Meet the Team

Stephanie Atkins

Stephanie Atkins ([email protected]) is the Director of the Local Program for the National Performance Network/Visual Artists Network (NPN/VAN). Stephanie manages the organization’s New Orleans Local Network, an intentional-learning community providing peer-to-peer exchanges, and ongoing organizational development and capacity building for smaller art organizations and artist-driven projects. Additionally, she leads NPN/VAN’s effort, in New Orleans, cultivating meaningful partnerships to support the growth of the cultural infrastructure and leveraging resources that directly benefit local artists and cultural bearers. For 28 years, she has been involved with the field as a visual artist, arts educator, and administrator. During the last ten years, she has honed her skills as an arts leader in the nonprofit sector. Stephanie holds a B.A. degree in visual arts from Spelman College and an M.F.A. degree in painting from the University of Cincinnati.

Tom Clareson

Tom Clareson ([email protected]) is Project Director of the Performing Arts Readiness (PAR) project. He serves as Senior Consultant for Digital & Preservation Services at LYRASIS, consulting and teaching nationally and internationally on preservation, disaster preparedness, digitization, digital preservation, special collections/archives, remote storage, funding, strategic planning, and advocacy for libraries, archives, and museums.  Clareson serves as Vice President on the Board of Directors of the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works, and the Board of Directors of LancasterChorale (Ohio).

Steve Eberhardt

Steve Eberhardt ([email protected]) is the Project Coordinator of the PAR project. Steve has coordinated collaborative grant-funded projects at LYRASIS for 20 years, including a 2006-2008 Mellon Foundation-funded grant that assisted academic libraries in their recovery from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. His most recent project provided training, grants, and consultations to preserve photographic and audiovisual collections at Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Dyani Feige

Dyani Feige ([email protected]) joined the Conservation Center for Art & Historic Artifacts (CCAHA) in 2010 as Preservation Specialist, and became CCAHA’s Director of Preservation Services in 2014. Emergency preparedness and response are a major focus of CCAHA’s preservation services. Throughout her tenure, Feige has worked with numerous cultural institutions to prepare risk assessments and develop emergency plans that address both human safety and response/recovery for collections. Under Feige’s leadership, the department launched the Pennsylvania Cultural Resilience Network, a statewide initiative providing not only on education and training but also coordinating a network of trained volunteers from cultural institutions who can provide support and assistance to one another in the event of emergency or disaster. Feige assists in the development and delivery of CCAHA’s emergency workshops, which have moved from programs simply covering emergency preparedness and developing disaster plans to intensive hands-on salvage exercises that are often developed with the input of emergency response personnel. In addition, Feige is extensively involved with CCAHA’s own internal emergency training and preparedness, and oversees the annual editing of CCAHA’s National Resource Guide for Disaster Preparedness. She often serves as the first point person for phone triage when CCAHA receives emergency calls, and is a Steering Committee member of the Philadelphia Alliance for Response. In 2011 Feige authored a book chapter on emergency preparedness for genealogists and other stewards of local/family history collections. Feige previously worked in the Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives. She has a MSLIS from Pratt Institute and interned at the New York Public Library Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division.

Mollie Quinlan-Hayes

Mollie Quinlan-Hayes ([email protected]) served as Deputy Director of South Arts in Atlanta, GA, from 2006 through 2020 and has directed the national initiative ArtsReady since its inception following the 2005 Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Mollie has led workshops across the country and online helping arts leaders incorporate readiness planning into their organizational activities and culture. Her career reflects her advocacy and success in addressing opportunities and responsibilities of arts leaders which are not sexy, but contribute to organizational sustainability and service. These include crisis readiness (ArtsReady), accessibility for individuals with disabilities (founding board member of ARTability), and establishing cash reserves (Arizona ArtShare).

Mollie is a skilled writer, facilitator and strategic planner, and has served as a speaker and panelist for many organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts and Grantmakers in the Arts. She contributed to the Cultural Placekeeping Handbook, and served as Co-Chair of the Steering Committee of NCAPER. Previously, Mollie was with the Arizona Commission on the Arts for 14 years and is a 2015 inaugural class graduate of Executive Arts and Culture Strategy through the University of Pennsylvania and National Arts Strategies.

Ellen Korpar

Ellen Korpar ([email protected]) is a PAR project consultant. Ellen has an extensive emergency preparedness and response background. As a staff member and volunteer with the Red Cross she has been involved with 17 nationally declared disasters that involved hurricanes, wildfires, tornadoes, and floods.  She has seen the effect these disasters have on whole communities. She has made it her mission to educate individuals, businesses, and communities of the importance of emergency planning for all types of hazards, whether they be natural or man-made.

Matthew Kowal

Matthew Ché Kowal ([email protected]) is a PAR project consultant. Through Majestic Collaborations, Matthew has consulted with DAV for the Denver Music Strategy, FACTOR Canada’s Musical Trade Mission to Colorado and Sound Diplomacy’s Music Cities to bring international perspectives into local initiatives and policy. He has coordinated/curated 100+ festivals, partnered with brands, bands, and non-profit organizations to raise awareness and over $5MM for bicycle advocacy, art, and music causes while striving to address gender and diversity equity in talent booking and collaborative leadership. He has commissioned unique exhibitions with a myriad of safety and operational considerations as well as pioneered sustainability practices (alternative power systems, festival waste/water/fuel) and coordinated event safety, accessibility, and emergency preparedness. Matthew is a musician and band leader of The Reals. His training and certifications include crowd management, EMT-B (Ret.) Class-D outdoor stage construction, OSHA, and FEMA coursework.

Janet T. Newcomb

Janet T. Newcomb ([email protected]) is the Performing Arts Coordinator of the PAR project and works at LYRASIS. Jan’s leadership experience in performing, community and government arts organizations has included the following positions: Vice President of Development and Interim President & CEO of the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic Orchestra and CEO of the Charleston (SC) Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the Southern Finger Lakes and 171 Cedar Arts Center in Corning, NY. She founded and developed an arts council in Beaufort, SC and was co-founder of the Bailey/Newcomb Dance Company (NY). She served as executive director of three other regional arts councils in upstate NY and SC before joining the staff of the South Carolina Arts Commission as Director of Grants. Jan has taught modern dance and arts policy and management courses as adjunct faculty at the University of Buffalo, Medaille College, University of South Carolina, College of Charleston, and New York Institute of Technology in Manhattan where she designed and served as the founding director of the MA in Leadership in the Arts & Entertainment Industries (LAEI) Program, in association with Nederlander Worldwide Entertainment LLC. Since 2009, Jan has consulted with clients including South Arts, Long Wharf Theatre (CT), Miami Summer Music Festival, and the Lexington (KY) Philharmonic.

Denise Saunders Thompson

Denise Saunders Thompson

Denise Saunders Thompson ([email protected]) is the President and CEO of The International Association of Blacks in Dance, a non-profit dance service organization. She also the founder of D.d.Saunders & Associates, Inc., a comprehensive fine arts advisory firm offering artist management/representation, arts producing, consulting, and production services. Denise’s nonprofit/for-profit management and philanthropic career spans over 25 years of executive and program director experience. She has advised organizations on administrative, programmatic and fundraising issues including strategic plans, policy and procedures, communications programs, budgeting and contracts. And she has pioneered top-ranked courses on the collegiate level (graduate and undergraduate) in artistic development, entrepreneurship, fundraising, grant writing, leadership, management, and production. Denise served as a Professorial Lecturer for the Graduate Arts Management Degree Program at American University. In 2015, she concluded 17 years of service at Howard University in the capacities of Professor and Theatre Manager/Producing Artistic Director. Denise currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance/USA, Friends of Theatre and Dance at Howard University, and is a member of Actors Equity Association (AEA), Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), and Theatre Communications Group (TCG). She is a grant recipient of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the St. Paul Companies. Denise holds an M.F.A. from the University of California, Los Angeles in Arts Producing and Management, and a B.F.A. from Howard University in Theatre Arts Administration with honors. In addition, she has completed Ph.D. course work at Howard University in Organizational Communications

Susie Surkamer

Susie Surkamer ([email protected]) is the President & CEO of South Arts in Atlanta, GA which she joined as executive director in 2012. Previously she was executive director of the South Carolina Arts Commission until she retired in 2009. Susie’s past service includes president of  the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), treasurer of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, member of the Coca-Cola Scholarship National Selection Committee, member of the National Arts Education Partnership Steering Committee, member of the Winthrop University Board of Visitors, member of the Clemson University President’s Advisory Committee, and on panels for the NEA and other organizations. Winthrop University awarded her its Medal of Honor in the Arts in 2006, and NASAA recognized her with the Gary Young Award in 2008. Susie earned a M.Ed. in dance education from George Washington University and a B.A. in dance from the University of Maryland.

Bertrand Evans-Taylor

Bertrand J. Evans-Taylor is the Communications and Administration Manager for the Performing Arts Alliance. He brings over 10 years of experience as an arts advocate, arts administrator, event producer and a lifetime as a pianist. He served as a marketer and community engaged specialist at Majestic Collaborations, a PAR funded project, where he guided its marketing and community outreach strategies through a community engaged lens. He is also the founder of Ujima Denver, an arts-based social enterprise committed to elevating Black and Brown artists, their work and their voices as valuable community contributors through strategic event production and professional development. Bertrand has also served on the production team for esteemed festivals such as The Five Points Jazz Festival and The Colour of Music Festival.

He recently graduated from the University of Denver with a masters in Arts and Culture Management with an emphasis on Outreach and Advocacy. During this time, he was awarded the “Keeper of the Flame” award for his work on campus and in the wider Denver community. He also served as a Community Engaged Fellow with the university’s Center for Community Engagement to Advance Scholarship and Learning, where he was awarded “Graduate Community Organizer of the Year”. His graduate research centered around the professional development needs of Black artists. He received his bachelor’s degree from Purdue Global University in Business Administration with an emphasis on Internet and New Media Marketing. He also studied Music with Elective Studies in Business with a minor in classical piano at Howard University. Bertrand is a passionate advocate for the arts and is excited to bring this passion to Performing Arts Readiness.

Allison Tratner

Allison Tratner ([email protected]) has been the Executive Director of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts since October 2018. Allison served on the Council staff since 2005 in a number of positions, including Deputy Director and Director of Communications. During her time at the Council, Allison has been responsible for leading the Council's interests in strategic communications, long-range planning, and community partnerships. Since 1966, the State Arts Council’s volunteer members and professional staff have worked to encourage and give financial support to New Jersey artists and arts organizations, and to strengthen New Jersey communities through the arts. As the largest funder of the arts in New Jersey, Council grants support over 700 arts organizations, projects and artists, with nearly half in support of performing arts organizations and activities. Strategic cross-sector partnerships help extend the Council’s reach to traditionally underserved populations and in key areas such as education, healthcare, community revitalization and economic development. The Council is a founding member of the New Jersey Cultural Alliance for response (NJCAR), the first-in-the-nation alliance of its kind to include the arts, created to help cultural communities preserve assets and sustain operations before, during and after a disaster.

Colin Turner

Colin Turner ([email protected]) has been the Executive Director of the Midwest Art Conservation Center (MACC) since2002. He is a Professional Associate of The American Institute for Conservation of Historic & Artistic Works, a member of the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and the Twin Cities Nonprofit Financial Group, Chair of the National Association of Regional Conservation Centers, a member of the Regional Alliance for Preservation and serves on the Heritage Emergency National Task Force.

Ann Marie Willer

Ann Marie Willer ([email protected]) is the Director of Preservation Services at the Northeast Documentation Conservation Center (NEDCC) and  has worked as a professional in the field of library preservation since 2002. She has expertise in preservation program management, digitization workflows and best practices, the preservation of paper-based and audio-visual materials, and disaster preparedness and response. She previously served as Preservation Librarian for the MIT Libraries and the University of North Texas Libraries and has paraprofessional experience in special collections, exhibits, cataloging, and general collections conservation. Ann Marie is a member of the American Library Association's Preservation and Reformatting Section and has presented at national and regional conferences on a wide range of topics including diversity and inclusion in libraries and archives, emergency preparedness, audio-visual assessment, and preservation administration.

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson ([email protected]) is Executive Director of the Western Arts Alliance (WAA), the nonprofit membership organization serving performing arts touring and presenting in the western United States and Canada. Wilson frequently presents at meetings and conferences on the performing arts and nonprofit management, including APAP, the Shanghai Performing Arts Fair, the Government of Quebec Ministerial Forum, the China Association for the Performing Arts, Pacific Contact (Burnaby, British Columbia), and the Oregon Arts Commission.
From 1993-1997, Wilson was Executive Director of Alaska State Council on the Arts. Wilson served on the Board of Directors of the Western States Arts Federation from 1994 to 1997 and the Board of the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) from 1995 to 1997. Wilson served as a Program Manager at Sealaska Heritage, a tribal foundation serving the Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian people of Southeast Alaska from 1986-1993. Wilson holds a B.A. in Cinema from the University of Southern California.

Holly Witchey

Holly Witchey ([email protected]) has a Ph.D. in European Painting and Sculpture and thirty years of experience in museums and higher education. She is currently Executive Director of the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA-Art Conservation), the nation’s first non-profit regional art conservation center. In addition to her work with ICA, Dr. Witchey teaches graduate-level museum studies classes for Johns Hopkins University and Case Western Reserve University. In 2016 she launched Cleveland Philanthropy, a small educational 501(c)(3), because she believes that shared inspirational stories have the power to shape the future of urban cultural development.

Dr. Witchey served on the board of directors for the Museum Computer Network (MCN) and as the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) Board-appointed member of the National Committee for Archives, Libraries, and Museums. Other professional appointments include: Chair of AAM’s Media and Technology Standing Professional Committee, Co-Principal Investigator for the New Media Consortium (NMC) Horizon Report Museum Edition and was lead blogger for Marcus Institute for Digital Education in the Arts  (MIDEA), a non-profit organization with the goal to provide practical knowledge about emerging technologies for museums. Dr. Witchey has served as Associate Curator of European Art and Manager of New Media at the San Diego Museum of Art, as well as Director of New Media at the Cleveland Museum of Art.