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New Seattle Arts Commissioners

The Seattle Arts Commission welcomes Dawn Chirwa, Senior Advisor at Philanthropy Northwest, S. Surface, Program Director at Design in Public and the new Get Engaged commissioner Ana Lester, at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Dawn Chirwa focuses on a wide range of strategic advisory work for The Giving Practice at Philanthropy Northwest. Prior to joining Philanthropy Northwest, Chirwa was chief of staff in the U.S. Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, where she helped develop education strategies and led critical implementation initiatives. She also served as chief of staff to Goldman Sachs’ president and COO and helped build a Goldman Sachs capital markets public policy group. Chirwa received her J.D. from Stanford Law School and her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin.

S. Surface is a Seattle-based designer, photographer, curator, community organizer, writer, critic, researcher and lecturer. Surface’s practice centers the creation and preservation of livable, equitable places and demonstrates how design can support civic participation. As Program Director of Design in Public, Surface organizes the annual city-wide Seattle Design Festival and curates exhibitions at the Center for Architecture & Design. Surface is a curator with The Alice, a project/exhibition space and writers’ residency, and is a visiting critic at the University of Washington Department Of Architecture. Surface received their M. Arch. from the Yale School of Architecture and their B.F.A. in Integrated Design from Parsons School of Design, New York, NY.


Get Engaged Seattle Arts Commissioner:

Ana Lester is an arts advocate and supports fundraising and development efforts for artists and arts organizations. She currently works at Richard Hugo House in Business & Operations. Previously, Lester was on assignment at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in K-12 Education working directly with grantees and partners to provide support and assistance during investment shaping. She also served as the Development Manager for Spectrum Dance Theater where she secured funding from individuals, wrote grants, and helped coordinate special events. She has a wide variety of experience in the non-profit arts sector and has done graduate school research and internships at Bellevue Arts Museum, On the Boards, the University of Washington Museum without Walls, Fremont Abbey Arts Center, and ArtsFund. Currently, she is the Development Chair on the Board of Directors for Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra. Lester has her Masters in Fine Arts from Seattle University in Arts Leadership, a degree in Museum Studies from the University of Washington; and majored in History with a minor in Anthropology from the State University of New York at Brockport.