Background: Laura Zabel is a frequent speaker on arts and community development at convenings such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, Urban Land Institute and Americans for the Arts. She was a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow, was named one of the 50 most influential people in the U.S. Nonprofit Arts, and received the 2012 Visionary Leader award from the MN Council of Nonprofits. laurazabel.tumblr.com.
Rural Director, Fergus Falls
Programs: 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.
Community Development Director, St. Paul
Programs: 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.
Business Manager, St. Paul
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. johnmartinbell.com.
Community Organizer, St. Paul
Programs: 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.
Community Development Program Manager, St. Paul
Programs: 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. Her practice includes speech communication, civic engagement, mediation, 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 serves on the board of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, continues her work coaching artists and creatives as an Artist Career Consultant at Springboard and is a member of the Chicago ACT Collective.
Rural Program Coordinator, Fergus Falls
Programs: All programs, Resources
Background: Visual Art (photography, design, make-up). Dominic Facio is a visual artist, designer and make-up artist, who has studied at Fergus Falls Public High School and Brown College. He is creator and head of the Fergus Falls Zombie Crawl, an annual community event, with experience in office workflow, design and social media.
Program Director, Health & Wellness, St. Paul
Programs: All Health Programs
Background: Visual Art (painting). Nikki Hunt manages the Artists’ Access to Healthcare (AAH) program, winner of the 2010 Minnesota Social Entrepreneurs Cup, and the Personal and Community Emergency Relief Funds. She is author of the Guide to Healthcare for Minnesota Artists. A visual artist, specializing in oil painting, Nikki is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a degree in both Studio Art and Art History.
Rural Program Manager, Fergus Falls
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.
Community Coordinator, St. Paul
Programs: All Programs, St. Paul site
Background: Cassie McDuffie is a community organizer and leader with a strong lineage from the Rondo community. She will be graduating in 2021 from Metropolitan State University with an Individualized Study B.A in Music Business Marketing and Management Coordination and a minor in Advertising. She has DJ’d as well as played her beats at live events all across the Twin Cities on stages such as 7th Street Entry, Walker Arts Center, Guthrie Theater, and one of the Midwest's largest music jubilees, the SoundSet music festival. As an advocate for local artists, she understands the importance of providing opportunities for marginalized BIPOC communities, through the arts, for the betterment of society.
Program Specialist, St. Paul
Programs: Professional Development, Resources
Background: Theater (acting, directing, producing). Zaraawar Mistry is a co-owner of Dreamland Arts, a 40-seat theater attached to his home in St. Paul. He 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. http://dreamlandarts.com/zaraawar-mistry/.
Artist Resources Director, St. Paul
Programs: Resources, MN Lawyers for the Arts, Job Board, Accessibility, CSA, Professional Development
Background: Visual Art (public art) and Literature (non-fiction). Andy Sturdevant is a public artist, writer and performer. He has written about art, history and culture for a variety of Twin Cities-based publications and websites. 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. www.andysturdevant.com.
Carl Atiya Swanson
Associate Director, Operations & Communications, St. Paul
Programs: All Programs, National
Background: Theater (actor, writer), Visual Art and Administration (management). Carl Atiya Swanson manages Creative Exchange, a national platform sharing stories of artists with impact and toolkits for change. Carl is a theatermaker and writer of essays and poetry, and has served on the boards of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network – Twin Cities, and Dissonance, which advocates for health and wellness in creativity. He holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. www.carlatiyaswanson.com.
Economic Opportunity Director, St. Paul
Programs: Artist Resources
Background: Literature (non-fiction, journalism).Caroline Taiwo is a digital storyteller who creates content about art process, advocacy and community for Minnesota Public Radio, Twin Cities Daily Planet and other media arts platforms. Caroline is the Arts + Culture editor for Twin Cities Daily Planet and previously worked on Inclusion and Community Impact at American Public Media and the Healthy States advisory panel at Minnesota Public Radio. Caroline studied at Howard University and holds a B.A. from Hamline University.
Peter Haakon Thompson
Site Manager, St. Paul
Programs: 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. www.phtpht.com
Office Coordinator, St. Paul
Programs: All Programs
Background: Visual artist (painting). After an experience in the Mural Apprenticeship program at CLUES in St. Paul, they were chosen to receive an emerging artist grant (their first!) to create work for the Latino-Chicano studies program of the University of Minnesota's anniversary’s exhibit, ¡PRESENTE!. Aleydis looks forward to joining the team at Springboard for the Arts, helping make resources even more accessible to the Minnesota community, and welcoming community at the University Avenue site.
Associate Director, Programs, St. Paul
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.