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)

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)

Sam Speedie

Senior Consultant

Sam Speedie supports the development of new cultural infrastructure through project design and management, and coordination of interdisciplinary teams of Design, Construction Project Management and Costing consultants. His work centers on the development of Conceptual Site Plans, Program and Costing Studies for new cultural buildings, and adaptive reuse of industrial structures for an arts purpose.

Functioning as a resource to senior leadership teams of client organizations, Speedie ensures the integration of arts management and business planning considerations throughout all phases of project development. His purview extends from early Master Planning and feasibility study development, to Concept Design, Design Development, Schematics and Construction Documents, to post-construction occupancy and operations.

Speedie has supported clients as diverse as Rivers of Steel National Heritage Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA; Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum in Jupiter, FL; and the Center for Arts & Innovation in Boca Raton, FL, in the development of comprehensive business plans that extend from donor identification and cultivation (i.e. Pre- Campaign) through the first full year of expanded operations.

On these clients' behalves, Speedie has coordinated with—and in some cases, designed and led competitive RFP processes that resulted in the selection of--Theatre and Museum Planners, Cost Management Consultants, Builders/ Architects/ Planners and Owner's Representatives. These consultant teams are assembled for the purpose of Program Verification, Preliminary Cost Analysis, Conceptual Master Planning and Concept Design for projects whose budgets extend from the mid-eight figures to the low-nine figures.

In addition, Speedie is serving as project manager/ Owner's Representative for the cultural activation of Downtown Doral, Miami's premier town center. Working seamlessly with the senior leadership and Development team of Codina Partners, the developer of Downtown Doral, Speedie has supported the commissioning, contracting, production and installation of 10 significant public artworks by nationally and internationally-recognized artists and studios.

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 several local/ sustainable food and health initiatives, as an urban amenity, health equity and workforce & 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)

Stosh Mintek

Senior Consultant

Stosh Mintek is a Senior Consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, supporting a distinctive portfolio of organizations to achieve ambitious goals in the areas of fundraising, capacity building, strategic planning, and community engagement. Stosh’s two-decade career in arts management has included significant roles overseeing program design, development, and media production. He is a passionate believer in mission-driven leadership and results-oriented planning.

Prior to joining the DeVos Institute, Stosh was the founder and principal of BestGood, a high-impact consultancy working with a nationwide cohort of diverse nonprofits in film, education, and the performing arts.

Before his time at BestGood, Stosh served as the CEO of Ghetto Film School (GFS), an acclaimed creative education nonprofit. In this capacity, Stosh led GFS’ global operation, oversaw its strategic planning efforts, and worked closely with board and staff to launch new earned income initiatives and replicate its model internationally. In total, Stosh served at GFS for 18 years, starting as program director, then as executive producer, director of development, and executive director, before taking the helm as CEO. Over the course of his tenure, Stosh helped the organization build a world-class pedagogy and curriculum, expand from the South Bronx to Los Angeles and London, and train over 12,000 young storytellers of color.

Noteworthy accomplishments during this time include: supervising student-led film productions in Paris, Kampala, Rio de Janeiro, Japan and London, as well as hundreds of short films in NYC and Los Angeles; raising funds and overseeing implementation of capital funding to build GFS’ South Bronx Post House; designing and launching MasterClass, a signature partnership project with Google to deliver GFS’ arts education model virtually; activating Digital Bodega, a production company run by GFS alumni that creates media solutions for corporate clients; and leading GFS’ new LA operation in partnership with 21st Century Fox, enhanced with sponsorships from Netflix, Amazon, Warner Bros and NBCU.

Stosh holds a bachelor's degree from Yale University, where he graduated with distinction in 2003, and completed the DeVos Institute Global Arts Management Fellowship from 2016 to 2018.

srmintek (at)

Syrah Gunning

Senior Consultant, Executive Search and 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)

Tanya Surtees

Senior Consultant

Tanya is a South African-born arts manager with over 20 years in the cultural industries. As a Senior Consultant at the Institute, she oversees a portfolio of unique clients for whom she serves as a cultural programmer, strategist, and operations specialist, working one-on-one with leadership and staff to advance key areas of their business.

She has occupied multiple roles throughout her career – performer, co-founder, program director, Artistic Director, Executive Director, Board Chair, Interim Executive – which affords her a multi-faceted view of her client’s needs. As a result, she is as comfortable with programming as she is with financial planning and implementation, and has a particular interest in building collaborative, cohesive workplace environments.

During her time at the Institute, Tanya has overseen capacity building programs across America, Puerto Rico, and Egypt, including the largest capacity building program of its kind in the US that spanned 5+ years, 12 cities, and over 500 participating organizations. She has worked on 80+ strategic planning processes, including capital campaigns and environmental studies, and has providing tailored consulting to numerous clients. Most recently, her clients include: Forklift DanceWorks (Austin, TX), The Kirkland Museum (Denver, CO), CulturalDC (Washington, DC), Capital Stage (Sacramento, CA), St. Louis Shakes (St. Louis, MO), International African American Museum (Charleston, SC), Independent Shabab Foundation Luxor African Film Festival (Cairo, Egypt), Artists First, (St. Louis, MO), Tenement Museum (New York, NY), The Phillips Collection (Washington, DC), National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington, DC), and Creative Alliance (Baltimore, MD).

Prior to working at the Institute, she worked in the field of contemporary dance and disability with luminaries such as CandoCo’s Adam Benjamin, and is a co-founder of from the hip: khulumakahle (FTH:K), a Cape-Town based Deaf/hearing company that pioneered non-verbal theatre in South Africa. Under her executive leadership, FTH:K became a national leader in the field, winning multiple awards and touring extensively both within South Africa and abroad.

She was also a co-founder of The Cape Town Edge, a festival venue model that provides shared resources, cross-marketing, joint fundraising, and collaborative programming to assist artists in navigating the financial and logistical challenges of festival touring. The CTE model continues to be replicated across the South African festival circuit.

In 2008, Tanya became one of two South Africans to be awarded a three-year International Summer Arts Management Fellowship under Michael Kaiser’s guidance at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and in 2011, moved to the US permanently. There, she headed the production team for QuestFest – a two-week, international festival of visual performance – while setting up a cultural exchange between performers in South Africa and the US.

She joined the Institute team in 2015 to coordinate its international and domestic capacity building programs, and has since advanced to her present role of Senior Consultant.

Tanya has two post-graduate degrees from Rhodes University in South Africa, and a resolute belief in the arts as a vehicle for change. Her work is informed by her background in dance, arts management, and arts integration, as well as her upbringing in apartheid South Africa. She has worked extensively within the field of arts and disability, and has served on the boards of numerous cultural non-profits and national networks. She has co-authored learner books for Maskew Miller Longman, and Oxford and Cambridge University Presses, and is fluent in English, French, and South African Sign Language.

tgsurtees (at)

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