Three West Marin institutions are in search of new executive directors after a decade of growth under women leaders.
The Bolinas Museum announced last week that Jennifer Gately, who has directed the 40-year-old nonprofit since 2012, will step down at the end of the year. In a newsletter, the board expressed deep thanks to Ms. Gately for elevating the programmatic and administrative professionalism of the museum, fostering regional awareness of its offerings, and ensuring that it was a warm and welcoming place.
During her tenure, Ms. Gately increased the museum’s revenue and donor base, thanks in part to the rising success of the annual art auction. The auction shifted online during the pandemic, but it did not miss a beat: This year it brought in an impressive $200,000.
“Lo and behold, even though we didn’t do a live event, we still had a huge success,” Ms. Gately said. “We’ve discovered that we have a community that is far broader, that extends across the nation. People come to West Marin to visit and they fall in love and want to stay connected, and one of the ways they do that is by staying connected to the museum. We were shipping artwork all over the country.”
Ms. Gately oversaw 15 exhibitions a year, added works to the permanent collection, introduced great minds panel discussions and family fun days, and started annual exhibits for the Bolinas-Stinson School and a free shuttle to bring seniors from Point Reyes Station and Muir Beach.
She said that over the years, her work “turned into a much larger job.”
“Life has gotten more complicated with the advent of the internet, with working from home, with the proliferation of programs and applications that all need specialized knowledge,” she said. “The program has grown here. The museum is extraordinarily vibrant and well-loved and serving the community. I feel really good about its status. It is time for someone to take it to the next level.”
The board says it is looking for an experienced nonprofit manager who will be responsible for fundraising, operations, staff development, exhibition planning, public relations, overseeing the roughly $400,000 budget, and more. The job listing is posted at bolinasmuseum.org.
In Point Reyes Station, the Community Land Trust Association of West Marin is already being served by an interim director, after Kim Thompson left at the end of August to work as a private consultant.
Under Ms. Thompson’s decade of leadership, the nonprofit more than doubled its affordable rental homes, created the first two community land trust-owned purchase homes in Marin, facilitated the creation of more than 24 affordable rentals on homeowners’ properties, and secured the Coast Guard neighborhood for development as affordable housing. The number of employees tripled from two to six, and CLAM now enjoys an operating budget of $870,000, with revenue coming from foundations, individual donors and rentals, interim director Mary Vradelis said.
The next director faces a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make a difference in the community, board president Maureen Cornelia wrote in a press release. Besides the Coast Guard property, CLAM is making a dent in the housing crisis through its Real Community Rentals program. With funding from the county, the program turns spare bedrooms and dormant second units into affordable rentals with the help of no-interest loans for repairs and rehabilitations. Currently, 63 local workers, seniors and children are housed in properties either managed or facilitated by CLAM.
Ms. Cornelia said the board is searching for a strategic thinker and clear communicator with a collaborative style. The position involves internal management, fundraising and public interface, financial planning, partnership development, and strategy. Applications for the executive director position must be received by Oct. 23. Details are posted at clam-ptreyes.org.
At the Mesa Refuge writers retreat, executive director Susan Page Tillett has announced that she will retire in June. Ms. Tillett oversaw the retreat for the past eight years, fundraising a growing budget of roughly $350,000, keeping the mission strong through public programs and residencies, serving as a liaison with the community, and maintaining relationships with alumni.
The quarter-century old retreat is open to writers and journalists focused on issues related to the environment, economic equity and social justice. In recent years, the nonprofit launched a program to fund fellowships for activists specifically. “We’ve always supported writers, but we started a program called ‘Refuge for Activists,’ where the emphasis is people on the front lines coming to get a respite,” Ms. Tillett said.
“They all write beautifully once they catch a breath.”
She added, “So many writers function in the gig economy, and I’ve seen that getting more intense. Even the adjunct professors arrive exhausted. The need for peace and quiet has grown exponentially.”
During Ms. Tillett’s tenure, the refuge grew from a startup to an established organization with a staff of two and regular consultants. The filing system has been moved to the cloud. The workplace has changed in the last eight years, Ms. Tillett said. “Yet we are an organization that is place-based,” she added. “We can’t do residencies online. People actually come in time and space, and that’s what creates the magic.”
Ms. Tillett first visited the retreat for a writer’s residency, and she plans to return to writing in her retirement. “The responsibilities here are not conducive to writing,” she said. “I’ve never stopped writing, but I look forward to having some sustained time to write instead of fundraise.”
The job description is posted at mesarefuge.org.