Alumni Profiles

Dominique Lopes DelGiudice Exhibitions Program Specialist
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

What is your background?

I received a BA in art history with a minor in Japanese literature from the University of Georgia in 2009. I became increasingly fascinated with the ever-evolving concept of culture. I broadened my research in the arts to encompass sociologists and political theorists to better understand the role arts and culture play in any given society. Prior to graduate school, my work experience had been limited to short runs in galleries and university administrative offices.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I chose AU's Arts Management Program because I am able to pursue my interest in cultural policies and analysis. Also, along with an MA in Arts Management I am able to receive a Certificate in International Arts Management. This program looks into the political side of the arts and cultural diplomacy. I also chose this program because of the teachers, they are passionate about their topics and bring years of experience in the arts world to the class room.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I worked as a graduate assistant at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. This allowed me to work closely with the Director of the museum and the Chief Registrar. My responsibilities included managing loan agreements for incoming exhibitions, handling art work for instillation and de-instillation, and sitting in on meetings between the director, registrar, and artists.

Steven Dawson Marketing Manager, Theater & International Programs, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

What is your background?

My background is in live musical theatre. Before attending AU, I worked as a professional actor for over seven years in many theatre organizations around the country. I have always had at least one foot in the theatre, even when I needed to take another “day job” to make ends meet.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I was accepted into multiple graduate arts management programs, but once I visited AU and talked with faculty members, I knew that this was the place for me. It goes without saying that the faculty is top-notch and the arts management education is unmatched. But the other opportunities are what really drew me. The faculty connections with other arts professionals are invaluable and allow the students to really get to know and pick the brains of the leaders in the field. The “extracurricular activities” were also enticing. The opportunities to hear speakers at the colloquia, the internship connections and opportunities, the fellowship program, and the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium all add to the experience at AU.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I interned at two places. The first was the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), at which I worked on conference operations, speaker relations and contracts, and volunteer setup. I also interned at Washington Improv Theater as the senior management intern. While there, I gained valuable experience in many fields, including budgeting, grant writing, marketing, audience engagement, and volunteer management. I also served as the executive chair of the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS), the annual forum designed for arts management students and professionals to learn directly from the leaders in the field. Watch a profile video about Steven from his student days.

Sarah Durkee Senior Advisor to the Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Officer, National Gallery of Art

What is your background?

I graduated with an undergraduate degree in art history and international relations and have always had a particular interest in the intersection of art and politics (maybe because I am a DC native!). For twelve years prior to graduate school, I was an employee at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, with a focus on educational and cultural programming and community outreach. I was and continue to be extremely interested in how art can be a relevant and consistent presence in peoples’ lives, and how it can help us to connect to ideas and to each other and ourselves.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I had been aware of the Arts Management Program at AU for a long time; a number of colleagues for whom I have a great deal of respect graduated from the program. Once I made the decision to finally go back to school, I knew that AU was the program for me.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I continued to work full time while going to school full time didn’t complete an additional internship. However, did have the chance to work in the ART CART program which seeks to preserve the legacy of aging artists by connecting them with graduate students.

Shannon Musgrave Director of Marketing & Communications
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama

What is your background?

I came to AU from Salt Lake City, Utah, armed with a BA in musical theatre and a thirst for knowledge, connections, and inspiration. After undergrad, I spent four years working for an incredible non-profit theatre company called Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC), while also freelance acting and choreographing.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

My work at SLAC sparked my interest in arts management, and I've had a crush on DC for many years. I loved the theatre scene, I loved the history, and I loved the traffic. When I discovered AU's Arts Management Program, I was instantly drawn to its opportunities for real experience and connections, not to mention its attractive job placement rate and the successes of the program's alumni. I visited in the spring, attended the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, met the faculty, and I was sold. The faculty are not only insanely knowledgeable and connected in the arts world, but also incredibly personable, supportive, and helpful. They create a terrific atmosphere to learn, experiment, and grow.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I worked as the graduate assistant in the Theatre/Musical Theatre Program at AU. I also served as assistant to the chair on the committee organizing the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium - a phenomenal event put on each year by the students of the Arts Management Program. It was a great opportunity to network with other up-and-coming arts managers, while also getting to meet seasoned professionals and hear about the challenges and successes of their careers.

Anjali Lalani Smith Center Interns and Fellows Program Administrator
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

What is your background?

I received my BA in English from Oberlin College. For most of my time after graduation, I lived in New York and worked as a paralegal in a top Intellectual Property firm. As a paralegal, I managed roughly 30 trademark and design patent portfolios and also worked with US Customs to monitor trademark infringement. While I enjoyed the detailed work, I missed being creative and after doing some research, I "discovered" arts management and knew it would be the perfect way to utilize my office experience and artistic background in classical music and dance.

Why did you choose Arts Management at AU?

The most important factor in my decision to attend AU was the near 100% hiring rate. It was important to me that American University's program is well established and highly respected in the field. I also appreciated the personal attention I received as a prospective student. I continue to be impressed by the dedication of the faculty to the students.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

My first internship was with Americans for the Arts in their Local Arts Advancement department. I managed the scholarship application process for the Annual Convention, worked at Arts Advocacy Day, and researched cultural districts throughout the country. Immediately following the internship I was contracted to compile and organize data and images for the Public Art Network's Year in Review presentation.  

Over the summer, I interned at Bellevue Arts Museum in my home state of Washington. I worked in the development department, where I consolidated previous capital campaign records. I analyzed recent and long-term donor giving patterns. I also conducted prospect research and helped with annual fundraising gala and arts fair.  

Finally, I worked as a development intern at the Kennedy Center with the Washington National Opera and National Symphony Orchestra. I conducted individual prospect research, participated in cultivation efforts, helped with special events, and learned important fundraising technology such as Tessitura and WealthEngine. I also analyzed moves that have led to new members to determine what cultivation methods are working well for the organization.

Violet MantellManager of Development Events
Denver Art Museum

What is your background?

I pursued a double major in art history and communications from the University of Michigan because I wanted to leverage my communications skills to advocate for and advance the visual arts. My first job after graduation was managing a small gallery in DC. Over those two years, I realized that arts administration involves an exceptional range of skills and knowledge, from financial management to public relations to exhibition planning. I knew that a future in the field would require a graduate degree that covered these facets and more.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

AU's Arts Management Program is comprehensive, but also tailored. The core classes provide a strong foundation for running an arts organization or business, while electives like Leadership in the Arts and Curatorial Practice provide opportunities for specialization. Of course, I was also drawn to the top-tier faculty. Their expertise translates into an engaging and challenging curriculum, and they have remained valuable resources to me.

In addition, the capstone is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as an expert in a specific area. I researched and wrote a thesis on museum branding. It was a chance to learn more about an area of particular interest to me, while in the process connecting with a network of leading professionals in the sector. A capstone is both a contribution to our field and a valuable self-marketing tool, so AU's emphasis on this research was a real draw for me.

Finally, the program's partnership with Sotheby's Institute of Art in London wass a major advantage. I spent my last semester in the auction house's Art Business program, which exposed me to the systems and theories of the commercial art world.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I interned in development at the Textile Museum, external affairs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and in public affairs at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler galleries. I also worked with Hamiltonian Gallery/Hamiltonian Artists on marketing, development, and art fair support. It was so rewarding to gain experience in my various interest areas while expanding my network. In addition, these positions enhanced my coursework, and vice versa. I was constantly connecting my work experience with class discussions and projects.

Spotlight

Tiffany Townsend

 

Tiffany TownsendMA Arts Management ’07

My time at AU increased my understanding of both the business and artistic aspects of what it takes to successfully operate an arts organization.

As a master’s degree candidate at American University, Tiffany Townsend crafted a nonprofit prospect research and management plan as part of her Capstone Project. Now, she’s directly applying that knowledge to her current job as associate at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). 

At NMAAHC, Tiffany is working on the museum’s $350 million Living History Endowment Campaign, which runs through 2024. “My role is to find fundraising support for the campaign through prospect research, prospect management, and donor stewardship for individual donors and corporations. I am excited to help secure resources for the museum’s future!” During NMAAHC’s fourth Women’s E3 Summit (Empowerment, Entrepreneurship, Engagement), Tiffany was an integral part of the production team.

“What I loved most about AU was the caring professors who supported me during the completion of my master’s degree, along with the deep friendships I developed with several of my classmates.” looking forward, Tiffany says, “What I love most about my current job is collaborating with my fundraising colleagues around finding new ways to support a museum devoted to black history and culture, which I am deeply passionate about.”