The Fund for the Arts Board of Directors voted unanimously today to approve Christen Boone as Designate President & CEO of the Fund for the Arts.Current Fund President & CEO Barbara Sexton Smith announced in February that she would be retiring later this year. Sexton Smith will provide leadership and guidance to the Fund for the Arts throughout the summer leading to a seamless transition upon her August 31st retirement date.
The Fund for the Arts Board of Directors worked closely with Sexton Smith to execute transition planning put into place following the 2013 Strategic Planning Initiative. Boone will transition into the organization beginning July 7th, following the conclusion of the Fund for the Arts 2014 fundraising season.
Mayor Greg Fischer heralded the efficiency of the transition, “The Fund for the Arts Board did an exemplary job throughout this process and should be held as a model for leadership transition in the Louisville community.”
Qualified candidates were given the opportunity to interview for the position and express their vision for the Fund for the Arts and the Arts community at large.
“Christen clearly stood out from a list that included both local and national candidates,” said Jim Allen, Fund for the Arts Board President. “We were looking for someone with a vision for the Arts community and a proven track record of fundraising. Christen has both in abundance.”
Boone currently serves as Director of the Greater Louisville Project which acts as a catalyst for action in the community by providing and analyzing research data centered on education, jobs and quality of life. Throughout her career, Boone has been no stranger to fundraising, driving the $120 million campaign to complete the 21st Century Parks development of the Parklands of Floyds Fork. And as the Director of Development at Actors Theatre, Boone generated $13.5 million for the organization’s capital/endowment campaign.
“She understands the relationships required to grow an organization,” said David Jones Sr., Humana co-founder. The Humana Foundation and Humana Associates are the Fund for the Arts’ largest annual donor, giving more than $1 million in the 2012 campaign and again in 2013.
With a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations and Advertising from the University of Kentucky and a Masters of Business Administration from Bellarmine University, Boone has served on a variety of community boards and committees including Governor’s Scholars and JCPS.
“I began my career with Fund for the Arts and, in those years, I solidified my personal commitment to Louisville,” said Boone. “The work of the Fund aligns with my personal mission to create a stronger, more vibrant Louisville. I’m honored to follow in the footsteps of those who have helped make the arts a cultural anchor of our community.”
Dr. Shirley Willihnganz, University of Louisville Provost and Fund for the Arts Board Chair-Elect said of the announcement, “The Fund for the Arts has done a great thing for this community. We have a wealth of educated and talented young professionals here, young professionals who have a vested interest in ensuring that Louisville has a bright future. It is refreshing to see that talent get the opportunity to lead an historic organization, like the Fund for the Arts, into that future.”
During Barbara Sexton Smith’s leadership the Fund for the Arts has been repeatedly honored on a local, regional and national scale. Sexton Smith was nationally recognized with the prestigious Michael Newton Award for Arts Leadership, launched the regional power2give online crowd-funding platform which has generated more than $1.3 million for the arts in Kentucky/Southern Indiana, and was presented with the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America Corey Medallion. YUM! Brands was honored by Americans for the Arts as a BCA Top 10 company in support of the Arts. Diane Cornwell, CFO of the Fund for the Arts, received the HOPE Award from the West Louisville Performing Arts Academy and will be honored with the 2013 Public Service Award from the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) next month. During Sexton Smith’s leadership the Fund has marked two consecutive years of growth, and with the community’s help, will end her tenure as President & CEO with 3 consecutive years of growth.
“Mayor Charles Farnsley founded the Fund for the Arts in 1949 as an umbrella fundraising organization. Richard Wangerin taught us how to fund raise, Dennis Riggs took us to new heights, and Allan Cowen innovated us. Perhaps it’s too soon to name the legacy I will leave with the Fund for the Arts,” said Sexton Smith. “But of this I am sure: I am leaving at the right time – my time, for the right reasons, with the right successor. Our mission remains focused on economic development, education, and quality of life for everyone. And our battle cry empowers a new generation of leaders – Together though the Arts we create a great American city!”