Katy Cupples

Director of Operations and Administration

Katy Cupples serves as Director of Finance and Administration where she is responsible for the Institute's accounting and budgeting, including compliance with grants and contracts. She also oversees its human resources and operations.  

Katy served as Manager of the DeVos Institute from 2009-2014 where she supervised domestic and international capacity building programs, consulting projects, fellowships, and internships, while serving as the liaison to Kennedy Center senior staff.  During her five-year tenure, Katy helped launch the first capacity building programs in the history of six countries, established internal and external policies, and tripled the staff.  When the Institute shifted its operations to the University of Maryland in 2014, she led the transfer of the financial, legal, and programmatic business before moving to Texas where she was a Strategy & Operations consultant for a firm in Dallas.

Katy has also served in the development office of the Kennedy Center working with the National Symphony Orchestra’s Board and Trustees and was the Director of Development for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation.  She graduated from Emerson College in Boston, MA and attended graduate school at the University of Texas at Austin where she studied cultural policy and diplomacy.  She serves as a mentor for the Archer Center, the DC campus in the University of Texas System.  Katy has been a guest speaker for the DeVos Institute at American University, George Washington University, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

kgcupples (at)

Marie Gossman Thomas

Director, Capacity Building Programs | Consulting Associate

Marie Gossman Thomas manages both national and international capacity building programs at the Institute in collaboration with the foundations, universities, and government authorities that support them. Since 2015, she has supported the Arts Innovation and Management Program, a training partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies that has worked with nearly 500 organizations in 13 cities across the country.

In 2021 she expanded her role within the organization as a Consulting Associate, providing project management, research and analysis, and strategy development support to clients.

Also within her portfolio are the Institute’s leadership training Intensives—including topics such as Board Development and Catalytic Fundraising.

Marie has a background in corporate event production and theatre company management. As an event producer for Live Marketing, a boutique marketing agency in Chicago, she traveled the country from 2012 through 2015 managing the production of experiential corporate events and tradeshow marketing programs.

Prior to Live Marketing, Marie served as a Management Associate for Davenport Theatrical in New York City, and from 2009 through 2012 was the Group Sales Director and Company Manager of The Awesome 80’s Prom Off-Broadway. She also served as an Associate for Godspell on Broadway in 2011, and assisted with the creation of the Be A Broadway Star board game, released in 2012.

She is a graduate of the University of West Florida with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. .

megossman (at)

Syrah Gunning

Executive Search Consultant and Director, Executive Development

Syrah Gunning leads the Institute’s executive search & leadership development portfolio, where she serves as a trusted partner and collaborator to leading arts executives and search committees seeking to define and further their individual and organizational impact. Recent and current executive searches include senior leadership roles at the Harlem School of the Arts (New York), the José Limón Dance Foundation (New York), the International African American Museum (Charleston), SpeakEasy Stage (Boston), Pacific Opera Victoria (Victoria, Canada), Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Serpahic Fire (Miami), and Music of Remembrance (Seattle).

Since 2011, Mrs. Gunning has led the Institute’s industry-leading Global Executive Management Fellowship, which offers a bespoke and rare opportunity for leading arts and culture executives to look critically at their work, challenge assumptions, and develop rigorous strategies to address the most pressing challenges facing their organizations, regions, and art forms at large over a three-year engagement. In this role, she recruits candidates worldwide; administers comprehensive interview, evaluation, and onboarding processes; and leads its cohort-based, experiential leadership development curriculum which supports restless leaders in reaching their next stage of executive development, alignment, and impact. She additionally leads comprehensive research and evaluation efforts of hundreds of executive teams engaging in the Institute’s multi-year training and consultation engagements. Through this work, she has developed a deep and highly nuanced understanding of executive needs and motivations, and the alignment between an executive and an organization’s strategic needs & trajectory.

Ms. Gunning served as the lead producer of the Institute’s first online course, The Cycle: Management of Successful Arts and Cultural Organizations, which to date has served over 10,000 learners worldwide. She began with the Institute leading the its training programs for individuals at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts including domestic and international fellowship programs; the Kennedy Center's nationally recognized internship program; and a multi-year partnership with the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). These programs collectively trained 200+ individuals annually from 25+ different countries in cohort-based, hands-on professional development engagements. Prior to joining the Institute, Ms. Gunning served as a consultant on research, evaluation, and organizational and leadership development engagements with the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, New York Foundation for the Arts, National Arts Strategies, and the Overture Center for the Arts (Madison, WI).

From 2007-2009, Ms. Gunning led the Special Events department and organizational strategy initiatives at The Baltimore Museum of Art where she designed and led the institution's master planning and production processes; served as the lead producer of the institution’s Development and Director’s Office events focused on engagement, recognition, and stewardship of 8,000+ donors as a strategic component of the museum’s $65 million campaign; and oversaw the Museum's rental & community stewardship program. From 2004-2007, she led experiential marketing & communications engagements at Feats Inc., a national creative agency (now the higher education practice of August Jackson). In this role, she produced CEO & leadership tours, change management communications, employee engagement & training symposia, product launches, live customer engagement experiences; and university and nonprofit campaigns for clients including Dewalt, Northrop Grumman, Wall Street Journal, Johns Hopkins University, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Southwest Airlines, among others. Throughout these roles, she specialized in recruiting, training, and evaluating talent.

Active in her community, she serves as a professional mentor to arts management professionals at a variety of inflection points in their career and has served on the boards of the Village Learning Place and the Baltimore Improv Group. She began her career in marketing at Baltimore’s Centerstage and serving as a theater educator for K-12 students.

Ms. Gunning received her Masters in Business Administration from the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where her research focused on leadership development approaches for creative industry executives based in the psychology of adult development. She completed her undergraduate studies in theatre, business, and mathematics at Florida State University. Originally from East Tennessee, she lives in Annapolis, Maryland with her wife and two children.

segunning (at)

Rhawnie Kupfer

Executive Assistant

Rhawnie Kupfer provides executive support to the Institute’s President and senior consultants. She previously worked as an Executive Assistant for McKinsey & Company as well as at the Kildonan School, where she also taught theater. Prior to joining the Institute, she worked as event operations staff for Macy's Parade & Entertainment Group. In her spare time, Rhawnie volunteers for Random Acts as an EA and is a friend to all cats. She has a BA in Theatre from LeMoyne College.

rekupfer (at)

Anna Louise Martin

Executive Assistant

Anna Louise Martin serves as the Executive Assistant to Chairman Michael M. Kaiser. A passionate arts advocate, in 2021, she founded Rochester Summer Opera to provide accessible opera to communities and to create free performance opportunities for young artists. Anna Louise has spent time at organizations such as the Ravinia Festival, Portland Opera, and Portland Summerfest. She has also served as a Program Assistant at The Institute of Music Leadership and a Project Coordinator for Sing for Hope. She is proud to be a member of the board of The Plimpton Foundation.

Anna Louise is a recent graduate of the Eastman School of Music where she received a Master's of Music in Vocal Performance and Literature. She is also a graduate of DePauw University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a degree in Vocal Performance and Business.


Jacqueline Messinetti

Program and Research Coordinator

Jacqueline Messinetti serves as the Program and Research Coordinator at the DeVos Institute. Jacqueline supports consulting research, executive searches, and the global Fellowship program.

Previously she worked as the Development Events Coordinator at Oklahoma Contemporary leading inaugural donor trips and launching a national donor program. Before this role, Jacqueline was Director of Bands at Seymour High School in Tennessee. Under her direction, her ensembles consistently received superior ratings in concert and marching assessments. She also served on the board of the East Tennessee School Band and Orchestra Association.

Jacqueline received her M.A. in Performing Arts Administration from New York University where she was selected as the Distinguished Graduate in Performing Arts Administration and where her research focused on the effects of public policy on arts education. Jacqueline graduated from the University of Tennessee with a B.M. in Music Education and Flute Performance with a minor in Music Theory.

jhmessinetti (at)

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

© 2015 University of Maryland. All rights reserved.