News & Events


WDAC Partner, Create Wisconsin, the state’s community cultural development organization, is pleased to announce that five civic and creative leaders from throughout Wisconsin have recently joined the Board of Directors:

  • Chris Clemens, Viroqua; Director, Viroqua Chamber Main Street

Chris is the Executive Director of the Viroqua Chamber Main Street and has an extensive background in small business, entrepreneurship, downtown development, and civic issues.  In addition to promoting Viroqua and all it has to offer, he and his family own Noble Rind Cheese Company, a specialty cheese shop in downtown  Viroqua and Real Clean Soap, a soap manufacturing business dedicated to supporting women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

  • Dr. Nicole Foster, Ashland; Assistant Professor of Sustainable Community Development, Northland College

Nicole began her career as a teaching artist and managing director of a theatre company in New York City. Realizing the potential power (and limitations) the arts have in community development, she returned to graduate school to better understand the relationship between culture, place, and social and economic inequality. In addition to completing her PhD, Nicole worked in the nonprofit and public sectors focusing on community engagement and neighborhood revitalization. She then spent three years in Bristol, England as a Creative Economy Research Fellow before arriving at Northland in August 2020.

  • Dr. Chiwei (Jerry) Hui, Eau Claire; Associate Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities, UW-Stout

Jerry is a composer, performer, and conductor who has worked with community choirs, church choirs, chamber ensembles and orchestras around the world.   Performances by his ensembles have been featured on Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Choral Directors Association conference, and the Fringe Series of Madison Early Music Festival. He is currently the director of choral activities at UW-Stout, assistant conductor at the Madison Early Music Festival, director of the Chippewa Valley Festival Choir, and artistic director of the Schola Cantorum of Eau Claire.  A native of Hong Kong, Jerry received his DMA degree in music composition at UW-Madison.

  • Sam Luna, Ripon; Musician, Artist, Entrepreneur, Educator, and Director, The Heist

Sam was born in Tuba City, AZ, and has traveled across the nation making music and art, and searching for his artistic home.  After settling in Ripon, in 2019 he opened The Heist, a 1930 Art Deco building and former bank, as a place to inspire, educate, entertain, and collaborate through community, creativity, and artistic experiences and opportunities.

  • Dana Sonnenberg, Stevens Point; Project Manager – Arts, Events, and Experiences, CREATE Portage County

A UW-Stevens Point Arts Management grad, Dana helped communities develop cultural plans through Arts Midwest’s ArtsLab program in the Twin Cities before moving back to Stevens Point three years ago.  She was a project manager for a marketing team before joining CREATE Portage County in 2021.


At the board’s July 2022 meeting, a slate of board leadership for FY2023 was confirmed:

  • President:  Mal Montoya, Milwaukee; President, Milwaukee Artist Resource Network

  • Vice President:  Christopher Naumann, Green Bay; architect

  • Treasurer:  Jennifer Stephany, Appleton; Director, Appleton Downtown, Inc. and Board member, Wisconsin Downtown Action Council

  • Secretary:  Emily Goretski, Madison; Manager of Artistic Experiences, Overture Center for the Arts

Additional board members are:

  • Carolyn Nelson-Kavajecz, Superior; Director, Sterling Silver Studios and Board Member, Superior Council for the Arts

  • Tom Targos, Kenosha; State of Wisconsin W-2 Refugee Programs Coordinator and Project Manager, Kenosha Community Foundation

  • Zach Vruwink, Rhinelander; Administrator, City of Rhinelander and Past President, League of Wisconsin Municipalities

“We’re thrilled to welcome our new board members to the advocacy, service, and development work of Create Wisconsin,” says Mal Montoya, President of the Board.  “All bring their unique perspectives, ideas, and of course, creativity, to the organization’s mission, vision, and purpose.  Together with our continuing board members, we’ve got a great team of activists guiding the organization to new and exciting opportunities that benefit everyone, everywhere in the state.”

Create Wisconsin, formerly known as Arts Wisconsin, is the only independent statewide organization bringing people, organizations, businesses, and communities together to activate and strengthen Wisconsin’s creative economy, workforce, and civic life by:

  • Advancing local, regional, and statewide creative economies

  • Advocating for and support creative people, businesses, organizations, and places

  • Championing the arts, culture, and creativity as fundamental to community engagement, access, and opportunities

  • Engaging policy-makers and the public by sharing information, generating ideas, and taking action to improve quality of life, drive equity and inclusion, and engage and connect everyone, everywhere in the state.

Learn more about Create Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s creative economy, workforce, and civic life and how they your downtown can work with and benefit, at   

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