DeVos Institute Announces New Class of Fellows

May 13, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland welcomes a new class of arts managers to its fellowship program, marking the first cohort to begin the program since the Institute transitioned to the University from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 2014.

Next month, 13 arts managers from six countries will begin the Institute’s highly competitive fellowship program that provides practical training in arts administration. The class will be in residence in Washington, D.C. and College Park, Maryland for a month-long arts management intensive led by DeVos Institute executives, consultants, and experts from the field. The fellowship is a three-year program, and participants will return for one month in both 2017 and 2018. The fellowship program provides: 

  • Intensive academic training in nonprofit management, finance, planning, fundraising, evaluation, and marketing;
  • Access to leaders of cultural institutions from throughout the United States, including site visits to select institutions; and
  • Personalized mentoring, both during and between the month-long residencies.

“This year’s Fellows were selected in keeping with our mission: to train, support, and empower game changers in our field,” said DeVos Institute President Brett Egan. “In our opinion, these individuals are amongst the most talented arts managers working today. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with them in their pursuit to strengthen their organizations and communities.”

The fellows are: 

  • Iiris Autio – Managing Director, Tero Saarinen Company (Helsinki, Finland)
  • Karim Baer – Executive Director, Alonzo King LINES Ballet (San Francisco, California)
  • Alison Clark – Director, North and National Director, Combined Arts, Arts Council England (Manchester, United Kingdom)
  • Sigal Cohen – Director of International Relations and Development, Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv (Tel Aviv, Israel)
  • DeAnna Cummings – Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Juxtaposition Arts (Minneapolis, Minnesota)
  • Elaine Delgado – Director of Development, The Hispanic Society of America (New York, New York)
  • Suha Khuffash – Arts Programme Manager, British Council (Ramallah, Palestine)
  • Bryan Joseph Lee – Director of Marketing and Communications, Round House Theatre (Bethesda, Maryland)
  • Peter McDowell – Managing Director, Eighth Blackbird (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Stosh Mintek – Executive Director, Ghetto Film School (Los Angeles, California)
  • Debbie Ng – Development and Communications Director, Center for Asian American Media (San Francisco, California)
  • Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir – Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director, Icelandic Opera (Reykjavík, Iceland)
  • Bradley Wade Renner – General Manager, Atlanta Ballet (Atlanta, Georgia)

To date, the Institute’s fellowship program has served nearly 200 arts managers from 53 countries. DeVos Institute Chairman Michael M. Kaiser launched the fellowship program in 2001 during his tenure as President of the Kennedy Center. In 2008, the Institute introduced the current, intensive model of one month in residence each summer for three years.

    More than 450 arts managers from around the world applied to begin the DeVos Institute’s fellowship program in 2016. Biographies of the Institute’s fellows are included below.

    The DeVos Institute’s fellowship program is made possible with the support of the University of Maryland.

    Media Contact: Joseph Heitz, Director, External Relations


    2016-18 FELLOWS


    Iiris Autio

    Helsinki, Finland

    Managing Director, Tero Saarinen Company

    Iiris Autio has led Tero Saarinen Company, one of Northern Europe’s most prominent dance groups, as Managing Director since 2001. Exemplary shared leadership between Ms. Autio and choreographer Saarinen has been one of the key factors in the Company’s international success. Today, TSC is one of Finland’s leading cultural exports.

    After receiving her master’s degree in political science from the University of Helsinki in 1992, Ms. Autio specialized in marketing, production, and management of contemporary dance. In 2000-2001, Ms. Autio worked as a dance expert coordinating Race to the Finnish, a large-scale Finnish contemporary dance season in London and completed a master’s degree in arts management at City University London.

    Alongside her work, Ms. Autio has served as a specialist member on a number of creative economy and cultural export working groups for Finnish government ministries. She is currently on the Boards of the internationally renowned Savonlinna Opera Festival and Helsinki Dance House, a new organization and dance venue due to open in Helsinki in 2020. She also lectures regularly. 


    Karim Baer

    San Francisco, California, United States

    Executive Director, Alonzo King LINES Ballet

    Karim Baer serves as the Executive Director of Alonzo King LINES Ballet in San Francisco, California. Alonzo King LINES Ballet consists of an internationally touring dance company that performs the works of acclaimed choreographer Alonzo King; education programs including a summer program for youth, a training program for pre-professional dancers, a BFA program in collaboration with Dominican University of California; and a San Francisco-based dance center.

    Previously, Mr. Baer served as the Director of Public Programs and Performances for the California Institute of Integral Studies, where he presented artists and public intellectuals from a variety of disciplines.

    Mr. Baer has also held positions in the mental health and holistic health fields. He grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and has made the San Francisco Bay Area home for the last 15 years. His time living in the South and the Bay Area has given him a sense for the importance of using the arts as a tool to bring communities together. 


    Alison Clark

    Manchester, United Kingdom

    Director, North and National Director, Combined Arts; Arts Council England

    Alison Clark is the Director for the north west of England and the National Director for Combined Arts (covering festivals, events and cross-artform venues) for Arts Council England in Manchester. Arts Council England is England’s national development and funding agency for arts and culture. She leads, and is the architect of, the £35.2 million Ambition for Excellence funding program and oversees the funding relationship with The Factory, the innovative new arts venue in Manchester. She has a particular interest and expertise in collaborative business models and has been a regular contributor to arts and culture publications, including Guardian Culture Professionals.

    She has previously held senior roles in festival development and in arts policy-making for local government, and was a director for the arts education program Creative Partnerships. She began her arts career in cross-artform venue and festival marketing. 


    Sigal Cohen

    Tel Aviv, Israel

    Director of International Relations and Development, Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv

    Sigal Cohen is the Director of International Relations and Development at the Cameri Theatre of Tel Aviv. She is an Israeli art and culture curator and producer who specializes in the management of national and international public cultural events and institutions. Previously, she served as an Arts Officer at the British Council office in Tel Aviv and as Producer of the first Bat-Yam Biannual for Landscape Urbanism. She also founded and directed the International Department of Bat-Yam Municipality and founded the Cultural Green House “Art Factory” in Bat-Yam. In addition, Ms. Cohen directed the Israeli Actors Guild (SHACHAM) and Hazira- Interdisciplinary Arts Arena, Jerusalem.

    Currently, Ms. Cohen is producing the International Exposure of Israeli Drama, the ISRADRAMA International Events, and The Israeli Pavilion at the Prague Quadranela, on behalf of the Hanoch Levin Institute of Israeli Drama. Ms. Cohen also represents Barak Marshall, the acclaimed Israeli-American choreographer, whose work is produced internationally. 


    DeAnna Cummings

    Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

    Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder, Juxtaposition Arts


    DeAnna Dodds Cummings is the CEO and Co-Founder of Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), a cultural development center and teen-staffed design firm in North Minneapolis. Ms. Cummings creates authentic opportunities for people to exercise leadership and pursue self-sufficiency through hands-on engagement in the arts. Under Cummings’ leadership, JXTA has shifted from an afterschool enrichment model to a social enterprise model that trains and employs youth as a springboard to higher education and careers in art and design.

    She has presented about equity in the arts, locally rooted creative place-making, leadership, social entrepreneurship, and asset-based youth development at universities and museums across the country. Ms. Cummings is a 2016 Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Women in Business Awardee. Minnesota Public Radio named Cummings a 2013 Arts Hero. She is a 2007 Archibald Bush Leadership Fellow and was elected to the Board of Trustees of the Archibald Bush Foundation in 2014. Ms. Cummings recently presented at the United Nations to millennial philanthropists interested in impact investing.

    Ms. Cummings holds a Masters of Public Administration from Harvard University.


    Elaine Delgado

    New York, New York, United States

    Director of Development, The Hispanic Society of America


    Elaine Delgado became the first Director of Development at The Hispanic Society of America in New York City in 2015. She has a central role in strategic planning and development at the Hispanic Society, as the institution builds upon the strength of its collections and undergoes capital improvements that will foster a new era of increased programming and engagement with its constituency.

    Ms. Delgado’s previous work experience includes positions as Director of Marketing and Individual Giving at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education (Bronx, New York), Director of the Visual Arts Program at the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture (San Juan, Puerto Rico), and Capital Campaign Manager at the Museo de Arte de Ponce (Ponce/Guaynabo, Puerto Rico).

    From 2008 to 2010, she helped raise $6.6 million dollars for the Museo de Arte de Ponce’s first capital campaign. During her tenure at Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, Ms. Delgado helped increase fundraising at an average annual rate of 13 percent (from $1.9 million in 2012 to more than $3 million in 2015). She holds a bachelor’s degree in art history from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree in Puerto Rican Studies from the Centro de Estudios Avanzados de Puerto Rico y el Caribe.


    Suha Khuffash

    Ramallah, Palestine

    Arts Programme Manager, British Council Palestine


    Suha Khuffash is the Arts Programme Manager for the British Council in Palestine. She joined the British Council in Ramallah in 2000 and has managed the British Council Arts Programme for Palestine since 2008. Ms. Khuffash manages a portfolio of local and regional arts projects within the British Council’s context of enhancing intercultural understanding and positive social change. Her projects include art and culture, disability arts, education, and society.

    Ms. Khuffash has a bachelor’s degree in English literature from An-Najah University, Palestine and a master’s degree in international studies from Birzeit University, Palestine.


    Bryan Joseph Lee

    Bethesda, Maryland, United States

    Director of Marketing and Communications, Round House Theatre


    Bryan Joseph Lee is the Director of Marketing and Communications at Round House Theatre, a 400-seat regional theater in Bethesda, Maryland with a $5 million annual budget. He has worked with a wide variety of performing arts organizations, including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, and the SOURCE Festival for new plays in Washington, D.C. Mr. Lee is a graduate of Dartmouth College and holds a degree in Latin American Studies and Theatre. 


    Peter McDowell

    Chicago, Illinois, United States

    Managing Director, Eighth Blackbird

    Peter McDowell is currently the Managing Director of Chicago-based, four-time Grammy-award winning ensemble Eighth Blackbird, which is currently engaged in a unique and highly successful year-long residency at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Mr. McDowell has built a 20-year career on strategic, creative, and effective service to performing artists and arts organizations. He has held leadership positions at the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, New York’s Opera America, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. Mr. McDowell is the Founder of Peter McDowell Arts Consulting, a company that provides the performance field with high-level public relations, website development, and career coaching. He holds degrees from the University of Illinois and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He serves on the board of the Beverly Blossom Foundation and is a documentary filmmaker. 


    Stosh Mintek

    Los Angeles, California, United States

    Executive Director, Ghetto Film School


    Stosh Mintek is the Executive Director of Ghetto Film School in Los Angeles.  A 2003 graduate of Yale University with a double-major in English and film studies, Mr. Mintek has worked with Ghetto Film School (GFS) since 2004. As Program Director (2004-2008), he produced GFS international film shoots in France, Uganda, and Brazil, as well as hundreds of short films in New York City. As Director of Development and Special Projects (2008-2012), Mr. Mintek supervised the implementation of $2.5 million in capital funding to build the South Bronx Post House and launched GFS Master Class, which delivers GFS’ award-winning arts education model on a global scale. In 2012, Mr. Mintek became the Executive Producer of Digital Bodega, Ghetto Film School’s in-house transmedia production company. Digital Bodega is staffed by top alumni from GFS and operates out of the South Bronx Post House, creating bespoke media solutions (including commercials, ethnography portraits, and trends reports) for such corporate clients as Sony, Nike, Atlantic Records, and JP Morgan. In 2014, Mr. Mintek relocated to Los Angeles to become the Executive Director of GFS LA, the West Coast division of GFS.

    As an independent filmmaker, Mr. Mintek has written, shot, directed, edited, and produced numerous short films, music videos, animations, and documentaries that have screened in national and international film festivals, including “The Town Chernobyl Built” (2010), “Elementary Cool” (2010), “The Line” (2011), “End of the Season” (2012) and “Holding Up” (2014). 


    Debbie Ng

    San Francisco, California, United States

    Development and Communications Director, Center for Asian American Media

    Debbie Ng is the Development and Communications Director at the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM) in San Francisco, the nation’s largest Asian American media arts organization. Ms. Ng leads a development team effort to raise corporate, foundation, individual, and public support for a $3.5 million budget. She spearheads high-profile fundraising activities, including CAAMFest, the world’s largest Asian American film, music, and food festival that attracts 27,000 audience members, and CAAMFeast Awards: Stories, Food and You, honoring Asian American culinary achievement. She also leads CAAM’s institutional marketing, brand and communications strategy, strategic planning processes, and supports CAAM’s national award-winning public television productions and broadcasts.

    Prior to CAAM, Ms. Ng worked for the Center for Social Sector Leadership at the Haas School of Business (University of California, Berkeley) overseeing its rebrand and model experiential learning program that prepares MBA students for nonprofit board leadership. In 2006, Ms. Ng co-produced the award-winning film Kieu, a modern-day telling of the 19th century Vietnamese poem, The Tale of Kieu. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a bachelor of arts degree in women's studies. 


    Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir

    Reykjavík, Iceland

    Chief Executive Officer and Artistic Director, Icelandic Opera

    Steinunn Birna Ragnarsdóttir has been the CEO and Artistic Director of the Icelandic Opera in Reykjavík since June 2015.

    Ms. Ragnarsdóttir was born in Reykjavík and studied music from an early age. She earned a master’s degree in piano performance from New England Conservatory in 1987. She has performed frequently in many international festivals and appeared in concerts in Europe and the United States, earning various awards for her performances. A dedicated performer of solo and chamber music, she has also recorded several albums. Her recordings as a pianist with the Iceland Symphony include an album that earned her the 1998 Icelandic Music Award for the year’s best classical CD.

    Ms. Ragnarsdóttir is the founder of the Reykholt Music Festival and was its Artistic Director until she took on the position of the Music Director of Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. She was a member of the City Council of Reykjavík from 2002 to 2004 and the Vice President of the Cultural committee of Reykjavík. She currently sits on the boards of the International Society for the Performing Arts and the Icelandic Performing Arts Association, and appears frequently as a lecturer and panelist at various international conferences. 


    Bradley Wade Renner

    Atlanta, Georgia, United States

    General Manager, Atlanta Ballet


    Bradley Renner is the General Manager of Atlanta Ballet, where he manages the financial and administrative business for the production department. He assumed this role in April 2014 after holding the position of Company Manager for three years. Mr. Renner is active in the theater community in Atlanta and sits on the committee for the Georgia High School Musical Theater Awards for the Arts Bridge Foundation at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre.

    Previously, he was a professional actor and performed with the Alliance Theater, Atlanta Lyric Theatre, Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, and Shenandoah Summer Music Theatre. Mr. Renner received his master’s degree in arts administration from Shenandoah University and received a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts with a minor in Dance from Point Park University.

    1300 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 410        Washington, DC 20004        P: 301.314.0963     

    © 2015 University of Maryland. All rights reserved.