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Emerging Leadership Institute

Class of 2024

Abbey Matye
Abbey M. Matye is a passionate arts manager who blends creativity, leadership, and boundless enthusiasm. After completing her education at Kent State University and Savannah College of Art and Design, she began working for Savannah Music Festival where she currently serves as Artist Relations & Programming Manager. Abbey is deeply dedicated to fostering the arts and arts education, as well as nurturing emerging talents. With a vision of establishing her own venue, she channels her passion into curating exceptional experiences. Beyond her professional pursuits, Abbey finds joy in cooking, crochet, and the company of her dog, Gregg!
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Amancay Kugler
Amancay Kugler is the Executive Director of Yes Ma'am Circus in Chicago. This contemporary circus company reimagines timeless literature through multi-disciplinary performances infused with queer and feminist elements. As the founder of the Chicago Circus & Performing Arts Festival, Amancay champions BIPOC, Queer, and emerging talents, fostering a vibrant local artistic community. Originally from Argentina, her journey has been a fusion of cultures, inspiring her creative ventures in the circus world. Beyond her administrative roles, she is a lyra and sling aerialist, a devoted parent to two toddlers, and an avid reader of fantasy novels.
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Andrew Olson
Andrew M Alness Olson is Program Director, International at Mid Atlantic Arts, an arts service organization where he has worked since 2021. Andrew manages USArtists International, Performing Arts Global Exchange, and Iber Exchange – grant programs with an international focus that play a vital role in facilitating international collaborations and fostering cultural exchange between artists, organizations, and audiences across the United States and around the world. Through his work, Andrew seeks to support artists in achieving their goals abroad and to provide opportunities for cultural understanding through the performing arts.
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Ariel Fay Gray
Ariel Fay Gray (she/her) is the Program Coordinator for NC State LIVE in Raleigh, NC, USA. She graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a B.S. in Special Event Management and Minor in Technical Theatre. Ariel is a multi-racial multi-hyphenate parent artist. She has worked as a Character Performer with Walt Disney World, a Stage Manager, in person and virtually, a FOH Lead/Concierge for StarQuest Dance Competition, and most recently as the National Women’s Theatre Festival 23 Production Manager. Ariel is currently a member of the Raleigh Arts Learning Community for Universal Access developing accessible and inspiring artistic programming.
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Benina Stern
Benina Stern is a current Program Associate at the Skirball Cultural Center, a Jewish cultural center and museum in Los Angeles. She focuses on programming film, performance, and some music, to complement the Skirball’s exhibitions and core values. Previously, she has spent time working at Center Theatre Group, Stanford Live, and BAM. She is interested in exploring community engagement through arts programming. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Benina enjoys taking in the city’s vibrant food and film scene in her spare time.
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Bernie Pino
Bernie currently serves as Programming and Rentals Manager at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. Before transitioning to programming, he spent several years in arts education as a teaching artist, as well as an Education Associate for the Kravis Center. Bernie also has first-hand experience as an educator, serving for 3 years as an Artist-in-Residence at the A.W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach prior to starting his career in the presenting industry.
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Beth Kneeskern
Beth Kneeskern serves as a marketing manager for Des Moines Performing Arts (DMPA). Her current role with DMPA focuses on managing and implementing show advertising strategies, driving promotional efforts, building relationships with local media partners, and developing comprehensive marketing campaigns for many of DMPA’s presented series. Prior to joining the performing arts back in February 2021, Beth spent several years working in both higher education and the sports industry. Her educational background includes earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree from the University of Iowa. She resides in West Des Moines, Iowa with her husband, Drew, and son, Nathan.
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Carter Sligh
Carter serves as the Production and Administrative Manager of Dumbarton Arts and Education in Washington, DC. He is the Production Manager for the Dumbarton Concerts series, as well as the chief administrative support for the organization at large. Carter is also an active professional musician, and as a working singer and pianist, he brings his love of and lifetime experience in the classical music world to work every day. A native of central Florida, Carter is a proud graduate of Oberlin College, with a BA in Theater, and of the University of York (UK), with a Masters in Ensemble Singing.
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Cassandra Gibson
Cassandra Gibson (she/her) is an arts administrator, educator, and classically-trained violist
based in Washington, D.C. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of
South Carolina where she also earned a minor in public relations, and advertising. As an avid
performer, Cassandra has had the privilege to play with the Rock Hill, Long Bay, and Aiken
symphony orchestras, and the Colour of Music Festival Orchestra. She is committed to life-long
learning and is driven to continue to make an impact in her community whether through
equitable marketing efforts, community outreach, or teaching young musicians.
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Christopher Brazelton
Christopher is an accomplished arts administration professional serving as the Executive Director of Woodstock Arts. With a focus on community engagement, he has expanded the small theatre program to a full multi-disciplinary art center in Woodstock, GA.

Christopher founded the Lantern Series, a celebrated concert series designed to celebrate diverse genres and cultures through music. Through curated performances and facilitated conversations, the series is a hub for transcending boundaries and uniting people through art.

With unwavering commitment to promoting artistic access in small communities, Christopher is cultivating a thriving arts scene to change what art centers are for small towns.
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Chris Trevino
Chris Treviño is the Interim Production Manager at the Rozsa Center for the Performing Arts. The Rozsa Center is integrated into Michigan Tech’s Visual and Performing Arts department, which allows it to be both a professional performing arts facility as well as a hands-on learning lab for hundreds of students. In his permanent role as Sound Production Manager, Chris works in sound, AV systems and teaches core technical skills. As a sound engineer, he has an affinity towards preserving and showcasing disappearing sounds of our world. This has led him to creating commercial sound libraries and developing his own microphones.
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Courtney Mealy
Courtney Mealy has 15 years of experience in the creative sector of higher education and community engagement. Currently, as the Director of Arts Programming for the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, she oversees three performing art series and develops interdisciplinary learning opportunities for the campus and the community. Prior to joining Pitt-Bradford, Courtney was the Associate Director at the Tri-County Arts Council where she managed multiple grant-giving programs for non-profit organizations and artists. Additionally, Courtney curated three galleries, developed community engagement programs, and facilitated resource development initiatives. As an artist, Courtney is interested in sharing her passion for the arts as an art teacher.
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Diandra Adamczyk
Diandra Adamczyk is an interdisciplinary artist questioning contemporary methods of performance and play within art. As an artist and organizer of public programs, her practice is situated in research, collaboration, and a multifaceted approach to making.

Proudly working in Phoenix, Arizona, Adamczyk holds a BFA degree from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Adamczyk is a board member of [nueBOX], a nonprofit providing residencies and community support for performance artists, as well as the Programming Manager of Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts. As a performance presenter, Adamczyk is committed to elevating cultural perspectives, equitable practices and accessibility in the arts
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Elizabeth Kracunas
Elizabeth Kracunas is the Senior Manager of Performance Operations at Celebrity Series of Boston, a non-profit performing arts presenting organization based in Boston, MA. She is passionate about empowering artist communities and creating accessible and equitable cultural experiences. Her areas of expertise include concert operations and production. Elizabeth has been working in the music industry and performing arts field since her graduation from Boston College in 2012. Before Celebrity Series of Boston, Elizabeth worked at BRIC, Paradigm, and Warner Music Group. In her free time, you can find Elizabeth taking her terrier-mix, Kate, on long walks in Brookline, MA
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Grace Smith
Grace Smith (she/her) is currently the Artistic Operations Manager at La Jolla Music Society in San Diego, California. Before joining LJMS, Grace held positions with Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Marlboro Music, and Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia, among others. In 2023, Grace was selected to be a part of the California Presenters Leadership Program 23/24 Mentee Cohort. Grace holds a B.A. in classical studies from Earlham College and a master’s degree in international arts management through a partnership between Southern Methodist University, HEC Montreal, and SDA Bocconi.
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Helen Edwards
Helen Edwards is a service-oriented leader and passionate storyteller with a heart for accessibility in the arts. She is the Manager of the Office of the President & CEO at Washington Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. where she leads various staff and administrative initiatives, builds systems and structures around special projects, serves as liaison to the Board of Directors, and assists with special events and performances. She earned a BFA in Theatre Performance and Global Business Minor from the University of Colorado Boulder and an MA in Arts Management from American University.
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Jenny Davis
Jenny Davis is a musician, educator, and arts administrator in Memphis. Her passion is driven by bringing people together to make and experience art in order to cultivate a curious, supportive, and thriving creative community.

She is the director, flutist, and co-founder of contemporary chamber music group Blueshift Ensemble and the Memphis Youth Symphony Program Director of Operations. Jenny was the Director of Music Programming for Crosstown Arts and continues to curate programming for the organization. She was a performing fellow at the Bang on a Can Summer Festival, New Music on the Point, and Cortona Sessions for New Music.
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Jeremy Gubman
Jeremy works as the Artistic Administrator and Assistant to the Artistic Director at The Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. He works with the Joffrey’s Artistic and Production department to manage the company’s schedule, welcome guest artists, process finances, and connect the Artistic and Production department to the rest of the organization.

He previously worked for Chicago Public Schools in the Computer Science Education Department, and graduated Northwestern University with a degree in Learning and Organizational Change. He loves N.K. Jemisin, Vulfpeck, tabletop board games, and the mountains.
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Jamena Alivar
Jimena Alviar, originally from Bogotá, Colombia, joined Elsie Management in 2016 as Marketing Manager. Since 2018, she has been working as Contracts Manager and has overseen processing artists visas for Elsie’s international roster. She holds a BFA in Performing Arts from Universidad Distrital-ASAB (Colombia) and an MFA in Dance Choreography from Temple University (2009) while being a Fulbright Scholar (2006-2008). Jimena is the founder and artistic director of both ja dance company and HysteryaFest. Jimena’s passion for the arts finds its niche as a dancer, choreographer, educator, lighting designer, production manager, and arts administrator. She loves her two cats.
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Justine Sedky
Justine Sedky is a member of the development team at the University Musical Society (UMS), a presenting organization that contributes to the vibrant cultural community of Southeast Michigan. As a lover of people and performance, Justine’s work as an administrator focuses on connecting audiences and artists in her community and facilitating impactful experiences for both. An experienced experimental flutist and fundraiser, Justine is passionate about the promotion of living composers and new works in the classical music landscape. She holds degrees in Flute Performance from the Aaron Copland School of Music (CUNY Queens College) and the University of Michigan.
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Kelly Stuible-Clark
Kelly Stuible-Clark is the Senior Education Program Manager for Wharton Center’s Institute for Arts & Creativity. Holding a BS in Music (Voice) and an MM in Opera and Musical Theatre Performance, Kelly has worked as a professional actor, director, choreographer, and educator in Illinois and Michigan. Her education focuses on voice and musical theatre performance. She’s currently pursuing a graduate certificate in Arts & Cultural Management from Michigan State University as her career has transitioned to arts administration and program management. Kelly is a proud alumnus of the Michigan Arts and Culture Council’s Rising Leaders program, and currently serves on the board for Michigan Presenter’s Network.
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Maria Vorhis
Maria Vorhis (she/her) is a writer and creative producer based in Minneapolis. She began her career in theatre, and has worked as a touring actor, teaching artist, filmmaker, booking agent, and most recently, as an arts administrator. Maria led professional development programming and communications for the virtual Arts Midwest Conference–the first ever online convening for the performing arts industry–and has consulted with nonprofits on creating meaningful in-person and virtual events. As Northrop’s Engagement Manager, she designs engagement programming to deepen connections between visiting artists and audiences, and leads Northrop’s DEI committee.
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Mariela Saad
Mariela Saad (she/her) is the Production and Development Director of Open Scene.
A Lebanese-Venezuelan, she was born in Caracas and, in 2015, moved to the United States.
She is a lawyer by profession specializing in Private International Law. She has a master's
degree in French Literature.
Saad speaks five languages and is a person with a deep humanistic character.
Since she was young, she has always been surrounded by a world rich in art and culture,
dedicating much of her time to studying art and its different movements as well as looking for
other ways to deepen her knowledge and to actively get involved in activities and initiatives in
favor of the art and culture.
In 2014, on one of her family trips to France, she visited the commune of Mougins in the Alps-
Maritimes region, where Picasso lived. The small-town atmosphere captivated her, but she was
especially in love with the small and exclusive galleries, ready to receive the curious eye of their
After the visit to Mougins, a week in Paris awaited her with an exciting plan: fashion week and a
visit to the atelier of the great Master Carlos Cruz-Diez. It was a beautiful and enriching
experience that catalyzed her to turn that dream of founding her gallery into a reality… and it
Back in Venezuela, she began to structure State of The Art, a company dedicated to selling and
promoting art. State of The Art was officially born in 2015. Since then, she has been committed
to serving artists, institutions, and individuals by offering advisory, promotion, and development
services in the artistic and cultural field.
She also hosts and produces the weekly podcasts "En Tarima" and "Te Lo Cuento" for IHeart
Saad is a board member of the Downtown Arts District, the Art & History Museums of
Maitland, the Acquisition Trust of the Orlando Museum of Art, the Venezuelan Endowment
for the Arts, and Orange County's Public Art Council
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Maura McKenzie
Maura McKenzie is the Director of Audience Services for the Schaefer Center for the Performing Arts at
Appalachian State University, additionally serving as the Box Office Manager for various venues on campus.
She is passionate about ensuring arts spaces are friendly and welcoming for patrons of all identities and
backgrounds and creating work environments that emphasize learning and gaining experience for her student
employees. Prior to gaining her BS in Exercise Science from Appalachian State University, she took a gap year
to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail with her dad and continues to enjoy exploring the mountains of the High
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Michelle Shine Klichinsky
Michelle graduated from Queens College, CUNY in 2018, where she received her BA in Drama and Theatre and studied under the direction of some of theatre’s greats. Michelle’s career in Theatrical Touring began in 2018 when she joined The Road Company. In the sales division, Michelle worked on distributing award-winning musicals and plays across North America. Two of her favorite national tours worked on include Wicked and Moulin Rouge. Michelle now works as the West Coast/Midwest Agent at East Coast Entertainment (Touring Division), allowing her the opportunity to continue sharing her love of theatre with a vast audience nationwide.
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Mitchell Hansen
Mitchell Hansen is the Communications Director at Anchorage Concert Association, a non-profit performing arts organization. With a background in marketing and photography, Mitchell reflects his passion for the arts with his community, using his platform to lift up and encourage other artists. Being raised in Anchorage, Alaska inspired a love for the outdoors, and he finds inspiration both from the vast beauty of such a remote state and the important role the arts in keeping remote communities connected.
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Preston Justice
Preston Justice is a kind and loving human being. He is a lifelong Bay Area resident whose perspective has been shaped by the generations of migration that preceded his arrival here.
Preston is passionate about intentionally cultivating space for connection. He has worked in many community arts spaces, notably in support of the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival in San Francisco and as curator and host of “Friday Nights at OMCA” in Oakland. He regularly witnesses the lived joy of audiences engaging with performing arts (and artists!) and believes in its curative powers.
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Rebecca McDaniel
Rebecca McDaniel is passionate about sharing music with others and about supporting the creativity of young musicians. Relying on music as a unifying force, Rebecca seeks to share curiosity and joy as a performer, educator, and arts administrator. She is the Marketing and Development Manager for the Grammy Award-winning quartet Third Coast Percussion, working closely with the ensemble in support of its performance, education, and collaborative programs. She is also an active chamber percussionist in the Chicagoland area, collaborating most frequently with interdisciplinary percussion ensemble Beyond This Point and classical chamber ensemble 5th Wave Collective.
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Ruthie Foster
Ruthie Foster is an arts management professional constantly strengthening and broadening her abilities through the combination of dynamic job experience and education. She currently serves as the Arts and Cultural Events Coordinator for the Town of Kiawah Island, where she chairs the Arts Council and hosts seasons of 30+ performing arts events. In 2024, she will graduate with a master's degree in Arts Administration from Winthrop University.

Outside of work and school, Ruthie can be found enjoying a happy hour (or several), watching a crime documentary, or hanging out with her cat.
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Siggy Yap
Siggy Yap serves as a Booking Representative at MKI Artists, overseeing the Eastern region of the United States and Canada. Siggy served as the Director of Outreach for Chamber Music Houston, Treasurer and Co-Founder of the Houston Viola Society, and taught through the University of St. Thomas, Houston Youth Symphony, and American Festival for the Arts (AFA). He studied viola performance at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music and has performed with the Houston Grand Opera, Houston Ballet, Houston Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Sarasota Orchestra, and is a core member of the Kinetic Ensemble and Loop38.
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Tyler Clifford
Tyler Clifford (he/they) is a member of the Artistic Planning team at The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center. Tyler works to highlight opportunities for emerging artists and arts leaders at The University of Maryland and its surrounding communities. His curatorial areas of focus include global music, multidisciplinary arts festivals, and a mini-grants program for student artists. Tyler is inspired by the transformative nature of arts-based experiences and the catharsis achieved through creative expression. With this inspiration, he works to cultivate inclusive spaces that celebrate the inherent creativity within us all.
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Tyler French
Tyler French (he/him/his) is an organizer, facilitator, and artist who works with cultural and social service organizations as well as independent artists to support their programmatic development and evaluation, facilitate partnerships and connections, and build capacity for meaningful impact. He currently serves as the Associate Director of Artistic Planning and Community Engagement in Colby College's Arts Office and has previously worked with AARP Foundation, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and Split This Rock. He holds a masters in Public Humanities from Brown University.
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