Marvin G. Parnes, Interim Executive Director

Marvin G. Parnes participated in the establishment of a2ru and ArtsEngine at the University of Michigan, where he recently retired after being on staff for more than forty years after which he served as consultant to the ArtsEngine/a2ru Executive Director. At U-M, he served for many years as Associate Vice President for Research, and in his last years, as Managing Director of the Institute for Social Research. In the Office of the Vice President, he was responsible for managing funds for faculty research and creative activity, and was instrumental in developing new interdisciplinary research and training units.  He has held leadership roles in many local, state, and national organizations and associations, including the Council on Governmental Relations, the Michigan Initiative for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and the NIH Office of Intramural Research National Advisory Council. Mr. Parnes was instrumental in the establishment of Imagining America, a national consortium of 90 colleges and universities, and their partners, that emphasizes the possibilities of humanities, arts, and design in knowledge-generating initiatives. The organization was founded at U-M in 1999 and is now administered at University of California, Davis. As Chair of the Ann Arbor Area Chamber of Commerce, he helped to incubate the Arts Alliance, a non-profit organization that advocates for the arts in the greater Ann Arbor region, and in September, will become Chair of the Board of Directors of the Ann Arbor Summer Festival.


Maryrose Flanigan, Associate Director

Maryrose Flanigan is the interim managing director of the Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru), where she oversees a network of 43 U.S. research universities to advance arts-based initiatives in higher education. She previously served as division coordinator for Literature and Arts Education at the National Endowment for the Arts from 2010-2016, and has also worked as a specialist with the creative writing and translation fellowships; and served as program manager for Poetry Out Loud; and the NEA Big Read.  She has also served as associate editor for Office of Communications and Public Affairs (OCPA) at the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U), in Washington, D.C.; and associate director for the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, now housed at the University of Maryland. Maryrose has an M.F.A. in poetry from American University.


Gabriel Harp, Research Director

Gabriel Harp is the Research Director for a2ru, where he leads the Mellon SPARC (Supporting Practice in the Arts, Research, and Curricula) project and the rest of a2ru’s research agenda. The SPARC project makes use of hundreds of interviews with faculty and academic leadership from over 35 research universities—as well as supporting materials and documents—to identify and highlight patterns and practices for arts-driven research, collaborative know-how, curriculum, and organizational design in higher education. Prior to joining a2ru and the University of Michigan, Gabriel led strategic foresight, organization change design, large-scale social science-driven research initiatives, arts research, and software design projects for the Institute for the Future, ecoAmerica, XPLANE, Microsoft, Intel, WattTime, GE, CoClimate, The World Health Organization, the California Community College System, and Nokia. From 2007 -2011 Gabriel helped launch lab and research programs fusing experimental art, design, technology, and public policy in Bangalore for the Center for Study of Science Technology and Public Policy, the Center for Knowledge Societies, and the Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology. Gabriel still draws on his formative training in evolutionary ecology and genetics (Indiana University) and the arts and design (University of Michigan) to guide his current research practice areas.

Deb Mexicotte, ArtsEngine Managing Director

Debra Mexicotte is the managing director of ArtsEngine/a2ru. She received her BFA and MA in Theatre from Case Western Reserve University and the University of Michigan, and worked in local and regional theatre as a designer and painter before starting her career in higher ed. She has spent her career at the University of Michigan working in programs which focused on the arts, leadership, and student and organizational development. For this work, Deb was named Student Organization Adviser of the Year in 1999. Most recently, she spent eight years as the Program Director for Arts at Michigan, a co-curricular arts engagement program at UM, and has been at ArtsEngine/a2ru since Fall 2015.  In 2017 she concluded her 7-year service as President of the Ann Arbor Board of Education and has served the community as a Trustee since 2003.


Veronica Stanich, Research Program Manager

Veronica Dittman Stanich holds a PhD in Dance Studies from the Ohio State University. Her interview- and observation-based research investigating audience responses to postmodern dance has been published in Dance Chronicle and Dance Research, and presented to the Congress on Research in Dance. Additional research into arts-integrated teaching at the University of Michigan has resulted in whitepapers and case-studies circulated across the university. Currently, she is working with a2ru’s Research Director to analyze and synthesize interview data on arts integration impacts; issues around tenure and promotion for those engaged in arts, design, and interdisciplinary practices; and collaboration. She continues to teach undergraduate courses in writing about performance and in dance.


Amy Tackitt, Program Coordinator

Amy Tackitt received her Bachelor of Music degree in cello performance from the University of Michigan where she studied with Anthony Elliott, Erling Bengtsson, and Richard Aaron. Before returning to Michigan to work for ArtsEngine and a2ru, she served seven years as Program Coordinator of the Community Music and Dance Academy and Curry Summer Music Camp, the two community outreach programs housed within the School of Music at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. Amy is currently the Administrator for the Major Orchestra Librarians’ Association, an organization of over 300 member organizations around the world. She has played in many summer festival and community orchestras throughout the country and served as chair of the orchestra committee for two years while playing in the cello section of the Flagstaff Symphony Orchestra. Prior to serving at Northern Arizona University, she spent two years as Assistant Orchestra Librarian for the Houston Symphony.


Diana Cortes, Graduate Intern

Diana Cortes comes from the small town of Holland, MI, where she also graduated with her B.A. in Communication from Hope College. While there, she participated in a variety of student groups throughout campus. She is currently enrolled at U-M in the M.A of Higher Education program with a Concentration in Student Access and Success. Her research interests include exploring the experiences of underrepresented students in college. During her free time, she also enjoys baking and catching up over coffee.