The new board members are Jamie J. Brunson, Executive Director of First Person Arts, Cathryn Coate, civic and community leader from SSH Realty and Kerry Walk, the newly-installed President of University of the Arts. The newly-elected officers for 2024 are: Dianne Semingson, Chair; Tim Moir, Vice Chair; Madeline Apollo, Treasure; Nina Zucker, Secretary.

“Each of our new board members brings a wealth of experience, understanding and passion for the work of AAI and the importance of the arts and culture community to the vitality and economic growth of the city of Philadelphia and the region, said Board Chair Dianne Semingson.

Stated Executive Director Laura Burkhardt, “We’re incredibly lucky to add their knowledge, insight and talent to our board, and look forward to working with them as we move ahead into 2024 and beyond.”

JAMIE J. BRUNSON has brought storytelling to the stage within different spheres of the arts and cultural community for over 16 years. She served as managing director of New Freedom Theatre and the Providence Black Repertory Company and as Director of Institutional Gifts and Sponsorship for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. An award-winning playwright, Brunson is a four-time Delaware Division of the Arts/NEA grantee for playwriting and was named a “New Voice in American Theatre” by the Edward Albee Theatre Conference. Her plays have been produced across the country at the Wilmington Fringe Festival; the Kitchen Theatre; New Freedom Theatre; the Harlem Theatre Company, Abingdon Theatre; Walnut Street Theatre Second Stage; Karamu House; and Providence Black Repertory Company (RI). Brunson holds an MFA in Theatre from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA degree in Radio-Television-Film from Temple University.

CATHRYN COATE, SIOR has been a commercial real estate broker for 25 years, providing comprehensive services to a diverse base of local and national organizations. With a focus on nonprofit organizations, she applies her expertise and knowledge of Philadelphia and its resources to help clients achieve their strategic, operational and financial goals.

Before becoming a broker, Coate served in leadership positions with the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance and the Institute for the Study of Civic Values, has been a social worker with the Chester County Board of Assistance and for CO-MHAR in the Kensington section of Philadelphia and has also taught and lectured at the Wharton School, the School of Social Work of the University of Pennsylvania, the University of the Arts, Drexel University and Eastern College.

A civic and community leader, Coate served as a Trustee of Friends Select School and is Past President and Executive Committee Member of the Society of Industrial and Office Realtors (SIOR) Philadelphia, as well as having served on and volunteered for numerous non-profit boards and political campaigns.

KERRY WALK, PHD, became University of the Arts’ fifth president on Aug. 1, 2023. A champion of student learning and success, Walk is the first woman to assume the UArts presidency. She received her BA degree in English from Wellesley College and her Master’s and PhD in English Literature from University of California, Berkeley, focusing on Shakespeare on the page and on the stage. Walk joined UArts from Marymount Manhattan College (MMC), where she served as president for eight years, after serving as provost and interim president of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles. She spent more than two decades teaching and leading major initiatives at Harvard University, Princeton University and Pitzer College.

Walk’s commitment to DEI and accessibility, fundamental UArts values, has been a hallmark of her career, appointing MMC’s first DEI officer and forming a presidential council to coordinate DEI efforts across the college. A proven leader, strategist and fundraiser, Walk is committed to UArts’ mission to advance human creativity, driving innovation and meaningful social and economic change in local and global communities, with a special focus on Philadelphia and the vibrant Avenue of the Arts. In addition, she is committed to ensuring that the education students receive transcends the boundaries between art, design, film, theatre, dance, music, and writing, providing them with abundant opportunities to fuse artistic disciplines and create work that’s fresh, provocative, and unique.

About the Avenue of the Arts, Inc. Championed in 1993 by Philadelphia’s visionary Mayor, Edward G. Rendell, and developed under the leadership of its first Board Chair, Dr. Bernard C. Watson, followed by the Honorable Marjorie O. Rendell, the Avenue of the Arts, defined as South Broad Street from City Hall to Washington Avenue (including 13th and 15th Streets to the East and West), has exploded since the Avenue was designated as an arts district, adding such new and renovated buildings including the Arts Bank, the Kimmel Center, the Wilma Theater, High School for Creative & Performing Arts, The Philadelphia Clef Club of Jazz & Performing Arts, Brandywine Workshop, The Prince Theater and the Suzanne Roberts Theatre.

The Avenue has also become home to top hotel chains and destination restaurants as well as a highly-desirable residential neighborhood of more than 25,000 and the development of numerous luxury residences. AAI and its associate organization, Friends of the Avenue of the Arts, work to promote investment, beautification and marketing of the Avenue of the Arts to make the Avenue a great place to live, work, shop and play.