-Minnesota State Arts Board - Minnesota North Star

Board Members

The Minnesota State Arts Board is governed by eleven citizens who are appointed by the governor. One member is selected from each of the state's congressional districts; the remaining members are appointed at-large. Members serve four-year terms.


Chair Philip McKenzie
Vice chair Uri Camarena
Vice chair Chris Widdess
Secretary/treasurer Mary McReynolds

Officer at-large

Sean Dowse  

Members, listed in alphabetical order


Peggy Burnet

Congressional district 3, Legislative district 33A, Arts region 11
Term: July 2018–January 2022

Peggy Burnet is a civic leader and entrepreneur; she was a principal in the retail book and stationery business for many years.

She recently completed a term as chair of the board of trustees of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. During the years she served on the Smithsonian National Board, she served as the boardís vice chair, chair of its science committee, and chair of its nominating committee. In addition, she has served on the boards of Minnesota Public Radio, Planned Parenthood, Childrenís Theatre, and Sheltering Arms, in various leadership and fundraising capacities.

Burnet and her husband, Ralph Burnet, are champions of contemporary art and have maintained a longstanding relationship with the Walker Art Center, where he served as a board member for twenty-two years.


Uri Camarena

Congressional district 5, Legislative district 62A, Arts region 11
Term: April 2020–January 2024

Uri Camarena is a business development consultant with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association (MEDA). Previously, he was an executive with UPS for 30 years, with a strong background in operations, communications, public relations, and learning and development. He participated in multiple UPS international start-up projects in Europe and South America. Locally, he managed a number of departments for UPS, including the UPS Foundation.

Camarena is well known in the Twin Cities for his involvement in philanthropy, focusing on families at risk and the arts. He chaired the board of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and serves on the board of Latino Economic Development Council; and serves on the advisory boards of PACER and Minnesota Business magazine. Camarena has volunteered for a number of organizations including United Way, Boys and Girls Club, VocalEssence, and Junior Achievement.

Camarena graduated from high school in Guadalajara, Mexico. He received a BS from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, MN) and an MBA from Saint Maryís University of Minnesota (Winona, MN).

Michael J. Charron

Congressional district 1, Legislative district 28A, Arts region 10
Term: April 2020–January 2024

Michael J. Charron is executive director of grants and sponsored programs for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. His previous experience includes: dean of arts and humanities at Saint Mary's University; professor of theater arts and chair/artistic director of the theater department at Concordia University; guest artist, University of North Dakota; and high school English and theater instructor at Atwater High School.

He served in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 2004 to 2006, and also served on the Woodbury City Council, the South Washington County Telecommunications Commission, the Woodbury Fine Arts Council, and the Hill Murray Community Theatre board of directors.

Charron has an MFA in theater from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, MN); a BA in theater, English, and secondary education from Saint Mary's College (Winona, MN); and studied theater at Goldsmith's College, University of London.


Sean Dowse

Red Wing
Congressional district 2, Legislative district 21A, Arts region 10
Term: July 2019–January 2023

Sean Dowse is the mayor of the city of Red Wing. Previously, he was executive director of the Sheldon Theatre (Red Wing), associate artistic director and general manager at the Cricket Theatre (Minneapolis), and he worked in the literary department at the Guthrie Theater (Minneapolis).

He serves on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and has served on many nonprofit arts boards including the Minnesota Music Coalition and the Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies. Dowse directs plays and musicals for Red Wing High School and Red Wing's community theater group, Phoenix Theatre.

Dowse received an MFA in directing from the University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT).


Anthony Gardner

Saint Cloud
Congressional district 6, Legislative district 14B, Arts region 7W
Term: May 2020–January 2021

Anthony Gardner is vice president, marketing and communications at CentraCare, a $1.5 billion health system in Central Minnesota. Previously, he was vice president, marketing and communications at Henry Ford Allegiance Health (Jackson, MI); director of marketing and strategic planning at North Memorial Health Care (Minneapolis); and global marketing manager, regional contract manager, and U. S. marketing manager at Medtronic, Inc. (Minneapolis).

While living in Michigan, he served on the boards of the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, the Arts and Cultural Alliance of Jackson County, and the Ella Sharp Museum of Art and History; and the advisory board of the Gainey School of Business at Spring Arbor University. Most recently, he served on the board of the Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota (Saint Cloud).

Gardner holds an MA in communications from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD); an MBA in marketing and strategic management from the University of Chicago (Chicago, IL); and a BA in biomedical engineering from Yale University (New Haven, CT).


Philip McKenzie

Thief River Falls
Congressional district 7, Legislative district 1B, Arts region 1
Term: April 2020–January 2024

Philip McKenzie is team lead with Boutique Air, founder and owner of Bluedoor 74, and an adjunct oboe faculty at both the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) and North Dakota State University (Fargo). Previously, he was executive director of the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra; vice president of business systems at Digi-Key Corporation; chief executive officer at Dakota Clinic Thief River Falls; senior manager at Accenture; senior consultant-organizational development at Hay Management Consultants; and associate at McKinsey & Company.

He currently serves on the board of Rotary; and has served on the boards of Thief River Falls Community Theater, Greater Grand Forks Symphony, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Sheridan Chamber Players, and the Phi Beta Kappa Association of the Chicago Area.

McKenzie has a master of management degree from Kellogg Graduate School of Management, Northwestern University (Evanston, IL); a master of music degree from Michigan State University (East Lansing, MI); and a bachelor of arts in music from University of North Dakota (Grand Forks, ND).


Mary McReynolds

Congressional district 8, Legislative district 6B, Arts region 3
Term: July 2018–January 2022

Mary McReynolds currently serves as executive director at the Lyric Center for the Arts, and coordinator of the First Stage Gallery. Previously, she was a senior planner for Saint Louis County; a technical aide at 3M; an air quality technician for the Minnesota Department of Transportation; a planner for the city of Bloomington, IN; and a hydrologist and dam inventory specialist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

She is a member of ReVive Virginia (the downtown revitalization committee) and chairs the Virginia Planning and Zoning Commission. She served on the Virginia City Council from 2015-2017 and chaired the cityís comprehensive plan steering committee. In 2017, she received the Arrowhead Regional Arts Councilís Maddie Simons Arts Advocate Award, which is presented to an individual whose involvement in a project or program has substantially contributed to the arts in the Arrowhead region.

McReynolds has a masterís degree in environmental studies from Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN), and a bachelor of science degree in psychology, with a minor in biology/music, from Bemidji State University (Bemidji, MN).


Dobson West

Congressional district 5, Legislative district 61A, Arts region 11
Term: June 2017–January 2021

Dobson West is a retired attorney. He most recently served as senior managing director of Spell Capital Partners, a private equity firm in Minneapolis. Prior to joining Spell Capital, he was in the private practice of law with Fredrikson & Byron, P. A. in Minneapolis.

West is an active supporter of the arts. He has served on several nonprofit boards including MacPhail Center for Music and The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra where he continues to serve on the board after having served for seven years as its chair and almost two years as its interim president.

He has a BA degree from Williams College (Williamstown, MA); and a JD degree from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, MN).


Chris Widdess

Congressional district 5, Legislative district 59B, Arts region 11
Term: July 2019–January 2023

Chris Widdess is an arts and nonprofit consultant specializing in strategic realignment, special projects, new market development, and campaigns. Previously, she was the managing director at the Penumbra Theatre Company; director of public outreach, marketing, and development for the Saint Paul Riverfront Corporation; promotions manager for the Saint Paul Pioneer Press; and director of marketing and communications at Minnesota Public Radio. As a consultant with the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, she has worked on capacity building with Weeksville (Brooklyn, NY); Casita Maria (Bronx, NY); and Red Cloud Indian School (Pine Ridge, SD).

She currently is chair of City of Saint Paulís Cultural STAR board. She served on a number of grant application review committees with the Cultural STAR program and the National Endowment for the Arts. She served on the Theatre Facts review committee of the Theatre Communications Group, and served on the board of the Minnesota Orchestra.

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