Left to right: Joy Brathwaite, Cindy Theis, Gerald Ronning, Karen Wirth, Melissa Huybrecht, Sarah Harding, Jen Zuccola

Karen Wirth, Interim President

Karen M. Wirth became Interim President of MCAD in September 2018. Wirth was hired as Vice President of Academic Affairs in June 2012 after a nationwide search. She has been a professor at MCAD since 2003 when she was hired as the college’s Chair of Fine Arts. Prior to MCAD, she was the Dean and Chair of Fine Arts at the College of Visual Arts in St. Paul.

Wirth is a recipient of both the Bush Leadership Fellowship and the American Council on Education (ACE) Higher Education Leadership Fellowship, which included a year-long placement at the New School University in New York, with mentoring by the Provost of the university and the Executive Dean of Parsons School of Design. The Bush Leadership fellowship project focused on broadening academic connections to community and deepening the experience of arts in the wider culture.

An accomplished artist, Wirth co-designed four of the Minneapolis Blue Line light rail transit stations and served as the artist administrator for the conceptual design phase. She co-designed and co-fabricated the Gail See Staircase at Open Book in Minneapolis. Wirth has received artist fellowships from the Bush, McKnight and Jerome Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, NY State Council the Arts, and Minnesota State Arts Board. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally including the Smithsonian Institution, Walker Art Center, and through the US State Department. Her artist’s books are held in public collections that include the Museum of Modern Art Library, the Getty Center, and Yale University. A contributor to such publications as the Journal of Artists’ Books, Places, and Bound & Lettered, Wirth is also a founding board member of the College Book Art Association and served on the board of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.

She received an MFA in sculpture from the University of Minnesota, and a BFA in art education from the University of Wisconsin. Certified to teach K-12 art, Wirth has taught at every level from preschool to graduate school. Previous teaching experience includes studio teaching at the University of Minnesota, museum education for the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and eight years teaching K-12 art in D.C. and San Diego.

Joy Brathwaite, Vice President of Finance/CFO

Joy E. Brathwaite has been Chief Financial Officer/Vice President of Finance since June 2017. She has twelve years’ experience in higher education leadership, including five years as Vice President of Finance and Business Affairs at Malone University, Ohio. She began her career as an auditor at KPMG and then worked as a controller in a print company in Barbados until she moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she worked for nonprofit companies including six years at Elderplan, a social HMO. Originally from Barbados, Brathwaite holds a BS in economics and management from University of the West Indies, an MS in administration from Central Michigan University, and an MBA from Kent State University, Ohio.

Melissa Huybrecht, Vice President of Enrollment Management

Melissa Huybrecht was appointed Vice President of Enrollment Management at MCAD in August 2016 after three years as Associate Vice President. From 2011 to 2013, she was Director of Admissions where she took over responsibility for both undergraduate and graduate admission, financial aid, and marketing. Previous to that appointment she had worked in admissions and enrollment management since 2003.

Huybrecht received an MS in higher education administration from St. Cloud State University and a BA in graphic design and studio arts from Grand View University. She has attended professional development conferences and postgraduate study nationally and has been an invited speaker and panelist at scores of events.

She is a member of the National Association of College Admission Counseling (NACAC) and the Minnesota Association of College Admission Counseling (MACAC) where she has served on the Professional Development Committee. She has represented MCAD with the Association of Independent Colleges of Art and Design (AICAD), as well as the Minnesota Private College Council (MPCC) serving on the Minnesota Private College Week (MPCW) and Transfer Fair Committees. She is currently serving as a board member for the National Portfolio Day Association (NPDA) and has been on the NPDA Marketing, Membership, and Ethics Committees.

Huybrecht has been the recipient of grants from the NACAC Guiding the Way to Inclusion Program and the MACAC Leadership Development Program.

Cindy Theis, Vice President of Institutional Advancement

Cindy Theis has been Vice President of Institutional Advancement at MCAD since May 2014 after serving as Director of Institutional Advancement since 1988. She has over thirty-five years of professional experience as a fundraiser securing major gifts from individuals, corporations, and foundations. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated great energy and the ability to establish new programs and deliver effective motivational messages. She has also been voiceover and on-air talent, and is an active volunteer at Basilica of St. Mary, Minneapolis, and a board member at Vail Place, serving adults with mental illness. She holds a BA in Speech Communication from the University of Minnesota.

Gerald Ronning, Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs

Gerald Ronning was appointed Vice President of Academic Affairs at MCAD in September 2018, following four years serving as Chair of Liberal Arts. Previously, Ronning chaired the History Department at Albright College in Reading, Pennsylvania, taught in the Miramontes Arts and Sciences Program at the University of Colorado–Boulder. He also coordinated the Roadside Interpretation Program for the Colorado Historical Society. His scholarship has won prizes from the Center for the American West and the Labor and Working Class History Association, and he is the 2013 recipient of the Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. His current research is in the labor history of the Minnesota music scene. Ronning holds a BA from Carleton College, an MA from New York University, and a PhD from the University of Colorado–Boulder.

Jen Zuccola, Vice President of Student Affairs

Vice President of Student Affairs/Title IX Coordinator, Jen Zuccola has been at MCAD for nearly fifteen years. Zuccola currently oversees Student Affairs, Academic Advising, Off-Campus and International Advising, Student Activities, Student Counseling and Wellness, Housing, Records, the Learning Center, and the Peer Mentor Program. During her time in Student Affairs, she has worked on creating a safe, creative environment in which students can be successful academically, socially, and personally. Helping foster her pursuit of these goals,  Zuccola puts emphasis on student wellness and peer mentorship initiatives. Outside of her activities at MCAD, she works closely with and has presented to the Minnesota Private College Council on topics related to student affairs. She is also a member of NASPA, the National Association of Student Affairs Administrators. Zuccola has a BA in art from the College of St. Benedict and an MA in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

Sarah Harding, Executive Assistant to the President

Sarah Harding has been the Executive Assistant to the President since January 2015. She was also appointed Secretary of the Board of Trustees in May 2017, after serving as Assistant Secretary of the Board for two years. Prior to starting at MCAD, Harding was the Executive Assistant and Board Relations Manager for the President and CEO of Meet Minneapolis from 2010 to 2015. Throughout her career, Harding has brought an organizing principle and diplomatic approach to her work in both corporate and nonprofit environment that provides a ground for trust, efficiency, and effectiveness. She holds a BS degree in biology with a minor in chemistry from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Harding enjoys expressing her creative interests in writing, painting, and gardening.

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