Staff & Board

Not quite sure who you need to talk to? Call the M’s main line at (651) 797-2571 or email info@mmaa.org, and we’ll direct you to the right person.

Kristin Makholm, PhD

Executive Director
651.492.0309
kmakholm@mmaa.org

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Kristin Makholm took over the helm as Executive Director at the Minnesota Museum of American Art in July 2009. A Milwaukee native, she comes to the museum as a respected curator, art historian, and teacher, having received her B.A. from Northwestern University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. She has worked as a curator of prints and drawings at the St. Louis Art Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum and was Director of Galleries and Exhibitions at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design from 2004-2009.  She won a Minnesota Book Award in 2014 for the M’s exhibition catalogue Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison.

Christopher Atkins

Curator of Exhibitions & Public Programs
651.797.2853
catkins@mmaa.org

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Christopher Atkins is an experienced curator and artist, with a well-established reputation of working with and supporting Minnesota’s artists, as well as for presenting high-impact installations by nationally recognized artists. Before joining the M, he was coordinator of the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program at the Minneapolis Institute of Art from 2009 – 2015. Atkins has also served as an adjunct lecturer at the Minneapolis College of Art & Design and Macalester College where he taught courses on museum studies and contemporary art. He holds M.Res & M.A. degrees in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College, University of London, Graduate Certificate of Museum Studies from Harvard University and B.A. History of Art from the College of Wooster.

Curtis Bjerke

Exhibition Services Preparator
651.797.2571
cbjerke@mmaa.org

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Curtis Bjerke moved to the Twin Cities area from northern Minnesota in 2004 and attended Minneapolis College of Art and Design, where he graduated in 2009 with a BFA in painting. Before coming to the M in late 2013, Curtis worked as an installer at various art galleries, as well as handling private art collections and building custom picture frames in his woodshop. He’s an adventurous, outdoorsy person, and when he’s not here at the M, maintaining the gallery and preparing art and frames for exhibitions, Curtis can be found camping and canoeing in the wilderness.

Christine Durand

Director of Advancement
651.797.2571
cdurand@mmaa.org

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A lifelong art lover, collector, and patron, Christine Durand has found the arts to be an essential part of what makes a vibrant community. She comes to the M from a variety of posts in nonprofits around the Twin Cities, working to create a healthy, more engaged community for us all to live, work, and play. She was most recently Director of Advancement for the Minnesota Environmental Partnership, and held previous leadership positions within Planned Parenthood of MN, SD, ND, and the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She has a B.A. in Journalism from Drake University and an M.P.A. in Public and Nonprofit Leadership from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota.

Courtney Gerber

Curator of Learning & Engagement
651.288.2486
cgerber@mmaa.org

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Courtney Gerber served as Associate Director of Education at the Walker Art Center from 2007-2014. There she drove initiatives focused on interactive gallery learning and hands-on art making with a commitment to accessibility and equity, and founded Contemporary Journeys, a groundbreaking program for people with Alzheimer’s and their care partners. The program provided a social and safe space for creative risk-taking. Although raised in Minnesota, Gerber has held positions at museums across the country including the Brooklyn Museum in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Most recently she has served as a consultant offering audience engagement, curatorial, and fundraising support to Twin-Cities-based arts nonprofits. Gerber holds a BA in art history from Lawrence University and an MA in art history from Tufts University with a concentration on American and feminist art and museum studies.

Jennifer Hensley

Director of Operations
651.797.4057
jhensley@mmaa.org

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Within her career as a financial professional, Jenn Hensley has found art to be an intrinsic part of daily life. She comes to the M from the Fort Collins (CO) Downtown Development Authority where she was Financial Coordinator and Creative Director. In working with local artists in Fort Collins, she found a lack of opportunities for emerging artists and created a downtown arts activation program.  Jenn also co-founded the Fort Collins Mural Project while also serving as treasurer in the Denver Art Museum’s CultureHaus organization. A native of Texas, she holds a Master’s degree in Public Accountancy from West Texas A&M University.

Anna Lavanger

Accounting Associate
651.288.2814
alavanger@mmaa.org

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Anna Lavanger moved back home to the Twin Cities in 2014 after completing her B.A. in Economics and Art and Art History at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY.  Before joining the staff at the M she worked, interned and volunteered at a handful of nonprofit art organizations throughout the Twin Cities including the Minneapolis Institute of Art, Franconia Sculpture Park, and Art Buddies. Anna started as a Development Intern in June 2015 and moved into her current role as Administrative Assistant in February 2016. She is interested in the intersection between art and community, specifically how art can play a role in economic stimulation and community growth. In her role at the museum, she enjoys the well-rounded experience having a hand in a variety of things, from assisting the executive director to finance to donor communications.

Benjamin Reed

Exhibition Services Manager
651.797.2571
breed@mmaa.org

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A Colorado native, Benjamin Reed started handling art when he was a student at Goshen College in Indiana. He moved to Minneapolis in 2006 and received his MFA from Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 2008. Honing his skills at the Science Museum of Minnesota, he has worked in all aspects of exhibition installation. Ben also manages the logistical details of art handling for galleries like the Weinstein Gallery, as well as for corporate and private clients throughout the Twin Cities. When not handling art, he is creating his own, even receiving a Jerome Foundation grant for his work.

Susannah Schouweiler

Communications Manager
651.204-0700
sschouweiler@mmaa.org

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Susannah Schouweiler has been an arts journalist, critic, and editor in the Minnesota arts scene for more than 10 years. As a writer and critic, she has contributed to a number of local and national publications, including Hyperallergic, MinnPost, City Pages, The Growler, Rain Taxi Review of Books, Public Art Review, and others. Before her work at the M, she served as Editor-in-Chief of Mn Artists, a web-based platform for Minnesota artists based at the Walker Art Center. She holds a master’s degree in History of Asian Religions (studying ancient and classical South Asian texts and traditions) from the University of Iowa. She lives in St. Paul with her husband and kids and way too many critters.

Mai Vang

Registrar
651.453.1750
mvang@mmaa.org

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Mai Vang is a passionate museum enthusiast with a vast experience in collection care and curation, exhibit development, museum education, and grant writing. Mai holds a Master’s of Science degree in Anthropology and Museum Studies Certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Minnesota. Most recently she completed a summer fundraising campaign for the Richfield Historical Society as Executive Director and Founded the Hmong Museum. Previously she was Curator at the Minnesota Discovery Center where she successfully completed a permanent exhibit renovation, drastically increased attendance through programming, and established professional excellence in collection management.

Board of Directors

Nancy Apfelbacher
Former Art Teacher, Art Consultant

Thomas J. Arneson
Art Collector

Jo Bailey
Art Collector

Mike Birt
Consultant to 3M for Strategic Planning and New Business Development

Andy Currie
Managing Partner, Currie, Ferner, Scarpetta & DeVries

Jim Denomie
Visual Artist

Susan Focke
Former Exhibitions and Program Manager, University of St. Thomas, Department of Art History

Ann M. Heider
Art Collector

Robin Hickman
CEO and Executive Producer, Soul Touch Productions

Thomas Hysell, AIA, LEED
Principal, Alliance

Hawona Sullivan Janzen
Special Projects Coordinator at Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) Gallery

John Larkin, MD | Emeritus
Art Collector and Retired Orthopedic Surgeon

Mike McCormick
Associate 
General Counsel, Ecolab

Paul C.N. Mellblom, AIA, LEED | Chair
Principal, Meyer, Scherer & Rockcastle

Dave Neal | Treasurer
Principal, Tealwood Asset Management

Ann Ruhr Pifer
Owner, The Grand Hand Gallery;
Chief Operating Officer, Adopt-A-Classroom

Diane Pozdolski | Vice Chair
Former Vice President, Compensation Benefits and HRIS, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Robyne Robinson
Artist and Director, Arts@MSP, Airport Foundation MSP

Jim Rustad | Chair
Former RBC Wealth Management and Attorney

Michael Sammler-Jones
Senior Director, Internal Communications, Community Relations & Enterprise Events, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota

Rick Scott
Vice President of Finance and Compliance, McKnight Foundation

KaYing Yang
President, Co-founder, RedGreen Rivers, LLC

Dick Zehring
President, MSP Commercial

Ex-Officio Members

Mayor Melvin Carter
Mayor, City of St. Paul

Kristin Makholm, PhD
Executive Director, Minnesota Museum of American Art