Executive Professional – Arts & Culture
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Executive professional with deep expertise in building and sustaining non-profit programs and for-profit businesses. Proven team member and collaborator. A successful entrepreneur in printing, publishing, and business consulting. Strategist and facilitator. Expert fundraiser, commercial income developer, with significant grant awards and program delivery. Passionate about diverse community advocacy, elder population community engagement, teaching and collaboration through arts, culture, creative industries, and heritage.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
2017 – Master of Fine Arts, Creative Writing– Antioch University Los Angeles (USA)
2011 – PRINCE2 Project Manager Program – Prince2/OGC/APM Associates (UK)
2009 – Cultural, Leadership and Management Program – CLOA London Leadership Program (UK)
2003 – Bachelor of Arts, Liberal Studies, Communications – Antioch University Seattle (USA)
2003 – Second Concentration BA Cultural (Arts) Policy Development – Antioch University Seattle (USA)
2003 – Foundation Studies in Fine Art – Seattle Academy of Fine Art (now Gage Academy-USA)
1997 – Community News & Marketing Program – Washington State Newspaper Publishers Assoc. (USA)
1995 – Real Estate License – Washington State Licensing (USA)
1993 – Program Management & Staff Supervisor Program – University of Washington/Harborview (USA)
1983 – Associate of Arts Studies – Skagit Valley College / Everett College, Everett & Langley, WA (USA)
1982 – Culinary Arts & Restaurant Management Certificate – Sno-Isle Voc. Skills Center, Everett, (USA)
1982 – Graduate, with commendations, South Whidbey High School – Langley, WA. (USA)
1980 – Centrum Foundation H.S. Gifted Writers Program – Port Townsend, WA. (USA)
Pre-1980 – Loreto College, St. Cuthberts and Hadfield School – Manchester/Derbyshire. (UK)
Since 2001: Creative Sector, Community and Culture Consultant (UK & USA) (18 years)
Dividing my time between select cultural and community development projects in the UK and the USA. These vary, depending on the need of the project, from full operational management of cultural centers, arts buildings, historic sites, and master site plan developments, to design and implementation of individual grant projects, funding development, communications, and marketing plans. Quite often, these are urgent or transitional roles with sudden budget cuts or management changes where my particular skills provide leadership through the transition. European work includes securing, managing and reporting on European Regional Development Funds, European Social Funds, London Councils, English Heritage, and Arts Council grants. USA funding includes tribal, city, county, state, national, and private agencies that fund business, community programs, arts, and cultural projects. More recently, my own teaching work is in historical fiction, memoir, family history collection, and experiential workshops to explore creative potential.
2010 – 2019 Lesley McConnell Consulting, Whidbey Island and London. UK & USA (9 years).
- Working across both countries, deliver communications and marketing plans for both for-profit and non-profit businesses. Development of strategic, business, long-term financial planning, real estate management, and capital project plans. Currently designing and completing websites and content for two veteran organizations and a business enterprise. Designed a community historic district revitalization program and events schedule. Completed a Master of Fine Arts program in Creative Writing. Current work includes a historical fiction novel and screenplay, and a guide for elder planning for families (while I simultaneously cared for my mother at home, through to her transfer to assisted living). In 2015, my key project was to complete a 10,000-mile journey across America’s reservations by road, writing, and photographing the contrasting experience of tourism and poverty. In 2017, my projects included the development of grant proposals to fund collaborative arts and conservation projects in the northwest of England’s Peak District National Park. My teaching work continues to be creative and technical writing, visual arts, storytelling, and bridging artistic work into community activism to engage elders, women and young people in their own stories.
2009 – 2010 Interim Director of Culture & Innovation, Capable Communities Ltd. UK (1 year).
- Co-founder / Interim Director of a community social enterprise organization (UK) with a focus on creating the organization’s first mission/board, establishing operations and financial documentation, creating the business plan and building capacity in community involvement to support the delivery of sustainable projects. After the initial launch, I returned to the USA to care for my mother, transitioning to project-based work, remote working, and continuing my education.
2006 – 2009 Interim Head of Cultural Services (with 2012 Olympics), London. UK (2.5 years).
- Managed 160 staff as the Head of London Borough of Harrow’s Cultural Services. Managed facilities and teams in an outer-London local authority of 200,000+ residents within an ethnically, demographically, and religiously diverse community. Responsible for $25M net budget (capital and revenue) for sports, leisure, arts, events, school music service, venues, and capital leisure projects. Served on London Cultural Improvement Group (CLOA), leading up to London 2012 Olympics.
2005 – 2006 Interim Chief Executive, Arts Culture Harrow, London, UK (1 year).
- Interim Chief Executive driving staff and board restructure of an arts charity of 97 employees, with commercial turnover of $2M. Managed public sector funding and service level agreements for listed status heritage sites, art galleries, museums, commercial arts incubators, theater spaces, commercial rental spaces, and public parks.
2005 – 2007 Senior Consultant for Creative Industries, Prevista Ltd, London, UK (1.5 years).
- Senior consultant and grant writer for creative sector clients such as Arts Council, Learning & Skills Council, National Theatre, Youth Culture TV, Chocolate Factory, WAC Performing Arts & Media College and South London Arts Partnership (a 6-borough creative enterprise project). Project manager of European Social Fund, European Regional Development Fund, Arts Council England, Heritage/Big Lottery, and other grant projects.
2005 Interim Chief Executive, Enfield Arts Partnership, London, UK (6-month project).
- North London cultural agency managing five venues (2 historic sites), studios and galleries for visual, performing and literary arts. Co-developed funding and delivery program for 4-borough, creative entrepreneurship project with European Objective 2 (significant area of deprivation) funds over $9M. Provided support to develop creative sector businesses and an “Undiscovered ArtsFest” event and festival for visual artists.
2001 – 2005 Communications Consultant, Whidbey Island, USA (4 years).
- Working independently on a range of projects in business, community and communications development, delivered business plans, project management guidance, communications strategies, marketing, and brand management for private and public sector clients. Key public relations projects include Communications Plan development for Washington State Arts Commission, and communications plan and marketing collateral for check-stand manufacturer’s merger, rebranding, and re-launch at a national conference in Chicago.
1997 – 2001: Entrepreneur / Consultant, Publisher and Printer (USA) (5 years)
2000 – 2001 Advertising Director, Skagit Weekly Group, Burlington, WA, USA (1 year).
- Merging a group of family-owned, weekly newspapers, developed and trained joint sales and production teams following the sale of my newspaper into a group of 4 broadsheets and over 30 feature publications purchased by the Skagit Publishing Group. Met all sales and budget goals. Launched new magazines and a monthly real estate guide, as well as pioneering a shared profit scheme with a local economic development agency for their annual member services guide.
1997 – 2000 Publisher & COO/CFO, Courier-Times & Printing, Sedro-Woolley, WA, USA (3 years).
- Co-owner of a weekly news and publishing company. Corporate Officer, Business, and Finance Manager. Full-service commercial printer, marketing, and distribution firm. Published subsidiary magazines, newsletters, advertising circulars, including local history, tourism, agriculture, lifestyle, real estate, festivals, and chamber directories. Local distribution of 9,500 weekly newspapers in a rural community. Advertising Director responsible for the creation of the product, managing the sales team, and annual revenue generation of more than $500k in display and classified sales. A feature writer for the weekly paper and more than 20 magazines.
1982 – 1997: Entrepreneur, Hospitality, Community Economic Development (USA) (15 years)
During my early years in the workforce, while raising a family, I was an economic development business professional, project and program manager in healthcare environments, and owned a construction business on Whidbey Island. Earlier, I managed a family restaurant and bar in Union Gap, was a farm grower, farmers’ market developer, and produce shipper in the Lower Yakima Valley, and worked in a variety of food service and sales roles in commercial food production, hospitality, tourism, and International Sales.
- Strategic Planning
- Business Development
- Cultural & Creative Sector Policy
- Capital Projects Design & Delivery
- Facility Operations
- Historic Site Management
- Financial Management
- Budget Planning
- Fiscal Leadership to $25M
- Non-Profit Board Development
- Operating in Sensitive Political Environments
- Fundraising Development
- Commercial Income
- Membership & Gifts
- Public Relations
- Story & Messaging Development
- Website Development
- Social Media Manager
- CRM Systems
- Graphic Design Skills
- Community Relations
- Stakeholder Engagement
- Sector Advocacy
- Senior Management Team
- Motivational Leadership of Public-Facing Services
- Volunteer Recruitment, Management & Training
- Event Planning
- Security & Risk Management
- Public Speaker