ArtLinks Speakers


Steve Clark

Steve Clark is the CEO and founder of Propak Corp, a national logistics and supply chain management company that employs almost 2,000 people and has operations stretching from California to New York. He is a University of Arkansas at Fayetteville graduate with a degree in business administration and finance. Clark is the founder of 64.6 Downtown, a nonprofit organization created to drive cultural and economic development to downtown Fort Smith. Since 2015, 64.6 Downtown has been bringing urban and contemporary art to Arkansas through The Unexpected, a weeklong event celebrating arts. The event brings in renowned artists to create public art, typically largescale murals on buildings, sculptures and other outdoor art installations, along with musicians, speakers and art activities. The event has led to a resurgence in development in downtown, as well as an increase in music and performing arts events throughout the year. In addition, Steve’s efforts have led to the creation of Garrison Commons, a pocket park and open-air gathering venue in downtown Fort Smith that includes a small stage for live events, movie nights, food trucks and eating areas. 

Lisa CordesLisa Cordes is the director of Artist Services for the Mid-America Arts Alliance, where she manages the Artist Inc. training program, and the Artists 360 artist grant program for artists in Northwest Arkansas. Over the past 30 years, she has worked across disciplines as an artist, administrator, and educator to connect artists to audiences. Cordes has served in administrative leadership positions at Mid-America Arts Alliance, the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts, Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, and Heart of America Shakespeare Festival. As an educator, she has taught performance at the Kansas City Art Institute and served as director of Artist Inc. at the University of Missouri-Kansas Innovation Center. As an artist, her performance work is about the intersection of personal and civic identity and includes plays, solo performance, and largescale community events. Cordes has served on panels for the National Endowment for the Arts, the Missouri Arts Council and the Charlotte Street Foundation, and has consulted and written for the President’s Committee on the Arts.

Charles W. Fluharty

Charles W. Fluharty is the founder and President Emeritus of the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI), the only U.S. national policy institute solely dedicated to assessing the rural impacts of public policies. Since RUPRI’s founding in 1990, over 300 scholars representing 16 different disciplines in 100 universities, all U.S. states and 30 other nations have participated in RUPRI projects. A Clinical Professor Emeritus in the University of Iowa College of Public Health and a graduate of Yale Divinity School, he was also a German Marshall Fund Transatlantic Fellow from 2007 to 2011. Chuck is the author of numerous policy studies and journal articles, has presented dozens of Congressional testimonies and briefings, and is also a frequent speaker before national and international audiences, having delivered major public policy speeches in over a dozen nations. He has also provided senior policy consultation to most federal departments, state and local governments, associations of government, planning and development organizations, and many foundations.

Donald Gensler

Donald Gensler is the Art in Public Places Project Manager for the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission. He manages restorations, ongoing projects, and new build public art projects for the City of Sacramento. He is both an attorney and visual artist with a passion for and experience in making and managing public art projects both nationally and internationally. Having worked as an attorney in land conservancy and site acquisition, he understands the unique land use and contract challenges involved in locating projects in public spaces. For over twenty years he has worked as a visual artist in community arts, private, public, and non-profit public art programs in Arkansas, Louisiana, Pennsylvania, California, and internationally in Dublin, Ireland. He understands the challenges artists face in working with municipalities and project stakeholders. He was an Adjunct Professor in public art at the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, and was a Lecturer in public art and mural making for ten years at the University of Pennsylvania School of Design in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he also worked with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, developing social justice centered arts programing. He actively writes about public space, mural making, social justice, and public art. His murals and writings on public art have been featured in “The New York Times,” “Time Magazine,” “The Philadelphia Inquirer” and in recent publications such as books by Maureen O’Connell, If These Walls Could Talk: Community Muralism and the Beauty of Justice, Kiriakos Iosifidis, Mural Art: Murals on Huge Public Spaces Around the World Vol. 2, and Jane Golden, Natalie Pompilio, and Robin Rice, More Philadelphia Murals..

Wendy Holmes

Wendy Holmes is the senior vice president for Consulting and Strategic Partnerships with Artspace in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Wendy Holmes is curious about cities and what makes them work well and equitably. She’s lived in Minnesota since attending Macalester College, but her roots are on an Illinois farm, which is now an organic farm where her daughter goes to an occasional “farm camp.” Wendy has worked for the Walker Art Center, the Science Museum of Minnesota, Minnesota Public Radio, and her alma mater. Ask Wendy what she does, and she’ll tell you that she and her team of five are “community whisperers.” She is always on the go to new places—large and small—to help figure out puzzles that lead to equitable community development where creative people and organizations have a strong voice at the table. Wendy has been active on local and national boards and advisory committees, including James Sewell Ballet, the Urban Land Institute, Cantus, the Minneapolis Park Foundation, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. She has been a speaker at numerous national arts and urban affairs conferences, as well as a guest lecturer at the University of St. Thomas, Macalester College, and the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of the University of Minnesota. Wendy is a national resource for information about urban redevelopment issues, and has been interviewed by many local and national publications.

Kelsey HowardKelsey Howard is the executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs. Kelsey Howard is a John Brown University alumna and a proud resident of Siloam Springs, Arkansas. In 2011, she and her husband Jordan taught English in South Korea for one year; shortly after, Kelsey became the grateful recipient of the Rotary District 6110 Ralph R. Kirchner Award, which funded her time in London where she received an MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Art with a specialization in British architecture. Kelsey has worked at the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, John Brown University, and the Amazeum children's museum in Bentonville. She is now the executive director of Main Street Siloam Springs and teaches Art History as an adjunct professor at John Brown University. In the last several years, she's had the privilege to combine her love of art education with enhancing historic downtown spaces. She has helped plan and execute several public art projects in Siloam Springs, such as the downtown Art Feeds mural and the upcoming Dave Andrus sculptures on Broadway Street. 

Melisa Lailan

Melisa Laelan is director of the Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese. Melisa Laelan is a native Marshall Islander, born and raised in the Marshall Islands. At age 16, she graduated top of her high school in the Islands. A year later she enlisted in the United States Armed Forces. While in the Army, she was offered the opportunity to serve as a logistic specialist within various units throughout the United States and abroad, including Asia and Europe. It was then that she became acquainted with people from different cultures and became more appreciative of the diversity she experienced. After ten years in the service, she moved to Arkansas in 2004 to attend the University of Arkansas, where she is now a senior, part-time status, studying International relations. Because of her prior service with the Armed Forces, she was able to attain her citizenship, and in 2011, she became a U.S. citizen. She now holds a dual citizenship. In 2011, along with other Marshallese leaders, Laelan founded Arkansas Coalition of Marshallese (ACOM, and in 2015, ACOM received its non-profit status, making it the first organization founded and directed by native Marshall Islanders. As the executive director of ACOM, she has become a resource contact in both Marshallese and non-Marshallese communities. 

Adam Long

Adam Long is the interim director of Arkansas State University’s Heritage Sites. This program preserves four historic sites of national significance in the Arkansas Delta region, including the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum (Piggott), the Southern Tenant Farmers Museum (Tyronza), the Lakeport Plantation (Lake Village), and the Historic Dyess Colony: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home (Dyess). Adam is also the administrator of Crowley’s Ridge Parkway and a member of the Arkansas Delta Byways regional tourism association board. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from Lyon College, a Masters from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, and a Doctorate from the University of Kansas. His specialty is American literature, particularly the writing of the American modernists, including Faulkner and Hemingway. 

Allyn LordAllyn Lord has been the director of the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale since 2005. Previously she served as registrar at the University of Arkansas Museum (1982-1994) and assistant director at the Rogers Historical Museum (1994-2005). She holds B.A. in humanities and classical civilizations from Ohio Wesleyan University and an M.A. in classical archaeology and museum studies from the University of Missouri. Lord has served as a peer reviewer and board member for the American Alliance of Museums, the nation’s largest museum organization, as well as a board member for the American Association for State and Local History, the Southeastern Museums Conference, the Arkansas Museums Association, and numerous professional committees. She is the author of Historic Monte Ne (Arcadia Press, 2006), several museum textbooks, and numerous articles for the Encyclopedia of Arkansas History and Culture. As Shiloh Museum director, Lord has led the museum board and staff through a mission statement revision, four rounds of strategic planning, and new logo development while receiving more than $553,000 in grants and growing the museum’s budget by 84% and its endowment by 201%. She has created numerous exhibits & guided a complete renovation of the 4,000-square-foot exhibit hall, supervised facilities maintenance on the 1991 museum building and six historic buildings, driven the $1.3 million renovation of the historic 1871 Shiloh Meeting Hall, and shepherded the museum's 50th-anniversary celebrations in 2018. Her professional interests include small museums, strategic planning, community collaborations, and copyright. Lord received the 2008 Community Ambassador Award for championing diversity, was named to the 2012 Tyson Foods “Key Influencer List,” became a Washington County (Arkansas) "Woman in History" in 2015, and received lifetime achievement awards from the Arkansas Museums Association and the Southeastern Museums Conference. 

Paul Pietsch

Paul Pietsch leads the National Assembly of State Arts Agency’s qualitative research efforts, focusing on programmatic and policy trends in state arts agencies. In his role, Paul has written a number of nationally influential white papers. His research portfolio includes a broad array of topics, including arts-based rural development, arts in healthcare, arts and the opioid epidemic, creative aging, arts and the military, the creative economy, creative placemaking, cultural districts, public art, arts education, and diversity in the arts, among other things. He also tracks state legislation pertaining to the arts, and highlights innovative state arts agency practices in the monthly State to State column of NASAA Notes. Prior to joining NASAA in 2012, Paul managed the research efforts of the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid as well as those of the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition. He has worked as a writer and fundraiser at Harvard University, Dartmouth College and the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. Paul also is an artist with an M.F.A. and a graduate certificate in arts management from American University in Washington, D.C. He is a faculty member of the Washington Studio School, facilitates life drawing groups, and has served on the Artists’ Advisory Council of the Washington Project for the Arts, and the board of directors of Art Enables, an art gallery and vocational arts program for artists with disabilities. 

Donna Smith Jones

Donna Smith Jones is Director of Recruitment and Outreach at the School of Art, University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. She is originally from Northeast Arkansas and moved to Fayetteville in July 2011. She was an International Admissions analyst in the Graduate School before joining the Advising Center in August 2012. As an Assistant Director of the FCAC, Donna facilitated communication among advisors, students, and the campus, in addition to advising students with majors primarily in Art, Music and Theatre. A strong believer in pursuing something you enjoy, Donna serves as a resource to encourage students to meld their personal interests and educational strengths as they pursue their academic paths. In her new role as the Director of Recruitment and Outreach, she provides both professional knowledge and personal passion to recruitment and engagement initiatives within the School of Art, and develops strong connections and partnerships with organizations in the NWA community and beyond. She received her B.A. in Studio Art with a minor in Film Studies from Rhodes College in 2008 and her M.F.A. in Fine Art from Washington University in St. Louis in 2011. Her art practice focuses on video, installation and performance, and has participated in several group and individual exhibitions around the country. She served as the Chair of the Fayetteville Arts Council from 2015-2018, is a contributor for The Idle Class, has served as a guest curator for various exhibitions, and co-founded the former art space The Shed here in Fayetteville. She is excited to attend Art Links and learn about the amazing work continually being done around the state. 

JoAnn Kaminsky

JoAnn Kaminsky is a licensed counselor, play therapist and art therapist, painter and puppeteer living in Fayetteville Arkansas. JoAnn works with people of all ages dealing with many of life’s issues, from stress and anxiety, adjustments to life’s twists and turns to depression, anger issues and abuse issues.She trained as a counselor and feels that the most important factor in healing and growth is to create a safe place, free of judgement so that one can explore strengths and feel comfortable to share hurts and fears. JoAnn received her B.A. in Psychology from UCA in 1969, and then received further training in undergraduate art courses at Memphis State University and at Memphis College of Art, as well as at the University of Arkansas. She trained as a professional potter under Gary Eagan for three years, and after working as a professional artist on her own for many years, she began working in three elementary schools in Fayetteville as an Artist-in-Education. This experience led her back to school as a counselor and for further training in Art Therapy. Impressed with how empowering and validating art making was for many of the children who are called "at risk,“ JoAnn received her M.Ed. in the spring of 1991. 

Andy Vick, Courtesy of Mike PachAndy Vick is an experienced leader and arts administrator who believes in the power of the creative sector to drive economic development, build community, grow tourism and enhance quality of life for everyone. As the Executive Director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, Andy oversees the daily operation and financial management of a non-profit, local arts agency serving a two-county region with a population of over 700,000 residents. In conjunction with his work at the Cultural Office, Andy has been appointed by the Governor to serve as a Council Member for Colorado Creative Industries (the State Arts Agency), and as a Board member for the Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Authority. At the national level, he serves as the Vice-Chair of the United States Urban Arts Federation (an advisory council for Americans for the Arts). Locally, Andy is the Vice-President of the Visit Colorado Springs Board of Directors, an ex-officio Board member of the Colorado Springs Chamber and EDC, an Honorary Commander at the United States Air Force Academy, a member of the Regional Leadership Forum and a member of the Downtown Colorado Springs Rotary Club. In addition, Andy is a graduate of the 2016 Colorado Springs Leadership Institute program, the 2015 Leadership Pikes Peak Signature program and Colorado Creative Industries’ 2015 Change Leaders Program. Andy is also an experienced public speaker and consultant on the topic of using the arts as a tool for economic development and community vitality.