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Why Fargo-Moorhead business leaders support local art

Meet the board members of The Arts Partnership and find out what inspires them to support the arts in our community.

Creativity in Art Studio
Get to know the board members of The Arts Partnership.
RomoloTavani / Getty Images / iStockphoto
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FARGO — Can you think of a place where art shouldn’t exist?

We sure can’t, and neither can The Arts Partnership’s 2022-23 board members. While all of them are well-established community leaders fostering growth in sectors like technology, finance, education and health care, they’re also fierce advocates of the local arts community. They believe art has a place everywhere.

As TAP board members, they’re bringing the arts to conference rooms, Zoom rooms and break rooms across the region’s corporate landscape.

Their work is also allowing us to fulfill our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. By advocating at a leadership level across the region, they help us broaden our reach, which means we get to bring more art to more people in more places than ever before.

Get to know TAP’s current board members, learn about their day jobs and why they believe in the transformative power of local art.

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Read more from The Arts Partnership
Local artists from across the region open up their creative spaces Oct. 1 and 2 and invite visitors in to learn more about their craft and how they work.

Shelley Szudera

Choice Bank and TAP board chair

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Shelley Szudera.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Szudera, Choice Bank’s creative director, believes a pop of local art is a powerful way to create employee engagement and a greater sense of work satisfaction. Szudera led efforts to bring The Arts Partnership’s ArtWORKS program to four Choice Bank locations. ArtWORKS brings rotating art exhibits, music concerts and performance art by local artists to participating businesses. She’s been a TAP board member since 2018.

“What is often misunderstood is how deep the connections TAP are in our community and that by being a resource for every artist and arts nonprofit influences our community,” Szudera said. “Our board members understand art, artists and arts nonprofits are transforming in a COVID recovery world and we’re ready to support that journey.”

Shyla Thompson

Microsoft and TAP board vice chair

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Shyla Thompson.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Thompson is a release manager for Microsoft, where she makes processes and tools work better for employees, clients and stakeholders. She’s served on TAP’s communications committee since October 2016 and is an enthusiastic supporter of all the programs and opportunities that happen with TAP.

Thompson is particularly enthusiastic about TAP’s Community Supported Art program , for which she’s been a shareholder since its inception several years ago.

Dan Leeaphon

Microsoft (retired) and TAP treasurer

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DanLeeaphon.jpeg
Dan Leeaphon.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Leeaphon grew up in Tokyo, lived in Vancouver and Montreal and has lived in Fargo ever since taking a job at Microsoft, where he worked until retiring earlier this year. As someone who’s seen the world and experienced the enormity of the human experience across the globe, Leeaphon considers local art to be a powerful way of creating immediate engagement in a new community.

“These are challenging times and yet this is when we all crave art, and particularly local art. Perhaps as we touch, see and hear local art we express for ourselves our shared humanity and thus our sense of community,” Leeaphon said. “By serving on the TAP board, I hope to support the vital role local art and artists have in our community.”

Scott Seiler

Sanford Health and TAP secretary

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Scott Seiler.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Seiler is a lead marketing specialist at Sanford Health, a fine art photographer and longtime TAP board member and board member for the FM Visual Artists and Gallery 4, where he is also a premier artist member.

“The Arts Partnership constantly works for the promotion of artists and arts organizations in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For me, it’s important to share the impact local art has upon all of us, which is why I find it rewarding to be on the board of The Arts Partnership,” Seiler said.

Melissa Burkland

U.S. Attorney’s Office, Fargo School Board and TAP board member

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Melissa Burkland.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Burkland is an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and a member of the Fargo School Board. Burkland chose to serve on TAP’s board in order to focus on accessibility and inclusion in the arts.

“I believe arts are integral to a community,” she said. “TAP's mission and its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion are inspiring to me and I want to promote TAP's programs and artists as much as I can.”

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Anna Johnson

Artist, Aggregate Industries and TAP board member

Anna Johnson.jpeg
Anna Johnson.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Johnson is an enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa. She serves as the interim executive director for The Indigenous Association, is a tandem truck driver for Aggregate Industries, is board chair of the nonprofit The Human Family and is a former member of the city of Fargo's Native American Commission. As an artist and partner of The Arts Partnership, she wants to better connect to a broader and more diverse base of artists, makers and culture-bearers.

“I’m happy that I get to work with the art community in a more meaningful way and I hope that as an organization and as an arts community we can bring more diversity to the forefront and show how many cultures and people we have here in Fargo,” Johnson said. “I hope we can grow together to bring a change in the way we look at art, because art can change the world.”

Christi McGeorge

NDSU and TAP board member

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Christi McGeorge.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

McGeorge is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University. As someone with training in play therapy, she has witnessed firsthand the healing power that creating art (in all of its many forms) can have on individuals, relationships and families.

“As a TAP board member, I’m eager to explore how to increase access to arts for marginalized and underserved communities,” McGeorge said.

Cairn Reisch

Marvin and TAP board member

Cairn Reisch.jpeg
Cairn Reisch.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Reisch is a community relations manager for Marvin and new to the TAP board in 2022. Her interest comes from an appreciation of art and the energy it brings into community and corporate spaces. Reisch brings ArtWORKS to two Marvin locations.

“At Marvin, we believe our purpose is to imagine and create better ways of living,” Reisch said. “And in my personal opinion, the power of art is its ability to improve the lives of people as well as build and strengthen a community's culture.”

Jane Schuh

NDSU and TAP board member

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Jane Schuh.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Schuh is the director for special initiatives for NDSU's agricultural affairs division and a new TAP board member. She is an academic researcher and administrator who has a long history of engagement with the nonprofit, start-up and business community.

“As a lifelong North Dakotan, the Fargo-Moorhead community is close to my heart. I feel that art adds vibrancy to all our lives and makes our area a place where people want to work, learn and build their lives,” Schuh said.

Anne Thurmer

University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and TAP board member

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Anne Thurmer.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Thurmer is an assistant professor of Student Affairs Leadership and Administration at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. As someone who has dyslexia, she’s drawn to the performing arts and has been since a young age because it helped her find confidence and competence through artistic expression when school was challenging. Thurmer has also benefited from grant-funded arts programs that allowed her to take part in arts activities her family could not have afforded otherwise.

“I think this generation's task is moving from access to equity, and even on the days when I am not sure what that looks like or means, I find TAP is a wonderful place to explore and start the work,” Thurmer said.

Marsha Weber

M State and TAP board member

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Marsha Weber.
Contributed / Special to The Arts Partnership

Weber is currently the dean for the School of Business and Information Technology at Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Moorhead. She has been involved with music her whole life, playing piano in church, directing choirs, singing and playing in a band during college, and many other activities.

“As a TAP board member, I intend to connect business and the arts in our communities and look forward to doing whatever I can to promote and support the arts in our area,” Weber said.

Lonna Whiting is a freelance writer and owner of lonna.co, a content marketing and communications agency located in Fargo, North Dakota. She is a frequent contributor to The Arts Partnership’s content library and also provides strategic communications consultation to the organization. This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit theartspartnership.net.
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