Anne Penny Valentine, Commission Chair, Carmel
Anne serves as the Chief of Staff for the office of Indiana Lieutenant Governor Suzanne Crouch, leading the executive office and overseeing the operations of the state agencies within the portfolio of the Lieutenant Governor, including the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority and the Office of Rural and Community Affairs. Prior to joining the Lieutenant Governor’s team earlier this year, she was the Vice President for Government Relations at United Way of Central Indiana where she advocated on behalf of early childhood education and whole-family solutions to address poverty. Anne’s career has covered three different industries: state government, nonprofit and higher education including leadership roles with Ivy Tech Community College and the Office of Governor Mitch Daniels. In the non-profit arts community, Anne has worked for Indianapolis Opera, the Indianapolis Symphonic Choir and the Arts Council of Indianapolis, allowing the opportunity to work closely with the city of Indianapolis as well as a wide range of arts organizations throughout central Indiana. In 2017, Governor Eric Holcomb appointed Anne to serve as a commissioner with the Indiana Arts Commission. A graduate of Butler University, Anne is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public administration with the O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IUPUI.
Dave Haist, Vice Chair, Wabash
A Wabash, Indiana native, Dave lived in South Bend for 10 years as a partner of Barnes & Thornburg and then moved in 1986 to Fort Wayne to help open the firm’s Fort Wayne office. He joined Do it Best Corp. in 1997 and retired as its COO in 2012. He and his wife recently returned to his hometown of Wabash and they share time between Wabash and Lake Maxinkuckee in Culver. Dave began serving for arts organizations in South Bend as he served the South Bend Symphony Orchestra. After moving to Fort Wayne, he served on the Boards of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic (including board president for two years) Arts United and the Fort Wayne Ballet. In Wabash, Dave has served as the Chair of the Board of The Honeywell Foundation and now serves as Chair of the Board of the Honeywell Arts Academy. Dave serves on several other boards including Arts United and Manchester University.
Réna Bradley, Secretary, Fort Wayne
Réna Bradley is one of Fort Wayne’s foremost experts in placemaking, asset-based development, and neighborhood revitalization, and, believes that beauty is a call to justice. She is a community activator who pulls neighborhood residents into decision-making processes and uses her design skillset to help residents reimagine underserved communities -breathing new life and enthusiasm into both places and people. As Bridge of Grace’s Community Development Director, she has taken a design-thinking approach to create, support, and implement various initiatives. In the MVP neighborhood, those efforts have resulted in:
- The renovation of 20+ houses (and 3 youth-designed pocket parks),
- Reducing the crime rate by over 60%, and
- Infusing over $5 million in funding into the community.
Ms. Bradley serves as an Indiana Arts Commissioner, Fort Wayne Public Arts Commissioner, board member of the Fort Wayne Allen County Airport Authority, and advisory committee member of Input Magazine. She is a proud alumna of Howard University's College of Engineering, Architecture, and Computer Science; the Detroit Revitalization Fellows; Fort Wayne’s Forty under Forty; and Virginia Society AIA’s Emerging Leaders in Architecture.
Azizi Arrington-Slocum, Terre Haute
Azizi Arrington-Slocum is the Associate Professor & Program Coordinator of Interior Architecture Design at Indiana State University. Prior to her work at ISU she served as a project manager at Johnson Peterson Architects in Tallahassee, Fla., and as an adjunct professor at Florida A&M University and Tallahassee Community College for five years. She is a licensed architect and registered interior designer. Her research interest focuses on relationships between architecture/design and the arts. She has volunteered as a Girl Scout Brownie Troop leader and received the Community-Based Learning and Scholarship Award from Indiana State University in 2011.
Chad Bolser, Richmond
Chad earned his Bachelor of Arts in History at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri and his Masters of Education from Earlham College. Since that time, Chad has worked in education for 22 years including stints at public and private high schools and small universities. In July 2017, Ivy Tech Community College named Chad Bolser to serve as Chancellor of the Richmond campus where he has overseen new initiatives and developed strong relationship with local K-12 partners. In 2019, Ivy named Chad as the Vice President of Operations for its southern campuses. Ivy Tech Community College is the state’s largest public postsecondary institution and the nation’s largest singly accredited statewide community college system serving nearly 200,000 students annually.
Ruth Ann Cowling, Jeffersonville
Ruth Ann Cowling has been an art educator for over 40 years. Having earned her M.A. from Indiana University in Art Education, she has taught elementary through college level students, most recently as adjunct professor at Indiana University Southeast. Previous to this she taught elementary art at Portage, Indiana, Jr. High Art at Hazelwood and Scribner Jr. High Schools in New Albany, Indiana, and art at New Albany High School in New Albany, Indiana. She has been integral in developing school curriculum, academic content, and the planning and execution of student art shows. During her teaching career she served as Chairperson and coordinator for Teacher IN-Service of the New Albany Floyd County School Corporation, chaired the Performance based Accreditation Correlate, and instituted student art shows throughout the community. She has been a member of the Louisville Visual Art Association, leading free art classes for 12 years, as well as establishing their summer art camps curriculum and serving as camp director. Beyond her teaching experience, Ruth Ann has worked as a freelance commercial artist creating numerous ads for Louisville Magazine, and a variety of art work for numerous clients to meet their needs. She has worked as a professional watercolor artist in which she owned her own business, traveled extensively for art shows and garnered numerous awards. Her adult life focus has been art. She is a patron of the arts and is an advocate for the arts and art education.
Greg Hull, Indianapolis
Walter Knabe, Indianapolis
A designer since the age of 14, Walter obtained his Master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Wisconsin. Walter opened his first studio nearly 35 years ago as a painter in New York City. His paintings quickly morphed into full-scale wall coverings, which have been in demand by many high profile clients and interior design houses. His artwork can be found in the homes and offices of film, sports and music legends. Walter has been the official artist for several high profile events, including the Indianapolis 500.
Laurie Burns McRobbie, Bloomington
Laurie Burns McRobbie is First Lady Emerita and University Fellow at Indiana University. As IU’s 18th First Lady, Laurie founded the women’s philanthropy program at the IU Foundation and served as Honorary Chair of the Women’s Philanthropy Leadership Council (WPLC). With a career background in higher ed IT and high-performance computer networking, she currently leads strategic initiatives for the Center of Excellence for Women and Technology at IU-Bloomington, of which she was a co-founder. Laurie holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the IU Luddy School of Informatics, Computing and Engineering, where she co-founded the Laurie Burns McRobbie ServeIT Clinic (a service-learning program providing IT services to local non-profits). She also holds an adjunct faculty appointment in the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and serves on its Board of Visitors. Laurie serves on other local and state-wide boards in addition to the Indiana Arts Commission, including the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, the Riley Children’s Foundation Board of Governors, and the Indiana Conference for Women.
Jake Oakman, Indianapolis
Jake Oakman is the Executive Director of the White River State Park Development Commission. Before joining White River State Park, Jake was Special Assistant to Governor Eric Holcomb, serving as the governor’s primary speechwriter, liaison on international engagement, and adviser on communication strategies. Beginning in late 2019, Jake led all marketing and communications efforts related to the governor’s historically successful reelection campaign. Jake has extensive experience in Indiana’s travel & tourism and sports industries. He was Director of Communications and Media Relations for Visit Indiana and his first job in Indianapolis was at White River State Park, working as a ticket sales executive for the Indianapolis Indians at Victory Field. Additional experience includes serving as then-Lt. Governor Eric Holcomb’s Director of Communications, Deputy Press Secretary to Governor Mitch Daniels and Director of the IUPUI Student Foundation at the Indiana University Foundation. Oakman earned his bachelor’s degree in secondary education with concentrations in US history, world history and political science from Indiana University where he served as student body president his final year on campus. A history buff, Jake enjoys reading biographies and histories, especially those about World War II. He is an avid fan of the Boston Red Sox and the Indiana University Hoosiers. Jake lives in downtown Indianapolis’ Holy Cross Neighborhood.
Kelsey Peaper, Indianapolis
Renee Thomas, Lafayette
Renee A. Thomas earned her bachelor's degree from the College of New Jersey and master's degree in college student personnel from Ohio University. Thomas has more than 20 years of experience in higher education administration, with expertise in program development, student services, community engagement and fundraising. She is committed to promoting a campus climate that ensures the inclusion of diverse students, faculty and staff in all aspects of the University. Thomas is known for her ability to nurture, support and mentor students and plays an active role in enhancing student success and retention.
Under Thomas' leadership, the Purdue University Black Cultural Center has blossomed into a nationally recognized center that is considered one of the best collegiate cultural centers in the country. She was instrumental in providing vision and spearheading fundraising to support the construction of the current multimillion-dollar BCC building, which opened in 1999. The Black Cultural Center was awarded the National Council for Black Studies 2006 Sankore Institutional Award and the National Association of Black Culture Centers 2007 Kemet Award. Because of her work, Thomas has received numerous awards, including the YWCA Salute to Women Award, the 2007 Purdue Martin Luther King Jr. Dreamer Award, Trenton State College Distinguished Alumni Award, Purdue Black Graduate Association Staff Leadership Award and the Tippecanoe County Minority Health Coalition Award for Community Service. In addition to her professional duties, Thomas has held leadership positions on numerous civic, cultural, professional and volunteer organizations. She served on the board of directors for Leadership Lafayette and the YWCA, the Eli Lilly community advisory panel, Tippecanoe Arts Federation's director's roundtable and the Hanna Community Center's advisory council. She is actively involved in the children's ministry program at Bethel A.M.E. Church in Lafayette. In her free time she enjoys gardening, fishing and spending time with her husband, Joseph, and their daughter, Lauren.
Sofía Souto, Indianapolis
Dr. Sofía Souto is a professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Butler University. Her teaching and research interests primarily center on monolingual and bilingual language acquisition in children with and without language impairment. Dr. Souto earned her graduate degrees at Indiana University and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Purdue University.