-Minnesota State Arts Board - Minnesota North Star

Board Members

The Minnesota State Arts Board is governed by eleven volunteer public officials, who are appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the senate. The board must have one member appointed from each of Minnesota's congressional districts; other members are appointed to serve at-large. Board terms are four years. Persons appointed to the board must have demonstrated experience or interest in the arts.

Minnesotans who are interested in being considered for a seat on the board may submit an application through the state's open appointments process. Information and application instructions are available on the Minnesota Secretary of State's website.


Chair Uri Camarena
Vice chair Anthony Gardner
Vice chair Vacant
Secretary/treasurer Philip McKenzie
Officer at-large Michael Charron

Members, listed in alphabetical order

photo Uri Camarena

Uri Camarena

Congressional district 5 (at-large member), Legislative district 62A, Arts region 11
Term: April 2020–January 2024

Uri Camarena is a consultant who served as director of business consulting 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, serves on the board of Latino Economic Development Center, and has served 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).

photo Michael J. Charron
Michael J. Charron

Congressional district 1, Legislative district 26A, Arts region 10
Term: April 2020–January 2024

Michael J. Charron is an arts educator and an arts and civic leader. His previous experience includes:  executive director of grants and sponsored programs for Saint Mary's University of Minnesota; 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.

photo Richard Cohen
Richard Cohen

Saint Paul
Congressional district 4, Legislative district 64B, Arts region 11
Term: June 2021–January 2025

Richard Cohen is an attorney in private practice and a former state legislator.

Cohen served in the Minnesota Legislature for forty years. He served six years in the Minnesota House of Representatives and then served thirty-four years in the Minnesota Senate. Early in his tenure in the Senate, he founded the Legislative Arts Caucus to help legislators understand the importance of the arts in Minnesota. As chair of the Senate state government finance division, Cohen secured a significant increase in the Arts Board's general fund appropriation. He went on to chair the Senate finance committee for twelve years. In that position, he played a key leadership role in crafting the Clean Water, Land, and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution, and helped shepherd its passage through the legislature. The amendment guarantees funding for arts and cultural heritage for a period of 25 years.

Cohen was appointed by Barack Obama, and served eight years on the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities. He chaired the National Conference of State Legislatures' Arts, Tourism, and Cultural Resources Commission and served on Americans for the Arts' National Policy Board. He has served on a number of Minnesota arts, cultural, and civic boards. His leadership and advocacy have been recognized with national and local awards including the 2009 State Legislator Arts Leadership Award from Americans for the Arts, and the Sally Ordway Irvine Award for commitment to the arts in 1998.

Cohen received his JD from William Mitchell College of Law, and a bachelor of arts degree from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL).

photo Emily Galusha

Emily Galusha

Congressional district 5 (at-large member), Legislative district 61A, Arts region 11
Term: June 2023–January 2027

Emily Galusha is director emerita of Northern Clay Center, where she served as director from February 1994 to December 2011. Prior to joining the staff, she had been a board member since 1991 and chair since 1992. Galusha previously was vice president of programs at the Greater Minnesota Corporation and manager of new business development at Partners National Health Plans. She held program design, planning and management positions at The McKnight Foundation and The Bush Foundation. At The Bush Foundation, one of her major responsibilities was the Foundation's arts grantmaking, including the design and management of the Foundation's individual artist grant program.

She has been an active volunteer and board member with a number of arts and human service organizations including the Archie Bray Foundation for the Ceramic Arts, Film in the Cities, Minnesota AIDS Project, Northeast Ventures Corporation, Milkweed Editions, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

Galusha holds a BA with honors from Harvard University and an MBA from the University of Minnesota.

photo Anthony Gardner

Anthony Gardner

Saint Cloud
Congressional district 6, Legislative district 14B, Arts region 7W
Term: June 2021–January 2025

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).

photo Ken Martin

   Ken Martin

   Congressional district 2, Legislative district 52B, Arts region 11
   Term: January 2023–January 2027

Ken Martin is currently serving his sixth term as chairman of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party. Prior to his election as chairman, Martin spent two decades working for progressive candidates and causes and serving in key leadership roles around the country. Martin was elected president of the Association of State Democratic Committees in 2017 and reelected to that post in 2021. He also serves as vice chair of the Democratic National Committee.

In 2008, he led the campaign that successfully passed the Clean Water, Land and Legacy Amendment to the Minnesota Constitution which dedicated funding to the arts, environment, conservation, and parks and trails in Minnesota. Martin also led an effort on behalf of the building trades to pass prevailing wage ordinances throughout Minnesota.

Martin graduated from the University of Kansas with bachelor's degrees in political science and history.

photo Philip McKenzie

Philip McKenzie

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

Philip McKenzie is founder and owner of Bluedoor 74 and an adjunct oboe faculty member at both the University of North Dakota (Grand Forks) and North Dakota State University (Fargo). Previously, he was the team lead with Boutique Air, 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).

photo Nichole Melton-Mitchell

Michele Knife Sterner

Congressional district 7, Legislative district 15A, Arts region 6E/6W/8
Term: June 2023–January 2027

Michele Knife Sterner is the associate director of access, opportunity, success at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). Previously, she served as activities and presentation coordinator for the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Tribe; project coordinator at the University of Minnesota's Institute of Community Integration; success for the future teacher at Osseo Area Schools; and AmeriCorps*VISTA Leader at the Minnesota Literacy Council.

She is the cochair of the City of Marshall's Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Commission. She has served as cochair of Cultures on the Prairie of Southwest Minnesota, and as a member of Financial Empowerment Board of Southwest Minnesota. She recently served on the board of the Southwest Minnesota Arts Council (SMAC) and was SMAC's president for two years, treasurer for three years, and officer at-large for one year.

Sterner holds a bachelor's degree in cultural anthropology and a minor in American Indian studies from Minnesota State University Moorhead and is enrolled in a master's in education program in work, community, and family education at the University of Minnesota. She is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux (Lakota) Tribe in South Dakota.

photo Dobson West

Dobson West

Congressional district 5, Legislative district 61A, Arts region 11
Term: June 2021–January 2025

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 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).

photo Christina Woods

Christina Woods

Congressional district 8, Legislative district 8B, Arts region 3
Term: May 2022–January 2026

Christina Woods is a Bois Forte Nation tribal member with extensive experience working with diverse groups within government, business, nonprofits, and education. Since 2017, she has been the executive director at the Duluth Art Institute. She also served as an adjunct professor at the College of St. Scholastica. Her direct experience working with underrepresented communities has been an important aspect throughout her career.

In February 2022, she was appointed to serve on the U. S. Senate Curatorial Advisory Board. She is serving a second term as president of the Duluth Public Arts Commission. In addition, she was appointed in 2018 to the Minnesota Capitol Art Exhibit Advisory Committee and serves on the steering committee of the Minnesota Arts and Culture Coalition.

Woods has a master of education degree in teacher leadership; and a bachelor of science degree, with a concentration in elementary education; from the University of Minnesota.

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