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Board of Trustees + Advisors

The Alliance is led by a dedicated Board of Trustees and the guidance of our Honorary Board and Advisory Councils. Board members are selected for their demonstrated commitment to serving artists and advancing the role artists and creativity play in society.

[ Board of Trustees ]  [ Honorary Board ]  [ Advisors ]


Esther Grisham Grimm, Chair | 3Arts (Chicago, IL)
Mario Garcia Durham, Co-Vice Chair | APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals (Washington, DC)
Sanjit Sethi, Co-Vice Chair | The Corcoran School of the Arts and Design - George Washington University (Washington, DC)
Tamara Ross, Treasurer | Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity (Banff, AB Canada)
Brad Kik, Secretary | Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology (Bellaire, MI)
Rob Bailis | Cal Performances (Berkeley, CA)
Elizabeth Chodos | Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Ryan Dennis | Curator & Programs Director, Project Row Houses (Houston, TX)
Melissa Franklin | The Pew Center for Arts + Heritage (Philadelphia, PA)
Mark Golden | Golden Artist Colors (New Berlin, NY)
Tony Grant | Sustainable Arts Foundation (San Francisco, CA)
Gia Hamilton | Applied Anthropologist, Residency and Incubator Space Developer (New Orleans, LA) 
Melissa Levin | Art Agency, Partners (New York, NY)
Craig T. Peterson | Abrons Arts Center / Henry Street Settlement (New York, NY)
Shey Rivera | Multi-genre Artist (Providence, RI)
Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento | Attorney, The Law Office of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento (Austin, TX / New York, NY)
Geoffrey Jackson Scott | Co-Founder/Creative Director, Peoplmovr (Brooklyn, NY)
Sharon Ullman | Robert Rauschenberg Foundation (New York, NY)
Kibra A Yohannes | Executive Director, AFRICA'SOUT! (Brooklyn, NY)


Esther Grisham Grimm | Chair
Executive Director, 3Arts

Esther’s career-spanning work in the arts encompasses museum education, arts education, and philanthropy. She is the Executive Director of 3Arts, a nonprofit grantmaking organization dedicated to supporting women artists, artists of color, and artists with disabilities working in the performing, teaching, and visual arts in Chicago through unrestricted grants, residency fellowships, project funding, and professional development.

Prior to joining 3Arts in 2002, she was the Director of Education and Associate Director of Marwen, an organization that provides out-of-school art instruction, college planning, and career development programs to Chicago’s under-served youth in grades 6-12. Before Marwen, she was the Assistant Director of Museum Education at The Art Institute of Chicago and the Docent Coordinator at the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, Connecticut.

Esther has worked as a writer and editor since 1990, with reviews and features in a variety of magazines, gallery guides, and exhibition catalogues. She also authored six children’s non-fiction, art-activity books focusing on the art of ancient and living cultures.

Currently, she is the Chair of the Board of the Alliance of Artists Communities, the Secretary of the Friends of the Vienna Museum Board of Directors, and a member of the Grantmakers in the Arts Individual Artist Support Steering Committee.


Mario Garcia Durham | Co-Vice-Chair
President + CEO, APAP, the Association of Performing Arts Professionals

In October 2011, Mario Garcia Durham became the fifth director of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters since its founding in 1957. He comes to APAP from the National Endowment for the Arts where he was Director of Artist Communities and Presenting. At the NEA, Durham was a contributing team member of such programs as An Evening of Poetry hosted by the President and Mrs. Obama, the NEA Opera Honors and he inaugurated the Artist Communities granting program. After holding numerous management positions and serving as artistic director at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in 1990s, he founded Yerba Buena Arts & Events in 2000, the producing organization of the annual Yerba Buena Gardens Festival. The outdoor event offers more than 100 free performances by the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Ballet and more for an audience of 100,000 attendees. Durham has previously served on numerous boards including Galeria de la Raza and APAP’s board and executive committee. He is currently a board member of the Alliance of Artist Communities and the National Center for Creative Aging and is board chair of the Performing Arts Alliance.


Sanjit Sethi | Co-Vice-Chair
Director, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design - George Washington University

Born in Rochester, New York, Sanjit Sethi received a BFA in 1994 from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, an MFA in 1998 from the University of Georgia, and an MS in advanced visual studies in 2002 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sanjit has taught at numerous academic institutions including the Memphis College of Art, the Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology, and California College of the Arts.  His work deals with issues of nomadism, identity, the residue of labor, and memory. Sethi has been Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI) and previous to that was Director of the Center for Art and Public Life and Barclay Simpson Professor/ Chair of Community Arts at the California College of the Arts.  Sethi is currently Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at George Washington University.


Tamara Ross | Treasurer
Director, Programming Operations, Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity

Tamara’s connection with Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity, located in Banff, Alberta, Canada, has spanned her entire life. After working in various departments at the Banff Centre in support of the artist during her teens, Tamara ventured to Vancouver to garner both a Commerce and Education degree from University of British Columbia. In Vancouver she was a high school teacher and Manager of Artistic Operations with Ballet British Columbia. In 2005, Tamara went east to complete her MBA at HEC Montreal and returned to Calgary to manage the School of Alberta Ballet before re-joining the Banff Centre in her current role in 2007. She is proud to be contributing to the great things the Banff Centre does and has seen first-hand the transformative effects this special place has for artists, leaders and all who visit it.


Brad Kik | Secretary
Co-Founder + Co-Director, Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology

Brad Kik is the co-founder and co-director of Crosshatch Center for Art & Ecology, a non-profit organization that connects the lines between art, agriculture, local economy and ecology. Brad’s varied background—film study, environmental activism, graphic design, community organizing, traditional music, writing, ecology and permaculture—plays a key role in shaping the cross-disciplinary work of Crosshatch. Brad regularly presents on the intersections of art and ecology, particularly in regards to artist residencies and the role of the arts in rural development. Brad serves as a trustee of the Alliance of Artists Communities and Earthwork Music Collective, and helps convene and present the Alliance’s Emerging Program Institute each year.







Rob Bailis
Associate Director, Cal Performances

Rob is a musician, writer, and performing arts curator living in his native San Francisco. A classical clarinetist, he has performed with orchestras, chamber ensembles, and as a recitalist across the U.S., Canada, Asia, and the U.K. From 2003 – 2011, he was Director of ODC Theater. During his tenure, he was instrumental in the theater’s $9 million dollar expansion of its facility. He elevated the theater’s platform from regional to national and international visibility, and received numerous awards in recognition of his presenting, advocacy, and residency programs. In 2007, the San Francisco Chronicle named him “MVP” in dance presenting, describing his curation as, “…smart…instinctive, and infectious.” He has commissioned over 30 new works in a variety of genres, and has served as a panelist / program  / policy consultant for foundations and arts funding organizations including MAP Fund, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, Creative Capital, SF Arts Commission, New England Foundation for the Arts, Chamber Music America, WESTAF, and the Center for Cultural Innovation, among many. A frequent public speaker on arts and culture, he has recently been heard at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, on KPFA’s Against the Grain, and on NPR’s West Coast Live, and has been a speaker and content provider at national conferences such as Dance USA and Association of Performing Arts Presenters. A widely produced lyricist and librettist, Mr. Bailis’ newest piece, Love/Hate, was co-commissioned by American Opera Projects and ODC Theater and premiered in April 2012 as a co-production of ODC and San Francisco Opera. The work has also enjoyed performances in New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. In June of 2013, Rob was appointed Associate Director of Cal Performances on the UC Berkeley campus, where he leads the artistic programming team in areas of dance, theater, and world stages, and oversees the fundraising, marketing, education, and publication departments. He holds degrees from Northwestern University and Yale School of Music.


Elizabeth Chodos
Director, Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon University

Elizabeth Chodos is Co-Founder of Common Field and Director at the Miller ICA at Carnegie Mellon. She is a former Executive & Creative Director of Ox-Bow School of Art and Artists' Residency. She is interested in creative and enterprising arts administration projects and practices, and moonlights as a creative writer and independent curator. Elizabeth received a Dual Masters degree from the departments of Art History, Theory and Criticism, and Arts Administration from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her Bachelors of Arts in Creative Writing, from Sarah Lawrence College. She was formerly Executive Director at Threewalls.


Ryan Dennis
Curator & Programs Director, Project Row Houses

Ryan N. Dennis is Curator and Programs Director at Project Row Houses. Her work focuses on African American contemporary art with a particular emphasis on socially engaged practices, site-specific projects, and public interventions. Since joining Project Row Houses in 2012, she has organized and co-organized ten Rounds of PRH group exhibitions with local, national, and international artists. Her writings have appeared in catalogs and journals, including Prospect.3 Notes for Now (2014), Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and the Studio Museum in Harlem’s Studiomagazine. She has most recently edited Collective Creative Actions: Project Row Houses at 25 and contributed to the first monograph of artist Autumn Knight titled, In Rehearsal: Autumn Knight, published by the Krannert Art Museum. Dennis has been a visiting lecturer and critic at a number of art schools and art institutions throughout the country and has taught courses on community-based practices and contemporary art at the University of Houston.


Melissa Franklin
Director of Pew Fellowships in the Arts, The Pew Center for Arts + Heritage

Melissa Franklin is the director of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts at The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in Philadelphia. She has held this position since 1995 and has been with the program as a senior staff member since its inception in 1991. From 2005-2008, Franklin co-managed the LINC Philadelphia project as part of a national initiative that seeks to improve artists’ living and working conditions. She has served as an advisor to several other foundations on implementing programs to support artists directly. She has served on selection panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the New Jersey State Arts Council, St. Louis Contemporary Museum of Art’s Great Rivers Biennial Award, Philadelphia Fringe Festival, and the Marian Anderson Community and Artist Awards. Melissa was the Advisory Board Chair for Arcadia University Art Gallery and has served on many boards and committees including the City of Philadelphia's 1% for Art Advisory Committee, Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts Advisory Committee, Vox Populi Gallery Advisory Board among others, and also was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee for the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. 


Mark Golden
President / CEO, Golden Artist Colors

Mark Golden, CEO and Co-founder of Golden Artist Colors, began the company in 1980 with 4 employees, his father Sam Golden, mother Adele and wife Barbara. Originating in a cow barn on his parents’ retirement home in rural Columbus, NY, the company made and delivered custom products for artists in Manhattan. Continuing to make custom paints with 200 Employee Owners in its 100,000-square-foot facility, GOLDEN now sells its product worldwide.

Mark was selected as the 1996 Small Business Person of the Year for NY and recognized by President Bill Clinton for his activities in creating a business exemplifying the spirit of Corporate Citizenship, providing a work environment that values all employees. In 2006, Mark received an award from the American Institute for Conservation, recognizing his contributions to the art conservation field. In 2005, he received the NYFA 2005 Inspiration Award and was honored by the Manufacturers Association of Central New York with a 2005 Wall of Fame Award.  In 2011, Inc. Magazine recognized GOLDEN as one of the top 50 small businesses to work for.  In 2012, GOLDEN was recognized by Americans for the Arts as a top 10 contributor to the arts in the US. In 2014 Mark received an honorary Doctorate from Colgate University for his work in support of the local and international arts community.

In 1997, Mark and his family began The Sam & Adele Golden Foundation for the Arts to honor their parents. Its mission is to be a significant resource for visual artists. Over the next 14 years, the Foundation donated to numerous artists and art organizations. In 2010, the Foundation began constructing the Golden Residence, a 10,000-square-foot living and work space for invited artists.


Tony Grant
Executive Director, Sustainable Arts Foundation

Tony comes to the Sustainable Arts Foundation after a long career in the software industry, and his passion for the arts comes from his father, who was a painter and sculptor. Tony and his wife, Caroline, started the Sustainable Arts Foundation to help artists and writers with families pursue creative careers. Not surprisingly, much of their work on the foundation happens late at night after their two boys are sleeping.

Gia Hamilton
Applied Anthropologist, Residency and Incubator Space Developer

Gia M. Hamilton is an applied anthropologist who employs Social Magic™ methodology to investigate land, labor and cultural production while examining social connectivity within institutions and community. As a model builder, Hamilton co-founded an independent African centered school, Little Maroons, in 2006; later, she opened creative incubator space and intersectional residency Gris Gris Lab in 2009 and designed and led the Joan Mitchell Center artist residency program in New Orleans as a consultant from 2011-2013 and Director from 2013-2018.

As the Center Director, Hamilton led the development of the two acre campus capital project using a workforce development project, HyperLocal, and designed the program as a place-based, community-centered laboratory for visual artists, curators and the creative community with the belief that imagination and creativity are paramount to creating a more equitable and socially just society. Currently, Gia is the architect of her latest projects Afrofuture Society and Dark Matter Projects.

Hamilton received her BA in cultural anthropology from New York University and MA in applied anthropology from City University of New York’s Graduate Center. She is on the boards of Tulane University’s Newcomb Museum, the Alliance of Artists Communities  and New Orleans Video Access Center and most recently Museum Hue.  Hamilton recently received the 2018 Next City Vanguard Fellowship and was nominated for the 2018 City Business Woman of Year award. Gia currently lives in New Orleans with her four sons and just completed an ethnographic memoir entitled Modern Matriarch.  


Melissa Levin
Vice President of Artists, Estates and Foundations, Art Agency, Partners

Melissa Levin is the Vice President of Artists, Estates and Foundations at Art Agency, Partners. She is responsible for advisory services in strategic planning and long-range visioning around individual artist's estates & foundations, including artist legacy planning, building, and management. Prior to joining Art Agency, Partners, for more than 12 years, Melissa worked at Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), where she played a leadership role in the development, administration, and artistic direction of major initiatives such as LMCC's Arts Center at Governors Island, the River To River Festival, and the organization's Artist Residency programs. She has worked closely with artists across all career-stages and disciplines, fostering their careers, and has been committed to innovative and holistic approaches to supporting artists and initiating programs. She also currently serves on the board of the Alliance of Artists Communities. Previously, Melissa has held positions at Andrea Rosen Gallery, The Whitney Museum of American Art, and Artforum International Magazine. She has participated in panel discussions and served on juries at the National Endowment for the Arts, Eyebeam Art + Technology Center, Rhode Island School of Design, Baruch College, and Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts; and lectured at the Drew University, University of Oregon in Eugene, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, New York University, and The Cleveland Institute of Art. As an independent curator and writer, Melissa has worked with organizations including Danspace Project, MoMA PS1, NurtureArt, and Real Art Ways among others. Melissa received a BA with honors in Visual Art and Art History from Barnard College.



Craig T. Peterson
Artistic Director, Abrons Arts Center - Henry Street Settlement

Craig Peterson is currently the Artistic Director of the Abrons Arts Center and the Deputy Program Officer for Visual and Performing Arts at Henry Street Settlement, a home for contemporary interdisciplinary arts in Manhattan’s Lower East Side neighborhood. A core program of Henry Street Settlement, Abrons advocates for diverse artistic communities through presentations and exhibitions, educational programs and artist residencies. Previously he was the Director of Programs at Gibney Dance, a multi-faceted center for dance and performance development, training and presentation in New York City. From 2009 - 2013, Peterson was the Director of the annual Philly Fringe Festival, a three-week city-wide festival featuring the work of more than 200 performing artists and companies. During this time he also directed the Live Arts Brewery (LAB), a research and development program supporting long term residencies and engagement activities for local and national artists. For ten years he served on the staff of Dance Theater Workshop, one of America’s preeminent contemporary performing arts institutions based in NYC. For four years he served as the organization’s Co-Artistic Director. Craig serves on the board of directors of the Alliance of Artist Communities as well as Big Dance Theater. He is a graduate of the Senior Leadership Program of Columbia University’s School of Business and he received a BA in Dance and Theater from Bard College in 1993.


Shey Rivera
Multi-genre Artist

Shey Rivera Ríos (pronouns: they/them) is a multi-genre artist and arts manager. Rivera’s work is at the intersection of art/culture, digital media, and civic engagement. Rivera is the former Artistic Director at AS220, where they served for 8 years and succeeded founder Umberto Crenca, leading the organization as part of a Co-Director model. As an artist, they are active in the mediums of performance, installation, digital media, and poetry/narrative. The creations spam several genres and a myriad of topics, from home to capitalism to queerness to magic. Rivera is also a performance curator and producer of interventions that activate people creatively. Participation in national organizations include: member and alumni of the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture (NALAC), member of the Board of Directors of the Alliance of Artist Communities, Fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) 2017-2018, and Brown University Public Humanities Community Fellow 2017-2019. Rivera has a BA in Psychology and Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico and graduate studies in Contemporary Media and Culture from the University of the Sacred Heart, San Juan, Puerto Rico. 


Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento
Attorney, The Law Office of Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is an arts lawyer and scholar interested in the relationship between art & law, with a focus on tangible and intangible property, appropriation, contractual agreements, authorship, freedom of expression, and outlaw culture. He received his BA in Art from the University of Texas-El Paso, an MFA in Art from the California Institute of the Arts, and a JD from Cornell Law School. He has lectured and taught on art law matters in a wide range of institutions, including Harvard University, Cornell Law School, Yale Law School, Columbia Law School, NYU School of Law, Universidad de los Andes (Bogotá, Colombia), Universidad Torcuato di Tella (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Grand’Chambre (Paris, France), University of California-Irvine School of Art, and Brown University School of Art. He has also published art and law essays in several journals of law and the humanities, and his art projects have been exhibited nationally and internationally. From 2006 to 2012, Sarmiento was Director of Education and Associate Director for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts in New York City. In 2010, Sarmiento founded the Art & Law Program, a New York-based seminar/colloquium with a philosophical focus on the effects of law on cultural production and reception. He currently maintains a private art law practice.


Geoffrey Jackson Scott
Co-Founder/Creative Director, Peoplmovr

A native of Quincy, IL, Geoffrey Jackson Scott is a Brooklyn-based cultural organizer, creative producer, and engagement strategist. He is Co-Founder and Creative Director of Peoplmovr, a creative studio specializing in engagement and communications that partners with artists, organizations, and communities on the development and delivery of strategies designed to bring arts and culture closer to the people and people closer to arts and culture. Peoplmovr is committed to undoing racism and centers the principles of equity and inclusion in all areas of its work. Recently, Geoffrey and Peoplmovr developed The Mile-Long Opera, a citywide public engagement project that brought together 1,000 singers for free performances on the High Line in Manhattan. At the heart of the work was an extensive engagement initiative that activated non-profit cultural organizations across all five boroughs. Seven Anchor Partners served as hubs for engaging local communities—from recruiting singers, to welcoming the public for open rehearsals and workshops, to hosting social and cultural events and public programs in the lead-up to the performances. From 2014-2016, Geoffrey served as Director, Engagement at Museum of the Moving Image (MoMI). At MoMI, he led an ambitious two-year engagement and outreach pilot, funded by the Ford Foundation. From 2012 - 2014, he delivered a suite of new programs and initiatives as a senior member of the in-house creative strategy team at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago where he was the Director of New Play Development. At Victory Gardens, he conceived, developed, and launched a civic engagement platform designed to embrace and reflect the diversity of Chicago. From 2004 - 2012, Geoffrey spent eight seasons as the Literary Associate at New York Theatre Workshop (NYTW), where he led the Artist of Color Fellowship program and supported the cultivation, development, and production of new work made by both emerging and established artists.


Sharon Ullman
Deputy Director, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation

Sharon Ullman is the Deputy Director of the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. Previously she was the Chief Operating Officer for Office for Metropolitan Architecture/NY, founded by Rem Koolhaas, the Director of Administration for 2x4, a global design consultancy that focuses on brand strategy for cultural and commercial clients, and the Chief Operating Officer of REX. She has also been a Freelance Producer working in print photography, broadcast television, music videos, and graphic design. Ullman has devoted her nearly thirty-year career to providing managerial leadership and financial acumen to advance creative and artistic endeavors and organizations.


Kibra A Yohannes
Executive Director, AFRICA'SOUT!

As the founding Executive Director, Kibra drives the programming, administration, and operations of AFRICA'SOUT!, a non profit organization which honors, supports and defends artists who radically change the narrative around Africa and its Diaspora, first and foremost, for themselves. Before joining AFRICA’SOUT! Kibra was the Director of the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at Long Island University, where she managed and designed children’s programs and accredited adult education, non-traditional and professional programs. Previously she served as Director of Operations and Director of Programs, respectively, at Arts Engine, Inc. a film production company producing social-issue documentaries of consequence, and programs such as the Media That Matters Film Festival, MediaRights and Filmmaker Services. Kibra holds a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Virginia and is a candidate for a Master’s in Social Science, with a Graduate Certificate in United Nations System from Long Island University.


Ted Berger
Treasurer, The Joan Mitchell Foundation
Executive Director Emeritus, New York Foundation for the Arts (New York, NY)

J. Richard Braugh
Senior VP, UBS Financial (San Jose, CA)

Mary Carswell, in memoriam
Executive Director Emeritus, The MacDowell Colony (New York, NY)

Mel Chin
Artist (Burnsville, NC)

Jhumpa Lahiri
Author (Brooklyn, NY)

Liz Lerman
Choreographer (Takoma Park, MD)

Roger Mandle
Advisor, Qatar Museums Authority (Doha, Qatar)

Clay Rockefeller
Artist; Real estate/community developer  (Providence, RI)

Lowery Stokes Sims
Retired Curator, Museum of Arts + Design (New York, NY)

Mary T. Wolfe, in memoriam
Philanthropist (Perrysburg, OH)