MERU is the management and consulting company founded by Michael Kaufmann. Michael has a rich history of cultural entrepreneurship, city-building and artist management. He works to empower others to create and experience surprising beauty. He operates at the intersection of cultural, economic and community development.
Michael graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University with a bachelors in art theory. He did his graduate work at San Jose State University where he graduated summa cum laude with a masters in library and information science. Michael has worked as a film archivist for the New York Public Library, a project manager for Indiana Humanities, and worked for over a decade as label manager for Asthmatic Kitty Records (Sufjan Stevens, My Brightest Diamond, Helado Negro, Julianna Barwick, etc.). He currently works for the Health & Hospital Corporation in his role as VP of Civic Investment, supporting art and design, ecology and equitable livability initiatives for Eskenazi Health. He recently served as the Connect Indy project manager as part of Plan 2020 (Indianapolis Bicentennial Plan), and developed a cultural economies strategy for the Central Indiana Community Foundation and Indy Chamber. In addition to his work in Indianapolis he manages artists Son Lux, Hanna Benn and Oliver Blank.
Michael serves on the boards of ArtMix, Indianapolis Parks Foundation, New Amsterdam Presents and co-chair's Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Great Places 2020 steering committee. He helped the formation of the Indy Food Council, recently serving as board president. Additionally he has served on the boards of Butler University's Center for Urban Ecology, Indiana Recycling Coalition, Indiana Sports Corp President's Council, Latino Youth Collective, IndyHub, IUPUI's Center for Urban Health, Indianapolis Museum of Art's Contemporary Arts Society, Spirit and Place, and the Reconnecting to Our Waterways Initiative. He serves on the executive committee for No Mean City, a marketing effort to attract new residents to the Indianapolis.
Michael facilitated a unique partnership between the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and New Amsterdam to bring new music to his city. Michael is also the co-founder of the 1828 Project, a program in its fifth year for emerging non-traditional leaders between the ages of 18 and 28. Additionally he is a co-founder of We Are City, a series of programs that examined challenges and rewards city living, including a twice-weekly email and residency series, importing smart and diverse city builders from other cities to Indianapolis.
He is a recipient of Indianapolis Business Journal's Forty Under 40 and was part class XXXVII of Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Series. He is a member of the 2014 Next City’s Vanguard, which recognizes the best and the brightest of young urban leaders. He is married to the wonderfully talented singer-poet Liz Janes and is the father of two boys of unhinged creativity and joy.
Hannah Houser joined the MERU team in December 2016. She brings with her a passion for all aspects of communication, branding, narrative identity, design, and business organization by way of marketing five of North America's top music festivals, managing a pool of marketing creatives, and assisting in the management of internationally renowned musicians.
Hannah graduated summa cum laude from Carson-Newman University in 2012 with Bachelor of Arts (with an emphasis in graphic design) and English (with an emphasis in literature) degrees. She was given the outstanding graduate award in both of her areas of study, an honor bestowed upon one graduate per department per year. She was hired within a month of her graduation to begin work at AC Entertainment and began in the artist management department, assisting in the management of Abigail Washburn, Trixie Whitley, and others. She was soon moved to the marketing department to hone her skills in the festival world, but her passion for artist management stayed with her.
From 2013-2016 at AC, Hannah handled all social media fan touchpoints for Louisville, KY’s Forecastle Festival, Knoxville, TN’s Big Ears Festival, Asheville, NC’s Mountain Oasis Music Festival, and AC Entertainment’s social media presence, and at various points throughout her tenure worked on the social media strategies for Bonnaroo and for Toronto’s WayHome Music Festival. With the introduction of new ventures, she also built from the ground up the online presences for Charleston, SC’s High Water Festival (which sold out in 10 days) and Knoxville’s new Mill & Mine music hall.
Hannah serves on the board of Knoxville’s Friends of Literacy and resides in Knoxville with her soon-to-be-lawyer husband Jordan and black cat Ranger.