Alumni Profiles

Dominique Lopes DelGiudice Exhibitions Program Specialist
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

What is your background?

I received a BA in art history with a minor in Japanese literature from the University of Georgia in 2009. I became increasingly fascinated with the ever-evolving concept of culture. I broadened my research in the arts to encompass sociologists and political theorists to better understand the role arts and culture play in any given society. Prior to graduate school, my work experience had been limited to short runs in galleries and university administrative offices.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I chose AU's Arts Management Program because I am able to pursue my interest in cultural policies and analysis. Also, along with an MA in Arts Management I am able to receive a Certificate in International Arts Management. This program looks into the political side of the arts and cultural diplomacy. I also chose this program because of the teachers, they are passionate about their topics and bring years of experience in the arts world to the class room.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I worked as a graduate assistant at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center. This allowed me to work closely with the Director of the museum and the Chief Registrar. My responsibilities included managing loan agreements for incoming exhibitions, handling art work for instillation and de-instillation, and sitting in on meetings between the director, registrar, and artists.

Malik Burnett


Malik BurnettMA, Arts Management ’21

I’ve had the opportunity to merge my love of dance with applied knowledge in the arts management field.

As assistant manager of dance programming at the Kennedy Center, Malik Burnett ties his experience as a dancer to building community-centered dance programs. Dance came naturally to Burnett as a student growing up in Prince George’s County in Maryland. After graduating from Suitland High School and majoring in dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he returned to the area to figure out his next steps. “I did some soul searching and realized that I didn’t want to be a full-time performing artist.” While working as a facility manager at a local community center, Burnett realized the potential for a career. “I was managing everything from hiring instructors and conducting grassroots marketing to nearby schools to creating a curriculum—that started my journey in arts administration.”  

To take the next step in his career, Burnett applied to the Arts Management program at AU. “When applying to programs, it stood out to me that I could participate in an internship or fellowship with arts organizations in the area as a student at AU.” Burnett held fellowships in AU’s Dance Program and in the Education Department at the Kennedy Center. The connections he made during the fellowship helped him transition to a full-time position after graduating from AU. “Whether it was fundraising, governance, or marketing classes, there was so much that AU instilled in me in those two years.” 

Burnett recently had the opportunity to swap his dress shoes for dance shoes. He organizes the Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project, which provides monetary support for DMV-based artists or companies to premiere a new production of their work at the Kennedy Center. Recent awardee Tariq O’Meally presented Good Grief: Songs of the Moon and The Unbroken Circle at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in May. In addition to working on programming, Burnett also appeared on stage as a dancer. “It was a great full circle moment—combining my experience as an administrator and a performer.” 

Photo: Kyle Andercyk


  • Malik Burnett."I am grateful for the knowledge I received to effectively and intentionally steward the arts. The Arts Management program expanded my perception of a career trajectory as an arts administrator."

    Malik Burnett
    Dance Programming Coordinator,
    The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

  • Maria Sicola."The master's program provided countless opportunities for practical work experience, networking, and professional development, giving me the stepping stones to enter the arts career I have today."

    Marie Sicola
    Operations Associate, Smithsonian Institution

  • Tiffany Townsend"My time at AU increased my understanding of both the business and artistic aspects of what it takes to successfully operate an arts organization."

    Tiffany Townsend
    Advancement Associate, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

  • Natanya Khashan."The Arts Management Program gave me the knowledge and vocabulary I needed to confidently navigate the nonprofit world. The flexibility allowed me to continue working full time, giving me the opportunity to apply everything I was learning into practice on a daily basis."

    Natanya Khashan
    Senior Director, Audience Development & Engagement,
    American Alliance of Museums

  • Austin Farrow."I wanted to successfully start up and run a nonprofit in every facet and phase. American University equipped me with the necessary tools and network to make it happen."

    Austin T. Farrow
    Leadership Programs, Aspen Institute  

  • Shannon Musgrave."The faculty are not only insanely knowledgeable and connected in the arts world, but also incredibly personable, supportive, and helpful. They create a terrific atmosphere to learn, experiment, and grow."

    Shannon Musgrave
    Director of Marketing & Communications
    Carnegie Mellon School of Drama

Steven Dawson Marketing Manager, Theater & International Programs, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

What is your background?

My background is in live musical theatre. Before attending AU, I worked as a professional actor for over seven years in many theatre organizations around the country. I have always had at least one foot in the theatre, even when I needed to take another “day job” to make ends meet.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I was accepted into multiple graduate arts management programs, but once I visited AU and talked with faculty members, I knew that this was the place for me. It goes without saying that the faculty is top-notch and the arts management education is unmatched. But the other opportunities are what really drew me. The faculty connections with other arts professionals are invaluable and allow the students to really get to know and pick the brains of the leaders in the field. The “extracurricular activities” were also enticing. The opportunities to hear speakers at the colloquia, the internship connections and opportunities, the fellowship program, and the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium all add to the experience at AU.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I interned at two places. The first was the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP), at which I worked on conference operations, speaker relations and contracts, and volunteer setup. I also interned at Washington Improv Theater as the senior management intern. While there, I gained valuable experience in many fields, including budgeting, grant writing, marketing, audience engagement, and volunteer management. I also served as the executive chair of the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium (EALS), the annual forum designed for arts management students and professionals to learn directly from the leaders in the field. Watch a profile video about Steven from his student days.

Sarah Durkee Senior Advisor to the Collections, Exhibitions, and Programs Officer, National Gallery of Art

What is your background?

I graduated with an undergraduate degree in art history and international relations and have always had a particular interest in the intersection of art and politics (maybe because I am a DC native!). For twelve years prior to graduate school, I was an employee at the Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art + Design, with a focus on educational and cultural programming and community outreach. I was and continue to be extremely interested in how art can be a relevant and consistent presence in peoples’ lives, and how it can help us to connect to ideas and to each other and ourselves.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

I had been aware of the Arts Management Program at AU for a long time; a number of colleagues for whom I have a great deal of respect graduated from the program. Once I made the decision to finally go back to school, I knew that AU was the program for me.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I continued to work full time while going to school full time didn’t complete an additional internship. However, did have the chance to work in the ART CART program which seeks to preserve the legacy of aging artists by connecting them with graduate students.

Shannon Musgrave Director of Marketing & Communications
Carnegie Mellon School of Drama

What is your background?

I came to AU from Salt Lake City, Utah, armed with a BA in musical theatre and a thirst for knowledge, connections, and inspiration. After undergrad, I spent four years working for an incredible non-profit theatre company called Salt Lake Acting Company (SLAC), while also freelance acting and choreographing.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

My work at SLAC sparked my interest in arts management, and I've had a crush on DC for many years. I loved the theatre scene, I loved the history, and I loved the traffic. When I discovered AU's Arts Management Program, I was instantly drawn to its opportunities for real experience and connections, not to mention its attractive job placement rate and the successes of the program's alumni. I visited in the spring, attended the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium, met the faculty, and I was sold. The faculty are not only insanely knowledgeable and connected in the arts world, but also incredibly personable, supportive, and helpful. They create a terrific atmosphere to learn, experiment, and grow.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I worked as the graduate assistant in the Theatre/Musical Theatre Program at AU. I also served as assistant to the chair on the committee organizing the Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium - a phenomenal event put on each year by the students of the Arts Management Program. It was a great opportunity to network with other up-and-coming arts managers, while also getting to meet seasoned professionals and hear about the challenges and successes of their careers.

Anjali Lalani Smith Center Interns and Fellows Program Administrator
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

What is your background?

I received my BA in English from Oberlin College. For most of my time after graduation, I lived in New York and worked as a paralegal in a top Intellectual Property firm. As a paralegal, I managed roughly 30 trademark and design patent portfolios and also worked with US Customs to monitor trademark infringement. While I enjoyed the detailed work, I missed being creative and after doing some research, I "discovered" arts management and knew it would be the perfect way to utilize my office experience and artistic background in classical music and dance.

Why did you choose Arts Management at AU?

The most important factor in my decision to attend AU was the near 100% hiring rate. It was important to me that American University's program is well established and highly respected in the field. I also appreciated the personal attention I received as a prospective student. I continue to be impressed by the dedication of the faculty to the students.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

My first internship was with Americans for the Arts in their Local Arts Advancement department. I managed the scholarship application process for the Annual Convention, worked at Arts Advocacy Day, and researched cultural districts throughout the country. Immediately following the internship I was contracted to compile and organize data and images for the Public Art Network's Year in Review presentation.  

Over the summer, I interned at Bellevue Arts Museum in my home state of Washington. I worked in the development department, where I consolidated previous capital campaign records. I analyzed recent and long-term donor giving patterns. I also conducted prospect research and helped with annual fundraising gala and arts fair.  

Finally, I worked as a development intern at the Kennedy Center with the Washington National Opera and National Symphony Orchestra. I conducted individual prospect research, participated in cultivation efforts, helped with special events, and learned important fundraising technology such as Tessitura and WealthEngine. I also analyzed moves that have led to new members to determine what cultivation methods are working well for the organization.

Violet MantellManager of Development Events
Denver Art Museum

What is your background?

I pursued a double major in art history and communications from the University of Michigan because I wanted to leverage my communications skills to advocate for and advance the visual arts. My first job after graduation was managing a small gallery in DC. Over those two years, I realized that arts administration involves an exceptional range of skills and knowledge, from financial management to public relations to exhibition planning. I knew that a future in the field would require a graduate degree that covered these facets and more.

Why did you choose the Arts Management Program at AU?

AU's Arts Management Program is comprehensive, but also tailored. The core classes provide a strong foundation for running an arts organization or business, while electives like Leadership in the Arts and Curatorial Practice provide opportunities for specialization. Of course, I was also drawn to the top-tier faculty. Their expertise translates into an engaging and challenging curriculum, and they have remained valuable resources to me.

In addition, the capstone is an opportunity to distinguish yourself as an expert in a specific area. I researched and wrote a thesis on museum branding. It was a chance to learn more about an area of particular interest to me, while in the process connecting with a network of leading professionals in the sector. A capstone is both a contribution to our field and a valuable self-marketing tool, so AU's emphasis on this research was a real draw for me.

Finally, the program's partnership with Sotheby's Institute of Art in London wass a major advantage. I spent my last semester in the auction house's Art Business program, which exposed me to the systems and theories of the commercial art world.

What internships/work did you do while in the program?

I interned in development at the Textile Museum, external affairs at the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and in public affairs at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler galleries. I also worked with Hamiltonian Gallery/Hamiltonian Artists on marketing, development, and art fair support. It was so rewarding to gain experience in my various interest areas while expanding my network. In addition, these positions enhanced my coursework, and vice versa. I was constantly connecting my work experience with class discussions and projects.