Americans for the Arts, the nation’s leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, today announced the recipients of the 2015 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards. Presented each year, these awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching community through the arts. This year’s recipients are:
Association for Public Art, Pennsylvania: Public Art Network Award
Eric Booth, New York: Arts Education Award
Lara Davis, Washington: American Express Emerging Leaders Award
Jeff Hawthorne, Oregon: Michael Newton Award
Richard E. Huff, Texas: Selina Roberts Ottum Award
Ann Marie Miller, New Jersey: Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
“Our Leadership Awards honorees have distinguished themselves as tremendous leaders and passionate advocates for the arts and arts education,” said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “These leaders have implemented innovative and transformative programs to strengthen the communities they serve, and their unwavering commitment to local, state, and national support for the arts is deserving of this recognition.”
Honorees will be presented their awards at the Americans for the Arts 2015 Annual Convention
in Chicago during the Opening Plenary session on Friday, June 12, 2015, from 12:00 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.
2015 Americans for the Arts Annual Leadership Awards Honorees
Association for Public Art, Public Art Network Award
Given annually since 2003, the Public Art Network Award honors innovative contributions to, and exemplary commitment and leadership in, public art. Founded in 1872, the Association for Public Art (aPA) is the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning. Today, aPA commissions, preserves, promotes, and interprets public art in Philadelphia, working with artists, communities, and civic leaders to make encounters with art a part of everyday life and the city a Museum Without Walls™ free and accessible to everyone. The aPA is a central resource and contributor to Philadelphia’s enduring reputation as an vitally important place to view and experience the evolution of public art.
Eric Booth, Arts Education Award
Presented each year since 2007, the Arts Education Award honors the best in arts education program design, execution, and organizational leadership. Eric Booth is the first teaching artist to receive this award, having been on the faculty of Juilliard for 11 years and serving as a consultant for many organizations, cities, states, and businesses around the country. He has taught classes for every level from kindergarten through graduate school, including faculty positions at Stanford University, Tanglewood, and Lincoln Center Education (for 26 years), and led workshops at over 30 universities and 60 cultural institutions. Faculty Chair of the Empire State Partnership program, Booth held one of six chairs on the College Board’s Arts Advisory Committee. The founding director of the Teacher Center of the Leonard Bernstein Center (now on the Board of Directors), he is a frequent keynote speaker on the arts, and serves as a senior advisor to the El Sistema movement in the United States. An accomplished author, he is currently completing a 2016 book for W.W. Norton on the international growth of El Sistema. For more information and to get free copies of a lot of Booth’s writings, go to
Lara Davis, American Express Emerging Leaders Award
Given annually since 2006 and sponsored by American Express since 2011, the American Express Emerging Leaders Award recognizes an exceptional new and/or young arts professional for their exemplary leadership, deep engagement with community, and strong commitment to advancing the arts. Lara Davis has been active in youth development and community arts education for more than a decade. She has served as a Seattle arts commissioner and as program director for Arts Corps, an award-winning, Seattle-based youth arts organization. In her current role as Arts Education Manager for the City of Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, Davis manages Creative Advantage, a public/private partnership that pairs teaching artists and cultural organizations with underserved public schools to ensure that all Seattle youth in every neighborhood have equal access to arts learning. Davis serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Teaching Artists Guild, and facilitates equity and racial justice trainings for teaching artists, educators, and organizations, presenting locally and at national conferences.
Jeff Hawthorne, Michael Newton Award
For the past 25 years, the Michael Newton Award has recognized exemplary leadership skills and extraordinary dedication to supporting the arts through a united arts fund, which is a combined effort to raise money on behalf of multiple arts institutions in the community, or through unique and powerful partnerships with the private sector. As director of community engagement for the Regional Arts & Culture Council in Portland, Oregon, Jeff Hawthorne collaborates with community partners to increase funding and visibility for the local arts community. He is responsible for securing public and private funding that makes up RACC’s annual budget, which has grown from $3.8 million in 2003 to $10.2 million in 2015. RACC’s united arts fund, Work for Art, has raised $6.2 million over the last nine years, mostly through workplace giving campaigns. Hawthorne also oversees the organization’s outreach and communications efforts, and manages research projects that help quantify the value of the local arts community. He graduated cum laude from the University of Portland with a B.A. in theater management, and currently serves on the board for the Northwest Regional Re-Entry Center and Oregon’s Cultural Advocacy Coalition.
Richard E. Huff, Selina Roberts Ottum Award
Presented jointly by Americans for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts for the past 25 years, the Selina Roberts Ottum Award recognizes outstanding contributions in the local arts agency field. As Executive Director of the Irving Arts Center in Irving, Texas, Richard E. Huff has gained a national reputation for his work. He previously served as director of the Cultural Activities Center in Temple, Texas; as director of the Dallas City Arts Program; and as executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. A former director of the National Endowment of the Arts’ Locals Program, Huff is widely credited for his work to promote the value of community cultural planning and policymaking, and efforts to encourage rural constituents to become involved with the Locals Program. Huff graduated from Wichita State University with a B.A. in speech and drama and a minor in business, and received an M.A. from the University of Denver in technical theater (set and light design).
Ann Marie Miller, Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award
Since 2007, the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award has honored an individual whose arts advocacy efforts have dramatically affected the political landscape at the state level. Ann Marie Miller is currently director of Advocacy & Public Policy for the ArtPride NJ Foundation and served as its Executive Director for 20 years. Prior to joining ArtPride in 1995, Miller served as director of development at McCarter Theatre and as grants coordinator for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Miller sits on the Executive Committee of Americans for the Arts’ State Arts Action Network; chairs the Hightstown Cultural Arts Commission in her hometown; is a member of the Governance Committee of the NJ Arts Education Partnership; and served on the board of the Center for Non-Profit Corporations in New Jersey. A graduate of Moore College of Art & Design in Philadelphia, Miller holds a B.S. in art education.
Americans for the Arts Annual Convention brings together arts and community leaders to network and discuss strategies for building stronger towns, counties, and cities through the arts. What started as a small gathering of 45 people in 1955 has grown to become an event that attracts more than 1,000 people each year.
Americans for the Arts is the leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education in America. With offices in Washington, D.C. and New York City, it has a record of more than 50 years of service. Americans for the Arts is dedicated to representing and serving local communities and creating opportunities for every American to participate in and appreciate all forms of the arts. Additional information is available at www.AmericansForTheArts.org.