Who We Are

Meet our team

Arbutus is made up of a small and tight-knit team working together to build a unified vision out of various projects. Our team grows and contracts as projects grow but we rely on a collective of people each intertwined within the Arbutus ecosystem, each with an imperative and direct impact on our sustainability and growth. Emily Simoness is the Executive Director who keeps us operating and on track, Melissa Cashion is our Producing Director overseeing projects, Arun Welandawe-Prematilleke is our In-House Producer who works on our day-to-day operations, ENVEEKAY provides us with financial oversight. Salwa Benloubane is our Office Administrator. Kate Jackson and the Grandstand team help with marketing and publicity. Hannah Myers is our grant writer and Jose Reyes designed this web site.

Board of Directors

David Byrne

David Byrne is the founder of the Arbutus Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to re-imagining the world through projects that inspire and educate. He launched Reasons to be Cheerful as the Foundation’s first project, and is its in-house headline writer. With Mala Gaonkar, David co-authored Theater Of The Mind, and is developing Arbutus’ next delicious work.

Karen Wong

Karen Wong is the Deputy Director of the New Museum, a mid-size museum renowned for its entrepreneurial platforms and mission: new art and new ideas. She sits on the nonprofit boards of National Sawdust, a new music performance venue, Rhizome, a platform for born-digital art, PlusPool, a water-filtering public pool in the East River, and Apex for Youth, a mentoring and education program for under-served Asians.

Malu Byrne

Malu Byrne is a multidisciplinary artist and the creator of EN Jewelry Studio. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, and displayed at the Hammer Museum. She is based in Upstate New York. Malu is proudly a member of the board to maintain and uphold the Arbutus mission.

Executive Director

Emily Simoness

Emily Simoness founded and, for over a decade, built SPACE on Ryder Farm into one of the country’s premiere artist residency programs. As Executive Director, Emily created groundbreaking programs like The Family Residency and during her tenure supported 1,500 artists and activists. Emily’s ability to spawn and grow movements was also on display with TieDyen4Biden – a grassroots Instagram campaign that gained national attention. Emily’s thrilled to be working with David and the team at Arbutus.