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Lea Pinsky named as Art Encounter's inaugural Executive Director
Lea has been a teaching artist with Art Encounter since 2002.


EVANSTON, ILL.- Art Encounter, a 41-year-old non-profit visual arts organization in the Chicago metropolitan area, announced the appointment of Lea Pinsky as its first-ever Executive Director, effective July 2019. The creation of an Executive Director position comes as the result of Art Encounter’s succession planning and strategic plan to advance the organization forward toward greater sustainability and maturity. Pinsky was unanimously approved by Art Encounter’s Board of Directors following a six-month candidate search. In this inaugural position as Executive Director, Ms. Pinsky will collaborate with staff and partner with the Board of Directors to lead and implement the strategic vision of Art Encounter and carry out its mission.

“We are thrilled to appoint Lea as Art Encounter’s first Executive Director,” said Gale Goldstick-Cohen, President of Art Encounter’s Board of Directors. “She is innovative and accomplished, has deep insight into what makes Art Encounter unique and how to creatively lead this organization into the future.”

Lea has been a teaching artist with Art Encounter since 2002, and has served on staff as Director of Outreach and Community Programs since 2015. In this role, she oversaw their robust menu of no-cost programs in public schools and senior homes throughout Chicago, and with Dustin Harris launched the organization’s mural program, which brings established artists to produce large-scale public projects around Art Encounter’s hometown of Evanston. Over the last four years, Lea has played a significant role in developing the strategic plan with AE staff and board, securing new funding sources, and bringing more public awareness to the organization’s enduring mission.

She was selected to serve as Art Encounter’s Executive Director not only for her understanding of AE’s mission and specific challenges, but for her impressive work history prior to joining the organization. In Lea’s 20-year career in arts management, she has served as Founder and Director of the City of Evanston’s Young Artist Program, Education Director at Lifeline Theatre, Co-Manager of the Mile of Murals for the Rogers Park Business Alliance, and Community Schools Resource Coordinator for Columbia College Chicago. A former actress, Lea holds a BFA in Drama from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and an MA in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. She still participates casually in theatre, but spends more of her creative time in the visual arts world, creating murals with her husband Dustin Harris as the duo Mix Masters.

Lea is the daughter of the long-time co-founder and current Artistic Director, Joanna Pinsky. “Just to assure you no nepotism was involved, I was left completely in the dark throughout the hiring process,” Joanna says.

Commenting on her new role, Lea Pinsky stated, “It is an honor to be chosen as Art Encounter’s first Executive Director.” Looking to the future, she is energized by the work ahead. “We have a lot of exciting projects on the docket,” she reports. “We have just rebranded our visual identity and launched a beautiful new logo; we are exploring new important art districts in our tour and travel programs; and we are developing more relationships and programs for communities who have less access to art. It is an exciting and vital time at Art Encounter.” “Plus,” she adds, “it’s fun and rewarding to work with my mother every day.”

Art Encounter was founded in 1978 by three artists: Joanna Pinsky, Ellen Kamerling, and Bonnie Hartenstein. Carrying the belief that art should be accessible for all people, the non-profit initially created an approach to talking about art, one which embraces multiples perspectives and stresses the value that there are “many ways to see” (the organization’s tagline). This dialogue became the anchor for their current menu of programs that takes people to art—tours to artist studios, private collections, museums, galleries, and more—and brings art to people—discussion and hands-on programs for underserved public schools, senior homes, and the mural program for the community at large. Art Encounter also has a travel program to exclusive art venues across domestic and international destinations, which helps support their outreach programs.






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