National Performance Network > News > Thoughts from Outgoing Board members Rosie Gordon-Wallace and Shannon Daut

Thoughts from Outgoing Board members Rosie Gordon-Wallace and Shannon Daut

Posted: Friday, August 11th, 2017 at 3:23 pm in News


1. What does NPN/VAN mean to you?

My involvement with NPN/VAN has been a long conscientious journey and it took many twists and turns. To quote André Lorde, “I have come to believe … that what is most important to me must be made verbal and shared, even at the risk of having it misunderstood.” This environment has been dear to me because I am here with my “tribe” and I have grown and deepened my ability to serve through service. I will miss the meetings and the camaraderie very much. Hopefully, you all will call up the sistah frequently. 🙂

The Partners, staff and board of directors at NPN/VAN inspire me as the organization brings together artistic leaders who represent achievement in their professional lives. I recognize and honor their work and lives. I honor the amazing diversity and friendships I have cultivated. I appreciate the support over the past ten years and look forward to what we still need to accomplish together.

I will recall the changes brought about by our collaborations and the interactive discussions and live presentations that will trigger memories and provoke new insights. I will reflect on the lessons learned in trying to improve support for artists and communities. I will hold dear what I take away from the NPN/VAN experience to inform my future endeavors.

Given the extraordinary time in which we live, it is no surprise that I will miss the discussions at the board level and among member friends, much of which is focused on the role of NPN/VAN in the conversations on current cultural policy and equity. As we prepare to meet the systematic challenges that persist of underfunding of Native American, Rural, Black, and Latinx organizations, we must continue to push for diversity, equity, and inclusion.

2. What has being on the NPN/VAN board meant to you?  How did it influence you over the years?

The service on the NPN /VAN board means a commitment to fostering diversity and artistic exploration. It means seeking always to integrate the arts into the public experience, further artistic pluralism and act as an advocate for cultural equity and social justice. We advocate for greater support for artists regardless of means or access to resources. It is critical that artists be paid. It is important that artists tour their creations and exhibit their visual arts. It is so important to garner public and private support that will invest in artists and the organizations that support them. But as we advocate for greater support, it is critical that organizations continue providing dedicated support by paying artists at whatever cost.

3. How involved will you be in NPN/VAN after your board membership?

I will remain actively involved with NPN/VAN and will be here to volunteer as we continue to our social action that speaks to our mission of inclusion and diversity. In this xenophobic atmosphere, this is what I have dedicated my life to and I need to be with “my tribe” to feel encouraged and to encourage.

4. What message do you have for the current board members and advise to the incoming members?

As a founder, I long for the sweet comfortable spot that assures me I have stability and an independent organization that will flourish without me. What are the odds of that? (Ha!) Likewise, as a board, they must act as a fiduciary body, supporting the programs and partners and our new CEO and staff. How they approach fundraising and how they think of development and what success looks like will continue to be important. How they trust the friendships made and become ambassadors for NPN/VAN will deepen the joy with which they serve. I welcome the new board members, one of which is an artist DVCAI introduced to the network. So I am proud.

5. Tell us something you would like people to know about yourself.

I am young and fun! I cherish and hold dear friendships made and I love working with next-generation professionals who are optimistic, bright and fearless. See you all at the annual conference in December 2017.



1. What does NPN/VAN mean to you?

NPN/VAN has been a profound and significant organization for me, both personally and professionally. I entered the NPN family back when I was a young arts administrator. My first experience was the Western regional meeting, held in Montana in 2003, which coincided with the NPN-supported Geyserland, a site-specific video installation on a train. It blew my mind and instantly expanded my conception about the possibilities of artistic expression and art experiences. Over the years, the intersections of the arts with social and racial justice that NPN/VAN embodies challenged me to interrogate my own complicity in the racist, patriarchal and hegemonic systems that exist in every fiber of our nation’s (and citizenry’s) fabric. And yet, NPN/VAN is joyous, exuberant and fun, celebrating the arts, artists and our shared humanity. I cherish the friendships I have made through NPN/VAN and know they will continue on.

2. What has being on the NPN/VAN board meant to you?  How did it influence you over the years?

NPN/VAN was my first national board experience and I learned so much about the regular organizational things like governance and financial oversight but, more importantly, I learned about the tremendous value of holding shared values firmly within every aspect of the organization. In my time on the board, I moved from Denver to Anchorage to Santa Monica. NPN/VAN was a throughline that helped me stay rooted in my own values and instill a deep sense of purpose into each organization I led.

The board and organization evolved significantly during my tenure–we diversified even more, the organization moved into a new space, we managed the significant transition of leadership from our long-time CEO, MK Wegmann, to our new leader, Caitlin Strokosch. We said a heart-wrenching goodbye to Wesley Montgomery, and welcomed new lives (both human and furry) into the family. We went to awesome parties hosted by MK at her wonderful home, which features the best balcony patio in all of New Orleans. Through it all, the NPN/VAN staff, board, partners and friends continued the necessary work to make this world a more just, art-filled and soulful place.

3. How involved will you be in NPN/VAN after your board membership?

I am excited that I will get to continue my work with the organization because I am chairing NPN/VAN’s Strategic Planning Committee, which has been doing work in the background for the past year and will begin the actual planning process very soon. NPN/VAN is at a critical point in its life, and now is the time to envision the next wave of the organization’s work. With all that is going on in our world, the timing could not be more critical for NPN/VAN to reaffirm its values of social and racial justice, while exploring new paths to providing meaningful national leadership that will advance these causes and be deeply rooted in honoring the role of artists and communities in this work.

4. What message do you have for the current board members and advice to the incoming members?

Speak up, use your voice passionately and respectfully–it advances our work and our culture. Think critically, challenge assumptions, invent new frames for the issues we face and explore how to tackle them from a generative, creative and empowered stance. What do we want to create for the next generation? What do we want the world–and the arts world–to look like in ten years? Imagine what is possible and set yourselves to making it our reality. I know that the NPN/VAN family can do it.

5. Tell us something you would like people to know about yourself.

My partner and I are cat ladies with no cats. We started with five when we merged our homes 15 years ago and we just said goodbye to our youngest (who by then was our oldest) girl last week. Current odds are that we won’t make it more than a month without starting a new furry family–which is a bet I would happily make!

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