Why Fargo Moorhead Chief Executives Support Local Arts – INFORUM | Candle Made Easy

FARGO — Can you imagine a place where art shouldn’t exist?

We certainly cannot, and neither can the board members of The Arts Partnership 2022-23. While they are all well-established community leaders who encourage growth in sectors such as technology, finance, education and healthcare, they are also staunch supporters of the local arts community. They believe that art has a place everywhere.

As TAP board members, they bring the art into conference rooms, zoom rooms and break rooms throughout the region’s corporate landscape.

Your work also enables us to fulfill our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. By engaging at leadership levels across the region, they’re helping us expand our reach, which means we can bring more art to more people, in more places than ever before.

Meet the current board members of TAP, learn about their daily work and why they believe in the transformative power of local art.

CEO of Choice Bank and TAP

Shelley Szudera.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Szudera, Choice Bank’s creative director, believes that a pop of local art is a powerful way to create employee engagement and a greater sense of job satisfaction. Szudera led efforts to offer The Arts Partnership’s ArtWORKS program at four Choice Bank locations. ArtWORKS brings rotating art exhibitions, music concerts, and performance art by local artists to participating companies. She has been a board member of TAP since 2018.

“What is often misunderstood is how deep TAP’s connections are in our community and that TAP impacts our community by being a resource for every artist and nonprofit,” Szudera said. “Our board members understand that arts, artists and arts nonprofits are changing in a COVID recovery world, and we stand ready to support that journey.”

Executive Vice President of Microsoft and TAP

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Shyla Thompson.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Thompson is a release manager at Microsoft, where she makes processes and tools work better for employees, customers, and stakeholders. She has been a member of TAP’s Communications Committee since October 2016 and is an avid supporter of all programs and opportunities TAP offers.

Thompson is particularly passionate about TAP’s Community Supported Art program, of which she has been a shareholder since its inception a few years ago.

Microsoft (retired) and TAP Treasurer

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Dan Leephon.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Leeaphon grew up in Tokyo, has lived in Vancouver and Montreal and has lived in Fargo since joining Microsoft, where he worked until his retirement earlier this year. As someone who has seen the world and experienced the vast human experience around the world, Leeaphon sees local arts as a powerful way to create immediate engagement in a new community.

“These are challenging times and yet we all crave art and especially local art. When we touch, see and hear local art, perhaps we express our shared humanity and therefore our sense of community,” Leeaphon said. “By serving on the TAP Board of Directors, I hope to support the important role local arts and artists play in our community.”

Secretary of Sanford Health and TAP

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Scott Seiler.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Seiler is a senior marketing specialist at Sanford Health, a fine arts photographer and a longtime TAP board member, as well as a board member of FM Visual Artists and Gallery 4, where he is also a senior artist director.

“The Arts Partnership is constantly working to support artists and arts organizations in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. Sharing the impact of local art on all of us is important to me, which is why I find it rewarding to be on the board of The Arts Partnership,” said Seiler.

US Attorney’s Office, Fargo School Board and TAP Board Member

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Melissa Burkland.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Burkland is an Assistant United States Attorney in the Civil Division of the United States Attorneys’ Office and a member of the Fargo School Board. Burkland has chosen to serve on the board of TAP to focus on accessibility and inclusion in the arts.

“I believe that art is an integral part of a community,” she said. “TAP’s mission and commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion inspire me and I want to do the best I can to support TAP’s programs and artists.”

Artist, Aggregate Industries and TAP Board Member

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Anna Johnson.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Johnson is a chartered member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She serves as interim executive director for The Indigenous Association, is a tandem rider for Aggregate Industries, chair of the board of nonprofit organization The Human Family, and a former member of the City of Fargo’s Native American Commission. As an artist and partner of The Arts Partnership, she seeks to better connect with a broader and more diverse base of artists, makers and culture makers.

“I’m excited to be able to collaborate with the arts community in a more meaningful way, and I hope that as an organization and as an arts community, we can bring more diversity to the fore and show how many cultures and people we have here in Fargo,” Johnson said . “I hope that together we can grow to change the way we look at art, because art can change the world.”

NDSU and TAP board member

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Christi McGeorge.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

McGeorge is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University. As someone trained in play therapy, she has experienced firsthand the healing power that creating art (in all its many forms) can have on individuals, relationships and families.

“As a TAP board member, I am committed to exploring how to improve access to art for marginalized and underserved communities,” said McGeorge.

Marvin and TAP board member

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Cairn Reisch.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Reisch is Community Relations Manager for Marvin and new to the TAP Board of Directors in 2022. Her interest stems from an appreciation of art and the energy it brings to community and corporate spaces. Reisch brings ArtWORKS to two Marvin locations.

“At Marvin, we believe our purpose is to envision and create better ways of living,” said Reisch. “And in my personal opinion, the power of art lies in its ability to improve people’s lives and build and strengthen the culture of a community.”

NDSU and TAP board member

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Jan Schuh.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Schuh is the Director of Special Initiatives for NDSU’s Department of Agricultural Affairs and a new TAP board member. She is an academic researcher and administrator with a long history of involvement in the nonprofit, start-up, and business communities.

“As a lifelong North Dakotan, the community of Fargo-Moorhead is very close to my heart. I feel like art brings life to all of our lives and makes our area a place where people want to work, learn and shape their lives,” Schuh said.

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and TAP Board Member

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Anne Thumer.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Thurmer is an Assistant Professor of Student Affairs Leadership and Administration at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Dyslexic, she was drawn to the performing arts from an early age because it helped her find confidence and competence through artistic expression when school was difficult. Thurmer has also benefited from grant-funded arts programs that have enabled her to participate in artistic pursuits her family could not have otherwise afforded.

“I think this generation’s mission is shifting away from access to equity, and even on the days I’m not sure what that looks like or means, I find TAP to be a wonderful place to explore and work to begin,” Thurmer said.

M State and TAP Board Member

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Marsha Weber.

Contribution / Special to The Arts Partnership

Weber is currently Dean of the School of Business and Information Technology at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead. She has been involved with music all her life, playing piano in church, directing choirs, singing and playing in a band during college and many other activities.

“As a TAP board member, I intend to connect business and the arts in our communities and I look forward to doing whatever I can to promote and support the arts in our region,” said Weber.

Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and owner of lonna.co, a content marketing and communications agency based in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a regular contributor to The Arts Partnership’s content library and also provides strategic communications advice to the organization. This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a non-profit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. Visit theartspartnership.net for more information.

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