MERU is the management and consulting company founded by Michael Kaufmann. Michael has a rich history of cultural entrepreneurship, working collaboratively to empower others to create and experience surprising beauty. He operates at the intersection of cultural, economic and community development. He believes in the transformative power of art, its ability to ask critical questions, provoke meaningful conversations, and imagine new possibilities.
Michael graduated magna cum laude from Bucknell University with a bachelors in art theory focused on experimental film and video. He did his graduate work at San Jose State University where he graduated summa cum laude with a masters in library and information science, specializing in the collection of avant-garde and counter-culture materials. He is currently pursuing his PhD in American Studies at Indiana University exploring curation as civic action.
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. 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. In addition to his work in Indianapolis he manages artists Son Lux and Ryan Lott.
Michael has supported numerous boards and currently serves on the boards for Indianapolis Parks Foundation, Economic Club of Indiana, IUPUI Board of Advisors, AIR Serenbe National Advisory Council, and recently co-chaired Local Initiatives Support Corporation’s Great Places 2020 steering committee.
He is a recipient of Indianapolis Business Journal's Forty Under 40 and was part of 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 resides in Knoxville, TN, serves on the boards of Friends of Literacy and All Souls Church, and was recently a finalist for the 2017 Young Professionals of Knoxville Outstanding Young Professional Impact Award. She enjoys spending time with her husband Jordan and black cat Ranger.