Professional Team

Our Professional Team


Deb Polich

Deb Polich champions the arts and creative industries in her professional, volunteer and personal life. She has 30+ years of professional arts administration experience, including serving as the president/CEO of Artrain, Inc., and since 2013, holding the same position at The Arts Alliance. Polich earned a B.S. in arts administration with a business minor from Eastern Michigan University. She began her professional arts management career at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor beginning as the box office manager and leaving seven years later as the managing director. She serves/has served on the boards of numerous nonprofit arts and community organizations. She currently serves on the boards of Creative Many Michigan as treasurer, Michigan Works! Southeast and three boards at EMU: the College of Arts & Science Advancement Board, the Advisory Boards for the Masters of Public Administration and the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. She serves on the City of Ann Arbor’s Economic Development Advisory Committee and Destination Ann Arbor’s marketing and community grants committee. She is a University of Michigan and EMU Arts Management guest lecturer. Polich co-hosts creative:impact, a weekly radio show on NPR affiliate WEMU FM 89.1 FM that features creative people, jobs and businesses in the greater Ann Arbor area.

Business Manager & Regranting Administrator

Natalie Hensel

Natalie Hensel graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a B.A. in public relations. Throughout college, she worked in marketing for arts and cultural programs on campus. For six years, she worked at Ann Arbor’s Michigan Theater in finance and administration, box office management, film and live-on-stage children’s  programming administration.  After a brief stint at Fleming Artists, a national musician booking agency founded and based in Ann Arbor, she became the business manager for The Arts Alliance and Artrain. She is the current administrator for the Region 9 Regranting program through MCACA, in addition to her responsibilities as the finance manager and development assistant. Born and raised in Saginaw, Mich., Hensel has always been an active consumer, producer and believer in the arts.

Communications Manager
E-newsletter and Social Media Editor

Lauren James

A native of Fayetteville, Ark., Lauren James received a B.A. in journalism from the University of Arkansas and is working on her M.A. in journalism from the University of Memphis. She moved to Ann Arbor in 2016 after serving as the communications manager at Arkansas Repertory Theatre, Arkansas’ largest professional regional theatre. Also while in Little Rock, Ark., she was a social media coordinator and associate editor for, a special sections writer at Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and staff writer at The Daily Record. In addition to her work at The Art Alliance, she is a freelance writer and marketing communications specialist at the University of Michigan Medical School Office of Research, where she assists the Fast Forward Medical Innovation, Biorepository and Data Office teams with marketing collateral, social media management and content.

Graphic Designer

Paula Popa

Paula Popa earned her B.A. in liberal arts with an emphasis in graphic design and a minor in marketing from Concordia University in Ann Arbor. She volunteered and was contracted as a graphic designer for two years before being asked to join The Arts Alliance’s communications department. She is also a freelance graphic designer and has designed content for various organizations. Popa is a supporter and advocate for the arts and enjoys doing fine art in her spare time.

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