FORT WAYNE, IN – Arts United announces the recipients of the 2020 Arts United Awards in celebration of the outstanding people and organizations who are making significant contributions to communities in northeast Indiana through arts and culture.

In 2019, Arts United received 33 nominations in seven categories. During the celebration on January 18, 2020 in the Arts United Center, all nominees were recognized and recipients were announced. A full list of nominees can be found at

Arts United is pleased to recognize the following Arts United Award recipients:

Outstanding Advocate

Maria Davis (nominated by Downtown Angola Coalition)

Maria is the Downtown Services Coordinator for the City of Angola. She has worked to make diverse types of art accessible to the public, and promoted participation and education in the arts. Her active promotion of the arts has had a significant impact on community awareness and appreciation of the arts in the Angola community.

Outstanding Artist

Greg Stieber (nominated by Karen, Madeline, and Emily Koch)

Gregory Stieber is a theatrical director, playwright and actor. As a co-creator of the Young Heroes of Conscience Series, his award-winning plays have told the stories of children from history that made a difference in society, including The Kid from Kokomo: The Ryan White Story, Ruby Bridges and Helen Keller: After the Miracle. He is also the co-writer of The Veteran Spouse Project’s I Will Wait. Gregory was named One of the Righteous by The Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne for his theatrical work regarding social justice issues.

Margaret Ann Keegan Award for Arts Education

Laura McCoy (nominated by Melanie T. Hall)

Laura McCoy is a FWCS music educator who has enriched thousands of children’s lives for over 40 years in the Fort Wayne Community. With her specialty in elementary education, she created and grew an instrumental music program for students in grades 2-5 for the first half of her career and then moved into the vocal-general music K-5 classroom for the second half.

Outstanding Volunteer

Leslie Beauchamp (nominated by Emma Leavell)

Leslie Beauchamp has worked in the community as an actor, director, choreographer, and member of volunteer outreach in underserved communities for over 37 years. She has provided customer service seminars, worked in gift shops, served on boards, represented Arts United for fund drives, and coordinated educational clinics.

Emerging Artist

Angela Sahli (nominated by Marilyn Petersen)

Angela Sahli is in her third season as the Costume Designer and Shop Manager with the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. A bachelor’s degree in Musical Theatre and an MFA in Costume Design has prepared her for a career in the arts, where she has worked in educational and professional programs including children’s theatre, outdoor entertainment, summer stock, and dance.

Emerging Leader

Todd Espeland (nominated by Christopher J. Murphy)

Todd Espeland joined the Fort Wayne Youtheatre as Executive/Artistic Director in April 2018. He has helped raise Youtheatre’s regional and national profile through innovative programming and local collaborations with the Embassy Theatre and WBOI. Todd also has coined international publication of two Youtheatre original adaptations, Treasure Island and Wind in the Willows.

Mayor’s Arts Award (presented by Mayor Tom Henry)

Dr. Wendy Robinson

Dr. Wendy Robinson has been a tireless advocate of high-quality public education, focused on educating the whole child with an emphasis on the arts. Dr. Wendy Robinson ensured that the arts stayed in education in her 40 plus years with Fort Wayne Community Schools. Through her leadership, FWCS students have benefited from opportunities and programs such as the B Instrumental program, Club O elementary strings program, and the Heartland Sings Arts Integrated Residencies 1st grade Opera program.

Milestone Collaboration Award

Violins of Hope

The Violins of Hope collection has toured many cities around the world, including Fort Wayne, from November 9-24, 2019. Organized by lead partners, the Jewish Federation of Fort Wayne and the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, a steering committee of local professionals to work with area partners on a community-wide series of events focusing on these Strings of the Holocaust. The sound, presence, and stories of Violins of Hope Fort Wayne spurred the creation of music, visual art, theater, public conversation, interfaith dialogue, readings, and educational activities throughout Northeast Indiana. Most importantly, Fort Wayne Philharmonic and Youth Symphony Orchestra musicians brought to life the humanity and stories of those who owned these precious instruments through dozens of local area performances on the instruments.

Arts United of Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. is a non-profit united arts fund and local arts agency that serves the communities of northeast Indiana by fueling the momentum of more than 70 arts, culture and quality of life initiatives each year. Arts United’s strategic investments position arts and culture organizations to achieve higher levels of excellence and quality, to improve access to the arts for all community members and to support regional priorities for growth and development.