Sessions by Type

Case Studies

The Case Study is a fast-format session (40 minutes) designed, as the name implies, as an opportunity to present a single case study illustrative of the topic. Case studies panelists should represent a breadth of the partners involved in the topic, drawn from the arts and beyond.
Case Study: Space to Create Colorado
Friday, June 15, 2:30 pm - 3:10 pm

Explore rural economic development in the arts through creative sector housing initiatives. This case study highlights Space to Create Colorado, the first state driven initiative for affordable housing for artists and creative sector workers in the nation. This public/private sector model engages government, communities, and private foundations around the issue ofaffordable housing in rural and small towns including the role of artists. 

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn more about the connections between arts and housing.
  2. Get an idea of the complex partnerships necessary to pursue meaningful arts and housing work.
  3. Adapt or adopt a successful state-level arts and housing effort.



Margaret Hunt
Executive Director
Colorado Creative Industries
Denver, Colorado
Case Study: MAPC's Arts & Planning Toolkit
Friday, June 15, 3:20 pm - 4:00 pm

Urban planners have immense influence in shaping the built environment through policy and planning. This case study exlores how the arts can be made an integral part of the development and implementation of plans and policies for vibrant and healthy communities. Boston’s Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Arts and Planning Toolkit is a case study-based resource for planners and other government staff interested in innovating their planning and community development work through projects and partnerships that engage the creative community.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn how to appeal to the interests of urban planners and others implementing governmental policies supportive of the arts.
  2. Explore the various goals that different partners (public/private, for profit/not for profit) have for the same project to satisfy these multiple objectives.
  3. Hear how to set up an artist-in-residence program in a government agency.



Jennifer Erickson
Manager, Arts & Culture
Metropolitan Area Planning Council
Boston, Massachusetts

Jennifer Sien Erickson serves as Manager of Arts and Culture at the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), the regional planning agency serving Metropolitan Boston. She heads the agency's Arts and Culture Division. Her expertise includes arts and culture, community visioning, housing, fair housing, economic development, transit-oriented development, and equity. Her prior positions included managing MAPC's Technical Assistance Program and serving as a regional planner in the Land Use Department. Her work has been recognized with awards from the American Planning Association - Massachusetts Chapter. Ms. Erickson is the co-founder of the APA Arts and Planning Interest Group and has served on the APA's Diversity Task Force and People and Places Task Force. Her work has also been published in the Journal for Planning Education and Research. Prior to joining MAPC, Ms. Erickson worked as a grantmaker, facilitating funding to organizations working to advance the quality of life in the Commonwealth. She received her Master of Arts in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University.

Case Study: Fires of Change
Friday, June 15, 4:30 pm - 5:10 pm

Strong partnerships between the LAA and non-arts agencies are crucial to the health of your community. This case study explores Flagstaff Arts Council's project "Fires of Change," in which they partnered with science agencies, tribal governments, universities and health care agencies to explore the issue of wildfires in the American West.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand how to partner with non-arts groups in your community to address crucial or controversial issues through the arts.
  2. Explore the skills needed by LAA administrators, the artists involved, and the non-arts partners for successful cross-sector partnership.
  3. Discuss how to identify strong threads of community concern and develop methods of evaluating your impact.



John Tannous
Executive Director
Flagstaff Arts Council
Flagstaff, Arizona

John Tannous has led the Flagstaff Arts Council as Executive Director for the past eleven years. He has over 23 years leadership experience in the non-profit field, including the past 19 years in the arts. During his tenure at the Arts Council, he founded a number of popular programs that have become staples in the community. Tannous developed the Community Impact program, through which artists participate in an intensive training on controversial or challenging issues and then create new art for exhibitions on the topic. Prior to the Arts Council, he served as the Director of the Smoki Museum of American Indian Art & Culture, as well as with the Tsunami on the Square performing arts festival and the Prescott Area Arts & Humanities Council.

Case Study: Vision Zero
Friday, June 15, 5:20 pm - 6:00 pm

How can the arts make streets and pedestrian traffic safer? In this case study, hear about WalkDenver and the Vision Zero Coalition—a set of arts projects that emotionally and visually engaged community members to raise awareness of traffic safety and work towards eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in Denver.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn the main components of Vision Zero and the goals of the Vision Zero Coalition.
  2. Hear about the community-driven design process that led to this year's Community Art Project.
  3. See how to engage community, private sector, and government organizations in progressing "arts and" issues to make safer communities.



Jill Locantore
Executive Director
WalkDenver and the Denver Vision Zero Coalition
Denver, Colorado

Jill is currently Executive Director of WalkDenver, a grassroots advocacy organization dedicated to making Denver the most walkable city in the nation. Previously, Jill served as Principal Planner for the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG), where she worked with more than 50 local governments to develop and implement Metro Vision, the Denver region’s long-range plan for sustainable growth and development. Jill also worked for the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments where she supported regional efforts to coordinate land use and transportation planning in suburban Maryland, Northern Virginia and the District of Columbia. Throughout her planning career, Jill has focused on the intersection of land use and transportation with environmental sustainability, economic development, public health, and social justice issues. Jill has a Masters degree in community planning from the University of Maryland, as well as a Masters degree in cognitive psychology from the University of Toronto.



The Clinic is a special 3-hour, in-depth training opportunity. People interested must join at the beginning of the training--and during the 3 hours will experience hand-on exercises, gather best practices, and come up with a plan of action.
Please check back soon for details!


The Discussion format is an opportunity for a moderator and 3-4 discussion leaders to engage a group of attendees in a framed discussion. The moderator and discussion leaders each very briefly speak about their thoughts on the core topic, and then the moderator then facilitates a full group discussion among a circle of attendees.
Artistic Approaches to Community Health
Friday, June 15, 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

The health and vibrancy of a community is directly tied to the health, vibrancy, and equity of its members. In this session, hear from artists, public health leaders, and arts leaders about arts approaches to promote equity and to further public health goals, community member engagement, and the role of artists and creative workers as change agents for community well-being.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand of effective techniques to build trust between arts and non-arts groups, as well as between artists and community members.
  2. Gain concrete tools and examples to evaluate and implement cross-sector partnerships related to community health.
  3. Map the various individuals and institutions that need to come together to promote equity and public health, as well as current challenges and strategies.




Karen Mack
Executive Director
LA Commons
Los Angeles, California

Karen Mack is founder and Executive Director of LA Commons, an organization dedicated to promoting Los Angeles' diverse neighborhoods through locally based, interactive, artistic and cultural programming.  LA Commons has implemented community art projects, tours and classes in communities throughout LA. Ms. Mack is a nationally recognized voice on the role of creativity in the empowerment of communities and is asked to speak regularly on this topic.  Prior to work with LA Commons, she served as a Public Service Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she researched the role of culture in community building.  She holds an MPA from Harvard University and an MBA from the John Anderson School of Management at UCLA.  She is a past president of the board of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Initiative and of the City’s Board of Neighborhood Commissioners.

Scape Martinez
Director of Programs
East Palo Alto, California

Scape is an artist and educator whose personal work includes abstract expressionism and graffiti art. Scape is also responsible for a number of public art projects, incorporating traditional mural making techniques, elements of Graffiti Art, and digital imaging. His published writings include four highly acclaimed Graffiti Art books, the first instructional Graffiti books of their kind. Scape is committed to the principles of creative placemaking, and enjoys engaging community members in public pieces that are co-designed and co-created. As a long time advocate for art education for young adults, Scape is committed to working with youth of all backgrounds to help them explore their sense of identity and voice through art.

Ann Marie Miller
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy
ArtPride New Jersey
Burlington, New Jersey

Ann Marie Miller is Director of Advocacy & Public Policy for the ArtPride NJ Foundation and served as its Executive Director for 20 years. Prior to joining ArtPride, Ann Marie was Director of Development at McCarter Theatre, a Tony-award winning regional theatre and performing arts center, and Grants Coordinator at the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.  Ann Marie is Vice Chair of Arts Ed New Jersey and Chair of the Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission in her hometown.  A recipient of the 2015 Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award from Americans for the Arts, Ann Marie is a graduate of Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia with a B.S. in Art Education.

Reconsidering the Concept of the "Anchor Institution"
Friday, June 15, 2:30 pm - 4:00 pm

What is an "anchor institution" and how do they impact communities? When a community transforms, does an anchor stay an anchor simply by inertia? How do we encourage meaningful, equitable community partnership from anchors, with a focus on the restructuring of systems?

Learning Objectives:

  1. Discuss what defines an "anchor" institution, and how such institutions can be evaluated over time to ensure they continue to live up to those responsibilities.
  2. Explore systemic challenges that advantage certain organizations and disadvantage others.
  3. Consider the other non-arts anchors in any community, and how arts organizations do and do not fit into such a definition—and how they can nevertheless work in partnership for the good of the community overall.



Felicia W Shaw
Executive Director
Regional Arts Commission of St Louis
Saint Louis, Missouri

Felicia W. Shaw has served as the executive director of the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis since 2015. A native St. Louisan, Felicia brings more than 25 years of leadership experience in the public and nonprofit arts and culture sector to the position. Previously, she served for eight years as Director of Arts and Culture Strategy and Analysis at the San Diego Foundation, where she directed a portfolio of art-based grant and civic engagement programs, including oversight of the Balboa Park Trust. Prior to joining the San Diego Foundation, Felicia was Program Manager at the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, where she implemented the annual grants program and several initiatives designed to promote San Diego as a leading cultural tourism destination. She shares her expertise on several boards and executive committees including the Americans for the Arts United States Urban Arts Federation, St Louis Community Foundation, Invest STL and FOCUS St Louis. Felicia has been recognized for her years of service and leadership in the arts. Recent awards include: the “Who’s Who: Diversity in Color Award” (2015); “Mathews Dickey Boys and Girls Club – Arts Advocate Award” (2015); and the San Diego Magazine “Women who Mean Business” Award (2012). She is also a proud graduate of the Amherst Wilder Foundation Shannon Leadership Institute (2015) and of Northwestern University with a B.S. degree in Communications. Felicia completed post-graduate studies at the University of California, San Diego in Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

Julie A. Garreau
Executive Director
Cheyenne River Youth Project
Eagle Butte, South Dakota

Julie Garreau is the award-winning founder and executive director of the Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, SD. Currently a Bush Fellow (2016-18), Julie also has earned a Bush Prize for Innovation, and she has received both the Spirit of Dakota Award and the Presidential Points of Light Award. Her name appears on the National Museum of the American Indian’s Honor Wall.

Julie is committed to creating culturally relevant programming that meets the evolving needs of Cheyenne River children and engages community members of all ages. CRYP’s Waniyetu Wowapi Lakota Youth Arts & Culture Institute incorporates a public art park, annual RedCan invitational graffiti jam, and innovative internship program in which teens learn fine art, graffiti and street art, and traditional Lakota arts while also developing critical job and life skills. In 2017, CRYP’s RedCan event won the prestigious Robert E. Gard Award from Americans for the Arts.

Nichole Potzauf
Executive Director
Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association
Blue Ridge, Georgia

Nichole Potzauf is the Executive Director for the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association in Blue Ridge, GA with a focus on arts accessibility, economic development, and community engagement and partnership. She currently serves as the Chair of the Fannin County Chamber of Commerce Tourism Committee and is an active member of the Georgia Council for the Arts grant review panel. She has been a participant of the 2017 Ford Foundation’s Southern Cultural Research project and has taken part in American’s for the Arts 2016 Executive Leadership Forum. As a grant writer, she has been awarded several national and state-level grants on behalf of the Blue Ridge Mountains Arts Association and has worked with Georgia Council for the Arts and the Georgia Municipal Association to highlight Blue Ridge as one of the top five communities in the state of Georgia that exemplified creative economic development and public investment in the Arts. Prior to joining BRMAA, Nichole was a Production Coordinator and Production Manager for several television production companies such as NBC/Universal, E! Networks, and Paramount Studios and served as the Data Assessment and Statistical Manager for Dalton State College.  Originally from Miami, Florida, Nichole has earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Theater from Florida State University, with an emphasis in directing and production.

Karen Brooks Hopkins
Senior Advisor
Onassis Foundation (USA), Inc.
New York, New York

Karen Brooks Hopkins served as President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music from 1999 until her retirement in 2015, and was an employee of the institution since 1979. Hopkins served as the chair of the Cultural Institutions Group from 2002-2004, a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Affairs Advisory Commission and as a participant on Mayor de Blasio’s transition committee. From 2005-2010 she served as the Brooklyn Regent for the New York State Education Department. In 2013, Crain’s named her one of the “50 Most Powerful Women in New York,” and in 2014 she was one of ten selected into its inaugural “New York Business Hall of Fame.” From 2015-2017, she served as the Inaugural Senior Fellow in Residence at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation where her research focused on the impact of anchor cultural institutions. Hopkins is the author of the widely read book, Successful Fundraising for Arts & Cultural Organizations, which is currently available in a revised second edition through Greenwood Publishing Hopkins has been awarded several honorary designations for her international work in the arts including Chevalier de L’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France, Commander of the Royal Order of the Polar Star from Sweden and the King Olav Medal from Norway. Hopkins serves on the boards of the Jerome L. Greene Foundation, the Trust for Governors Island and Alexander Onassis Foundation, where she is currently serving as Senior Advisor. She is currently the Nasher Haemisegger Fellow of the National Center for Arts Research (NCAR) at Southern Methodist University.

Envisioning and Nurturing the Monuments of a More Equitable Tomorrow
Friday, June 15, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Monuments, memorials, and other public art reflect the stories and histories we most want to tell ourselves, the pride we collectively hold, and the memories and priorities with which we craft our communities' futures. The presence (and the absence of) people and events in the sculptures, murals, music, and imagery with which we commemorate history create the narrative we tell our communities. Come together to imagine different narratives that celebrate and commemorate all people and tell a story of us all.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore the systemic issues that have kept multiple narratives out of the mainstream, and have erased the experiences and histories of certain groups.
  2. Discuss how to work with your community to unearth the untold narratives there, to honor those who deserve honor, and to reflect the inclusive story the community seeks.
  3. Hear stories of how artists and communities have embraced a new way of storytelling through memorials, monuments, and commemorative public art.



Tracie D Hall
Director, Culture Program
Joyce Foundation
Chicago, Illinois

Tracie D. Hall is Culture Program Director at The Joyce Foundation. Prior to that appointment Hall served as Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) for the City of Chicago where she oversaw the Arts and Creative Industries Division.Hall has also served as Vice President of Strategy and Organizational Development at Queens Library in New York City, in The Boeing Company’s Global Corporate Citizenship Division where she worked as Community Investment Strategist and later as Chicago Community Investor; as Director of the Office for Diversity at the American Library Association; as visiting professor at Catholic, Southern Connecticut State, and Wesleyan Universities and in non-profit and public sector posts across the country.

Deeply invested in the intersection of arts access, literacy, youth and economic development, Hall led the organization and founding of the NYC Early Learning Network; developed the Seattle-based SCRIBES program, which has become a long-running youth creative writing project; conceived and curated the NEH-funded Festival of Caribbean Literature with the Connecticut Center for the Book; served as author and principal investigator on three milestone Institute of Museum and Library Science (IMLS) initiatives; and in Chicago, has worked on several initiatives connecting art to community and workforce development. A writer and visual artist, Hall is a Cave Canem fellow and the recipient of various awards and residencies for her writing, creative and community work. Holding degrees from the University of California, Yale University and the University of Washington, Hall was born and mostly raised in South Los Angeles. She is Founding Curator of experimental arts space, Rootwork Gallery and continues to make time to serve on various non-profit boards and committees.

Debra Garcia y Griego
Executive Director
City of Santa Fe Arts
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Debra Garcia y Griego is the Executive Director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission. She is responsible for implementing the City’s support of arts and cultural affairs, including leading the City’s first cultural planning process, “Culture Connects Santa Fe,” with consultant Dr. Estevan Rael-Galvez. Her 20 years of experience as an arts administrator include service at Museum Campus Chicago, Chicago a cappella, Southwest Theater & Dance Festival, and University of New Mexico Department of Theater & Dance. She serves on the Board of Directors for Americans for the Arts and as an at-larger member of the United States Urban Arts Federation, an alliance of the chief executives of local arts agencies in the nation's 60 largest cities. Garcia y Griego holds a Master of Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of New Mexico.

Christy NaMee Eriksen
Artist / Organizer
Alaska State Council on the Arts
Juneau, Alaska

Christy NaMee Eriksen is an award-winning artist, organizer, and educator whose work is grounded in social justice and community engagement. NaMee has appeared on stages from the Governor's Awards in Alaska to The Roundhouse in London. As a teaching artist, she leads spoken word workshops to build voice, community, and activism. She owns Kindred Post, a post office that serves as a neighborhood third space to support artists, cultivate connection, and advocate for social justice. One of her current projects is World in Progress - an arts-based racial justice training program, supported by a Social Justice Award from the Alaska Community Foundation. NaMee's recognitions include the 2013 Mayor's Award for Artist of the Year, two Rasmuson Foundation Individual Artist Awards, the Loft Immersion Fellowship, the Connie Boochever Artist Fellowship and most recently a 2018 Carla Timpone Award for Activism. She lives in Juneau, Alaska with her son.

Danielle Brazell
General Manager
Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs
Los Angeles, California

Danielle Brazell is the General Manager of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, leading a staff of 64 full-time employees and 80 part-time employees. Ms. Brazell works with the progressive agency’s Public Art, Grants Administration, Community Arts, Performing Arts, and Marketing and Development Division Directors to oversee a $42 million portfolio of facilities, programming, and initiatives providing arts and cultural services. Prior to 2014, Ms. Brazell was the Executive Director of Arts for LA, a highly visible arts advocacy organization serving the greater Los Angeles region. Under her stewardship, Arts for LA became a formidable coalition advancing the arts in the largest county in the country. Ms. Brazell also held the positions of Artistic Director of Highways Performance Space and the Director of Special Projects for the Screen Actors Guild Foundation. She currently serves as a board member of Americans for the Arts and DataArts.

Programming and Funding Public Art in Rural Places
Friday, June 15, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Rural communities are increasing hotbeds of creative and innovative public art, but such work comes with a set of unique challenges and advantages. This discussin will explore how small cities and towns can maximize the good and mitigate the bad when it comes to rural public art and placemaking.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore creative ways to engage rural community members in public art processes.
  2. Learn methods to do quality and meaningful projects on small budgets.
  3. Tap into your local talent to engage and help emerging local artists interesting in breaking into public art.



Savannah Barrett
Director of Programs
Art of the Rural
Louisville, Kentucky

Savannah Barrett is the Director of Programs for Art of the Rural, where she co-founded the Kentucky Rural-Urban Exchange and helps to lead the Next Generation program in collaboration with RUPRI. She is a member of the board of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice, the Robert Gard Foundation, and The Art of Community: Rural S.C. initiative, and served on the Innovation Team for EmcArts’ Community Innovation Lab program. She has widely published essays and interviews and presented her work at conferences internationally. She holds a Masters of Arts Management from the University of Oregon, and is an alumnus of the Muhammad Ali Scholars for Peace and Justice at the University of Louisville and from the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. Savannah was raised on a seventh-generation homeplace in Grayson Springs, Kentucky, where she co-founded a local arts agency in high school.

Susan DuPlessis
Community Arts Development Director
The South Carolina Arts Commission
Columbia, South Carolina

Susan DuPlessis has spent most of her life in her native South Carolina, and it is this place that defines her.  With her family's long history in the state dating to the early 1700s, her sense of connection stems from her people who were mountain folk, share croppers and mill workers as well as professors, entrepreneurs and software engineers.    She began her career as an individual, community-based artist with a focus on underserved communities. For 25+ years, she had had myriad opportunities to use arts and culture as a fundamental basis for engagement and connection in nonprofit and corporate settings, locally, regionally and nationally.  Today, as Director of Community Arts Development at the South Carolina Arts Commission, she engages with artists, arts organizations, educators, grassroots community leaders and culture bearers across the state.  She is particularly proud to have co-directed the coastal Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor partnership program for the agency as well as to have developed and now lead the new initiative called The Art of Community: Rural S.C.  in a six-county 'Promise Zone' region. 

Meg Thompson Stanton
Laramie Public Art Coalition
Laramie, Wyoming

Meg Thompson Stanton is an artist, artisan, and arts administrator working in Laramie, WY.  As coordinator, Stanton is the first staff person hired by the newly formed Laramie Public Art Coalition (LPAC).  LPAC is an independent, non-profit coalition whose mission is to enhance the unique visual and cultural vibrancy of Laramie and Albany County, in a manner that encourages participation and engagement from all our citizens and visitors.  As a practicing artist she co-founded the socially engaged arts organization, Wyoming Art Party and in 2013 won the call to design bike racks for downtown Laramie.  In 2015 she worked for the public art consulting team, Renee Piechocki and Jennifer McGregor, developing a public art plan for Laramie.  Prior to working for LPAC, she was a participating artist in the Laramie Mural Project.

Andrea R. Hanley
Membership + Public Programs Manager
Institute of American Indian Arts Museum of Contemporary Native Arts
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Andrea R. Hanley has been an arts advocate for more than 25 years. Her career has been guided and dedicated to the work of contemporary American Indian artists and the American Indian fine art field. Hanley has had an impressive career working as a curator, gallerist, writer, fundraiser, lecturer, and volunteer. She is currently the Membership and Program Manager for the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She spent over nine years at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., serving as both Special Assistant to the Director, and Exhibition Developer/Project Manager. Upon returning to Arizona, Hanley worked as fine arts coordinator/curator for the city of Tempe, Executive Director for ATATL, Inc., an organization dedicated to Native American art advocacy, Artrain, USA, a national arts organization, as its Sponsorship and Major Gifts Officer, and the founding manager of the Berlin Gallery at the Heard Museum. She has over three decades of professional experience working in the field of exhibition development and arts management, primarily focusing on American Indian art. Ms. Hanley is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation.

Collaborative Evaluation of LAAs to Improve Public Value and Impact
Saturday, June 16, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm

There is often only one local arts agency in any given community, which can make it difficult to gauge how well your programs and services are working, to find examples of new innovations to try out, and to explain your relevance to your community leadership. In this discussion session, brainstorm with Americans for the Arts and local arts leaders on what a unified evaluation tool for local arts agencies might look like.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore how your community and your decisionmakers value and evaluate your work, and identify gaps in your ability to explain your impact.
  2. Brainstorm on what a connected set of metrics, and a way of comparing your LAA's work to others', would yield.
  3. Discuss the different needs and goals of urban and rural, small and large, and differently-formatted LAAs, and how to reconcile to a central set of evaluation tools.



Robert Bush
Arts & Science Council of Charlotte Mecklenburg
Charlotte, North Carolina

With over 35 years experience, Robert is a nationally known for his work the local arts  agency field.  Since 2000, he served in numerous leadership roles at ASC prior to being named president in 2014.  Before joining ASC, Bush was the president and CEO of the United Arts Council of Raleigh and Wake County, NC and Arts United in Fort Wayne, IN.  He holds a B.S. and  a M.A. with a concentration in Community Education from Appalachian State University.  Bush has served on the faculty of the MAAA program at Goucher College and is currently on the faculty of the MPA program at the University of North Carolina – Charlotte.  He was recognized by AFTA with the 2014 Selina Roberts Ottum Award for Arts Leadership and was  named to the 2014 and 2015 Top 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts.

Graciela Kahn
Research Manager
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Graciela holds a Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a BA in Humanistic and Social Studies from the Universidad de Monterrey. Before joining Americans for the Arts she worked as a project manager for exhibitions at the Centro de las Artes in Monterrey, Mexico and at Future Tenant in Pittsburgh, PA. During her time at CMU she was contributor to the Arts Management and Technology Laboratory publishing on topics related to management, engagement and planning tools for small arts organizations.

Karen Gahl-Mills
Former CEO + Executive Director
Cuyahoga Arts & Culture
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Karen Gahl-Mills just completed an 8 ½ year term as the CEO + executive director of Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the local public funder of arts and culture activities in Cleveland, Ohio.

A former orchestra manager turned grantmaker and teacher, she has worked passionately throughout her 25-year career to connect the talents of nonprofit organizations with the needs of the community.

She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from DePaul University and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She teaches cultural policy at the University of Chicago and fundraising principles and practices at Indiana University. And she still makes music, singing regularly in the community choir at Oberlin College.

Encouraging Community Connection and Addressing Alienation through Art
Saturday, June 16, 1:15 pm - 2:30 pm

Loneliness and isolation are driving issues among older adults, those with major illness, caregivers, and active and retired military. Connecting with community is crucial to our collective health. The arts have a lot to offer, and the support of nexus organizations to create partnerships, provide and encourage funding, and make the case is paramount. Join this session to find out more!


Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn more about the major challenge of loneliness and isolation among "at risk" populations including the elderly, those with major illness, and their caregivers, and the role the arts can play in addressing that challenge.
  2. See case studies of arts-based intervention in action, and hear how you can adopt or adapt similar programs at home.
  3. Gather resources on the intersection of arts and health, including particularly arts resources for addressing loneliness.



Jeremy Nobel
President and Founder
Foundation for Art & Healing
Brookline, Massachusetts

As a practicing general internist for many years, Dr. Jeremy Nobel experienced “the front lines” of healthcare. Currently, through his faculty appointments at the Harvard School of Public Health and the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Nobel’s focuses on defining what quality healthcare means from a patient perspective and how best to deliver it.
Dr. Nobel is also a recognized leader in the field of medical humanities. He is founder and president of the Foundation for Art & Healing ( whose signature initiative, the UnLonely Project (, has gained national visibility in raising awareness on the health challenges of loneliness, reducing stigma surrounding it and offering arts-based programming that fosters a sense of connection and belonging. Also a published poet, Dr. Nobel has received several awards for his poetry including the Bain-Swiggett Prize from Princeton University, and the American Academy of Poets Prize from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jandel Allen-Davis
Vice President, Government, External Relations and Research
Kaiser Permanente Colorado
Denver, Colorado

Jandel Allen-Davis, MD, is vice president of Government, External Relations and Research for Kaiser Permanente Colorado. She leads the organization’s government relations and regulatory affairs, community relations and community benefit investment, clinical research activities, stakeholder engagement, communications, and advertising and marketing functions.  Dr. Allen-Davis is board certified in obstetrics and gynecology, serving patients for 25 years. Dr. Allen-Davis is an active participant on community boards including Denver Botanic Gardens, The Denver Foundation, CareerWise, Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, National Jewish and in 2017, was appointed Board Chair of Grantmakers in Health.  

Artists with Disabilities on Creating an Equitable, Accessible Tomorrow
Saturday, June 16, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

There is a large gulf between seats and stages. Accessibility for audiences is becoming a hot topic, but targeted resources, support, professional development, and performing/exhibiting opportunities for artists with disabilities are relatively rare. In this session, artists speak about how they made inroads in a challenging environment and how they (and we) are paving and can continue to pave the way for artists with disabilities.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand public programming strategies to raise awareness of disability culture.
  2. Learn directly from the experience of artists with disabilities about their needs and goals.
  3. Explore how making accessibility a priority creates better experiences for people both with and without disabilities.



John McEwen
Executive Director
New Jersey Theatre Alliance
Morriostown, New Jersey

John McEwen serves as the Executive Director of the New Jersey Theatre Alliance, a service organization for the state’s 33 professional theatres. 

Prior to the Alliance, John served as Vice President for Development of the New Jersey Network Foundation where he was responsible for a $7 million annual fund.  Prior to joining NJN, John served as the Director of Development for Paper Mill Playhouse where he implemented the theatre’s award-winning access services and the Adopt-A-School Project, and was responsible for raising $3.5 million for the annul fund, strategic planning and board development.

John is the founder and Chairman of the Cultural Access Network Project, a program of New Jersey Theatre Alliance and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts that assists the state’s cultural organizations as they programs and services accessible to individuals of all abilities. John serves as a trustee for ArtPRIDE New Jersey, Montclair State University’s College of the Arts, and the Fund for the New Jersey Blind.   

John’s awards and achievements include the first Excellence in Accessibility Leadership Award from the Christopher Reeves Paralysis Foundation and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Judith Smith
Founder/Artistic Director Emerita
AXIS Dance Company
Oakland, California

Judith Smith, Founder and Artistic Director Emerita of AXIS Dance Company, is one of the nation's driving forces in physically integrated dance. Under Judith's direction, AXIS commissioned more than 35 works from the nation's best choreographers and composers and developed one of the field's most extensive integrated dance education/outreach programs. Her advocacy work led to the first-ever National Convening on the Future of Physically Integrated Dance in the USA, supported by Doris Duke Charitable Foundation National Projects. Judith has presented at community organizations, schools, universities and conferences.  She has received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Sustained Achievement, the O2 Initiatives Sabbatical Award and was honored as one of Theatre Bay Area's 40 people that have changed the face of Bay Area theatre. Judith is an activist for the environment, animals and people with disabilities. She raises butterflies and is involved in thoroughbred racehorse rescue and adaptive carriage driving.

Esther Grisham Grimm
Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois

Esther’s careerlong work in the arts spans museum education, arts education, and philanthropy. She is the Executive Director of 3Arts, an organization that bridges social justice and the arts by advocating for women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities working in the performing, teaching, and visual arts in Chicago.

Esther is the Chair of the Alliance of Artists Communities and serves on Grantmakers in the Arts' Support for Individual Artists Committee, the Dance/USA Service Organization Committee, and the American Friends of the Vienna Museum Board of Directors.

In 2017, Esther received the Kathryn V. Lamkey Spirit of Diversity Award from the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee of Actors’ Equity Association.

Championing the Arts in Addressing Community Trauma
Saturday, June 16, 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm

In the aftermath of community tragedy—whether natural or manmade—there is a tremendous amount of trauma. How can the arts rise to meet that trauma and heal? This discussion session explores how personal artistic practice, public art, and collaborative conversations around trauma, memory, and history can begin the process of healing a community's spirit after destruction.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear examples of personal artistic practice merged with community needs, drawing on the materials, the place, and the memories of the trauma to manage it.
  2. Learn how art can unite a shocked community together to create goals, define a vision, fundraise, as an inclusive community building experience.
  3. Discuss the importance of being sensitive to cultural differences, heightened emotions, and the many different ways that people process grief, pain, and trauma.

Presentation Slides


studio JEFRE
Orlando, Florida

JEFRË, a noted ARTIST, has created several celebrated public art and memorial projects in cities around the world including London, Miami, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Abu Dhabi and Manila. JEFRË studied at the Art Institute of Chicago prior to receiving a Bachelor’s Degree in Landscape Architecture from The Ohio State University. His design solutions originate from a deep understanding of the historical, environmental, social and contextual relationships influencing the site and the architecture. Since starting his own practice, JEFRЁ has been recognized by the American Institute of Architects (AIA) as the Consultant of the Year for 2016 and as an Up and Coming International Public Artist by the Marlborough Gallery in New York City. He has received several design merit awards by the AIA, ASLA and ULI and currently nominated by the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Award in the category of “Design Mind”

Matt Mayberry
Cultural Services Manager
City of Colorado Springs
Colorado Springs, Colorado

Matt Mayberry has served as the Cultural Services Manager for the City of Colorado Springs since 2002. In this capacity he oversees the operations of the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, and the interpretive programs in Garden of the Gods Park and North Cheyenne Canon Park. He is also responsible for the administration and preservation of the City's collection of over 95 pieces of public art. He serves as a peer reviewer for the assessment and accreditation programs of the American Alliance of Museums and is a past member of the governing council of the American Association for State and Local History. He holds a MA in history from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs and a BA in History from Iowa State University.

Roberta Bloom
Public Art Coordinator
City of Aurora, CO
Aurora, Colorado

Roberta Bloom, Public Art Coordinator, Aurora, CO, where she worked with the 7-20 Memorial Committee on the creation of a memorial to the victims and survivors of the Aurora theater shooting. With over 35 years of professional experience in the arts, non-profit management, public administration, and education, Roberta headed up the ceramics program at a private art school, chaired a college art department, directed Colorado’s statewide public art program, and served as the assistant director of a non-profit art center. She holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Ohio University. Her artwork (functional pottery, sculpture, mosaic, and public and private mosaic commissions) has been exhibited internationally and appeared in numerous books and publications, primarily under her maiden name of Kaserman. Her varied life experiences including artist, educator, coach, project/program manager, supervisor, spouse and parent help inform her approach to the leadership of Aurora’s public art program.

Supporting the Mental Health of Artists Working with Vulnerable Populations
Saturday, June 16, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm

Artists who make work with vulnerable populations often witness, evoke, and hold space for emotional processes. While gifted their practice, artists can also feel out of depth when participants are processing trauma through their work. Mental health aid, self-care, and education around trauma are important services to offer artists in these spaces so that they can confidently care for both their participants and themselves.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn more about holding emotional space in an artistic process, drawing boundaries with participants, and supporting artists in their specific skillsets.
  2. Gain practical learnings about how local arts agencies can serve as direct and indirect support to artists who work in psychologically challenging situations.
  3. Explore self-care and self-assessment protocols for mental health, as well as strategies for identifying at-risk individuals and resources for supporting them.



Liz Green, MSW
Social Worker
Arts Approach
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Liz Green, MSW (May 2018) is a clinical social worker using creativity to address mental health issues and leads audience engagement initiatives for a variety of arts organizations. She is currently the director for OnStage Seniors: A Community Project of McCarter Theatre, a teaching artist working in refugee communities with Buildabridge, International, a board member for the Painted Bride Art Center's millennial engagement team BrideNext, and the evaluator and past community engagement manager for Temple Institute on Disabilities' arts initiatives aimed toward telling the untold stories of Pennsylvania's Intellectual Disability Rights Movement. Recent projects include community engagement manager for War of the Worlds with the Drexel University and Calvary Center for Culture and Community, The End, an interactive game exploring one’s mortality, with Swim Pony Performance Arts, and engagement for the 100 person community army for Shakespeare in Clark Park’s Henry IV. She has studied documentary performance through institutes with Sojourn Theatre, Ping Chong and Company, and Cornerstone Theatre.

De Nichols
Social Practice Design Principal
Civic Creatives
Saint Louis, Missouri

Through a multi-disciplinary creative practice, De Nichols mobilizes global changemakers to design and activate ideas addressing issues of social division, racial injustice, food insecurity, and civic disengagement. Based in St. Louis, MO, De leads social impact design firm, Civic Creatives, as a Principal Designer, and she is a 2017 Citizen Artist Fellow of the John F. Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She is the visioning artist of the Mirror Casket (2014), a sculpture and performance created as protest art during the 2014 Ferguson uprising, which was collected by the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum for African-American History and Culture in 2016. Within her community, De serves as a member of the Boards of Directors for Forward through Ferguson and Creative Reaction Lab, two organizations that exist to foster more racial equitable practices, policies, and systems within communities. Most recently, De was selected as a 2018 Artist Fellow of the Regional Arts Commission St. Louis.

The Pluses and Minuses of Getting on the Pot Train
Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 10:30 am

Colorado was the first state to legalize recreational cannabis. Since retail sales began in 2014, the state has pulled in almost half a billion dollars in new revenue generated through sales tax. While the majority of revenue is supporting public schools, homelessness and substance abuse programs, it is creating a ripple effect of opportunities and challenges in the arts community. From tapping into new audiences by pairing classical music with recreational cannabis to contributing to diverse funding streams in cultural districts, learn how legalized cannabis is creating new opportunity in the arts.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about the challenges and opportunities created for the arts community through legalized cannabis.
  2. Hear innovative ideas for developing new arts audiences through cannabis-centered events.
  3. Explore how new revenue from retail sales of cannabis is (and is not) financially benefiting arts, culture, and creative districts.



Christy Costello
Program Manager
Colorado Creative Industries
Denver , Colorado

Christy Costello is a Program Manager at Colorado Creative Industries, the state arts agency located within the Office of Economic Development. She manages the Colorado Creative District program, annual Creative Industries Summit and serves as accessibility coordinator. Her background includes museum collections management, non-profit fundraising and event management. Christy teaches courses for the DU University College Arts Management program. She is a graduate of the Colorado Creative Industries Change Leader program, Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) Leadership Arts and serves on the CBCA Leadership Arts Alumni network committee.

Ivar Zeile
Founder / Director
Denver Digerati
Denver, Colorado

Ivar Zeile is the founder of Denver Digerati, initiated in 2011 as an entity specializing in digital imaging applications for LED screens as a new and dynamic form of public art. Central to the initiative is Supernova Outdoor Digital Animation Festival, an annual event hosted by Arts and Venues Denver and the Denver Theatre District in the heart of downtown Denver. The Denver Theatre District's LED infrastructure is unique to any other city in the country, supporting a mandate to enhance the urban core through a dynamic arts presence. Digerati's vast curatorial depth cultivates a singular, worldwide network of leading artists and animators, including local innovators, in support of multi-faceted programming. A full project history is available at

In 2001 Zeile founded Plus Gallery, one of Denver's most prestigious and celebrated contemporary art operations previously located in RiNo. Zeile served as a member of the Denver Mayor's Commission for Cultural Affairs from 2006 though 2011, and in the last decade as a board member for a variety of art-related non-profit groups in Denver including PlatteForum, the Denver Art Museum's DAM Contemporaries, RedLine and the Invisible Museum. Prior to moving his visual-arts based focus to Colorado, Zeile worked independently in film and video, including a decade on staff with the Sundance Film Festival. Additional creative history spans diverse design platforms such as graphic, industrial, trade-show and interpretive museum design.

Chris Zacher
Executive Director
Levitt Pavilion Denver
Denver, Colorado

Chris is a champion for live music that is accessible for all. He is credited with the sustainability and overwhelming popularity of City Park Jazz, serving as Vice President and President from 2006 - 2014. Since 2012 he’s led Denver’s effort to create the new Levitt Pavilion at Ruby Hill Park.

In 2013, Chris was recognized by the Denver Business Journal as one of Denver's "Forty Under 40" for his commitment and leadership to Denver's non-profit community. He was named one of the Four Most Influential People in Denver Entertainment in 2014 by In 2015, Chris was honored with the inaugural Cultural Leadership Award from the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

Chris has worked most recently as a partner with Zebra Incorporated specializing in non-profit consulting. Chris has a vast amount of experience in accounting, budgeting, crisis management, contracting, community outreach and fundraising.

"Chris Zacher’s leadership has been critical to getting this unique public/private partnership off the ground, and his continued enthusiasm and energy will be critical to its success." Says Jolon Clark, Denver City Councilman District 7. "We will have a unique cultural asset with the Levitt Pavilion at Ruby Hill, but we’ll have it only because we already have a unique cultural asset in Chris Zacher."

Amy Andrle
L'Eagle Services
Denver, Colorado

Amy Andrle is one half of L’Eagle Services. Along with her husband John, Amy has positioned L’Eagle as one of Colorado’s most respected and highly lauded cannabis dispensaries, leading the industry by championing organic cultivation methods, responsible pesticide use, sustainable business practices and strict industry compliance.

Prior to working in the cannabis industry, Amy--who holds a graduate degree in nonprofit management--was an executive at a cultural art organization, where she gained an appreciation of cooperative compliance and collaboration. Today, in addition to being a mother and running day-to-day operations for L’Eagle, Amy contributes her time to the City of Denver’s Cannabis Sustainability Work Group and serving as a council member for the Denver County Cultural Council. Amy is also a founding board member of the Cannabis Certification Council, and she provides consulting services for legal marijuana companies looking to improve sustainability in their operations.

Threads: Emerging Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 9:40 am

Emerging Arts Leaders, sign up for your topic-specific FREE Threads when you register! Join with your peers in this special close-out session to discuss what you have seen and learned at the 2018 Annual Convention!



Ruby Lopez Harper
Director of Local Arts Services
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Ruby is the Director of Local Arts Services for Americans for the Arts. She is the Co-chair for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves as Co-chair on the Support for Individual Artist Steering Committee for Grantmakers in the Arts and serves on the WETA Community Advisory Council. She is also on the board of the Gard Foundation. Prior to joining AFTA, Ruby was the Director of Grants and Services at the Greater Columbus Arts Council in Columbus, OH. At the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ruby focused on grantmaking, community development, economic development and tourism, and public art. She has a varied background that includes corporate affairs, marketing, and business administration. She served on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts and was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio. She also worked with PhilanthropyOhio on their Member Services Committee.

Originally from California, where she was a dance instructor in her spare time, Ruby worked with local community theatre companies creating choreography for their musical theatre productions earning numerous local, state and regional recognition for her work both on and offstage. She has and continues to serve on grant panels for the Ohio Arts Council, Kentucky Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, MetroArts Nashville and the National Endowment for the Arts. Ruby has an associate degree from Cerritos College, a certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from Boston College, and is a trained meeting facilitator.

Threads: Mid-Career Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 9:40 am

Mid-Career Arts Leaders, sign up for your topic-specific FREE Threads when you register! Join with your peers in this special close-out session to discuss what you have seen and learned at the 2018 Annual Convention!



Cristyn Johnson
Local Arts Advancement Program Manager
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Cristyn Johnson is the Local Arts Advancement Program Manager at Americans for the Arts. In this capacity, she develops Americans for the Arts’ comprehensive full-career-spectrum field education offerings to advance competent and informed local, regional and national arts professionals.  She also develops a suite of programs and resources centered around the full leadership pipeline and organizational needs of a diverse workforce. She manages, grows, and cultivates an Emerging Leaders Network, a Mid-Career Leaders Network, and an Executive Leaders Network by building a connected network of arts professionals in the field of practices, who can share their knowledge with the field at large.

Prior to coming to Americans for the Arts, Cristyn was the Program Manager for Maryland Citizens for the Arts (MCA). During her time with MCA, her main focus was on building and expanding partnerships and programming, with specific concentration on capacity building programs to the field, as well as the Emerging Arts Advocates program.

Cristyn grew up in the Baltimore area. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Arts Administration from Drexel University and completed her Bachelor of Music Degree with a concentration in clarinet performance at Towson University. In her free time, you can find Cristyn performing with a few local orchestras.

Threads: Arts Education Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:50 am - 10:30 am

Arts Education Leaders, sign up for your topic-specific FREE Threads when you register! Join with your arts education peers in this special close-out session to discuss what you have seen and learned at the 2018 Annual Convention!



Jeff M. Poulin
Arts Education Program Manager
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Jeff M. Poulin joined the arts education team at Americans for the Arts in 2013. He works to empower local, state and federal advocates to advance policies supportive of arts education through communications, field education, and strategic partnerships. Before arriving in D.C., Jeff worked for several nonprofit and commercial organizations in the US and abroad focused primarily in production and programming, audience development, research and policy. Notably, he was a chief advisor on the implementation of the first national Arts in Education Charter under the directions of the Ministers of Arts and Education in the Republic of Ireland. Jeff frequently speaks at a number of nonprofit organizations and universities. Jeff hails from Portland, Maine and holds a Master of Arts degree in Arts Management and Cultural Policy from University College Dublin and a Bachelor of Science degree in Entertainment Business from Oklahoma City University.

Threads: Rural Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:50 am - 10:30 am

Rural Arts Leaders, sign up for your topic-specific FREE Threads when you register! Join with your rural peers in this special close-out session to discuss what you have seen and learned at the 2018 Annual Convention!



Ruby Lopez Harper
Director of Local Arts Services
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Ruby is the Director of Local Arts Services for Americans for the Arts. She is the Co-chair for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves as Co-chair on the Support for Individual Artist Steering Committee for Grantmakers in the Arts and serves on the WETA Community Advisory Council. She is also on the board of the Gard Foundation. Prior to joining AFTA, Ruby was the Director of Grants and Services at the Greater Columbus Arts Council in Columbus, OH. At the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ruby focused on grantmaking, community development, economic development and tourism, and public art. She has a varied background that includes corporate affairs, marketing, and business administration. She served on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts and was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio. She also worked with PhilanthropyOhio on their Member Services Committee.

Originally from California, where she was a dance instructor in her spare time, Ruby worked with local community theatre companies creating choreography for their musical theatre productions earning numerous local, state and regional recognition for her work both on and offstage. She has and continues to serve on grant panels for the Ohio Arts Council, Kentucky Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, MetroArts Nashville and the National Endowment for the Arts. Ruby has an associate degree from Cerritos College, a certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from Boston College, and is a trained meeting facilitator.


The Interactive format is a freer format session designed to break people out of their more traditional ways of engaging. One to two moderators oversee this session, which can range from broad brainstorming to interactive exercises.
Newcomers and New Friends Meet-and-Greet
Friday, June 15, 10:00 am - 11:30 am

First time at the Annual Convention, or simply want to meet new people in a casual, fun environment? Then join us for the Newcomers and New Frients Meet-and-Greet--find your conference buddy, meet rising talent, and get your energy going right before the conference kicks off!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Meet new people!
  2. Learn more about what Annual Convention is and who comes, and explore the schedule of events.
  3. Pick up some new getting-to-know-you, exercises to take back home.



Ramona Baker
Director, Arts Administration
Goucher College
Indianapolis, Indiana

Ramona A. Baker is an educator and consultant, using her experience to support and strengthen individuals and organizations in their success. Through board & staff development and evaluation, she helps organizations plan for their future. She is Director of the Master of Arts in Arts Administration (MAAA) program at Goucher College where she teaches and supervises graduate research. As a speaker, Ramona addresses board & staff development and future trends in the arts. Her speaking engagements include the U.S. as well as in China, Russia, Australia, and Ireland. Her experience includes over 25 years of leading arts councils and cultural organizations. She is the author of articles and monographs that address a range of topics from nonprofit arts leadership and board development to public funding. Ramona currently serves on the Board of Directors of Americans for the Arts.

Designing Arts Experiences with the Impact Echo in Mind
Saturday, June 16, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm

As arts organizations continue to move into the realm of resident engagement in neighborhoods, there are lessons for leaders on designing art engagements that reverberate after the event to move residents to action. At the workshop, you will hear from artists and producers about their experience co-designing art with the community and whether they succeeded in creating art that lead to positive change or policy outcomes.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Explore a human-centric approach to art and equitable development.
  2. Come away with tools for how to engage artists and communities in envisioning and moving the future of their communities forward in an equitable way.
  3. Understand more deeply how participants can use an arts strategy to ignite a discussion that will lead to positive change and policy outcomes, after the art intervention ends.



Shannon Daut
Manager of Cultural Affairs
City of Santa Monica
Santa Monica, California

Shannon leads the Cultural Affairs Division for the City of Santa Monica, where she works to integrate the arts into all aspects of life in the community. She was previously the Executive Director of the Alaska State Council on the Arts. While there, she re-imagined and re-invigorated the leadership role of the agency in state policy, from tourism and economic development to education and Alaska Native cultural advancement. Prior to moving to Alaska, Daut was Deputy Director of the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), where she oversaw the organization's work in the areas of cultural policy and technology. Daut has served on the boards of the National Performance Network/Visual Arts Network, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and WESTAF. Daut received her bachelor's degree in Communication Arts/Film from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her graduate degree in Communication/Rhetoric from the University of Colorado-Denver.

Margy Waller
Senior Fellow
Topos Partnership
Cincinnati, Ohio

Margy Waller is founder and Serendipity Director for Art on the Streets, senior fellow at Topos Partnership, and was a leader in the transformation of ArtsWave, an arts advocacy and support non-profit. She is an advisor on national initiatives to Americans for the Arts, LISC, and ArtPlace. Previously she was Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution, with a joint appointment in the Economic Studies and Metropolitan Policy programs. Prior to Brookings, she was Senior Advisor on domestic policy in the Clinton-Gore White House. Before joining the Administration, Margy was Senior Fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute, Director of Public Policy at United Way of America, and Director of Policy Development at Public/Private Ventures in Philadelphia. She comments on arts and strategic communications on twitter: @margyartgrrl. Margy holds a Bachelor of Science in Communication Studies from Northwestern University and a J.D. from The Ohio State University.

Lightning Round

The Lightning Round format is an opportunity for attendees to hear concise, results- and replication-oriented presentations on innovations happening in the arts and culture field across the United States. It features one moderator and a number of attendees, each of whom will be allotted a strictly-limited seven minutes to present a PowerPoint-based presentation.
Lightning Round: Research Round-Up
Friday, June 15, 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

The annual tradition continues with lightning-fast research summaries from some of the best new research of the year! Moderated by Americans for the Arts' Randy Cohen, this is a can't-miss selection of new arts research!

Learning Objectives:

  1. Hear disparate new research, including on philanthropy in the South, the "permaculture" of the arts, disruptive philanthropy, creative placemaking, and equity in funding.
  2. Explore interconnections with the presenters, and brainstorm what the findings mean to your work.
  3. Learn about what new research is emerging, and what to expect.

Presentation Slides



Anne Gadwa Nicodemus
Principal & CEO
Metris Arts Consulting
Easton, Pennsylvania

Anne Gadwa Nicodemus is a leading voice in the intersection of arts and community development. She has advanced the discourse on arts-based community development through reports and journal articles including, “Creative Placemaking” (Mayors’ Institute on City Design), which helped to define the field. Nicodemus is principal and CEO of Metris Arts Consulting, which provides planning, research, and evaluation to reveal arts’ impacts and help communities equitably improve cultural vitality. Recent Metris projects span a case study of how a creative space in Zimbabwe fosters activism to a planning process that integrates arts and culture into the work of a community development organization with 250 affiliates. Since 2012, Nicodemus has been recognized as one of the nation’s 50 most influential people in nonprofit arts in WESTAF’s annual peer-nominated list.

Ron Ragin
Artist | Organizer | Consultant
Ron Ragin Cultural Projects
New Orleans, Louisiana

Ron Ragin is a researcher, strategist, organizer, and interdisciplinary artist. He has worked in the field of arts and cultural philanthropy for more than a decade, most recently as inaugural program officer for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, where he helped develop new grantmaking programs at the intersection of arts and social change. Prior, he was program officer in the Performing Arts Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and a Senior Research Analyst at the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Alongside his research and strategy work, Ron sustains a vibrant performance and creative writing practice, rooted in music of the African Diaspora, improvisation, liberation aesthetics, and the development and maintenance of spiritual technologies. He has received support from Alternate ROOTS, MAP Fund, New England Foundation for the Arts, and Theatre Communications Group. Ron lives in New Orleans, makes a mean red velvet cake, and can throw down on some biscuits.

Laura Zabel
Executive Director
Springboard for the Arts
Saint Paul, Minnesota

Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, which operates Creative Exchange, a national platform for sharing free toolkits, resources, and profiles to help artists and citizens collaborate on replicating successful and engaging community projects. An economic and community development agency run by and for artists, Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and programs that help communities connect to the creative power of artists.

Zabel is currently a creative placemaking policy fellow at Arizona State University and a Business Alliance for Local Lived Economies fellow. Zabel serves on the board of directors of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.

Randy Cohen
Vice President of Research and Policy
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Randy Cohen is Vice President of Research and Policy at Americans for the Arts, the nation's advocacy organization for the arts. A member of the staff since 1991, Randy stands out as a noted expert in the field of arts funding, research, policy, and using the arts to address community development issues. He recently published Americans Speak Out About the Arts, a national study about the public’s opinions and participation in the arts. He publishes The National Arts Index, the annual measure of the health and vitality of arts as well as the two premier economic studies of the arts industry—Arts & Economic Prosperity, the national impact study of nonprofit arts organizations and their audiences; and Creative Industries, an annual mapping study of the nation’s 703,000 arts establishments and their employees. Randy led the development of the National Arts Policy Roundtable, an annual convening of leaders who focus on the advancement of American culture, launched in 2006 in partnership with Robert Redford and the Sundance Institute. His 10 Reasons to Support the Arts Blog recently received the Gold Award from the Association of Media & Publishing—their top honor for best blog post of the year. In the late 1990’s, Randy collaborated with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities to create Coming Up Taller, the White House report on arts programs for youth-at-risk; and the U.S. Department of Justice to produce the YouthARTS Project, the first national study to statistically document the impact of arts programs on at-risk youth. A sought after speaker, Randy has given speeches in 49 states, and regularly appears in the news media—including the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and on C-SPAN, CNN, CNBC, and NPR.

Amber Hamilton
Chief Operating and Strategy Officer
Memphis Music Initiative
Memphis, Tennessee

Amber Hamilton is a seasoned leader, coach and trainer with expertise in leadership strategies and nonprofit management. She started her career and honed her toughness in professional sports management, first as an intern for the NFL, then moving on to eventually become the Assistant Director of Player Development for the NFL Players Association. Amber discovered her passion for community service and redirected her career to focus on working with community organizations and NGO’s. She has worked at Fannie Mae's Office of Community Giving and led affiliate relations for national nonprofit Rebuilding Together. She currently serves as the Chief Operating and Strategy Officer for the Memphis Music Initiative, an equity focused organization providing music engagement activities for black and brown youth. Amber has a B. A. in political science from Howard University, a master’s degree in executive leadership from Georgetown University, and a certification in executive coaching from Georgetown.

Bronwyn Mauldin
Director of Research & Evaluation
LA County Arts Commission
Los Angeles, California

Bronwyn Mauldin is Director of Research and Evaluation at the LA County Arts Commission where she oversees a team that utilizes data and research methods to improve the Arts Commission’s work and strengthen the arts ecology. Bronwyn has spent her career conducting applied research and evaluation for nonprofits, philanthropies, and government. She also teaches research methods to arts management students at Sotheby’s Institute of Art at Claremont Graduate University. Prior to the Arts Commission, Bronwyn evaluated farmworker programs in California’s Central Valley, studied employment conditions for truck drivers in the Pacific Northwest, analyzed apprenticeship opportunities in the healthcare industry, served as a nonpartisan policy analyst in the Washington State House of Representatives and researched villager organizing in rural northeast Thailand. Bronwyn has a master’s in public administration from the University of Washington. She is also a zine maker and novelist.

Maria Cherry Rangel
Cultural Strategist
New Orleans, Louisiana

María Cherry Rangel is a New Orleans based cultural organizer, philanthropy strategist, and dance artist. Her organizing and advocacy is focused on building spaces for the most marginalized to create work, and redirecting resources to communities of color as a matter of justice. As Co-Founder of Mangos with Chili (2006-16), she developed the work of over 150 queer and trans artists of color, initiated dialogue around bias in arts funding and practice, and ushered in a new era of possibility for QTPOC centered arts and culture. She has led several efforts to help arts funders move towards more equitable funding practices, including serving as the inaugural Equity Auditor for the 2017 MAP Fund grants panel, co-authoring Ford Foundation's Arts and Culture Scan of the South report (forthcoming), and leading Foundation for Louisiana's arts and culture strategy.

Zannie Giraud Voss
Director, SMU National Center for Arts Research Chair and Professor, Arts Management and Arts Entrepreneurship
Meadows School of the Arts & Cox School of Business
Dallas, Texas

Dr. Zannie Voss is Director of the National Center for Arts Research as well as Professor of Arts Management in the Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business at SMU. Previously she was a Professor at Duke University and Producing Director of Theater Previews at Duke, a professional theater company dedicated to the co-production of new works.  She served as managing director of PlayMakers Repertory Company, associate manager of the Alley Theatre, and worked in audience development for Center Theatre Group.  Research consulting clients include the League of American Orchestras, the Irvine Foundation, Theatre Development Fund and Theatre Communications Group, where she has co-authored Theatre Facts since 1998.  Her published research on the strategic factors that influence organizational performance appears in over a dozen academic and practitioner journals.

She serves on the boards of the International Association of Arts and Cultural Management, DataArts, TRG Arts, TACA, and Big Thought.  She is co-author of the book Outrageous Fortune: The Life and Times of the New American Play.

Lightning Round: Social Impact Showcase
Saturday, June 16, 4:45 pm - 6:00 pm

Catch a new Lightning Round devoted to showcasing and discussing new tools, materials, and research related to social impact advocacy arguments for arts and culture! Moderated by Regina Smith of the Kresge Foundation, this session will give you insight into how this part of the field continues to evolve, and how you can take advantage.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Learn about Americans for the Arts' new Social Impact Explorer, a free online tool designed to make it quick and easy to see the impact the arts have on other sectors.
  2. Hear about leading research work in the arena of social impact and how it is starting to inform communities and practices.
  3. See concrete information and advocacy materials crafted by local arts agencies to tell the social impact story of the arts.

Presentation Slides


Tatiana Hernandez
Senior Program Officer
The Kresge Foundation
Troy, Michigan

Tatiana Hernandez serves as Senior Program Officer with The Kresge Foundation’s Arts & Culture Program. She helps advance the program’s goal of Creative Placemaking -  integrating arts, culture and community-engaged design into community development and planning. Her responsibilities include reviewing grant requests, making recommendations for funding and managing a portfolio of grants. She joined the foundation in 2018. Previously she served as arts director at Hemera Foundation and as program officer for the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where she managed the foundation’s national arts program including the Knight Arts Challenge.

Prior to her work in philanthropy, she led college access programs for youth in South Los Angeles. She has also worked with people with intellectual disabilities and on issues of climate change.

A long-time resident of Miami, Florida, she earned a bachelor’s degree in International Affairs from The George Washington University.

She currently serves on the board of Grantmakers in the Arts and previously served on the boards of the Gard Foundation, National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, Machine Project and BFI (Bas Fisher Invitational). She is a 2014 Marshall Memorial Fellow, a program of the German Marshall Fund.

Clayton Lord
Vice President of Local Arts Advancement
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Clayton Lord is the vice president of local arts advancement for Americans for the Arts, where he oversees advocacy, capacity development and cohort building for local arts administrators and advocates in 5,000 communities across the United States. Prior to joining Americans for the Arts, Lord served for five years as the director of communications and audience development for Theatre Bay Area. At Americans for the Arts, the local arts advancement department aims to empower, educate, and support local arts leaders, public artists and arts administrators, emerging, mid-career, and executive leaders throughout the arts sector, arts marketers, and artist-activists as they work to be constantly relevant and transformative in the lives of American citizens and communities. Lord shepherds the New Community Visions Initiative, a multi-year effort to better understand and support the changing role of the arts and local arts agencies in American communities, and Americans for the Arts’ ongoing initiatives around cultural equity, diversity, and inclusion. He is the chief architect of the Americans for the Arts Annual Convention and the Executive Leadership Forum at Sundance. Lord is a prolific writer, thinker, and speaker about the public value of the arts, and has written for ArtsLink, ARTSblog, Theatre Bay Area magazine, Stage Directions, InDance, The Voice, ArtsJournal, and others. He has edited and contributed to three books: Counting New Beans: Intrinsic Impact and the Value of the Arts; Arts & America: Arts, Culture and the Future of America’s Communities; and To Change the Face & Heart of America: Selected Writings on the Arts and Communities, 1949-1992 and is working on the forthcoming New Community Visions: A Blueprint for 21st Century Arts-Based Community Development, due out in 2017. He holds a B.A. in English and Psychology from Georgetown University, and lives with his husband and daughter in Maryland.

Sarah Sidman
Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Communications
Seattle, Washington

Sarah Sidman is the Vice President of Strategic Initiatives & Communications for ArtsFund, a Puget Sound nonprofit with the mission of strengthening the community by supporting the arts through leadership, advocacy and grant making.  She recently oversaw the design, execution and roll-out for ArtsFund's regional Economic Impact Study of the arts, and is underway doing the same with a county-wide Social Impact Study.   With more than 20 years multi-disciplinary experience in the arts and nonprofit sectors, she has an extensive background in engaging diverse communities with cross-cultural arts programming and outreach, both domestic and international. Sarah is a graduate of Harvard University and a former candidate on the Fulbright Specialist’s Roster.

Gary P. Steuer
President | CEO
Bonfils-Stanton Foundation
Denver, Colorado

Gary Steuer has headed Denver, Colorado’s Bonfils-Stanton Foundation since October 2013. He oversees the foundation’s $3 million in annual grantmaking to arts and culture in the Denver area. From 2008-2013 he was the Chief Cultural Officer for the City of Philadelphia, directing the Office of Arts, Culture and the Creative Economy. Before that, Mr. Steuer was the Vice President for Private-Sector Affairs at Americans for the Arts, advancing foundation, corporate and individual philanthropy for the arts nationally. He served for ten years as the President and CEO of the national Arts & Business Council Inc. before and during its merger with Americans for the Arts. He has also been active in speaking and writing about cultural philanthropy and policy issues.

Maud M. Lyon
Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Maud Lyon leads the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, an advocacy organization that supports arts and culture in five counties through research, marketing, and professional support for nonprofits. The Alliance has 450 member organizations, from history to science to horticulture to visual and performing arts, representing grassroots organizations and major cultural institutions in five counties of Pennsylvania and northern Delaware and southern New Jersey. The Alliance’s work centers upon advocacy, bringing resources to arts and culture; and audience engagement, connecting the public to opportunities for learning, creativity, social interaction and discovery at museums, performing arts, community art centers and many other forms of arts and culture. Increasing diversity and equity in arts and culture is a major initiative, to make arts and culture organizations more inclusive and to support greater appreciation for diversity for the public.

Threads Sessions

Each Threads Session is 40 minutes long, and is meant as an opportunity for the AFTA staffmember to facilitate reflection and connection about the Convention learning experiences of those in the room.
Threads: Emerging Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 9:40 am

Emerging Arts Leaders, sign up for your topic-specific FREE Threads when you register! Join with your peers in this special close-out session to discuss what you have seen and learned at the 2018 Annual Convention!



Ruby Lopez Harper
Director of Local Arts Services
Americans for the Arts
Washington, District of Columbia

Ruby is the Director of Local Arts Services for Americans for the Arts. She is the Co-chair for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves as Co-chair on the Support for Individual Artist Steering Committee for Grantmakers in the Arts and serves on the WETA Community Advisory Council. She is also on the board of the Gard Foundation. Prior to joining AFTA, Ruby was the Director of Grants and Services at the Greater Columbus Arts Council in Columbus, OH. At the Greater Columbus Arts Council, Ruby focused on grantmaking, community development, economic development and tourism, and public art. She has a varied background that includes corporate affairs, marketing, and business administration. She served on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts and was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio. She also worked with PhilanthropyOhio on their Member Services Committee.

Originally from California, where she was a dance instructor in her spare time, Ruby worked with local community theatre companies creating choreography for their musical theatre productions earning numerous local, state and regional recognition for her work both on and offstage. She has and continues to serve on grant panels for the Ohio Arts Council, Kentucky Arts Council, Cuyahoga Arts and Culture, MetroArts Nashville and the National Endowment for the Arts. Ruby has an associate degree from Cerritos College, a certificate in Corporate Community Involvement from Boston College, and is a trained meeting facilitator.

Threads: Mid-Career Leaders
Sunday, June 17, 9:00 am - 9:40 am