Dance/USA Announces New Officers and Trustees to its Board of Trustees

October 21, 2022

CONTACT: Johanna Tschebull

Washington, DC – Dance/USA, the national service organization for dance, announced today its new Board of Trustees.

Under the stewardship of Board Chair Anne Huang (executive director, World Arts West, San Francisco, CA), Dance/USA’s new Chair Elect is Abdo Sayegh Rodriguez (executive director, TU Dance, Saint Paul, MN). Debbie Blunden-Diggs (executive director, Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Dayton, OH) is the new Vice Chair, Denise Pate (director of community investments, San Francisco Arts Commission, San Francisco, CA) is the new Treasurer, and Ellen Walker (executive director, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle, WA) is the new Secretary. Find a complete list of the Executive Committee here.

“My involvement with Dance/USA started many years ago as a transitioning dancer propelled into a leadership journey, first as a Conference attendee, and shortly after a member, and then as a Council Chair and Trustee,” said Dance/USA Board Chair Abdo Sayegh Rodriguez. “I’ve witnessed and continue to support Dance/USA’s unequivocal evolution and work on inclusiveness and equity. I’m honored by my appointment as Board Chair Elect and I’m excited to serve in this leadership role alongside a wonderful group of fellow Trustees.”

The Board of Trustees nominated six new members to serve a three-year term: Andrea Clark Smith (associate chief legal officer and vice president of physician and human resources, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA), Sophie Myrtil-McCourty (president, Lotus Arts Management, New York, NY), Vershawn Sanders-Ward (founding artistic director and CEO, Red Clay Dance Company, Chicago, IL), Traci Slater-Rigaud (senior director of member engagement & partnerships, United Philanthropy Forum, Fort Washington, MD), Victor Torres (professor, Department of Chicano and Latin American Studies at California State University, Fresno; director, Fresno State’s Los Danzantes de Aztlán Mexican Dance Program; vice-president, Asociación Nacional de Grupos Folklóricos, Fresno, CA), and Dorene Wiese (artistic director, Black Hawk Performance Dance Company; founding president, American Indian Association of Illinois; CEO, Native American Education Services, Inc., Chicago, IL).

Dance/USA’s membership elected two new Council Chairs: Tara Birtwhistle (associate artistic director, Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, Manitoba, Canada) and Emily Running (vision and operations director + strategic partnerships lead, Dance Wire PDX, Portland, OR).

Two Dance/USA Councils have adopted a shared-leadership model: the Agents, Managers, Producers, and Presenters (AMPP) Council is co-chaired by Francine Sheffield (senior partner, Rhizome Arts & Founder, Sheffield Global Arts Management, Richmond, VA), Michelle Coe (director of booking & touring, Urban Bush Women, Brooklyn, NY), Sandy Garcia (director of booking, Pentacle, New York, NY), and Kristopher McDowell (founding partner, Rhizome Arts, Houston, TX); and the Presenters Council is co-chaired by Shoshona “Shoni” Currier (director, Bates Dance Festival, Lewiston, ME), Kristen Brodgon (director of programming, University of Minnesota Northrop Dance Series, Minneapolis, MN), Cameron Morgan (project manager, Vail Valley Foundation/Vail Dance Festival, Avon, CO), Tariq O’Meally (artistic planning coordinator, The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, College Park, MD), Jane (Rabinovitz) Raleigh (director of dance programming, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC).

The following Trustees rotated off the Dance/USA Board of Trustees this summer: Former Board Chair Malik Robinson (executive director, Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, Denver, CO), Arthur Espinoza Jr. (principal, Apex Arts Consultants, Washington, DC), Genie Guerard (curator and manuscripts librarian emerita, UCLA Library Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA) Stanford Makishi (vice president of programming, New York City Center, New York, NY), and Mary Verdi-Fletcher (founder and artistic director, Dancing Wheels Company & School, Cleveland, OH).

Celia Fushille (artistic director, Smuin Contemporary Ballet, San Francisco, CA) and Mollie Haven Miller (executive director, Dance Source Houston, Houston, TX) also completed their Board terms as Council Chairs.

“We’re grateful for the leadership and support these Trustees provided during their time on the Board and we thank them for their dedicated service to Dance/USA, our member community, and the dance ecosystem,” said Dance/USA Executive Director Kellee Edusei.

Find a complete list of the new Dance/USA Board of Trustees here.

About Dance/USA
Propelled by our belief that dance can inspire a more just and humane world, Dance/USA will amplify the power of dance to inform and inspire a nation where creativity and the field thrive.

Established in 1982, Dance/USA champions an inclusive and equitable dance field by leading, convening, advocating, and supporting individuals and organizations. Dance/USA’s core programs are focused in the areas of engagement, advocacy, research, and preservation. Learn more about Dance/USA at

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