Jamie Bennett was the Executive Director of ArtPlace America from 2014 to 2020. 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 BA from Columbia College in New York City.
Sarah Calderon was the Managing Director of ArtPlace America from 2015 to 2020. In this role, Sarah led strategy, finance and operations, management, and grantmaking strategies for higher education. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education (Bronx, NY) from 2008 to 2015. During her tenure at Casita, she oversaw the opening of a new, 90,000-square-foot facility for the Center's arts and education programming and developed partnerships with organizations ranging from Lincoln Center to the NYC Housing Authority. Before joining Casita, she founded and ran Stickball Printmedia Arts in East Harlem, a printmaking and digital arts organization for youth. Prior to that, Sarah was with the NYC Department of Education creating the Annual Arts in Schools Report – a data collection, analysis, and reporting effort for arts education in NYC's public schools. She also consulted at MPR Associates, managing education research and evaluation projects from design through publication. She has worked as a teaching artist in Chicago, Oakland, and New York City. Sarah holds a BFA in printmaking and a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan; and an M.Ed. in arts education from Harvard University. Visit Sarah’s LinkedIn profile.
Lyz Crane was the Deputy Director of ArtPlace America from 2012 to 2020. Within this role, Crane has led grantmaking, capacity-building and knowledge-building strategies focused on organizational change in the community development sector and with local government staff to incorporate arts and cultural practices. She has also worked to transfer lessons from this work and that of the institution to influence the broader enabling environment for creative placemaking. 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 and her BA in Urban Studies and Sociology from Barnard College, Columbia University. Visit Lyz's LinkedIn profile.
Maura Cuffie is a facilitator, strategist, and designer who served as a Senior Program Officer for ArtPlace America from 2018 to 2020. During that time she conceived and executed the Local Control, Local Field(s) initiative, a novel approach to participatory and trust-based philanthropy. This initiative placed over $12.5M directly under the control of practitioners across the country. She has held a variety of positions in arts, culture and organizational change. As a co-founder of the collective, the Free Breakfast Program, she participated as a Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project in 2015 and in the inaugural cohort for leaders of color in EmcArts’ Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators Fellowship in 2016. (Photo Credit: Naima Green)
Adam Erickson is an artist, advocate, and cultural producer—and was also a member of ArtPlace America’s leadership team from 2016 to 2020. Adam directed the organization’s movement building work in the field of creative placemaking, and its strategic communications. Previously, he managed The Aspen Institute Arts Program, where he brought together leading voices from a variety of sectors, with the purpose of accelerating arts-driven social change, service, and innovation in the United States. Adam is a founding member of Vital Little Plans, an artist collective and giving circle, and he teaches in the Arts Management and Entrepreneurship program at The New School in New York City. Adam received his BA in art history and studio art from Bethel University and his MFA in visual arts from Lesley University. Originally from the Twin Cities, Minnesota, he began his career at Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul. Visit Adam's LinkedIn profile. (Photo Credit: Amber Procaccini)
Marirosa García was the Social Media Manager at ArtPlace America from 2015 until its sunset in 2020. Before she came to work for ArtPlace she worked for Penguin Young Readers (part of Penguin Random House Publishing), working on several New York Times bestselling books. Mari got her MFA in Creative Writing from The New School and is the author of Even If the Sky Falls and The Resolutions from Katherine Tegen books (an imprint of HarperCollins). She was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico and a founding member of the Latinx children’s book writers collective Las Musas, and Vital Little Plans, an artist collective and giving circle. You can also find her on MGarciaWrites.com or visit Mari's LinkedIn profile.
Jamie Hand served as ArtPlace America’s Director of Research Strategies from 2014 until its sunset in 2020. In this role, she designed and led cross-sector knowledge and network building efforts. A landscape designer by training, Jamie developed dynamic collaborative relationships with over two dozen strategic partners and consultants – ranging from individual artists, to research and policy shops, to national intermediaries in immigration, environment, health, affordable housing, and more – in order to embed arts and cultural strategies in community development practice. Her work as an editor, facilitator, researcher, and designer reflects a unique combination of rigor and flexibility – with methods that honor both the linear and the nonlinear, the established and the experimental, the known and the unknown, the logic model and the lived experience. Prior to ArtPlace, Jamie worked for the National Endowment for the Arts, Van Alen Institute, and public artist Topher Delaney. She became board chair of ioby.org (“in our back yards”) in 2019 and holds design degrees from Princeton and Harvard. Visit Jamie's LinkedIn profile.
Danya Sherman is a strategist and writer who specializes in collaboratively developing initiatives that build a more creative and just society. She worked closely with Jamie Hand and others on the ArtPlace team to design and conduct research, teach coursework, and design field-building programs that helped integrate arts and culture into equitable community development nationwide. Danya is the Director of Sherman Cultural Strategies, a Boston-based consulting firm that works locally and nationally at the intersection of community development, the arts, and social justice. Sherman Cultural Strategies brings teams of consultants together to support the evolution of values-driven partners in the philanthropic, non-profit, and government sectors through strategy, research, writing, and facilitation. Previously she founded and directed the Department of Public Programs & Community Engagement at Friends of High Line and co-founded the MIT Case Study Initiative. Her writing has been published in Next City, Shelterforce, and by Rutgers University Press. She holds a Master's in City Planning from MIT and a Bachelor of Arts from Wesleyan University. Visit Danya’s LinkedIn profile.
Erik Takeshita was a Senior Fellow to ArtPlace America, supported by the Bush Foundation, from 2019-2020. His thought partnership came from more than twenty years of culturally rooted community development experience. Erik joined the Bush Foundation as Community Creativity Portfolio Director in August of 2015. From 2008 to 2015 he led a breadth of work at the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), including launching a nationwide Creative Placemaking initiative. He was previously a senior policy aide to the mayor of Minneapolis, where he advised the framework for a 10-year Plan for Arts and Culture, and led an art center in Honolulu, Hawai’i, helping to revitalize the city’s downtown. He serves on numerous boards and commissions, and is nationally recognized for managing high-impact initiatives that express a community’s unique culture through the arts. Erik holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Kennedy School—an opportunity he pursued through a 2005 Bush Leadership Fellowship.
Leila concluded her six-year tenure at ArtPlace America (2015-2020) as a Senior Program Officer. During that time, she oversaw the National Creative Placemaking Fund, building relationships with grantee partners ranging from city governments to individual artists, and working across urban, rural, and Indigenous contexts, at regional, state, and local scales. When ArtPlace made a strategic pivot during its final years, Leila’s work included leading key partnerships in the arts & culture sector with ioby and NASAA. Prior to ArtPlace, Leila worked at Creative Time, where she led various engagement initiatives and produced a diverse range of major public art projects in New York City. Visit Leila's LinkedIn profile.
Sarah Westlake was the Editorial Director of ArtPlace America from 2017 to 2020. Sarah has worked and volunteered in the “communications for good” field her entire career. Before ArtPlace she worked in advancing messaging around patient advocacy, union organizing, and reproductive rights. She is a cultural producer and a network weaver who uses creativity to frame, reframe and join the dots. She has run storytelling training, managed messaging across every platform, and taught writing for many organizations including, the NYC chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) — where she is the volunteer Communications Coordinator. Sarah is also a founding member of Vital Little Plans, an artist collective giving circle and Elderqueer a gathering space for queer elders. Keep up with all things Westlake at sarahwestlake.com.