The Vermont Studio Center (VSC) Board of Trustees has announced the appointment of Vermont’s Ellen McCulloch-Lovell as Interim Executive Director. Effective immediately, McCulloch-Lovell will take the helm to lead the international residency program for artists and writers while working with the Board of Trustees in its search for a permanent executive director.
Vermont Studio Center celebrates its 35th anniversary this year. While envisioning the future, VSC remains committed to providing opportunities for artists and writers to create and connect in an inclusive, international community. After a two-year strategic planning process, the VSC Board of Trustees and former President Gary Clark agreed that the time was right to launch an initiative to reshape VSC for the future. In his new role as President Emeritus, Gary will take a year-long sabbatical, during which he will continue to work with new leadership to assure a sustainable future for VSC.
After a thorough search led by VSC Trustee Major Jackson, internationally known poet and professor at University of Vermont, the Board of Trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Ellen McCulloch-Lovell as Interim Executive Director to assess operations, and to manage, supervise, and coordinate all departments while working with the Board of Trustees to identify and hire a permanent executive director.
“For nearly five decades, in various roles, Ellen McCulloch-Lovell has made significant contributions to the State of Vermont,” said Major Jackson. “As a dedicated leader and published poet of immense intelligence, she gets the mission of VSC and understands the arts as a vital element in a democratic society but also an important component of the state’s economy. Owing to its natural beauty, Vermont has a long history of attracting and supporting literary and visual artists. We are elated to have Ellen McCulloch-Lovell on board as we work to build on Vermont Studio Center’s distinguished legacy.”
Asked what attracted her to VSC at this point in its life—and in hers—McCulloch-Lovell answered: “The mission and the place, where I can contribute my skills, caring, and energy to support the arts and artists—at a time when their imagination and insights are most needed.”
Learning of the Board’s choice of McCulloch-Lovell, President Emeritus Gary Clark said, “As a poet and VSC alumnx, and celebrated leader with a lifetime of experience in and beyond Vermont, Ellen is the perfect choice. I strongly urge all of our friends and supporters to join me in fully supporting Ellen and VSC through this transition.”
In announcing McCulloch-Lovell’s appointment, VSC Board Chair Mary Louise Pierson stated, “In this moment of VSC reaching a new level of space and creativity, I am thrilled to know that Ellen McCulloch-Lovell will be here to help guide us through it. Our mission aligns with her belief in supporting artists and writers. As someone who has a long history as an arts administrator and a political appointee, she is capable of making the case for public support of the arts.”
McCulloch-Lovell’s deep commitment to Vermont—its natural resources, and its educational, cultural, and religious institutions—is evidenced by the trajectory of her rich and varied career in public service. Most recently, she served as Rock Point Legacy Minister, working with the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont to enhance and conserve its 130 acres on Lake Champlain. From 2004–2015, as its eighth and first female president, she led Marlboro College, where she increased the college’s endowment by 50 percent and introduced new programs that strengthened its mission.
McCulloch-Lovell began her career in 1970 at the Vermont Arts Council as program director, then Executive Director for eight years. From there she went on to serve for 10 years as U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy’s chief of staff in Washington, D.C. In 1994, McCulloch-Lovell was appointed Executive Director of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, a presidential advisory commission. In 1997, she joined First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton’s staff, first as deputy chief of staff, then as director of the White House Millennium Council, where she and Mrs. Clinton created Save America’s Treasures, a major, national preservation program. After the White House, McCulloch-Lovell joined the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress where she founded the Veterans History Project, which collects the first-hand accounts of those who served in wartime.
Currently, McCulloch-Lovell serves on the boards of Vermont Public Radio, the Windham Foundation, Friends of Writers, and the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont, and she consults for several nonprofit organizations concerned with education and the arts. She is an outspoken advocate for the liberal arts, speaking and publishing opinion pieces in the Chronicle of Higher Education, Huffington Post, New York Times online and other outlets. McCulloch-Lovell’s first book of poems, Gone, was published by Janus Press in 2010.
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Founded in 1984, Vermont Studio Center is the largest international artists’ and writers’ residency program in the United States. In its first 35 years, VSC has hosted more than 20,000 artists and writers, representing every state in the U.S. and more than 50 nations, from Kyrgyzstan to Uzbekistan and from Argentina to Zimbabwe. VSC alumnx and Visiting Writers and Artists include a Who’s Who list from the arts-and-culture community throughout the past 35 years.
VSC’s mission is to provide studio residencies in an inclusive, international community, honoring creative work as the communication of spirit through form. Located along the banks of the Gihon River in the historic village of Johnson, Vermont, VSC seeks to foster artistic creativity through community, collaboration, and quiet reflection supported by the unspoiled beauty of the northern Green Mountains. Vermont Studio Center believes in the equality and inherent value of everyone, despite differences of disability, gender, class, sexuality, and race; and thus, is committed to ensuring that the institution adheres to the principles that affirm the dignity of our staff, working artists, collaborators, allies, supporters, and community members.