For Immediate Release
Contact: Casey Blake

Arts Commission Announces Three New Hires:
Artist Services Coordinator, Grants and Operations Coordinator, Organizational Services Coordinator

PHOENIX (August 29, 2012). Robert Booker, Executive Director of the Arizona Commission on the Arts (ACA) today announced new hires to fill staff vacancies within the state arts agency, following the recent departures of three longtime members of staff. Since the start of the recession, staff at the Arts Commission has been reduced by half due to downsizing and attrition during the state’s mandated hiring freeze.

“I am pleased to announce three new additions to our team at the Arts Commission,” said Booker. “I am certain they will make a significant contribution of their time, talents and skills in service to the Arizona arts industry. Jessica, Kristen and Michael all come to us with a wealth of experiences grounded in the arts and years of service in the non-profit industry.”

Kristen Pierce was hired as Organizational Services Coordinator. Kristen is a native of Phoenix and holds a BA in Theatre with an emphasis in Directing and Management from Arizona State University, and an MFA in Stage and Event Management the Professional Theatre Training Program and Resident Ensemble Players at the University of Delaware. With a diverse background in the arts sector, she has worked both in an administrative capacity with Childsplay, Arizona Theatre Company, Actors Theatre of Phoenix, and In Mixed Company, and in a producing capacity with the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, Childsplay, Stray Cat Theatre, Valley Youth Theatre, Scottsdale Community Players at Stagebrush, and Theater Works. Kristen also has experience as a teaching artist, special event manager, silent-auction coordinator and wedding planner.

Jessica Rajko was hired as Artist Services Coordinator. Jessica served as Faculty Adjunct at both Grand Canyon University’s College of Fine Arts and Production and Arizona State University’s School of Dance. She was the Co-Founder and Executive Director of urbanSTEW, a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire and expand the relevance of digital arts in the community. Through urbanSTEW, Jessica worked with local artists and arts organizations to present interactive art, develop art and technology workshops, and organize an annual digital arts festival. As a practicing artist, Jessica has performed, presented choreography, and presented dance film both locally and nationally. She worked with David Therrien as the lead developer of a digital art interface for the 4 Letter Word Machine, which was presented at Toronto’s Scotiabank Nuit Blanche festival of contemporary art. Jessica holds an MFA in Dance and Interdisciplinary Digital Media from Arizona State University.

Michael Soto was hired as Grants and Operations Coordinator. Michael has worked in the non-profit sector for more than 10 years, in communications, outreach, technology and advocacy. He served two terms of national service in AmeriCorps as a Public Ally and participates in several board of directors and professional development organizations.  He is a graduate student at Arizona State University in Justice Studies and also earned his B.A. from ASU. Michael is a passionate advocate for economic justice, social equality, and community development. He is also a classically trained cellist and a graphic artist.

About the Arizona Commission on the Arts
One of 56 state and jurisdictional arts agencies across the United States, the Arizona Commission on the Arts is an agency of the State of Arizona that supports a statewide arts network. The Arizona Commission on the Arts supports access to quality arts and arts education opportunities for all Arizona citizens; the development and retention of statewide jobs in the nonprofit arts, culture and education sectors; and increased economic impact in local communities through arts-based partnerships that develop tax and small business revenue.

For more information about the grants, services and programs of the Arizona Commission on the Arts, visit

We imagine an Arizona where everyone can participate in and experience the arts.

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To request this or any other agency publication in an alternative format, contact the Arts Commission offices at (602) 771-6502.