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Executive Committee

Headshot of Gary Gibbs

Gary Gibbs Executive Director
Texas Commission on the Arts


As executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts, Dr. Gary D. Gibbs is responsible for the development and administration of the policies, programs and procedures of the state agency. Gibbs earned a B.M.E. in voice from Baylor University, an M.M. in voice from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Texas at Austin. His vocal studies prepared him to serve as soloist and choral clinician for a German church organization that presented him in concert and workshops throughout Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Scandinavia, Canada and South America. As a musicologist, he has presented numerous papers and has written several published articles dealing with American music topics. Gibbs's strong academic background does not preclude his vast practical experience. He has taught at all levels from kindergarten through college, and from 1991 to 2007 he served as director of education and outreach at Houston Grand Opera. He was the education manager for the Houston Arts in Education Collaboration (HAIEC), a project funded by the Arts Plus Initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts. He managed a National Endowment for the Humanities-funded project, Texts and Traditions: Coming of Age in America, for the HAIEC. He has served on the Houston/Harris County Arts Task Force, the Harris County Department of Education Fine Arts Leadership Group and the Texas Commission on the Arts - Arts in Education Task Force. Gibbs has served on numerous local and national panels and committees, including the Multidiscipline, Music and Large Organization panels for the Houston Arts Alliance, and the Arts in Education and Arts Learning Panels for the National Endowment for the Arts. (Board term 2011-2017)

Headshot of Benjamin Brown

1st Vice President
Benjamin Brown Chair
Alaska State Council on the Arts


Benjamin Brown has served on the Alaska State Council on the Arts since 2004, when he was appointed vice chairman, and since 2007 as chairman. A lifelong Alaskan and acting company member at Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, he has performed across the Last Frontier. Brown is an attorney who currently serves on the Alaska Commercial Fisheries Entry Commission, a state agency that oversees and implements the Alaska Limited Entry Act, which is dedicated to conservation and sustained-yield management of Alaska's unique fishery resources and supports economic stability for fishermen and their families. He was previously an associate attorney at Juneau's Baxter Bruce & Sullivan, P.C., with a diverse practice including both criminal and civil law. Brown worked as an aide in the Alaska legislature for many years before law school, and currently serves on the board of directors of Alaska Public Media, a statewide public broadcaster based in Anchorage. He previously served on the boards of the Alaska Humanities Forum, the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council, Capital Community Broadcasting (Juneau's public broadcaster), CoastAlaska (a consortium of Southeast Alaska public radio stations) and the Friends of the Alaska State Museum. Brown received his bachelor's degree from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and his juris doctor from Northeastern University School of Law. (Board term 2012-2017)

Loie Fecteau

2nd Vice President
Loie Fecteau Executive Director
New Mexico Arts


Loie Fecteau has served as executive director of New Mexico Arts, and its advisory New Mexico Arts Commission since 2004. Fecteau has focused much of her tenure on arts based economic development and cultural tourism, including the development of Arts Trails designed to put New Mexico artists on the map and bring the market to them, as well as the creation of state-designated Arts and Cultural Districts in partnership with the New Mexico Economic Development Department's MainStreet Program. The pilot New Mexico Fiber Arts Trails received national recognition and have been featured in USA Today's daily newspaper and its GOESCAPE travel magazine. Fecteau served on the legislative advisory panel that recommended creation of the New Mexico School for the Arts, a publicly funded statewide arts high school, and currently serves on the steering council of Creative New Mexico, a statewide arts and cultural advocacy organization. Fecteau also serves on the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) Board of Trustees, WESTAF's Multicultural Advisory Committee, and as the New Mexico State captain for Americans for the Arts. She served a previous three-year term as a NASAA board member from 2009-2011. Prior to becoming an arts administrator, Fecteau was a journalist for more than 20 years and covered politics in New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Connecticut. She received an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri and a B.A. in English from Marietta College. Fecteau has long believed in the transformative power of the arts. (Board term 2014-2019)

Headshot of Ken May

Ken May Executive Director
South Carolina Arts Commission


Ken May joined the South Carolina Arts Commission in 1985 as a regional arts coordinator and served as director of planning, research and grants and assistant deputy director before being named deputy director in 1995. During his tenure at the Commission, May has played a key role in the creation of many of the agency's nationally recognized programs and partnerships in arts education, community design, public participation in the arts, rural arts development, and career development for artists. Since becoming executive director in 2010, he has gained a national reputation as a leader in the use of social media for arts advocacy, decisively overcoming serious threats to his agency during the 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 legislative sessions and securing $1 million in new, recurring state appropriation for arts grants in 2013. May has served as a panelist and site visitor for the National Endowment for the Arts; a panelist, presenter, consultant and facilitator for national, state and local arts organizations; and a guest lecturer in arts administration programs at the College of Charleston and Winthrop University. He is a member of the board and current treasurer of South Arts. Before beginning his career in arts administration, May held positions with ARA Services Magazine and Book Division and McGraw-Hill. Prior to his long sojourn in the realm of day jobs, he worked as a professional musician. May received undergraduate and master's degrees in music history and musicology from Florida State University. (Board term 2015-2017)

Headshot of Suzanne Wise

Suzanne Wise Executive Director
Nebraska Arts Council


As executive director, Suzanne Wise is the Nebraska Arts Council's CEO, representing the agency at the state, regional and national levels in a variety of ways. She works with the Arts Council board to implement agency goals and objectives and responds to the needs of the state's arts community through financial support, services and advocacy. Wise works with the Nebraska Cultural Endowment in developing financial resources for the arts and humanities. Her career at the Arts Council began in 1988. She has served as the public art program administrator and managed special initiatives and all grant programs except arts education for the agency. She has served on numerous boards both in Nebraska and nationally, including Mid-America Arts Alliance and NASAA. Wise holds an M.A. in art history from the University of Kansas, with a specialization in 19th- and 20th-century American painting and photography, and a B.A. in art history from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Previously, she held curatorial positions at Sheldon Art Museum, Joslyn Art Museum and Northwestern University's Block Gallery, and has taught at Creighton University and in the University of Nebraska system. Wise was awarded an Outstanding Alumni Achievement Award in 1998 from University of Nebraska-Lincoln's Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts Alumni Association board of directors. (Board term 2015-2017)


Headshot of Cyndy Andrus

Cyndy Andrus Chair
Montana Arts Council


Cyndy Andrus has more than 25 years of work experience in the tourism industry, with an emphasis on marketing, strategic planning and geotourism. She is the principal of Andrus Consulting, which focuses on tourism development, strategy, marketing and communication in rural and urban Montana communities. Andrus is a member of the Montana Heritage Commission and serves on the governor's Tourism Advisory Council (past chair), which oversees the distribution of the state lodging tax and advises the governor on tourism issues. She is a current Bozeman city commissioner and a member of the Montana Ambassadors. Previously, Andrus served as director of the Bozeman Convention and Visitor Bureau. (Board term 2015-2017)

Stephanie B. Conner

Stephanie B. Conner Former Chair
Tennessee Arts Commission


Stephanie B. Conner was appointed to the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2012, was elected vice-chair for fiscal years 2014-2015 and was elected chair for FY2015-2016. She previously served on the Commission from FY2002-2007, which included service as Commission chair for FY2005-2006 and FY2006-2007. During FY2014, Conner was chair of the Strategic Planning Committee and was a part of the Allocations Committee. Prior to her work with the Commission, she served as executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. During her tenure, she helped strengthen the film and music industry in the areas of policy development and legislation. She also served as assistant to the governor for Policy and, prior to that position, as assistant to the governor for Boards and Commissions. Conner has been board president of Tennesseans for the Arts and served on the Executive Committee and board of directors of South Arts. Currently, she serves on the board of Tennesseans for the Arts and of Watkins College of Art, Design & Film. Conner has a special interest in arts education, fundraising and support, access for rural communities, and advocacy. She received her bachelor's degree in human and organizational development from Vanderbilt University. (Board term 2015-2017)

Monica Okada Guzman

Monica Okada Guzman Former Chair
Guam Council on the Arts & Humanities Agency


As chief executive officer and managing partner of the Galaide Group, Monica Okada Guzman is responsible for overseeing the creation and coordination of media campaigns, public outreach events and special projects. Guzman's public service experience spans 13 years with the Government of Guam at the Office of the Governor under multiple administrations, coordinating and managing community outreach programs, constituent and media communications, research programs, and special projects. She is secretary for the 2016 Festival of Pacific Arts Coordinating Committee and chairs the festival's Programming Committee. Guzman is a board member of Pacific Islanders in Communication and president of the Guam Nikkei Association. Memberships include the Guam Visitors Bureau, Guam Hotel and Restaurant Association, Guam Contractors Association, Guam Chamber of Commerce and U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce. She served as administrative director of the Guam National Olympic Committee for 10 years and is past chairperson of the board for Guam's public television station, KGTF Channel 12. She received the 2010 Guam Women's Club Women of Movement certificate and was chosen as the 2011 Small Business Administration's (SBA) Women in Business Champion and for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award. In 2014, she was named the SBA's Minority Business Champion and was nominated as Business Woman of the Year. Guzman writes a weekly column in the local daily. (Board term 2016-2018)

Matthew Harris

Matthew Harris Division Administrator
Iowa Arts Council


Matthew Harris has served as administrator of the Iowa Arts Council, a division of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, since 2011. He also serves as a member of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs leadership team, which in addition to the Iowa Arts Council, encompasses the State Historical Society of Iowa, State Historic Preservation Office, State Historical Museum & Research Centers, State Records and Archives, and Produce Iowa - State Office of Media Production. A Cedar Falls, Iowa, native, Harris earned a degree in public relations from the University of Northern Iowa and worked in advertising for the Gallagher-Bluedorn Performing Arts Center before working in development for Des Moines Performing Arts, Iowa's largest nonprofit performing arts center, for more than six years. Harris is a 2013 Des Moines Business Record Forty Under 40 honoree, a recipient of the 2013 University of Northern Iowa Heritage Honours Distinguished Young Alumnus award and a graduate of the 2009-2010 Greater Des Moines Leadership Institute. He serves on the board of directors for Arts Midwest and on the national advisory board for the Governor Robert D. & Billie Ray Center at Drake University. (Board term 2016-2018)

Garbo Hearne

Garbo Hearne Former Chair
Arkansas Arts Council


Garbo Watson Hearne owns Hearne Fine Art and Pyramid Art, Books & Custom Framing/Hearne Fine Art, located in the historic Dunbar neighborhood in Little Rock, Arkansas. She developed Hearne Fine Art in the New York and Atlanta markets and expanded its services to include cataloguing and fine art appraisals. In 2005, Hearne earned her certification in appraisal studies from New York University. In 2008, she and her husband, Dr. Archie Hearne, published Collaborations, Two Decades of African American Art: Hearne Fine Art 1988 – 2008. Before opening Pyramid Gallery in 1988, Hearne worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse at Arkansas Children's Hospital. She is a board member of the Mid-America Arts Alliance has served on the board of the Arkansas Humanities Council. She received a B.S.N. in nursing from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. (Board term 2014-2019)

Headshot of Margaret Hunt

Margaret Hunt Director
Colorado Creative Industries


Margaret Hunt became director of Colorado Creative Industries in 2013. She had directed the Utah Division of Arts and Museums since 2005. Prior to this position, she served as director of community and economic development for Salt Lake City government; manager of economic development programs for PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power Company; director of the International Microfinance Training Program at Naropa University; and vice president of a Utah-based fund-raising consulting group for nonprofit organizations. She has received leadership awards including the governor's leadership award, Utah Small Cities, Inc., for contributions to community and economic development; Pathfinder service award, Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce; Governor's Helping Hands Award for corporate volunteer programs in Utah schools; and United Way's Volunteer of the Year award. Hunt is a visual artist with work hanging in the Salt Lake City International Airport. She attended the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. (Board term 2013-2018)

Headshot of Karen Paty

Karen Paty Executive Director
Georgia Council for the Arts


Karen L. Paty has been working in the arts and community development for more than 15 years and was hired as executive director of Georgia Council for the Arts in 2011. As the agency's first hired director, she has executed multiple programs and projects, including guidance of an annual Governor's Award for the Arts and Humanities, inclusion of the arts in several tourism initiatives such as the Tourism Product Development grant, and development of The Art of Georgia, Georgia Council for the Arts's first exhibit featuring the work of state artists at the capitol. Upon being hired as executive director, she led the creation and implementation of a new five-year strategic plan that redefined the agency's mission and goals to better provide an opportunity for the arts to become an integral part of the lives of all Georgians. In recognition of her valuable contributions to the arts and to the state of Georgia, Paty was named one of the 2013 100 Most Influential Georgians by Georgia Trend magazine. Prior to her work at the Georgia Council for the Arts, Paty was associate director of civic engagement at Hands On Atlanta, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building community through volunteerism and civic engagement. She is a graduate of New York University, where she was a recipient of the university's President's Award for Service. (Board term 2016-2018)

Headshot of Lewis Ricci

Lewis Ricci Executive Director
Indiana Arts Commission


Lewis Ricci came to the Indiana Arts Commission as its newest executive director in 2006. He spent the previous five years at the University of Idaho as a faculty member and the inaugural director of International Jazz Collections at the Lionel Hampton Center, where he pioneered new on-line resources linking the collection to the public and developed national programs based on the collection. Prior to that, Ricci was executive director of the Columbus (Indiana) Arts Council and was a development director at Penn State University. He holds a master's degree in arts administration from Indiana University and a B.S. from Bucknell University, and has worked with the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis and public broadcasting from Indiana University. During his long career, Ricci has been an author, lecturer, educator and producer for both television and the musical theater. He has served on many boards and committees, and is currently a member of the Distinguished Alumni Council of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Ricci and his musical family live in scenic south-central Indiana, where he is well-known as a singer, songwriter, pianist and leader of a family band. (Board term 2012-2017)

Headshot of Randy Rosenbaum

Randall Rosenbaum Executive Director
Rhode Island State Council on the Arts


Randall Rosenbaum is the executive director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, a position he has held since 1995. From 1984 to 1995, Rosenbaum served in a variety of capacities at the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, including deputy director and director of the Dance and Presenting Organizations programs. He has a bachelor of music education degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, and has managed orchestras and nonprofit arts organizations in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Ohio. Rosenbaum has served as a site visitor and panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts in the dance, theatre, musical theatre/opera and state and regional programs, and as a panelist for the state arts agencies of New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts, as well as for the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, the Heinz Endowment of Pittsburgh, and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture in Cleveland, Ohio. He has taught arts administration courses, classes and seminars at Brown University and Rhode Island College. He serves on the board of the New England Foundation for the Arts. A practicing musician, Rosenbaum has sung professionally in churches and synagogues, and with performing ensembles throughout the East Coast. (Board term 2012-2017)

Headshot of Omari Rush

Omari Rush Council Member
Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs


Omari Rush has a continually expanding role of service as an artistic administrator and community leader, in part through his work as director of external relations at the Ann Arbor Art Center. Additionally, he has served in an advisory role for organizations of varying cultural and geographic scopes: as vice chair of the governor-appointed Michigan Council for Arts & Cultural Affairs, as a member of national advisory committees for the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, and as chair of the board of directors for the Ann Arbor Public Schools Educational Foundation. Rush earned degrees in music from the University of Michigan and Florida State University, and though he no longer performs as a clarinetist, he enjoys using his voice to cohost an arts-focused radio show on WEMU-FM, to recite Robert Frost poems, and to place orders for his favorite fermented foods and drinks. (Board term 2016-2018)

Headshot of Nola Ruth

Nola Ruth Former Chair
Missouri Arts Council


Nola Ruth retired eight years ago after 25 years in arts management. She served for 17 years as the director of the Missouri Association of Community Arts Agencies, a statewide service organization that provides training and consultant services to arts councils including planning, program development and fundraising. Ruth has been an instructor for arts management institutes in South Dakota and Kansas and has consulted for various organizations in Illinois, Kansas and Kentucky. She began her career in nonprofit arts management as manager of a community radio station with 14 staff and 125 volunteers. Her volunteer experience includes being founding president of the Arts Resources Council, now the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Columbia. She was also founding president of the Statewide Community Arts Association, now the State Arts Action Network with Americans for the Arts. In both instances, responsibilities included planning, fundraising and program implementation. Ruth is a board member of Mid-America Arts Alliance. (Board term 2015-2017)

Headshot of Amber Sharples

Amber Sharples Executive Director
Oklahoma Arts Council


Amber Sharples has been on staff with the Oklahoma Arts Council since 2006. Originally hired as visual arts director, she was promoted to assistant director in 2011. In that position, she spearheaded the agency's strategic planning process, managed staff evaluations, and developed policies and procedures. During her stint as visual arts director, her efforts earned the agency a grant for assessing the conservation needs of the Oklahoma state capitol and the capitol artwork. Prior to working for the Arts Council, she served in the public affairs office at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Culture in Mexico City. Sharples holds a master of arts in art history from the University of Oklahoma and a graduate certificate in museum collections management and care from The George Washington University. (Board term: 2017-2019)

Headshot of Sandy Shaughnessy

Sandy Shaughnessy Division Director
Florida Division of Cultural Affairs


Sandy Shaughnessy served at the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs as an arts administrator for various grant programs, special events and initiatives before being appointed director in 2005. Prior to that, she was box office manager for Old School Square Cultural Arts Center in Delray Beach and director/treasurer of box office operations for the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center. A native New Yorker, Shaughnessy has work experience at ABC's World News Tonight and 20/20 as well as at the Fashion Institute of Technology. She is a graduate of New York University with a bachelor of arts degree in dramatic literature, theatre history and the cinema, with a minor in political science. She completed graduate coursework in arts administration, and is trained in international protocol. Shaughnessy serves on the board of South Arts, where she cochairs the Performing Arts Exchange, and has served as a grant panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts. (Board term 2014-2019)

Headshot of John Strickland

John Strickland Council Member
West Virginia Commission on the Arts


John Strickland is president and major shareholder of Maynard C. Smith Construction Company, Inc., a Charleston, West Virginia, based commercial general contracting firm that specializes in new construction, renovation, and restoration of hospitals, office buildings and schools, as well as construction management. Strickland is active in construction associations, serving the local community and the state as past president and board member. He is also involved in civic and arts organizations, as a board member for 17 consecutive years of Sunrise Museum, which expanded to a new facility and became The Clay Center for Arts and Sciences of West Virginia; board member and incoming president of Edgewood Summit, a Charleston retirement and assisted living community; and a member of the West Virginia Commission on the Arts for more than eight years. Strickland is a graduate of the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida. (Board term 2016-2018)

Advisory Member

Headshot of Mary Margaret Schoenfeld

Mary Margaret Schoenfeld National Coordinator
U.S. Regional Arts Organizations


Mary Margaret Schoenfeld is the national coordinator for the U.S. regional arts organizations. She provides programmatic, management and administrative leadership for the collaborative work of the six independent nonprofit agencies created to encourage development of the arts and to support arts programs throughout the United States and on a regional basis. Schoenfeld works as an independent arts management consultant. For 25 years she has led efforts in nonprofit and public sector arts organizations to train and provide technical assistance to artists and arts administrators, created programs, and managed funding programs and other resources to ensure that arts and cultural opportunities are available to the widest possible audience. She has a specific focus on community and economic development and the arts. Schoenfeld is an adjunct lecturer at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, teaching arts programming through the Arts Extension Service. She holds an M.A. in public affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, and a B.A. in government from St. Lawrence University. She has worked for local, state and national arts organizations including Americans for the Arts, the Cultural Affairs Division of Arlington County, Virginia, the League of Historic American Theatres, the Vermont Arts Council and the Women's Art Registry of Minnesota.

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