I’m very excited to welcome Aaron Andersen, Naomi Jackson, Jennifer Kessler, and Crystal Wallis as contributors to Createquity as of today. They will collectively cover a wide range of topics, and I think you’ll find these four individuals’ writing, analysis, and enthusiasm a terrific addition to the site over the next five months.

Aaron AndersenWith Aaron Andersen writing for the blog, Createquity will now have an MBA who actually studied economics instead of just pretending like he knows something about it. Aaron began his professional career in theater, serving in a wide variety of capacities as actor, technician and business manager. In the wake of the 2001 recession, Aaron’s career diverged into corporate accounting, where within five years he advanced from temporary staff to manager of the corporate accounting department of a mid-market environmental services company with $50M in annual revenue and divisions in seven states. Aaron graduated from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business with honors in 2010, having earned concentrations in economics, strategic management and finance. While attending the University of Chicago, Aaron began working at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra as its Senior Budget Analyst, a position he currently holds. In this role, Aaron’s analytical skills and business training and experience have converged with his original love of the performing arts. At the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Aaron leads budget planning efforts and collaborates with senior leadership in strategic planning efforts. Outside of the CSO, Aaron serves on the Board of Directors of BackStage Theatre Company in Chicago, and blogs occasionally at http://phrasemongers.wordpress.com. He will tackle issues relating to public policy and arts funding this spring, and offer a bit of Windy City perspective where appropriate.

Naomi JacksonNaomi Jackson will cover cultural policy outside of the United States, civic participation and the arts (with particular attention to young people of color), and arts advocacy in the context of the 2012 election campaign. Naomi is program associate for the Rockefeller Brothers Fund’s Democratic Practice (U.S.) program and the New York City portion of the RBF’s Pivotal Place program.  She joined the Fund in late 2006, after spending a year in South Africa on a Fulbright fellowship. While in South Africa, she received her M.A. in creative writing from the University of Cape Town and worked as contributing editor for Chimurenga, a journal of arts, politics, and culture. Naomi’s previous nonprofit experience includes positions at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the Russell Sage Foundation, and Blue Ridge Foundation New York. She is a cum laude graduate of Williams College and a current board member of FIERCE, a membership-led organization that builds the leadership and power of LGBTQ youth of color in New York City. Her essays, short stories, and poems have appeared in literary magazines and journals in the United States, Caribbean, and the U.K. She lives in Brooklyn where she is at work on her first novel, Star Side of Bird Hill.

Jennifer KesslerJennifer Kessler will bring a strong voice in arts education policy and research to Createquity, filling a gap here that has been far too long in festering. Jennifer is an arts education curator, French horn player, and music educator who collaborates with artists and arts organizations in New York and abroad to design unique music education programs for diverse communities. She currently manages Bang on a Can’s Found Sound Nation, a composer-producer crew who leads young people through creative song composition projects. With Found Sound Nation, she is developing projects in Africa, Haiti, Switzerland, and around the United States. In her former position as Manager of Professional Programs at the Weill Music Institute at Carnegie Hall, Jennifer developed professional development workshops for educators, young professional musicians, and New York-based teaching artists. Previously, Jennifer lived in Berlin, Germany for four years, and in Tel Aviv, Israel for one year, where she played French Horn with ensembles including the Berlin Philharmonic and the Israeli Opera Orchestra. Alongside her performance career, Jennifer led music projects in Europe for disadvantaged children, and visited Venezuela to research El Sistema, the system of youth orchestras. She has earned a Bachelor of Music degree from Northwestern University and a graduate Diplom in Music Performance from the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, Berlin.


Crystal Wallis

Crystal Wallis will be a jane-of-all-trades for Createquity, bringing a fascinating combination of interests, skills and experience to her writing here. Crystal will graduate in May from the Master of Arts Management program at the Heinz College of Public Policy at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. Originally from the “orchestra world,” Crystal has developed a passion for folk music and culture because of its spirit of inclusiveness and creativity. At Heinz and her summer 2010 internship at the Old Town School of Folk Music, she discovered a talent for quantitative skills and research.  She is interested is discussing and debating when those methods can help the arts, and when they aren’t as appropriate as qualitative methods. For example, during this fellowship, she hopes to discover more about the North Carolina Arts Council’s use of folklore research methods to identify cultural assets in communities.  Crystal plays viola (and fiddle, ukulele, and spoons), and prior to enrolling at Heinz was the Manager of Artistic Personnel at the Arkansas Symphony Orchestra.

Please join me in extending congratulations to our inaugural Createquity Writing Fellows!

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  • Wow, what a talented line-up. Can’t wait to read what these folks will be sharing.

  • Judd Greenstein

    Great list. I’m happy to see Jennifer’s name, and I’m especially happy to be reacquainted with Naomi, one of the smarter people I encountered while at Williams (which is saying a lot). I’ll look forward to hearing her voice again (and Jennifer’s), and getting to know the other two writers, as well. This very interesting site just got even more so — congratulations to all.

  • Congrats to all four of you! Especially my good friend and frequent Twitter debate partner, Aaron, and Crystal, from a Carnegie Mellon MAM program alum. 😉

  • Tara S

    I look forward to seeing how the Writing Fellowship develops and reading what these four talented individuals contribute. An interesting group, to say the least.

    Congrats to Crystal from another CMU MAM alumna!