Senior Consultants

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)

Devon M. Akmon

Devon Akmon is a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management. He brings over 14 years of experience in nonprofit management, as well as extensive expertise in arts administration, curatorial practice, and community building through the arts.

Mr. Akmon most recently served as the second director of the Arab American National Museum (AANM), succeeding founding director Dr. Anan Ameri. Mr. Akmon joined the AANM as curator of community history shortly before the museum opened in 2005; was promoted to deputy director in 2009; and became director in 2013. As director, Mr. Akmon established new relationships with individuals and organizations that resulted in the expansion of the museum’s mission and programming throughout the nation. Mr. Akmon also oversaw the physical expansion of the museum with the creation of the Annex, a new community arts space immediately adjacent to the Museum, and an artist-in-residency unit in the neighboring City Hall Artspace Lofts.

Under his aegis, the AANM was named an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, a member of the National Performance Network, and an internationally-recognized TAKREEM Laureate for Cultural Excellence. Mr. Akmon also helped lead the AANM through both the Museum Assessment Program (MAP) and Accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. This was a major accomplishment given the museum achieved Accreditation, the museum field’s mark of distinction, on its first attempt and within 10 years of opening the museum to the public.

Mr. Akmon is a board member of the American Alliance of Museums, CultureSource, Artspace, and The CivCity Initiative. Additionally, Mr. Akmon has served on several national grantmaking review panels, including those for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Institute for Museum and Library Services. Previously, he served on boards or advisory committees for Kresge Arts in Detroit, Smithsonian Affiliations, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Detroit Institute of Arts, East Dearborn Downtown Development Authority, Ann Arbor Public Art Commission, and the Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies at North Carolina State University.

Mr. Akmon earned his Master of Science in Historic Preservation at Eastern Michigan University. He is a graduate of the Michigan Nonprofit Association’s Emerging Leaders Class IX and Leadership Detroit Class XXXIV. In 2013, he was named one of Crain’s Detroit Business magazine’s “40 Under 40” business leaders. In 2016, Devon was named one of twelve American Express NGen Fellows with the Independent Sector.

dmakmon (at)

Nicole Kidston

Senior Consultant, DeVos Institute

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)

Jeanne LeSage

Senior Consultant, DeVos Institute | Principal, LeSage Arts Management

Jeanne LeSage's career in arts management has spanned film festivals, theatre, music, dance, and opera, with a strong focus on international festivals, operational effectiveness, and strategy. 

After graduating from the University of Toronto, Ms. LeSage's first career was in stage management, which brought her to theatres across Canada and the United Kingdom. Ms. LeSage then transitioned into management roles at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) at a time of rapid growth and change in the organization, working first in Theatre Operations, then building TIFF's first human resources department and facilitating the senior team's development of a new organizational structure and a HR migration plan for TIFF's new Lightbox venue.

After completing the nine-month DeVos Institute of Arts Management Fellowship at the Kennedy Center in 2009, Ms. LeSage undertook a series of international executive engagements including Managing Producer for the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in the United Arab Emirates, Deputy Interim CEO for the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman (on behalf of the DeVos Institute), and project work for NGO FilmAid in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

Upon her return to Canada, Ms. LeSage was Executive Director of the Kay Meek Centre, a performing arts centre in West Vancouver, which boasts two theatres, a multidisciplinary presenting season, a highly regarded Musical Theatre Youth Conservatory, and partnerships with local school district youth and community arts groups.

Ms. LeSage has been active in arts management training and capacity building. She has served as a committee member, trainer, and guest speaker for such organizations as Schulich School of Business (Arts & Media), Rotman School of Business, SFU Cultural Unit, Zayed University Abu Dhabi, Cultural Careers Council of Ontario, Ontario Association of Art Galleries, the Arts Management program at the University of Toronto Scarborough, and Cultural Human Resources Council. She has also served as Board President for Toronto's Volcano Theatre, an internationally renowned and award-winning experimental theatre company, and Vice President of the Board for S.M.Arts: Stage managing the Arts in Canada.

Ms. LeSage is a Certified Human Resources Practitioner and is currently earning her MBA at Royal Roads University.

jmlesage (at)

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