Last Friday, September 9, the Vera Project excitedly announced that they'd hired Shannon Roach as their new executive director. The position opened up last spring when former director James Keblas resigned after taking a job at the mayor's office as the director of the Seattle Film and Music Office. Since then, Kate Becker (Vera's founding artistic director) has been acting as interim director and helping in the hiring process, which seemed to take forever. After six long months of applications and interviews, Roach walks away with the prized position.
"I started interviewing in June," she says with a laugh, "so the process took quite awhile, but that kind of reflects how the Vera Project works. They wanted to get consensus from everyone that was involved. I think it's good that they value that process."
Roach, a UW graduate who has lived in Seattle since 1991, comes to Vera from the Old Fire House, where she worked as the teen center's programming director for about four years (before being programming director, she was the administrative assistant for a year and a half). Her experiences there have certainly prepared her for whatever challenges she'll face at Vera in her new position.
"I see the executive director as being a representative of the Vera Project. That means making sure it's strong financially and making sure it continues having good connections with the music community and the city," she explains. "The Vera Project does great things, so it'll be my job to make sure people understand what it is and continue to support it.
"Just about everything [from my position at the Old Fire House] is directly relevant to my new position," she continues. "From fundraising to really understanding the impact of the arts for young people in the community. I'm really passionate about that. For young people, music and art are really easy ways to express themselves and come together as a community. I really value that."
It's going to be a busy rest of the year for the Vera Project. They're preparing to move to a new location soon (their lease is up in February of next year), and they've got a jam-packed fall calendar (boasting everything from Harvey Danger's CD release show to a Waxwing reunion and the ROCKRGRL Music Conference). But Roach is ready for—and looking forward to— whatever comes her way.
"It's going to be new challenges for me," she says. "I'm really excited about working in my own community. That's the most exciting thing for me. I've been in Seattle since '91, and working in Redmond has been great, but it's going to be really great to take that experience and use it in my own community." MEGAN SELING