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 US 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 Bentley serves as Executive Director of Minnesota Fringe, connecting adventurous artists to adventurous audiences by creating open, supportive forums for free and diverse artistic expression. She spent more than 15 years working as a business development and strategic management consultant. Her focus is leading organizations through business model transitions to ensure sustainable operations. She has played violin for over 30 years in various ensembles from rock bands to professional orchestras. Bentley holds an MBA, Masters of Nonprofit Management, and BA from Hamline University in St. Paul, MN, and currently instructs Financial Management for Arts Nonprofits.

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.

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.

Anne Jin Soo Preston

Anne is currently the Director of Research for Creation in Common, a strategic services firm. She brings her history of consulting and various board leadership positions for arts and cultural organizations. She has 15 years working knowledge of the University of Minnesota and is an alumnae of the ACL program. Anne and CIC co-founder Carlo Cuesta have created Raise Together, an assessment tool that helps an organization measure, activate, and position the fundraising strengths of boards and volunteers. Additionally, she is also part of the leadership team for Board Repair, an independent network that works to create a more effective nonprofit sector by increasing participation of indigenous and people of color on boards.

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.


Margo Gray

Margo Gray

Margo has over a decade of experience in the nonprofit and arts communities and believes in building relationships between disciplines and demographics to create more equitable opportunities for learning and advancement. She has served as Director of Member Services at Donors Forum, where she led professional development programming and networking for grant makers. She is the founder of Playable Artworks, a sponsored project of Springboard for the Arts, chaired the Gender Equity Committee at the Chicago Storefront Summit, and has developed equity and sensitivity procedures. Margo holds a BA from Grinnell College and an MFA from Carnegie Mellon University, and she was a Fulbright Fellow at the Moscow Art Theatre School.