DEVOS INSTITUTE WELCOMES NEW FELLOWSHIP COHORT

The DeVos Institute of Arts Management at the University of Maryland welcomes a new class of seven arts managers to its Fellowship program. These seven Fellows will join 12 managers returning for their second and third years in the program.

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. Fellows beginning their first year will return for one month in both 2020 and 2021; Fellows in their second year will return for a third time in 2020 to complete the Fellowship; and Fellows in their third year will complete their final year in 2019.

This year’s seven fellows represent fewer than 3% of applicants. Biographies of the Institute’s Fellows are below, by class.

2021 Fellows, beginning their First of the Three-Year Program:

Name Position Organization City Country
Bill Bragin
Executive Artistic Director
The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi
United Arab Emirates
Paul Deckard
Managing Director
Opera Colorado
Denver, Colorado
United States
Libertad Guerra
Director
Loisaida Cultural Center
New York, New York
United States
Martin Inthamoussú
General Director, Arts Education & National Outreach 
SODRE, Ministry of Education and Culture
Montevideo
Uruguay
Dantes Rameau
Co-Founder and Executive Director
Atlanta Music Project
Atlanta, Georgia
United States
Sunny Sumter
Executive Director
DC Jazz Festival
Washington, D.C.
United States
Aleksandra Szymańska
Director
Instytut Kultury Miejskiej / City Culture Institute
Gdańsk
Poland

Bill Bragin
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

2021 Cohort
Executive Artistic Director, The Arts Center at NYU Abu Dhabi
www.nyuad-artscenter.org


Bill Bragin is the founding executive artistic director of The Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi, a “game-changer” (The National) in the United Arba Emirates since it began its programs in 2015 on Saadiyat Island. The Arts Center was selected as "Favourite Cultural Experience" in the 2018 Pride of Abu Dhabi Awards, and Bragin has been a finalist twice for Abu Dhabi AmCham's Falcon Individual Award for Excellence.

Bragin is a co-founder of the not-for-profit world music festival and service organization globalFEST, 2018 winner of the William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming by the Association of Performing Arts Professionals.

As director of public programming of New Yorks’s Lincoln Center from 2008-2014, he oversaw the Midsummer Night Swing and Lincoln Center Out of Doors festivals, and programmed the David Rubenstein Atrium. As Director of Joe's Pub at the Public Theater from 2001-2007, he presented thousands of performances, and commissioned the Tony Award-winning musical Passing Strange.

Previous activities include serving as Curator of Music Programs at Symphony Space, General Manager of the NYNO record label, and Artistic Director/Executive Producer of Central Park SummerStage. Bragin was music advisor for the TED Conferences, and has served as a jury member, advisor, or speaker for acclaimed conferences and organizations including WOMEX (Worldwide Music Expo), South by Southwest (SXSW), Atlantic Music Expo, National Endowment for the Arts, Performing Arts Market Seoul (PAMS) and Porto Musical, among many others. As “Acidophilus”, he has djed internationally as part of GlobeSonic Sound System.

Paul Deckard
Denver, Colorado, United States

2021 Cohort
Managing Director, Opera Colorado
www.operacolorado.org


Paul Deckard is currently Managing Director of Opera Colorado in Denver. In 2017, Deckard was recruited to lead the company's business strategy and create an environment for artistic expansion. He overhauled the company's programmatic marketing efforts in his first year resulting in a 35% increase in attendance and earned revenues—the highest single increase in attendance in over a decade. He also led the relocation and construction of the company's headquarters combining the administrative and artistic facilities for the first time in the company's history. His leadership played a critical role in advancing the company's activities with a 25% growth in the overall size of the organization's operating budget in two years. Deckard has been widely recognized as an influential leader with a successful track record. In 2015, he was nominated as CFO of the year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle for his work with the Atlanta Opera in a major financial turnaround and artistic expansion. Deckard played a key role in planning the company's $65 million comprehensive campaign and implementing large scale growth strategies resulting in an 80% deficit reduction in two years, while increasing the operating budget by 40%. During Deckard's tenure the company doubled the number of performances per season and doubled contributed revenues. Deckard has extensive experience in theatrical and opera production working on over seventy-six productions in the last decade. He has also served as a nonprofit management consultant focused primarily on financial systems implementation and business process automation. Deckard currently serves as an adjunct professor at the University of Denver teaching graduate courses on nonprofit leadership and finance. Deckard received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theater from Michigan State University, and a Master of International Business from Hult International School of Business in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Libertad Guerra
New York, New York, United States

2021 Cohort
Director, Loisaida Cultural Center
http://loisaida.org/

Libertad O. Guerra is an anthropologist, curator, cultural organizer, and art historian. Since 2014, she has served as Director and Chief Curator of the Loisaida Inc. Center, where she has developed a new inter-generational roster of programs that explores the cross-currents of how art and place is produced and consumed in a way that does not erase one group or another. She produced critically- and community-acclaimed exhibitions and revamped the historical Loisaida Street Festival, adding a depth of cultural offer in street theater and performance art platforms for emergent and mid-career artists and tripling attendance numbers to 30,000.

Her academic research and symposia has focused on Puerto Rican, Latinx, and NYC’s social-artistic movements and cultural activism in im/migrant urban settings. She lead the community engagement process and study that lead to the Loisaida Cultural’s Plan policy advocacy document. Her publications include essays in The Journal of Aesthetics and Protest, the edited volume New York-Berlin: Kulturen in der Stadt, and in FIELD: a Journal of Socially-Engaged Art Criticism. She has organized numerous local and international exhibitions, panels, and conferences, among them ¡Presente! The Young Lords in New York at Loisaida Inc. Cultural Center (2015), La Lucha Continua/ The Struggle Continues (2017) about the community muralism movement in the LES, and the forthcoming exhibits Pasado y Presente: Art After the Young Lords (Spring 2019), and Counter- Institution: Activists Estates of the Lower East Side (Fall 2019). Libertad is a co-founder and serves on the board of the Mott Haven/Port Morris Land Trust, and advocates for environmental justice and cultural equity. She is part of the Art Against Austerity working group with Social Practice Queens, served as advisor in the Design Trust’s Public for All initiative, is member of the Naturally Occurring Cultural District network (NOCD-NY), and serves as Board Chair of The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural Center in the Lower East Side.

Guerra has been the recipient of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Public Policy Fellowship (2000), the Galo Plaza’s Gabriela Mistral, Julia de Burgos, Frida Kahlo 2018 Award, was a Museo del Barrio Three Kings Honoree (2018), and has received the Ford’s Legendary Women Award (2018), Lower East Side Community Hero Award (2019), and the DeVos Institute Fellowship for Arts Managers (2019-2021).

Martin Inthamoussú
Montevideo, Uruguay

2021 Cohort
General Director, Arts Education, National Outreach for Cultural Services and Educational Programs, SODRE, Ministry of Education and Culture of Uruguay
www.sodre.gub.uy


Martin Inthamoussú is the General Director of the Arts Education of SODRE in Uruguay concentrating on national outreach for cultural services and educational programs. Since 2013, he has worked with SODRE, the oldest cultural institution in the country dedicated to audience development, culture and art promotion, arts education, growth of traditions, and the search for artistic excellence, taking its services to the whole country and beyond borders. Within the institution, Inthamoussú has been commissioned to create the Contemporary Dance Department of the National Dance School, of which he is a founder. He also works on the academic content and curricular designs of the National School of the Arts in all its departments. He is responsible for the main changes the organization has had in the last five years transforming it and reaching international recognition like never before. In SODRE he has also developed different programs working on access to culture for citizens in the whole country. He has also innovated in the fundraising methods applied for the organization, doubling the budget in just one year, which allowed the institution to develop new programs and deepen the scope of existing ones. As an arts manager he introduced new ideas and models of festivals management in Uruguay, where he created and directed the International Dance Festival Montevideo Sitiada from 2003 until today. Under his leadership, the festival has gained international recognition and developed new audiences for contemporary dance in Montevideo.

Inthamoussú is a professor at the Catholic University of Uruguay, is regularly invited to present at international symposiums all over the globe, and sits as co-chair of the International Society for the Performing Arts Programming Committee. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theatre Theory Arts from the University of Manchester, United Kingdom. He holds a Master's Degree in Communication with an emphasis in Reception and Culture from the Catholic University of Uruguay. He also holds a Postgraduate in Arts Education of the OEI / MEC. He has also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in International Cultural Affairs from the University of Girona, Spain, and holds a specialist Certificate in Cultural Management and Marketing from Miguel de Cervantes University, Spain. He was a guest student at the Faculty of Arts of Amsterdam, Holland. He has received the danceWEB Europe scholarship (2003 and 2004) in Austria sponsored by UNESCO Uruguay and the Dutch Performing Arts Funds and the SIWIC scholarship in Switzerland (2005). He has been awarded the Scholarship Fund for the Promotion of Artistic Training and Creation granted by the Ministry of Education and Culture in Uruguay in the 2012-2014 period. He has been a resident of the American Dance Festival in the United States in 2014 and an international fellow at the International Society for the Performing Arts in 2018 and 2019.

As a teacher he teaches regular classes at University in Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Canada, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, and Germany as well as private institutes in Latin America and Europe. He has published papers on dance theory and cultural access.

Dantes Rameau
Atlanta, Georgia, United States

2021 Cohort
Co-Founder and Executive Director, Atlanta Music Project
www.atlantamusicproject.org


Born in Ottawa, Canada, bassoonist Dantes Rameau is Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Atlanta Music Project since 2010. With a mission to empower underserved youth to realize their possibilities through music, the Atlanta Music Project provides intensive, tuition-free music education to underserved youth right in their neighborhood. As Executive Director of the Atlanta Music Project, Dantes has grown programming to 350 students, 50 teaching artists, 10 employees and five program sites. In the summer of 2019, AMP will open its first ever headquarters space, the AMP Center for Performance and Education.

Dantes holds degrees in bassoon performance from McGill University and the Yale University School of Music. In 2010 he graduated from the Sistema Fellows Program at the New England Conservatory, where he studied non-profit management and music education.

As a bassoonist, Dantes performs regularly as part of the faculty of the Atlanta Music Project. Most recently in 2018 he was soloist with the Orchestre Symphonique des Jeunes de l’Ontario Francais in Ottawa, Canada. He is currently the bassoon teaching artist with the Atlanta Music Project. In addition Dantes has lectured on music entreprenurship and music education at Emory University, the New England Conservatory, and Clayton State University. Musical America named Dantes a 2018 Top 30 Music Professional. In 2019 ArtsATL.org, Atlanta’s leading publication for the arts, awarded Dantes its Luminary Award for Arts Education. Dantes has spoken at conferences and symposiums, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Sound Music at the Kennedy Center, Georgia Art & Criminal Justice Forum, Arts Leaders of Metro Atlanta, and the Yale School of Music Symposium on Music Education.

Sunny Sumter
Washington, D.C., United States

2021 Cohort
Executive Director, DC Jazz Festival
https://dcjazzfest.org/


Sunny Sumter is Executive Director of the DC Jazz Festival, a nonprofit service organization established in 2004 to present jazz-related cultural and educational programs in the nation’s capital. Its’ signature programs are the annual DC JazzFest held each June, the year-round DC Jazz Festival Education Program; and the Charles Fishman Embassy Series. DC Jazz Festival is the recipient of the 2018 DC Mayor’s Art Award for Excellence in Creative Industries. Sumter has raised over $14 million dollars for the DC Jazz Festival and has participated as a panelist in discussions on jazz funding at the WeDC JazzFest, Jazz Philadelphia Summit, and the U.S. Department of State. Prior to her tenure at the DC Jazz Festival, Sumter held management/director positions with the Aspen Institute, National Foundation for Teaching Entrepreneurship, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. Sumter earned her bachelor’s degree in music business from Howard University where she minored in jazz voice. She is a recipient of a Howard University Benny Golson Award, the 2018 Sitar Arts Center Visionary Award, a DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Fellowship, and a Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation Emerging Artist Award. As a professional vocalist, Sumter has performed at some of the finest festivals, performance venues, and clubs in the U.S. and internationally. Sumter was awarded the Aspen Institute’s Staff Achievement Award for Excellence. She was host of on the BETJ network. She is a member of Americans for the Arts, National Academy for the Recording Arts and Sciences, the DC Arts and Humanities Education Collaborative; and served as a program director member of the National Collaboration for Youth.

Aleksandra Szymańska
Gdańsk, Poland

2021 Cohort
Director, Instytut Kultury Miejskiej / City Culture Institute
www.ikm.gda.pl


Aleksandra Szymańska has been Director of the self-governing Instytut Kultury Miejskiej (City Culture Institute) since March 2011. Ms. Szymańska is also co-author of the cultural strategy of the City of Gdańsk, cultural manager, and expert of cultural policies. Since August 2008, after winning the competition for a strategy to prepare the city for European Capital of Culture, she was the Strategic Manager of the team responsible for the Gdańsk and the Metropolis – European Capital of Culture 2016 project.

Ms. Szymańska has been engaged in independent cultural projects throughout her professional life. When studying in London, she worked with the ISAN foundation (Independent Street Arts Network) as co-ordinator of a market research pilot project for street festivals and with the City of London Festival (design of the festival’s evaluation model and studio management for one of the main festival artists). For over 8 years beginning in 1993, she worked in the music market (BMG Poland, later Sony BMG), and then as co-owner of the independent events company impresJOT (management of top Polish music group). She is also a member of the Polish Phonographic Academy. In 2002, she began work in media as the Special Events Manager in Hachette Filipacchi Polska Publishing, marketing director, then publishing director on the weekly “Gala” in the G+J Gruner + Jahr Polska Publishing House.

Ms. Szymańska is a graduate of the National Higher School of Theatre, Television and Film in Łódź (specialization: Production Management); the University of Warsaw (Applied Social Science); and City University in London (specialization: Management of Institutions and Cultural Projects, Cultural Politics and Music Management; MA in Arts Management). She is a traveler and lover of good literature and music.

2020 Fellows
in the DeVos Institute
Fellowship
Returning to Washington, D.C. to Complete the Second Year of the Three-Year Program

Name Position Organization City Country
Ivan Ghezzi Director Chankillo Archaeological Program Lima Peru
Cayenne Harris Vice President, Lyric Unlimited Lyric Opera of Chicago Chicago, Illinois United States
Elham Khattab Founder and Director Out Of The Circle Organization Cairo Egypt
Michael Orlove Director of Regional State and Local Partnerships and International Activities National Endowment for the Arts Washington, D.C. United States
María Olga Arias Sánchez General Director Morelia Music Festival Miguel Bernal Jiménez Morelia Mexico
Amy Thomas Managing Director Penumbra Theatre Saint Paul, Minnesota United States
Palencia Turner Chief Development Officer Idyllwild Arts Foundation Idyllwild, California United States

Ivan Ghezzi
Lima, Peru

2020 Cohort
Director, Chankillo Archaeological Program
www.wmf.org/project/chankillo


Dr. Ghezzi is a Peruvian archaeologist (Ph.D. Yale University), Director of the program for the study, conservation, and revalorization of Chankillo, an ancient solar observatory in Peru nominated to UNESCO's World Heritage List, and Coordinator of Cultural and Strategic Projects at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. He has led research in many parts of Peru, supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Wenner-Grenn Foundation, the World Monuments Fund, etc. His interests include the study of ancient complex societies, prehistoric war, ancient architecture, dating methods, archaeoastronomy, and paleoclimate. He has published papers in top-ranked scientific journals, including Science, chapters in academic and non-academic books, and edited two books. His archaeological findings have been reported in prestigious media outlets, from The New York Times to The Economist. As former director of the National Museum in Peru, he oversaw a revival that led to a record increase in visitors.

Cayenne Harris
Chicago, Illinois, United States

2020 Cohort
Vice President, Lyric Unlimited, Lyric Opera of Chicago
www.lyricopera.org


Cayenne Harris currently serves as Vice President, Lyric Unlimited for Lyric Opera of Chicago, having been appointed the first director of Lyric Unlimited in July 2012. As the lead administrator for Lyric's community engagement and audience development initiatives, Ms. Harris has played an essential role in the creation of Lyric Unlimited – its philosophy, structure, operation, and content. In this role, she has established and fostered partnerships with more than 50 Chicago-area organizations, commissioned four world premiere operas, and created a variety of innovative programs and performances. In collaboration with Lyric Opera Creative Consultant Renée Fleming, Harris planned and implemented Chicago Voices, a large scale, multi-year festival celebrating the human voice.

Prior to her role at Lyric Opera, she served in several roles with increasing responsibility at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, concluding her time there as Director of New Initiatives for the Institute for Learning, Access, and Training. Harris’ work at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra included the development of programming for incarcerated and at-risk youth; planning and implementation of a diversity fellowship program; overseeing the programming of family and educational concerts; the establishment of a youth in music festival; and management of projects collaboratively planned with community organizations to build and sustain the CSO's presence in Chicago's neighborhoods. Ms. Harris holds a Master of Music degree from Yale University and a Bachelor of Music degree from San Francisco State University.

Elham Khattab
Cairo, Egypt

2020 Cohort
Founder and Director, Out Of The Circle Organization
www.outofthecircle.org


Elham Khattab graduated from Helwan University in 2004 with a major in graphic design. She started her arts management career at the Cairo International Film Festival (and Cairo International Film Festival for Children) as Program Coordinator. She then organized several exhibitions while working as Executive Exhibition Coordinator for El-Sawy Culture wheel (2006 – 2008).

In 2008, she raised funds for the first intake of the 'Out Of The Circle’ initiative, delivering a workshop and an exhibition for Egyptian and Syrian artists with the cooperation of All Art Now in Damascus. The project was funded by Al Mawred Al Thaqafy, the Egyptian Ministry of Culture, and Beit Jabry in Syria. Since then, it has been the cradle for numerous visual and digital arts projects in Egypt and abroad. In addition, Ms. Khattab founded DI-EGY Fest in 2013 a digital art festival in Egypt that presents workshops, panel discussions, exhibitions, and DI-EGY kids for the children. The Festival is one of the main projects that Out Of The Circle presents for the audience in Egypt. The festival is funded by the British Council, the US Embassy, the Japan Foundation, the Netherlands Embassy, the French Institute, the Egyptian Culture Ministry, Darb 1718, Prohelvetia, and the Austrian Embassy in Cairo.

Ms. Khattab participated in the British Council’s cultural leadership international program, where she completed curating and arts criticism short courses from the University of Arts in London in 2012 and served as the curator in residence for British Council Cairo in 2012/2013. As part of the CrossCulture Programme (CCP) of the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (ifa), she completed a curating internship in the arts mediation department at Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst in Leipzig, Germany in October/November 2012. Finally, she completed a research residency with Prohelvetia, focusing on digital arts in Geneva, Zurich, and Basel in year 2015.

From 2005 till now, Ms. Khattab has participated in several local and international curatorial and arts management workshops and programs in Egypt, MENA, Europe, and the United states. She took part in the 2008 International Visitor Leadership Program, organized by the US Department of State and the International Meridian Centre. She is a member of Egypt's Syndicate of Plastic Artists, the global community of U.S government-sponsored exchange programs' alumni, and the Egyptian State Alumni Community in Egypt.

Ms. Khattab is currently working on DIGI MENA a mapping research project that maps digital artists from the Middle East and North Africa. DIGI MENA is happening with a project curators' team from North Africa, supported by the Goethe Institute and the German Federal Foreign Office.

Michael Orlove
Washington, District of Columbia, United States

2020 Cohort
Director of Regional, State and Local Partnerships and International Activities
National Endowment for the Arts
www.arts.gov


Michael Orlove has been Director of Regional, State and Local Partnerships and International Activities Director for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) since April 2019. Prior to this role, he was Director of of Presenting & Multidisciplinary Works and Artist Communities for the NEA since 2012, and in October 2013, he also took over the NEA's International Activities. Previously, Orlove spent 19 years as senior program director for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. His tenure with the department led to nearly two decades of innovation, creativity, and passion for public service with the City of Chicago. Michael helped transform the Chicago Cultural Center into a prime downtown performing arts venue, as well as launched Chicago SummerDance and World Music Festival: Chicago, two staples in the summer festival season. Michael also served as the director of music programming in Millennium Park since its grand opening in 2004 and helped establish many of the program series at that venue. Honors include being named one of the 'Chicagoans of the Year' in music by the Chicago Tribune in both 1999 and 2009, as well as one of Chicago's 'Global Visionaries' by Chicago Public Radio WBEZ and the Chicago Matters: Beyond Burnham series. He has a BA in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MA in Performing Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago.

María Olga Arias Sánchez
Morelia, Mexico

2020 Cohort
General Director, Morelia Music Festival Miguel Bernal Jiménez
http://festivalmorelia.mx


Ms. Sánchez is currently General Director of the Morelia Music Festival Miguel Bernal Jiménez in Morelia, Mexico, as well as General Director of the International Violoncello Competition Carlos Prieto. She has more than 20 years of experience in the organization of events, communications, and public relations, mainly focused on the cultural field. Until July 2016, she was in charge of communications and institutional marketing at the Mexican Center for Music and Sonic Arts (CMMAS). She has also worked as a content analyst for the Ibero-American Portal of Cultural Management (Portalgc.org) and a counselor for the master's degree in Cultural Management at the University of Barcelona. She worked as Director of Image and Development for the Conservatorio de las Rosas for several years.

Ms. Sánchez is the Founder and Director of MC, Ep Consultoria, Evento al Punto for 9 years. One of her main interests is social welfare and the creation of projects that can promote the improvement of her society. What she enjoys the most is the management of events and projects that lead her to constantly meeting new and interesting places, people, and situations.

Currently she is part of the Board of the Teatro Matamoros, a new and innovative cultural center in Morelia, as well as on the Board of the WOMAD Mexico 2020, festival that will take place in March 2020. In both projects, is in charge or the strategic planning, logistics, agenda, and programming. Her efforts are focused on the idea that art and culture as engines for city and community development.

Ms. Sánchez holds a degree in Communication Sciences, a Master's Degree in Cultural Management, and Diploma in Management and Cultural Policies, all from the University of Barcelona. These studies were possible thanks to a grant from the National Fund for Culture and the Arts. She is a Certified Meetings Specialist, and also completed the Harvard Manage Mentor Diploma. 

Amy Thomas

Saint Paul, Minnesota, United States

2020 Cohort
Managing Director, Penumbra Theatre 
https://penumbratheatre.org


Amy Thomas is currently Managing Director of Penumbra Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has over 17 years of management experience with performing arts organizations ranging from university presenters (ArtPower!, UC San Diego) to multi-genre producers (The Broad Stage, Santa Monica). Under Thomas' leadership, Penumbra recently underwent a major brand refresh to usher in a new era for the nation's preeminent African American theatre. She was part of the creative and management team behind The Loft, a 250-capacity performance lounge, restaurant, and bar voted "Best Venue in San Diego." Thomas was a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley; she holds a B.A. in Visual Arts – Art History and Media from the University of California, San Diego. 

Palencia Turner
Idyllwild, California, United States

2020 Cohort
Chief Development Officer, Idyllwild Arts Foundation
www.idyllwildarts.org


Palencia J. Turner is an institutional advancement strategist with nearly two decades experience leading fundraising efforts, public affairs, fund development, community engagement, and marketing programs for organizations in the education, non-profit, and government sectors.

She joined Idyllwild Arts Foundation as Chief Development Officer in July 2015 and works closely with the President and Head of School to create a sustainable foundation for Development. She is a member of the Leadership Team and leads the Development Department in the areas of Annual Giving, Major Gifts, Special Events, Planned Giving, Alumni and Parents Relations, Foundation Relations, and Development Services. 

Before arriving at Idyllwild Arts, Palencia was the Senior Vice President, Chief Development Officer for KCET Public Television Station where she was in charge of Development and Membership for the organization, and was a member of the President’s senior staff. In her role at KCET, Palencia led Member & Viewer Services, Membership, Special Events, Corporate Sponsorship, Individual and Campaign Giving, Foundation Relations, and Development Operations raising $28,000,000 annually.

Prior to joining KCET, Palencia was Senior Development Officer for Art Center College of Design, served as Director of Community & Fund Development for the Urban Education Partnership—now the Los Angeles Education Partnership—and worked as Government Affairs Manager and Legislative Representative for the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office during both the Richard Riordan and James K. Hahn administrations.

Palencia is currently Vice Chair of the Pasadena Fire Foundation and a member of the Board of Directors of MUSE/IQUE. She previously served on the City of Pasadena’s Arts & Culture Commission for over 6 years.

She is a graduate of Georgetown University’s Master of Policy Management and Howard University receiving a Bachelors of Arts in History with a minor in Political Science, both institutions located in our nation’s capital.

2019 Fellows
in the DeVos Institute
Fellowship
Returning to Washington, D.C. to Complete the Third Year of the Three-Year Program

Name Position Organization City Country
Ekundayo Bandele Founder and Chief Executive Officer Hattiloo Theatre Memphis, Tennessee United States
Benjamin Dietschi Executive Director Soundstreams Toronto Canada
Rick Heath Executive Director Performing Arts Connections Australia Perth Australia
Martin Pošta Chief Executive Officer SIGNAL Festival Prague Czech Republic
Alma Salem Independent Curator and Cultural Advisor Syria Sixth Space Contemporary Arts Touring Curatorial Platform Montreal Canada

Ekundayo Bandele
Memphis, Tennessee, United States

2019 Cohort
Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Hattiloo Theatre
www.hattiloo.org


Ekundayo Bandele is from the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. He attended both Tennessee State University and Morehouse College, but left before obtaining a degree to pursue his passion as an entrepreneur. In 2006, he founded Hattiloo Theatre in Memphis, Tennessee.

As the theatre's artistic leader, he has directed several plays that include August Wilson's "Fences”, and he worked as assistant director to Ruben Santiago-Hudson on “Paradise Blue” that starred TV & film star Blair Underwood. As Hattiloo’s administrative leader, he spearheaded a $4.3M capital campaign that resulted in the construction of Hattiloo’s venue in Memphis, Tennessee’s popular Overton Square, and a second capital campaign that raised $900,000 for the construction of the Hattiloo Development Center.

Ekundayo gives back to the community by serving as chairman of Mayor Strickland’s Youth Guidance Commission. He is chairman of the Memphis Branding Initiative, and serves as a member on the boards of the Overton Park Conservancy and the Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau. 

Benjamin Dietschi
Toronto, Canada

2019 Cohort
Executive Director, Soundstreams
www.soundstreams.ca


Ben Dietschi is currently Executive Director of Soundstreams where, with Artistic Director Lawrence Cherney C.M., he provides leadership for one of Canada’s leading contemporary music companies. Long-term planning, entrepreneurialism, partnership building, and community outreach define Ben’s approach. He received the Brandon University Distinguished Alumni award (2017) and frequently speaks at industry events. His experience rests on formative years as a saxophonist and composer, performing across North America and Europe. Musical innovation is a life’s work for Ben. He is passionate about bringing contemporary Canadian music to a wider audience, believing in its wide cultural relevance.

Rick Heath
Perth, Australia

2019 Cohort
Executive Director – Performing Arts Connections Australia
www.apaca.com.au


Rick has worked in the performing arts industry across Australia as a producer, presenter, programmer, tour manager, consultant, and advocate. He is the Executive Director of Performing Arts Connections Australia [formerly the Australian Performing Arts Centres Association (APACA)] and Director of Push Management Pty Ltd, a strategy, planning, and project management consultancy for the arts industry. Rick graduated from the Western Australia Academy of Performing Arts in Stage Management and also holds a Bachelor of Business (Marketing).

Rick has Chaired and been a Board member of several arts organisations and grant assessment and award panels. He is currently Chair of the Helpmann Awards Presentation for Children Panel, a member of the Panel for Regional Touring, and a board member of The Last Great Hunt.

Rick was Project Facilitator for Future Moves, a $1.6M government initiative for the development of Contemporary Dance in Western Australia. He co-wrote Australia’s first National Touring Framework with Harley Stumm and recently completed a 5-year touring strategy for the state of Western Australia. He is an authority on touring in Australia. Rick is a cultural advocate. He has a passion for strategic audience development and nurturing connections between art-makers and presenters. He believes strongly in the ability of the performing arts to inspire people to think differently.

Martin Pošta
Prague, Czech Republic

2019 Cohort
Chief Executive Officer, SIGNAL Festival
www.signalfestival.com


Martin Pošta is the founder and CEO of numerous significant cultural events. He studied at the University of Economics and the Film Academy of Performing Arts, both in Prague. In 2013, Mr. Pošta founded the SIGNAL Festival, the largest cultural event in the Czech Republic. Since its founding, the Festival’s unique integration of art, urban space, and modern technology has attracted more than 2 million viewers to the stage of Prague’s downtown. Mr. Pošta worked many years at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, where he founded the festival of film debuts – Fresh Film Fest. Martin also founded the International Festival of Contemporary Design designSUPERMARKET.

Martin is also the producer of the video mapping group The Macula, which is famous for its video mapping of the Old Town Hall’s astronomic clock in Prague. In addition to Prague, Martin has also completed video mapping projects in Dubai, Liverpool, Bucharest, and many other destinations. 

Currently, Martin is preparing for his sixth year of the SIGNAL Festival, for which he is also co-producing the animated feature film Even Mice Belong in Heaven.

Alma Salem
Montreal, Canada

2019 Cohort
Founder, The Freedom Museum, and Independent Curator and Cultural Advisor, Syria Sixth Space


Alma Salem is an independent curator and cultural advisor recognized for her knowledge and expertise in producing hundreds of cultural projects across all arts forms. Her work has spanned international cultural relations, heritage protection, the visual and performing arts, cultural entrepreneurship, and arts in development and Resilience. Born in Damascus, she resides in Montreal, Canada, where she continues her work with artists around the globe. She is a recognized cultural militant who has worked with the British Council between 2006 and 2015 in varied positions marked by five years of leading its Middle East and North Africa regional arts programmes across 17 Arab countries, the UK and Europe. From 1995 to 2006, she worked at the Near East French Institute as its cultural resources manager. During this time, she published the book Photographies du Levant showcasing a ten-year project preserving the visual heritage of the Levant in partnership with the EU, the French National Center for Scientific Research, and many Levant-based museums. Alma Salem is the founder of the Freedom Museum and the touring contemporary arts platform Syria Sixth Space.

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