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  • Writer's pictureEALS

Welcome to EALS 2016-2017!

Next spring, the 10th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium will be held at American University. What began as a capstone project, meant to fill a void in the field, has grown into one of the main events on the calendars of arts managers across the country. Every year the symposium has grown, and our partnership with Americans for the Arts has continued to flourish.

This year’s theme, Focus Forward, is a call to action to not only envision the future, but to make it so. While we are thrilled to celebrate the milestone of our tenth year, we are even more excited to look ahead and actively pursue a future that is inclusive, sustainable, and in which the arts are celebrated and woven throughout all of our lives. We hope this theme will inspire thoughtful discussion and impactful action.

Like so much of working in the arts, EALS is a collaborative effort. We have an outstanding committee - and we will be looking to add first-year Arts Management students in the fall! Without further ado, here’s the 2016-2017 EALS Committee:

Haley Powell, Executive Director

Originally from Fort Worth, Texas, Haley Powell is happy to have made her way back to the DC area to pursue her MA in Arts Management at American University. Previously, she spent 10 years in Los Angeles, teaching technical theater and working in creative marketing. Having a background in visual and performing arts, Haley earned her Bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, majoring in Theater with a focus on design. Her professional work has ranged from art handling for the Smithsonian to event management and design for Xbox. Haley has designed for theaters across the country, taught high school girls how to use power tools, built puppets in the mountains of Italy, and won a chili cook-off. She is proud to be the 2016-17 AU Arts Management Fellow at Strathmore. She is an art lover, a culture consumer, a grammar monster, and prefers rolling up her sleeves to buttoning up her collar.

David Travis, Deputy Director/Finance Director

Librarian by day and musician by night, David Travis decided life just wasn't busy enough, so he added grad student and EALS Deputy Director/Finance Director to his list of titles. He is a double graduate of the University of Maryland, with a BM in Vocal Performance and an MLS in Archives, Records, and Information Management. His artistic interest is engaging audiences in the arts through community ensembles with a focus on early Renaissance and modern choral music and the musical traditions of Latin America. David has toured Europe, Asia, and Latin America with various ensembles, including the University of Maryland Chamber Singers and the Festivalensemble Stuttgart. When not on the job, David enjoys drinking tea, watching baseball, and playing guitar.

Emily Hirsch, Programming Director

Emily Hirsch is currently a graduate student in the Arts Management program at American University in Washington, DC. She started her career with a background in music performance and education. After joining the Peace Corps and serving in Cambodia, she fell in love with the international arts scene. She then worked in a performing arts center, where she realized her goal of becoming a leading arts manager. Emily is a graduate of the University of South Florida where she received her MM in Music Performance and Certificate in Nonprofit Business Management. On a nice day, you'll find Emily rowing on the Potomac River, taking photos, or looking for the most delicious Asian restaurants in DC.

Aja Roberts, Development and Logistics Director

Aja Roberts’ passions have driven her to be consistent and persistent in everything she does. Aja graduated with a double major in Musical Theatre and Hospitality Management from East Carolina University (a balancing act to say the least). She decided to pursue event management and worked as an executive meeting specialist for three years at the Ballantyne Hotel and Lodge, a renowned 4-star hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina. After much consideration and a desire to fuse her theatre arts background with her skills in event management, she looked to reconnect to the arts community. Aja is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Arts Management at American University in Washington DC, focusing on philanthropy, development, and culture and heritage. When she’s not focusing on her studies, she enjoys traveling, mastering sign language, and spending time with family and friends.

We are already hard at work preparing for the 2017 symposium. When we have gathered to discuss the brightest moments from last year and our hopes for this year, the main theme that kept coming up was conversation. EALS is a chance for students and professionals, beginners and pros, people from different backgrounds, artistic fields, and areas of expertise to gather together and discuss the issues. It’s a day when everyone is approachable and on equal footing. It is a chance for us all to learn from each other. In that spirit, we are hoping to use our blog as a place to continue the conversation. We hope to hear from arts managers throughout our community at AU and our friends at universities across the country. We would like input as to what people would like to see, who they want to hear from, and what they would like to discuss. We see EALS not as the project of a few, but rather as a forum for the many. You can always email us at or find us on Facebook/Twitter. Heck, you can even just stop a committee member in the hall and have a chat. Whatever way suits you best, we hope you will join the conversation.

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