Artist Career Counselors

Springboard has a team of Artist Career Counselors (ACCs), each of whom is a working artist, well-established in his or her field, with considerable experience in mentoring and teaching individual artists. ACC bios and areas of specialty are listed below. You can request a specific ACC, or we can match you with one, when you sign up for Consultations.

Michele Anderson
Music, Writing
Springboard for the Arts, Lake Region Office, Fergus Falls, MN
Michele Anderson is a composer, creative writer and pianist, and is the Rural Program Director for Springboard for the Arts. Since 2011, she has managed Springboard’s office in Fergus Falls, which has become a hub of thought and action about arts-based rural community development. Michele has her B.A. in Music from Lewis and Clark College, and her M.A. in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College, where she was awarded the inaugural Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability in 2014 for her creative nonfiction essay titled “Imaginative Fields: A Companion to Action,” about Springboard’s work in using the arts to foster community interaction about the past and future of the former Fergus Falls State Hospital. In 2015, Michele was selected by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for their Catalytic Leader Award. Prior to her work at Springboard, Michele lived in Portland, Oregon for 11 years where she worked at the Oregon Symphony, and a community music school, Ethos Music Center.

Noah Keesecker
Music, Dance, Multimedia
Noah Keesecker is the Program Director of Artist Development at Springboard for the Arts, where he takes an analytic, energetic, and fun approach to building Springboard’s professional development curriculum for creatives and strategic consulting for individual artists. He also co-directs the Minnesota Lawyers for the Arts program that provides, legal resources, systems navigation, and attorney referrals. In 2012 he launched the McKnight Fellowship Field Guide, a year long, high-touch, individualized consultation and support program for the 34 artists awarded the prestigious McKnight Fellowship each year. Keesecker is also active in the arts leadership community having been selected as a Knight Foundation Fellow for Emerging Leaders, a delegate to the NAMAC National Leadership Institute, Americans for the Arts Emerging Arts Leader liaison, and a cofounder of the Arts Midwest Future Leaders Network piloted in 2013. He has served as a Board Member for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts since 2009 and on the advisory committee for Slam Academy, a digital arts music lab in Minneapolis. Keesecker maintains an active creative practice as a composer and multimedia artist. His works have been performed nationally and internationally at notable venues such as Music At The Anthology (NYC), Le Poisson Rouge (NYC), Dvorak Museum (Prague), University of Amsterdam, and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s Liquid Music Series, among numerous other venues across the US and locally. He was a McKnight Fellow for Composition in 2008, and has received commissions and grants from Jerome Foundation, Cedar Cultural Center, Ramsey County Regional Rail Authority, and the American Composers Forum. He holds a Master of Music in Music Composition with a minor in Interactive Art from the University of Minnesota. Noah lives in Minneapolis with a cat, a dog, and a librarian, and is currently building his first boat, albeit a small one.

Anna Metcalfe
Visual Arts
Anna Metcalfe lives and works in Minneapolis where she graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with her MFA. Metcalfe currently teaches ceramics at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College, and professional development for artists at Springboard for the Arts. Interested in the junction of public art and craft, she makes work inspired by water, agriculture, food and community. As a teaching artist, Metcalfe loves to promote collaboration and interdisciplinary learning environments between the sciences and art-making. She is a recipient of a Jerome Foundation Emerging Artist’s Project Grant for Public Art in 2009, a MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant, a Jerome Foundation Study and Travel Grant in 2013 and most recently a FY 2015 MN State Arts Board Artist Initiative Grant.

Zaraawar Mistry
Theater, Performance, Small Business
Born in India, Zaraawar Mistry has been a theater artist and consultant in the Twin Cities for over twenty years. He and his wife, Leslye Orr,  own and operate Dreamland Arts, LLC a privately owned small business and 40-seat theater attached to their home in St. Paul. Zaraawar was co-founder of the non-profit Center for Independent Artists in Minneapolis, and a former Associate Artistic Director at Theater Mu. As an actor he has performed at the Guthrie, the Children’s Theater Company and Mixed Blood Theater. He has collaborated as an actor, writer and director with Ragamala Music and Dance Theater. Zaraawar has an M.F.A. in Theatre from UC, San Diego and a B.A. from Bennington College in Vermont. He has received numerous grants in support of his work. He has taught theater classes at many organizations and colleges in the Twin Cities, including as an Adjunct Professor at Hamline University. He has mentored dozens of actors, puppeteers, musicians and magicians in the creation and production of original works for the stage.

Naomi Ramona Schliesman
Visual Arts
Springboard for the Arts, Lake Region Office, Fergus Falls, MN
Naomi Ramona Schliesman is the Artist Development Coordinator at Springboard’s rural office in Fergus Falls, where she teaches Springboard’s professional development workshops and leads other programs that provide resources to artists in the region. Schliesman received her BFA with an emphasis in Sculpture from the University of Minnesota, Moorhead, and her MFA in 2009 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, again with an emphasis in Sculpture. During her career as a student at the UW-Madison she was awarded numerous awards and scholarships. Schliesman has received a Fellowship from Ragdale and Kimmel Hardening Nelson Center for the Arts, and was awarded 2nd place for Miami University Young Sculptors Competition for William and Dorothy Yeck Award, and was featured in three exhibits around the state of Minnesota, curated by Rural American Contemporary Arts (RACA). She has shown her art nationally since 1999 and has traveled abroad to Italy, Scotland, Ireland, France, United Kingdom and Belize to study art, and has participated in artist residencies at the Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale, Kimmel Hardening Nelson Center for the Arts and Hospitalfield Arts in Arbroath, Scotland.

Andy Sturdevant
Visual Arts, Writing
Andy Sturdevant leads the artist resources program at Springboard for the Arts, including the Resource Center in Lowertown, St. Paul, as well as online resources and referrals. He also manages Springboard’s Community Supported Art program with mnartists.org, and its national replication program. Andy is also a public artist, writer and performer. He has written about art, history and culture for a variety of Twin Cities-based publications and websites, including MinnPost, the Heavy Table, mnartists.org, City Pages, Rain Taxi, and Mpls. St. Paul. His first book, Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow, was published by Coffee House Press in 2013, and described by the StarTribune as “inquisitive, witty and intelligent.” Andy’s artwork and artistic projects have been exhibited at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Soap Factory, as well as venues in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, Austin and Milwaukee. He’s also been the recipient of a Jerome planning grant through Forecast Public Art, and been an artist-at-residence at the Elsewhere Collaborative in North Carolina, the Northeast Public Library in Minneapolis, and Carleton College’s Gould Library in Northfield, Minnesota. He has co-created and presented public programs with many organizations in the Twin Cities, including the Russian Museum of Art, the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the Minnesota Historical Society, the Art Shanty Projects, and others. Andy holds a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Louisville.

David Unowsky
Writing & Publishing
For 34 years, David Unowsky owned and ran Hungry Mind (later known as Ruminator), one of America’s  great bookstores which also fostered a literary magazine and a publishing company. As a writer he has been published in Bookselling This Week, Ruminator Review, USA Today, and mnartists.org. At Hungry Mind, he helped build the national author tour market, pioneered in building partnerships and co-sponsorships with other businesses, non-profits, and libraries; and created multi-media events pairing readings with music, art, and film. Starting from scratch, he built a first class event series at Magers and Quinn Booksellers. Currently David is a bookseller and events manager at SubText: a Bookstore, and a sales and marketing consultant for the Saint Paul Almanac.

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