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Jamie Bennett has been the Executive Director of ArtPlace America since January 2014. Previously, Jamie served as Chief of Staff at the National Endowment for the Arts and Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. He has also provided strategic counsel at the Agnes Gund Foundation; served as chief of staff to the President of Columbia University; and worked in fundraising at The Museum of Modern Art, the New York Philharmonic, and Columbia College. His past nonprofit affiliations have included the Board of Directors of Art21 and the HERE Arts Center; the Foot-in-the-Door Committee of the Merce Cunningham Dance Foundation; and Studio in a School’s Associates Committee. Jamie received his B.A. from Columbia College in New York City.
Lyz Crane is the Deputy Director for ArtPlace America. Previously, she served as the Communications Director at ArtHome, an organization that helps artists and their communities build assets and equity through financial literacy; and the Director of Program Development and Program Manager of the Shifting Sands Initiative at Partners for Livable Communities, a national nonprofit leadership organization working to improve the livability of communities by promoting quality of life, economic development, and social equity. In 2009, Crane was named a ‘Next City Vanguard’ by urban affairs magazine Next City. She received her MPA in policy analysis from the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at New York University.
Jamie Hand was trained as a landscape architect. While serving as a Design Specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts, Jamie launched and managed Our Town, the agency’s signature creative placemaking grant program, and oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design programs. Jamie worked closely with the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force to develop the Rebuild by Design competition brief and team selection. Prior to her federal service, Jamie was Program Director at the Van Alen Institute in New York. In partnership with a diverse range of advocacy, academic, and government agencies, she also led large-scale design competitions focused on building social, economic, and ecological resilience for Gateway National Recreation Area (Envisioning Gateway) and the Lower Mississippi River Delta (Changing Course). Jamie is coeditor and author of Gateway: Visions for an Urban National Park (Princeton Architectural Press, 2011). Jamie started her career as a research assistant and project manager for public artist Topher Delaney. Jamie holds an undergraduate degree in architecture from Princeton University and a Master of Design Studies in landscape urbanism from Harvard¹s Graduate School of Design. She was raised at West Point, which to this day fuels her passions both for place and for public service.
Veasna Has joined ArtPlace America as the Communications Specialist in January 2015. She most recently served as the Marketing Assistant at Ballet Hispanico where she supported digital and print communications for the nation’s leading Latino dance organization, in addition to assisting with fundraising and development initiatives. Prior to that, she was a Program Fellow with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs’ Percent for Art program, where she helped facilitate the artist selection process for commissioned public artworks while researching outreach efforts within the public art field. Before moving to New York, Veasna was coordinating student arts programming with the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in Chicago. She holds a BA in Anthropology from the University of Chicago with a minor in Cinema and Media Studies.
Prentice Onayemi recently graduated from Columbia University’s MBA program. While there, he served as a consultant with Exploring the Metropolis’s Queens Workspace Initiative, a research study aimed at developing strategy and policy recommendations to bolster the performing arts landscape in Queens, NY. Prentice has also co-authored two case studies on artists as social entrepreneurs that will be released by Harvard Business Review this year. Prior to earning his MBA, Prentice co-founded Jack, a performing arts venue in the Clinton Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY; and Asmi International, a nonprofit that trains NGO staff to facilitate literacy and creative self expression workshops for survivors of armed conflicts and natural disasters. He has also worked in talent strategy and operations with Achievement First, a network of charter schools; and trained non-violent offenders to build and install cabinetry with Brooklyn Workforce Innovations. A proud member of Actor’s Equity Association and the Screen Actor’s Guild, his credits range from children’s e-books to bringing the title character to life in War Horse on Broadway. Prentice holds a BFA in Drama from New York University and focused on real estate finance and social enterprise during his time at Columbia.
As the Development Associate at Creative Time, Benjamin Strauss directed grant-writing strategy for the annual Creative Time Summit; secured a new grant for a fellowship aimed at graduates of color; worked collaboratively with a small team to fundraise for major public art commissions by Nick Cave, Suzanne Lacy, and Kara Walker; and executed large-scale fundraising events. Before joining Creative Time in 2012, Benjamin spent 7 years in New Orleans, where he worked on city-wide events with the Contemporary Arts Center and the Creative Alliance of New Orleans, and on site-specific art installations and community initiatives with KK Projects/Life is Art Foundation.
Leila Tamari joined ArtPlace America as Program Assistant in 2015. Most recently, Leila was Programming Coordinator at Creative Time for over three years, where she led various engagement initiatives and produced a diverse range of major public art projects in New York City, from solo artist commissions such as Suzanne Lacy’s Between the Door and the Street (2013) and Kara Walker’s A Subtlety… (2014) to group shows like Funk, God, Jazz, & Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn (2014). Prior to her career in the arts non-profit sector, Leila was trained as a visual artist. She received her B.A. from Smith College in Art History with a Museums Concentration, and while there, she collaborated with notable artists Rick Lowe and Wendy Ewald, which led her to produce public art projects on a larger scale in her native town–New York City. With a budding passion for exploring public art practices globally, Leila presented her field research on public art spaces in Israel and Palestine at the 2011 Social Theory, Politics and the Arts Conference.
F. Javier Torres was the Senior Program Officer for the Arts at the Boston Foundation for over three years. Under his leadership the Foundation’s arts strategy explored the role of culture as a tool for transformation, sustainability, and as central to the development of vibrant communities. In his tenure, Javier has successfully supported the Foundation in balancing the institution¹s whole contributions to the field across several grantmaking mechanisms as they sought to impact the regions whole cultural ecology. In partnership with the Boston Foundation’s donors, Javier supported the Foundation in stewarding ten million dollars annually to the field. Prior to his role at the Foundation, Javier spent six years as the Director of Villa Victoria Center for the Arts, a program of IBA, a community based multi-disciplinary arts complex that operates as a regional presenter and local programmer for Latino arts. Currently, he serves as Secretary of the board of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and is a board member for Grantmakers in the Arts. He has previously served as a board member for MASSCreative, a member of the MA Governor’s Creative Economy Council and Chair for the Boston Cultural Council.