WESTAF is excited to announce a newly expanded and reimagined Alliances, Advocacy, and Policy (AAP) team. Led by WESTAF Deputy Director David Holland, the expanded team will allow for a deeper investment in year-round state and federal arts advocacy and support of the 13 state arts agencies in the West, as well as increased capacity to facilitate regional and national dialogue on contemporary policy issues that affect the arts.

The Alliances, Advocacy, and Policy (AAP) division leads a variety of efforts, including conducting arts policy research, delivering professional development programs for state arts agencies, advancing and supporting the work of arts advocates, and convening thought leaders in the field. The division connects, coordinates, and mobilizes a national western network of artists, administrators, public officials, and influencers within and outside the arts field to build awareness of arts-related issues to drive legislation and policy. The team develops mutually beneficial relationships with organizations and individuals across the field and manages WESTAF’s external relations, including our engagement with public sector agencies and philanthropy.

Holland shared, “as we embark on a new chapter, our highly enthusiastic, talented, and principled team will strengthen our engagement in the field through direct advocacy and action, crafting policy, supporting public sector and advocacy leaders, and building new relationships with artists and arts organizations based on mutuality,” Holland said. “Moana and Cynthia bring incredible networks, experience, and leadership qualities to their roles as well as a commitment to authenticity, impact, and equity.”

Cynthia Chen Announcement

Cynthia Chen, Manager of Public Policy and Advocacy
Cynthia Chen is a versatile arts and culture professional with diverse experiences in development, marketing, grant writing, and advocacy at local, state, and international levels. Trilingual in English, French, and Mandarin, Chen has helped with the production of cultural projects in the United States, France, China, and Taiwan. Chen contributed to revenue and international development for publicly managed cultural institutions such as the Centre Pompidou and Musée d’Orsay. Raised in the Salt Lake City area, Chen began her career working as a legislative fellow for the Utah Cultural Alliance. She continued to engage actively in public policy issues as the development associate for the nationally-recognized youth media arts nonprofit, Spy Hop Productions, where she worked on a legislative appropriation at the Utah State Legislature for the construction of a new media arts education facility. Chen graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in music (with honors) from the University of Utah where she majored in flute performance and minored in political science. She holds a master’s degree in public policy with a specialization in cultural policy and management and the distinction of summa cum laude from Sciences Po Paris. Chen is also an alumna of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy and Leadership Conference and WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program.

Moana Palelei HoChing, Senior Policy Analyst
Moana Palelei HoChing serves as WESTAF’s senior policy analyst, a consulting role that manages key public policy and advocacy programs, develops new initiatives, and provides counsel to the executive director and deputy director. HoChing contributes to research and policy communications and is spearheading WESTAF’s effort to engage Pacific jurisdictions in our work. She currently serves as indigenous curator at losteden.gallery and creative director of Pasifika First Fridays. She is also the chair of the Salt Lake County’s Zoo, Arts, and Park (ZAP) Program Tier 1 Board, where she assists in directing $14.3 million of Utah taxpayer dollars to 22 arts and cultural nonprofits, as well as three zoos throughout the Salt Lake Valley. HoChing previously served as the assistant director of educational outreach of the Honoring Nations program at the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. She is a multidisciplinary artist, technologist, and fierce advocate for Indigenous affairs and has consulted on projects in Kenya; Waikato, Aotearoa; New Orleans; New York; Las Vegas; Denver; and throughout Indian Country and has her own production company, Crazyhorse Productions. HoChing is a proud alumna of the National Pacific American Leadership Institute (NAPALI), Harvard University’s Administrative Fellowship Program (AFP), and WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program.

Moana Palelei HoChing

The expanded team will be focused on developing state-level advocacy and policy strategies, bolstering WESTAF’s emerging partnerships with cultural agencies in the Pacific jurisdictions, increasing direct and constituent engagement of elected officials on state and federal advocacy agendas, and contributing to inclusive fieldwide networks seeking to build a more just and equitable creative economy.