The ALC is an advisory group that provides field intelligence, campaign strategy, programmatic feedback, and leads membership recruitment.
Current ALC members include practicing artists, leaders of organizations, community leaders, and creative business owners from across the state of Illinois. ALC members attend 4 meetings per year and members commit to sitting on one sub-committee. As our eyes and ears on the ground, ALC members are consistently advocating for and recruiting new members to support the Alliance’s mission to fight for arts resources and policies that benefit our members and all Illinois residents.
In the past year, we have welcomed 6 new members to the council: Chuck Benya (Carbondale), Henry Wishcamper (Chicago), Matthew-Lee Erlbach (Chicago / Los Angeles), Quinn Adamowski (Joliet), Nikki Romain (Peoria), and Mary McNamara-Bernstein (Rockford). Their bios are below.
We are so excited to have these leaders with us and thank them for their tireless advocacy for the creative sector in their community and across Illinois.
If you are interested in joining the ALC, please contact Erick at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHUCK BENYA (CARBONDALE)
Carbondale Community Arts
Chuck Benya was recently appointed Executive Director of Carbondale Community Arts (CCA), which is located in Southern Illinois. He will continue his successful track record of non-profit leadership by advancing CCA’s mission to celebrate creativity across the arts and generate experiences designed to ignite minds, connect people, and pique curiosity. Benya was the architect of Howard Brown’s high profile emergency fundraising drive, The Lifeline Appeal: exceeding its $500k goal by $450k, as well as increasing its social media presence by 900 percent. Benya’s service to former First Lady Rosalynn Carter as consultant for her Institute for Caregiving led to her much anticipated blueprint for a national caregiving network. Other leadership roles include Heartland Alliance, CARE USA, and Vital Bridges. Former clients include the ISS – Center for the Advancement of Science in Space, Eat Right, and Michigan Community Service Commission.
He draws his arts experience from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, The Kings Arts Complex, and Illinois Alliance for Arts Education. He has designed several membership and audience participation programs throughout the years, leading to increased access among BIPOC communities and inner-city youth. Benya has also served on the National Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Arts Council, Greater Columbus Arts Council, and Illinois Arts Council Agency grants panels, as well as numerous committees to strengthen arts funding, education, and policy. He holds a BA from Nazareth College, an MPP from the University of Michigan, and an MBA from the Quantic School of Business and Technology.
HENRY WISHCAMPER (CHICAGO)
Director of Community Development
Henry Wishcamper is a theater director, playwright and producer. He is an Artistic Associate and member of the Artistic Collective at the Goodman, where he served as one of three Producers. He is currently enrolled in the Masters in Urban Planning and Policy Program at UIC, where his focus is on how arts, cultural and recreational spaces can be designed and activated to be more effective catalysts for hyper-local economic, cultural and civic activity.
At the Goodman, he has directed The Little Foxes, Animal Crackers, seven seasons of A Christmas Carol and others. His directing credits include Writers Theatre, Steppenwolf, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Manhattan Theatre Club, LCT3, the Atlantic, Katharsis Theater Company, Keen Company, Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Guthrie and The Old Globe. His adaptation of Animal Crackers was produced at the Denver Center, Baltimore Center Stage and Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
QUINN ADAMOWSKI (JOLIET)
Regional Advocacy Manager
Quinn is a leader and organizer in Joliet who is committed to enhancing quality of life by building capacity within the arts, historic preservation, and tourism.
He serves as Chair of the Joliet Historic Preservation Commission, President of the Joliet Area Historical Museum Board of Directors and as Co-Chair of the Old Joliet Prison Preservation Coalition. He is also a member of the City Center Partnership Beautification Committee and of the City of Joliet Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee. Quinn was a catalyst for the Burnt District Artists, a collective of artists that repurposed and interpreted salvaged material from the historic prison site, which resulted in an exhibit currently on display at the Illinois State Museum in Lockport. Quinn was a driving force behind creating the City of Joliet Arts Commission, of which he serves as Vice-Chair and as Chair of the Incubation Subcommittee that is focused on establishing a public arts policy for the City of Joliet.
NIKKI ROMAIN (PEORIA)
Co-Founder and Executive Director,
Artists ReEnvisioning Tomorrow (ART Inc.)
Nikki Romain is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Artists ReEnvisioning Tomorrow Inc (ART Inc). She is a graduate from Columbia College Chicago with a B.A. in Theater. Nikki has an extensive background in the arts as an actor, singer, writer, and voice over artist. She was selected to perform with the well-known Chicago Praise Ensemble and toured throughout northern Italy. Nikki has performed in musicals and theatrical productions across the country such as, Little Shop of Horrors, The Wiz, Godspell, Steel Magnolias, For Colored Girls, and Shoe Story. She wrote, produced, and played in her one woman show, “Lost and Found” (a story about how the arts saved her life), at the Hollywood Fringe Festival in Los Angeles and the prestigious Royal George theater in Chicago. Using arts and culture as a vehicle, Nikki’s mission in life is to empower the lives of women and youth.
Outside of work, Nikki serves on the HOI United Way Board of Directors and the Peoria Joint Commission on Racial Justice & Equity. She is also an active member of the Greater Peoria Illinois Chapter of Jack and Jill of America Incorporated and the Central Illinois (IL) Chapter of The Links, Incorporated. She is married to her soul mate and best friend, Jonathon Romain, and proud mother to the lovely Kennedy Alexandra Romain.
(CHICAGO / NEW YORK CITY)
Writer, Actor, Organizer
Matthew-Lee is a Co-Founder and the Government Affairs / Public Policy Director of Arts Workers United and Co-Organizer of AWU’s “Be An #ArtsHero” campaign, a national, non-partisan, interdisciplinary grassroots movement, urging the federal government to make the Arts & Culture Economy a legislative and economic priority. As Director, he has created and led multiple national campaigns including “#ArtsAreMySuperpower,” a national letter-writing campaign for young artists, along with Theatre for Young Audiences and 20,000 youth institutions; “Dear Mr. President”, a national letter-writing campaign with the Dramatists Guild; and various campaigns with the newly formed American Circus Alliance; ; the nation’s top Editorial Cartoonists; and Ovation TV, where he is currently Executive Producing a series on the Creative Economy.
On the policy side, he has also led the DAWN Act effort with Americans for the Arts, American Theatre Wing, and the Costume Industry Coalition as well the Revive and Rebuild effort in New York State. In addition to successfully lobbying Congress for Arts Worker relief, he has written various missives, including his Open Letter to the U.S. Senate, garnering over 17,000 signatures, including the leaders of every major arts institution, and a host of Oscar, Emmy, TONY, Grammy, and Pulitzer winners.
In support of the DAWN Act and the Creative Workforce, Matthew-Lee has been interviewed/featured in/on NPR, PBS, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, WGN, Spectrum, Comcast, New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, Playbill, and numerous local TV/Radio stations and outlets. A proud graduate of the public school system from K-College, Matthew-Lee created a writing program for single mothers transitioning out of homelessness and prison and is a team leader for Habitat for Humanity, locally and globally. He is currently registering to become a federal lobbyist.
MARY MCNAMARA BERNSTEN (ROCKFORD)
Rockford Area Arts Council
Mary is an enthusiastic Rockford native with more than two decades’ experience teaching and promoting the arts in our community and beyond. Mary’s passion and commitment to community connection, public service, and justice in all forms make her a powerful advocate for the Arts Council’s mission: to support, promote, and develop access to the arts for everyone.