Executive Search for Not-for-Profit Cultural Institutions

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Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, Orange, Texas – Director of Art and History Programs and Collections

The Nelda C. and H.J. Stark Foundation provides outstanding cultural resources to the Orange, Texas community and Southeast Texas region through its four cultural venues: the W.H. Stark House, Stark Museum of Art, Frances Ann Lutcher Theater for the Performing Arts and Shangri La Botanical Gardens and Nature Center.

Challenge

The long-time General Manager of the W.H. Stark House was retiring and the Stark Foundation hired Opportunity Resources to find her successor. We began the search looking for a candidate with the skills to lead this  gem of the historic house museum, one of the Stark Cultural Venues. The successful person would have the knowledge, passion and personality to make history lively and enjoyable for adults and children. S/he would also embrace the lifestyle of the Gulf Coast of Southeast Texas.

As the search developed, the Foundation’s leadership recognized in this moment a unique opportunity to realign the visual arts and history venues together under one director. The search was reoriented toward the new position: Director of Art and History Programs and Collections, which would manage both the W.H. Stark House and the Stark Museum of Art.

Solution

Through sourcing our contacts and, most importantly, recruiting, we identified and interviewed several highly recommended, accomplished professionals. When the search was reoriented, we were already preparing to present three of these candidates to the Foundation to manage the Stark House. The Foundation was thrilled to find that one, Katrina Nelson Thomas, had an unusual breadth of skills and training making her an excellent choice for the newly expanded position. Katrina was serving as Senior Director, Public Programs at the Indiana Historical Society, where she had played a decisive part in the IHS’s impressive growth as a significant statewide cultural resource.

We have been informed more than once since Katrina began at the Stark Foundation in May, 2013 that she has already successfully forged a collaborative  and productive relationship between the arts and history venues. She has also reached out to the community and made many friends.