Our People

Get to know Oregon Arts Commission commissioners and staff. 

Christopher Acebo, Chair
Contact | Ashland

Christopher Acebo of Ashland is the associate artistic director of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF). His work at OSF includes collaborating on season planning, creative team selection, casting, strategic planning and producing the festival productions.

Christopher is a set and costume designer who designed the world premiere production of “All the Way” by Robert Shenkkhan, as well as its Broadway production which won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2014, among many others. For seven years, he was an ensemble member of the nationally acclaimed Cornerstone Theater Company in Los Angeles.

As a teacher, he has been an assistant professor in the Theatre and Dance Department at Cal State University, Los Angeles (2002-2007) and has also taught master classes in Design at UC San Diego.

Christopher currently serves on the Board of Directors for Theatre Communication Group. He is a recipient of an NEA/TCG fellowship and several awards including a 2015 Latina/o Outstanding Advocacy Award presented by the Latina/o Theatre Commons. He has served on panels for the NEA, the Arts Commission and Playwrights Center.

He received his MFA from the University of California, San Diego and his BA in Political Science from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. (First term expires 3/19/2018)
 

Avantika Bawa, Commissioner
Contact | Portland

Avantika Bawa is an artist, curator and academic.

She has an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA from the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, India.

Noteworthy solo exhibits include shows at Schneider Museum, Ashland, Oregon; Suyama Space, Seattle, Washington; The Columbus Museum, Georgia; Saltworks Gallery and Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia; Nature Morte and Gallery Maskara, India; Disjecta and White Box, Portland, Oregon.

Avantika has participated in the Skowhegan, MacDowell, Jentel, Vermont Studio Center, Kochi Biennial Foundation and Djerassi residencies. In April 2004 she was part of a team that launched Drain: A Journal for Contemporary Art and Culture (www.Drainmag.com)

She is currently an Assistant Professor of Fine Arts at Washington State University Vancouver. Her work can be viewed at www.avantikabawa.net. (First term expires 6/30/2016) 

Michael Dalton, Commissioner
Contact | Corvallis, Newport

Michael Dalton was a professor in OSU’s College of Education, where he also served as assistant to the dean for program and research development until his 2008 retirement.

He has a Ph.D. in teacher education and a masters in curriculum and instruction from the University of Oregon; he earned his bachelors in mathematics at Central Washington State College.

Michael maintains homes in both Corvallis and Newport. He has served on the board of Corvallis’ da Vinci Days since 2008 and is currently immediate past chair. He also has been a board member of the Newport Symphony Orchestra since 2005, where he also serves as immediate past chair. (First term expires 5/10/2018)

Alyssa Dawamana Macy, Commissioner
Contact | Warm Springs

Alyssa Dawamana Macy is of Wasco, Navajo, and Hopi descent and a citizen of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Oregon. She currently resides in her tribal community and serves as the Chief Operations Manager for the Tribe. She brings a wealth of experience to the Commission as an astute writer, policy maker, advocate and communications and public relations professional.

An avid photographer and aspiring writer, Alyssa believes that media – its content, form, and expression – has an impact on all who consume it. She has worked with many artists and nonprofits over the years to combine media and art with social change campaigns.

Alyssa is a graduate of Madras High School and received a Bachelor of Arts from Arizona State University. She attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota but believes that the most important education she has ever received has been from the elders in her community of Warm Springs. (First term expires 10/30/2018)

Jenny Green, Commissioner
Contact | Bend

Jenny Green is the owner of Jenny Green Gallery in Bend, a pop-up contemporary art gallery exhibiting in Bend, throughout the United States and, soon, in Venice, Italy. She has worked in arts and education for 22 years and is a former adjunct professor of art history at Central Oregon Community College.

Prior to moving to Bend in 1994, Jenny worked in art galleries, art museums and art auction houses in London and San Francisco. She is a founding board member for the independent college-prep school Cascades Academy and serves on the board for the social change organization World Muse as well as the advisory board of Caldera Arts. She holds a master of arts in fine and decorative arts from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London and a bachelor of arts in art history from the University of Vermont.
 
“I believe deeply in the power of art and its ability to enhance the quality of life not only for artists but for the communities in which they work,” says Jenny. “The Oregon Arts Commission strengthens our statewide community through the arts and I want to support this important work.”
 
 
 

(Term Expires: 11/30/2020)
Nichole Maher, Commissioner
Contact | Portland

Nichole June Maher is the president and CEO of Northwest Health Foundation, which she has transformed into a national forerunner in equity and a champion of supporting communities to build power through collaborative action and advocacy. She previously served as executive director of Portland’s Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) for more than 11 years.

An active member of the Native American community, Nichole was raised on Lincoln County’s Siletz Indian Reservation and is very involved in supporting Native art and arts organizations. She and her mother practice the traditional art of making button blankets, an important part of Northwest tribal culture.

“I am particularly interested in ensuring that all parts of Oregon are included in arts development and that all have access to opportunity and funding,” says Nichole. “I have a specific passion for ensuring that rural communities, communities with disabilities and racial and ethnic groups historically underserved have a seat at the table and access to resources.”

Nichole holds a master's degree in public health from the Mark O. Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University. She also completed a fellowship at Harvard Medical School and the Robert Wood Johnson Minority Medical Education program at Yale Medical School.
 

(Term Expires: 7/27/2021)
Josie Mendoza, Commissioner
Contact | Lake Oswego

After a successful career as an executive in the high-tech industry, Josie Mendoza is now focused on advocating for the arts in Oregon, and was re-appointed by Governor Kitzhaber to a second term on the Oregon Arts Commission.

Previously, Josie served six years on the board of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, where she served on the executive committee and chaired the Work for Art committee, a workplace-giving program to fund arts education and organizations.

Josie also served on Artists Repertory Theatre's board of directors for nine years, seeing the company go from renting space on the third floor at the YWCA to finally purchasing and launching its performing arts campus encompassing an entire city block. With Artists Rep, Josie led in a variety of roles, including vice-chair.

Josie originally came to Oregon to help drive the successful turnaround at Tektronix Inc., and she co-led the organization's transformation into three separate companies. Prior to joining Tektronix, Josie held senior management positions at Apple, Inc. and Hewlett Packard Company in Silicon Valley.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Florida. Josie and her family live in Lake Oswego. (Second term expires 7/8/2018)

 

Anne Taylor, Vice-Chair
Contact | La Grande

Born and raised in western Washington, Anne Taylor moved east in 1975 to earn a degree in interior design from Washington State University. In 1980, she moved to the northeast corner of Oregon.  For 30 years she resided in Joseph and Imnaha, located in Wallowa County and 65 miles from the nearest town with a population greater than 15,000.  In 2010 she relocated to La Grande in Union County.

Anne’s work experience includes technical illustrator, graphic artist, ranch wife and mother, bronze foundry production, art marketing and sales, custom matting/framing and art sales, parent educator, executive director and research assistant. She also has had the honor of serving as a Girl Scout troop leader, a 4-H club leader, a member of the Wallowa Valley Arts Council, Rotary Club and several non-profit boards.

Anne has pursued lifelong education through college distance learning and personal or professional development workshops. She is a 2005 graduate of the Ford Institute for Leadership and became an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow in January of 2010.

For the past 24 years, Anne has played violin with various regional orchestras and ensembles; she currently plays with the Grande Ronde Symphony and the Inland Northwest Orchestra.  She actively pursues skiing, biking, hiking and gardening, and also enjoys reading, drawing and watercolor painting, cooking, sewing and travel. (First term expires 10/31/18)

Libby Unthank Tower, Immediate Past Chair
Contact | Eugene

Libby Unthank Tower has a distinguished career in advertising, graphic design, marketing, and project management. Her work spans public, private and non-profit sectors. She currently works in graphic design and marketing at Asbury Design in Eugene, Oregon. Previously she was the manager for marketing and public relations for the City of Eugene Cultural Services Division overseeing institutional marketing and public relations for the Hult Center for the Performing Arts, Community Events, and the Public Art programs.

Libby has served on numerous boards and commissions throughout her career. These include the Oregon Tourism Commission, the University of Oregon School of Architecture & Allied Arts, and Travel Lane County Board of Directors. From 2007 to 2009, she directed the marketing and media services for Track Town USA and the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials for Track and Field.

Libby earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Oregon in 1977.  She studied abroad at Waseda University in Tokyo, and attended the Yoshida Hanga Academy studying under Japanese Master Artist Toshi Yoshida.

An advocate for the arts, Libby embraces new challenges with leadership and creative problem solving. (Second term expires 12/08/2017)

Brian Rogers, Executive Director

Brian Rogers, a longtime arts and culture consultant, was named executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust in June of 2014. He has led planning and facilitated retreats, with a focus on funding stabilization and grant programs, for several state arts agencies and multiple cultural organizations across the country.  

Rogers served as deputy executive director of the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (PCA) for 16 years, where he was responsible for grant programs, financial oversight and the administration of the agency. He led development and implementation, through a public/private partnership, of the innovative and groundbreaking data collection and reporting tool, the “Cultural Data Project.” Rogers served on the governing body for the project and acted as the state’s task force manager. He also implemented several PCA programs and services including “Picture Pennsylvania,” a statewide traveling exhibition program. He helped conduct and implement four strategic planning processes, one of which resulted in a nationally recognized funding reorganization that more than doubled the number of applicants funded while providing a higher level of service.

During his more than 20 years with the PCA, Rogers also served as deputy director of administration, program director for art museums and fellowship manager.

An active and accomplished artist, Rogers holds a bachelor’s in fine arts from Tyler School of Art at Temple University, where he majored in painting, and a master’s in fine arts from the Graduate School of Art at the University of Arizona.

David Huff, Assistant Director

David Huff is the Assistant Director of the Oregon Arts Commission, where he oversees grants management, administrative processes and internal financial reporting. He also serves as the Commission's accessibility coordinator and provides technical assistance to the field. Prior to joining the Arts Commission, David served as Executive Director for The Arts Center in Corvallis, Oregon and Curator for Pro Arts gallery in Oakland, California. He has also worked as an independent curator and writer with a focus on contemporary art. David has a degree in photography from the California College of Arts and Crafts and an MBA in Nonprofit Management from the University of Portland. He collects science fiction paperbacks and lives in Portland with his wife Josephine and their two dogs, Pop Tart and Gremlin.

Deb Vaughn, Arts Education Coordinator

Deb Vaughn oversees the Arts Commission's Arts Education programs, including Grants for Arts Learning and Poetry Out Loud. Prior to joining the Arts Commission, Deb worked as the school services manager for Portland-based Oregon Children's Theatre. A trained singer, actor, and writer, she was a public school artist-in-residence through the city of Phoenix's 21st-Century Learning Grant. Deb was honored with a 2009 Sunburst Award for exemplary commitment to the arts and culture in education. She has worked as a drama teacher in Oregon and Arizona and provided consultation for Sojourn Theatre's Freshman Initiative Project. She was a member of the Visioning Committee for Oregon's Right Brain Initiative and was a member of the executive team for Opera Theatre Oregon. Deb holds a Master of Fine Arts in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from University of Portland.

Brian Wagner, Community Development Coordinator

Brian Wagner manages the Arts Commission's Community Development programs, including Arts Build Communities. Brian lived in Oregon while he chaired Marylhurst University's music department and eventually returned to the state after twelve years of living in Colorado. There, Brian served as the Executive Director of the Durango Arts Center and taught classical guitar studies at Fort Lewis College.

As a board member of Arts For Colorado, Brian was named a Livingston Fellow by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and appointed by Governor Bill Ritter to serve on the Colorado Education and Cultural Facilities Authority. Brian also served on the Colorado Arts Council as a Peer Assistance Network provider. Brian earned his Bachelor of Music in Performance from the University of Arizona and a Master of Music from Lewis and Clark College.

Meagan Atiyeh, Visual Arts/Public Art Coordinator

Meagan Atiyeh manages Oregon's Percent for Art in Public Places program. She also oversees the Arts Commission's Visual Artist Fellowships. Prior to joining the Arts Commission, Meagan served in several capacities at the Portland Art Museum's Northwest Film Center, where she was the director of the Northwest Film & Video Festival.

Meagan holds a Bachelor of Arts in Writing, Literature and the Arts from Eugene Lang College of The New School for Liberal Arts in New York. She organizes independent curatorial projects, and her writing has appeared in The Oregon Review of Arts, and Deviant Fictions: An Anthology of Northwest Experimental Writing. Meagan has also served on the boards of the University of Oregon Architecture and Allied Arts and Disjecta Contemporary Art Center.

Kat Bell, Grants & Office Coordinator

Kat Bell is the Grants & Office Coordinator at the Oregon Arts Commission. She has been with the Commission since 2006, where she oversees the online grant system and database and assures compliance with state and federal policy.  Kat earned an Oregon Project Management Associate Certification from the Willamette University’s Atkinson School of Management and is in her junior year at Oregon State University, where she studies Cultural Anthropology. In addition to serving in the military, Kat has experience working at the state legislature as a Committee Assistant. She belongs to the Grant Managers Network and Grantmakers for Effective Organizations. She is a self-professed Data Viz Ninja and proud member of Ravenclaw.

Carrie Kikel, Communications Manager

Carrie Kikel is a longtime nonprofit communicator who has led communication efforts in the arts, education and health care arenas. Carrie spent 15 years with the Oregon Symphony, from 1991 to 2006, where she held the position of vice president of communication. Her Symphony accomplishments include initiating annual telecasts and National Public Radio broadcasts, as well as organizing national release parties for a Martin Luther King, Jr. tribute recording that reached number four on the Billboard classical charts. She also led communication for the music director transition that paid tribute to James DePreist and welcomed Carlos Kalmar.

Carrie joined Providence Health & Services in 2006 and served as a regional public affairs manager until 2012 when she established her own consulting business. Her cultural clients have included fEARnoMUSIC and Portland’5 Centers for the Arts, as well as the Arts Commission and the Cultural Trust. She also helped found Portland Radio Project, an online music station honored with two Edward R. Murrow Awards in its first six months on the air.

Kikel has an associate degree in journalism from Mt. Hood Community College, where she started her communication career, and a bachelor’s in communication from Marylhurst University. She and her husband Steve recently moved from Portland to Canby with their beloved Springer Spaniel Savannah. They have three grown children – Daniel, Nichole and Kelsie – and four grandchildren – William, Kody, Alexa and Isaac. The family loves to camp, fish and go on adventures.

Eleanor Sandys, Percent for Art Registrar and Research Specialist

Prior to her arrival at the Oregon Arts Commission, Eleanor was Assistant Registrar at the San Francisco Arts Commission, helping to manage and document a collection of 3,600 public artworks. Previous to this position, she also worked and interned at a variety of arts and cultural organizations in the West, including FOR-SITE Foundation, the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at UC Berkeley, the Portland Japanese Garden, SCRAP PDX and the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center, as well as working as an independent registrar. Eleanor graduated with a Master’s in Museum Studies from John F. Kennedy University in 2015, where she served as President of the Museum Studies Student Association and earned several scholarships including the Ted Greenberg Award for Outstanding Scholarship in Collections Management. She has a bachelor’s in Cultural Anthropology from Reed College.

Oregon Arts Commission

Phone
(503) 986-0082 (phone)
(503) 986-0260 (fax)
Address
775 Summer Street NE, Ste 200
Salem, OR 97301-1280