Board & Staff


The AAAE Board of Directors is responsible for the general direction of AAAE.  Financial and administrative oversight is provided by an Executive Committee.  Daily management and operations are provided by the Executive Director and Associate Director.



Ximena Varela, President
American University
Dr. Jaleesa Wells, Vice President
University of Kentucky
Diane Claussen, Secretary
DePaul University
Jim O'Connell, Treasurer
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Aaron Dworkin AAAE Co-EDI Liaison
University of Michigan


Dr. Tiffany Bourgeois
The Ohio State University
Anne Frost
Humber College
Dan Green,  
Carnegie Mellon University
Dr. Yuha Jung,
University of Kentucky
Dr. Sharbreon Plummer,
Consultant, Artist


Larry Epstein,
Drexel University
Michal Lázňovský,
ENCATC Representative, DAMU


Milena Deleva
Executive Director
Contact Milena

Milena Deleva holds an MA in Arts Administration from Baruch College in New York. Prior to joining the AAAE, she was the executive director of the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation for 14 years, overseeing the organization’s offices in Bulgaria and the United States. Under her leadership, the EKF spearheaded numerous fellowships for writers and collaborations with the Open Letter Books at University of Rochester in the US, the National Writers Center in Norwich and University of East Anglia in the UK and was shortlisted for the The London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards 2021. Milena helped curate the New Literature from Europe Festival in Manhattan, along with EUNIC members from the New York cluster.

Milena also served the Staten Island Council on the Arts and Humanities as a capacity building consultant and the European Cultural Foundation in Amsterdam as Cultural Policy Education Group’s coordinator and a steering committee member for the Policies for Culture Program. She has held several fellowships in the field of arts management, including CEC ArtsLink at both New York Public Library and Lincoln Center, Amsterdam-Maastricht Summer University and Salzburg Summer Academy.

Milena is a co-author of Cultural Policy, Politics and Change (Amsterdam: Boekmanstichting, 2005) and the author of Technological Park Culture (Bucharest: Ecumest, 2005).


Haley Carlson, Programs & Operations ManagerHaley Carlson
Associate Director
Contact Haley

Haley Carlson is a dedicated arts manager, advocate, and enthusiast, with a passion to advance opportunities for creatives in all sectors. She has worked at large and small arts organizations alike, such as Dia: Beacon, Southern Highland Craft Guild, and the City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs. She received her master’s in Arts Leadership & Cultural Management from the LEAP Institute for the Arts at Colorado State University in 2017. Haley is an active member in the arts and nonprofit world, serving on the board of S.T.A.M.P. (Sustainable Training for Artists, Musicians, and Performers) and volunteer Production Coordinator for the Giving Kitchen's annual Team Hidi Fundraiser.  In 2018, Haley co-founded the Dream Warriors Foundation, a grantmaking organization that serves womxn in the area of the Arts, Community Impact, Personal Crisis, and Entrepreneurship.