Rising Leaders

Rising Leaders is a rigorous and highly interactive personal development initiative committed to the advancement of Michigan's arts leaders, a program designed and facilitated by MACC and Partners in Performance, the nation's preeminent designer and facilitator of leadership development initiatives for the arts and culture sector.

Program Description

Over a six-month period, participants engage in a series of activities that includes three intensives focusing on self-awareness and self-management; mutual influence; and gaining tools to create communities and a state where everyone can experience and express creativity in their daily lives. Participants commit to three in-person meetings as well as individual reflection work. Participants are chosen through an application process to MACC.

Program participants from across the state of Michigan gain tools and perspective needed to strengthen their leadership skills and develop relationships with an extraordinary cohort of peers dedicated to advancing the arts and culture field.

The application period for the 2023-2024 cohort of Rising Leaders (running October 2023 - April 2024) is now open. Download the application form by clicking here. Deadline to apply is Friday June 30, 2023.

Access a virtual informational webinar to learn more about the program by clicking here.


Contact MACC Arts Education Program Manager Chad Swan-Badgero at 517-881-9472 or BadgeroC@michigan.org.

2022-23 Rising Leaders Cohort

Katie Bancroft - Katie Bancroft is the current Curator of Education and Outreach programs at the newly renovated Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium in Flint Michigan. She leads a team of over 20 educators who present hands on programs that span across the state of Michigan. Katie graduated from Capital University in Columbus Ohio where she earned her Bachelors of Arts in History and minors in Historical Preservation and Public History. After graduating, Katie took a position at the Port Huron Museum where she worked her way up from the Education Manager to Director of Collections, Education, and Exhibits.  With a desire to grow a stronger connection to the community, Katie took a position with the YMCA of the Blue Water Area as the Community Engagement Coordinator. This move allowed her to build relationships within the community and develop leadership skills while leading the volunteer core. Katie joined the Sloan Museum of Discovery and Longway Planetarium team as Curator of Education and Outreach Programs in April of 2018. With over 15 years of experience in the museum field, Katie has a passion for working with the community to bring arts, science, and culture to life.

Matthew Bizoe - Matthew Bizoe brings his background in public relations, event planning, public relations, and graphic design to his position as Marketing Manager for Krasl Art Center in ST. Joseph, MI. His love of arts institutions began with volunteer internships at the DeVos Museum, The Marquette Area Blues Society, and the Marquette Arts and Culture Center, all based in Marquette, Michigan. It was there that he earned two bachelor's degrees in Graphic Design and Public Relations from Northern Michigan University. He brings his experience and skills from positions like a design intern for Truscott Rossman Public Relations Firm in Detroit, coordinating weddings for Merry Me Events of Edwardsburg, IN, and managing Art FX Signs & Graphics in Bridgman, MI to his work at Krasl Art Center, where he strives to share the organization's mission to inspire and strengthen community through visual art. When not advancing the arts, he spends his time crocheting and traveling with his husband and their beloved Samoyed.

Michelle Bolofer - a native Detroiter, experienced educator, and lifelong Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion advocate,  Michelle Bolofer is dedicated to closing the opportunity gap for students and communities. As a  former classroom teacher, corporate educational consultant, and start-up nonprofit director, she  has worked to improve educational equity and expand access to resources. With her passion for  youth development and community empowerment, Michelle directs and executes the program  vision for InsideOut Literary Arts’ youth programming. Michelle holds bachelor's degrees in  English and Psychology from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in Mathematical  Statistics from Wayne State University.

Allison Buck - Allison Buck became the Marketing + Partnerships Director for The Guild of Artists and Artisans in 2018. Buck heads up the sponsorship and marketing for all Guild programs. Buck also seeks grants, community partners, and donations in order to help increase the Guild’s overall revenue to support each of its programs. Between 2018 and 2019, Buck increased the Guild’s grant revenue by 91.6%. Prior to joining The Guild, Buck was the Operations Manager at the Ann Arbor Film Festival and the Program Manager at Artrain & The Arts Alliance. Buck demonstrates her passion for leadership within the arts through her involvement as the previous co-chair for the New Leaders Arts Council and formerly as the Chair of the Ann Arbor Public Art Commission. In 2017, The Arts Alliance awarded her the 2017 Tamara Real Emerging Leadership Award for her successful work supporting the arts, sciences and humanities throughout Washtenaw County.  Buck holds a Master’s Degree in Art Administration with an emphasis in Museum and Visual Arts from the University of Michigan - Flint, a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts Degree in Photography from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s Degree in English from the University of Michigan.

Malcolm Cottle - Malcolm Cottle is a museum professional and artistic entrepreneur who currently works as the Collections Manager for the Frankenmuth Historical Association. He obtained a B.A. from Alma College in History, with a minor in Music, a post-graduate certificate from Fleming College in Museum Management & Curatorship, and is currently finishing a Master of Public Administration from the University of Michigan Flint with a concentration in Nonprofit Management and Social Entrepreneurship. Through his professional life, Malcolm has developed skills in artifact management and preservation, as well as interpretive development, audience engagement, and digital applications for museums. As a lifelong artist, Malcolm is an accomplished musician in performance, composition, and audio recording. In addition, Malcolm offers professional video and audio services through Malcolm Cottle Media where he works with musicians, museums, nonprofits, wedding couples, small businesses, and artists to help them communicate their stories. Most recently, Malcolm has begun launching his own nonprofit organization: The Art of Music Project, a nonprofit that works with musicians to create live-off-the-floor sessions with curated video, audio, and set design production. The mission of the organization to create spaces where artists use multiple media to express their authentic art.. Malcolm enjoys new challenges and meeting interesting people.

Jamie Eymer - Jamie was born and raised in Northern Indiana. She graduated in 2013 from Manchester University, in North Manchester Indiana, obtaining a Bachelor’s of the Arts degree  in Marketing. Since graduating she has held positions with various companies all in the realm of event coordinating, hospitality, and customer service. Her passion is customer service and building that special relationship with clients.  Currently, Jamie is the Events Coordinator for the Sturges-Young Center for the Arts in Sturgis, Michigan where she focuses on booking rentals and working alongside the clients to assure their event runs smoothly. When Jamie is out of  “work mode” she can be found enjoying “mom-mode”, either while experiencing the outdoors or organizing family movie nights with her daughter, husband, and dog, Ruby.

Charlie Johnson - Charlie Johnson serves as the Assistant Director of the Sam Beauford Woodworking Institute. Charlie helps facilitate growth and capacity within the arts organization. She is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Toledo as she pursues her Master’s in Music Performance. Charlie works with undergraduate students to help them achieve their goals and pursue their passions in music and the arts. She was a participant in the Brancaleoni International Music Festival held in Piobbico, Italy in June of 2019. She was also a recipient of the Adrian College Summer Undergraduate Research Grant Recipient where she conducted a year-long study on the Representation of Female Composers in Art Song; surveying artists from all over the world. Most recently she was the second-place winner of the Barbara Rondelli Perry Competition for Superior Achievement in Classical Voice Performance at the University of Toledo. Charlie is passionate about helping others and making a difference in the local arts community. Charlie holds a Bachelor of Music Degree from Adrian College.

Megan Lavell - Megan Lavell is the Executive Director of the Thornapple Arts Council of Barry County, where she leads the organization in its mission to enrich Barry County through cultural experiences. She is the 2012 ATHENA Young Professional Award recipient; a member and past president of the Hastings Rotary Club; past president and board member of the Barry County Chamber of Commerce; and is actively involved in projects and programs throughout the county that make Barry County a great place to live and visit. Megan works toward making the arts accessible to all in Barry County through free and low-cost programming, and she believes in equitable and diverse programming that supports artists and the community. Megan’s work at the Thornapple Arts Council has focused on fostering partnership and collaboration to increase impact for the benefit of the whole community. She is a graduate of Central Michigan University and has been engaged in the Barry County community since moving there in 2006. One of Megan’s greatest professional accomplishments are the Union Block Project in downtown Hastings – a project of passion and love embraced by the community and brought to fruition in four months. Give it a Google.

Lauren Mudry - Lauren Mudry was born and raised in Lansing, Michigan.  She has been dancing for over 30 years and teaching over 18. She is a professional dancer, educator, and also a freelance graphic designer. Lauren graduated from Lansing Community College with an Associates in Applied Arts and Eastern Michigan University with her Bachelors of Science: Dance Performance and Teaching. She is also certified in Progressive Ballet Technique and SafeSport certified. Lauren recently celebrated six years as an adjunct Instructor at Lansing Community College.  She is also a Resident Teaching Artist for the MSU Wharton Center- Kennedy Center Partners in Education Program, an Instructor for the MSU UClub, on faculty at Greater Lansing Academy of Dance, choreographer for Greater Lansing Ballet Company, Associate Artistic Director for GLBC Elements, and on faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in the Dance Department. Adding to her long list of education and performing, she has performed off-Broadway in New York City three times, and worked with the Royal Shakespeare Theatre Company and the BBC in England in 2018. Lauren continues to spread her wings teaching at multiple locations. Designing choreography for companies, working with theater companies, and teaching at dance festivals keep her busy.

Lauren Nelson - Lauren Nelson began her museum career working at the Mackinac State Historic Parks in a few different roles including archaeology inventory assistant and historic interpreter for a few years before taking the leap to her dream job: managing a lighthouse! As Manager and Curator of the oldest lighthouse in Michigan, the Fort Gratiot Light Station in Port Huron, Lauren has become guiding light within the Port Huron Museums institution. Through her 6 years at the PHM, Lauren has led volunteers and committees, managed restoration projects and grants, and lends her straightforward and thoughtful opinions to her fellow staff members. She studied Archaeology during her undergraduate at Western Michigan University, and received a Masters of Arts from Central Michigan University in Cultural Resource Management. Lauren enjoys working on her historic home, reading books on medical history, and playing with her two kitties, Gilbert and Sullivan.

Chelsie Niemi - Chelsie Niemi is the Audience Engagement and Communication Manager for the Dennos Museum Center in Traverse City, Michigan. She received a B.A. at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, in English, Art History, and Museum Studies. She began her career nearly a decade ago as an intern and volunteer for the Defibrillator Gallery in Chicago, Illinois during their annual Performance Art Festival, before returning to Northern Michigan. Her work involves telling the story of the Dennos Museum through her marketing and social media efforts while building connections to the museum’s campus community at Northwestern Michigan College, and beyond. She currently serves as the Vice Chair for the Traverse City Arts Commission and has been a member of the commission since February 2020.

Sara Nishikawa - Sara Nishikawa was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii. She is an artist and arts organizer based in Detroit, MI, serving as a co-director for Tessellate Gallery and Residency and BULK Space, runs Mostly Butter artist residency, gallery manager and registrar for Reyes | Finn, and many other curatorial projects across Detroit. She holds a BA in Psychology from Loyola Marymount University, an MA in Visual Arts from California State University Northridge, and an MFA in Ceramics from Cranbrook Academy of Arts. She has a small dog named Angus and a cat named Kitty.

Jainelle Robinson - with extensive experience organizing diverse teams around shared values, Jainelle Robinson is a passionate and skilled non-profit administrator. She has supported hundreds of artists and local organizations in curating community engagement opportunities by managing small and large-scale projects.  Leveraging her skills as a trained mediator and facilitator, she also curates monthly professional development workshops specifically designed to increase equity for underrepresented entrepreneurs.    Her wealth of volunteer experience, gained by working alongside communities in support of youth-centric programs offered through University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan University, Washtenaw County Sheriff’s office, helped to shape her collaborative leadership style.  Currently, she partners with business owners, community leaders, educational institutions, and city officials in several cities across the country, to generate sustainable economic opportunities for Creative Entrepreneurs.

David B. Schroeder - with more than 15 years of directing and arts administration experience, David B. (D.B.) Schroeder brings the perspective necessary to create work at the forefront of the Michigan Arts Community. Southeast Michigan audiences will be familiar with his work as the Producing Artistic Director of Puzzle Piece Theatre. Memorable productions for Puzzle Piece include Ambition Facing West, R.U.R., and The People’s Temple. Other Michigan directing credits include On Golden Pond at Riverbank, Fool for Love at Open Book, and both Macbeth and Henry V for Shakespeare in Detroit. Presently he is the Education and Outreach Coordinator at the Macomb Center for the Performing Arts and Lorenzo Cultural Center. For the Macomb Center he led the efforts to offer sensory-friendly programming and oversees programs that reach hundreds of individuals annually. At the Lorenzo Center he created the popular Museum Theatre program that enhances visitor’s experiences with the Center’s exhibits. Schroeder holds a B.F.A. in Theatre Performance from Missouri State University and apprenticed at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey.  He is currently an M.F.A. in Theatre Arts candidate through the innovative University of Idaho’s distance program.

Julie Strating - Julie Strating is a creative with a background in interior design and professional makeup artistry for film, television, and print. In addition to her artistic endeavors, she is passionate about her community and currently serves as Vice President of a local economic development organization, The Greater Bridgman Area Chamber and Growth Alliance. She is an advocate of bringing performing arts programming to the community and seeks to identify ways in which public art acts as a contributor to economic development. An appointed member of her local Corridor Improvement Authority, Julie has drawn on her creative skillset. Combined with her commitment to community, she makes positive contributions to placemaking projects that inject vibrancy and create functional spaces for all ages to enjoy. She is currently spearheading a public arts initiative which includes forming a public arts council with the support of local government. In all of her efforts, she strives to be a conduit for connecting people with art, especially youth. Julie recognizes bringing art and creativity into our daily lives helps foster our community culture.

Breanna Williams – Breanna Williams is an arts and cultural entrepreneur with a strong background in the performing and visual arts. She grew up active and attuned to her family’s photography business, Motown Portrait Photography, and pursued dance technique and theory from childhood through college. Breanna graduated from Goucher College (Baltimore, MD) in 2019 with a BA in Psychology with Dance, carrying an extensive performance resume featuring numerous renowned artists and cultural and community outreach performances. She is currently pursuing an MS in Arts Administration and Cultural Entrepreneurship with Northeastern University. In 2021, Breanna founded FreeMajesty Studios, LLC, a mission-driven multidisciplinary arts start-up. The idea was born of a personal need to create a place to explore and embody art on her own terms and ensure that others have the opportunity to do the same. She embraces the idea of entrepreneurship in the arts, striving to use her business ideas to expand people’s perceptions and knowledge of art and its limitless nature, similar to how she did in her collegiate studies. Through FreeMajesty Studios, she hopes to eliminate prevalent rigidities of mind that restrict creativity, challenge the notions of creative superiority, and repaint the harsh image of the “real world” in the arts.


Testimonials from 2021-22 Rising Leaders Participants

While I can say I've participated in several leadership institutes in the past, "Rising Leaders" blew the other ones out of the water. I'm thinking this is for two reasons. 1) it was specific to arts leaders so I already had that common denominator w/ my cohort going in. 2) with each in-person session being shorter, lessons were more concentrated and focused so it felt like every minute was worth it, plus there was plenty of time to relax and let it all "soak in" mentally. Excellent pacing!

I now have more tools to utilize in my daily leadership opportunities and have noticed growth as a leader within myself.

This was my first time working with a cohort over a long period of time, rather than a single day workshop, quick series of short workshops. I loved the opportunity that gave me to reflect and put things into practice, come back to discuss, learn more and do it again.

I am more confident in where I stand as a leader. I have taken stock of my values and I am more grounded in how I approach others in problem solving.

I’ve taken time to pause listen and consider more before responding and ensure that my response is building upon the other thoughts being shared in the space. This additional awareness and skill has been helpful in communication both in and out of the workplace.

Loved being able to connect with a group of peers from throughout the state, and get to know them personally and their work and passions.

What a wonderful experience to do leadership training with people of like minds and from different areas of the state. I enjoyed learning about all their various art forms. It gave me a real appreciation for mediums outside of my own and expanded how I thought about my own artistic medium in relation to others.

The connections facilitated between other young leaders in the state, the commitment by the arts council to invest in young leaders in the arts, and the space to share insights, experiences, and ideas for new ways of working with peers were truly the most valuable aspects of this program.

More than anything I think the experience of participating in the program was as valuable as the content itself. Unlike other workshops and conferences, the small intimate size of the participant group did indeed lend itself to a richer learning environment.

I am forever thankful for the experiences that I have gained in this program and it's made me feel supported overall in the arts.