Jessica Elliott, shown Tuesday, has been hired to be the executive director of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Jessica Elliott, shown Tuesday, has been hired to be the executive director of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center. (Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News)

Port Angeles Fine Arts Center takes on new executive director

PORT ANGELES — The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center has hired Jessica Elliott as its new executive director.

A relative newcomer to Port Angeles, Elliott was a fine arts center board member in 2015.

This past March, Elliott left the board to function as the art center’s interim administrative director.

In that position, she led the development of the organization’s new Shakespeare in the Woods outdoor theater program, managed program budgets and finances, and has worked to identify and build relationships with community partners, sponsors, volunteers and other supporters of the center at 1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., according to a news release from the arts center.

Elliott’s hire as executive director comes on the heels of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center (PAFAC) gaining full autonomy, said Phillis Olson, Port Angeles Fine Arts Center Foundation president.

“This year, a new agreement was reached between the PAFAC and the city of Port Angeles translating into full autonomy for the PAFAC nonprofit organization,” she said.

“The city is reducing program support to the PAFAC but continues their commitment and responsibility to maintain the Webster House and Webster’s Woods.”

In 2015, the city decided it would phase out its annual $27,500 contribution to the fine arts center’s budget over three years, starting in 2016, according to Peninsula Daily News archives. It eliminated the executive director position after priority-setting sessions last year.

Elliott, who earned a graduate degree in community leadership, specializes in nonprofit management and development, according to Olson.

She brings more than 10 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, administration, community outreach, program management and volunteer and event coordination.

“Jessica is a wonderful addition to the PAFAC,” Olson said in the release. “Our board considers her to be uniquely qualified to lead us into this next phase in our organizational growth.”

In her expanded role, Elliott will work alongside the board to create new policies and procedures, according to the release.

In her administrative role, she will hire guest curators and additional staff to support art programming and administration.

A key, ongoing project in which Elliott and the board have been engaged is that of organizational strengthening and capacity building, according to the release.

For several months, the fine arts center has been working with the Olympic View Community Foundation to create new mission, vision and core value statements, the release said, adding that the work is focused on revitalizing the organizational structure and the design of an achievable three- to five-year strategic plan.

“These changes and improvements, along with new staff, will ultimately give us the ability to bring exciting and vibrant programming to the center, as well as a broad range of art exhibits that truly honor the legacy of Esther Webster,” Elliott said.

She said she is excited for the position and has a lot of respect for the community.

“I’m just excited to be in a position where I can connect this community with art, and that’s exactly what Esther Webster wanted,” Elliott said.

The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, opened to the public in 1986 as an arts exhibition and education facility. The gallery and surrounding Webster’s Woods art park were a gift to the community by the late Esther Webster, an artist and the wife of Charles Webster, publisher of the Peninsula Daily News’ predecessor, the Port Angeles Evening News.

The facility consists of Webster’s former home designed by Paul Hayden Kirk and a 5-acre art park named Webster’s Woods featuring more than 100 sculptures and site works integrated into the woodlands.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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