It's been one year since Shannon McDonnell became the Executive Director of PAL. We are very fortunate to have such a seasoned non-profit administrator with extensive marketing and fundraising experience to lead this great organization. Here is Shannon's anniversary recap:
I can't believe how time flies. I still remember when the board asked me to take on this important mission of leading such a storied organization in Palo Alto, I was excited but also felt a bit anxious about the journey ahead. Fresh off from managing a very different kind of non-profit, PAL presented a perfect challenge at this stage of my career.
One of the first items on my agenda was to strengthen the community engagement programs of PAL. We are at the center of this diverse Bay Area, and it's only fitting that we use art and education to generate a far-reaching impact that will benefit the communities around us. The cornerstone of my first-year community engagement effort is the New Day Program in collaboration with the Downtown Streets Team: free art classes for previously unhoused individuals, taught by our experienced instructors. We're currently on our second eight-week cohort. The support from our board, members and students has been tremendous. It was also made possible by the generous donation from our funders, including Oliver & Company, and the Palo Alto Community Fund. Their support, along with the California Arts Council and other funders, plays a significant role in PAL's continuous community engagement initiatives such as the upcoming veterans program. This program, in partnership with the VA of Palo Alto and Menlo Park, will provide art classes to veterans suffering PTSD injuries and is built on the model of the highly-successful Downtown Streets Team partnership.
On the education front, some of you might notice that we have been adding new classes: glass fusing and precious metal clay among many others. We believe the new curriculum, combined with the long-time popular classes, will attract new students and members in Palo Alto and beyond. In fact, we're already seeing many new artists participating in our monthly exhibitions. Have you noticed all the large 3-D pieces that are being displayed and sold in our gallery? We expect a lot more in the coming months. Make sure you come check them out!
This past year also saw personnel changes in different positions. Our wonderful Anna Speaker has moved from gallery manager to overseeing PAL's education as Director of Education Programs. Natasha Cook is keeping our daily finances in check. And in the past two months, we hired Devan John as our new gallery manager and Iris Chen as our office manager and volunteer coordinator. We now have a strong team made up of energetic professionals who are eager to take PAL to the next level. We also welcome all the new board members who are busy planning our 95th anniversary event at the moment.
Last but not least, I encourage you to get involved. This is truly a fun place for artists of all levels. Learn, experience and enjoy being in this artist community whether you're enjoying a glass of wine while letting your creativity fly in our popular Art & Wine nights or having your works showcased in our exhibitions. I look forward to seeing every one of you very soon!