Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Principal & CEO

A choreographer/arts administrator turned urban planner, Anne Gadwa Nicodemus leads Metris’ work. Recent Metris projects range from a Zimbabwean-focused case study of how creative spaces foster activism in repressive regimes (for Hivos, 2015) to an arts and culture plan for the small city of Grand Rapids, MN (GRMN Creates, 2015). As a researcher, writer, speaker, and advocate, Nicodemus tells stories through narratives and numbers. For instance, Metris’ How Art Spaces Matter reports (for Artspace Projects, 2010 and 2011) reveal the benefits of art spaces to artists’ careers and communities, including anchoring arts districts, expanding arts access, and boosts to safety, livability, tax rolls and property values.

Nicodemus is a leading voice in the intersection of arts and community development. She co-authored Creative Placemaking, the report for the Mayors’ Institute of City Design (2010) that defined the field. Her journal articles “Fuzzy Vibrancy” (Cultural Trends, 2013) and “Creative Placemaking: How to Do it Well” (Community Development Investment Review) look more deeply at creative placemaking as cultural policy and its ethics and practical challenges.

Nicodemus gives frequent talks at universities and professional conferences nationwide, and as far-flung as Macau, the Czech Republic, and Ontario. She is consistently recognized as one of the nation’s 50 most influential people in the nonprofit arts (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015).

Nicodemus and Ann Markusen’s “Arts and Culture in Urban and Regional Planning: A Review and Research Agenda” (Journal of Planning and Education Research, 2010) was the most downloaded of that journal’s articles in 2009 and 2010. They contributed a chapter to Creative Communities: Art Works in Economic Development (Brookings Institution Press, 2013) and for the Aspen Review Central Europe, “Creative City Industry Strategies: Unique American Cases.” Nicodemus’ short writings have also appeared in publications including Grantmakers in the Arts: Reader, and Minnesota Public Radio News.

Nicodemus holds a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a B.A. in dance and biology from Oberlin College.

Nicodemus is fascinated by all kinds of places—their form, their people, their change. She grew up in suburban Connecticut; went to college surrounded by the cornfields of Ohio; and lived, danced, and worked in New York City and Minneapolis for years. Her family hails from central Long Island’s north shore, where she grew up spending summers on one of its last remaining farms. Recently, she’s laid down roots in Easton, PA where she lives with her wife Julia. Email: Download CV. LinkedIn profile.

Julie Burros, Principal Cultural Planner

Julie Burros spearheads Metris’ national cultural planning practice. In 2014, Julie Burros was appointed as Boston’s first Chief of Arts and Culture in more than 20 years, where she oversaw the creation of Boston’s first cultural plan, Boston Creates, under the leadership of Mayor Martin J. Walsh. Her tenure included the launch of Boston’s first Percent for Art program, an initiative to leverage city capital to invest in public art as part of major city construction and infrastructure projects; the Opportunity Fund, which grants up to $1,000 to individual artists and supports increased access to the arts and local arts events; the creation of BostonAIR (Artists in Residence in Government program), which integrates artists, community members, and city employees to work on projects that help reframe social conversations. Burros also launched the Artist Resource Desk, the Artist Fellowship Award, and the Alternative Space Pilot Program.

Prior to her work with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture in Boston, Burros was the Director of Cultural Planning for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, a position she held for more than 15 years. Burros led the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, which received the Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning from the Metropolitan Planning Council, and oversaw the first two years of its implementation. This directly resulted in the IncentOvate culture grant, the creation of the first arts education plan for Chicago Public Schools, and the launch of the Creative Schools Fund.

Burros completed her undergraduate degree in sociology at the University of Chicago, and her graduate work was done at Columbia University at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Email:

Susannah Laramee Kidd, Ph.D., Senior Researcher

Susannah Laramee Kidd, an ethnographer turned evaluator and arts and culture policy researcher, serves as a lead technical contributor for Metris’ research and evaluation work. Since 2015, Laramee Kidd worked as an independent arts and culture research consultant, as well as Research Analyst and Mellon-ACLS Public Fellow at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. As an independent consultant, she wrote a brief guide for evaluators and researchers on the “Aesthetic Perspectives: Attributes of Excellence for Arts for Change” framework published by Animating Democracy in 2017. As a Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow at the Arts Commission, she evaluated public art, social practice, and public engagement projects at parks and libraries in unincorporated LA County neighborhoods. She also supported work at the Arts Commission in cultural equity and inclusion and public grantmaking in the arts. Laramee Kidd has recently spoken about her work at the Northeast Creative Placemaking Leadership Summit (CPLS), the American Evaluation Association annual conference, and the Americans for the Arts Public Art Network pre-conference.

Laramee Kidd holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology of Religion and Literature and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Emory University, a Masters of Theological Studies from Boston University, and a B.A. from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. Her academic research focused on how religious communities and individuals make meaning through everyday imaginative/aesthetic practices, like reading in discussion groups, and she continues to be interested in the interplay between the social and aesthetic dimensions of meaning making. Email: Download resume.

Rachel Engh, Researcher/Planner

Urban Planner Rachel Engh’s core competencies lie in evaluation, cultural planning, and data collection, analysis, and synthesis. For recent Metris clients, Engh has authored case studies on promising practices and challenges faced by community development organizations that engage in arts and culture (NeighborWorks America) and organized and facilitated eight webinars to address various technical assistance needs, such as creative community engagement, for a national cohort of organizations new to creative placemaking (Local Initiatives Support Corporation).

Engh spearheaded CulturePulse 2016, a snapshot of the nonprofit arts and cultural sector in Cuyahoga County, OH that combined quantitative (DataArts) data with qualitative insights from a range of local nonprofit arts leaders. In the realm of project evaluation, she provided key data collection, analysis, and synthesis for both Adding It Up, an evaluation of Pillsbury House + Theatre’s community-based public art programming and Moving Dance Forward, a 20-year retrospective of ­the National Dance Project (New England Foundation for the Arts).

Engh has recently spoken about Metris’ work at events hosted by the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Consortium for Creative Placemaking, and The Arts Council of Greater Lansing. She has also contributed articles to Public Art Review, Createquity and Americans for the Arts’ ARTSblog.

Prior to joining Metris Arts Consulting, Engh worked for the City of Minneapolis where she supported a city-wide arts and cultural planning process and helped to produce the Minneapolis Creative Index 2014. She also worked on a team of artists, policy analysts, and urban planners to design the City of Minneapolis’ Creative City Road Map, a community planning process that emphasized racial equity through community engagement. She also managed data collection and analysis while collaborating on PlaceBased Productions’ efforts to tell the stories of site-specific theater in rural communities.

Engh holds a Masters of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a B.A. in Sociology from Grinnell College. Email: Download resume. LinkedIn profile.

Claudia Volpe, Office Coordinator

Claudia Volpe joined Metris Arts in winter of 2017. Working directly with Principal and CEO, Anne Gadwa Nicodemus, Volpe’s role is to provide administrative and marketing support through coordinating daily operations, maintaining Metris’ online presence, and ultimately laying the groundwork for the Metris team to create exceptional work for their clients.

Volpe holds her B.A. in Film Studies from Mount Holyoke College, where she also focused extensively on International Relations. Her liberal arts grounding has helped provide her with versatile skills, strong critical thinking, and the analytical ability needed to nurture positive relationships and contribute to a successful workplace.

A Chicago native, she has spent a majority of her formative years traveling and learning about different communities. Her mixed heritage, the opportunity to experience a variety of rural and urban environments, and college studies have fueled her interest in the integrity of cities and community spaces. Email: