Carolyn J. Hays joined Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) in early 2013 where she created the first Houston-area Arts & Business Council (A&BC), serving the 10-county region. At HAA, Hays pursues strategies and directs partnerships with local businesses and chamber groups, and spearheads all comprehensive marketing and key messaging plans to promote the A&BC within both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining HAA, Hays worked for almost a decade in Washington, D.C. doing program development and evaluation, fundraising and strategic planning for nationally known nonprofits such as Washington Performing Arts, Washington National Opera and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo. Because of her passion for the role of creativity in leadership development, Hays has committed herself to connecting businesses with arts groups and equipping private sector executives for leadership on the boards of arts organizations. She is Houston’s only certified governance trainer through BoardSource® and serves on the planning committees for the American Leadership Forum’s Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative and Rice University’s Best Boards Conference. A proud native of Wyoming, Hays received her Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Arts degree in nonprofit business and arts administration from Florida State University, all of which have served as a strong foundation for her current work at HAA, advancing Houston’s arts community and championing the arts as a crucial element of the city’s identity as a cultural destination.