Wednesday, July 31 — Leslie Donaldson, executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing, announced today that she will be stepping down after eight years in that position. She announced her departure via a letter today. In the letter, she said she accepted a position as director of the College of Creative Arts at Interlochen Center for the Arts near Traverse City.
The Arts Council of Greater Lansing provides education, funding, resources, and consulting services to artists and agencies throughout mid-Michigan The council works with its constituents to promote the value of the arts and to make the arts possible in Greater Lansing.
Below is the full text of her announcement:
Dear Friends, Members and Colleagues,
For nearly eight years it has been my honor and pleasure to serve as an advocate for the arts in the greater Lansing region as the executive director of the Arts Council of Greater Lansing. Today, I am writing to share some exciting news. Effective August 16, I am transitioning from my role at the Arts Council to pursue a new career opportunity as the director of the College of Creative Arts at Interlochen Center for the Arts. In the coming weeks, my husband Will Jurkiewicz and I are moving to the Grand Traverse area, where he is also taking a new position as librarian for St. Francis Catholic High School. While this move provides us the opportunity to return to my hometown of Traverse City, we will miss Lansing and look forward to return visits to the area to see friends and enjoy the many festivals, cultural institutions, and artists that make Lansing so special.
It truly has been a pleasure to work alongside the hundreds of dedicated volunteers, community stakeholders, and creative individuals in our region to help raise awareness for the arts and build support for our creative community. I have enjoyed our many conversations--both silly and serious--and have enjoyed developing numerous programs that have grown support for the arts, including the Arts Council's artist membership program, the Individual Artist Grant program, the Greater Lansing Festival Alliance, the Alliance of Creative Students, the Chris Clark Fellowship program, and the SmArts Program, among others.These programs and their partnerships were all made possible through the support of the Arts Council board, staff, sponsors, and countless dedicated individuals. I am grateful for the incredible network that has helped me bring these programs to fruition, as I have witnessed first-hand the impact these programs have had on our region. It has been inspiring for me as an artist and musician to see how our efforts have played a role in growing opportunities for area artists and non-profit arts leaders.
In addition to these programs, a particular highlight for me as executive director has been the development and implementation of the state's first-ever regional cultural economic development plan for greater Lansing. The Arts Council partnered with more than 100 community stakeholders and leaders from the State of Michigan, the City of Lansing, the City of East Lansing, Michigan State University, Lansing Township, LEAP, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Lansing Regional Chamber and so many others to lay the groundwork to ensure that the arts continue to play a key role in community revitalization and quality of life issues. I know the Arts Council is committed to nurturing the relationships built as a result of the CED plan and looks forward to continuing to implement the initiatives of this ten-year road map.
As a part of my transition, I will assist the Arts Council staff and the board over the next few weeks in preparing a search to identify the Arts Council's next director. Until a new executive director is identified, please know that the Arts Council's talented staff and board will continue to serve the needs of our arts and cultural community.
It has been a pleasure working so closely with you over the years, and I hope that before my departure, I will have the opportunity to see you one last time. Please join me, the Arts Council staff, and the board for a celebration on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 4 - 6 p.m. at the Arts Council office. It will be a great opportunity for me to thank you personally for your support and to say farewell. If you cannot attend the gathering, I hope that you will keep in touch with me through Facebook and LinkedIn, and that you will join me some time on the grounds of Interlochen Center for the Arts.
Thanks again for all of the wonderful work you do and for your continued support of the arts in our region. I look forward to seeing you!