She served as an arts program officer with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation from 2018-2021 where she led grantmaking efforts in cities across the U.S. that connected people to place and to each other through arts and culture. In this role, she managed a portfolio of nearly $8M and over 40 grantees including individual artists and collectives, nonprofit organizations, and city and county arts and culture projects. During her tenure, she co-led the transition of the arts program strategy to focus solely on investments at the intersection of the arts and technology.
Prior to joining Knight, Butler Goodman received her master’s degree in emergent digital practices from the University of Denver, where she studied art, design, culture, and technology. Her artistic practice blends tech with craft and she works in a variety of mediums including video, digital fabrication, and design. Her work has been shown across the U.S. and in South Korea.
She joined the faculty of the University of Denver's college of continuing and professional studies in January 2022, where she teaches art interpretation and communications courses with a focus on digital culture. She joined the board of Leon, a nonprofit art gallery located in Denver's City Park West, in April 2022.
Her love for Alaska began when she moved from western Canada in 1998 with nine boxes and a work visa. She reestablished her ten-year career as an educator with the Anchorage School District and attributes her former position as Curator of Art Education at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art as a pivotal career opportunity that led her to Alaska’s State Arts Agency.
Raised to value diversity and cultural expression as essential to our existence, Noble studied French and Japanese languages and competed nationally in Tae Kwon Do. She holds two bachelor’s degrees: Arts Education from University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, and Honors Visual Arts from University of Western Ontario, London, Canada. She serves as an ex officio board member of the Alaska Arts and Culture Foundation whose mission is to support the Alaska State Council on the Arts.
Across her roles as director at Fairbanks Arts, instructor of art appreciation courses at University of Alaska Fairbanks, and a designer of youth art courses, Peña focuses on increasing the accessibility of art concepts across generations. Through community-based work and beyond, she is an advocate for advancing arts support in Alaska. She currently serves on the statewide Arts Education Advisory Committee of the Alaska State Council on the Arts, a group dedicated to weaving networks, aligning policies, and increasing involvement in Alaska arts and cultures.
Peña’s work is motivated by the goal of shifting systems– utilizing the arts as a catalyst, translator, and space for possibility. She is grateful for the opportunity to further these efforts in her hometown, which is situated on the ancestral and unceded traditional lands of the lower Tanana Dene Peoples. Jess is looking forward to continuing this work as part of WESTAF’s board of trustees.