Fund for the Arts Celebrates NeXt! Ambassador Leadership Development Program Class of 2022 – 2023  

Published June 6, 2023

We are proud to congratulate the 17 graduates of the NeXt! Ambassador Leadership Development Program for the 2022 – 2023 session. NeXt! Ambassadors who completed program are prepared to serve as effective, transformative board members and volunteer leaders for arts organizations. The program began in September 2022 and culminated in a graduation ceremony on May 25, 2023. 

Stock Yards Bank served as the Presenting Sponsor of the NeXt! Ambassador program 2022 – 2023 with a commitment to building transformative arts leaders of the future. The NeXt! Ambassador program is dedicated to preparing a new generation of emerging professionals for volunteer leadership roles within the Greater Louisville and Southern Indiana arts community. The program leads ambassadors through an immersive experience in which they develop necessary skills, build diverse relationships, apply lessons learned, and volunteer with local arts organizations. The program concluded with a board matching event to support arts organizations and new leaders making immediate connections, as well as alumni of the NeXt! program. 

The 2022-23 NeXt! Ambassadors are: 

  • Maggie Carnes; The Trevor Project 
  • Nicholas Dunigan; Fifth Third Bank 
  • Melissa Francisco; Brown-Forman 
  • Michael Maloff; Frost Brown Todd 
  • Ben Nohalty; Stock Yard Bank & Trust
  • Breana Owens; KY Select Properties 
  • Joanna Peyron; Humana Inc. 
  • Emily Rombach; Humana Inc.
  • Jane Rudnick; Spalding University 
  • Brittany Ruehling; KFC US/Yum! Brands 
  • Erin Shaughnessy; Dressman Benzinger LaVelle 
  • Kaitlin Smith; Beam Suntory 
  • Natalie Smith; University of Louisville College of Business 
  • Trent Taylor; Dinsmore & Shohl LLP
  • Krista Wilhite; Brown-Forman 
  • Whitney Wood; Louisville MSD 
  • Xinyi Yan; Brown-Forman 

“Nine months sounds like a big time commitment, but it flew by so quickly, especially with this group of fun, enthusiastic and diverse people,” said Xinyi Yan. “Not every one of us can paint, but our lives become more colorful when we exchange experiences with each other; not everyone of us can play a musical instrument or sing, but our journey becomes more joyful when we visit different art organizations together. As we are working side by side to make our community more inclusive, the NeXt! program sets the stage for us.” 

The 2022-23 NeXt! Ambassadors represent a variety of professional industries and experiences and their inclusion as volunteer and board leaders will significantly benefit Greater Louisville’s arts and culture sector. 

“NeXt! has been an invaluable 10-month journey that prepared me holistically for my upcoming role in the Louisville Ballet Marketing Committee,” said Breana Owens. “Through its immersive 9-month program, I gained essential skills, fostered diverse relationships, and learned firsthand from esteemed leaders in the arts community. NeXt! inspired me to go after my passion for the arts to the forefront, equipping me with the confidence and knowledge to make a meaningful impact within the Louisville Ballet and the wider arts landscape.” 

Andre Kimo Stone Guess, President and CEO of Fund for the Arts adds, “The NeXt! Ambassador Leadership Development program builds a clear path for interested young adults to learn about the arts ecosystem, understand what organizations look to from board leadership, and see themselves directly in the arts. Fund for the Arts is proud to invest in future volunteer arts leaders and we can’t wait to see the impact that these ambassadors will have on the arts community moving forward.” 

As part of the graduation ceremony, Kiana Del (NeXt class of 2019 – 2020) formally stepped into her position as President of the NeXtGen Board. NeXtGen is made up of former NeXt! Ambassadors who work to cultivate resources and opportunities that inspire the next generation of arts leaders. They play an integral role in planning for and facilitating the NeXt! program each year and support the broader arts community through volunteer and networking events.  

“I’m excited to serve as the NeXtGen board president this upcoming year to continue pushing for change and supporting our community through the arts,” said Del. “I cannot wait to see what the incoming NeXt class has in store for us!” 

To learn more about the NeXt! Ambassador program, visit

About Fund for the Arts
Fund for the Arts is a regional nonprofit with the mission to contribute to the overall health and well-being of our community by generating resources for, investing in, and supporting our local arts, artists, and arts organizations. The Fund envisions a healthy and vibrant community where everyone embraces the art that exists in our lives every day, everyone contributes to the well-being of our arts community, and it is understood that everyone belongs to the arts community. The organization facilitates the largest arts grant program in Kentucky and it conducts one of the two oldest united arts campaigns in the country. For more information, visit 

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