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Oklahoma Arts Council Staff

As a state agency, the Oklahoma Arts Council represents the essence of efficient and effective state government. Only seven percent of the Council's budget is used for administrative costs. Eighty percent of the Council's budget directly benefits communities statewide in the form of grant support for arts and cultural programs. Services to constituents comprise the remaining 13 percent of the Council's budget.

Members of the Oklahoma Arts Council staff are skilled, passionate and well-educated professionals dedicated to serving the entire state through the arts.

Executive and Administrative

Executive Director
Amber Sharples Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2853

Deputy Director
Amy Weaver Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2021

Finance Director
Allison McMichael
(405) 521-2028

Executive Assistant
Connie Taylor Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2853

Arts Education

Arts Education Director
Jennifer Allen-Barron Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2036

Arts Learning in Communities Director
Chandra Boyd Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2023

Curator of Education and Capitol Galleries
Alyson Atchison Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2020


Community Arts

Community Arts Director
Christina BeattyOklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2025

Director of Cultural Development
Molly O'Connor Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2013

Grants Administration

Grants Director
Maya Hering Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2040

Grants and Finance Assistant
Thomas Tran
(405) 521-2041

Public Awareness

Director of Marketing and Communications
Joel Gavin Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2037

Web/Publications Director
Scott Cowan
(405) 521-2038

Communications Intern
Jessica Taylor


Visual Arts

Director of Visual Arts and Capitol Collections
Alan Atkinson Oklahoma Arts Council
(405) 521-2039

Director of Art in Public Places
Heather Lunsford
(405) 521-2030

Oklahoma Public Art Network Intern
Jackie Harrison

About Our Staff

Jennifer Allen-Barron (Arts Education Director) earned a BFA in Painting and a BA in French from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the Oklahoma Arts Council, Barron served as Executive Director of the Paseo Arts Association and as Community Arts Program Director at the Arts Council of Oklahoma City. She is also a practicing visual artist, working primarily in acrylic paint. Barron works with arts education programs in public schools across the state, as well as overseeing the Teaching Artist Roster.

Alyson Atchison (Curator of Education and Capitol Galleries) graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO) with a Bachelor of Arts degree and a Master of Education. She is the former Director of the Community Arts Program at the Arts Council of Oklahoma City and has taught Serigraphy at UCO and Oklahoma Christian University. A founding committee member of the Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition's exhibit, Momentum: Art Doesn't Stand Still, Atchison's artwork has been displayed nationally. As Curator of Education and Capitol Galleries, Atchison manages the rotating exhibits in the North, East, and Governor's Galleries. She also develops educational resources for Teaching with Capitol Art.

Alan Atkinson (Director of Visual Arts and Capitol Collections) received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Film and Video Studies from the University of Oklahoma where he also studied printmaking. He holds a Master of Arts in History of Art and a Ph.D. in History of Art from the University of Kansas. Prior to joining the Oklahoma Arts Council, Atkinson was curator of the National Weather Center Biennale, and he served as an adjunct curator of photography and Asian art at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. As Director of Visual Arts and Capitol Collections, Atkinson oversees the acquisition, display, and preservation of the Oklahoma State Art Collection and the Oklahoma Capitol Art Collection.

Christina Beatty (Community Arts Director) has more than ten years of nonprofit experience including arts administration and community development. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Managerial Studies from Rice University in Houston, Texas in 2005 and a Master of Arts in Social Service Administration from The University of Chicago in 2009. While in Chicago, Beatty worked for the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, the Black Metropolis National Heritage Area campaign, the Great Migration Centennial campaign and the University of Chicago’s Arts in Public Life initiative. As Community Arts Director, Beatty oversees the Community Arts Grants programs, the Cultural District Initiative, the Performing Artist Roster, and the ONEAL (Oklahoma’s New and Emerging Arts Leaders) Network. 

Chandra Boyd (Arts Learning in Communities Director) has more than 15 years experience in arts education, having held positions with the Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City Community College, and the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. A current member of the National Art Education Association, Oklahoma Museums Association, and Oklahoma Visual Arts Coalition, Boyd holds a Master of Business Administration and a Master of Liberal Arts degree from Oklahoma City University with an emphasis on Marketing and Art History. She also earned Bachelor of Arts in Art History and French from Oklahoma State University.  As Arts Learning in Communities Director, she oversees the Arts Learning in Communities Programs and is the Accessibility Coordinator for the Council.

Scott Cowan (Publications/Web Director) began his education at the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma and received a Bachelor of Art in painting from the University of Central Oklahoma in 1995. Cowan earned an MLA in painting from Oklahoma City University in 1997 and an MA in Art History from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. He currently works as the Publications/ Web Director for the Arts Council.

Joel Gavin (Director of Marketing and Communications) earned his Master of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Oklahoma. He also holds a Bachelor of Business Administration. Gavin served as a Liaison and Public Policy Specialist for Governor Brad Henry before joining the Council in 2009. His duties include writing the monthly newsletter, crafting email marketing campaigns, handling media relations, managing the agency's social media pages, generating and editing content for the Oklahoma Arts Council website, organizing the annual Governor's Arts Awards, and developing an overall marketing and communications strategy for the agency.

Maya Hering (Grants Director) joined the Council in 2015, having worked for nonprofit organizations for more than 15 years. A certified national trainer, Hering earned a Master of Business Administration from American University in Washington, D.C. and a Bachelor of Science from Humboldt State University in Interdisciplinary Studies. Prior to joining the Oklahoma Arts Council, Hering worked for the National Resource Center for Youth Services, where she provided training and technical assistance to Department of Health and Human Services grantees across the nation. As Grants Director, Hering provides assistance to grant applicants, organizes panel review of grant applications, analyzes statistical information, prepares reports, manages the agency's grants database, and conducts grant workshops.

Heather Lunsford (Director of Art in Public Places) graduated from the University of the Incarnate Word with a Master of Arts in Administration and Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in painting and a Bachelor of Arts in art history. Before joining the Oklahoma Arts Council, Lunsford worked in bi-lingual education at the San Antonio Museum of Art. She is also a studio watercolorist who has shown internationally. As the Director of Art in Public Places, Lunsford will manage the state’s 1.5% for Public Art Program, facilitating the selection and placement of public art produced in relation to eligible state capital improvement projects.

Allison McMichael (Finance Director) holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southwestern Oklahoma State University and an educational focus in Art History from the University of Oklahoma. Prior to joining the Oklahoma Arts Council, she served the Office of Management and Enterprise Services as Financial Analyst and Grant Coordinator, where she managed budgeting and reporting of more than $100M federal funds. She joined the Oklahoma Arts Council in 2015 to strengthen internal finance processes, assist with project applications and closeouts, and to become more involved in the Oklahoma art community. McMichael is a practicing writer and photographer.

Molly O'Connor (Director of Cultural Development) joined the Oklahoma Arts Council in 2006. As Director of Cultural Development, she oversees the Oklahoma Arts Conference and the Leadership Arts program. O'Connor previously worked for the Arts Council of Oklahoma City where she managed the performing artist rosters and directed events such as the WinterTales Storytelling Festival, Opening Night, and Twilight Concerts. She is a multi-disciplinary artist and her work combines creative writing, storytelling, comedy performance and visual art. O'Connor holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 3-D Design from the University of Oklahoma.

Amber Sharples (Executive Director) graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in Art History. She holds a Graduate Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care from The George Washington University. Sharples joined the Oklahoma Arts Council staff in 2006 as Visual Arts Director after working as Public Affairs and Communications Coordinator at the U.S.-Mexico Foundation for Culture in Mexico City. In 2011, she was named Assistant Director. As Executive Director, Sharples works with the Oklahoma Arts Council board and staff to implement agency goals and objectives and responds to the needs of the state's arts community through financial support, technical assistance, and services. She serves on various boards of agencies, commissions and nonprofits, including: Friends of the Mansion; Mid-America Arts Alliance; Native American Cultural and Educational Authority; and the Governor's Innovation Index Task Force.

Connie Taylor (Executive Assistant/Office Manager) graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in graphic design. Prior to joining the Council, she was a financial planner and investment advisor, taught visual arts at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and served as executive director of the Red River Arts Council. Taylor joined the Oklahoma Arts Council in 2013 to provide administrative support to the Council and to serve as agency coordinator for employee benefits, retirement services and wellness. Her preferred creative medium is black-and-white photography.

Amy Weaver (Deputy Director) is the former Development Director for the Native American Cultural and Educational Authority where she was a key member of the fundraising team that raised $40 million in private, tribal and local government funding for the American Indian Cultural Center and Museum. Weaver's experience includes Executive Director of the Arts Council of Greater Baton Rouge, Grants Director for the Cultural Arts Council of Houston/Harris County, and Program Administrator for Performing Arts and Special Projects for the Texas Commission on the Arts. Her background includes grant writing and grants management, fundraising, contact management system development, cultural planning, and nonprofit management. Amy has an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Music and Business from the University of Oklahoma.