2017 Celebrity Judges


Public Voting is Tuesday, May 23 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum 

Grand Rapids, Michigan, May 16, 2017 – Five influential people in Michigan will serve as celebrity judges for the Legacy Trust Award Collection Art Competition, a statewide art competition for adult artists with disabilities in advance of ArtPrize.

Four winning artists will each receive $500 and sponsorship in ArtPrize, scheduled for Sept. 20 through Oct. 8 this year, located downtown Grand Rapids. The celebrity judges will choose one of the LTAC winners, the public will choose two and the LTAC Advisory Committee will present the Lillian Perry Walker Award, an award created for the young woman who inspired the formation of LTAC in 2010.

The public will have the chance to view and vote on the artwork from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 23 at the Grand Rapids Art Museum located in downtown Grand Rapids. The public will also have the option of voting online that day. A private reception for all artists, judges and LTAC supporters will be held on the eve of Monday, May 22.

A record 143 artists from around the state have submitted their work to this year’s competition, an increase of more than 40 percent over last year.

This year’s celebrity judges are:

  • Stephanie Schlatter, owner of Stephanie Schlatter Art. She draws inspiration from the freedom of artistic expression in other cultures and the unfettered creativity of children around the world. Stephanie studied at Grand Rapids Community College, then ventured on to art institutes, workshops and intensive studies in various locations, including Mexico, Italy and France. Schlatter has been traveling the world for more than a decade studying art, just recently returning home from studying in Italy for multiple weeks. In addition to teaching and creating art for her gallery, Schlatter has created numerous posters and labels for wineries, including Chateau de Leelanau, M22, Black Star Farms, bin616, Silver Leaf Vineyard and L. Mawby Vineyards.
  • Diana Sieger, president of Grand Rapids Community Foundation, where she is responsible for leadership, management, strategic planning and development. During her nearly three decades as president of Grand Rapids Community Foundation, Sieger has actively engaged in efforts to significantly grow the Foundation’s resources and has fearlessly moved forward to address key issues. Sieger holds a master’s degree in social work from Western Michigan University focusing on policy, planning and administration. She has received multiple awards, including the 2014 Athena Award and the Tribute Award. She was also named one of the 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan by the Grand Rapids Business Journal and one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2016.
  • Phil Tower, director of spoken word programming at iHeartmedia in West Michigan. He oversees programming for WOOD Radio, ESPN 961 FM and WTKG. Tower has spent more than half of his life in broadcast radio, securing his first on air position at WPLB Radio in Greenville at the age of 17. He holds both undergraduate and master’s degrees from Central Michigan University, and has served for several years as an advisor for the school’s highly respected broadcasting and cinematic arts program. Tower is also a faculty member of the Communications Department at Aquinas College, where he teaches mass media and broadcasting. He also serves as a board member for Spectrum Health Foundation and the Greenville Area Community Foundation. Tower is also an advisory board member for CMU’s College of Communication and Fine Arts.
  • Phil Weaver, president and CEO of Hope Network, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit that helps people with disabilities live independently. With a $145 million budget and 2,800 employees who serve more than 73 counties in Michigan, Hope Network is one of the largest nonprofits in the state. Prior to joining Hope Network, Weaver served as president and CEO of Goodwill of Greater Grand Rapids. During his 25 years in the public and private sectors, Weaver held several positions in human resources, organizational development, strategy and executive operations management with Stryker Corp., Ford Motor Co., Triple S Plastics and Eimo Americas. He began his career as a teacher and coached for several years in public schools. Weaver chairs the Michigan Coalition of Health & Human Service Providers and several other nonprofits within Hope Network, in addition to serving on boards in the community. Weaver holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Michigan University in Marquette and a master’s degree from Michigan State University.
  • David Gage, director of financial development for David’s House Ministries in Grand Rapids. Founded in 1987, David’s House provides quality Christian care for adults with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. Prior to beginning his work at David’s House in 1990, Gage served as the director of development for Honey Creek Christian Homes, which is now Wedgwood Christian Services, and the human resources director for Technical Systems, Inc. After working as the executive director of David’s House for several years, he took a hiatus to serve as the executive director for Kindred Spirit, later returning to David’s House in 2007. Gage graduated from Grand Rapids Baptist College, now Cornerstone University, in 1971 with a major in Bible studies.

Legacy Trust Award Collection is open to all Michigan adult artist with disabilities. Last year, more than100 artists from around the state submitted pieces, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, collages, mixed media and other works of art. LTAC is sponsored by Meijer, Legacy Trust, Sabo PR, Kantorwassink, Kitchen Sage, GRAM, DeVos Place and Andrews, Hooper & Pavlik.

The four winners for LTAC 2017 will be announced May 30.