Our staff and board is as varied as the art for which we find a voice. It includes:
We strive to maintain an appropriate mix of professionals and executives in the arts, practicing artists, and business and community leaders who support the arts in their communities and across the state. Choose a photo to learn more about each member.
Bonnie Macdonald serves as TFTA's President of the Board of Directors. She is employed with the City of Kingsport, Tennessee where she has lived for 30 years and for which she serves as the Director of Office of Cultural Arts. The Office of Cultural Arts manages the city's Public Art Program which includes an annual Sculpture Walk exhibition as well as a Percent for Art Program. The Office of Cultural Arts also provides concerts, community art projects such as the Carousel Project, and operates the Kingsport Farmers Market and the Kingsport Renaissance Center, a multi-use facility that includes the Kingsport Senior Center, various Arts Organizations, an Art Gallery, and a Theatre.
Noah E. Spiegel is a performing arts executive with over twenty years’ experience in arts administration, stage, company and production management as well as stage direction and design. A passionate advocate for the arts as both a community asset and an economic driver, he is a native of Brooklyn, NY, grew up in Portland, Maine, and—after living or working in over 40 states during his extensive career—moved to Nashville, TN in 2012.
Mr. Spiegel currently serves as Chief Operating Officer of Nashville Opera Association, overseeing administrative operations, fund development, financial matters, marketing, public relations and the award-winning Noah Liff Opera Center, as well as assisting Artistic & General Director John Hoomes in the planning of artistic programming and budgeting. In 2013, Spiegel secured a two-year recording sponsorship which will produce the first pair of commercially released recordings by Nashville Opera including the planned 2015 release of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat composed by Michael Nyman (Jane Campion’s OSCAR winning film The Piano). In 2016, Nashville Opera will release the first complete cast recording of the revised edition of Romulus Hunt by Carly Simon, which was originally commissioned by The Metropolitan Opera Guild and the Kennedy Center in 1993. In 2016, The Music City Opera Project will generate new music through Nashville’s signature songwriting industry in a two part competition to create new short and long form opera scenes and songs, performed in unexpected and non-traditional places in the community. Designed to spark creative vitality through the prestigious “Our Town” grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, this project marks the first time an opera company is a lead grantee for this program.
Prior to coming to Nashville, for eight seasons he served as the Director of Production for Tulsa Opera, where he produced notable company premieres such as Janacek’s The Cunning Little Vixen and Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin—both the first operas performed in their respective languages (Czech and Russian) in the history of Tulsa Opera. In addition, he directed and designed educational touring productions which performed cumulatively for over 100,000 students in the Oklahoma region.
Leigh Patton has worked for 20 years in community engagement in the public and private sectors. Key areas of expertise include nonprofit organizational support, partnerships, collaborations, project/program planning, grant writing, proposal development, and training. For ten years, Patton managed the community arts programs at the Tennessee Arts Commission and the Metro Arts Commission, distributing $18 million in public funding for the arts to hundreds of nonprofit grantees. In her current role at Metro Nashville Public Schools, Patton supports the full-service community school model, reinforcing the link between parents, schools and local business, nonprofit and volunteer resources. She is active in arts consulting, and is a dedicated arts advocate through TFTA and the Nashville Arts Coalition.
Lanny Cope has more than 35 years of experience as a professional architect. He founded Cope Associates, Inc. Architecture in 1983 and serves as President. Under his direction, Cope Architecture has achieved honored distinction in commercial, institutional and historical preservation works.
He has a Bachelor of Architecture degree from the University of Tennessee, and continues his dedication to the University by serving on the University of Tennessee School of Architecture Board of Advisors and as a member of the University of Tennessee President’s Club.
Among his other civil and professional memberships are the State of Tennessee Arts Commission Board Member, Dogwood Arts Board Member, Knoxville Heritage, National Roundtable of Architects, and University Area Sertoma Club Founding President.
Signature design projects have included numerous facilities on the University of Tennessee Knoxville Campus over the years, including a new residence hall, the recently opened Fred D. Brown, Jr. Residence Hall, Anderson Football Training Facility, and the College of Veterinary Medicine Large Animal Hospital. Work for the Tennessee Board of Regents has included Pellissippi State Community College Blount County Campus, as well as projects for Walters State Community College on both the Sevier County Campus and the Morristown Campus. He has also served as Principal-in-Charge on numerous award-winning K-12 projects including such recent projects as: Northshore Elementary School (2014 TSBA Elementary School of the Year); Mt. Horeb Elementary School (2013 TSBA Elementary School of the Year); Dyllis Springs Elementary School (2012 TSBA Elementary School of the Year); and Morristown-Hamblen East High School STEM Center, 9th Grade Academy and Cafeteria (2011 TSBA People’s Choice Award and 2011 TSBA High School of the Year).
Rachel Dellinger currently represents the arts community in East Tennessee as the Director of Communications for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra. She received her BS in Communication from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville where her passion for publicizing the arts was fostered. In addition to the TFTA board, she has served on local boards including the Tennessee Stage Company, the American Marketing Association Knoxville Chapter, Rotaract Club and Young Professionals of Knoxville.
Bio coming soon!
Melinda Hearn began serving as the Executive Director of the Jackson Arts Council in May 2013. As a graduate from Mississippi State, she used her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree to develop her career as a graphic artist for Porter-Cable/Delta and DeVilbiss. Subsequently, she has served as the community representative for the American Cancer Society Mid South Division since 2008 where she worked with volunteers, donors and survivors in Madison County, Chester County and Gibson-Humboldt. Her responsibilities included Relay For Life and Runway For A Cure. Melinda served as an intern for Jackson Arts Council in 1998 where she coordinated and instructed a free children’s art camp and helped designed promotional materials such as Hal Halbrook’s Mark Twain performance at The Ned.
Melinda is a native of Jackson and is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Jackson. She enjoys giving back to her community that has provided her with great opportunities. Melinda is involved with Jackson Cotillion Club, Jackson Rotary, West TN Mississippi State Alumni Association, Boys and Girls Club, American Cancer Society, and is serving as a madisonAchieves Mentor. She proudly supports art events and enjoys painting in her free time.
Bio coming soon!
After graduating from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Stephanie Conner served in several capacities within state and federal government. She worked on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. for four years as a legislative researcher and assistant. After leaving Washington, she served as assistant to the governor for boards and commissions, deputy policy director, and executive director of the Film, Entertainment and Music Commission. During her time in state and federal government, Stephanie served as chair of the Southern Governors’ Association staff advisory committee, completed the Danforth Foundation policy maker’s program, served on the Tennessee State Healthcare Planning Commission and the Tennessee Health Facilities Commission. In 2002, Stephanie was appointed by the governor to a five-year term on the Tennessee Arts Commission (TAC). She served as chair of the State Museum Committee, and as TAC chair the last two years of her term. She is an active board member of Watkins College of Art, Design and Film and the Southern Arts Federation.
Bo Spessard is Emma’s Chief Operating Officer. He ensures that Emma’s leaders (and therefore Emma) are delivering on high-level business goals by determining the smartest and most efficient ways to achieve and measure those goals in interesting, fun and profitable ways. He also oversees Finance, Human Resources, Legal and Facilities for Emma, which is a SAAS based software company with over 120 employees based in Nashville and Portland. Bo has been with Emma since 2006. Prior to joining Emma, Bo practiced corporate and intellectual property law with the firm of Baker Donelson. Before attending law school at University of New Hampshire’s school of law, where he focused on intellectual property law, Bo worked for a local bank in Nashville and managed one of their in-store branches. Bo currently serves on several non-profit boards, including: The Belcourt Theatre; The Arts and Business Council of Greater Nashville (incoming Chairperson); Tennesseans for the Arts (Area Vice President); and 12 South Neighborhood Association (Treasurer). Originally from Roanoke, Virginia, Bo attended Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia and has lived in Nashville since 2001.
Bio coming soon!
Rhea is a life long resident of Gallatin Tennessee and has served as a volunteer in Gallatin and Middle Tennessee organizations for 40 years. Much of her volunteer focus has been with organizations serving women, children and families including TRAC House, CASA, Department of Human Services Child Abuse Team, and the American Cancer Society. Rhea was also a founding member of The Gallatin Junior Service League and for the past 15 years has been a member of the Sumner County Library Board. She has also been a member of the Warioto Regional Library Board and served as a member of the Executive Board of the Gallatin Downtown Library Committee. Rhea had her own fashion consulting business for 15 years. Rhea was a member of the Tennessee Arts Commission from 2009 until 2014 and was Chair of the Arts Commission in 2013-14. Rhea has been a member of the Tennesseans for the Arts Board of Directors since 2011.
Rhea is married to Dennis L. Condra and has two grown sons and five grandchildren. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking and gardening.
Cathie Faust is the Executive Director for KingsportARTS in Kingsport, TN. As the former Finance and Grants Manager, she has been responsible for the daily operations of KingsportARTS since 1993. Cathie holds a BS from East Tennessee State University in Computer Science.
Bio coming soon!
Debby Koch is a communications and marketing professional who currently serves as Director of Communications for the State of Tennessee’s insurance program which covers 275,000 state, higher education, local education, and local government employees and retirees. She was also Director of Communications and Marketing for the state’s Cover Kids, Cover TN, CoverRX and Access Tennessee programs. Prior to that, Ms. Koch was Vice President of Communications and Marketing and then Senior Vice President for Administration at Baptist Hospital. She has worked in several political campaigns and was spokesperson and Deputy Press Secretary for Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander. She has served in leadership positions on numerous boards, including Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Commission and Chairman of the Tennessee Arts Foundation, on the executive committees of the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the Cumberland Valley Girl Scouts of America, The Blakeford at Green Hills, and on the Nashville Symphony Association Board of Directors. She is currently a board member and has served on the Executive Committee of the Tennesseans for the Arts, is on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature, and is the Regent of the Ladies Hermitage Association. She is married to retired Tennessee Supreme Court Justice and Dean of the Nashville School of Law William C. Koch, Jr. and lives in Nashville.
Susan Robinson has been the Executive Director of the Southern Lit Alliance since 1993. Through her tenure at So Lit, she has created and grown literary arts programs in the Chattanooga community especially its signature program the Celebration of Southern Literature.
Ms. Robinson is the Secretary/Treasurer of the Fellowship of Southern Writers—an extraordinary group of award-winning Southern writers, and is on the board of the statewide advocacy organization, Tennesseans for the Arts. She currently serves as a panelist for the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Inter-Arts grants review team and she has previously served on their Arts Education Community Learning panel. In 2013, Ms. Robinson reviewed literary grants for the regional arts organization, SouthArts.
Ms. Robinson holds a B.S. from the University of Tennessee in Business Administration. She is a current member of Tennesseans for the Arts and the Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP). Ms. Robinson is Treasurer of the Tennessee Presenters Corporation, is a UT-Chattanooga Chancellor’s Roundtable board member, and the immediate Past-President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern Tennessee chapter.
Kiran Singh Sirah is President of the International Storytelling Center (ISC), an educational and cultural institution dedicated to enriching the lives of people around the world through storytelling. ISC organizes the world’s premiere storytelling event, the National Storytelling Festival, and supports applied storytelling initiatives across a wide variety of industries. Prior to his appointment at ISC, Kiran developed a number of award-winning peace-building programs in cultural centers across the UK. As an artist, folklorist, teacher, and advocate for social justice, he has used the power of human creativity to establish dialogue. An advisory member to UNESCO and a Rotary Peace fellow, he has developed educational programs and publications, articles, talks and conference papers about interdisciplinary approaches to relationship building in communities and around the globe.
Bob Willie is the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Ballet and serves as East Tennessee Vice President for TFTA.
Bio coming soon!
Susan McKinney began serving as Administrative Director for Tennesseans for the Arts in 2014. Her journey in the arts began as an undergraduate at East Tennessee State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Art and Design. Susan followed this up with a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management from ETSU where she was received the Outstanding MPA Student Award. Additionally, she graduated with a Master of Arts in Arts Administration from Savannah College of Art and Design, where she earned both Artistic Excellence and Academic Excellence scholarships.
Susan has worked in a number of roles with arts organizations and municipalities including collection manager, volunteer coordinator, website content administrator, donor software management, membership and development, marketing and communications, program administration, researcher, project director, and advisor on a number of start-up projects. She has served on several boards and committees, and currently serves on the ETSU Master of Public Administration Advisory Board. In her free time, Susan is an avid cyclist and an aspiring triathlete.
Drawing upon more than 30 years’ experience in government relations at the state, federal and local level, Molly Pratt helps clients develop successful lobbying strategies to solve legislative and regulatory issues. Strategic planning and message development aimed at both elected officials and community audiences is part of her expertise. In addition, clients use her extensive experience to help them build community support, develop targeted communications strategies or to assist in the development of funding strategies.
Pratt has held a variety of government and public relations positions since joining Tennessee State Government in 1979. During her tenure with State Government, she worked as a legislative assistant to former TN Governor Lamar Alexander. She also worked on a variety of health care issues and helped launch the first public affairs office within the Bureau of Health Services for the TN Department of Health and Environment. She joined the TN Health Care Association as its chief lobbyist and PAC fundraiser in 1986.
In addition to her work in state government, during the 80’s Pratt worked in a number of political campaigns. She was chief aide to TN First Lady Honey Alexander during Governor Alexander’s 1982 reelection campaign -- a role she repeated as a consultant to Alexander’s 2002 US Senate campaign. She was the state director for the Reagan-Bush Campaign in 1984 and worked as the coordinator of voter programs at the Tennessee Republican Party.
In 1989, Pratt moved to Washington DC and worked as a private consultant before joining the Association of Women's Health Obstetric and Neonatal Nurses in 1993 as the Director of Communications, Marketing, and Fund Development. A “contract” trainer with The National Women’s Political Caucus, Pratt helped design and present political “how to” workshops in more than 30 states.
Pratt returned to her hometown of Knoxville in 1995 and worked at the Tennessee Valley Authority as part of TVA’s “Valley Relations” team, the government relations staff responsible for building strong ties to local elected officials in the seven states that TVA serves. She joined Knox County Government in June 1996 and served in the County Executive’s Office as Director of Government and Community Relations. Since 2003, Pratt has represented a variety of clients as a contract lobbyist.
In addition to serving on the boards of numerous community and arts groups, Pratt served as chair of the Tennessee Arts Commission in 2004. A graduate of Leadership Knoxville, for several years Pratt served as a chapter advisor to her college fraternity, Chi Omega, Pi Chapter at the University of Tennessee.