I sat down with Marie Dalton-Meyer, who is currently serving as the Interim Executive Director at CDSS, and asked her a few questions. – Max
Marie, could you tell us what your background is?
I’ve been involved in the arts really my whole career. I started out as a French and history teacher, and I involved the arts as part of my teaching. I did a Masters in Teaching Museum Education and then I started working for nonprofits in arts and culture. That’s where my heart is.
I worked for a corporation for ten years, in arts sponsorship. I have been executive director or in senior management in half a dozen nonprofits over the years. That’s where my passion is.
The reason I think I’ve stayed in the arts all this time is because, for me, it’s part of what makes life full and interesting. Without the arts, whether it’s visual arts or performing arts, our lives wouldn’t be as rich as they are. Different things feed different people. That’s what feeds me.
And what’s your role at CDSS right now?
I’m serving as Interim Executive Director during a transition period. The Board is working with Third Sector New England, from Boston, an organization which does work with nonprofits in all sorts of areas – leadership development, sustainability, operations – and as one piece of that an interim director comes in and leads the organization during a process of the search for a permanent E.D. [Executive Director].
What do you do on a day-to-day basis at CDSS?
What I do on a day-to-day basis is run the organization. I oversee all the programs and all the activities of the organization. I work with staff and I work with the Board. So I function as the director of an organization would. I have the responsibility to make decisions, to move the organization forward, and to support the staff in their work.
So, what has been going on at CDSS? Where are we now and where are we going?
The organization is, plain and simple, in a transition period from a longtime Executive Director to new leadership. And that’s involving the whole organization, through the Board and the staff and the organization’s constituency. So, where CDSS has been from my perspective is the Board has hired an Interim E.D. and they are doing strategic visioning to clarify the search process for a new director. From the outside, it looks very much like business as usual. All the programs are going full steam, all the work is going full steam, the website is vibrant with new activities, publications are being produced. Everything looks as though it’s seamless. And it, in fact, is seamless, but there’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes.
I know you visited two of CDSS’s programs this summer. Anything to share from those experiences?
I was so glad I was able to spend a couple of days at Family Week at Ogontz and at English Week at Pinewoods. Even in a few days I was struck and captivated by the spirit and joy of community. At Ogontz I was swept up in a fabulous intergenerational experience in a spectacular spot of New Hampshire. At English Week it was a pleasure to meet so many longtime CDSS friends and supporters, and the quality of the music, dance and song was inspirational. What fun!
If folks reading this have ideas or concerns about CDSS and the transition going on, what should they do about those concerns?
They should be in touch with Debbie Jackson, head of the Transition team, which is made up of Board and staff. [See here for a list of CDSS committees, task groups, and their members. - Max]
Is there anything you’d like members of CDSS to know about?
I think one of the things I am struck by in coming to this organization – coming from a background primarily in the visual arts, and my knowledge of the interests CDSS speaks to was certainly limited – I am struck by the passion and interest of Board and staff in the work. Both the work of the organization and the very culture that it supports. I want the membership to know that this organization is very serious about its work and the role that it plays in sustaining, promoting, energizing people about the wonderful things that happen in English and Anglo-American dance, music, and song.
The Board has made a big commitment to do some good thinking around what’s next for the organization, how to best prepare it for the next leader, and then hiring a leader. In this process, as always, CDSS needs the support of its constituencies.
Marie Dalton-Meyer began serving as the Interim Executive Director this May.