Amber Jo Manuel named The Center for the Arts’ acting executive director as it launches first-ever capital campaign

From the blog of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine:

The Center for the Arts in Grass Valley (“The Center”) is pleased to announce that Amber Jo Manuel will be named Acting Executive Director starting September 18th. A native of Nevada City, Amber Jo worked the last 17 years in marketing and development for not-for-profits arts organizations in New York City and the Bay Area, until she returned to Nevada County in the fall of 2016 to join The Center for the Arts as its Director of Development.

Most recently, Amber Jo held the position of Director of Development at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater, where she successfully led a $33 million capital campaign for ACT’s second stage, The Strand Theater, which opened in the mid-market district in May 2015. Prior to ACT, Amber Jo was involved with capital campaign fundraising and development efforts at both Cal Academy of Sciences and Berkeley Repertory Theater. In New York, Amber Jo held the title of Individual Giving Director at The Roundabout Theater, where she worked on the seat campaign for Studio 54 and the historic reopening of the Henry Miller’s Theatre, the first LEED-certified Broadway theatre, which later was renamed the Stephen Sondheim. Amber Jo’s interest in the arts began on the stages of Nevada County where she was an active dancer, actress and director. She received a B.A. in Theater Arts from U.C. Irvine and later earned a M.F.A. in Directing Western and Asian Theater from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.

“I am honored to be a part of The Center for the Arts at such an exciting time. With a transition to new leadership and the launch of The Center’s first ever capital campaign, I believe there is an amazing opportunity for growth and new energy not only for the Center, but for the entire creative community in Nevada County. Live performances continue to have the power to remind us that there are certain universal truths and emotions that define us all as human beings. Joining this wonderfully talented group of individuals and returning home to my roots in Nevada County is a privilege, an adventure, and a challenge that I look forward to as The Center embarks on its next chapter.”

The Center is also happy to announce that Kimberly (Pepper) Pepe has been promoted to General Manager of The Center and will be responsible for managing and directing day-to-day operations of the company including production, box office, front-of-house, volunteer, group sales and premium services for patrons. Pepper joined The Center for the Arts first as a volunteer in 2011. She was so enthusiastic about The Center that she became our Volunteer Coordinator just a few shows later. Since that time she has worked in many departments at CFTA. Her primary focus has been to ensure that every our Patrons and Volunteers have is an exceptional experience.

Pepper spent the 80’s working at Merrill Lynch, Pierce, Fenner and Smith, the 90’s as a travel agent and the last decade in Human Services with homeless shelters, jails, institutions, domestic violence shelters and children’s services. She loves to encourage the spirit of ‘being of service’ and is dedicated to building community. Pepper commented, “I am excited to be part of the Leadership Team as we move into what is next for The Center. Our task is to take something great and make it even better. I look forward to the challenge. We, at CFTA, believe in the “Why” of what we do, to bring quality entertainment to our community and create exceptional experiences. We do this with an amazing group of people that care deeply about The Center. Our Staff, Volunteers, Board and Patrons and I am grateful for the opportunity to be of service to them and to the community.”

Amber Jo and Pepper will be leading an outstanding staff team that presents more than 150 performances a year at out Grass Valley facility as well as presenting an exciting music festival, WorldFest, held at the Nevada County Fairgrounds in July. These performances attract audiences of all ages, and patrons from our local Community as well as outside the including Placer County, Sacramento, Tahoe, Reno and the Bay Area.

Board President Betsy Swann Brown commented, “We are fortunate to have someone of Amber Jo’s background and experience who will be able provide insight as The Center enters its next area of growth as well as someone with Pepper’s deep understanding of the history of The Center and its audiences.

Julie Baker will continue to support The Center on a consulting basis. The search for an Executive Director will begin in late September.

As a non-profit offering a wide array of programs, including free family and youth events, the Center relies on support from generous donors and members totaling over 1,000 individuals, businesses, and other organizations.

The Center for the Arts has become a hub of the arts for Nevada County and offers a variety of events to a large demographic. Performances are presented for audiences of all ages. The Center is committed to bringing a diverse array of programming including music, dance, theater, film, visual art, comedy, youth arts education and literature. The Center manages and maintains a multi-use 21,000 square foot facility in downtown Grass Valley which includes a 300 seat Main Theater, two visual art galleries, classroom space, and a 90 seat black box theater. The Center further provides marketing and production services to support local artists and arts organizations and collaborates with other area non-profits to provide event services and fundraising support.

—By The Center for the Arts

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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