, recently represented on Broadway by the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Award winning best musical, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which he shepherded to Broadway through two developmental productions at Hartford Stage and San Diego’s Old Globe Theater. John has been a guest lecturer and faculty member at Columbia University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Florida, which named him an Outstanding Young Alumnus in 2009.

Brenna Rizzardi

Brenna’s love of design and fashion began when she started sewing around the age of ten. She pursued her passion for costume design at the University of Florida, where she received her BFA, with honors, in Theatre Production with an emphasis costume design technology. After leaving theatre work, Brenna founded the Atlanta-based business It’s Sew You, which is focuses on custom clothing and working with local designers to bring their designs to life through small run manufacturing. Her background working with theatrical renderings makes her uniquely qualified to understand what is required to make a designer's idea a reality.

Lois Rule

Lois Rule is co-founder and co-owner of 2 Rules Fine Art, an art gallery located in the historic district of Marietta, Georgia. Since its founding in 2011, the family-run gallery has presented fine art and fine crafts by local and national artists. The gallery’s emphasis is on art that is innovative in technique, presentation, and/or design. The gallery has been an integral part of community arts activities that have resulted in Marietta becoming an “arts destination” in the Atlanta metro area. Lois holds a BA in sculpture from the University of Florida and an MBA from Georgia Tech.

Mark Rule

Dr. Mark Rule is president of Container Science, Inc., a global consulting firm in the plastic container industry. Mark earned his Ph.D. in physical-organic chemistry from Yale University and his B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Florida. He spent sixteen years with Eastman Chemical Company and six years with The Coca-Cola Company before founding Container Science, Inc. in 2002. He has held leadership roles in basic and applied research, new product development and commercialization, negotiations, strategic alliances and licensing, strategy development, and new business development. Mark is the author/co-author of over 86 U.S. patents ranging from technologies for raw material synthesis to methods to improve package shelf-life. His expertise covers not only the fundamental science of plastics, but also the economic and market forces at work in the industry.

Stephen Shooster

Stephen is an American business executive, painter, author and University of Florida College of the Arts alumnus. He was President and Chief Information Officer at Communications Service Center, a call center company. While there, Stephen invented and patented the world’s first “Web Call Center.” Stephen is now president of Global Response, an international call center company. He is also a painter, working under the artist's name "Shoosty," whose works are exhibited at Shoosty Fine Art gallery in Margate, Florida.

Bruce Turkel

Born and raised on Miami Beach, Bruce studied design at the University of Florida, then began his advertising career in New York. Bruce has helped create some of the world’s most compelling brands including Miami. Bruce has worked with Hasbro, Nike, American Express, Charles Schwab, Citicorp, Discovery Networks, Bacardi, Sol Melia Hotels, Azamara Club Cruises and many more great companies. A captivating speaker and author, Bruce has spoken at MIT, Harvard, TEDx, and hundreds of corporate and industry conferences. Bruce appears regularly on FOX Business and has been on CNN, ABC, CBS, and NPR. He has been featured in The New York Times, Fast Company, Communication Arts, and AdWeek.

Linda Wilson

Linda Wilson is the director of Birthroot, A Wise Woman’s Place. She earned a BFA in Drama from the University of Florida, attended Miami-Dade College Nursing program and completed courses toward a BFA in Visual Art at Florida International University in addition to attending many breastfeeding, childbirth, herbal, wellness and alternative medical workshops throughout the years. Wilson’s work of 42 years is a blend of theater, art and healing modalities as tools to facilitate care, healing, self-responsibility, self-discovery and self-recovery in the area of a woman’s reproductive health with emphasis on the unity of the physical, emotional and spiritual components of the body. Wilson established the Linda Wilson Lifetime Achievement Award to facilitate a master class for Musical Theatre.