Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House – Berlin

Dr. Jakob Scherer | Executive Director

Jakob Scherer
Jakob Scherer

Dr. Jakob Scherer studied philosophy and economics at Freie Universität Berlin and as a fellow of the Ernst Reuter Society at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He received his PhD in philosophy on the subject of ordoliberalism. Jakob spent several years as a strategy consultant and manager at an international consulting firm and subsequently worked for the State of Berlin as head of strategy for its 1,000-worker strong IT and digitization agency. Since May 2022, he has been managing director of VATMH e. V. He is also chairman of the advisory board of Stiftung Neue Kultur Berlin and co-founder and long-time co-host of a private salon with guests from culture and public life.

Mirko Lux | Communications and Program Management

Mirko Lux

Mirko Lux studied modern German literature studies and art history in Berlin and Siena and attended seminars at Ostkreuzschule für Fotografie in Berlin. After working as a freelance journalist and photographer, Mirko has been responsible for communication and program management in the Berlin office of Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House e.V. He is a member of KOOK e.V., a non-profit association and independent network of artists for artists.

Katharina Karnitschnig | Finance and Administration Officer

Katharina Karnitschnig

Katharina Karnitschnig studied economics and foreign languages in her native Austria and cultural management at London’s City University. Her main focus is on finance, fundraising and project management. She has worked in the arts on both sides of the Atlantic, holding a number of senior management roles, including most recently with Berlin’s international literature festival. She has also worked for the annual transmediale festival in Berlin, the Center for Arts Education in New York and the International Association of Music Information Centers in Vienna.

Dr. Gesa Schubert | Office Management

Gesa Schubert studied Comparative Literature and English Literature at Freie Universität Berlin and earned a doctorate in philosophy with a dissertation focusing on Samuel Beckett’s Philosophy of Art. Among other positions, she has worked as project-coordinator for the German Association of Literary Societies and Memorials and in the area of employment services.

Villa Aurora – Los Angeles

Dr. Claudia Gordon | Director

Claudia Suhr Gordon
Claudia Suhr Gordon

Claudia Suhr Gordon studied Egyptology, Sociology and Coptic Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany where she earned her Ph.D. with a dissertation on Ancient Egyptian first-person narratives. From 2002 – 2007, she was the Director of Villa Aurora, where she has served as Administration Officer from 2010 until 2020. In 2020, Claudia once again assumed the position of Director.

Friedel Schmoranzer | Head of Fellowship Programs

Friedel Schmoranzer
Friedel Schmoranzer

Friedel Schmoranzer studied German Philology and Sociology at the University of Konstance (BA) and holds a MA in studies in editing from the FU Berlin. From March 2010 to November 2010 she was editor-in-chief for the catalogue Transatlantic Impulses - 15 years of Villa Aurora at Villa Aurora Forum Berlin. In 2011 she joined the team at Villa Aurora Los Angeles where she has served as Head of Fellowship Programs since 2020.

 

Kathrin Klüppel | Finance and Administration Officer

Kathrin Klüppel studied at California State University Los Angeles and University of Kassel and holds a MA in American Studies and Economic Sciences. From 2008 to 2021, Kathrin worked as a Product Manager in travel; she has been in the role of an Administration Officer at the Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House since 2022.



Thomas Mann House – Los Angeles

Dr. Steven D. Lavine | Chairman of the advisory board (honorary)

Dr. Steven D. Lavine
Dr. Steven D. Lavine

Steven D. Lavine has been president of the California Institute of the Arts from 1988 until June 2017. Previously, he had served for eight years as a program officer for arts and humanities at the Rockefeller Foundation, with special concentration on media and museums, and from 1974 to 1981 he was an assistant professor of English literature at the University of Michigan. Dr. Lavine currently serves on the board of directors of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, Endowments Inc., KCRW-FM National Public Radio, and KCET-Public Broadcasting, and the Cotsen Family Foundation, as Co-Chair of the Arts Coalition for Academic Progress for the Los Angeles Unified School District and on the Advisory Committee for the Asia Society California Center and the Cultural Policy Network Project of the Center for Arts and Culture, and as a member of the Public Programs Committee of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Operating Company of the Music Center of Los Angeles, the Board of Directors of the American Council for the Arts, and the Visiting Committee of The J. Paul Getty Museum and has been co-director of The Arts and Government Program for the American Assembly at Columbia University and co-chair of the Mayor's Working Group of the Los Angeles Theatre Center. He participated on the Architectural Selection Juries for the new Los Angeles Cathedral and the Los Angeles Children's Museum. In 1991, he co-edited with Ivan Karp, Exhibiting Cultures: The Poetics and Politics of Museum Display; in 1992, the Smithsonian Institution Press released their second co-edited volume, Museums and Communities: The Politics of Public Culture.

Benno Herz | Acting Program Director

Benno Herz

Benno Herz worked in the online communication division at the Städel Museum Frankfurt, Germany, before joining the Thomas Mann House team as Project and Communications Manager in 2019. Prior to this, he studied Theater, Film and Media Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt and completed his M.A. with a focus on new social media aesthetics and interface theory. Since 2009, he has been creatively engaged in several music and film projects as a writer and instrumentalist. He is co-editor and co-author of the publication Thomas Mann's Los Angeles: Stories from Exile 1940-1952 (Angel City Press, 2022). As of May 2022, Benno Herz is serving as Acting Program Director at the Thomas Mann House.

Dr. Claudia Gordon | Head of Administration

Claudia Suhr Gordon
Claudia Suhr Gordon

Claudia Suhr Gordon studied Egyptology, Sociology and Coptic Studies at the University of Göttingen, Germany where she earned her Ph.D. with a dissertation on Ancient Egyptian first-person narratives. From 2002 – 2007, she was the Director of Villa Aurora, where she has served as Administration Officer from 2010 until 2020. In 2020, Claudia once again assumed the position of Director of Villa Aurora.

Kathrin Klüppel | Finance and Administration Officer

Kathrin Klüppel studied at California State University Los Angeles and University of Kassel and holds a MA in American Studies and Economic Sciences. From 2008 to 2021, Kathrin worked as a Product Manager in travel; she has been in the role of an Administration Officer at the Villa Aurora & Thomas Mann House since 2022.