Our People

Get to know Oregon Arts Commission commissioners and staff. 

Christopher Acebo, Vice-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 | Simnasho

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)

Lawrence Fong, Commissioner
Contact | Portland

Lawrence Fong’s professional experience focuses on the visual arts. He was collections manager at the Portland Art Museum before moving to the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA) in 1989, where he served as associate director and curator of American art from 1996 until 2009. He retired from the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art in 2012.

Larry has curated multiple exhibitions, including JSMA’s 2012 “Provenance: In Honor of Arlene Schnitzer.” His publications include the catalog for “Provenance,” as well as "Morris Graves Selected Letters (University of Washington Press, 2013)” and “One Step Big Shot: Portraits by Gus Van Sant (Nazraeli Press 2010).”

Larry currently serves on the board of the Morris Graves Foundation and was on the Art Policy Committee for the state of Oregon in 2006. He earned his master’s in cultural anthropology, and a bachelor’s in history with a focus on American culture, from the University of Oregon. (First term expires 11/30/2016)

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)


Julie Shiffer Vigeland, Immediate Past Chair
Contact | Portland

A former high school English teacher, Julie has spent the last 40 plus years as a civic volunteer in the Portland community. She is immediate past chair of the Arts Commission. 

A passionate advocate for the arts, Julie brings extensive volunteer experience with arts nonprofits to the commission. Julie’s leadership in the Portland area for arts-related organizations includes the former Portland Civic Theater, Regional Arts & Culture Council, Oregon Symphony Foundation, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Friends of the Portland Center for Performing Arts and Oregon College of Art & Craft.

In 1995 Julie joined the board of Portland Center Stage, serving as chair for five years and chairing the Capital Campaign for the Gerding Theater at the Armory. She now serves as board member emeritus. Currently, Julie is serving as the chair of Oregon’s Building Public Will for Arts and Culture Team.

Julie has served as one of three trustees of the Jackson Foundation for the past 25 years. She is past president of both the Multnomah Athletic Foundation and Grantmakers of Oregon and SW Washington. Additionally Julie is a past chair of the Portland Parks Board and continues her service with that organization as well as serving on the Portland Parks Foundation.

Julie has received numerous honors for her work, including the Women of Distinction Award for the Arts, the Oregon College of Art and Craft Jo Groves Award, the White Rose Women of Achievement Award and the Model of Success Award. Julie is an American Leadership Forum Fellow. Julie received her bachelor of arts in English from Portland State College (now University.) (Second term expires 7/26/2017)

Anne Taylor, Commissioner
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, 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 manages office operations and communication for the Arts Commission, orchestrating work with partner organizations throughout the state. She joined the Arts Commission in 2008, bringing vast knowledge of statewide cultural groups and grant management from her previous position as Administrative Assistant for the Oregon Cultural Trust. Prior to her work with the Cultural Trust, Kat was the Office Manager of Oregon PeaceWorks and a volunteer for local arts groups such as the World Beat Festival. Kat has also worked for the Oregon legislature as a committee assistant to the Ways and Means Subcommittees on Transportation & Economic Development and Human Services.

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

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