Next year will be the eleventh year that Ann Richardson has served as executive director for the Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show (SOQS). And, Richardson says, it will be her last.
Richardson announced her decision to the SOSQ board of directors at their regular monthly meeting, the first since a memorable and successful show in July. She told the board members, “I have never felt anything but great appreciation in my role, and it has been my sincere pleasure to lead an organization that brings so many people together to benefit our community. I feel I’ve added value and helped grow the organization over the past ten years, but I also believe we will benefit from new ideas and fresh perspectives.”
The show began in 1975 when the founder, Jean Wells Keenan, owner of the Stitchin’ Post, hung a dozen quilts made by her students outside her quilt shop on a Saturday in July. It soon became an annual event, and as the show expanded in size and popularity it outgrew existing financial and human resources.
In 2002, Jean felt it was time for someone else to take the helm, and hired Richardson as executive director. In 2005, Richardson created a non-profit status for the event, and further development of a formal infrastructure included appointing board members and hiring additional part-time staff as it continued to grow.
Richardson’s many accomplishments during her ten-year leadership also include:
- Initiating new events to add value and audience base to the Show, such as the Around the Block Fiber Arts Stroll, month-long Quilt Walk and Save it for Sunday.
- Developing fundraisers to directly benefit community organizations (currently Kiwanis, Sisters Park and Recreation Department and Wendy’s Wish Foundation/St. Charles Cancer Treatment Center).
- Initiating an individual donor program and annual fundraisers to benefit SOQS.
- Leading strategic and development planning for the organization.
- Creating new vehicles and activities to increase and improve communications.
- Streamlining processes and systems to enable the organization’s growth and addition of new events.
Wells Keenan, who currently serves as chair of the SOSQ board of directors, shared her feelings about Richardson’s transition, “Ann has been a wonderful person to take quilt show to its current level, maintaining the core values of the show while celebrating new trends and expanding the audience. Working with her has been a great pleasure for all of us and she will be missed! We look forward to the future and finding another director that will help us to continue the great tradition of Sisters Outdoor Quilt Show.”
The board will meet in executive session to develop the search process for a new executive director. Richardson will assist with staff development and training as needed, “I’m not leaving until after next year’s show, and will be doing everything I can to ensure a smooth transition and continued high quality of the Quilt Show,” she states.
As for her new direction, she explains, “I honestly don’t know what I will do next, but I know it will be difficult to top the sense of accomplishment and pure pleasure I’ve had in this position. The board, staff and volunteers of the Quilt Show are seasoned veterans, fully capable of continuing the great work of SOQS.”