Notable leaders in Arts & Culture

Movers & Makers asked the major arts & culture organizations in the region to introduce their “notables” to our readers, part of a new regular feature highlighting influential people in various sectors of Greater Cincinnati’s nonprofit economy. The organizations were invited to identify their notables within three categories or identify their own category.


Scott Schuster, Cincinnati Museum Center

Schuster succeeding with $100M campaign

Scott Schuster, Cincinnati Museum Center, serves as vice president of philanthropy. He is leading the museum’s $100 million Champion More Curiosity campaign that has built out more than a dozen new exhibits and lab spaces, with more on the way. In addition to leading fundraising efforts, Scott and his team are responsible for the museum’s Layers series, an adults-only evening and fundraiser. If you’re looking for Schuster on the weekend, you’ll find him on the fairways of Miami View Golf Club in Cleves or exploring Cincinnati with his wife and kids. He’s also a member of the University of Cincinnati’s Carl H. Lindner College of Business faculty, which keeps him connected to his alma mater.

Brian Isaac Phillips, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company.

Phillips puts CSC into top rankings

Brian Isaac Phillips, Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, is celebrating his 20th season of artistic leadership. Phillips has guided the company to artistic and financial success, including the opening of The Otto M. Budig Theater and the completion of Shakespeare’s 38-play canon, making CSC one of the first five theaters in the U.S. to accomplish this milestone. In September 2022, Phillips will be recognized by Mayor Aftab Pureval and the City of Cincinnati for his service at CSC. The proclamation states that “Brian’s commitment to producing Shakespeare and the Classics in innovative and inspiring ways has made Cincinnati Shakespeare Company a destination for an estimated two million theatergoers from all over the Midwest over the last 20 years…” Phillips serves on the Westwood Works board and, when not working, he loves to travel with family.

Maggie Perrino, The Carnegie

Carnegie leader overcomes pandemic

During her seven years as theater director, Maggie Perrino has worked tirelessly to raise The Carnegie’s profile by creating programs for everyone. She’s also navigated productions through a pandemic and revised The Carnegie’s theater season format in 2022. In April and May of 2021, Perrino reinvented the theater’s spring production series by hosting outdoor productions to keep patrons safe during peak COVID times. Perrino then reimagined the theater’s 2022-23 season by introducing its new Summer Theatre Series in repertory format. The series featured many of the same cast in productions of “Into The Woods,” “Rent” and “George Remus, The Musical,” June through August on The Carnegie’s Otto M. Budig Stage. *EDITOR’S NOTE: Maggie Perrino recently announced she has been chosen as artistic director of the School for Creative and Performing Arts.

Eric Newsom, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Newsom steps into fundraiser role

Eric Newsom, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, serves as vice president of philanthropy. He leads the Freedom Center’s fundraising efforts and is key in executing development initiatives as the organization approaches its 30th anniversary. His customer-focused experience and mission-driven approach are valuable additions to the organization’s leadership team. Previously, Newsom spent 25 years in the retail sector, working in marketing, sales, operations and various leadership roles, including with Dillard’s and Saks Fifth Avenue. Newsom is an avid news reader and professional sports fan, particularly basketball. Originally from Cleveland, Eric loves vacationing in warm weather and the beach.

Todd Pettiford, UC College-Conservatory of Music

Working actor gets CCM students access

Last September, UC’s College-Conservatory of Music welcomed Todd Pettiford to the new position of assistant dean of student services. Pettiford works to ensure that CCM students have 24/7 access to high-quality programs, resources and services. Pettiford came to CCM from Stanford University, where he served as assistant dean of students in the Graduate Life Office. Prior to that, he served in several key administrative roles at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Pettiford spent over 15 years as a working actor in numerous Broadway, Off Broadway and National Tour productions, as well as commercials, voice overs and international performances.

Notables Marjoram Lynn, Cincinnati Opera
Marjoram Lynn, Cincinnati Opera

Lynn a longtime opera lover

Marjoram Lynn, Cincinnati Opera’s New Works Development artistic coordinator, is a longtime opera lover. A classically-trained musician and performer, Lynn also brings a love for art, drama and new music to their role.Lynn assists in the execution and planning of Opera Fusion: New Works, a nationally-unique partnership with UC’s College-Conservatory of Music focused on new works development, and they are also involved in the company’s efforts to commission new operas. Lynn sources and creates supertitles, including those for the 2022 world premiere operas “Fierce” and “Castor and Patience.” Beyond the new/unique sides of opera, their dominant interest is diversity and representation in opera.

Notables Elizabeth Hardin-Klink, Contemporary Arts Center
Elizabeth Hardin-Klink, Contemporary Arts Center

CAC leader touches 33,000

Elizabeth Hardin-Klink, Contemporary Arts Center, is creative learning director, where she oversees the development and implementation of all creative programming. After joining the CAC in 2013, Hardin-Klink increased family programming attendance by 240%, established a teen curriculum and developed a new homeschool curriculum. She maintained programming through the pandemic, effectively shifting to virtual and currently offering a mix of digital and in-person activities. Her curriculum is part of nearly 300 total community activities connecting with nearly 33,000 people. Hardin-Klink is also a key leader in the completion of the Creativity Center, which will drastically increase the CAC facility’s capacity for creative exploration.

Notables Victoria Aslanides, Ensemble Theater
Victoria Aslanides, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

Former apprentice now Ensemble educator

Victoria Aslanides is the Director of Education at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. She earned her BFA in theater performance from Northern Kentucky University, and has since based her work as an educator, actor and writer in Cincinnati. A former member of ETC’s the 2016-2017 Professional Acting Apprentice Program, she has since become the leader of ETC’s award-winning Education Department where she develops original workshops and classes, manages Ensemble’s incredible team of teaching artists, and works with students of varying ages, backgrounds, and abilities, furthering her passion for creating inclusionary theater education programs.

Abby Marcus, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Marcus overseeing Playhouse project

Abby Marcus joined the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park last year as managing director, where she fulfills the CFO/COO functions of the organization. She brings expertise with large capital projects – vital to the Playhouse as it opens its new $50 million mainstage theater facility. Marcus is committed to DEIA and inclusive management and brings a fresh perspective to one of the area’s largest arts organizations.

Carmen Greiner, Cincinnati Boychoir

Gen Z leader takes on Boychoir

Carmen Greiner, Cincinnati Boychoir, is the newly appointed executive director. Greiner oversees the Boychoir’s operations and financial resources and, with the artistic director, helps develop the season and tour schedule, ensuring that the programs support the mission and vision of the Boychoir. Greiner joined the Boychoir immediately after graduating with her MBA/MA in arts administration from the University of Cincinnati. Her education and history as a choral singer give her an informed perspective on children’s choral organizations, and she also provides a unique perspective as a member of Gen Z in a leadership role. Outside of work, Greiner enjoys fiber arts and is also a euphonium player.

Andrew Hungerford, Know Theatre

Hungerford pushes Know’s boundaries

Andrew Hungerford, as producing artistic director, leads Know Theatre of Cincinnati, a 99-seat black box theater in Over-the-Rhine. When the pandemic was shuttering arts organizations globally, Hungerford led the Know to push the boundaries of its art form, creating entertainment that provided work for local artists and kept the entire Know staff employed. Under Hungerford’s leadership, the Know was one of the very first theaters in the country to respond to venue closure with streaming digital performance. Hungerford is also the Know’s resident scenic and lighting designer, and he holds bachelor’s degrees in both theater and astrophysics.

Michael Hurst, 21c Museum Hotel

Hurst creates inclusive 21c

As museum manager, Michael Hurst is the epitome of 21c Museum Hotel’s core value of engaging the community. He finds a way to partner with and offer its platform to local artists and organizations of all kinds, and what’s most important to him in this partnership is that it benefits both parties; both gain something meaningful in return. He gives much to the team, and even more so when given the opportunity to support the community. From recent work to support local artists like Michael Coppage and Emma Robbins, Ruya, Beyond Ballet, White Whale, Greater Cincinnati Native American Coalition and countless others, you don’t have to look far to find his impact in this community. He takes
21c’s inclusiveness to another level.

Notables Kyle Wynk-Sivashankar, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Kyle Wynk-Sivashankar, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Symphony leader key to gender equity

Kyle Wynk Sivashankar, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is vice president of human resources. Sivashankar has spearheaded initiatives to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Under his leadership, the CSO was named a 2020 leader in gender equity by Ellequate, formerly known as Queen City Certified. Sivashankar was recently selected by the League of American Orchestras to serve on its inaugural LGBTQIA+ leadership committee. An advocate for reform in the industry, Sivashankar has shared his expertise with arts organizations in Cincinnati and across the country. Favorite thing to do when not working: International travel, spending time with his husband and working out. Something of interest that most don’t know: A first-generation college graduate, he started his career working with blind and visually-impaired adults and children.

Notables Caroline Stine, InBocca Performance
Caroline Stine, InBocca Performance

Stine helps teen artists

Caroline Stine is artistic director of InBocca Performance, which produces independent professional theater as well as a summer educational program that leads teenage artists in devising their own full-length show. Devising performance is considered advanced-level work, and through InBocca, Stine creates one of the few opportunities in the country for students to explore that creative experience. Stine is also the manager of Blue Marble Books, Ft. Thomas’s long-running bastion of children’s literature.

Notables Shawnee Turner, Contemporary Arts Center
Shawnee Turner, Contemporary Arts Center

Turner leading CAC self-reflection

Shawnee Turner, Contemporary Arts Center, is director of interpretation and visitor experience. Her responsibilities include oversight of front line staff, school programming, in-gallery learning and didactics, editing, the docent program and training. She also manages the CAC’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility plans and has earned certificates in Diversity and Inclusion and Cultural Competency. Under her leadership, the CAC has begun a process of self-reflection and improvement through an IDEA lens, with regular reporting and assessment, ensuring that the organization truly embodies its mission of bringing art and creative process to all people.

Prominent or rising BIPOC leader

Notables Marcus Margerum, Contemporary Arts Center
Marcus Margerum, Contemporary Arts Center

Interim director making impact

Marcus Margerum, Contemporary Arts Center, has been serving as interim director since July 2021, having joined the CAC in March 2021 as deputy director and chief business officer. Under his leadership, the CAC served approximately 46,000 people across all programs in the 2021 season, with 32,000 enjoying free or low-cost community programming. Margerum is overseeing the long-awaited renovations to the UnMuseum, soon to be reopened within a new Creativity Center. Margerum is a graduate of Leadership Cincinnati, Class of 45 and is on the board of the Cincinnati African American Chamber.

Notables Isaiah Reaves, Ensemble Theater
Isaiah Reaves, Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati

Ensemble taps youngest playwright

Isaiah Reaves is the youngest playwright ever commissioned at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati with the first professional premiere of I Shall Not Be Moved having been staged in ETC’s 2021-2022 season. His autobiographical plays explore Blackness and queerness, while spanning multiple genres. Reaves is a recipient of the Kennedy Center Hip-Hop Theater Creator Award, a two-time semifinalist of the Ucross and The Blank Theatre Future of Playwriting Prize, a semifinalist of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference, a finalist of the Jackie Demaline Regional Collegiate Playwriting Competition and an Iowa Arts Fellow. He is currently in pursuit of an MFA at the historic University of Iowa Playwrights Workshop.

Notables Dawn Mundy, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Dawn Mundy, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Playhouse HR leader raising bar

Dawn Mundy, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, is director of HR, equity and inclusion, responsible for providing leadership and depth of experience to a full-time staff of 80 as well as hundreds of visiting artists. She brings years of HR experience to the organization and is setting the bar for DEIA work in the nonprofit performing arts sector in Cincinnati and beyond.

Notables Abijita Debata, Cincinnati Museum Center
Abijita Debata, Cincinnati Museum Center

Cowboy fan becomes museum’s HR guru

Abijita Debata, Cincinnati Museum Center, serves as senior director of human resources and payroll. She has led the museum through the ongoing HR-related challenges of COVID-19 and improved staff hiring and retention during the evolving job market. She moved to the U.S. from India in 2002 and holds a masters in economics and an MBA from the University of Texas at Dallas, as well as SHRM-SCP, data analytics and nonprofit financial accounting certifications. Outside of work, Debata is a member of two book clubs and loves cooking Indian food with her friends and neighbors. She’s also a huge sports fan, including the Dallas Cowboys, a byproduct of the 12 years she spent in Dallas before moving to Cincinnati in 2015.

Notables Tiffany Cooper, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
Tiffany Cooper, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Cooper connecting symphony to people

Tiffany Cooper, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is director of community engagement and diversity. A native of Cincinnati, Cooper has been instrumental in expanding the orchestra’s reach in recent years through initiatives that connect the orchestra with the people of Cincinnati. The new Andrew J. Brady Neighborhood Concert Series was the evolution of Cooper’s work with community partners. Cooper has served on the Over-the-Rhine Museum board and is currently VP of Elementz Hip Hop Cultural Arts Center’s board of directors. Favorite thing to do when not working: Volunteering with organizations to support underserved communities, attending the many cultural and arts events happening around Cincinnati.

Notables Ri Moodie, Know Theatre
Ri Moodie, Know Theatre

Biracial leader looks for positives

Ri Moodie, Know Theatre of Cincinnati, is operations and company manager, responsible for the financial and logistical operations. She received her master of arts administration in theater and production management from Ohio University in 2021, where she worked to establish a student-run theater for BIPOC artists. She has also been working as an administrative associate at Theatre Washington (home of the Helen Hayes awards). Moodie describes herself as “a biracial member of the LGBTQI+ community who is always looking to enact positive change, no matter how small, within her community.”

Notables Janice Liebenberg, ArtsWave
Janice Liebenberg, ArtsWave

ArtsWave has Black, Brown champion

In early 2022, ArtsWave appointed Janice Liebenberg to the new role of VP for equitable arts advancement, a key milestone in its diversity, equity, inclusion and access plan, “Lifting As We Learn.” Liebenberg has helped ArtsWave grow relationships with African American artists, audiences and donors. This includes: establishing the region’s largest annual grants program for Black and Brown arts organizations; developing ArtsWave’s quarterly African American arts series, Flow; and leading its Black and Brown Artist Program with nearly 50 artists commissions so far. Liebenberg is testament to the importance ArtsWave places on creating a more vibrant and welcoming region through the arts.

Notables Woodrow Keown Jr., National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Woodrow Keown Jr., National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Keown honing NURFC focus

Woodrow Keown Jr., National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, serves as president and COO. He joined the institution in November 2019 and has led the museum through the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent social justice movement that has reinvigorated freedom advocates. Under his leadership, the Freedom Center is approaching its 30th anniversary as an organization with a renewed focus. Prior to joining the Freedom Center, Keown was an executive retiree from the Procter & Gamble Co., where he led the development of the Swiffer and Febreze brands. He is an avid fan of jazz and a skilled trumpet player.

Notables Tracy L. Wilson, Cincinnati Opera
Tracy L. Wilson, Cincinnati Opera

‘Connection Lady’ at work for 37 years

Friends & colleagues refer to Tracy L. Wilson, Cincinnati Opera’s Director of Community Engagement & Education, as the “The Connection Lady.” Wilson has created dozens of programs over her 37 years with the company, including the hit series Opera Goes to Church & the Community Open Dress Rehearsal. She led new community programs during Cincinnati Opera’s 2022 season, including free Music Hall open house Opera for All, a sensory-friendly performance, and the acclaimed Morris & Friends event starring Morris Robinson. Wilson oversees a team of educators and teaching artists dedicated to providing meaningful opera experiences. Wilson is a trailblazer in the Cincinnati arts community and regularly speaks at national events.

Recent addition with great expectations

Notables Arabeth Balasko, Cincinnati Museum Center
Arabeth Balasko, Cincinnati Museum Center

Traveler oversees huge collection

Arabeth Balasko, Cincinnati Museum Center, serves as curator of photographs, prints and media, managing a collection of more than one million photographs. Balasko joined the organization in April 2022 and has been a valuable resource for researchers and a contributor on exhibit development and collections management, using the photo collections to tell robust, inclusive stories. You may find Balasko soaking in the sights on a walk through the city or woods as she recharges. She’s an avid traveler and has visited 16 countries. Balasko holds degrees in international studies, history and Russian culture and language and a masters in history and archives.

Notables KC Commander, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra
KC Commander, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

Pandemic creates symphony leader

KC Commander, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, is director of digital content and innovation. Catalyzed by the pandemic, Commander was brought on board to lead the orchestra’s new digital content team in the production and streaming of more than 20 full-length concerts on YouTube and Facebook, reaching nearly two million viewers. Recently, Commander and her team launched un/HEARD, a new video series that demystifies the music on stage by providing a behind-the-scenes look at some of the CSO’s most exciting performances. Fun thing to do when not working: When not at Music Hall, you might catch Commander biking around to her favorite spots in OTR and Covington, including Findlay Market, Allez and Brown Bear bakeries and Roebling Books and Coffee.

Notables Dr. Stephanie Lampkin, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
Dr. Stephanie Lampkin, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

Curator key to re-accreditation

Dr. Stephanie Lampkin, National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, serves as curator, managing the museum’s growing collections and contributing to the research and installation of permanent and temporary exhibitions. Her role and expertise were instrumental in helping the Freedom Center earn re-accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums during the 10-year renewal process. Prior to joining the Freedom Center, Lampkin worked in a variety of historical institutions, including the Delaware Historical Society and Science History Institute. She holds a masters and doctorate in history from the University of Delaware. Outside of work she enjoys yoga, gardening, karaoke and tennis. She played cello in school and hopes to learn guitar.

Notables Jodie Gates, Cincinnati Ballet
Jodie Gates, Cincinnati Ballet

Gates dancing since she was 16

Jodie Gates, Cincinnati Ballets new artistic director, has an expansive and collaborative artistic vision for the future – a vision informed by curiosity and a commitment to classical ballet viewed through a contemporary lens. Gates is most recently the founding artistic director of the USC Glorya Kaufman School of Dance and founder/artistic director of the Laguna Dance Festival in California. She also serves as the artistic director of the Cincinnati Ballet Otto M. Budig Academy. Gates began her professional dance career at age 16 when she joined Joffrey Ballet. She went on to become a principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Frankfurt Ballet and Complexions Contemporary Ballet. Gates is a prolific choreographer in her own right, creating more than 60 works for dance companies and academic institutions around the world.

Notables Lyla Forlani, Cincinnati Opera
Lyla Forlani, Cincinnati Opera

Forlani led outdoor season

Lyla Forlani, Cincinnati Operas director of production, has been working in music production for 25 years. After working with opera companies throughout the U.S. as a stage manager, she spent 17 years with the Los Angeles Opera, both as stage manager and production manager, leading teams of up to 12 stage managers and assistant directors. Forlani also spent five years with the Los Angeles Philharmonic producing concerts and theatrical events. She joined Cincinnati Opera in spring 2021, helping spearhead the company’s Summer at Summit, presenting live opera performances in a COVID-safe way. This outdoor season at Blue Ash’s Summit Park was a huge success, selling out weeks in advance.

Notables Bethany Doverspike, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park
Bethany Doverspike, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park

Enthusiasm follows Playhouse fundraiser

Bethany Doverspike, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, is director of development, responsible for the annual and capital efforts in development. Noted for her professionalism and enthusiasm, she has worked with Playhouse leadership and board members to help fund the construction of Moe & Jack’s Place – The Rouse Theatre, which will have its grand opening in March 2023.

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