The 60th Anniversary National Conference Keynote Speakers


Richard Kessler bio picRichard Kessler is a nationally recognized expert in K–12 arts education. He has been an executive, consultant, teacher, and leading thinker in all areas of K–12 arts education, including policy, teaching and learning, funding, and research. Mr. Kessler has served as executive director of The Center for Arts Education and the American Music Center. He also acted as a consultant in the development of arts and education programs for major cultural organizations and leading foundations, including Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education (CAPE) and The Center for Arts Education in New York City. Today, as dean of Mannes College The New School for Music, Richard Kessler has extended his leadership to the training of musicians. Kessler is the board treasurer of the Washington, DC–based education advocacy organization Common Core and a board member of the American Composers Orchestra and the Festival of New Trumpet Music. 


Ayanna Hudson bio pic

Ayanna Hudson is the Arts Education Director at the National Endowment for the Arts. Previously, Hudson was the Director of Arts Education with the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. She developed and led the implementation of Arts for All, ensuring equitable access to arts education for 1.6 million students in the county's 81 school districts, the largest educational system in the country. Prior to her work in Los Angeles, Hudson was the program manager for the School Arts Program at the Fulton County Department of Arts and Culture in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a B.A. in psychology from Spelman College and a specialized master's degree in education in risk and prevention from Harvard University.


Ben Cameron bio pic

Ben Cameron is the Program Director, Arts, at the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation in New York, where he supervises a $13 million grants program aimed at the theatre, contemporary dance, jazz and presenting fields. Grants happen in three main areas: commissioning and distribution of new works; building strong arts organizations; and supporting national arts organizations. During 13 seasons, Cameron has been a panelist on the opera quiz during the Live from the Metropolitan radio broadcasts from New York. He has also served as a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee.



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