Faculty and Advising

Our faculty members come from a range of artistic backgrounds and cultural organizations. Their commonality lies in their passion, dedication, and insider knowledge of the industry. They are eager to connect students to valuable, concrete opportunities.

Director of Graduate Studies

Tom Borrup

Tom Borrup

Tom Borrup is the principal and consultant with Creative Community Builders in Minneapolis, and works with cities, foundations, and nonprofits across the U.S. on leveraging cultural and creative assets for community revitalization and change. He served as executive director of Intermedia Arts from 1980 to 2002. His doctoral research and dissertation addressed the role of organizational and social networks in the planning and ongoing management of cultural districts. He holds a PhD in Leadership and Change from Antioch University.


Marcia Avner

​​​​​​​Marcia’s  consultant practice, Avner Advocacy, works with nonprofits, foundations, and academic centers on initiatives to advance public policies and civic engagement. Marcia is a senior fellow at the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, where she was public policy director from 1996−2010. She was the Deputy Mayor of St. Paul, the Assistant Commissioner for Energy in Minnesota, and communications director for a U.S. senator. She authored The Lobbying and Advocacy Handbook for Nonprofit Organizations (2013) and The Nonprofit Board Member’s Guide to Lobbying and Advocacy (2004).

Dawn Bentley

Dawn is an expert consultant focusing on navigating strategic vision, energizing marketing, and development pursuits. Her undergraduate degree was applied to a previous career of scientific research for the Food and Drug Administration and the University of Minnesota. Dawn has also been a professional violinist for over 25 years. She also instructs classes on nonprofit financial management at Minnesota State University–Mankato and combines her musical passion with her master’s education as adjunct faculty at McNally Smith College of Music. She integrates her artistic background into professional practice as the executive director of Art Shanty Projects, a creative place-making nonprofit in Minneapolis.

Susan Campion

Susan is an entrepreneur focused on improving business and entrepreneurship, and facilitating connections and collaborations between artists, businesses, and communities. She is cofounder and CEO of Giant Steps, which links entrepreneurs and artistic communities around the world, and of Camponovo Consulting, which helps organizations improve their results and increase their impact. She worked for 3M for 12 years, including management positions in Italy, France, and Germany. Susan has been a speaker at the Salone Gamma Donna in Italy, Women’s International Networking Conference in the Czech Republic, University of Minnesota’s Women’s Leadership Conference, The National Society of Hispanic MBAs, and more.

Carlo Cuesta

Carlo has 17 years of experience leading and working with nonprofits, foundations, and government agencies with a particular focus on participation building, branding, and fundraising. As founder and managing partner of the consulting firm Creation in Common, he oversees client services as well as leads research and planning engagements. He specializes in strategic planning and management, research, communications, and fund development. Carlo’s previous leadership roles include producer and general manager for Shakespeare in the Park in Dallas/Fort Worth and executive director of the Playwrights’ Center, where he led the organization through a successful capital campaign and facility renovation.

DeAnna Cummings

DeAnna is cofounder and CEO of Juxtaposition Arts (JXTA), dedicated to the community of North Minneapolis. JXTA combines art and design education with youth empowerment through learning, teaching, and employment in the arts. In addition to her work at JXTA, DeAnna worked as a program officer for the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Currently, she is the Board Vice Chair of the Bush Foundation where she has also served on the Minnesota Bush Prize Selection Panel. She co-chairs the HS Expanded Learning Action Team for the Northside Achievement Zone. In 2013, Minnesota Public Radio named her an Art Hero. DeAnna is a 2007 Bush Leadership Fellow.

Lisa Dejoras

Lisa is an accomplished professional in the nonprofit, public administration, and private sectors. In her legal career, she was selected for the Minnesota Super Lawyer list in multiple years and practiced as an AV-rated law firm partner. Currently she works for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, where she advances agency resource management practices. She is currently a board member at Youth Performance Company, a two-time Ivey-recognized youth theater. Lisa’s academic pursuits include work for the Journal of Public Affairs Education and teaching continuing law education courses. Her interests include analysis and synthesis in complex cases and equity and social justice topics.

Gwendolyn Freed

Gwendolyn Freed is Chief Development Officer at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Previously she was a vice president at Cornish College of the Arts and Gustavus Adolphus College. She has taught classes at the University of Washington and the University of Minnesota, and written articles for the Wall Street Journal, and The Chronicle of Higher Education. She holds a PhD and MPA from the University of Minnesota, and degrees from The Juilliard School and Oberlin Conservatory.

Anita Gonzalez

Anita is a teaching consultant for the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Minnesota. For the Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership program, she designs and teaches interdisciplinary seminars with a focus on contemporary culture and multicultural studies within an international context. Her current research includes 20th- and 21st-century American culture, comparative ethnic studies, critical theory, and interdisciplinary pedagogy.

Gayle Ober

Gayle is current president of the Bill and Penny George Family Foundation. Previously, she was executive director of the Dale Warland Singers, director of cultural affairs for the St. Paul Mayor's Office, vice president of the Mardag Family Foundation, and director of Classical Music Programming for American Public Media (MPR). Gayle brings her expertise in executive leadership, fund development, and cultural policy to her role as a community faculty member in the Master of Professional Studies in Arts and Cultural Leadership program.

Sheila Smith

Sheila is the executive director for Minnesota Citizens for the Arts where she provides leadership for statewide membership, maintains and strengthens strategic relationships, and works with the board to develop and implement public policy initiatives. She has served on numerous nonprofit organizational boards and worked for a variety of legislative committees, including the state government division of the Finance Committee. Sheila was the recipient of the Conservation Leadership Award and the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award. She is also an adjunct professor for the Master’s of Advocacy and Political Leadership program at the University of Minnesota–Duluth.

Laura Zabel

Laura Zabel is executive director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency that provides programs that help artists make a living and a life, and connects communities to the creative power of artists. Their projects include: Community Supported Art (CSA); the Artists Access to Healthcare program; and Irrigate artist-led creative placemaking. A 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow, Laura has spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Urban Land Institute, and Americans for the Arts. She serves on the board of directors of the Center for Performance and Civic Practice and the Metropolitan Consortium of Community Developers.