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Springboard is an organization for artists, by artists. Our staff work locally, regionally and nationally from our two offices in Saint Paul and Fergus Falls, MN. Learn more about our team and their work below!

Headshot of Laura ZabelLaura Zabel
Executive Director
Email | 651-292-3213

Background: Laura Zabel is the Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency run by and for artists. Springboard’s mission is to support artists with the tools to make a living and a life, and to build just and equitable communities full of meaning, joy, and connection. In 2021, Springboard launched one of the nation’s first guaranteed income
programs focused on artists, inspired by the city of St. Paul and Mayors for a Guaranteed
Income. Laura is also a theater artist.

Michele Anderson HeadshotMichele Anderson
Rural Director, Fergus Falls Office
Email | 218-531-1594
 All Rural Programs
Background: Music (classical piano, teaching) and Administration (community development). Michele Anderson is a composer, creative writer and pianist with a BA in Music from Lewis and Clark College, and an MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College, where she was awarded the inaugural Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability. In 2015, Michele was selected by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for their Catalytic Leader Award.

Nancy Ariza
Career Development Manager
Email | 651-302-7261
All Programs
Background: Nancy Ariza (she/her) is a printmaker, educator, and arts and cultural engagement organizer. She brings over ten years of experience developing and leading community-based arts programming and has worked at various arts organizations, including the Minnesota Minnesota Museum of American Art, Highpoint Center for Printmaking, and Walker Art Center. Nancy serves on the Leadership Council of Serpentina Arts to support the creative and professional development of Minnesota-based Latinx artists. She is also a member of the Culturally Responsive Art Education Advisory Committee at the Minnesota Department of Education. Nancy holds an MA in Education from Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, and BA in Art History and a BFA in Printmaking from Minnesota State University. Outside of work, she  enjoys traveling, picnics, and spending time with her two miniature dachshunds, Buster and Maeby, and two cats, Mikey and Pepper Ann.

Ricardo Beaird HeadshotRicardo Beaird
Community Development Director, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-243-4419
Any pronouns
Community Development Programs
Background: Ricardo Beaird is a theater maker, teaching artist, and cheese curd enthusiast originally from Nashville, Tennessee. Their recent work is informed by the unfinished business of ghosts, dis/connection through the internet, and sometimes Beyoncé. In addition to performing with Pangea World Theater, Park Square Theatre, Red Eye Theater and Ten Thousand Things Theater, Beaird is a Core Artist with Full Circle Theatre, advisory council member with the queer-led theater collective Lightning Rod, and an Artist Council member for the 2021 Northern Spark Arts Festival. Ricardo brings deep experience in collective visioning, workshop facilitation, and community organizing.

John Bell HeadshotJohn Bell
Financial Controller, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-789-0163
Background: Visual Art (painting, sculpture) and Administration (accounting). John Bell received his undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in 2008 and his MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2010. His paintings and sculptures have been shown in Minneapolis at Soo Visual Arts Center and The Bell Museum of Natural History. His work was featured in a 2011 issue of New American Painting.

Sam Buffington HeadshotSam Buffington
Community Organizer, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-789-2084
Community Development
Background: Sam Buffington was the community organizer for Frogtown Neighborhood Association for almost 10 years, and helped the organization become one of the most representative, innovative and influential district councils in St. Paul.  Sam has worked for the League of Pissed off Voters, using Hip-Hop and the arts to encourage young people to become active participants in the electoral process. Through this experience, as well as his family's deep connections to the arts, Sam has recognized the power of arts and artists to create positive change in the world.

Amanda Cortes HeadshotAmanda Cortés
Community Development Program Manager, Remote
Email | 651-304-1014
Community Development
Background: Amanda works at the intersection of racial justice, grassroots community development, art and culture. She is the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants and draws inspiration from her upbringing in working class, Latinx communities in Chicago's Lower West Side. Her practice includes project planning, facilitation, artist career coaching, and audio storytelling. Amanda’s independent work explores alternative models for community owned real property with the Pilsen Housing Cooperative, a newly formed limited equity co-op for artists and working families on Chicago’s Lower West Side. Amanda is a member of the Chicago ACT Collective.

Colleen Cowie
Media & Storytelling Manager, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-390-9987

Programs: All Programs
Background: Colleen Cowie is a Minneapolis-based writer, audio storyteller, and musician. Colleen has reported on Minnesota’s music and art scenes for a variety of publications including The Current and KFAI. In 2018 she founded the blog and podcast Pass The Mic to amplify stories of women, trans and nonbinary folks in music. Before joining Springboard, Colleen created digital and internal communications for Planned Parenthood North Central States. As a guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter, Colleen performs in the Twin Cities bands Rabeca and Shush. She holds a BA in Hispanic Studies and Music from Macalester College. When not making or writing about music, Colleen enjoys knitting and crocheting, baking, and walking around the Twin Cities’ lakes.

Headshot of Destiny DavisonDestiny Davison
Communications Director, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-789-2098
Programs: All Programs
Background: Destiny is a writer, cartoonist, animator, performer and multi-media maker from Minnesota with a history of supporting communications for arts organizations, theaters and fellow artists both locally and nationally. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, Destiny’s work explores the crossroads between the real, the unreal, and the in-between. To date, her work has been featured at Gamut Gallery, White Bear Lake Center for the Arts, Fresh Eye Gallery and as part of the Minnesota Billboard Project. More at

Dominic Facio HeadshotDominic Facio
Rural Program Manager, Fergus Falls Office
Email | 218-998-4037
 All programs, Resources
Background: Visual & Performance Arts (photography, design, make-up, alternative performance art). Dominic Facio is a multidisciplinary artist with a focus on subculture, and challenges the status quo and provokes curiosity. Dominic has been creating since the mid-2000s, beginning with makeup design and photography, expanding to wearable art and, what they’ve become known for today, unique inclusive live production experiences with immersive ethereal aesthetics. You can read more about Dominic on Creative Exchange..

Molly Johnston HeadshotMolly Johnston
Rural Program Manager, Fergus Falls Office
Email | 218-203-8209
Programs: All Rural Programs
Background: Dance, choreography, community organizing. Molly Johnston lives and creates in Battle Lake, MN. Dance has taken Molly to Philadelphia (BFA, Modern Dance Performance), Eugene, OR (MFA, Dance) and back to rural Minnesota where she has been encouraging her community to gather through her work with DanceBARN Collective, the Fergus Falls School of Dance, the Lakes Area Community Center and more. She has traveled around the country speaking about dance in rural communities but loves coming home to enjoy nature and small town life with her husband and two wild sons.

Shawna Johnson
Front Desk Coordinator, Saint Paul Office
Email | (651) 789-6289
St. Paul site
Background: Shawna Johnson (she/her) has spent 22 years in the workforce in a range of community serving and customer engagement spaces, from retail and finance organizations, to multiple departments through the State of Minnesota (and helping community members navigate the labyrinthine nature of government entities with patience and warmth). As Front Desk Coordinator at Springboard's St. Paul space, Shawna brings a spirit of welcome, hospitality, and support for connecting artists with the many resources and services available at Springboard. Shawna’s creative practices include painting, photography, poetry, holistic health, and alchemizing in the kitchen.

Headshot of Amanda KalerAmanda Kaler
Advancement Director, Saint Paul Office
Email | (651) 789-6289
All Programs, St. Paul site
Background: Amanda Kaler (she/her) brings over 16 years experience in development, fundraising, and arts and culture leadership to Springboard for the Arts. Prior to joining Springboard, she spent nearly nine years at Minnesota Center for Book Arts directing their fundraising initiatives through a variety of development and executive leadership roles, most recently as their Associate Director. She is a 2021 graduate of the Rockwood Leadership Institute.

Amanda holds dual master's degrees in Nonprofit Management and Arts Administration from the University of Oregon, with an emphasis in Community Arts. Her artistic background ranges from book arts, letterpress printing, and writing, to clown, theater, and movement practices. When not at work, she can be found with her husband and young daughter tending their community garden plot and conducting improv puppet theater in their living room.

Headshot of Mollie LacyMollie Lacy
Relationship Manager, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-302-7024
All Programs
Background: Mollie Lacy is a nonbinary lesbian poet, proud to be living and creating art in the Twin Cities. Their poetry has appeared in Paper Darts, Typishly, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, and on Button Poetry. Their work has been presented by Pangea World Theater, Patrick's Cabaret, Word Sprout, and Mother Goose's Bedtime Stories. Before joining Springboard, Mollie spent seven years working at Pangea World Theater. Mollie deeply believes in the power of artists and arts to create change, and is honored to be part of Springboard for the Arts.

Zaraawar Mistry HeadshotZaraawar Mistry
Program Specialist, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-789-2282
Professional Development, Resources
Background: Theater (acting, directing, producing). Zaraawar Mistry is a co-owner of Dreamland Arts, which from 2005-2023 had a 40-seat theater in St. Paul, and is now a performing arts business focused on the individual works of Zaraawar and his wife, Leslye Orr. Zaraawar has performed in and directed many works for several Twin Cities theater companies, and mentored dozens of artists in the creation and production of original works for the stage. He has an M.F.A. in Theatre from UC, San Diego and a B.A. from Bennington College in Vermont.

Headshot of William PierceWilliam Pierce
Operations & Finance Director, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-333-5067
All Programs
Background: William Pierce has been a performing musician, songwriter, and music producer in the twin cities for over 20 years. He played keyboards and bass guitar at local venues, improv theaters, and houses of worship with some of the metro area’s prominent musicians, singers, and actors.

William holds a B.S. in Business Administration with accounting and nonprofit financial management certifications. In addition, he has 15 years of leadership experience in various management roles. William believes that great organizations start with great people and is passionate about mentoring, motivating, and developing future leaders.

nouf saleh
Community Development Coordinator
Email | 651- 292-3205
 All Programs
Background: nouf saleh (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist, organizer and art administrator. Her artistic practice includes sculpture, photography, and more. Currently, she is part of Wild Path Collective, the PF Studios program and the Creative Exhibition Residency at the Chicago Fire Arts Center to create and exhibit a new body of neon artwork that explores her languages, culture and history.

Headshot of Sara SawickiSara Sawicki
National Program Manager, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-379-0871
All Programs
Background: Sara has worked to support artists and their partners in creating original community-engaged projects across the country as a program manager with organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA) and Center for Performance and Civic Practice (CPCP). Prior to moving to St. Paul, Sara was based out of Chicago. She is a theatre artist with a focus on devised and participatory work. Sara is a company member with 20-year old ensemble theatre company, Sojourn Theatre, and tours internationally with Emmy Award-winning cinematic puppetry company, Manual Cinema.

Andy Sturdevant HeadshotAndy Sturdevant
Artist Resources Manager, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-294-0907
Resources, MN Lawyers for the Arts, Job Board, Accessibility, Professional Development
Background: Visual Art (public art) and Literature (non-fiction). Andy Sturdevant is a writer, artist, and designer living in Minneapolis. He is the author of four full-length nonfiction books, including the Minnesota Book Award-nominated book Closing Time: Saloons, Taverns, Dives and Watering Holes of the Twin Cities (with Bill Lindeke). His artwork has been exhibited at venues in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle, and he has presented public programs with many organizations locally and regionally. Andy holds a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Louisville.

Peter Haakon Thompson HeadshotPeter Haakon Thompson
Site Manager
Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-292-4381
Community Development, ReadyGo
Background: Artist. Peter Haakon Thompson’s primary mediums are participation, interaction and conversation. Some of his works include: The A Project, Art Shanty Projects, Expeditionary Conversation Tents, Mobile Sign Shop and the Temporary Table Tennis Trailer. He is a past recipient of a McKnight Fellowship for Photographers and holds a BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts and an MFA from the University of Minnesota.

Headshot of Wone VangWone Vang
Economic Opportunity Director, Saint Paul Office 
Email | 651-204-0223
Economic Opportunity
Background: Textile Arts and Craft Markets. Wone Vang has been working with artists for over a decade, developing artists and curating events in the community. She studied at the University of Minnesota, and worked in retail for many years before moving into working in the art community. She and her sister Youa Vang are artists and work under the moniker Third Daughter, Restless Daughter, carrying the tradition of cross stitch passed on from their grandmother. Their work has been showcased at the M, Centro, and Northeast Food Co-op. She lives in the Rondo neighborhood with her family and their dog, Zoey.

Headshot of Jun-Li WangJun-Li Wang
Associate Director, Saint Paul Office
Email | 651-292-3206
Programs: Community Development
Background: Craft Arts (textiles, design) and Community Organizer. Jun-Li Wang is a connector of people, places and ideas, with extensive experience in asset-based community development and place-based organizing. Jun-Li has received multiple grants for her projects Saint Paul Hello, an initiative welcoming newcomers, and Board Repair, a network supporting people of color on nonprofit boards. She holds a BA from Vassar College and an MPS in International Development from Cornell University.