Mission

We believe in artists and their essential role in our society. Each year, we award up to fifty $50,000 unrestricted fellowships to the most compelling artists working and living in the United States, in all disciplines, at every stage of their career.

 

History

In 2003, the Urban Institute conducted a study which revealed that 96% of Americans valued art in their lives, while only 27% valued artists.*

Motivated by the study and in response to the NEA’s severe budget cuts, four inspiring leaders of the Ford, Rockefeller, Rasmuson, and Prudential Foundations spearheaded the launch of an organization to illuminate the value of artists to American society and address their economic challenges. Since our founding in 2006, we have awarded more than 500 artists with over $22 million of direct support in all disciplines including Architecture & Design, Crafts, Dance, Media, Music, Theater & Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Art, Writing. With this unrestricted award, Fellows decide for themselves how to best use the money – whether it is creating new work, paying rent, reducing debt, getting healthcare, or supporting their families.

To make our work possible, we actively fundraise each year and are supported by a broad range of philanthropic foundations, companies, and individuals committed to cultivating contemporary culture in the United States. Additionally, we work annually with select nominators, panelists, and our Board of Trustees to determine each year’s class of Fellows. It is through the intersection of these relationships and in the spirit of collaboration that we are honored to support the country’s most compelling artists.

*From “Investing in Creativity: A Study for the Support Structure for U.S. Artists, 2003.

 

Staff

Lisa
Feingold

Development Director
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Lisa enjoys working with a small team to make a difference in the lives of artists who might otherwise be overlooked. With more than 25 years of business development and relationship management experience, Lisa has held senior corporate and institutional giving positions at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Goodman Theatre, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. With an affinity for dance and theater, some of her favorite pieces hail from contemporary choreographers Ohad Naharin and Jiří Kylián, and playwrights Lynn Nottage and David Henry Hwang among others. When she’s not at her desk, Lisa enjoys biking along Chicago’s paths, traveling to see her kids in Boston and Seattle, or walking her dogs Darla and Rochelle.

Jessica
Ferrer

Program Assistant
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Jessica is guilty of offering too many options when friends ask for a good book or restaurant recommendation. Most seem to understand that she has a hard time choosing a “favorite” unless it’s ice cream (the clear choice is pistachio). However, Jessica is partial to Zadie Smith, Ali Smith, and Tracy K. Smith as far as writers go, and the work of artists Julie Mehretu, Ellen Gallagher, and Tauba Auerbach. Before USA, Jessica found her interest in education and interned at 826CHI to develop curriculum and teach creative writing to Chicago youth, and was previously an education associate at Gund Gallery. She received her BA from Kenyon College in English and Studio Art, and most recently had her work included in Woman Made Gallery’s 20th International Open in 2017.

Deana
Haggag

President & CEO
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Deana Haggag is the President & CEO of United States Artists, a national arts funding organization based in Chicago, IL. Before joining USA in February 2017, she was the Executive Director of The Contemporary, a nomadic and non-collecting art museum in Baltimore, MD, for four years. In addition to her leadership roles, Deana lectures extensively, consults on various art initiatives, contributes to cultural publications, and has taught at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University and Towson University. She is on the Board of Trustees of the Detroit Institute of Arts, Maryland Institute College of Art and Common Field, as well as on the Advisory Council of Recess. She received her MFA in Curatorial Practice from the Maryland Institute College of Art and a BA from Rutgers University in Art History and Philosophy.

Anna
Harris, MBA, CPA

Finance Director
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With over 25 years of experience in financial statement preparation, audit, treasury, and finance systems management, Anna is someone who enjoys accounting and bringing the pieces together. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), Anna has worked in the accounting departments of Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Goldblatt’s Department stores, the Academy of General Dentistry, and Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS). Her interests include traveling, specifically to historical cities around the world, and experiencing local food and culture. She enjoys mystery, adventure, and romance novels, is a student of Christianity, and is known to tell a good joke every now and again.

Kiki
Kirk

Operations Manager
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Kiki loves an organized desk, a box of fresh office supplies, and planning a killer event. Thrilled to get back to her arts management roots, she was previously an executive assistant at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University, and received her BA in Arts Management from Columbia College Chicago. A lover and volunteer for our furry friends, she enjoys asking strangers if she can pet their dog, and can always recommend the best coffee shop nearby (she’s known to knock back more than one espresso in a single sitting). She loves poetry, painting, and DIY projects and cannot stop gushing about the amazing team at USA.

Whitney
Mash

2017-18 Intern
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Whitney is ecstatic to be in Chicago and join the USA team. She previously worked at Christie’s in New York City, coordinating sales for its Handbags & Accessories division and assisting the department’s presence in Paris, London, and Hong Kong. With experience in managing auctions, as well as private and online sales, Whitney is currently working towards a dual graduate degree in Arts Administration and Policy & Modern and Contemporary Art History at SAIC. When she’s not in class or interning, Whitney enjoys a good yoga session, attending theater performances, and exploring new restaurants in the city.

Lynnette
Miranda

Program Manager
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Lynnette is driven by the belief that artists help us see and think more critically. Originally from Miami, she fell in love with the Midwest when studying at SAIC, where she received a BFA in Fiber and Material Studies. She spent several years in New York City, where she earned an MA in Visual Arts Administration at NYU and worked at various artist-centered organizations. She was the 2016-2017 Curator in Residence at Charlotte Street Foundation in Kansas City, as well as lectured in the fiber department at the Kansas City Art Institute. In her role at Creative Time, she coordinated the 2015 conference The Creative Time Summit: The Curriculum at the Venice Biennale, and previously managed educational initiatives at ART21. She loves to gather people for dinner parties and board games, and is a self-proclaimed karaoke superstar.

Nadine
Nakanishi

Designer-in-Residence
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Nadine fancies herself to be a proud print nerd. Born in CA to immigrant parents, she spent her youth in Switzerland, where her Swiss/American/Japanese background has shaped her understanding of the modern world. Her passion for design started as an adult, exploring the graphic arts and studying both type and graphic design in Switzerland. In 2006, she established Sonnenzimmer, a collaborative graphic arts practice with her partner, Nick Butcher. Nadine is active in the Chicago print community and is a member of the local-based Spudnik Press Cooperative, Honolulu Printmakers, the oldest printmaking community in the US, and also chairs the Chicago Printer’s Guild Publisher’s Fair. Without a doubt, she believes graphics serve as a cornerstone for understanding the arts and our times.

Zoë
Wallace

Development Assistant
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Initially starting as an intern, Zoë was thrilled to support artists alongside an incredible team. As a classical composer and guitarist, she strives to broaden the repertoire for guitar as both a solo instrument and within an ensemble setting. She premiered her two concert series pieces, “For Carl Solomon”, a guitar concerto (based on Allen Ginsburg’s “Howl”), and “Erebus”, a piece for electric guitar, cello, and electronics at the Center for New Music in San Francisco. Zoë graduated from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music with a bachelor of music and is currently working towards her masters of music. When she is not at the office or performing, she can be found at the beach or at the local dog park chasing her adorable dog Quinn.

 

Board