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Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins

Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins Awarded Honors from the Ohio Music Education Association

Ohio Arts Council Executive Director Donna S. Collins and nominators Gary DeVault and Dr. Nancy Ditmer. Collins received the 2018 Distinguished Service Award at the Ohio Music Education Association's Annual Conference on Feb. 9, 2018. Photo by Scott Nave.The Ohio Arts Council’s (OAC) Executive Director Donna S. Collins accepted the 2018 Distinguished Service Award at the Ohio Music Education Association’s (OMEA) Annual Conference on Feb. 9.  

“Receiving the Distinguished Service Award from the Ohio Music Education Association is such an honor,” Collins said.

The highest recognition an OMEA member can receive, the Distinguished Service Award is given to one member each year who has made a difference through service in music education. Traditionally, the award is presented at the OMEA’s Professional Development Conference, which took place this year at the Greater Columbus Convention Center Feb. 8-10.

An affiliate of the National Association for Music Education, the OMEA serves Ohio’s elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools through the promotion of music education, professional development for music educators, and opportunities for students.

In addition to the Friday night award presentation, the conference also included performances by OMEA all-state ensembles and regional groups.

Collins will join the ranks of Distinguished Service Award winners dating back to 1953, when the award was first given.

“Donna has advanced policies and programs benefitting music and all arts education for 20 years, including Ohio’s Academic Content Standards, Ohio’s Arts Education Assessment Project, and the Status of Arts Education in Ohio’s Schools (report),” said Terry Herschman, past president of OMEA.

In recognition of her ongoing commitment to supporting arts education in Ohio, Collins received 24 letters of support from colleagues in the music education community.

Tim Katz, executive director of Ohio Alliance for Arts Education (OAAE), wrote one of these letters, stating, “(Donna’s) contributions to education, arts, and culture in Ohio are unquantifiable.”

Collins became executive director of the OAC in 2014. Prior to leading the OAC, she served as the executive director of the OAAE and as the executive director of the Ohio Citizens for the Arts (OCA). During her tenure, both the OAAE and OCA were recognized statewide and nationally for their success at increasing services to constituents, creating policy, and generating more funds for the arts.

A proven leader in the field of arts education and arts advocacy, Collins has more than 20 years of experience in leading statewide nonprofit organizations, demonstrating consistent success and solid results that impact policy, education, economic development, and arts and culture.

Collins has worked with the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network (KCAAEN) on the Network Leadership Committee and as a consultant to state alliances across the nation. She also served as an Americans for the Arts state captain and a State Arts Action Network chair and member, as well as chair of the Arts Education Council.

In November 2017, Collins was elected to the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies’ (NASAA) Board of Directors. She also serves on NASAA's Development Committee and on the Awards and Dues Task Forces. She has received the Alene Valkanas State Arts Advocacy Award from Americans for the Arts; Distinguished Fellow and Arts Administration Awards from the Ohio Art Education Association; VSA Ohio's Fran Bay Award; executive director recognition from the Kennedy Center Alliance for Arts Education Network in 2003, 2008, 2011, and 2014; and induction into the Ohio Educational Theatre Association's Hall of Fame.

“This moment has given me the chance to reflect on the people who rooted for me, helped me, put their reputations on the line for me—all the people who believed in me throughout my career,” Collins said, thanking her family, friends, and colleagues for their support. “This award is really more about honoring them and what they helped me achieve—things I could have never done alone.”

The Ohio Arts Council is a state agency that funds and supports quality arts experiences to strengthen Ohio communities culturally, educationally, and economically. Connect with the OAC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, or visit our website at


Article by Kayla Draper, 2017-18  Social Media and Events Fellow
Photo Credit: Ohio Arts Council and Scott Nave

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