People in the News (10/22/17): Appointments, Promotions, Obituaries

People in the News (10/22/17): Appointments, Promotions, Obituaries

The Heinz Endowments in Pittsburgh have announced the appointment of SHAUNDA MILES as program officer for arts and culture. In that role, Miles will help develop and implement a range of arts grantmaking activity related to visual and performing arts. Miles comes to the endowments from Blake Zidell and Associates, a Brooklyn-based public relations firm representing artists, arts institutions and festivals. Before that, she served as the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s director of public relations from 2013-16 and worked for theater companies across the country, including the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Second Stage Theatre, Yale Rep, the Pasadena Playhouse, and Cornerstone Theater Company.

The New York City-based Markle Foundation has announced the appointment of CLAUDIA HUSEMANN as senior director, strategic communications and public engagement. In that role, Husemann will be responsible for the foundation's strategic communications and media relations initiatives as it works to transform the American labor market from one solely focused on traditional credentials to one rooted in the digital economy skills needed for jobs of the twenty-first century. Husemann joins Markle from Edelman, a leading global communications marketing firm, where she served as executive vice president with responsibility for one of Edelman's largest global accounts and before that was group head of the firm’s New York corporate communications practice.

America's Promise Alliance, the nation’s largest network dedicated to improving the lives of children and youth, has elected three members to its board of directors: NICOLE ANDERSON oversees AT&T’s philanthropic initiatives, including AT&T Aspire — a $400 million commitment since 2008 to drive innovation in education by accelerating the learning revolution and connecting it to the young people who need it most. MARY ANNE SCHMITT-CAREY leads Say Yes, a national nonprofit that partners with communities around the goal of providing every public high school graduate access to a college or other postsecondary scholarship, and is president of the Weiss Institute, a new partnership between Say Yes, America's Promise and the Center for Promise. And ELIZABETH ZALANGA attends Saint Paul Community and Technical College in St. Paul, Minnesota, where she plans to graduate with a degree an Associate in Arts Degree with an emphasis in social science and public affairs. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, Zalanga serves on the board of directors at Youthprise, is a representative on the Saint Paul/Ramsey County Board of Commissioners, and is a youth advisory board member for the Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women.

After an extensive national search, the Foundation Fighting Blindness (FFB) In Columbia, Maryland, has announced the appointment of BENJAMIN YERXA, a biotechnology and drug development executive, as its new chief executive officer. In his most recent role as president and co-founder of Envisia Therapeutics, Yerxa led an organization focused on the development of novel ocular sustained delivery therapies for the front and back of the eye. He also has extensive pharmaceutical and scientific management experience, having served as a co-founder and in other senior executive positions in several ophthalmology-based R&D organizations, including Liquidia Technologies, Clearside Biomedical, Parion Sciences and Inspire Pharmaceuticals, and holds sixty U.S. patents.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has announced the appointment of LAUREN A. MESERVE as senior vice president and chief investment officer. Meserve joined the museum's investment team in 2002 and in 2014 was named chief investment officer alongside SUZANNE BRENNER, who is leaving the museum after eighteen years to take a position as managing director and chief investment officer at Brown Brothers Harriman. 

In other news, the Kaufman Music Center in New York City has announced that LYDIA KONTOS, the only professional leader it has known, will be stepping down as executive director next September. The institution was founded in 1952 by Dr. Tzipora H. Jochsberger as the Hebrew Arts School for Music and Dance and was renamed the Elaine Kaufman Cultural Center in 1991 in honor of a major gift from New York philanthropists Elaine and Henry Kaufman. Kontos, a former classroom teacher and self-described "very average piano student," first took the reins of the organization in 1979 at the age of 34 and in the 1990s, working with the center’s board and the New York City Department of Education, created Special Music School/P.S. 859, the only public K-8 school in the city for musically gifted children. The school opened in 1996, and in 2013 it expanded to include a high school, the only one of its kind in New York. In 2017, 100 percent of the school's students achieved proficiency on both exams, 100 percent of the senior class graduated, and all applicants were admitted to colleges or conservatories.

PND also notes the passing of HELEN J. DeVOS, a western Michigan philanthropist known for her support of children's health, Christian education, and the arts, at the age of 90. DeVos was the wife of Rich DeVos, who co-founded direct-sales company Amway and owns the NBA’s Orlando Magic, and is the mother-in-law of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Born in Grand Rapids, DeVos and her husband were big donors to the Republican Party and Republican presidential candidates and supported Grand Rapids Christian schools and numerous colleges and universities. Helen DeVos also was a prominent supporter of the Grand Rapids Symphony, where she was a board member and officer from 1971 to 1990, and provided the funding to help the Grand Rapids Symphony make its first commercial recording of GRS-commissioned works.


"Endowments Names Shaunda Miles Program Officer for Arts and Culture." Heinz Endowments News Release 10/19/2017. "Claudia Husemann Joins Markle Foundation as Senior Director, Strategic Communications and Public Engagement." Markle Foundation Email 10/16/2017. "America’s Promise Alliance Welcomes New Board and Trustee Members." America’s Promise Alliance News Release 10/19/2017. "Benjamin Yerxa Named Foundation Fighting Blindness CEO." Foundation Fighting Blindness Press Release 10/17/2017. "Lauren A. Meserve Named Senior Vice President and Chief Investment Officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Metropolitan Museum of Art Press Release 10/18/2017. "Lydia Kontos Announces Retirement From Kaufman Music Center After 40 Years." Kaufman Music Center Email. 10/17/2017. "Helen DeVos, Who Backed Health, Education Causes, Dies at 90." Associated Press 10/19/2017.