ArtsForce celebrates 10 years with landmark networking event

March 22 2023

In 2012, the College of Fine Arts surveyed students to learn more about how they felt about their coursework, performance opportunities, experience with faculty members and more. The responses revealed a crystal clear call for more help transitioning to the professional world. 

Associate Dean for Undergraduate Affairs, Liz Leckie, was new to her role at the time but seized the opportunity to dig deeper, speaking individually with students to brainstorm possible solutions to this need. Along with a group of motivated interns (the inaugural ArtsForce team), Leckie planned a 2-day conference complete with guests from the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP), as well as members of the community focused on career development. 

10 years later, this seed has blossomed into the award-winning ArtsForce program that has truly been a game-changer for so many CFA students who have gone on to bright and diverse futures in and around the arts. 

This coming Saturday, March 25th, ArtsForce will celebrate its remarkable impact over the last decade at their Annual Networking Event, where students will be able to network with some of the very alumni who were on the ground floor of the program.  

Attendees of the networking event will meet leaders of local arts organizations, gain insight and advice about their future careers from a star panel, and have the chance to network with fellow Fine Arts students and alums.

Here’s the full itinerary for the day: networking2

10 Years of ArtsForce: Celebrate What Networking Can Do For You

10:00 -10:10 Welcome "Why networking is important" (SNAAP)

10:10 -10:50 Panel entitled “Celebrate What Networking Can Do for You” with Robert Neubecker, Julie Gale, Nancy Green and Matt Castillo

11:00 -11:30 Panel entitled “Creating a Successful Network.” With Ashley Chin Mark, Annealea Flynn, Kylie Howard, Cynthia Chen and Rae Luebbert

11:30 -12:00 Lunch 

12:00 -12:15 Guided Networking led by Liz Leckie and Annealea Flynn 

12:15 -12:55 Un-guided Networking 

12:55 -1:00 Closing


Robert Neubecker is an award winning illustrator and children’s book author. His work has appeared in Time Magazine, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Sports Illustrated, and dozens of magazines and newspapers around the world. He’s been a regular contributor to the New York Times since 1975, and was on staff at for 19 years. He has written and illustrated thirty-seven books for children. Robert won the prestigious 2004 Key Award for Best Comedy Poster for the movie Sideways. His work is regularly featured in the American Illustration and New York Society of Illustrators annual competitions.  Robert has taught courses and workshops in the design departments of School of Visual Arts, Brigham Young University, and the University of Utah.Robert moved to Utah from Manhattan in 1994, raised a family in Park City with dogs and moose, and now lives in the Avenues neighborhood of Salt Lake City with his wife, Dr. Ruth Zimmer, and their dogs, Fae and Déjà vu. The cat, Babette, is in charge.

Julie Gale began her career in the Dallas-Fort Worth area at nonprofit arts organizations (Casa Mañana, Theatre Arlington, Texas Nonprofit Theatres, Inc.) as a K-12 arts educator and community outreach coordinator, creating strong community partnerships and arts opportunities for thousands of students and families. In addition, she has served as an Assistant Professor of Theatre and Film at Tarrant County College in Fort Worth. Julie also managed several arts education and outreach programs for the College of Humanities while at Tarrant County College, thousands of students annually. Since relocating to Utah in 2016, Julie served as a Program Experience Manager at Western Governors University (WGU), where she led multiple projects improving the student experience at the university. She also led initiatives to advance equity and create an inclusive culture for students in the College of Health Professions in all 50 states. Julie holds a BFA in Theatre from Texas State University-San Marcos and an MFA in Theatre from the University of Iowa.

PBS Utah Executive Producer, Nancy Green, specializes in the production of documentaries for local, regional, and national PBS broadcast. Her work at PBS Utah spans nearly 30 years, focusing on diverse topics, including healthcare, the arts, history, and the outdoors--garnering awards from The New York Film Festivals, National Society of Professional Journalists, and Rocky Mountain Emmys. Recent films include, Battle Over Bears Ears, Homeless at the End and Search & Rescue. She is currently the Executive Producer for This Is Utah, a series celebrating the state’s diverse people and communities. Nancy is also active in the academic community, receiving her M.F.A. in Film and Media Arts from the University of Utah where she has taught documentary filmmaking. Originally a native of New Jersey, Nancy was lured to Utah by fresh powder.  She lives in Salt Lake City with her musician/composer husband, Frank and her not so musical cats, Tink and Cal.

Matt Castillo has been passionate about arts, culture, and public service for many years. Matt's education and career has included French horn performance, public accounting, service on several nonprofit and community boards, and his current role serving as the Director of the Salt Lake County Division of Arts & Culture. In this role, Matt oversees the operations of several large theaters, administration of the Zoo, Arts & Parks grant program, and the development of arts-based community engagement initiatives. Matt lives in the Fairpark neighborhood with his partner Drew and their dogs, Sammy and Grimsie. 

Here’s what a few interns through the years had to say about their experience with ArtsForce:

"My biggest external success was being part of the first group of interns to organize and put on the first ever ArtsForce keynote and networking event. Through the guidance of our mentors, we got to build and lay the foundations for what ArtsForce would later become. Internally, the experience was a personal success for me because I got to work with a team of students from different disciplines across the CFA and had my first significant professional experience in arts administration."
Cynthia Chen 

"I think my biggest success was both facilitating networking and building my own networking skills. I really enjoyed meeting both other students in the college and arts professionals both in the area and from outside the area. Working on these logistics and building relationships in these spaces served me both while in the Utah area and when I have moved across the country. It gave me the confidence to build relationships and also to invest in my network in the 10 years since I first worked on ArtsForce."
Paul Hill

"My biggest success as a CFA intern was helping host The Party, a dance party inside the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. The goal was to get a bunch of students using their Arts Pass by hosting some more high profile Arts Pass related events. We had hundreds of folks dancing in the main hall of UMFA, and tons more walking the galleries as they took a break from dancing. It was really cool!"
Duncan Cox

"During my time as a CFA intern, I had the opportunity to work with students, faculty, and alumni, which taught me the lifelong skill of networking and public speaking. The role offered the opportunity to speak at panels, present in front of my peers, network with alumni, and communicate with faculty across the CFA and the University of Utah. It was a great opportunity to meet people outside of my department, which helped me develop networking skills that I use in my job today."
Shannon Mostrom

"The most impactful experience as an intern was given the responsibility to coordinate an animation career trek out to Los Angeles. This involved me reaching out to studios to arrange tours, booking travel & accommodations, organizing schedules, and introducing students participating to working artists."
Taylor Mott