Arts Midwest welcomed four new staff members in 2020, and in the midst of the most disruptive year in our history, we didn’t have a chance to acknowledge these incredible new team members the way we would have wanted.
So, today – near the anniversary of our office closing for the pandemic – we wish to highlight the folks who joined our team in 2020, made work-from-home work in new and amazing ways, and who brought patience and humor to our “get to know you” zooms.
Community Learning Catalyst
Kayla joined the Arts Midwest team in June as a Community Learning Catalyst. Since that time, she has become an essential part of our Community Creativity Cohort team, where she facilitates relationship deepening, supports organizations in community-centered resource and capacity building, and learns together with the cohort around regional equity and systems change practices.
A citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Kayla has devoted her career to the arts as a curator, educator, advocate for artists, rural communities, and equity in community networks. She joined Arts Midwest with experience in public art, curating, grantmaking, and evaluation. She has served on the board of the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, is a commissioner in her Grand Rapids Arts and Culture Commission, and is a trustee with the Blandin Foundation.
Alana began her role as Digital Media Producer on March 10, spending just three days working in Arts Midwest’s offices before we closed. Since that time, she has transformed our communications strategy, more than doubled our storytelling efforts, and become a critical member of our team. In February 2021, Alana’s successes were recognized with a promotion to Communications Manager.
Alana’s professional and creative work, in and beyond Arts Midwest, centers around finding innovative ways of telling stories that bring people together. Prior to joining Arts Midwest in March 2020, she oversaw communications at The Cedar Cultural Center and Bedlam Theater and worked as a freelance arts marketer. She is a performance maker and musician.
John joined Arts Midwest as Grants Specialist in April 2020. In a year of record grantmaking for Arts Midwest, thanks to the CARES Act and U.S. Regional Arts Resilience Funds, John has offered administrative support to grantees and applicants across our programs and region.
Prior to joining Arts Midwest, John held positions with the Walker Art Center and the Minnesota Orchestra. Outside of his arts administration work, John is an independent filmmaker and screenwriter and is a Jerome Foundation Artist Grant recipient.
Creative Gatherings Manager
Maria joined Arts Midwest in June 2020 as the Creative Gatherings Manager, a role that focuses on managing professional development, programming, and communications for the Arts Midwest Conference. In her first year, she helped us to reimagine the Conference for a digital setting and partner with the Western Arts Alliance on launching the largest virtual gathering in our history. Most recently Maria has been co-developing a community-driven programming model, the Gather Round Series, for U.S. Regional Arts Resilience Fund grantees.
Prior to joining Arts Midwest, Maria worked as a storyteller, actor, drama teacher, and membership director for the Minnesota Broadcasters Association. She is passionate about connecting people through meaningful arts experiences and currently serves on the board of Story Arts of Minnesota.