As a member of the Emerging Leaders Council from 2009 to 2012, I had the opportunity to serve my colleagues while reaping the benefits of building and serving a national network, experimenting with new methods of service including audience and content development, event planning and presenting not to mention the requisite commiseration and merry-making. Those three years were transformative.

What is a fledgling Arts Council to do when almost every artist asks if grants will be given out? You start searching the web and social media for ideas about how other communities have answered this question.That's what Arts Council of Kanawha Valley did eventually stumbling across the site, an international grass roots initiative for feeding the creative community – literally and monetarily.

For 36 years, Childsplay has remained  at the forefront of arts education in Arizona schools—transforming the academic experience for thousands of Arizona students so much so that students have come to recognize the company, its teachings, and shows as part of their traditional academic experiences.

Los Angeles-based theater company C.R.E. Outreach has launched Heroes' Stories, programming for war veterans to honor and empower our country's brave service members. In partnership with New Directions at its local Veterans’ Affairs office, the program gives vets a safe outlet to voice their own heroic experiences and stories.

Students enrolled in Eastern Michigan University’s (EMU) Arts Management Programs (Undergraduate & Graduate) produce two-day music festivals, art competitions, face and body paint tailgating activities, art crawl events, and reality TV shows as part of an academic service learning project and student organizational activity designed to give members their first experiences as arts administrators.

This “accidental” arts administrator first discovered Americans for the Arts during the conference in St. Louis in the early 90s. I was working as the curator of education at Laumeier Sculpture Park at the time and was privileged to provide tours for conference-goers. Like a puppy first discovering a familiar species in the neighborhood, I was spellbound by the unique gathering of arts professionals. Through good fortune, I became a member and have attended almost every conference since 1995.