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About Springboard for the Arts
Springboard for the Arts' 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. Founded as an independent nonprofit in 1991, Springboard for the Arts has an innovative 30-year history of supporting artists making a living and a life and artist-led community development work.
Staff leadership headshots and bios
Laura Zabel is an advocate and champion of artists and their role in building healthy and just communities and systems. For more than 20 years, Zabel has worked to imagine and grow a more durable ecosystem of support for creativity and culture. 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. Through their free toolkits, training and resources Springboard’s programs have been replicated in over 100 communities across the U.S. and internationally. Springboard is based in Minnesota; their urban home is in a former used car dealership in the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul and their rural home in a former funeral home in downtown Fergus Falls.
During the pandemic, Springboard provided emergency relief support to over 2,500 artists in their region and helped over 80 communities nationwide start their own locally-rooted emergency funds, while also supporting artists to respond directly to urgent community needs, including racial justice, social isolation, and rural-urban solidarity. In 2021, Springboard launched one of the nation’s first guaranteed income programs focused on artists, putting artists at the table of a national economic justice movement.
Springboard’s work has been featured by the New York Times, PBS, Wall Street Journal, Stanford Social Innovation Review and The Guardian. Zabel has been honored with numerous awards, including the YBCA 100, Gard Foundation Award of Excellence, Common Future Local Economy Fellowship and the Bush Foundation Leadership Fellowship. Laura is also a theater artist.
Associate Director, Programs
Jun-Li Wang is a connector of people, places and ideas. As Associate Director, Programs, Wang leads strategy and programs at Springboard for the Arts with a focus on partnership development and community building. Based in Saint Paul and Fergus Falls Minnesota, Springboard works locally and nationally at the intersection of arts and economic and community development, helping local artists and communities thrive together. Our 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.
Wang has extensive experience in asset-based community development, community organizing, neighborhood leadership, workshop curriculum design and implementation, and training. For the past 10 years, she created and led Springboard’s Community Development program, including Irrigate, a nationally-recognized creative placemaking program designed to train and support local artists to address community challenges. She recently completed her third toolkit for Springboard, the Handbook for Artists Working in Community. In recent years, Wang has served on the Saint Paul Planning Commission, the Metropolitan Council Livable Communities Advisory Committee, and the board of Urban Boatbuilders, a metro non-profit serving at-risk youth. Wang holds a BA from Vassar College and MPS in International Development from Cornell University, and though she has lived in Minnesota longer than any other place, some of her heart remains in Berkeley, her childhood home. When time permits, Wang is a craft artist with guerrilla art aspirations.
Rural Director, Fergus Falls
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.
Community Development Director
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.
Economic Opportunity Director
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.
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.