Jennifer Cole

Executive Director, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University

Jen Cole is the Executive Director of Programs and Public Affairs at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University. She also serves as Co-Lead, of The National Collaborative for Creative Work.

Herberger Institute National Collaborative for Creative Work

ASU on Twitter

Nadia Elokdah

Vice President, Grantmakers in the Arts

Nadia Elokdah is an urbanist and design strategist with more than a decade working at the intersection of public systems and cultural practice. She currently serves as Vice President & Director of Programs at GIA. Most recently she served as special projects manager with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs coordinating the City’s monuments commission. Prior, she served as coordinator in the development of the City’s first cultural plan, CreateNYC, in which she coordinated and led hundreds of engagements with a broad cross-section of the public, as well collaborating in the writing and production of the plan. She is devoted to civic engagement through culturally responsible, inclusive, and equitable design practice, exemplified in collaborations with the International Design Clinic, in.site collaborative, and Monuments Lab.

Tariana Navas-Nieves

Director, Cultural Affairs and City's Equity Leadership Team, Arts and Venues, City and County of Denver

Tariana Navas-Nieves, Director of Cultural Affairs for Denver Arts & Venues, City and County of Denver, has 30 years of experience in management, equity, race and social justice work; philanthropy; curatorial practice; translation and interpretation; television, and communications. She oversees the City departments of Public Art, Cultural Programs & Events, Creative Industries, SCFD Tier III (Tax District) funding, Arts Education, and the agency’s numerous cultural investments and grant programs. Tariana is also on the City’s Executive Leadership Team responsible for establishing the first Office of Social Equity & Innovation for the City, as well as oversight and implementation of the City’s equity goals working with all City agencies and ~13K employees.

Navas-Nieves serves on national, regional and local boards including: Grantmakers in the Arts (Vice Chair), Philanthropy Colorado (Vice Chair), Philanthropy Colorado Arts & Culture Funders (Co-Chair), Denver Latino Commission, and the Community ACTS Fund focused on funding to support Black, Indigenous, Latino/x/e, Asian American & Pacific Islander and people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQIA+, and other historically marginalized communities.

Denver Arts and Venues

Jessica Stern

Senior Manager, Americans for the Arts

Jessica leads Americans for the Arts’ local inclusive creative economy initiatives and drives strategies that assist local arts leaders to understand and activate solidarity economy practices.

Americans for the Arts

Tom Cahill-Jones

Partnerships Manager, Nesta

Tom is the Partnerships Manager for the PEC, always ready to have a conversation about creativity and innovation. He's interested in building relationships that help sustain the Creative Industries and supporting the generation of knowledge that reflects the state of the sector. His remit includes devising the PEC's partnerships strategy, overseeing the network of industry champions and contributing to research commissioning processes.

Prior to joining Nesta, Tom worked for Birmingham City University where he was responsible for developing STEAMhouse, BCUs centre for collaborative innovation. Whilst there he designed innovation support services and built a number of international consortia, notably focused on cross innovation, makerspaces, and STEAM (the intersection of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Maths). This work resulted in policy changes in local authorities across Europe and new methods for sharing ideas across different brain spaces. He also had a stint in concert programming at Symphony Hall, Birmingham.

When not at work, Tom is known to play average piano and runs a studio for nine artists.

Jonathan Glus

Director, San Diego Arts & Culture

Jonathon joined the City of San Diego in November 2018. He leads and facilitates the strategic vision of the office. Prior to working in San Diego, he was the Director of Culture and Creative Economy for the City of Sacramento, CA where he led the city’s first cultural planning process in more than 20 years. Jonathon set in place an assessment of Sacramento’s film sector and an equity audit of the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. 

Prior to Sacramento, he served as the first CEO of Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) for more than nine years. While at HAA, he worked closely with a board of more than 30, multiple committees, staff and partner agencies including VisitHouston, the Greater Houston Partnership, cultural districts and universities. Jonathon co-chaired the tourism committee of VisitHouston, partnered on multiple cultural tourism initiatives, and led two studies on the creative economy in the Houston region.

He was also the chairman of the board of Texans for the Arts (TFA), a statewide arts advocacy organization. He was Executive Director of Arts & Culture for the City of Pasadena, CA where he led multiple cultural tourism initiatives and partnerships, represented that city with the Rachmaninoff International Piano Competition & Festival, and led the city’s cultural planning process, in partnership with the Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission. Jonathon began his career with city arts agencies in Evanston, IL, and his arts career with the International Sculpture Center, in Washington, DC where he wrote for SCULPTURE magazine and traveling exhibitions internationally.

He studied urban economics and public policy at Indiana University, and art and architectural history at University of Illinois. He also studied at University of Kent, in Canterbury, England, where he focused on British urban policy.

Roberto Bedoya

Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Oakland

Roberto Bedoya is the Cultural Affairs Manager for the City of Oakland where he most recently shepherded   the City's Cultural Plan, "Belonging in Oakland: A Cultural Development Plan". Throughout his career Roberto has consistently supported artists-centered cultural practices and advocated for expanded definitions of inclusion and belonging in cultural sector.

His essays such as “Creative Placemaking and the Politics of Belonging and Dis-Belonging;” “ Spatial Justice: Rasquachification, Race and the City;” and, “Poetics and Praxis of a City in Relation"  have reframed the discussion on cultural policy to shed light on exclusionary practices in cultural policy decision-making. He is a Creative Placemaking Fellow at Arizona State University.  


Felipe Buitrago

Former Minister of Culture, Republic of Colombia

Author of The Orange Economy & The No Collar Economy. Expert in public policy for culture, entrepreneurship, creative industries, & digital transformation. Former minister of Culture of Colombia.

Felipe Buitrago on LinkedIn

Laura Zabel

Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts

Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency run by and for artists.

Springboard for the Arts

Laura Zabel on Twitter

Laura Callanan

Founding Partner, Upstart CoLab

Laura Callanan has been senior deputy chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, a consultant with McKinsey & Company and associate director at the Rockefeller Foundation.

Upstart Co-Lab

Laura Callanan on LinkedIn

Hollis Wong-Wear

Founder and Principal, hww.work

As a songwriter, musician, speaker, creative generator and community advocate who lives between Los Angeles and Seattle, WA. She is the lead vocalist of the electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue, and was GRAMMY nominated in 2014 for her work with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

With her roots in spoken word and slam poetry through the nationally recognized Youth Speaks program, Hollis is passionate about how creativity and the arts fuel and shape civic discourse, and is dedicated to lending her voice and capacities towards vibrant social equity.

Hollis has been a featured speaker at conferences, conventions and speaker series, sharing her spoken word poetry and her candid insights on her experience as an independent artist and engaged activist. She has performed and spoken for an array of organizations and schools, including KEXP, WrapWomen, Planned Parenthood, University of Washington, YWCA and the Eileen Fisher Leadership Institute, has been featured by TedX University of Washington, and has presented alongside such luminaries as Gloria Steinem, Kimberle Crenshaw and Eve Ensler. 

A native of the Bay Area, Hollis graduated from Seattle University with a major in History and a minor in Global African Studies, and was recently named the recipient of Seattle University’s 2016 Outstanding Recent Alumna Award.  

Alberto Mejia

Deputy Director, NALAC (The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures)

Alberto Mejia is the Deputy Director at NALAC.  He holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington and a BA in American Cultural Studies and Political Science from Fairhaven College.

Prior to joining NALAC in 2020, he served as manager of Cultural Funding & Investments with the City of Austin, a senior director of Community Programs at Creative Action, Manager of the Dougherty Arts Center, Executive Director of Youngstown Cultural Arts Center in Seattle, WA and Community Engagement Manager at MoPOP in Seattle, WA.  Alberto is an alumnus of NALAC’s Advocacy Leadership Institute (ALI) and has served as panelist for local to national grant making programs including ARTPLACE and NEA Our Town.  

Alberto is active in cultural policy issues & dialogue. Alberto is an artist in the in hip-hop genre and devotes time to the practice of indigenous cultural tradition, community building & dance.

National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures

Alberto Mejia on LinkedIn

Adriana Gallego

Executive Director, Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona

Adriana Gallego is the Executive Director for the Arts Foundation for Tucson and Southern Arizona. As an artist at the service of other artists, Gallego's work is motivated by social justice, where she seeks to connect people with meaningful resources that grow capacity, build community, foster collaboration and bridge cultural understanding.

She serves on the national board of directors of Grantmakers in the Arts (GIA) and MAP Fund. Previously, she was Chief Operating Officer at NALAC, Director of Strategic Initiatives at the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Educational Assistant at the Norton Simon Museum, and teaching artist throughout the Southwest.

Arts Foundation For Tucson

Arts Foundation for Tucson on Twitter


Randy Engstrom

Consultant, Third Way Creative

Randy Engstrom has been a passionate advocate and organizer of cultural and community development for over 15 years.  He is currently an Adjunct Faculty at the Seattle University Arts Leadership Program and owner of Third Way Creative, a consulting practice focused on cultural policy, racial equity, and creative economy. Most recently he served as Director of the Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Seattle where he expanded their investments in granting programs and Public Art, while establishing new programs and policies in arts education, cultural space affordability, and racial equity.

In 2009 Randy received the Emerging Leader Award from Americans for the Arts and was one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. He is a graduate of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, and he received his Executive Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Governance and Public Policy.

David Holland

Director of Impact and Public Policy, WESTAF

David Holland is the director of impact and public policy at WESTAF. He joined WESTAF in 2019 to lead its advocacy and public policy programs and services and serve as the primary liaison with federal, state, and local agencies. His role has evolved to also drive the impact of WESTAF’s field building programs and services.

He has authored the Creative Economies and Economic Recovery report in partnership with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; co-led the redesign of the Performing Arts Discovery program in partnership with regional and national partners; established the Western Arts Advocacy Network (WAAN); collaborated on developing new equity-focused relief and resilience grantmaking programs in the West and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; spearheaded WESTAF’s Arts and the Rural West and Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminars; and secured private and public investment for WESTAF's programs.

His prior roles include leadership positions at the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston, the VCU da Vinci Center for Innovation, VCU School of the Arts, ART 180, Arts & Business, the UK innovation foundation Nesta, and BOP Consulting. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow, Evan Carroll Commager Fellow, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

Western States Arts Federation

Dee Schneidman

Senior Program Director, Research and Creative Economy, New England Foundation for the Arts

As NEFA’s Senior Program Director for Research and Creative Economy, Dee oversees data collection, documentation, and creative economy activities at NEFA. These include the New England Creative Economy Reports on the creative sector and its nonprofit subset; CreativeGround: New England’s online directory and research database of creative enterprises and artists; regional events such as the Creative Communities Exchange (CCX); knowledge-sharing projects and NEFA program evaluation.  

Before coming to work at NEFA in January of 2006, Dee worked in a variety of non-profit and business settings, utilizing her background in the performing arts to develop trainings and workshops geared toward the personal growth and creative learning of both children and adults. She holds a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Virginia where she focused on empirical research in the fields of creativity, human development and assessment.

New England Foundation for the Arts

Creative Ground

Susan Soroko

Director, Creative Economy Arlington Economic Development

Susan Soroko currently serves as Director of Creative Economy in the Department of Economic Development of Arlington County, Virginia. She manages new cultural initiatives in Arlington that encompasses a wide range of creative sector development projects. Under the leadership of Arlington Economic Development,

Susan works to support both for profit creative industries along-side the non-profit arts organizations and artists.  Before becoming Director of Creative Economy, Susan served as Acting Director of Cultural Development in the Cultural Affairs Division. In that role, Susan oversaw the Arts Grants Program, Lee Arts Center for professional printmakers and ceramic artists, and education and outreach programs. Piloting several public private partnerships while implementing a HUD grant award provided the groundwork for the Creative Economy initiative.

Zannie Voss

Professor; Director, SMU Data Arts

Dr. Zannie Voss is Director of SMU DataArts, the National Center for Arts Research and Professor of Arts Management in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the Cox School of Business.

SMU DataArts

SMU DataArts on Twitter

Hakim Bellamy

Deputy Director of Cultural Services, City of Albuquerque

Bellamy currently serves as the Deputy Director of the City of Albuquerque Department of Arts & Culture, and was the Inaugural Poet Laureate for the City of Albuquerque (2012-2014). Bellamy is a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Community Leadership Network Fellow and a Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow. In 2012 he published his first collection of poetry, SWEAR (West End Press/University of New Mexico Press), and it landed him the Working-Class Studies Tillie Olsen Award for Literature in 2012. His latest collection Commissions y Corridos is his seventh book and was also published by University of New Mexico Press in August of 2021.

With an M.A. in Communications from the University of New Mexico (UNM), Bellamy has held adjunct faculty positions at the University of New Mexico and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Bellamy has shared his work in no less than five countries, for His Holiness the Dalai Lama XXIV and continues to use his art to change his communities.

Beyond Poetry Ink

Hakim Bellamy on Twitter

Abdiel López

Independent Curator

Abdiel J. López is an independent curator and cultural writer whose work examines dissidence, failure, and alternative economies within art and culture across the US and Mexico. Abdiel is the founder of the independent art gallery, Arrullar (“a-roo-yahr”), which first opened in Abdiel’s apartment closet in January 2020 and features BIPOC artists whose oeuvre breaks away from tradition and explores how art can be produced and shown outside the traditional white cube.  Outside of their curatorial and written practice, Abdiel is the Program Manager at Purpose Foundation, which helps businesses and communities build equitable ownership, governance, and financing models. Abdiel’s interest in alternative economic models stems from their tenure as the Program Officer at the Center for Cultural Innovation where they managed the time-limited, national portfolio, AmbitioUS. AmbitioUS invests in alternative economic models authored by and for BIPOC cultural communities in order to build wealth through ownership of assets and incubating trailblazing economic infrastructure. 

Abdiel holds a B.A. in sociology from Grinnell College where they also studied art history and were a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow. Abdiel uses they/them pronouns, is rooted in Oaxaca, and currently lives in Los Angeles with their Pomeranian dog, Horchata.

Patton Hindle

Head of Arts, Kickstarter Arts

Patton Hindle is the head of arts at Kickstarter, where she oversees the Arts and Film team whose specialists work closely with visual and performing artists, filmmakers, arts organizations, museums, and cultural institutions around the world to help them realize creative and ambitious ideas. Hindle was previously the co-founder of Chinatown gallery yours mine & ours and the Director of Gallery and Institutional Partnerships at Artspace.

She is a co-author of the second edition of How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery and was a 2019 Catherine Hannah Behrend Fellow at 92Y Women inPower in New York. Additionally, Hindle regularly advises for-profit and nonprofit arts organizations on strategic business development. She serves on the Board of Directors of The Laundromat Project, the Board of Advisors of the Arts Funders Forum, and Americans for the Arts’ Inclusive Creative Economy Advisory Group. Hindle was raised in London and attended university in Boston.

Patton Hindle on Instagram

Kim Tignor

Executive Director, Intellectual Property and Social Justice

Kim Tignor is the creator and founder of Take Creative Control (TCC) and executive director of the Institute for Intellectual Property & Social Justice (IIPSJ). Kim has grabbed the attention of creators of color by shining a light on a barrier to opportunity that’s been hiding in plain sight: our intellectual property laws.

We don’t always connect the dots between social justice and IP law. Like most social justice issues in America, IP law is ingrained in our system, silently tipping the scales against equality and opportunity. Think of an up-and-coming graphic artist who discovers a big brand stole her work. Or an entrepreneur who has great ideas but no army of attorneys to defend his rights. Or a breakout music artist trying to navigate inner-workings of fair use legal jargon. Without millions of dollars in lawyers or lobbyists, IP law seems like an immovable object that too often ends up protecting those at the top – sometimes at the expense of creators of color.

This injustice served as the catalyst for TCC. Founded in 2018, Tignor started by hosting local creative clinics that mixed music, art, and conversation with free legal advice. Her first goal is to make sure that creators know their rights and what they need to do to protect themselves. But soon, TCC took off and hasn’t slowed down. Tignor has built a growing community of artists, entrepreneurs, social justice activists, and top IP legal minds that collectively push for creative rights for creators.Tignor has been featured on the WashingTECH Tech Policy Podcast with Joe Miller, C-SPAN, and The Mike Muse Show. She has served as expert speaker at the 21 Ninety Summit, Artomatic, and the Copyright Office.

Before IIPSJ, she directed policy at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and worked to diversify the federal bench with the VENG Group. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Tignor received her JD from Georgetown University and her undergraduate degree in Economics and Information Technology from the College of William and Mary.

Cézanne Charles

Co-Founder, Rootoftwo

Cézanne Charles is a designer, curator, and researcher with 20 years of experience working at the executive and senior management level within the creative industries (USA/UK). Her work focuses on the intersection of art, design, technology, culture, economy, social justice, and public policy. Cézanne co-directs with John Marshall, rootoftwo. Their work uses participatory design methods to facilitate people to imagine and shape collective actions for more just, resilient, inclusive, and adaptive futures.  From 2008-2019, Cézanne served as director of creative industries at Creative Many, where she led the design and implementation of the company’s creative industries research. Here, Cézanne also designed and directed programs that empowered the practices of Michigan artists, designers, and makers, with a core focus on Detroit. 

Cézanne serves on the Stewardship Board for Design Core Detroit’s UNESCO City of Design initiative, the Allied Media Projects Board of Directors, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the Americans for the Arts Inclusive Creative Economy Advisory, and the Michigan Central Curatorial Advisory Board. Charles has a MPA from the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy University of Michigan and a BA in Theatre Studies from The Ohio State University.


rootoftwo on Twitter

Sunil Iyengar

Director, Research and Analysis, National Endowment for the Arts

Sunil Iyengar directs the Office of Research & Analysis at the National Endowment for the Arts. His office has produced dozens of research reports, hosted periodic research events and webinars, led strategic planning for the agency, and established research and data partnerships with the U.S Census Bureau and the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Iyengar and his team also have executed long-term research agendas, founded a national data repository for the arts, and launched two award programs for arts researchers, including the NEA Research Labs initiative.

He chairs a federal Interagency Task Force on the Arts and Human Development and contributes a monthly arts research blog and podcast to the NEA website and to Arts Journal. Iyengar has collaborated with organizations such as the Brookings Institution, the National Academy of Sciences, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Association of American Medical Colleges, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore the arts in relation to such topics as health and well-being, economic development, and STEM and medicine. His office assists the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, and directly supports the Sound Health Network, an  NEA initiative in partnership with the University of California San Francisco.

National Endowment for the Arts

NEA on Twitter

Althea Erickson

Former Vice President, Global Public Policy and Impact, Etsy

Althea Erickson was formerly the vice president, global public policy and impact, at Etsy, the global marketplace for unique and creative goods. Althea led Etsy's efforts to advance public policies that make it easier for Etsy sellers to start and grow their creative businesses by empowering Etsy sellers as advocates for themselves. Althea also guided the execution of Etsy’s broader impact strategy, including delivering on its economic, social, and environmental impact commitments and its internal and external accountability strategy.

Prior to joining Etsy, Althea was the advocacy and policy director at Freelancers Union, where she led its successful campaign to repeal unfair tax laws, promoted legislation to protect freelancers from unpaid wages, and advocated for member-driven health insurance. Previously, Althea worked at the Rockefeller Foundation, where she focused on strategies to build economic security within the US workforce. She has a B.A in government and public policy from Wesleyan University.

Julie Baker

Executive Director, Californians for the Arts

As Executive Director of California’s statewide arts advocacy organizations since 2018, Julie works to increase the legislative clout and visibility of the arts and culture communities by building coalition across the for and non-profit sectors of the creative industries, producing arts awareness and advocacy campaigns, and fighting for resources and legislation to support arts and culture workers. She serves as the co-chair of the Western Arts Advocacy network for WESTAF and California State Captain to Americans for the Arts. She is on the board of California Heritage: Indigenous Research Project and is an elected Nevada County school board member. Julie is the recipient of the 2021 Americans for the Arts Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award.  Julie has owned a fine arts gallery for emerging artists, co-founded an art fair, operated a consulting firm, and curated an annual music series at a museum.

She was President of her family’s arts marketing firm in New York City and worked at Christie’s Auction house. Julie also served for eight years as the Executive Director of The Center for the Arts and California WorldFest in Grass Valley.

Californians for the Arts