Laura Zabel is a frequent speaker on arts and community development at convenings such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, Urban Land Institute and Americans for the Arts. She was a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow, was named one of the 50 most influential people in the U.S. Nonprofit Arts, and received the 2012 Visionary Leader award from the MN Council of Nonprofits. laurazabel.tumblr.com.
Rural Program Director, Fergus Falls
Programs: All Rural Programs
Background: Music (classical piano, teaching) and Administration (community development). Michele Anderson is a composer, creative writer and pianist with a BA in Music from Lewis and Clark College, and an MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College, where she was awarded the inaugural Rory Turner Prize in Cultural Sustainability. In 2015, Michele was selected by the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits for their Catalytic Leader Award.
Business Manager, Lowertown St. Paul
Background: Visual Art (painting, sculpture) and Administration (accounting). John Bell received his undergraduate degree from Grinnell College in 2008 and his MFA from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2010. His paintings and sculptures have been shown in Minneapolis at Soo Visual Arts Center and The Bell Museum of Natural History. His work was featured in a 2011 issue of New American Painting.johnmartinbell.com.
Rural Program Coordinator, Fergus Falls
Programs: All programs, Resources
Background: Visual Art (photography, design, make-up). Dominic Facio is a visual artist, designer and make-up artist, with degrees from Fergus Falls Public High School and Brown College. He is creator and head of the Fergus Falls Zombie Pub Crawl, with experience in office workflow, design and social media.
Program Director – Health, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: All Health Programs
Background: Visual Art (painting). Nikki Hunt manages the Artists’ Access to Healthcare (AAH) program, winner of the 2010 Minnesota Social Entrepreneurs Cup, and the Emergency Relief Fund. She is a certified Navigator for MNsure, and author of the Guide to Healthcare for Minnesota Artists. A visual artist, specializing in oil painting, Nikki is a graduate of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, with a degree in both Studio Art and Art History.
Program Director – Artist Development, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Professional Development, MnLA
Background: Music (composition, multimedia) and Administration (leadership). Noah Keesecker is a composer and multimedia artist. He has been a McKnight Fellow and a recipient of awards from the Jerome Foundation. He has been a Knight Foundation Fellow for Emerging Leaders, an Americans for the Arts Emerging Arts Leader liaison, and serves on the Board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts. He holds a Master of Music in Composition from the University of Minnesota. www.noahkeesecker.net.
Artist Health and Resources Assistant, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Health, Resources
Background: Visual Art (illustration and design). Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Dennis received a B.A. in Studio Art from the University of California, Santa Cruz and an MFA in Visual Studies from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in Minneapolis. For the past year, Dennis has worked as a print technician and designer, most recently for Smart Set in Northeast Minneapolis.
Artist Development Coordinator, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Professional Development
Background: Visual Art (ceramics, studio practice, online communication and sales). Anna Metcalfe graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with her MFA. She is a ceramic artist interested in the junction of public art and craft, and makes work inspired by water, agriculture, food and community. She has been the recipient of several MN State Arts Board grants as well as a Jerome Foundation Grant for Public Art. www.annametcalfe.com.
Artist Resources Coordinator, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Professional Development, Resources
Background: Theater (acting, directing, producing). Zaraawar Mistry is a co-owner of Dreamland Arts, a 40-seat theater attached to his home in St. Paul. He has performed in and directed many works for several Twin Cities theater companies, and mentored dozens of artists in the creation and production of original works for the stage. He has an M.F.A. in Theatre from UC, San Diego and a B.A. from Bennington College in Vermont. www.dreamlandarts.com/mistry.
Naomi RaMona Schliesman
Artist Development Coordinator, Fergus Falls
Programs: Professional Development, Resources
Background: Visual Art (sculpture, installation, mixed media, performance and teaching). Naomi RaMona Schliesman received her BFA from the University of Minnesota, Moorhead, and her MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has shown her art nationally and has participated in artist residencies and fellowships at the Vermont Studio Center, Ragdale, Kimmel Hardening Nelson Center for the Arts and Hospitalfield Arts in Arbroath, Scotland. www.lrac4.org/artists.
Adia Morris Swanger
Operations Assistant, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: All Programs, Professional Development
Background: Theater (acting, directing and teaching) and On Camera (film, commercial, hosting). Adia Morris is a freelance artist and educator. She has performed at the Guthrie Theater and Park Square Theatre, and danced with Threads Dance Project. She has taught dance and theatre workshops for Guthrie Theater, Youth Performance Company, and Minneapolis Public Schools. Adia earned her BA in Classics from Duke University.
Artist Resources Director, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Resources, CSA, Professional Development
Background: Visual Art (public art) and Literature (non-fiction). Andy Sturdevant is a public artist, writer and performer. He has written about art, history and culture for a variety of Twin Cities-based publications and websites. His artwork has been exhibited at venues in New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle, and he has presented public programs with many organizations locally and regionally. Andy holds a B.F.A. in painting from the University of Louisville. www.andysturdevant.com.
Carl Atiya Swanson
Associate Director, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: All Programs, National
Background: Theater (actor, writer), Visual Art and Administration (management). Carl Atiya Swanson manages Creative Exchange, a national platform sharing stories of artists with impact and toolkits for change. Carl is a theatermaker with Savage Umbrella, has worked as a freelance writer, and serves on the board of Dissonance, which advocates for health and wellness in creativity. He holds a BA in Studio Art from the University of Southern California and an MBA from the University of St. Thomas. www.carlatiyaswanson.com.
Peter Haakon Thompson
Community Development Coordinator, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Community Development, ReadyGo
Background: Artist. Peter Haakon Thompson’s primary mediums are participation, interaction and conversation. Some of his works include: The A Project, Art Shanty Projects, Expeditionary Conversation Tents, Mobile Sign Shop and the Temporary Table Tennis Trailer. He is a past recipient of a McKnight Fellowship for Photographers and holds a BFA from the California College of Arts and Crafts and an MFA from the University of Minnesota. www.peterhaakonthompson.com.
Adjunct Career Counselor, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Professional Development
Background: Writing and Publishing. For 34 years, David Unowsky owned and ran Hungry Mind (later known as Ruminator), one of America’s great bookstores which also fostered a literary magazine and a publishing company. As a writer he has been published in Bookselling This Week, Ruminator Review, USA Today, and mnartists.org. Currently David is a bookseller and events manager at SubText: a Bookstore, and a sales and marketing consultant for the Saint Paul Almanac.
Artist Community Organizer, Lowertown St. Paul
Programs: Community Development
Background: Craft Arts (textiles, design) and Community Organizer. Jun-Li Wang is a connector of people, places and ideas, with extensive experience in asset-based community development and place-based organizing. Jun-Li has received multiple grants for her projects Saint Paul Hello, an initiative welcoming newcomers, and Board Repair, a network supporting people of color on nonprofit boards. She holds a BA from Vassar College and an MPS in International Development from Cornell University.