Staff and Board of Directors
Our staff and board is as varied as the art for which we find a voice. It includes:
- Arts Administrators
- Community Advocates
- Business Professionals
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.
Amy Ruggaber, Administrative Director
Amy Ruggaber is a creative consultant, theatre program and education specialist, writer, and the Administrative Director for TFTA. Along with her husband, Brian, she founded Ruggaber Creatives consulting and design firm in 2018. Previously, she was the Manager of the award-winning Fellows Program for ArtUp and ArtsMemphis and served as the Associate Executive Director of the innovative theatre company, Playback Memphis. As an educator specializing in arts integration, Amy has taught and directed programs for dozens of organizations in her 20 years working in the nonprofit arts sector. She has written and directed over 60 plays for young performers and designed and curated an exhibit on the Tent City Civil Rights movement, for the Benjamin L. Hooks Institute for Social Change at the University of Memphis. Prior to her move to Memphis in 2013, she served as the Director of the award-winning Education and Community Outreach Programs at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati. She worked to develop educational collaborations between arts organizations from all disciplines as Co-Chair of the Greater Cincinnati Alliance for Arts Education and as a representative to the State Board of the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education.
Amy specializes in creating programs that amplify the unique voices within the community and her work has been profiled nationally for its effectiveness and unique contribution to education and the arts. Deeply committed to shining a light on the vital role of the arts in communities, she has trained advocates from various arts organizations in Memphis and has written several blog posts for Americans for the Arts.
Molly Pratt, Government & Community Relations Consultant
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.
Board of Directors
Parke Kennedy, Board President
Parke Kennedy is the Director of Development at GPAC (Germantown Performing Arts Center) in Memphis, where she has recently wrapped up a $7.5 million capital campaign for The Grove, GPAC's new outdoor performance venue. Prior to working at GPAC, she spent several years in development at ArtsMemphis. Kennedy holds a Master's Degree from Boston University in International Relations and Communications and an undergraduate degree from Tufts University in Economics and International Relations. Born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Kennedy moved with her family to Brazil at a very young age, where she remained until graduation from high school. She considers herself fortunate to have grown up in a multi-cultural environment with exposure to visual art, music, and dance at every turn, experiencing first hand the power of learning about other people, their history and their perspectives, through their art.
Kennedy's goals as TFTA Board President are to help TFTA grow as an organization, both in terms of membership and organizational structure, strengthening its ability to further its mission advocating for public funding for the arts and supporting the work of the Tennessee Arts Commission.
Rachel Salter, Board Secretary
Rachel Salter, a native of Knoxville, TN, graduated from Tennessee Tech University in 2014 with her Bachelor's degree in cello performance under the instruction of Dan Allcott. Rachel has worked for the Bryan Symphony Orchestra since 2013 and has served as the Executive Director since 2016. Rachel loves the arts administration field and also served as the Director of Operations for the Sewanee Summer Music Festival. Rachel has greatly enjoyed working for the Bryan Symphony Orchestra over the past five years and loves getting to serve the symphony and the community of Cookeville through her work.
Rachel serves as president of the Cookeville Arts Council, and is the secretary on the Tennesseans for the Arts board. Rachel teaches private cello lessons in Cookeville, and remains active in her cello playing as a member of the Orfeo String Quartet.
Bob Willie, Board Treasurer
Bob Willie is the Executive Director of the Chattanooga Ballet. He is a native of New York and began his career as assistant director to “Tony” award winning director/producer Joe Layton. He received his B.S. degree from East Carolina University where he was the recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship for excellence in theater performance.
He continued his training in the M.F.A. Acting/Directing program at the University of Louisville and at H.B. Studios in New York under the tutelage ofUtaHagan and Charles Nelson Reilly. As an actor, director and fight choreographer, Bob has over sixty professional credits ranging from Shakespeare to musical comedy. Bob has directed several productions for the ChattanoogaTheatreCentre, including On Golden Pond, Last Night of Ballyhoo, Moon Over Buffalo and A Lovely Sunday forCreveCouer, which each received the Miss Annie Award for Outstanding Production in 1999, 2000, 2001 and 2003, respectively.
Anne Pope, Executive Director, TAC
Anne B. Pope was named Executive Director of the Tennessee Arts Commission in May 2012. The Commission is the state arts agency dedicated to cultivating the arts in Tennessee for the benefit of all citizens and their communities. Over the past five years, more than 6,450 grants totaling more than $30 million have been invested in communities across Tennessee.
Anne has previously served as federal co-chair of the Appalachian Regional Commission, where she led a variety of economic and community development initiatives, including asset-based economic development; as commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance; and as executive director of the Tennessee Film, Entertainment, and Music Commission. Immediately prior to joining the Tennessee Arts Commission, she was Vice-President of STEM Education, Oak Ridge National Lab and Executive Director of the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network.
In the private sector, Anne served as president/CEO of Proffitt’s of the Tri-Cities, Inc., formerly a division of Saks, Inc., and prior to that as president/CEO of the Parks-Belk Company. A graduate of Vanderbilt University and the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, Anne is admitted to practice law in Tennessee and the District of Columbia.
Deanie Parker, TAC Commissioner, TFTA Board Member
As Soulsville’s first President and CEO, Ms. Parker led the nonprofit organization founded to build and manage the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, Stax Music Academy and The Soulsville Charter School in an area dubbed Soulsville USA. Deanie then established the Soulsville Foundation and served as its President to fund the Museum and Academy operations. Much of her professional career development in the music industry happened while she was Director of Publicity, Artists and Community Relations for Stax Records and working with such internationally famous performers as Isaac Hayes, Booker T & the MGs, Otis Redding, the Staple Singers, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Richard Pryor, The Dramatics, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King and others.
Prior to joining Soulsville Ms. Parker was the Vice-President of Communications and Marketing at Regional Medical Center at Memphis (The MED). For nearly a decade (87-95) she served as the Assistant Director of Memphis in May and returned briefly as the Interim Director for the 1996 Festival edition saluting Brazil.
David Butler, Board Member
David Butler joined the Knoxville Museum of Art as executive director in 2006 after serving as the director of the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University, the Swope Art Museum in Terre Haute, Indiana, and the Emerson Gallery at Hamilton College in Clinton, New York. He earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and a master’s degree in art history from Florida State University and received his Ph.D. in art history with concentration on seventeenth-century Italian art and architecture from Washington University in St. Louis.
Butler is past president of the Southeastern Museums Conference and past chair of the Knox County Historic Zoning Commission.
Corinne Hill, Board Member
Corinne Hill has been Executive Director of the Chattanooga Public Library since March 2012. In 2014 she was named Library Journal’s Librarian of the Year. As a sought after international public speaker and thought leader on the future of public libraries, Hill tackles such subjects as managing disruptive change, continuous improvement and innovation, and leadership and risk taking in modern librarianship. Under Hill’s innovative leadership, the Chattanooga Public Library is recognized as an inspired 21st century public institution.
Debby Koch, Board Member
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 has served on the Executive Committee of Tennesseans for the Arts, on the Executive Committee of the Tennessee Intercollegiate State Legislature, and as the Regent of the Andrew Jackson Foundation and 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.
Anne M. Locke, Board Member
A native of Mt. Pleasant, Tennessee, Anne’s experience in government and the political arena began after graduating from Rhodes College in 1994. As the sole staffer for then-first lady Martha Sundquist, one highlight different from scheduling speeches and meetings was the exposure to an array of artists from across the state. Tennessee art and artisans were always featured at the Governor’s Residence and there were many occasions to commission artists to craft gifts to share with friends and visiting dignitaries. Anne also spent three years at the state’s Economic and Community Development Department as the Director of International Affairs coordinating trade missions.
Following her state government stint, Anne joined Lamar Alexander’s first team in his U.S. Senate office as state director before moving into logistics and fundraising for the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City. On the heels of the convention, Anne led the planning for the Southeast Republican Leadership Conference, a 3-day meeting in Memphis in spring 2006 involving 26 states from the South and Midwest, drawing over 1200 attendees and more than 200 national and international members of the media. These skills became very helpful as part of the team coordinating the last three inaugurations for Governors Lee and Haslam.
Anne shifted full time into fundraising in 2007 as the southeast finance director for U.S. Senator Fred Thompson’s presidential race, covering a 12-state region. Taking a political “sabbatical” from 2008-2015, Anne worked for her alma mater Battle Ground Academy wearing several hats, including Director of Major Gifts & Planned Giving for a major capital campaign, Director of External Relations and finally Director of Annual Giving. Returning from her sabbatical in 2015, Anne joined Kaegi Resources, a boutique firm specializing in strategic consulting, fundraising and event management.
Ann K. Looney, Board Member
Born and raised in Vonore, TN, Ann K. Looney spent a good portion of her childhood playing the accordion on radio and television in Knoxville. She went on to study Flute and Piano and earned her degree in Music Education from U.T., where she was in the concert band and training orchestra. While at U.T., Ann was President and member of the Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority. After graduation, Ann taught music in Crystal River, FL, before marrying her college sweetheart, Tom and moving to Bamberg, Germany to serve out his ROTC commitments. After two years in Germany, the couple returned to Tennessee where Tom completed his Law Degree and eventually opened his own practice. Ann has taught school and private piano lessons, as well as Directing the choir at their church. She now serves as the accompanist for 2 churches in Crossville, where they reside today. Ann has served as a Tennessee Arts Commissioner and is a long-term member of the TFTA Board. She is also the founder of the Arts Roundup, a networking group for artists and arts organizations in Cumberland County. She and Tom have three children who are all UT graduates and make them very proud.
Bryce McDonald, Board Member
Bryce McDonald (Producing Director Cumberland County Playhouse) is in his 24th season with CCP, 4th as CEO. After ten years in NYC, Bryce is proud to have worked on Broadway with The Snow Geese, Come Back, Little Sheba (Manhattan Theatre Club); Man and Boy, The Importance of Being Earnest, Mrs. Warren’s Profession, Everyday Rapture, After Miss Julie, Hedda Gabler, and A Man For All Seasons (Roundabout Theatre Company). Off-Broadway: Based On A Totally True Story, Tales From Red Vienna (MTC), How I Learned To Drive (Second Stage); The Piano Teacher (Vineyard Theater); The Common Pursuit, The Marriage of Bette and Boo, Beyond Glory, Howard Katz, Suddenly Last Summer (RTC); The House in Town (Lincoln Center Theater). Regional Credits include The Curse of the Starving Class, The Killing of Sister George (Long Wharf Theatre). Selected CCP directorial credits:Ring of Fire, Shrek, Mamma Mia, The Addams Family, Million Dollar Quartet, Sister Act, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Sweeney Todd. Bryce is proud to serve as a board member of the Upper Cumberland Broadcast Council for WCTE, our local Chamber of Commerce, Crossville Breakfast Rotary. He is also a proud member of the Horizon Initiative Steering Committee. Bryce was recently honored with the 2018 “You Made It Happen” Award from the Chamber of Commerce, and was awarded two First Night Awards: 2018 Outstanding Musical for his production of SWEENEY TODD and 2018 Theaterati of the Year.
Susan Robinson, Board Member
Susan Robinson, a retired arts administrator, is now a Realtor with her family’s real estate brokerage in Chattanooga. She remains active in the arts through her volunteer work.
Robinson serves as a panelist for the Tennessee Arts Commission’s Inter-Arts grants review team. She has previously served on TAC’s Arts Education Community Learning grant panel, and has reviewed literary grants for SouthArts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
She currently serves as Chair of the Chattanooga Public Library Board of Directors, and has served as a board member of the UT-Chattanooga Chancellor’s Roundtable, Tennessee Presenters’ Corporation (where she was a founding member), and President of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern Tennessee chapter. Robinson holds a B.S. degree from the University of Tennessee in Business Administration.
Virginia Salazar-Buda, Board Member
Virginia resides in Johnson City, TN with her partner Doug, their children Miles, 13, London, 11, and two cats, Christof and Mister Weasley. Virginia’s personal experiences, advocating for the arts community through her grassroots driven non-profit organization Artlandia, Inc., have brought tremendous personal joy and satisfaction. She has an open-minded approach to problem-solving where everyone’s thought process is valued. Her career and educational background stems in communication, project management, community outreach and engagement. She began seriously advocating for the arts in 2010, in Johnson City, and has completed a variety of projects and programs that have met their intended and timed objectives. Her work at the local level has led her into developing statewide program opportunities where ideation, creation, production and programs are valued. Her long-range plans are to continue advocating and supporting a variety of groups and projects where art, culture, education and community-building intersect alongside strategic, action-oriented, thought leaders.
Virginia is the Drive Electric Tennessee Coordinator with Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition housed at the University of Tennessee’s Institute for a Secure and Sustainable Environment. Tennessee Clean Fuels Coalition is a designated member in the United States Department of Energy’s Clean Cities Program since 2004.
She’s grateful to be included in the Tennessean for the Arts Board of Director leadership team where her experience can be utilized for a positive outcome. Her current position, within the B.O.D., is in a Membership co-chairing position.
Kiran Singh Sirah, Board Member
Kiran Singh Sirah is President of the International Storytelling Center, producers of the world acclaimed National Storytelling Festival, based in Jonesborough, Tennessee. Kiran has established a number of award-winning arts, cultural and human rights programs in the UK. After 9/11 he developed programs at National Museums Scotland, and created a number of peace and conflict resolution initiatives exploring issues of religious, ethnic, and sectarian conflicts in Scotland and Northern Ireland. He went on to lead the Helen Keller International Arts award, establishing disability arts part of Glasgow’s Creative UNESCO City of Music. In 2011 Kiran embarked on a Rotary Peace Fellowship, focusing on focusing on the folklore of “home”. Working across the arts, cultural and peacebuilding and the international development community he emphasizes his interest in “the power of human creativity, arts, storytelling and social justice, and the notion of a truly multicultural society.” In 2012, Kiran was invited to give a key note address at the RI- United Nations Day at the UN headquarters, entitled Telling Stories That Matter- A project that encourages the use of arts, culture and diverse storytelling within the international peace building community.
Noah Spiegel, Board Member
Noah E. Spiegel is a nonprofit leader, arts advocate and executive with over twenty-five years’ experience in nonprofit management and arts administration.Currently, he serves as the Managing Director at Nashville Children’s Theatre the nation's oldest continually operating theatre for young audiences, driving the organization's work to empower youth through theatre training and access to the arts.From 2012-16, Mr. Spiegel served as the Executive Director of Nashville Opera where he eliminated the organization’s accrued debt, increased contributed revenues by over 30%, and increased government funding by 5%. Recognized as an innovator in community engagement strategies, Noah’s work has brought together diverse agencies to deliver compelling civic enrichment programs with results beyond the scope of one agency working on its own, such as developing the nation’s first sensory friendly opera program for children on the autism spectrum. A committed advocate for equitable access to the arts, Noah was a member of Nashville's inaugural REAL: Racial Equity in Arts Leadership cadre, and built meaningful relationships with minority and economically disadvantaged communities that dramatically expanded engagement in the arts. His work was recognized by the Nashville LGBT Chamber of Commerce with their 2015 Leadership in the Arts award. Prior to coming to Nashville, for eight seasons, he served as the Director of Production for Tulsa Opera following a high-profile stage management career including theatre, ballet, symphony and opera productions at some of the nation’s leading arts institutions. He has spoken at or served on panels for the NEA, OPERA America, Metro Nashville Arts Commission, Arts and Business Council of Nashville, and Americans for the Arts. As a speaker and facilitator, Noah has led leadership and organizational development sessions on generational diversity, visioning for agency growth, cultural curiosity and competency, and revenue development and alignment strategies.In addition to his work with TFTA, he is the co-chair of Nashville Arts Coalition. He has served on the boards of the Stage Manager’s Association, Oklahoma BizPac, and Oklahomans for Equality. He is a member of American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), Society of Human Resource Administrators national and Middle Tennessee chapters. In addition to his agency leadership and policy work, he operates a private consulting practice implementing best practices for nonprofits, and is affiliated with Nashville's Center for Nonprofit Management. He attended the University of Southern Maine, where he graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in technical theatre, and received his master’s in fine arts in stage management from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Kenneth Weaver, Board Member
Born and raised in Johnson City, TN, Kenneth Weaver is honored to be a TFTA Board Member. Kenneth received a B.S. in Management and a MBA in Accounting from East Tennessee State University, after which he went on to serve as a City/County Manager in various states including: Virginia, Kentucky, West Virginia, and New Mexico. Additionally, he has spent 25 years fostering Economic Development through service as a Board Member and Director in various community development Boards, Chambers of Commerce, Regional Development Agencies, and Transportation Boards. Kenneth has completed both the two-year Leadership Program through the Kellogg Foundation and the Senior Executive Institute Program at the University of Virginia. His artistic interests include theatre and attending various museums.
Melinda Hearn, Board Member
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 serves as West Tennessee Vice President for Tennesseans for the Arts, Jackson Rotary Club Communications Committee, Women in Business Committee, Leadership University Board, Jackson Cotillion Club New Member Educator, West TN Mississippi State Alumni Association Social Chairman, Boys and Girls Club, and American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer event volunteer. She has served as a grant panelist for the TN Arts Commission, is currently serving as a UT Martin Jackson Advisory Board Member, is on the Publicity Committee for Jackson International Food & Art Festival, the Season of Unity Art Exhibit Committee, and is an ArtmadisonAchieves and tnAchieves Mentor. She proudly supports art events, cheering on Mississippi State Bulldogs, and enjoys painting in her free time.