ArtWorks Board of Trustees announce Lauren Hannan Shafer as CEO

Lauren Hannan Shafer joins ArtWorks as CEO. Photo by Amanda Cawdrey.

ArtWorks Board of Trustees is proud to announce Lauren Hannan Shafer will serve as the organization’s CEO, effective immediately. ArtWorks founder Tamara Harkavy will continue to serve as artistic director.

“Lauren is the perfect person to lead ArtWorks because of her passion for developing youth and her dedication she’s already shown to the organization,” said Emma Off, ArtWorks board chair. “By having Lauren and Tamara lead the organization, ArtWorks can continue to turn our region’s citizens into believers in the power of creativity and its economic impact.”

Harkavy founded ArtWorks in 1996, starting the organization on the lawn of the former School for the Creative and Performing Arts in Pendleton. Since its beginning, ArtWorks has employed more than 3,500 youth, ages 14-21, to serve as youth apprentices, paying them to create works of art under the mentorship of professional artists. ArtWorks has completed more than 12,000 public and private art projects.

“We’re thrilled to have Lauren’s leadership on board as ArtWorks begins planning our 25th season,” Off said. “Having the right person partner with Tamara is critical to our organization’s future. Tamara has built ArtWorks into one of our region’s treasures, so we are excited to offer the organization more support as Tamara continues to refine ArtWorks’ artistic vision.”

A native Cincinnatian, Shafer has a passion for developing youth. Before becoming CEO in 2019, Shafer served for 10 years as co-chair of Cincinnati Youth Collaborative’s Saturday Hoops. During this time, she developed the art program to complement the basketball activities, giving youth a place to create and connect with volunteers. She developed Saturday Hoops’ mentor program in coordination with CYC, matching 27 youth with mentors, and expanded the program’s partnerships to include A2C Photography, Adopt a Book, Cleats For Kids, La Soupe, University of Cincinnati, Youth Hope and several yoga studios. She grew the organization’s volunteer base, bringing on Cincinnati Country Day School, the Seven Hills School, Saint Ursula Academy, the Summit Country Day School, Ursuline Academy and more. Previously, she was a talent scout and manager for PCG Talent Agency and a broadcast producer at Ogilvy in New York City.

Before becoming CEO, Shafer served as a member of the ArtWorks Board of Trustees from 2015 – 2019. During this time, she served on the organization’s development and communications committee and was co-chair of 2017 ArtWorks annual breakfast and twice co-chaired the Adopt-an-Apprentice campaign. She was a leading supporter of the mural, The Early Bird by Bongang, that was produced on the Over-the-Rhine Recreation Center by a team of 10 youth apprentices and three teaching artists in 2018. Shafer has also been involved as a parent of an ArtWorks youth apprentice. Learn more about Lauren.

“I’m so proud of what Tamara and the ArtWorks team has done to give creative young people the confidence and skills to live their dreams,” Shafer said. “Being an ArtWorks volunteer for many years, I’ve seen the passion and teamwork it takes to turn our region into an art gallery that all can enjoy. I’m proud and humbled to lead this community institution.”

Best known for its mural program, ArtWorks has completed 180 permanent murals in Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Most recently, ArtWorks served as one of the three creative partners that curated this year’s BLINK, one of the nation’s largest light, art and culture events. This year, an estimated 1.25 million to 1.5 million people attended the 4-day event.

“For the past year, I have been working with our Board of Trustees on how best I can focus and lead the creative and artistic sides of ArtWorks,” Harkavy said. “I am grateful to the Board and our team at ArtWorks for the opportunity for this transition. We’re an amazing creative incubator thanks to the support of our many partners, and we will continue to be at the forefront of creating a lasting impact for youth, artists and our local community.”

About ArtWorks

Since 1996, ArtWorks has been transforming people and places through investments in creativity. The organization is a workforce development and job-training program where art is the vehicle that trains and employs local youth and professional talent to create art and community impact. ArtWorks has hired over 3,500 youth and 3,000 professional artists who have completed over 12,000 public and private art projects. ​Learn more at