Dr. Michelle Ramos brings a deep and incredibly robust diversity of experience to her role as Executive Director of Alternate Roots. Her background includes most recently working in criminal justice reform as Project Director of the Vera Institute of Justice, philanthropic work as a Program Officer at Women’s Foundation of California and service organization leadership as Board Chair of Dance/USA.
In addition to being a licensed attorney, she has significant organizing experience and has committed her career to serving communities and individuals adversely impacted by issues of race, gender, disability, class, socio-economics, inequitable laws and systemic oppression.
Ramos, a retired professional ballet dancer has worked as an executive director for multiple non-profit arts organizations in many cities across the US and was Director of Dance/NYC from 2006-2010. She also serves on the boards of Dancing Grounds and BAR None in New Orleans.
She is the proud mother Broadway choreographer, Ellenore Scott, and since retiring from her own dance career, Ramos has continued to teach dance, has competed as an Ironman triathlete and now enjoys her southern New Orleans lifestyle.
Lisa Hoffman is the Executive Director of the Alliance of Artists Communities, an international association of 400+ artist residency programs and artist-centered organizations. She is the former Associate Director of the McColl Center for Art + Innovation, where she oversaw programs and strategic initiatives, community engagement, and the flagship Environmental Program. Prior to McColl Center, Lisa served as Director of Charlotte Nature Museum, and held positions as a science educator and mentor with the District of Columbia and Prince George’s County Maryland Public Schools. Lisa has served on the boards of North Carolina Association of Environmental Education Centers, North Carolina Play Alliance, Jazz Arts Initiative, and Lakewood Trolley. In the Summer of 2015, she was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the National Museum and Library Services Board. Holding an MS degree in Biology and a BS degree in Botany from Howard University in Washington, DC, Hoffman is dedicated to social practice and the convergence of art and science as a vehicle to improve lives and effect systemic change.
Betsy King Militello, Treasurer
National Alliance for Musical Theatre
New York, NY
Betsy King Militello comes to the National Alliance for Musical Theatre from Outward Bound where she was Vice President of Development, responsible for an $8M annual fundraising goal. Prior organizations in which she served in non-profit administration and fundraising leadership roles include Hunter College, the NYU Child Study Center, Cooper Union, and the Big Apple Circus. She has also taught at Marymount Manhattan College as an Adjunct Professor in Non-profit Management.
Following completion of her undergraduate degree at Harvard, Militello began a career in advertising. She received her Master’s degree in Public and Private Management from the Yale School of Management with additional coursework in administration at the Yale School of Drama. Militello worked as a management consultant for Fortune 100 companies prior to moving to the non-profit sector. She also has theatre production experience, primarily in stage management and lighting, in both professional and volunteer musical theatre and opera organizations including Glimmerglass Opera and the Blue Hill Troupe.
Vanessa Rose’s work in the performing arts has spanned from The Metropolitan Opera to The Knights orchestra, the Lark Play Development Center (for playwrights), and the International Contemporary Ensemble. She has led organizations through significant transitions: establishing new executive positions, building effective governance structures, clarifying mission-driven priorities, and strengthening communication strategies. As a consultant, Vanessa has helped to expand EarShot, the national orchestra program for emerging composers, through the American Composers Orchestra and partners American Composers Forum, League of American Orchestras, and New Music USA. In addition, she has helped groups such as the Talea Ensemble and Arco Collaborative through organizational transitions. Her participation in grant panels includes The Aaron Copland Fund for Music, Opera America’s Female Composer Discovery Grants, and the Brooklyn Arts Council. In 2006, Vanessa Rose completed the League of American Orchestra’s prestigious Orchestra Management Fellowship Program, which included residencies with the Dallas Symphony, Elgin Symphony, Aspen Music Festival and School, and San Francisco Symphony.
A violinist, she attended Indiana University, Eastman School of Music, Mannes College of Music, and the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, The Netherlands.
Karin A native of the UK, Brookes worked in London, Philadelphia, and Glasgow before moving to Seattle with her family in 2011. Before moving to the USA, Brookes was assistant to Christopher Hogwood and manager of the Choir of Kings College, Cambridge. Brookes was Early Music Seattle’s Development Director from 2015-2017, and she has also worked in Seattle for the Northwest Boychoir and Pacific MusicWorks.
Brookes has a degree in French and Music from the Universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, and a Master of Journalism degree from Temple University, Philadelphia.
She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, Simon Woods.
Catherine Dehoney became President & CEO of Chorus America in the spring of 2015. She brings a wealth of experience in arts management and fundraising, having served most recently as the executive director for development at the Castleton Festival. Before her work at the Castleton Festival, Dehoney served as the chief development officer at Chorus America for over ten years. Prior to that, she was senior director of development at Gallaudet University. During her nine-year tenure there, she served as a member of the president’s management team and the institutional advancement team.
Dehoney’s professional career includes capital campaign management, development consulting for a variety of arts nonprofits, and fundraising positions at the League of American Orchestras, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and the Friends of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Dehoney received her BA in music from the College of William and Mary and continues to be an avid singer, having sung professionally in church choirs and with a jazz band.
María López De León has been the Executive Director of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) for 13 years. In January 2013, President Obama appointed her to the National Council on the Arts, and in 2012 and 2013, she was named among the nation’s 50 Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts. She is a noted speaker and advocate for arts and cultural equity.
Under Ms. De León’s leadership, NALAC launched the NALAC Fund for the Arts, the Transnational Cultural Remittances grant program, and the NALAC Diverse Arts Spaces program. She has grown NALAC’s annual Leadership Institute and Latino Arts Advocacy Institute, and she also produced Visiones, a PBS documentary series with educational curriculum on Latino art and culture. Ms. De León is leading the efforts to renovate a historic site in San Antonio to become NALAC’s national offices and a national arts leadership training institute.
Ms. De León serves on the boards and advisory councils of the First People’s Fund, the Performing Arts Alliance, San Anto Cultural Arts, and Women of Color in the Arts. Ms. De León is a fellow of the Rockwood Leadership Institute. She studied Journalism at the University of Texas at El Paso.
Kellee Edusei became the Executive Director of Dance/USA in 2021. She joined Dance/USA in the fall of 2008 as the organization’s Office Manager and Board Liaison and was promoted to Director of Member Services in the spring of 2009, maintaining her work as Board Liaison until 2019.
During her time at Dance/USA, Edusei designed and implemented the Membership Fellowship giving an early career arts administrator an opportunity to hone their skills; the “Special Membership Package,” a recruitment campaign that surpassed goal and engaged the entire Dance/USA Board and team in the process; and a new revenue stream by maximizing Dance/USA’s monthly Bulletin. She was part of the initial program design of Dance/USA’s Dance Business Bootcamp, a program for dance artists working with budgets of $200,000 and below.
She has served as a grants panelist for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (MD), Alternate Roots (GA), and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (IL).
Edusei currently serves on the Advisory Council for Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), and is an alumna of artEquity’s 2020 BIPOC Leadership Circle and of American Express’ 2014 Leadership Academy. She is a current participant of the New Strategies Forum at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, supported by American Express.
Teresa Eyring became Executive Director of Theatre Communications Group (TCG) in March 2007. Under her leadership, TCG has adopted a new strategic plan focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion as well as audience and community engagement. TCG has articulated a new, unifying vision statement: “A better world for theatre. A better world because of theatre.”
Eyring’s theatre career includes service as the development director of the Woolly Mammoth Theater Company, assistant executive director of the Guthrie Theater, and managing director of the Wilma Theater. Eyring has spearheaded several capital campaigns, including a $32 million campaign for building renovation, construction of a second theatre space, and new programming at the Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis where she served as managing director.
In addition to PAA, Eyring currently serves on the board of The Actor’s Fund. Her honors include being named a “Woman to Watch” by the Twin Cities Business Journal in July 2005, and receiving the Distinguished Achievement Award in Management from the U.S. Institute for Theatre Technology in 2015. She holds a BA in International Relations from Stanford University and an MFA in Theatre Administration from Yale School of Drama.
Born in Dublin, Ireland, and raised in rural Canada, Aengus Finnan moved from Toronto, Canada, (where he served as the Touring and Audience Development Officer for the Ontario Arts Council (OAC) – an agency of the Ministry of Culture) to take on the role of Executive Director of Folk Alliance International as of September 2014. He is a visual arts graduate of Lester B. Pearson United World College and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre (Concordia) and Bachelor of Education (Nippissing).
Mr. Finnan has a diverse background in arts administration, education, and community outreach. He taught art and music in the Canadian Arctic before touring as a singer-songwriter for a decade, releasing three recordings before founding the Shelter Valley Folk Festival in 2003 where he served as Artistic Director until 2010. He is the co-founder of Canada’s annual Gordon Lightfoot tribute concert series.
Mr. Finnan is the past board president for Folk Music Ontario, past co-chair of the Kansas City Arts Industry Sector Council. in 2019 he addressed both UNESCO and the Recording Academy on issues of leadership responsibility regarding diversity and inclusion in the music industry. He was twice nominated for the Premier’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and is a recipient of a Canadian National decoration (The Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal) for his cultural and humanitarian work.
Margaret M. Lioi
Chamber Music America
New York, NY
Margaret M. Lioi joined Chamber Music America as Chief Executive Officer in June 2000. In her tenure, CMA has expanded its grant making, increased its endowment funds, implemented new professional development programs, and brought a greater awareness of the many styles of chamber music to new and diverse audiences throughout the country. Under her direction, CMA inaugurated the first annual National Chamber Music Month in May 2012, during which time over three hundred ensembles and presenters in all 50 states performed and presented the many varieties of chamber music, bringing increased public attention to the art form.
After receiving her Masters in Piano Performance from New England Conservatory, Ms. Lioi began her career as a professional pianist, focusing on vocal coaching and opera accompanying as well as on classical chamber music. She later received an MBA in Arts Administration from Binghamton University/SUNY. Prior to Chamber Music America, she served as Director of Development for Spoleto Festival U.S.A., Executive Director of The Eleanor Naylor Dana Charitable Trust, and Senior Director of External Affairs at The Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival. She serves on the Advisory Board of The Sphinx Organization and the University of Michigan’s M-Prize.
Abel López has served as GALA’s Associate Producing Director for almost 30 years, during which time he has produced more than 65 shows and directed more than 30. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School, an adjunct professor at George Mason University, and a faculty member of the NALAC Leadership Institute.
Lopez currently serves as chair of the board of directors of Americans for the Arts and is also on the board of the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures (NALAC). He has previously served as Chair of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and the Helen Hayes Awards.
Lopez’s contributions to the arts have been recognized via the Richard Bauer Leadership Award from the Washington Performing Arts Video Archive, the Selena Roberts Ottum Award from Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment of the Arts, and The Washington Post Award for Distinguished Community Service.
Vanessa Reed became President and CEO of New Music USA in August 2019 following a decade with PRS Foundation, the UK’s leading funder of new music and talent development. In this role, Vanessa launched an array of transformational programs which significantly increased support available to diverse music creators and repositioned the Foundation as a go-to international partner for major music collaborations. More recently, she co-founded the international Keychange initiative, which has won awards for its investment in female talent and campaign for a gender balanced industry.
Vanessa began her career in the late ’90s working at the UK equivalent of the American Music Center followed by arts policy roles at the European Cultural Foundation (Amsterdam) and the European Commission (Brussels). More recently Vanessa was on the Board of Sound UK Arts, Protein Dance and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, where she Chaired the organization’s diversity group.
In 2018, Vanessa was recognized on the BBC Radio 4 Woman’s Hour Power List 2018 as the 3rd most influential woman in the music industry after Beyoncé and Taylor Swift.
Cookie Gregory Ruiz has over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, organizational development, and non-profit fund-raising/management. She joined Ballet Austin in 1996 as Development Director, became General Manager in 1997, and Executive Director in 1999.
Since 2002, Ruiz has been a Certified Fund Raising Executive (C.F.R.E.) designated by the Association of Fundraising Professionals. Her community honors include Austin Business Journal’s “Profiles in Power” Award and the Austin Community Foundation’s Beverly S. Sheffield Award for Excellence as a Nonprofit Executive. Ms. Ruiz served as city-wide Chair of CreateAustin and as a City Council appointee to ImagineAustin’s Advisory Task Force.
Ms. Ruiz is a former national Chair of Dance/USA and served 14 year on its Board of Trustees. Currently she serves as President of the Board of Directors of Texans for the Arts and President of the Mayor’s Better Austin Foundation. Additional board service includes the Performing Arts Alliance, and Housing Works Austin. Ms. Ruiz is a Fellow of The National Arts Strategies International Chief Executive Program and serves as a speaker, facilitator and presenter for a variety of leadership conferences.
Roche Edward Schulfer is executive director of Goodman Theatre. On September 4, 2013, his 40th anniversary with the theater, Mr. Schulfer was honored with a star on the Goodman’s “Walkway of Stars.”
Schulfer has overseen more than 335 productions, including close to 130 world premieres. In partnership with the Goodman’s Artistic Director, Mr. Schulfer established the theatre’s core values of quality, diversity, and community engagement. Under Schulfer’s tenure, the Goodman has received numerous awards for excellence, including the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater.
Mr. Schulfer is a founder of the League of Chicago Theatres trade association for area theater companies and producers. He has served in leadership roles with Arts Alliance Illinois, Theatre Communications Group, and the League of Resident Theatres. Among the many recognitions of his work are the Vision 2020 Equality in Action Medal for promoting gender equality and diversity in the workplace and Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts degree from North Central College.
Mr. Schulfer is a member of the adjunct faculty of The Theatre School at DePaul University, and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame where he managed the cultural arts commission.
Marc A. Scorca joined OPERA America in 1990 as President and CEO. Under his leadership, OPERA America’s membership has grown to nearly 2,500 organizations and individuals. The organization has launched an endowment to support new works and audience development activities; relocated its headquarters from Washington, D.C. to New York City; and built the National Opera Center, which opened in 2012. The Opera Center’s audition recital hall was recently dedicated as Marc A. Scorca Hall in honor of his 25th anniversary with the organization.
Scorca was instrumental in the founding of Opera.ca and Opera Europa, OPERA America’s sister organizations. A strong advocate of collaboration, Scorca has led several cross-disciplinary projects, including the Performing Arts Research Coalition and the National Performing Arts Convention. He was a member of the U.S. delegation to UNESCO and currently serves on the board of the Curtis Institute of Music and the Music Advisory Board of Hunter College. Due largely to Scorca’s leadership, OPERA America was inducted into the American Classical Music Hall of Fame in 2013. Scorca is an alumnus of Amherst College, where he studied history and music.
Caitlin Strokosch was appointed President and CEO of the National Performance Network in 2016. Most recently, she served the Alliance of Artists Communities – an international association of artist residency centers – from 2002 to 2016. Strokosch’s work over the last decade has focused on artist- and community-centered practices, organizational sustainability, and responsive philanthropy in the arts. She is a member of GIA’s Board of Directors, where she serves on the Racial Equity committee. Strokosch has a BA in music performance from Columbia College and a Master’s in musicology from Roosevelt University, where her research focused on arts as a tool for building communities of resistance.
Denise Saunders Thompson has extensive experience in non-profit and for-profit, established or start-up organizations. She has advised organizations on administrative, programmatic and fundraising issues including strategic plans, policy and procedures, communications programs, budgeting and contracts. Currently, Denise is the President and Chief Executive Officer for the International Association of Blacks in Dance, a non-profit service organization and D.d.Saunders & Associates, Inc., a comprehensive fine arts advisory firm offering artist management/ representation, arts producing, consulting, and production services. She recently held the position of Professorial Lecturer at American University in the Graduate Arts Management Degree Program. In April 2015, Denise completed 17 years of service at Howard University in the capacities of Professor, Theatre Manager/ Producing Artistic Director for the Department of Theatre Arts and Manager of Cramton Auditorium. She is Co-Founder of PlayRight Performing Arts Center, Inc., a non-profit arts organization in Atlanta, Georgia, and former Business Manager for The Malone Group, Inc. a non-profit arts organization in Washington, D.C. that co-produced Black Nativity at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts for six years. Denise currently serves on the Board of Trustees for Dance/USA, Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, Friends of Theatre and Dance at Howard University, is a Member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA).
Lisa Richards Toney
Association of Performing Arts Professionals
Lisa Richards Toney became President and CEO of APAP on July 1, 2020. Ms. Richards Toney brings more than 20 years of experience leading a range of small and large arts and humanities organizations, managing change, and building stability. She most recently served as Executive Director of the Abramson Scholarship Foundation and Deputy Director, later Interim Executive Director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Her additional leadership experience includes Director, Writers and Schools at the Pen/Faulkner Foundation; Director, Literature to Life at The American Place Theatre; and the first Executive Director of the Debbie Allen Dance Academy.
Ms. Richards Toney currently serves as the Strategic Planning Chair of the Mosaic Theatre Company of DC and Co-Chair of the DC Chapter of Jack and Jill of America’s Jumoke Black History Festival. She was previously a booking and producing consultant for cellist Okorie “OkCello” Johnson, consultant for the Reel to Reel Filmmaker’s Project for the Prince George’s County Arts Council, and provided tour management and planning support for Moving Forward Dance Company/Dana Tai Soon Burgess. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Drama and English as a Presidential Scholar from Spelman College, a Master of Arts Degree as a John Beinecke Scholar in Arts Education from New York University, and was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to study Black Dance in London, as well as a Vilar Arts Management Fellowship with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
Alisha Tonsic is Executive Director of the Network of Ensemble Theaters (NET), a non-profit field leadership organization serving a national performing arts community of 350+ companies and individuals dedicated to ensemble practice and collaborative creation. She transitioned to the position in September 2015 after 10 years with NET, first as Board Treasurer, then as Managing Director.
Previously, Alisha served for 10 years as the first Managing Director for Sojourn Theatre (now part of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice), working in partnership with the ensemble and founding Artistic Director Michael Rohd.
Her prior arts administration experience includes positions in finance, fundraising, general management, program development, field research, and literary management/dramaturgy at American Repertory Theater, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre, and Theatre Communications Group.
Alisha has served as an independent non-profit arts consultant focusing on small- and mid-sized companies. She received a BA in Theatre and in English from Barnard College, Columbia University.
Simon Woods joined the League of American Orchestras as President and CEO in September 2020. Woods brings more than 30 years of experience working with orchestras. He is deeply committed to equity, to the role of arts organizations in community, and to nurturing the next generation of arts leaders. From the late 1980s to the late 1990s, he worked as a record producer at EMI Classics in London, where he initiated and produced recordings at Abbey Road Studios and on location with many of the world’s foremost classical artists and ensembles. He has held leadership roles with The Philadelphia Orchestra, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Grand Teton Music Festival. In March 2020 he joined the Board of Directors of National Arts Strategies. Woods earned a degree in music from Cambridge University and a diploma in conducting from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. Simon Woods was honored to become an American citizen in 2018.