Project Team
Students and advisors at the Applied Research Seminar final presentation, March 2019. Photo: Kevin Maifeld.


Claudia Bach is the founder and project director for the Arts Ecosystem Research Project and teaches the related Applied Research Seminar for Seattle University’s MFA in Arts Leadership. She has served on the faculty since 2010 and brings over 30 years of professional experience in the arts, heritage, and culture. Her work in senior management in the museum field has been complemented by her consulting practice, AdvisArts, which she founded in 1982, serving arts and culture organizations, museums, individual artists, foundations, governmental agencies, arts commissions, and community groups in Washington State and nationally. She has conducted research in the arts for numerous entities including Grantmakers in the Arts, Rasmuson Foundation, Artists Up, Artist Trust, and the National Performance Network/Visual Arts Network.

Felipe Anaya is the Coordinator, Service Design and Assessment for the Lemieux Library & McGoldrick Learning Commons at Seattle University. He provides instruction, research services, and resource management support to the Albers School of Business and Economics as well as the Arts Leadership program. Previously, he served as the Business and Government Documents Librarian at New Mexico State University. Felipe earned his Master of Science in Library and Information Science from the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and his Master of Business Administration from New Mexico State University. He is the lead from the Library on developing a sustainable online platform for this research project, and in supporting the research work of students contributing to the project.

Kevin Maifeld is the Founding Director and Professor of the Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership program at Seattle University, and is engaged in the development and sustainability of this research project as an asset to students, Seattle University, and the larger community. He previously served as the Managing Director of the Seattle Children’s Theatre from 2001 to 2007. Before moving to Seattle, Kevin served, for seven years, as the Managing Director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and was Co-Chair of the Theatre Management/Master of Fine Arts Program at the University of Alabama.

Additional Seattle University Faculty and Staff providing current and past support for the Arts Ecosystem Research Project includes:

  • College of Arts & Sciences, Arts Leadership Program
  • Rachel Beltron, Arts Leadership Program Coordinator
  • Roxanne Hornbeck, Assistant Professor
  • Jasmine Mahmoud, Assistant Professor
  • Katie Oman, Adjunct Faculty
  • David Powers, Dean, College of Arts & Sciences
  • Annette de Soto, Adjunct Faculty

  • Lemieux Library & McGoldrick Learning Commons
  • Billie Boyd, Adjunct Librarian
  • Doug Ericksen, Director of Library Systems, Technology, and Media
  • Stefanie Fatooh, Library Research Assistant
  • Rochelle Lundy, Scholarly Communication Officer
  • Ellen McGivern, Access Services Assistant
  • Thea Mercer, Library Research Assistant
  • Hamy Nguyen, Web Applications Developer
  • Carlos Torres, Web Applications Developer
  • Sarah Watstein, Dean, Lemieux Library & McGoldrick Learning Commons
  • Cay Lane Wren, Library Research Assistant

  • Center for Digital Learning & Innovation
  • Jayme Jacobson, Instructional Designer


Community members with longstanding expertise in the Seattle area arts community serve as Advisors for the Arts Ecosystem Research Project, working directly with students and providing guidance. Three individuals are asked to serve for a minimum two-year cycle.

Vivian Phillips (January 2017 – March 2020, Inaugural Advisor) has served as chair of the Seattle Arts Commission, and held numerous arts leadership roles in the region. At Seattle Theatre Group she oversaw the marketing, communications and social media engagement for three historic theatres in Seattle. She has served as an adjunct professor at Seattle University’s MFA Arts Leadership program and chaired the Seattle University College of Arts and Sciences Leadership Council. Vivian has executive produced for the stage and led marketing and outreach campaigns for large touring Broadway productions and served as director of communications for Mayor Paul Schell. She has served on numerous boards including Arts Corps, Washington State Building for the Arts Advisory Council, Africa Contemporary Arts Consortium, King County Civic Television Citizen Advisory Committee, and University of Washington Foundation, and is an award-winning producer and host of arts focused television programs.

Marcie Sillman (January 2017 – present, Inaugural Advisor) has been covering Puget Sound-area artists and cultural organizations for more than 30 years. As the Arts and Culture reporter at KUOW public radio, Marcie focuses on the big question “who are we in the Puget Sound region?” through the lens of arts and heritage. In addition to her local coverage, Marcie is a regular contributor to NPR’s news magazines, as well as to national dance publications including Pointe and Dance Teacher magazines. Marcie’s reporting has won regional and national journalism awards. In 2009 she was the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in dance criticism.

Mayumi Tsutakawa (January 2017 – August 2019, Inaugural Advisor) is an independent writer and editor and a native of Seattle. She is a presenter with the Humanities Washington Speakers Bureau and lectures on the topic of Japanese American history and culture in Washington. She has co-edited several multicultural literary anthologies, including The Forbidden Stitch: Asian American Women's Literary Anthology (Calyx Books, 1990) which received the Before Columbus Foundation’s American Book Award. She was formerly the manager of grants for organizations at the Washington State Arts Commission, and brings extensive experience with arts and cultural organizations, working on cultural equity in Seattle and throughout the state.

Jim Kelly (August 2019 – present) longstanding leader in King County’s thriving cultural community, retired as 4Culture’s Executive Director in 2018. Under his leadership 4Culture became the largest cultural funder in Washington State, distributing over $130 million to 2,800 individuals and groups during his tenure. His broad and deep knowledge of the regions arts ecosystem reflects his role as 4Culture’s Executive Director starting in 1999, and his earlier roles with the former King County Arts Commission and the Landmarks and Heritage Commission. Jim is known for his tenacious advocacy for building a strong and resilient cultural community in King County.

Norie Sato (January 2020 - present) is internationally recognized for her artwork for public contexts. Her practice includes works for galleries, museums, and other installations in various media including glass, metal, terrazzo floors, landscape, video, and light. Projects include the San Diego International Airport Reflection Room; San Francisco International Airport Terminal 2; Arabian Library, Scottsdale; Miami International Airport; Seattle Justice Center; Salt Lake City Light Rail; Port of Portland Headquarters; and an artwork for the Union St. East-West Connector for Seattle's waterfront. For more than four decades Norie has actively engaged with the arts ecosystem in Seattle in a variety of roles starting with her work with and/or in the 1970s and serving on many boards and commissions including CoCA, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle Planning Commission, Seattle Design Commission, and On the Boards, as well as advisory roles for housing and community facilities. National board service includes Public Art Network Council of Americans for the Arts, College Art Association, and currently the International Sculpture Center.

Shannon Welles (February 2020 – present) serves as the inaugural Arts Leadership Alumni AERP Advisor, having participated in the project as a student, and earned her MFA in Arts Leadership from Seattle University in 2019. Shannon brings deep passion to her more than 20 years of work in the live music industry. She is the founder of Friends of the Showbox, a community coalition to save Seattle's iconic music venue, and holds a management position with AEG Presents NW. She is also a visual artist exhibiting her photographs nationally and is currently working on a book illustrating an ecological worldview. A longtime student of ecosystems in many forms, Shannon has studied permaculture, earthen building, herbalism, Pacific Northwest native plants, and ethnobotany, and she founded hypha, a collaborative project to grow community networks of plant sharing. 

Steve Sneed (May 2020 – present) worked with the City of Seattle for 31 year, serving 11 years as the Director of the Langston Hughes Center and 20 years as the Managing Artistic Director at Seattle Center. At Seattle Center he expanded the Festal Cultural Festival program from 11 events to 24 annual ethnic cultural festivals. Steve began his career at the age of 15 as the leader of the African drum and dance group the OGUNDA’S, performing at Washington festivals, prisons, colleges, and special events including CTI Jazz at the Paramount Theatre. He later studied theatre arts, music, and advertising at the University of Washington, worked as an Equity actor in Seattle, and produced and directed plays. As an actor he was nominated for an Emmy Award for his role as the title character in the KCTS 9 drama Cellar George. Steve has served two terms as a Washington State Arts Commissioner. He is married to his childhood sweetheart, Vida, and is the proud dad of six children and grandfather of five.


    MFA in Arts Leadership Applied Research Seminar, Winter Quarter 2018
  • Maya Anderson
  • Elisabeth Astwood
  • Sarah Ball
  • Alma Davenport
  • Tyrah Hannibal
  • Dexter Henderson
  • Im Fan Hoi
  • Ellen McGivern
  • Qiang (Hester) Qiang
  • Ana Rusness-Petersen
  • Samantha Van Waardhuizen
  • Cass Walker
  • Kyra Williams
  • Tina Yu
  • Ning (Sharon) Zhou

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Practicum, Spring Quarter 2018
  • Tyrah Hannibal
  • Samantha Van Waardhuizen

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Practicum, Fall Quarter 2018
  • Alma Davenport

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Applied Research Seminar, Winter Quarter 2019
  • Maris Antolin
  • Rachel Ballister
  • Aubrey Benasa
  • Erin Burrows
  • Justine Deacon
  • Zachary Gray
  • Theresa Guerrero
  • Yixin Kang
  • David Kisan
  • Rebecca O’Neil
  • Shannon Welles

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Practicum, Spring Quarter 2019
  • Rachel Ballister

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Applied Research Seminar, Winter Quarter 2020
  • Andrea Ashton
  • Sadiqua Iman
  • Ashley Marshall
  • Thea Mercer
  • Tanya Sharp
  • Leah Erickson Webster
  • Dana Winter
  • Cay Lane Wren

  • MFA in Arts Leadership Practicum, Winter Quarter 2020
  • Erin Burrows
  • Sadiqua Iman

  • BIPOC Research Initiative, 2020-2021
  • Elisabeth Astwood, Alumni Research Fellow
  • Stefanie Fatooh, Research Fellow
  • Ellen McGivern, Researcher
  • Kati Simek, Research Practicum
  • Cay Lane Wren, Researcher

Project Team 2018
Students and advisors at the Applied Research Seminar final presentation, March 2018. Photo: Kevin Maifeld.