I have a terrific new gig!

Introducing Chula League’s New Executive Director

*Originally published on ChulaLeague.org August 2016

The Chula League Board of Directors is pleased to announce our new Executive Director, Ann Flemings.
Ann Flemings is an artist, mother, wife, and nonprofit all-star! Ann joins us from UT Austin where she worked with the Butler School of Music and the Jackson School of Geosciences. Always committed to local nonprofits, she currently serves as a board member of Generous Art and she served on the St. David’s Episcopal Church Grants committee. Ann is also a professional artist with a studio in East Austin.

Ann brings the perfect background to lead our charge in helping to fuel and sustain the arts in East Austin. Let’s learn a little more about her and her plans for Chula League…

You’ve been on the job just over two months. What has been your impression of Chula League so far?

I am amazed at how well run this small, volunteer-based, nonprofit is! It has created a sustainable income stream through the Cherrywood Art Fair (CAF) and we are so effective at managing money that neighborhood organizations have engaged us to serve as fiduciary on their behalf. That says a lot about the professionalism of the Chula League board.

We are doing so much, on such a small budget, to help the arts thrive in East Austin. We provide a productive marketplace for artisans to sell their work. We cultivate the next generation of artists as they turn their concepts into art, and their art into a business. Chula is doing its part to provide the tools needed to make the arts sustainable in East Austin.

The most heartwarming thing about Chula is the people. Everyone has been so welcoming! Our board members are committed to making this organization shine and some of our program volunteers have been with us for many years. It says to me that there is a lot of passion here, and I think it must be great fun to be a Chula volunteer.

What excites you about this position and how does it build on your prior professional experiences?

With my background in fundraising, I hope to expand our grant funding for Little Artist, BIG ARTIST (LaBA) and I am keen to build a donor base of individuals that support our mission. Right now, I am working on expanding sponsorships for the Cherrywood Art Fair.

The past 15 years have seen the fair grow to become one of the most anticipated holiday shopping events on the “shop local” scene. The Cherrywood Art Fair proceeds benefit Little Artist, BIG ARTIST, thus it becomes a real win-win for our sponsors. As a free, afterschool arts mentorship program, LaBA brings the best of Austin artists together with East Austin elementary school children and creates a 10 week experience which empowers all involved.

If we can increase fair sponsorships by 20%, that will help Little Artist BIG ARTIST go just a bit further. Opportunities are still available to co-brand your business with one of the few juried art fairs in Austin, so give me a call!

What do you think are the most significant opportunities for the organization? Challenges?

We are expanding the Little Artist, BIG ARTIST program and adding artist professional development workshops. The more people understand what we are working to accomplish, the bigger impact Chula League will be able to make. Board leadership is creating a strategic marketing plan to share our message with the goal to engage more people across all channels.

My job is to put the right resources in place — dedicated volunteers, adequate funds and beneficial partnerships — to move our programs forward. Working with the board, listening to our constituents and heeding the advice of our volunteers is important to my role. In fact, a fundamental responsibility of Chula League is to assure our programs thrive and that our volunteers are provided for and valued.

If you could say one more thing to supporters of Chula League, what would it be?

It is an exciting time to be part of Chula League. Become a volunteer with our programs, serve as a BIG ARTIST mentor or apply to the Cherrywood Art Fair. Donate to us and help raise Chula’s star across the 6,000 nonprofits that call Austin home. I encourage everyone to put the Chula League at the top of your “gift list” this year. We want to make giving to Chula a year-round habit.

Thank you for letting me share some thoughts about the future of Chula League. Please contact me at ann@chulaleague.com to get involved with us.