- Skip Navigation

Note: This message is displayed if (1) your browser is not standards-compliant or (2) you have you disabled CSS. Read our Policies for more information.


Agency Links Links

IAC > Workshops > Creating Vibrant Communities 2013 Speakers Creating Vibrant Communities 2013 Speakers

Doug Borwick

Doug BorwickDoug Borwick is author of Engaging Matters, a blog for ArtsJournal and author/editor of Building Communities, Not Audiences: The Future of the Arts in the U.S. One of the country's leading advocates for the arts and community engagement, in the last six months, Dr. Borwick has presented workshops in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, North Carolina, Ohio, Virginia, Washington, DC, and Wisconsin and has served as keynote speaker and workshop presenter for China Conservatory of Music in Beijing, CultureSource in Detroit, Ontario Dances in Toronto, and the Texas Commission on the Arts biennial conference in Austin.

He served as President of the Board of the Association of Arts Administration Educators, an international organization of higher education programs in the field, from 2010-2012. For three decades he was Director of the Arts Management and Not-for-Profit Management Programs at Salem College in Winston-Salem, NC. Dr. Borwick is CEO of Outfitters4, Inc., providing management services for nonprofits and of ArtsEngaged, offering training and consultation services to artists and arts organizations seeking to more effectively engage with their communities. Dr. Borwick holds the Ph.D. in Music Composition from the Eastman School of Music and is an award-winning member of ASCAP.

Elaine Fisher

Elaine FisherMs. Fisher retired from her position as Special Projects Director, Building Better Communities, in June 2010. Prior to that position, she served as the first Director of Ball State University's Office of Building Better Communities (BBC).  BBC is a legislatively supported, university-wide initiative that links the human and technical resources of the university with the development needs of Indiana communities. BBC conducts the Indiana Economic Development Course (EDC), one of 29 such programs offered nationally and accredited by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and also delivers customized, local and regional programs and consulting services. BBC also compiled and maintains the Toolbox Guide to Development Funds, a comprehensive listing of Indiana community & economic development funding programs.

Elaine has designed and administered strategic planning processes in over 30 Indiana communities. She served as project manager for the Lt. Governor’s Jobs Council Project, an assessment of Indiana’s economic development policies and programs and in early 2005, completed four regional economic development plans as a member of an Indiana Regional and State Economic Development planning team. She also conducted the first ever, accredited Economic Development Course (EDC) in New Zealand and in 2001 conducted the Executive Economic Development Institute (EEDI) in partnership with the Ministry of Economic Development, Economic Development New Zealand, Industry New Zealand, Trade New Zealand and the City of Napier.

Prior to joining BBC, Ms. Fisher was Associate Director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Resources where she designed and delivered customized training and consulting services to Indiana businesses.

Elaine graduated Magna Cum Laude from Ball State University, with a degree in Management/Human Resource Development and is a graduate of the Economic Development Institute (EDI), University of Oklahoma.  She has served on the Boards of Directors of the American Economic Development Council (AEDC), the Mid-America Economic Development Council (MAEDC), and the Indiana Economic Development Association (IEDA).   

In 2009 Ms. Fisher received the Distinguished Hoosier Award.   She received the inaugural Excellence in Leadership Award from the Indiana Economic Development Association in 1999 and has twice received the University of Continuing Education Association (UCEA) Award for Excellence in Economic and Community Development Education.   

Ms. Fisher is a frequent speaker at community and economic development workshops and conferences and as a private consultant provides customized community economic development services to Indiana communities and development related organizations.

Helen Davis Johnson

Helen Davis Johnson

Helen Davis Johnson serves a program officer on the Arts & Culture team at The Kresge Foundation, working to elevate the effective use of arts and culture in transforming and revitalizing communities.

"I’m a firm believer in the power of arts and culture to develop communities," she says. "The emerging framework of creative placemaking has the potential to improve quality of life issues in urban areas with tools that are uniquely appropriate to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

Before joining the foundation in 2012, Helen co-founded CreateHere in in Chattanooga, Tenn. CreateHere attracted and retained creative community residents through a relocation incentive resulting in home sales exceeding $4 million, built a fellowship program and a grants program.

Active in environmental issues, Helen is a founding member of Take Root, a program that has planted more than 1,400 trees in Chattanooga’s urban core. She spent more than a dozen years in nonprofit and arts administration, building the 4 Bridges Arts Festival, coordinating museum education programs at the Hunter Museum of American Art, and designing and launching community-focused arts initiatives at Allied Arts, all in Chattanooga. Helen has been tapped to speak at conferences including Art Chicago, Michigan Municipal League, AIGA National, the Sustainable Cities PLUS Network, the Council on Foundations, Lambda Alpha International, and the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

She studied at the Florence Academy of Art and earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Miah Michaelsen

Miah MichaelsenMiah Michaelsen serves as the Assistant Economic Development Director for the Arts for the City of Bloomington. Michaelsen’s responsibilities include leading management of the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District (BEAD), serving as a liaison with the City’s Arts Commission, working with artists and community arts organizations to promote the arts as economic development, and coordinating public arts projects along the City’s B-Line Trail and throughout Bloomington. Previous to her position with the City, Michaelsen was Executive Director of the Bloomington Area Arts Council. Before relocating to Bloomington, Michaelsen held executive positions at the Children’s Hands-On Museum, the Kentucky Museum Association and Festival of the Arts and Theater Tuscaloosa all in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She currently serves on the boards of Visit Bloomington and Indiana Artisan. Michaelsen is a native of Arkansas and still has trouble adjusting to Midwestern winters.


Jenny Moore

Jenny MooreJenny Moore is the Project Manager for the Vollis Simpson Whirligig Park Project in Wilson, North Carolina. The former Executive Director of Green Hill Center for North Carolina Art and Associate Director of HandMade in America, Moore’s career has focused on the intersection of the arts and economic development. Moore earned a BA in art Education and an MA in Art History at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.





Jeffrey A. Parks

Jeffrey A. Parks

Jeffrey A. Parks is the President and Chief Quest Officer of ArtsQuest, a nonprofit community-based arts organization in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Mr. Parks has been active in the development of arts districts through creative placemaking and arts programming since 1984. ArtsQuest is one of the largest arts organizations in Pennsylvania with a full time staff of 50, over 2,500 volunteers and an annual budget of $17,000,000. The dual mission of the organization is to offer access to the arts and to assist in economic revitalization through arts programming. ArtsQuest offers arts, cultural and education programs every day of the year.

Mr. Parks is the principal founder of Musikfest, a 10-day music festival that features more than 300 live musical performances on 15 stages each August.  With more than one million attending, the event is one of the largest music festivals in the United States.  

In addition to Musikfest, ArtsQuest presents Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem. Patterned after German Christmas markets this event features juried crafts, retail gifts, entertainment, specialty foods, and children=s activities. Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem attracts more than 60,000 visitors per year and contributes to the Christmas tourism program in the region.

In January 1998 ArtsQuest opened the Banana Factory community arts and cultural center, which presents numerous programs in the visual arts.  Located in a former banana distribution warehouse,. the Banana Factory features studios for 34 visual artists, three exhibit spaces, a community room, and classrooms for hot glass, glass slumping, ceramics, digital and traditional photography, jewelry, drawing, painting and sculpture.

In April 2011, ArtsQuest opened the ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks, a contemporary performing arts center presenting world-class live music concerts, as well as independent and foreign films, stand-up and improv comedy by national and regional comedians, dance, an art gallery and art installations. The SteelStacks campus operated by ArtsQuest also includes the Levitt Pavilion, an outdoor music venue with lawn seating for 2,500; the Air Products Town Square (an outdoor venue adjacent to the ArtsQuest Center that features a stage for live performances) the Bethlehem Visitor Center; and PNC Plaza, which is home to Christkindlmarkt Bethlehem, the Musikfest Sands Steel Stage and Oktoberfest at SteelStacks.

Mr. Parks is a member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, an organization that serves performing arts organizations, artists and agents throughout the United States and Canada. He has served on the Board of Directors of Discover Lehigh Valley (tourism promotion agency), and numerous other community organizations.  Mr. Parks is a frequent speaker on the topics of arts and community revitalization, economic development and leadership. 

Mr. Parks graduated from Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. He resides in Bethlehem with his wife, Susan.

Tracy Taft

Tracy TaftTracy Taft is the executive director of the International Sonoran Desert Alliance (ISDA), based in Ajo, Arizona near the U.S./Mexico border and the border of the Tohono O'odham Nation.  With her leadership, ISDA has been engaged in the redevelopment of the historic Curley School campus an arts-based community economic development strategy for very rural Ajo, AZ. More recently ISDA acquired and is now redeveloping Ajo's historic town plaza. Taft is a tenacious visionary with a background in academic and community education and experience in most elements of strategic nonprofit development and management. Prior to working in Ajo, she spent 15 years in Washington, DC, building the NeighborWorks Training Institute and developing the Gateway CDC in Prince Georges County, MD.  Her degrees include a BA in history from Stanford University and an MA and PhD in philosophy from SUNY/Buffalo.