Emily Mann (Chair), Artistic Director,
McCarter Theatre, Princeton, NJ

Multi-award-winning Director and Playwright Emily Mann is celebrating her 25th season as Artistic Director of McCarter Theatre where she has overseen over 125 productions. Under Ms. Mann’s leadership, McCarter was honored with the 1994 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater and accepted the 2013 Tony Award for best new play for Christopher Durang’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Ms. Mann directed her adaptation of Shakespeare’s Antony & Cleopatra, David Auburn’s Proof, Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance and the world premieres of The Convert by Danai Gurira (also at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and CTG in Los Angeles; six Ovation Awards, including Best Director of a Play); Phaedra Backwards by Marina Carr; Sarah Treem’s The How and the Why; and Edward Albee’s Me, Myself & I (also at Playwrights Horizons). Emily directed A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway in 2012 with Blair Underwood and Nicole Ari Parker. Emily’s plays include Execution of Justice (Guggenheim Fellowship, Helen Hayes and Joseph Jefferson Awards, Drama Desk and Outer Circle Award nominations); Still Life (six Obie Awards); Greensboro (A Requiem); Meshugah; and Annulla, An Autobiography. Ms. Mann wrote and directed Having Our Say, adapted from the book by Sarah L. Delany and A. Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations; NAACP and Joseph Jefferson Awards; Peabody and Christopher Awards for the screenplay). A collection of her plays, Testimonies: Four Plays, has been published by TCG. Her adaptations include: three Chekhov plays (Uncle Vanya, The Cherry Orchard, and a free adaptation of The Seagull: A Seagull in the Hamptons) and The House of Bernarda Alba. A winner of the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award and the Edward Albee Last Frontier Directing Award, Emily is a member of the Dramatists Guild and serves on its council. She is the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Princeton University and was named the 2011 Person of the Year from the National Theatre Conference.

Darrell Ayers, retired Vice President for Education and Jazz, The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC

For nearly three decades, Darrell Ayers worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Now living in Sarasota, Florida he serves on the National Curatorial Council of the Hermitage Artist Retreat and consults with numerous arts and education organizations locally and nationally. During his tenure at the Kennedy Center, he served as Vice President for Education and Jazz Programming (2004-2015). In this role, Ayers was responsible for the overall planning, management, and supervision of the Center’s Education Division including educational programs of the National Symphony Orchestra, the Suzanne Farrell Ballet, and the Washington National Opera as well as its affiliate VSA (the international arts and disability organization). Also included in his responsibilities were the management of an annual multi-million dollar grant from the U.S. Department of Education, the daily, free Millennium Stage performance series, ArtsEdge, an educational digital media area, and jazz programming Ayers also served as the lead Kennedy Center representative in managing the Duke Ellington School of the Arts through a joint partnership among the Kennedy Center, George Washington University, the Ellington Fund, and the DC Public School System. Ayers has been a board member and grant panelist for many community-based arts organizations and arts councils. Prior to the Kennedy Center, he worked professionally as a teacher, choral conductor, singer, dancer, actor, and mortgage and loan branch manager.

Dr. Anthony Bannon, Director, Burchfield-Penny Arts Center

Dr. Anthony Bannon is the director of the Burchfield-Penney Arts Center on the campus of the State University of New York at Buffalo. He was formerly director of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film.

Dan Cameron, Curator

Dan Cameron is Founder and Artistic Director of U.S. Biennial, Inc, a not-for-profit (501c3) organization that produces Prospect New Orleans, a new international biennial whose first edition opened in November 2008 at multiple sites around the city, and ran through January 2009. Since 2007 Cameron has also served as Director of Visual Arts for the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, which is the principal venue for Prospect, and where he has presented solo projects by artists Luis Cruz Azaceta, Tony Feher and Peter Saul, as well as the group exhibitions Something from Nothing, Makeit-Right, Previously on Piety and Hot Up Here.

Michael Bigelow Dixon, Assistant Professor of Theater, Transylvania University, Lexington, KY

Michael Bigelow Dixon was Literary Manager and, in his last year, Associate Artistic Director at Actors Theatre of Louisville from 1985 to 2001. He then worked for six years as Literary Director and Director of Studio Programming at the Guthrie Theater and after that was Resident Director at The Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis for two years. He has directed numerous world premiere productions of plays by Julie Marie Myatt, Lee Blessing, Steven Dietz, Jessica Goldberg, Melanie Marnich, Kelly Stuart and Naomi Wallace. Mr. Dixon has written more than 20 published and produced plays, most with Val Smith, and has edited 35 volumes of plays and criticism with Amy Wegener, Tanya Palmer, Liz Engelman, and Michele Volansky. He launched a creative retreat, Tofte Lake Center, in the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota, and he is currently Assistant Professor in the Theatre Department at Goucher College.  FULL BIO

Kenneth Fischer, President, University Musical Society at the University of Michigan

Ken Fischer is the President of the University Musical Society (UMS), an independent multi-disciplinary performing arts presenting organization founded in 1879 that is deeply integrated with the University of Michigan (U-M) in Ann Arbor. Each season UMS presents 60-90 performances, sponsors an extensive education program, commissions and presents new work, and hosts many artists’ residencies. Since joining UMS in 1987, Ken has contributed to the arts presenting field as speaker, writer, consultant, and U.S. State Department cultural ambassador to Brazil, China, Lithuania, and Mexico. He is board chair of National Arts Strategies and serves or has served on the boards of Interlochen Arts Center, Sphinx Organization, Arts Presenters, International Society for the Performing Arts, and Ann Arbor SPARK. Ken has received ISPA’s Patrick Hayes Award and Arts Presenters’ Fan Taylor Award for his career achievements and service to the field. Before UMS Ken was a higher education association executive and management consultant in Washington, DC. Ken has degrees from The College of Wooster and University of Michigan. He is married to flutist Penelope Peterson Fischer, and their son Matt is Senior Director of the App Store at Apple. Matt and his wife Renee have two sons Alex and Reid.

Franklin Sirmans, Director, Perez Museum of Art Miami

Franklin Sirmans is the Director of the Perez Museum of Art in Miami. He is the former Terri and Michael Smooke Department Head and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. From 2006 to 2010, he was the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Menil Collection in Houston,TX, where he organized several exhibitions including NeoHooDoo: Art for a Forgotten Faith, Maurizio Cattelan, Steve Wolfe: On Paper and Contemporary Conversations:John Chamberlain.  DOWNLOAD FULL BIO

Linda S. Golding, Founder / Director, The Reservoir

Linda Golding has spent more than 20 years in the practice of management in the performing arts and doing business with the spirit of entrepreneurial undertaking. Experience includes 10 years as President of Boosey & Hawkes, Inc., the North American affiliate of the UK based international classical music publishing firm developing innovative new works commission and marketing strategies, and 11 years as Associate Music Administrator and then Director of Production Coordination with the New York City Opera. Currently Ms. Golding is the founder of The Reservoir, an idea mentoring and coaching practice designed and structured to assist performing arts professionals identify and remove the obstacles to developing, clarifying and implementing their creative ideas and objectives. DOWNLOAD FULL BIO

Christopher Merrill, Director, International Writing Program, University of Iowa

Christopher Merrill has published four collections of poetry, including Brilliant Water, and Watch Fire, for which he received the Peter I. B. Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; translations of Aleš Debeljak's Anxious Moments and The City and the Child; and four books of nonfiction. His work has been translated into 25 languages, his journalism appears in many publications, and his awards include a knighthood in arts and letters from the French government. He is the book critic for the daily radio news program The World. He has held the William H. Jenks Chair in Contemporary Letters at the College of the Holy Cross, and now directs the International Writing Program at The University of Iowa.

Christopher Offutt, Novelist

Christopher John Offutt is an American writer, born in Lexington, KY in 1958. Offutt, the son of author Andrew J. Offutt, grew up in Haldeman, Kentucky, a former mining community of 200 people in the Appalachian foothills of eastern Kentucky. He quit high school to join the army, but failed the physical. He attended Morehead State University and graduated with a degree in theater and a minor in art. He later attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His work has received awards from the Lannan Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Whiting Foundation. Offutt was also named one of the twenty best young American fiction writers by Granta. His non-fiction has appeared in The New York Times, Men's Journal, Oxford American, and on National Public Radio.

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, Executive Director, Arizona State University Gammage

Colleen Jennings-Roggensack has been presenting the performing arts for the past 33 years. She is currently Executive Director of Arizona State University Gammage and Assistant VP for Cultural Affairs with artistic, fiscal and administrative responsibility for two cultural facilities, with additional responsibility for Sun Devil Stadium and Wells Fargo Arena for non-athletic activities including concerts as well as commencement and convocation exercises. Colleen was nominated by President Clinton and confirmed by the US Senate to serve on the National Council on the Arts. Colleen worked with the NEA and Department of Education on the Goals 2000 Arts Education Action Planning Process. She has been on the Board of Directors of the American Arts Alliance and has testified before Congress on behalf of public funding for the arts. DOWNLOAD FULL BIO

Josip Novakovich, Writer; Professor, Department of English at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Josip Novakovich, a short-story writer, novelist and writer of narrative essays, was born in what is now Croatia and grew up under the authoritarian rule of Marshal Tito near the Hungarian border in the central Croatian town of Daruvar. He studied medicine in Serbia, and then moved to America, where his mother had been born, and continued his studies, in psychology and then in creative writing, at Vassar College and at Yale. He lives in Montreal, where he teaches creative writing at Concordia University, and has recently become a Canadian citizen. He has published a novel, April Fool’s Day, three short-story collections, Yolk, Salvation and Other Disasters and Infidelities: Stories of War and Lust, four collections of narrative essays and hundreds of short stories and essays. His writing has been notably published in The New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, Ploughshares and many other prestigious publications. Keith Botsford in The Republic of Letters praised him for “an economy of style and narrative that all good readers will relish.” He is the winner of the Whiting Writer’s Award, an American Book Award and was finalist for the 2013 Man Booker International Prize.

Carey Perloff, Artistic Director, American Conservatory Theatre

As Artistic Director of the ACT for the past 20 years, she has directed innovative productions of classics including Elektra, Endgame and A Christmas Carol among many others. She is a champion of new writing for the theater, directing the world premieres of Philip Kan Gotanda's After the War (A.C.T. commission) and the American premieres of Tom Stoppard's The Invention of Love and Indian Ink and Harold Pinter's Celebration; Her own plays include The Colossus of Rhodes (Susan Smith Blackburn Award finalist) Luminescence and Waiting for the Flood. Her play, Higher, was developed at New York Stage and Film and presented at San Francisco's Contemporary Jewish Museum in 2010; it won the 2011 Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation Theatre Visions Fund Award and received its world premiere in February 2012 in San Francisco. Her one-act The Morning After was a finalist for the Heideman Award at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Before joining A.C.T., Perloff was artistic director of Classic Stage Company in New York and under her leadership, CSC won numerous OBIE Awards. A recipient of France's Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and the National Corporate Theatre Fund's 2007 Artistic Achievement Award, Perloff received a B.A. Phi Beta Kappa in classics and comparative literature from Stanford University and was a Fulbright Fellow at Oxford. She was on the faculty of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University for seven years and teaches and directs in the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program.

Limor Tomer, General Manager, Live Arts Metropolitan Museum of Art

Born in Israel, Ms. Tomer moved to the United States at age 13. She earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree at Juilliard School and studied for her doctorate in aesthetics at New York University. For 10 years she was a professional classical pianist in solo and orchestral performances throughout the United States and Europe. Tomer transitioned from performance to arts management, where she worked closely with Harvey Lichtenstein at BAM on projects ranging from BAM Rose Cinemas to launching and programming the BAMCafe. Following her tenure at BAM, she became Executive Producer for Music at WNYC radio, where she produced such award-winning programs as “24:33,” a John Cage celebration; “A Beautiful Symphony of Brotherhood,” about the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and launched the Peabody-award winning web-based new music station Q2. Tomer served as Adjunct Curator for Performance at the Whitney Museum from 2005-11, and there she created the performing arts department and curated performance shows including “Christian Marclay: Festival, a collaboration with David Kiehl,” “Steve Reich@ the Whitney” and “Meredith Monk Music @ the Whitney.”

She joined the Metropolitan Museum of Art as General Manager of Concerts and Lectures in July 2011, where she launched MetLiveArts, the world’s largest museum-based performance series, with classical and contemporary performances ranging from dance, theater, music, sound installations, performance art and hybrids.

Joseph V. Melillo, Executive Producer, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), New York

Philip Bither, Curator of Programs, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
George Steel, General Manager / Artistic Director, New York City Opera