Alan W. Cooper served as Executive Director of Mid Atlantic Arts for twenty-three years, from 1994 to 2017. Under Cooper’s Leadership, Mid Atlantic Arts established a reputation for excellence, integrity, and innovative programs and services that extend beyond the mid-Atlantic region to national and international communities. Cooper nurtured a true partnership among the region’s State Arts Agencies and the nation’s Regional Arts Organizations. His belief in the importance of public-private partnerships and international cultural exchange was reflected in the programs he developed and fostered, and his commitment to diverse creative expression and belief in the arts as an agent of change made him a champion of the arts throughout his career.

Established in 2017, the Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award celebrates leaders who continue Cooper’s legacy of creating responsive and innovative opportunities for artists, arts organizations, and audiences.

2022 Program Guidelines


The guidelines below are for information purposes only.

In order to complete a nomination:

Please provide:

  • Nominee’s bio (required)
  • Nomination statement (required)
  • Optional letter of support

Guidelines and Submission Form

View and download the program materials in PDF format:
PDF Guidelines (link opens in a new window)

View and download the program materials in Word document format:
Word.doc Guidelines (click link to download)


The Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated visionary leadership in the arts, leaving a meaningful impact on those they have served. Through their work in the arts, recipients of the Leadership Award will have:

  • Demonstrated a history of deep engagement with their community.
  • Created equitable outcomes for communities and populations that face historic and systemic barriers to full participation in society and the arts – examples may include: expanding access for audiences and artists, opening doors for underrepresented voices, fairly distributing resources, and many others.
  • Though not required for eligibility, Mid Atlantic Arts is particularly interested in recognizing leaders who have made significant advances in the areas of public-private partnerships and international cultural exchange.

Mid Atlantic Arts acknowledges that long-standing systems and practices within the arts sector have led to significant barriers to equitable access and investment for individuals and across communities. Nominations are strongly encouraged for leaders whose work has positively impacted communities and populations identifying as Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color, LGBTQIA2S+, Persons with Disabilities, Persons whose primary language is not English, and/or are from rural and remote communities.


Eligible nominees’ work will have served communities in one or more of Mid Atlantic Arts’ nine partner jurisdictions of Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia; though impact may extend from the mid-Atlantic region to national or international communities.

  • We strongly encourage the nomination of arts leaders who identify as Black, Indigenous, Persons of Color, LGBTQIA2S+, Persons with Disabilities, Persons whose primary language is not English, and/or are from rural and remote communities.
  • Nominations are encouraged for active arts leaders from all career stages (early-, mid-, and late-career) and from all areas or disciplines in the arts industry.
  • Eligible nominees must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States.
  • Mid Atlantic Arts recognizes the value of partnership and collaboration in leadership and welcomes the nomination of shared leadership/co-leaders. Please note that nominations of co-leaders must be completed as a single nomination submission.


  • Current Mid Atlantic Arts board members and staff members, and their families, are not eligible for the award and are not permitted to submit nomination materials.
  • Elected officials and political appointees are not eligible for the award.
  • Previous Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award recipients are not eligible for nomination.
  • Self-nominations are not eligible.
  • Nominations received after the nomination deadline (May 26, 2022) will be deemed ineligible.


Mid Atlantic Arts administers the nomination, review, and selection process for the award. Nominations will be reviewed by Mid Atlantic Arts and a diverse panel of experienced arts professionals. As discussed in the Review Criteria above, nomination review will be based on nominees’ demonstrated impact through their:

  • Visionary leadership
  • Deep community engagement
  • Equitable outcomes
  • (optional) Public-private partnerships and international cultural exchange

Mid Atlantic Arts staff will notify the award recipient in summer 2022. Provided the recipient’s acceptance, staff will confirm their status as the 2022 awardee. The recipient of the 2022 Alan Cooper Leadership in the Arts Award will be recognized in fall 2022 at an event celebrating their work and achievements. Additionally, the award recipient will receive a $5,000 cash award.

Mid Atlantic Arts reserves the right to withhold presentation of the award.


Nominations will be evaluated based on consideration of the submitted nomination materials. Materials may be submitted as written, audio, or video formats. Please note that nominations of co-leaders must be completed as a single nomination submission and that materials should discuss the nominees’ work and histories that are relevant to the collaborative leadership for which they are nominated.

1) Bio (written, up to 500 words)
Submit a copy of the nominee’s current bio. A nominee’s resume will also be accepted if a bio is not available. For nominations of co-leaders, submit a bio for each leader.

2) Nomination Statement (written, up to 2000 words; audio/video, up to ten minutes)
Through your responses to the prompts below, please share what sets the nominee and their work apart.

  • What are the nominee’s most notable accomplishments as a visionary leader? Describe the nominee’s vision to realize a better future for the arts and for their community, and how they have achieved that vision. If applicable, discuss the innovations, new models of practice, and/or risks involved.
  • How has the nominee demonstrated commitment to their community through deep engagement?
  • Discuss how the nominee has created opportunities and equitable outcomes in service to communities and populations that face historic and systemic barriers to full participation in society and the arts.
  • Is there anything else you would like to share that demonstrates how the nominee has made a difference?
  • If applicable, describe the nominee’s work in the areas of public-private partnerships in the arts and international cultural exchange.

For nominations of co-leaders: Respond to each of the above prompts as they relate to the collaborative leadership of the nominees – in other words, the responses should only discuss the nominees’ work and histories that are relevant to the collaborative leadership for which they are nominated.

3) Optional Letter of Support (written, up to one page; audio/video, up to five minutes)
Nominators may provide one letter of support offering testimony to the nominee’s impact. It is strongly encouraged that a letter of support come from the perspective of someone who has been impacted by the nominee’s work, such as from a community member, and that they talk about how the nominee’s work made a difference for them or their community (for example, see Nomination Statement above).

Optional Demographic Data Survey
As part of our broader goals to promote equity in the field, Mid Atlantic Arts seeks program participants that reflect the diversity of the mid-Atlantic region. To measure our effectiveness to reach arts leaders from across the region and across all backgrounds, all nominators and nominees are invited to participate in a brief anonymous survey. This information will help us address inequities in the award process, understand who we are reaching, and understand how we can serve all communities in the region more effectively. Please know that participation in this anonymous survey is optional and survey responses will not be associated with nominations.

In this survey, nominators and nominees will be invited to self-identify age, professional level, gender, LGBTQIA2S+ identity, racial and ethnic heritage, disability status, and to share how you learned about the award opportunity. Survey responses are anonymous, will not be shared with the panel, and will only be used by Mid Atlantic Arts staff for program evaluation.

Please contact Bo Plantz, Executive Assistant, directly with any questions:

Deadline for 2022 Award nomination: May 26, 2022.

Joan Myers Brown - 2022 Award Recipient
Joan Myers Brown sits in a chair framed by the barres and mirrors of a dance studio. Ms. Brown is a mature black woman with shoulder length styled hair and glasses. She wears a black blazer navy slacks and a light blue turtleneck.

Image: Joan Myers Brown. Credit: Julieanne Harris.

Joan Myers Brown is the founder of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO) / The Philadelphia School of Dance Arts. She serves as honorary chairperson for the International Association of Blacks in Dance (IABD), an organization she established in 1991. She also founded the International Conference of Black Dance Companies in 1988. She is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, which bestowed upon her an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts; is a member of the dance faculty at Howard University in Washington, DC; and has been awarded an honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Ursinus College in Collegeville, PA. Listed in Who’s Who in America  and described as an “innovator and communicator,” Ms. Brown has made significant contributions to the national and international arts communities. 

Regionally and nationally, Ms. Brown has served a broad range of organizations, including the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project; the United States Information Agency; Arts America; the National Endowment for the Arts; the state arts councils of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan, Nevada, and Ohio; and the National Forum for Female Executives. Locally, she has been a part of the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance; the Minority Arts Resource Council, Inc.; the Philadelphia Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council; the Philadelphia Dance Alliance; the Women’s Heritage Society; and Dance/USA. Ms. Brown was appointed to the choreographer’s panel of the Rockefeller Foundation Arts & Humanities Program and served as vice president (and co-founder) of the Coalition of African American Cultural Organizations. 

In 1997, Ms. Brown was honored as one of the “Dance Women: Living Legends” during a four-day series sponsored by New York-area presenters, in tribute to five African-American pioneer women who founded distinguished modern dance companies with deep roots in black communities around the country. In 2005, the Kennedy Center honored her as a Master of African American Choreography. In 2009 she received the prestigious Philadelphia Award, and November 7, 2010 was declared Joan Myers Brown Living Legacy Day. Ms. Brown was chosen as one of the 2013 Dance/USA honorees “for her extraordinary artistic guidance, her nurturance of many dancers and choreographers, visionary leadership, and grace under fire in the dance field.” 

She has also received a host of other accolades throughout her lifetime, including awards from The Philadelphia Tribune and the African American Museum in Philadelphia, and membership to the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania in 2012. She was designated as one of The Ten Best Philadelphians by Philadelphia magazine in 2012, in addition to recognition as an Outstanding Alumni of West Philadelphia High School, her alma mater. Her legacy has been documented in the 2011 publication of Joan Myers Brown & the Audacious Hope of the Black Ballerina: A Biohistory of American Performance (Palgrave), written by dance scholar and critic Brenda Dixon Gottschild, author of several books on dance. 

Joan Myers Brown’s undisputed status as a leader in the national and international arts communities was acknowledged when she was selected to receive the 2012 National Medal of the Arts, the nation’s highest civic honor for excellence in the arts. President Barack Obama presented the prestigious honor at a ceremony that took place in July 2013 at the White House. President Obama cited Ms. Brown for carving out “an artistic haven for African American dancers and choreographers to innovate, create, and share their unique visions with the national and global dance communities.” 

Past Awardees

Head shot of Stanford Thompson. Mr. Thompson is a black man with close cut hair a a goatee. He wears a medium blue button down shirt.

Stanford Thompson – 2021 Award Recipient

Stanford Thompson is a musician and educator who serves as the Founder and Executive Director of Play On Philly and founding member of El Sistema USA and the National Instrumentalist Mentoring and Advancement Network. Recognized as a TED Fellow, Stanford believes that music education is a powerful tool for positive personal and community change. Mr. Thompson serves on the faculty of the Global Leaders Program and regularly presents at major universities and music conservatories about leadership, entrepreneurship and social justice. As a consultant, he has guided the development of dozens of music programs across the United States and collaborated with major orchestras, higher education institutions, and arts organizations to develop new strategies and initiatives that help provide equitable access to the arts. As a professional trumpeter, Stanford has performed as a soloist and member with major orchestras around the world and continues to perform throughout the Philadelphia region. Stanford is a native of Atlanta, GA, a graduate of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program and holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Sistema Fellows Program.

Image: Stanford Thompson. Credit: Bret Hartman / TED.

Head shot of Rebecca Medrano. Rebecca is shot from the shoulders up. She wears a patterned top and bod necklace. Chin length red hair frames her face. She is shot outside with green vegetation in the background.Rebecca Medrano – 2020 Award Recipient

For more than four decades, Rebecca Medrano has worked to promote and share the wealth of Latino art and culture. Ms. Medrano is Co-founder of GALA Hispanic Theatre and has been its Executive Director and principal fundraiser since 1976. She has led the organization as it developed from its grassroots origins to a community cultural staple in Washington, DC and, in 2003, Ms. Medrano launched GALA’s $4.3 million capital campaign to build out its permanent facility in the historic Tivoli Theatre. Today, GALA stands as a National Center for Latino Performing Arts. GALA has produced nearly 300 bilingual productions of classical, contemporary, and experimental plays and has commissioned work by emerging and established Latino and multicultural performing artists. Under Ms. Medrano’s leadership, GALA created programming designed to engage Washington, DC’s youth, including Paso Nuevo and GALita Children’s Theatre. Deeply rooted in the community, she has cultivated partnerships with other arts organizations and social service agencies throughout the city, including Washington Performing Arts, InSeries, Carlos Rosario Adult Education Center, Mary’s Center, VIDA senior center, and Latin American Youth Center, among others. In addition, she has established international exchanges with theaters in Spain, Mexico, Venezuela, and Argentina. Ms. Medrano is a recipient of the 2006 Mayor’s Arts Award, a 2010 Washingtonian of the Year, 2014 Immigrant Achievement Award from the American Immigration Council, and was recognized by Mayor Muriel Bowser with the Washington Women of Excellence Award. Ms. Medrano, and her husband Hugo, were awarded the Order of Queen Isabella, bestowed by King Carlos I of Spain, for their dedication to preserving and promoting Spanish culture in the United States. She serves on the Latino Advisory Council of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.

Image: Courtesy of Rebecca Medrano.

Photo of Julia Olin.

Julia Olin – 2019 Award Recipient

Julia Olin has been involved with the research, documentation, and public presentation of traditional music and culture for 47 years. Ms. Olin served the National Council for the Traditional Arts (NCTA) for 28 years –15 years as Associate Director and 13 years as Executive Director – where she worked tirelessly of behalf of folk and traditional arts and artists. In October of 2018, she retired from her full-time position as the Executive Director. She has been involved in the planning, artistic direction, and production of 88 national festivals, including the NCTA’s flagship program, the National Folk Festival. Other projects include: 29 national tours highlighting African American, Hispanic, Caribbean, and Appalachian music and dance traditions, among others; large-scale cultural events on the National Mall; co-curation of the Roots of American Music Museum at the Blue Ridge Music Center; 23 traditional music recordings; and countless programs for public media. For nearly three decades, Ms. Olin has worked with federal, state, and regional agencies, producing the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowships; assisting the National Park Service with cultural planning; and working with the Maryland State Arts Council to produce annual events and manage special projects. She has overseen the completion of a 17-year project to digitize and preserve the NCTA’s priceless archive of endangered field recordings, which are now housed at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.

Image: Courtesy of Julia Olin.

Head shot of Michael Royce.

Michael L. Royce – 2018 Award Recipient

Mr. Royce has served as the Executive Director of The New York Foundation for the Arts for the past 12 years. His leadership has led to an exponential growth of support programs for artists in New York, nationally, and internationally. Mr. Royce’s work in the creation of programs serving artists in all stages of their careers and his understanding of the importance of partnerships has led to robust training opportunities. His efforts in recognizing immigrant artist populations, the importance of international exchange, and artist mentorship made him an exemplary choice for the inaugural Award round.

Image: Courtesy of Michael Royce.