The President’s Committee on the Arts & Humanities is a place where the POTUS can reward some big name celebrity supporters with a real-life presidential appointment, so it’s no surprise that the list of appointees by Barack Obama includes some names you certainly know.
Actors Sarah Jessica Parker, Forest Whitaker, Alfre Woodard and Ed Norton are on the list of 25 appointees, as are Vogue Editor in chief Anna Wintour, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, film producer Liz Manne and director George C. Wolfe. Obama also selected Teresa Heinz, the wife of Sen. John Kerry (D-MA). Some of the others are active behind the scenes in show business and the arts, while many are wealthy philanthropists who are inclined to put their own money behind the arts.
President Obama had previously appointed George Stevens Jr. and Margo Lion to serve as co-chairs of the Committee, with Dr. Mary Schmidt Campbell as Vice-Chair. Stevens is founder of the American Film Institute and creator of The Kennedy Center Honors. Lion is a Broadway producer. Campbell is Dean of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University.
Here is the list of appointees released by the White House:
J. Ricky Arriola, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Arriola is the President and CEO of Inktel Direct, where he oversees business development, operations and overall strategy of the business process outsourcing company. He is actively involved in the arts and humanities community in Florida, serving as the Chair of the Board of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County.
Madeleine Harris Berman, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Berman serves on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee of Americans for the Arts and the Boards of Directors of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Michigan Opera Theater and the Detroit Zoological Institute. She previously served on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 1994.
Richard J. Cohen, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Cohen is a Minnesota State Senator chairing the Finance Committee. He serves on the boards of the Tyrone Guthrie Theater and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra. Formerly, he was the chairman of the Arts, Tourism and Cultural Resources Committee of the National Conference of State Legislatures, and this year he received the Public Leadership in the Arts Award from the Americans for the Arts.
Paula Hannaway Crown, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Crown is a Principal of Henry Crown and Company, a private investment firm, and an artist. She serves on the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Modern Art, Duke University, the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust, the National Council of the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Board of Advisors of the Nasher Museum of Art, the Women’s Board of the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Conservation International.
Christine Forester, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Forester – an architect specializing in hospital architecture – switched careers in the 1980s to head Christine Forester Catalyst, a business, marketing and branding company. She served on the Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego; the Board of the Museum of Photographic Arts; the Advisory Panel for the San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture’s Allocations Programs; and, currently, Scripps Institute of Oceanography’s Advisory Council.
Teresa Heinz, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Heinz is the Chairman of the Heinz Endowments and the Heinz Family Philanthropies. She is a member of the Trustees Council at the National Gallery of Art and in 2001 was elected to be a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She founded and serves as chairman of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment and also serves on the board of trustees at the Brookings Institute and Carnegie Mellon University.
Victoria Strauss Kennedy, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Kennedy is an educational consultant for Loyola Marymount University. She has worked at Harvard University as Head Teaching Fellow for an undergraduate literature course, and as a Fellow for the Derek Bok Center. Ms. Kennedy is a youth coordinator and board member of a number of community service initiatives. She is co-founder of the Go Campaign and is currently designing a nautical children’s museum in Washington, D.C.
Bryan Lourd, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Lourd is a Partner and Managing Director of Creative Artists Agency, an entertainment and sports agency. He also helped create the CAA Foundation, which facilitates members of the global creative community in contributing their time and resources to improve conditions locally, nationally and worldwide. Mr. Lourd is also a Board member of InterActiveCorp.
Anne Luzzatto, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Luzzatto served as Obama-Biden Transition Team review lead for the National Endowment for the Arts. She has also served as Vice President for Meetings, Council on Foreign Relations. During the administration of President Clinton she served as Special Assistant to the President and White House Deputy Press Secretary and Assistant US Trade Representative for Public Affairs.
Yo-Yo Ma, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Ma, a cellist and 2001 National Medal of Arts recipient, maintains a balance between his engagements as a soloist with orchestras throughout the world and his recital and chamber music activities. He has recorded more than 75 albums, won 16 Grammy Awards, and serves as the Artistic Director of the Silk Road Project.
Liz Manne, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Manne is an independent film producer and consultant. Formerly an executive with Sundance Channel, co-founder of Fine Line Features, and consultant to HBO Films, Ms. Manne has helped shepherd more than 100 independent films to diverse audiences. Ms. Manne is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Thom Mayne, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Mayne is founder of Morphosis Architects, co-founder of the Southern California Institute of Architecture and Distinguished Professor at UCLA Architecture and Urban Design, where he extensively researches and publishes on contemporary urbanism. Recipient of the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Mr. Mayne’s architectural projects include the San Francisco Federal Building, the Cooper Union academic building in Manhattan, Phare Tower in Paris, and the FLOAT House – an affordable, sustainable, and pre-fabricated housing prototype in New Orleans.
Edward Norton, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Norton is a two-time Academy Award-nominated actor, producer, and director. He is also engaged in social and environmental issues, serving on the Board of Enterprise Community Partners, National Landscape Conservation Foundation, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust, and Signature Theater Company.
Sarah Jessica Parker, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Parker is an award-winning actress and producer, having won four Golden Globe Awards, two Emmy Awards, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards. She is on the board of the New York City Ballet and she also serves as a UNICEF Representative for the Performing Arts and Goodwill Ambassador for the United States.
Andy Spahn, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Spahn is the President of Andy Spahn & Associates, an entertainment industry based consulting firm that specializes in public affairs, strategic philanthropy and communications. Prior to founding his company, he was the Head of Corporate Affairs and Communications for DreamWorks. He has spent more than 25 years in national politics and the non-profit world and is a founding board member of the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles.
Jill Cooper Udall, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Udall is a lawyer and former Officer of Cultural Affairs for the State of New Mexico. She currently works with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. Ms. Udall also sits on the Board of Visitors and Governors for St. John’s College, and the Boards of Directors for Ford’s Theatre, Santa Fe Conservation Trust, and the Meridian International Center.
Reginald Van Lee, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Van Lee is an Executive Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton. He is a published author and serves as the Chair of the Board of the Evidence Dance Company, Chair of the Board of the New York International Ballet Competition, Trustee and Treasurer of the Studio Museum in Harlem and Vice-Chair of the Board of the Washington Performing Arts Society.
Agnes Varis, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Dr. Varis serves as the founder and President of Agvar Chemicals and Modavar Pharmaceuticals. She is actively involved in the arts community, donating the Agnes Varis Performance Stage to Jazz at Lincoln Center, sponsoring children’s programs at the Metropolitan Opera, underwriting a senior citizen orchestra multi-seat program at the Metropolitan Opera, and underwriting the Jazz Foundation of America’s national educational children’s Jazz In School Program, which employs unemployed elderly jazz musicians.
Kerry Washington, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Washington is an award-winning actress. She is a board member of The Creative Coalition and is on the Artists Committee for Americans for the Arts, organizations which work to promote the arts in America. She is also on the board of V-Day, an organization dedicated to ending violence against women and girls.
Alexa L. Wesner, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Wesner is the founder of Blue Texas PAC and formerly co-founder and President of HireTECH, a high technology recruiting firm in Austin, Texas. In addition, she works with a variety of nonprofits and charities in Texas, including the Austin Film Society, The Blanton Museum, Breakthrough Austin, LifeWorks, SafePlace, and Arthouse.
Forest Whitaker, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Whitaker is an Academy Award-winning actor, director, producer and game developer. He is a social activist and is involved in several humanitarian and philanthropic causes for which he has twice received the Humanitas Prize. He has been honored with the Cinema for Peace award for using film as a medium to promote peace, freedom and tolerance and this year is being recognized as Patron of The Arts by UNESCO.
Anna Wintour, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Wintour has served as the Editor in Chief of VOGUE since 1988. She has also significantly contributed to fundraising efforts for AIDS research and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. She spearheaded the Council of Fashion Designers of America/Vogue Fashion campaign to help fund emerging fashion designers.
Damian Woetzel, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Woetzel is a renowned ballet dancer, who performed during his career as a principal dancer at New York City Ballet. He is the founding Director of the Jerome Robbins New Essential Works Program, Director of the summer Vail International Dance Festival, and Cultural Programming Producer for the World Science Festival. Mr. Woetzel has served on the Harvard Task Force on the Arts and the Artists Committee of the Kennedy Center Honors.
George C. Wolfe, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Mr. Wolfe is a Tony award-winning theater and film director and playwright and served as the producer of The Public Theatre/New York Shakespeare Festival from 1993 to 2005. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the NAACP Lifetime Achievement Award, and was declared a living landmark by the New York Landmarks Conservancy.
Alfre Woodard, Member, President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Ms. Woodard’s work as an actor has earned her an Oscar nomination, four Emmys, three SAG Awards, and a Golden Globe. She serves on the National Film Preservation Foundation Board, as well as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences International Outreach Committee. Ms. Woodard co-founded Artists for a New South Africa, a non-profit working to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS and further Democracy and Human rights in South Africa and the United States.