Kristin Larsen to Return to Arts and Business Council as New Executive Director

April 19, 2017

Kristin Larsen to Return to Arts and Business Council as New Executive Director

CHICAGO—Kristin Larsen has been named Executive Director of the Arts and Business Council of Chicago (A&BC) succeeding Andrew Micheli who recently stepped down to return to focus on his artistic career.

“Kristin emerged as the ideal candidate given her experience, knowledge of the Chicago nonprofit art scene, and A&BC operations both from the program delivery and client perspective,” said A&BC Board Chair Joel Farran.  “Her passion to grow A&BC’s core programs while serving emerging community needs is energizing.”

Larsen will start May 15.  She will return to the A&BC where she was Director of Programs from 2001-2002.  Under Kristin’s leadership, A&BC will continue to catalyze the intersection of the business and arts communities to build strong, active neighborhoods in Chicago.

“Art and culture play a role in everyday life and they are essential to the well-being of our city.” Larsen said.  “I am thrilled to carry on fostering partnerships between the corporate and culture communities, stimulating sector innovation, and growing Chicago’s reputation as a global cultural destination.”   

Kristin brings with her 15 years of experience in an Executive Director capacity managing all aspects of nonprofit theater operations in addition to her board service, grant review, and academic faculty and mentorship experience. Most recently she served as Executive Director of Lukaba Productions/Stage 773 in Chicago.

Toby Sachs, Interim Executive Director will continue to serve in an interim capacity until May 15 and will support to assure a smooth transition.

Ensuring a Smooth Transition-Interim Executive Director Named

March 9, 2017

Ensuring a Smooth Transition – Interim Executive Director Named

Toby Sachs will be joining the Arts & Business Council of Chicago as Interim Executive Director on March 20th, 2017. He will provide important continuity in oversight of operations as A&BC completes a search for a permanent Executive Director (ED) successor following Andrew Micheli’s decision to step down at the end of the fiscal year.
Toby is an experienced executive leader and brings with him a wealth of corporate and non-profit experience. He is no stranger to the A&BC, serving as a pro-bono consultant with A&BC’s Business Volunteers for the Arts program for a decade, leading 11 successful client projects. In all, he has served as a pro-bono consultant to more than 30 non-profits in and around Chicago including assisting current A&BC leadership with brand and strategic visioning. 
Toby’s passion, pragmatism, and wealth of knowledge will ensure a successful transition through permanent ED placement. His career in major advertising agencies in London and Chicago spans 30 years, building brands and shaping strategy for the likes of Kellogg’s, Kraft, Procter & Gamble, Pfizer and Boeing. He led teams that won over $1 billion of new business billings in each of three different agencies and served as CEO to both LeoHealth, a division of Leo Burnett, and mcgarrybowen London. 
Toby will be attending A&BC’s March Board meeting and Annual Benefit Luncheon & Reception on March 21, 11:30am – 1:30pm.
Please join the A&BC community in its dedication to the convergence of Arts, Business and Community - The “ABC’s” of building strong, active neighborhoods throughout Chicago, and in welcoming Toby Sachs to A&BC.
Interested candidates in the permanent Executive Director role should direct inquiries to A&BC Board President, Joel Farran, at

Announcing Executive Director Transition

February 17, 2017

CHICAGO—After more than 10 years with the Arts & Business Council of Chicago (A&BC), Andrew Micheli will be stepping down as Executive Director on March 31, 2017 to return his focus to his artistic career.
“It’s been incredible serving so many arts organizations and seeing the work we do have such an effect on the vibrancy of the sector,” Micheli said.  “I’m proud of the successes of A&BC and excited to return to my art practice.”
A&BC is finishing up a banner year which includes the launch of ArtCore, a partnership with Chicago Cultural Alliance and Audience Architects that was recently awarded a 3-year, $300,000 grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Under Andrew’s leadership, program successes continue to top previous years’ goals: with nearly 50 capacity-building projects completed – that averages 85-95 consultants fully engaged on 25-30 Business Volunteer for the Arts projects each day; with 20 new board members trained and placed with arts organizations; with over 300 participants in our Lab series; and with a special project for the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation working directly with nearly 40 organizations on personalized Board Development projects. Additional programming was piloted delivering six unique training labs in two partner communities (Humboldt Park and Beverly).
“On behalf of the hundreds of arts organizations A&BC has served, I would like to thank Andrew for his over 10 years of service with A&BC,” said Joel Farran, Board Chair of A&BC.
A&BC’s Board of Directors has been working for the past few months on the transition process. The search for the new Executive Director is underway.
A&BC’s recently completed Strategic Plan secures the continuation of long-time programming in management and board training, placement and consulting services. A&BC’s new leadership will be focused on the strategic expansion in corporate partnerships designed to strengthen A&BC’s volunteer resources and provide new sources of earned revenue.
For information about programming, contact: Katie Kurcz at
For information about the Executive Director transition, contact: Joel Farran, Board President at

Client Spotlight-Making a Difference!

Client Spotlight: Forward Momentum Chicago

Forward Momentum Chicago (FMC) provides high-quality, affordable dance education programs to children in lesser served communities that would not have access to dance education. Although FMC is a fairly new organization, its Founder and Executive Director Pierre Lockett has been in the Chicago dance education field for 20 years. FMC is currently in 21 schools, providing dance to 99 classrooms and over 2,400 students and hope to receive a Creative School Fund in December to expand their programming. This past summer, they had an incredibly successful inaugural Summer Dance Camp with over 65 students that attended all-day dance camp for six weeks.

In 2015, FMC came to the Art & Business Council to help them create a workflow system that gave their employees a more streamlined process to manage growth. The volunteer consultant team conducted a current and future state needs assessment, created four key job descriptions for growth and developed a system for an intern and volunteer program. This immediately led to the hire of a new marketing and communications staff member and helped Pierre more fully shift into the role of Executive Director while delegating marketing to their new hire.

After these HR changes had been made, Pierre and his team were ready to tackle their first ever strategic plan. This successful project changed the board’s perspective and helped them think about the future. Pierre and his team are already implementing their newly created strategic plan. They have restructured their board meetings, added two new board members, will hire a paid consultant to focus on fundraising and are looking for our assistance in the future with a branding and board structure project. By working with A&BC on their management areas, Forward Momentum is able to focus on what they do best: dance education.

Now that A&BC has helped FMC with its workflow and HR needs, Pierre can focus not only on being the Executive Director, but what he deems his most vital role at FMC – mentoring his students. Mentoring is important to Pierre because that's how he got where he is today; by someone taking an interest in him and taking the time to cultivate his talents. 

Pierre is paying it forward by mentoring Travon Williams for the past five years. Pierre encouraged him to take dance class with his friends after meeting him at the Joffrey Ballet. Travon and Pierre discovered he had talent and he is now a student at FMC through After School Matters. Pierre helped Travon get into the Chicago High School for the Arts where he is now a junior and has taken summer intensives around the country from Debbie Allen Dance Academy, Austin Ballet, Alonzo King’s Lines Ballet and others.

Not only is Pierre guiding Travon in his goal to dance professionally but also helping to make the right decisions on everything from classes, proper attire, work ethic and how to act professionally in such a small dance world. Pierre teaches his favorite motto to students: If you can look at a situation and say you gave it 100%, then you can walk away from it.

When his students feel that they’ve given it their all and can walk away, Pierre feels that that is when he knows his work and training are complete. FMC is just one of the many A&BC client organizations making great contributions to the Chicago community.