-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 Peggy Burnet
Vice chair Chris Widdess
Secretary/treasurer Sean Dowse

Officer at-large

Michael J. Charron

Members, listed in alphabetical order


Ardell Brede

Congressional district 1, Legislative district 26A, Arts region 10
Term: February 2015–January 2019

Ardell Brede was elected mayor of Rochester in November 2002. Brede retired from Rochester Methodist Hospital/Mayo Clinic after a forty-three year career, when he was elected.

Brede is actively involved in drawing, sketching, and in music. He and his wife Judy are frequent participants in theater, music, and visual arts activities. As mayor, he rejuvenated the Rochester Arts Council, helped establish WinterFest, ARTStoberFest, and an arts exchange with Rochester's partner city Siheung City, South Korea. Following Hurricane Katrina, he helped organize the collection of musical instruments in Rochester that were sent to New Orleans. During his presidency of the League of Minnesota Cities, he promoted the arts as a valued asset in every city. As a member of the U. S. Conference of Mayors, he is an active member of the Tourism, Arts, Parks, Entertainment, and Sports Committee.

He holds a degree from Austin Junior College (Austin, MN) and studied management and leadership at the University Minnesota (Twin Cities, MN), Brigham Young University (Provo, UT), and Rochester Methodist Hospital/Mayo Clinic.


Peggy Burnet

Congressional district 3, Legislative district 33A, Arts region 11
Term: March 2014–January 2018

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. She is a member of the Smithsonian National Board and has served as a vice chair of the board, 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, Children’s 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: June 2016–January 2020

Uri Camarena is a business development consultant with the Metropolitan Economic Development Association. 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 chairs the board of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design; 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 Mary’s University of Minnesota (Winona, MN).

Michael J. Charron

Congressional district 1, Legislative district 28A, Arts region 10
Term: June 2016–January 2020

Michael J. Charron is the dean of the School of the Arts at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota. His previous experience includes: 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: February 2015–January 2019

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

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).


Thomas Moss

Saint Paul
Congressional district 4, Legislative district 64B, arts region 11
Term: June 2017–January 2021

Tom Moss is a consultant to nonprofit organizations and government agencies, working independently and with Public Strategies Group. His previous experience includes: interim CEO, MacPhail Center; director of results management, Office of Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura; deputy commissioner and director of long term care, Minnesota Department of Human Services; vice president, National Chronic Care Consortium; executive director, Episcopal Homes; and administration and direct service, Ebenezer Society.

He has served on the boards of the MacPhail Center for Music and his Saint Paul neighborhood council. He is the treasurer at his church, La Misión El Santo Niño Jesús, and was a Bush Leadership Fellow.

Moss has an MA in public affairs from the University of Minnesota's Humphrey School of Public Affairs (Twin Cities, MN); an MPA from Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government (Cambridge, MA); and a BA in social work from the University of Minnesota (Twin Cities, 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: June 2016–January 2019

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 has served on a number of grant application review committees with the City of Saint Paul’s 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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