Senior Consultants

Ben Dietschi

Senior Consultant

Ben Dietschi is a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, supporting a diverse array of organizations to achieve short and long-term goals in the areas of strategic planning, artistic planning, marketing, fundraising, change management, and community engagement.

Since joining the Institute, Ben has led or assisted 50+ strategic planning processes, conducted regional arts ecology studies, and served as advisor to 30+ organizations. Recent clients include The Wexner Center for the Arts (Columbus), Step Afrika! (Washington, DC), Philharmonia Baroque (San Francisco), The Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, The Ellis Marsalis Center for Music (New Orleans), and Kentucky Shakespeare (Louisville).

Ben’s 18-year career in the arts has traversed roles in administrative leadership, development, artistic production, and performance. Long-term planning, entrepreneurialism, partnership building, and community engagement are hallmarks of his approach. He believes in the arts as an agent of change, seeking to create healthy organizations that transform communities.

Prior to joining the Institute, Ben was executive director of Soundstreams, Canada’s leading contemporary music and opera producer. During his tenure the organization eliminated its accumulated deficit, expanded revenues by 67% to support more staged opera and immersive performances, launched an ambitious international touring program, and transformed its brand to reach new audiences.

Ben fundamentally reshaped Soundstreams’ staffing structure and revitalized its board of directors with new members and a long-term vision. He also spearheaded the launch of a guest curator program designed to address the fragmented talent pipeline for music curators in Canada and contribute to the organization’s artistic succession plan.

Ben has served on the boards of several cultural institutions, frequently speaks at industry forums and conferences, and has served on numerous award and grant assessment panels. He received a distinguished alumni award from Brandon University. Ben completed the DeVos Institute Global Arts Management Fellowship from 2017-2019.

Fundamentally, his arts management ethos rests on formative years as a saxophonist and composer, performing and recording across North America and Europe, experiencing the transformative power of the arts firsthand. Ben holds a graduate degree in jazz performance and composition from the University of Toronto.


bjdietschi (at) devosinstitute.net

Claudette Donlon

Senior Consultant

Claudette Donlon is a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, supporting a wide range of arts organizations with long term goals around strategic planning, capital project management, artistic planning, and administrative management. 

Ms. Donlon was Executive Vice President of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts from July 2001 to January 2015. In her capacity as the Kennedy Center’s Chief Operating Officer, she was responsible for facilities management, security, human resources, information technology, production, food service, garage operations, and capital projects for this national cultural center, presidential monument, and living memorial, housed in a historically significant facility of 1.5 million square feet on 17 acres. Ms. Donlon led the Center’s $100 million, 65,000 square-foot expansion project, designed by an internationally recognized architect. She spearheaded the architect selection process, working closely with a Board committee, and worked directly with staff, architects, consultants, and governmental entities in the development of the project to realize the Board and President’s strategic vision for creating functionality and community engagement opportunities. 

During Ms. Donlon’s tenure at the Kennedy Center, she led and managed the planning, development, and implementation of approximately 30 capital projects, with an aggregate budget of more than $200 million, interfacing with architects, consultants, contractors, and staff to ensure a comprehensive, coordinated process to meet the institution’s goals. Projects included a $90 million garage expansion and site improvements project, as well as a full-scale renovation of five of the Center’s theaters. Ms. Donlon oversaw all personnel-related matters, including benefits, employee and labor relations, and compliance, for a total of approximately 1,200 employees, including 12 unions.

Prior to joining the Kennedy Center, Ms. Donlon served as the Assistant Head of School for Finance, Operations, and Planning at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School. As chief financial and operations officer, she was responsible for the oversight of the administrative departments of this independent school with three campuses, an enrollment of 1,600 students, and an annual budget of $32 million.

From 1995 to 2000, Ms. Donlon served as the General Manager and Chief Financial Officer of the American Ballet Theatre, with an annual budget of $25 million. As a senior-level manager, she was responsible for the oversight of all day-to-day operations, a direct reporting staff of 36, and an international touring company of 120 people. She supervised all aspects of finance, personnel, office management, touring, company management, production, and building operations. Ms. Donlon worked collaboratively with the Artistic Director to realize the artistic vision while maintaining economic viability, in addition to negotiating union agreement and contracts with touring presenters, choreographers, designers, and staff.    

Ms. Donlon served as Deputy Director for Administration for The Jewish Museum from 1991 to 1995, where she coordinated and supervised all administrative departments, including finance, marketing, operations, administration, and museum shops and café. She coordinated a $50 million building expansion project, working closely with architects, contractors, and consultants, and negotiated a $27 million bond issue to provide bridge financing for the expansion and renovation.

Ms. Donlon also served as a Program Officer for the National Arts Stabilization Fund and as General Manager and Business Manager for the Kansas City Ballet. 

Ms. Donlon received her MBA in Public and Non-Profit Management from Boston University and her Bachelor's degree from Bucknell University in Economics with a minor in Art History.

Ms. Donlon also served as the Institute's Chief Operating Officer from 2015-2019.

cdonlon (at) devosinstitute.net

Nicole Kidston

Senior Consultant

Nicole Kidston is a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, supporting a wide range of arts organizations with short and long term goals around strategic planning, community engagement, artistic planning, marketing and fundraising.

Prior to her role with the DeVos Institute, Nicole served as the Deputy Director of Development for Park Avenue Armory, a ground-breaking cultural institution in New York that produces unconventional work that cannot be mounted in traditional performance spaces. In this capacity, Nicole led the day-to-day operations of the 13-person Development Office which grew fundraising over 25% from 2015 to 2017.

From 2005 to 2015, Nicole served in a variety of capacities in the Development Office of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In her last role at the Kennedy Center, she served as one of the Directors of Development, focusing on the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) and Washington National Opera (WNO). Her portfolio included identifying and raising over $25 million annually with a team of 18 through individual, government, foundation, and corporate support. She focused particularly on board development, major gifts, sponsorships of productions, series, and educational initiatives, and event fundraising including major Galas and over 170 cultivation events throughout the year. Also at the Kennedy Center, Nicole served as the Director of Affiliate Individual Giving and the Manager of National Symphony Orchestra Development.

Prior to that, Nicole coordinated Kennedy Center major giving, facilitated the international donor travel program and coordinated major giving for international festivals and programming.

Nicole has a degree in Art History from The Ohio State University.

nmkidston (at) devosinstitute.net

Sam Speedie

Senior Consultant

Sam Speedie supports the development of new cultural infrastructure through project design and management, and coordination of interdisciplinary teams of project stakeholders in business and strategic planning. His work entails integration of arts program management and design considerations throughout all project phases, from concept plan and feasibility study development, to design development, procurement and construction, occupancy and operations.

In addition, Speedie supports the Institute's work with institutional and developer clients, to commission artwork and produce distinctive programming that enhances the resident, tenant and visitor experience.

Before joining the Institute, Speedie held a variety of management roles, including with MB2 Solutions, a Washington, D.C. and Richmond, VA based domestic public policy strategy firm; within the Services Division of Goldman, Sachs & Co., based in the firm's New York City headquarters; with the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, where he served in a planning and coordination role in "the rebuilding and revitalization of Lower Manhattan"; with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios, a producer and distributor of feature film and television programming; and with Artist Management Group, a talent management firm, where he participated in digital media strategy development. As a project management consultant, Speedie coordinated the development of business and marketing plans around a local/ sustainable food infrastructure initiative, as an urban amenity and workforce and economic development catalyst.

He graduated with an A.B. in English & American Literature and Language from Harvard College, where he co-founded Harvard's first undergraduate Shakespearean repertory company.

dsspeedie (at) devosinstitute.net

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