Jake Cunningham, Melinda Hitz, and Kristen Presta join the ArtsFI community

As ArtsFI continues to expand its mission, the time came to create a board of directors to help make it all happen. Kristen Doering will head up the board as President, and she is happy to welcome members Jake Cunningham, Vice President, Melinda Hitz, Treasurer, and Kristen Presta, Secretary. “I could not be more excited to work with these individuals,” Doering said. “The vision of the project has always been built on personal connections and community.”

Each of the board members is personally connected to Kristen and ArtsFI; Jake, Melinda, and Kristen Presta have all made a huge impact with everything from housing the artists during the 2014 Kansas Tour to assisting with grant applications. Combining forces, the board members will use each of their areas of expertise to help make not only ArtsFI’s performances this August a success but all future programs, too.

“My hope for the board is that they continue to find fulfillment in creating opportunities for their community to experience the arts, to see this project have a direct impact on the community, especially the students, and to feel the power of shared experiences in the arts,” Kristen said. Read on to get to know our incredible board members a little better:

Jake Cunningham, Vice President


How would you describe your role on the board?

My official title is Vice President.  My role on the board includes broad oversight of ArtsFI’s financial and organizational operation, ensuring that the bylaws are followed and amended if necessary, and evaluating and assisting the Director in her management of ArtsFI.

What are your goals as a board member for ArtsFI?

My biggest goal as a board member of ArtsFI is to see the organization succeed and provide youth with an unforgettable experience that will either embolden them to pursue a career in the arts, or teach them to have an appreciation for the arts.

If you could be any famous artist, who would you be and why?

I am not sure I would want to be any artist, as I enjoy being myself; however, I would love the opportunity to have coffee with Martin Scorsese and/or Johnny Carson.  Scorsese has produced some of my all-time favorite films and Carson, provided he were still alive, could tell stories for days.

Melinda Hitz, Treasurer

How did you find out about AftsFI?

Kristen Doering has been a long- time friend of our children Kristen and Jack Hitz. I have watched her grown up into a very talented and charming woman and enjoy our friendship.

What are your hobbies and other projects that you're involved in?

I work full time as Garden City, Kansas’s Finance Director so I do not have a lot of time for outside activities. I do make time almost every day to exercise and wind down in the evening walking our dog, Dallas. Watching golf and maybe even swinging a golf club. Of course, vacations are a must.

If you could be any famous artist, who would you be and why?

I wish I could play the guitar and sing at the same time like Sheryl Crow. Her music always makes me smile.

Kristen Presta, Secretary

What made you want to be more involved with ArtsFi?

Kristen Doering’s enthusiasm for educating others in the arts is contagious and has inspired me to become more involved.

Do you think arts education is important for everyone?

Arts education is important for a student's development as a cultured, humane individual. Studies have also shown that knowledge in the arts can help with confidence, boost critical thinking and can provide encouragement to be more engaged in school, thus contributing to a student's overall happiness. 

What are you hoping to accomplish as a board member for ArtsFI?

My biggest goal is to be a voice for ArtsFI and help this community bring awareness to the arts.

So much more to come

Each board member has already made a huge impact with their support, encouragement, and willingness to pitch in. “I believe the arts can spark creativity and imagination in any direction,” Doering said. “My greatest hope is that the board will be inspired in their own lives by their connection to this project.”