CACHE Board of Directors

Jeannette Balleza Collins

Entrepreneurial Development Director, Northwest Arkansas Council

A whole-brainer, consultant, and resource connector who loves founders of all kinds, Jeannette Balleza Collins leads StartupNWA and is entrepreneurial development director at Northwest Arkansas Council. She collaborates with ecosystem stakeholders to advance region-wide entrepreneurial vibrancy. Her professional experience involves developing community-building strategies and launching innovative economic development programs that cultivate mental, relational, and financial capital for shared prosperity.

She is Board President for Southern Capital Project and serves on the boards for Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll/EparaTodos) Northwest Arkansas, Ark Angel Alliance, NEXXT Women, Arkansas Center for Impact Investing Working Group, Arkansas Capital Scan, and John Brown University Soderquist College of Business. She is a Steering Committee Member for Northwest Arkansas Product Management Guild, Executive Sponsor for Get Shift Done for Northwest Arkansas, as well as Advisor to both the Validation Fund at Winrock International and FindingNWA’s Life Works Here moving initiative. She routinely mentors entrepreneurs and advises non-profit leaders.

Monica Kumar

Belonging & Inclusion Strategist

Monica was born in London, England where she attended law school and practiced human rights & immigration law. She also worked as a commercial lawyer in the Turks and Caicos Islands. Building equitable communities and creating opportunities for people to inclusively engage in hard conversations and experiences has always played a central role in her life and work. She consults and coaches on creating belonging & bridging, building inclusion & equity and uplifting diverse teams and leaders.

She owns a small co-working business in Rogers, NWA and lives with her family in downtown Bentonville where they enjoy the myriad of incredible parks, trails, and unique arts experiences. She also serves on the executive board of the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce as the 2022 incoming Chairwoman for the board of directors and the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Advisory Board for the city of Bentonville.

Bryce Merrill

Director of Music Programs, Bohemian Foundation

Dr. Bryce Merrill is the Director of Music Programs at Bohemian Foundation in Northern Colorado. Bryce is an expert on public sector support of music and has helped public and private entities build sustainable and equitable music ecosystems. Bryce is a co-author of Understanding Society through Popular Music (Routledge) and Interactionists Take on Popular Music (Emerald).

Kassie Misiewicz

Artistic Director & Founder, Trike Theatre

Kassie Misiewicz (Artistic Director & Founder of Trike Theatre) is a professional theatre for youth director and educator. Kassie earned her MFA in Theatre for Youth from Arizona State University and a BA in Theatre from University of Notre Dame. Before starting Trike Theatre in 2008, Kassie was the co-founder and first artistic director of TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, AR, Director of Education Outreach at Seattle Children's Theatre and Associate Artistic Director at First Stage Children's Theatre in Milwaukee. Currently, she is a national arts integration consultant with Focus5 and a national teaching artist with the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. Kassie loves to travel with her family and have spontaneous dance parties in the kitchen.

R. William (Bill) Mitchell

Retired Arts Administrator

R. William (Bill) Mitchell is a retired Arts Administrator living in Fayetteville, AR.

He is a graduate of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana where he received both his undergraduate master’s degrees.

After several years teaching in the public schools, Mitchell was hired as Assistant Director of The Commons in Columbus, IN. The Commons (a Caesar Pelli building) is a multi-platform performance space and visual arts gallery under glass in downtown Columbus. From there, Mitchell was selected to serve as Assistant Director for Membership and Conferences for what is, today, the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. At the time, the Association was headquartered in Madison, WI.

From the Association, Mitchell moved to Nashville, TN to become Assistant Director of the soon to be opened Tennessee Performing Arts Center in downtown Nashville.

In 1987, Mitchell received a call from the search team looking for a Managing Director to be on site working with the architects in designing and then building what is now The Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, AR. That building and program opened to the public in 1992. Five years after opening, he was hired to a similar job on what has now become the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, WV.

While working in Charleston, Mitchell began using days off to work with Halsey North of the North Group Inc. in New York City. The North Group specialized in fundraising and fundraising feasibility, and strategic planning only for arts organizations nationwide. Three years later he accepted an offer to go “full time” with The North Group Inc. Simultaneously, Mitchell opened his own firm (MITCHELLworks) so that he could work with any non-profit rather than only arts organizations. Working with the two firms he facilitated the outside planning and fundraising requirements of dozens of clients across the country. He continued this work until his full retirement began in 2020.

Mitchell has been married to Diana Smith Mitchell for more than 50 years. The couple enjoys the company of four grown children, their spouses and six grandchildren ranging in age from 10-20.

Claire Rice

Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois

Claire Rice is the Executive Director of Arts Alliance Illinois, a statewide service and advocacy organization that champions arts-supportive policies and funding opportunities. Under her leadership, the Alliance recently managed the $8.2 million Arts for Illinois Relief Fund, a public-private partnership supporting the arts community in response to COVID-19. Previously, she was the National Director of Sustain Arts at Harvard University, a project that equipped communities with meaningful arts data. At UMS, a renowned performing arts presenter in Ann Arbor, Michigan she directed education and community engagement work and was the associate producer on a Grammy Award-winning live concert recording.

She received Wipfli’s Nonprofit Innovation Award in 2020 and the Cultural Champion award from the Chicago Cultural Alliance in 2021. Ms. Rice received her BA from The College of William and Mary, and her MPA from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Bjorn Simmons

Creative Entrepreneur & Venture Catalyst

Bjorn Simmons is a creative entrepreneur, ecosystem builder, and venture catalyst. He lives in the world of inclusive innovations working with cities and companies across the country to increase diverse representation in thriving economies. Bjorn has founded and co-founded several innovative companies including SimmCo, Wyzerr, Venture Noire, and Rock-AR-Vote. He also serves as the Chairman for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the Sam M Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas where he is also an alum.

Olivia Tyson

President, Tyson Family Foundation

Olivia took the leadership role of TFF in 2018. Her professional experience began at a young age through involvement at Tyson Foods where her interest in employee well-being took root. She values the importance of diverse perspectives and creating inclusive environments through supporting the arts, culture, and maker communities of NWA.

Outside of NWA, Olivia is currently working on a 3-year human-centered design project based in Lao PDR as a member of Maverick Collective, a division of PSI, focusing on expanding healthcare access to the country’s ethnic minority groups, learnings she plans to apply to her future work in Arkansas. Her hope is that her work will support the growth of the NWA community toward a more equitable mindset. In addition, Olivia continues leading her family’s heritage programs such as the Tyson Family Scholarship.

Lia Uribe

Associate Chair & Associate Professor, University of Arkansas

Colombian/USA artist Lia Uribe is associate chair and associate professor at the University of Arkansas music department, principal bassoonist of SoNA, and member of the Lyrique Quintette. She maintains an active national/international career as a chamber musician, orchestral player, and teaching artist.

An advocate for diversity and representation in the arts, Dr. Uribe’s research is centered in music by/for the historically excluded and underrepresented. She directs RefleXions Music Series, a celebration of music that fosters creative justice through opportunities to reflect, learn, grow, change, and teach. She writes and hosts Sound Perimeter, a podcast dedicated to diverse voices in and around music.

Dr. Uribe holds degrees from Universidad Nacional de Colombia, University of Arkansas, and University of Kansas. Recently she earned an Executive Certificate in Diversity and Inclusion from Cornell University and is currently a Global Leaders Program 2022 Cohort fellow, an intensive 12-month executive development training in social entrepreneurship, cultural agency, and community development through the arts.