Setting Up an Emergency Relief Fund

Recorded On: 04/01/2020


About this Webinar

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has created substantial disruption to earned revenue for organizations and income streams for individuals. Are you thinking about setting up a relief fund? Not sure where to start or how to best navigate it? Join our panel as they share how they setup their relief funds, questions to ask and insights they learned through the process.


  • Ruby Lopez Harper, Senior Director of Local Arts Advancement, Americans for the Arts
  • Barbara Davis, Chief Operating Officer, The Actors Fund
  • Randy Engstrom, Director, Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Seattle
  • Ashley Walden Davis, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Alternate ROOTS
  • McKenzi Swinehart, Grants & Services Manager, Greater Columbus Arts Council
  • Laura Zabel, Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts

Take the Coronavirus Impact Survey

We're gathering data and impact stories through this survey link. The survey will capture a broad spectrum of data and stories that will demonstrate how the arts and culture workers triumphed and survived this crisis as well as the effect of the outbreak on operations through cancelled events, lost wages, and additional expenses. We encourage you to share this survey with your communities.

This event is free to all who register.

Americans for the Arts is providing the arts and culture field with this and other COVID-19 webinars and resources at no charge to you. Please consider supporting our ability to deliver this important work with a donation by clicking HERE 

We also encourage you to become a member with us for access to even more webinars and other resources, please visit for more information 

Ruby Lopez Harper

Vice President, Equity and Local Arts Engagement

Americans for the Arts

Mexican, Mother, Wife, Dancer, Photographer, Poet and Social Justice Warrior.

Ruby is the Vice President, Equity and Local Arts Engagement for Americans for the Arts. Her portfolio includes external equity strategies and field education, leadership development, local arts advancement, and cohort building for the local arts agency field, arts and culture administrators, and arts marketers. She is the chief architect of the National Arts Marketing Project Conference. She was selected as a 2019 Arizona State University Practices for Change Fellow. She was recognized as an 2019 Inspirational Woman (Arts Advocate) by “And I Thought” Women in Literature. She is a steering committee member for the National Coalition on Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response, serves as Chair of the Gard Foundation, serves on the board for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (Grants Committee/Advocacy Committee) and serves on the WETA Community Advisory Council.

Ruby’s work has focused on equitable access, grantmaking, supporting individual artists, community development, economic development, cultural tourism, marketing and public art. She draws on a varied background that includes corporate affairs, community relations, volunteerism, employee engagement, marketing and communications, and business administration. She served on the Emerging Leaders Council for Americans for the Arts, was the primary contact for the Arts and Economic Impact Study for Central Ohio and recently served as a mentor with Arts Administrators of Color DMV. She is a 2017 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Advocacy Leadership Institute Fellow, Class of 2017 American Express Leadership Academy Alum and Class of 2010 Next Generation of Leaders Fellowship program. 

Barbara Davis

Chief Operating Officer, The Actors Fund

Barbara Davis has been with The Actors Fund since 1984. As Chief Operating Officer, she oversees the intersection of administration, finance, advancement and programs including social services, health care, workforce development for The Fund’s three offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and at its supportive housing residences in Manhattan, Brooklyn and West Hollywood, as well as at the assisted-living and nursing care home in New Jersey. Ms. Davis is Co-Chair of the Housing, Health and Human Services Committee and serves on the Land Use Committee for Manhattan Community Board #4. Ms. Davis is Vice President of the Waldman Foundation, a member of the World of Work Advisory Committee at Columbia University School of Social Work and serves as an advisor for the Louis Armstrong Center for Music and Medicine at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Ms. Davis has her BA in Psychology from American University, a Masters Degree in Social Work from Columbia University and has completed the Columbia University Graduate School of Business Institute for Not-for-Profit Management Executive and Leadership Programs.


Randy Engstrom

Director, Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Seattle

Randy Engstrom has been a passionate advocate and organizer of cultural and community development for over 15 years.  He is currently the Director of the Office of Arts and Culture for the City of Seattle. As Director of the Office, he has expanded their investments in granting programs and Public Art, while establishing new programs and policies in arts education, cultural space affordability, and racial equity. Most recently he owned and operated Reflex Strategies, a cultural and community based consulting business that worked with foundations, non-profits, and local government. He served as Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission in 2011 after serving 2 years as Vice-Chair, and was Chair of the Facilities and Economic Development Committee from 2006 to 2010. Previously he served as the Founding Director of the Youngstown Cultural Arts Center, a multimedia/multidisciplinary community space that offers youth and community member’s access to arts, technology, and cultural resources ( Prior to Youngstown, Randy spent 3 years as the Founding CEO of Static Factory Media, an artist development organization that owned and operated a record label, bar/performance venue, graphic design house, recording studio, and web development business. In 2009 Randy received the Emerging Leader Award from Americans for the Arts and was one of Puget Sound Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. He is a graduate of the Evergreen State College in Olympia, and he received his Executive Masters in Public Administration at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Affairs.

Ashley Walden Davis

Director of Strategic Partnerships, Alternate ROOTS

Ashley Walden Davis is the Director of Strategic Partnerships of Alternate ROOTS, a Southern based regional arts service organization with 44 years of history. As a member-driven national resource for artists and cultural organizers, we seek to champion social and economic justice and the work of people in our field. She currently oversees the grantmaking and foundation fundraising for the organization. Ashley’s work places a great emphasis on strengthening the network of artists, communities, regional and national partnerships in support of a progressive southern movement.

Ashley, a North Carolina native, is an arts manager with an affinity for working with community. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of C4 Atlanta that supports the development of business acumen in artists entrepreneurs. Ashley is also a founding leader of the Next Generation National Arts Network, a coalition of artists and administrators from across the United States who have set out to chart the course for being the future leaders of the arts field.

She holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Producing from the California Institute of the Arts and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies from Old Dominion University. Ashley previously worked with Cornerstone Theater Company, Hartbeat Ensemble, Towne Street Theater, Arena Stage, Virginia Stage Company and Elizabeth River Theater Company and served on the Board of Directors of Appalshop. She has served as an Assistant Professor in the Theater Department at Kennesaw State University. 

Some of her honors include Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) Leadership Fellowship, Theater Communications Group (TCG) New Generations: Future Leaders Grant, Cornerstone Theater Company Paula Altvater Fellowship, LA Stage Alliance Ovations Fellowship and Arena Stage Fellowship.

McKenzi Swinehart

Grants & Services Manager, Greater Columbus Arts Council

As grants and services manager, McKenzi is responsible for implementing and overseeing grants programs, resource development and community engagement. She leads the Project Support and Thrive grant processes and evaluation, manages the grant submission platform and team technology needs, oversees the Fellowship and Award portfolio and researches industry trends for strategic implementation in the department.

Prior to joining the Arts Council in 2017, McKenzi served as the director of programs and development at Reno Little Theater, where she designed and executed the overall fund development plan, engaged with donors and sponsors, and oversaw the educational outreach and accessibility programs. In addition, she was a core member of the Artistic Leadership Team, participating in season planning, guest artist selection, casting, directorial oversight, and efforts to cultivate new talent.

McKenzi has a Bachelor of Arts in theater and political science from the University of Nevada, Reno and is an alumna of Leadership Columbus. She has served on the grant panels for the Nevada Arts Council and Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. 

Laura Zabel

Executive Director, Springboard for the Arts

Laura Zabel is Executive Director of Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency run by and for artists. Dedicated to helping communities connect to the creative power of artists, Springboard’s programs link artists to patrons, healthcare, entrepreneurial development, fiscal sponsorship, and more. Springboard operates Creative Exchange, a platform for sharing stories and helping artists and communities replicate successful development projects. Zabel speaks frequently on the power of creativity and artist-led community development at events like the Aspen Ideas Festival and the Urban Land Institute, while her insights have been featured in outlets from The Guardian to The New York Times.


Setting Up an Emergency Relief Fund Recorded with Captions