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Conference Keynote Presenters

Vanessa Ford - Friday, October 27


Vanessa Ford is the Program Director for Trust Transfer Project.  Trust Transfer Project is a partnership between the Community Music School of Springfield and Springfield Cultural Partnership, led by Program Director Vanessa Ford. This initiative allows our local artists to lead in health messaging that will directly impact the lives of their family, neighbors and friends, offering a unique opportunity for us to depend on one another to share and receive health messages in a creative and inspirational way. Initially designed to build trust through the eyes of the most impacted by Covid-19, Trust Transfer Project is also focused on community care centered around Mental Wellness and Food Justice by transforming the health of our communities one artistic message at a time. 

Heather Ikemire - Saturday, October 28


Heather Ikemire is Executive Director of Lifetime Arts, a national service organization that connects the people, funding, and strategies necessary to increase the number and quality of arts education programs for older adults. Heather draws on 20+ years of experience in nonprofit leadership, arts education, and coalition building. She is passionate about leading in ways that bring people together to collectively imagine and shape a more just and sustainable future. Prior to joining Lifetime Arts in 2022, Heather was the Chief Program Officer for the National Guild for Community Arts Education. During her15-year tenure, she directed the Guild’s large-scale, multi-year investment in Catalyzing Creative Aging which contributed to a 37% increase in creative aging programming led by arts education organizations nationally. She also helped launch the Guild’s seminal publication, “Creativity Matters: The Arts and Aging Toolkit,” and developed national benchmarks for the creative aging field. Heather also directed the Guild’s role as backbone organization for the Creative Youth Development National Partnership; convened hundreds of arts education stakeholders annually through national conferences, regional networks, and online events; and developed a strong internal team and adaptive organization. Heather has a Ph.D. in Theater for Youth from Arizona State University and a B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College. A former teaching artist and lifelong lover of stories, she currently lives in Exeter, New Hampshire where she serves on the Exeter Elementary School Board and enjoys hiking, skiing, and living room dance parties with her family.

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