The Arts Partnership Staff
Dayna Del Val
President & CEO
Dayna Del Val is a proven leader in arts advocacy and arts administration. She has transformed The Arts Partnership into a dynamic, responsive, arts advocacy powerhouse. A proven communicator, her diverse writing platforms, radio and television interviews and in-person presentations consistently highlight the myriad and reciprocal benefits of investing in the arts for economic, community-based placemaking, cultural and quality of life aspects. An instinctive leader with a voracious curiosity for learning, Del Val has grown the organization by nearly 200%.
In 2018, Del Val received the Emerging Leader award from the North Dakota Association of Nonprofit Organizations (NDANO). In 2017, The Arts Partnership was awarded the Governor’s Award for the Arts for Outstanding Arts Organization.
Additionally, she is a professional stage and commercial actor. She launched the original Legendary tourism ads for the state of North Dakota, but for some reason, everyone seems to focus on the Josh Duhamel ones instead. 😉
Director of Operations
Tania Blanich is the Director of Operations at The Arts Partnership. Tania has spent her career in arts, non-profit, philanthropic and government administration. Her career began in public administration, working as an analyst for several New York City government agencies. She then transitioned to arts administration, serving as Director of the Program for Media Artists, a Rockefeller Foundation-funded program that supported media artists in the U.S. and Latin America. After working as Chief Operating Officer of LexArts, the local arts council and fund for the arts in Lexington, KY, she returned to the Metro to serve as Executive Director of the Rourke Art Museum. She’s pleased to be working with TAP to help build the capacity of our community’s arts organizations and artists. Tania earned her BA from the University of Michigan and her master’s degree from New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. She is a native of Fargo, ND.
Ethan Mickelson is the Communications Coordinator at The Arts Partnership. He creates digital and print content highlighting our Partners for the Fargo Forum, The Arts Partnership’s blog, our weekly e-newsletter “Connecting the Dots” and our social media platforms. Ethan earned a degree in strategic communications with an emphasis in public relations from North Dakota State University in 2018. Before moving to Fargo, he grew up on a flat patch of farmland outside Rolla, ND. He has been stringing words into articles since he started writing for the The Turtle Mountain Star in high school, with more recent writing experience including Fargo Underground, Fargo Monthly, Bison Illustrated, Fargo Inc, and The Growler Mag. With travel experiences ranging from Japan, Russian, and Haiti, he is now exploring the corners of his new home – Fargo, ND. You’ve probably seen him sipping coffee, riding bike or center-stage videoing the next big event.
Christina Johnson is the Project Manager at The Arts Partnership. She also acts as the on-site manager for APT, a Creative Incubator, located at 225 4th Avenue North in Downtown Fargo. She graduated with a degree in Art from NDSU, and continues to paint, draw, and sculpt out of her Fargo home. When she isn’t working or creating art, she’s fixing something on her house or cars, gardening, playing with her cats, or getting ready for Burning Man.
Executive Assistant & Special Projects Coordinator
Danica McDonald is the Executive Assistant & Special Projects Coordinator at The Arts Partnership. Danica joined The Arts Partnership full-time in January of 2020 and worked part-time before that since 2018. She wears many hats at TAP, including managing projects, poring over spreadsheets, and being the one-woman office IT department. No matter which hat she is wearing at the end of a day, she couldn’t be happier that her job is to help cultivate the community through the arts.
Danica graduated from North Dakota State University in the fall of 2019 where she studied voice as a mezzo-soprano and sang alto in various choral ensembles. She holds a degree in music and economics with a minor in computer science. She is now pursuing a Master of Science in Business Analytics at NDSU where she will graduate in 2022.
2020-2021 Board of Directors
Linda Boyd* (Chair) is a lifelong active artist and an established non-profit arts leader in our community. She served as the Symphony’s Executive Director from 2007 to 2019, a position she also held from 1993-1996, a period of dramatic growth in the organization. She taught vocal music at MSUM, UND and West Fargo High School before entering the field of non-profit arts administration in 1990 as Executive Director of Lake Agassiz Arts Council (now The Arts Partnership). In addition to her arts leadership, Linda has been active in the broader community. She served four years in elective office as Fargo City Commissioner and deputy mayor of Fargo (2004-2008), and in 2010 was elected to the Fargo School Board, serving two terms.
Shelly Aasen Carlson, Criminal Justice Systems Manager for the Minnesota Elder Justice Center, conducts elder abuse trainings across the state and provides technical assistance and training to communities on establishing and maintaining elder abuse multidisciplinary teams. She has trained in 23 states, 2 U.S. territories and in the countries of Serbia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova. Prior to her current position, Shelly provided direct services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and general crime for 18 years. She earned her Master’s Degree in Public Administration and her Bachelor of Science degree in Legal Assistance from Minnesota State University – Moorhead, where she has been adjunct faculty. Originally from Minot, ND, Shelly came to Moorhead to attend MSUM, and ultimately made Moorhead her permanent home. Shelly and her husband Ron, have two children, McKinnon (21) and Jordan (18). Shelly currently serves on the Moorhead City Council.
Noah Ford-Dunker* (Treasurer) is the Digital Marketing Manager at Eide Bailly. A native of Fargo and avid traveler, Noah loves exploring new places, both far and near. When he’s not planning the next digital marketing campaign, freelancing, or traveling, Noah can usually be found volunteering for his favorite nonprofit boards (The Arts Partnership and the Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists), playing outside, practicing photography, coming up with his next million-dollar idea, or enjoying one of the many patios Fargo has to offer. Noah graduated from Concordia College in 2013 with double majors in music composition and business marketing and a minor in Latin. Today he earns a living with one of those majors (can you guess which one?). After college, he worked for Swanson Health Products for two and a half years before starting at Eide Bailly in late 2016.
Smita Garg is the Assistant Director of Employer Engagement at the NDSU Career and Advising Center. She holds an MBA in International Marketing from Temple University, Philadelphia. Prior to her current position at NDSU, her primary accomplishment in public service was the development and implementation of an Immigration Action Plan for the City of Saskatoon, Canada. Having lived in six countries over four continents, she understands the value of creating connections, investing in relationships and engaging with diverse peoples. She appreciates the arts in its many forms and is looking forward to exploring the intersection of art, culture and geography as a medium to creating unity in diversity. She is a recipient of the ATHENA Leadership Award®. Smita moved to Fargo with her husband in 2016.
Dr. Earnest Lamb* is the Dean of the College of Arts and Humanities at Minnesota State University Moorhead (MSUM). He holds degrees in cello performance from the University of Memphis (formerly Memphis State University) and Indiana University. Lamb earned a doctorate in musicology from the University of North Texas with a specialization in American music. Before joining MSUM as Dean, he served as Chair of the Department of Performing and Fine Arts at Fayetteville State University and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. In addition to his administrative duties, Earnest continues his performing and scholarly activities. As a cellist, he is an active chamber musician and a former member of the Fayetteville, Memphis and Arkansas Symphony orchestras. He is currently writing a chapter for a forthcoming book to be published by the University of Illinois Press. His contribution will examine the impact on the classical music world made by African American composer William Grant Still. Additionally, he wrote and produced two programs for public radio: Blacks in Classical Music and From Spiritual to Symphony: A Portrait of Florence Smith Price. The later won numerous local and national awards including first place honors in the portrait division from the prestigious Foundation for Women in Radio and Television.
Dan Leeaphon is a Principal Software Engineering Manager at Microsoft. He works on .NET, a free, cross-platform, open-source developer platform. Dan is also a member of ND TechMobile, a group of volunteers that bring creative coding experiences to 5th and 6th graders in rural schools. Before joining Microsoft and moving to Fargo, Dan was based in Montréal, where he was head of software development for Strophe and Pelican International. Dan has also served as an officer of The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. Born in Bangkok, Thailand Dan also grew up in Tokyo, Vancouver BC, and Montréal. Outside of work and family, Dan’s passions are learning new things like archery; he also enjoys photography and working on (and yes, on rare occasion) driving his Fiat Spider.
Christi McGeorge has been a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University (NDSU) since 2003. She earned her PhD from the University of Minnesota in Family Social Science with an emphasis in Couple and Family Therapy, her master’s from Colorado State University in Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Couple and Family Therapy, and her BS from the University of Arizona in Family Studies. As someone with training in play therapy, Christi has witnessed firsthand the healing power that creating art (in all of its many forms) can have in individuals, relationships, and families. Additionally, she is an excited shareholder for the TAP CSA program, which has allowed her to get to know the FM art community better. Christi is excited to join the TAP board in order to explore how to increase access to arts for marginalized and under-served communities.
Scott Seiler* is a Lead Marketing Specialist for Sanford Health and a fine art photographer. He began his career as a broadcast journalist after graduating from Minnesota State University Moorhead at WDAY-TV in Fargo and the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. He moved into the field of marketing, working for many years at ABC Seamless and RDO Equipment Co. And from an artistic standpoint, he transferred his passion for videography to still photography. He has exhibited widely throughout the Midwest. Scott has been a board member for the FM Visual Artists and Gallery 4, where he is a premier artist member.
Shelley Szudera (Vice Chair) has worked for Choice Bank (formerly Choice Financial) since 2013 and currently serves as their Creative Director. Inspired by Choice Bank’s passion to “better the places we live,” Shelley worked with The Arts Partnership to conceive and implement an exclusive #SupportLocalArt debit card series that featured local artists’ work and raised donations for arts councils in North Dakota. In addition, she advocated to implement TAP’s ArtWORKS program in four of their Fargo/Moorhead locations. Shelley has been involved with AAF-ND (American Advertising Association of North Dakota) for over five years, and currently serves as President on their Board of Directors.
Melissa Tomlinson (Secretary) is a Project Coordinator at Aldeveron a lifelong resident of Fargo-Moorhead she is energized by the breadth of arts experiences thriving in the community. Melissa strongly believes the vibrancy of local arts is the key to a healthy and growing community. She’s proud of The Arts Partnership’s work as consistent advocates for artists and continually building community awareness and support for local art.
Shyla Thompson is a Release Manager for Microsoft. Once referred to as a “maximizer,” she enjoys making processes and tools better. She is a gadget-geek who loves keeping up to date on the newest gadgets, tools, and software so that she can understand how she, or people who she works with, can use them to make their work more efficient. Shyla has served on TAP’s Communications committee since October 2016 and is an enthusiastic supporter of all the programs and opportunities that happen with TAP, including CSA, ChalkFest, the Art Markets at APT and more.
*Denotes a Primary Arts Partner, either as an individual artist or as a representative of an organizational Partner.