This Fellowship program seeks to answer the question: What’s next? and looks to the future by bringing together insightful and energetic leadership and emerging models in a convergence of participatory practice and action learning. The new frontier of creative leadership requires new competencies, skills and sensitivities that are adaptive, engaging and relevant.  This program aims to introduce an alternative model for professional development that balances traditional structure with increased creativity and experimentation.

The September session focused on creating personal vision statements which we hope will anchor the Fellows work throughout the year.

Guest Speakers

Lex Leifheit​ became executive director of SOMArts (South of Market Arts, Resources, Technology and Services) in October 2008. Since that time, major initiatives have included the following:

  • Established a 9­month incubator for community­-focused creative leaders
  • The Commons Curatorial Residency Program
  • Growing operating budget from $800k to $1.6 million, full­time staff from 1 to 5 and number of nonprofits served annually to 100+
  • Implemented numerous business practices to enhance the long­term stability of the organization including: board development, financial management and reporting, strategic planning, professional development and diversification of revenue.
  • Grew individual donor base from <10 people to 200+ donors in four years.
  • Leveraged numerous technology partnerships—including the Bay Area Video Coalition’s Neighborhood News Network
  • The Broadband Technology Opportunity Program—to extend the reach of arts programming and support services.

In addition to producing and presenting over 70 events annually, SOMArts serves more than 100 Bay Area nonprofits each year with production consultation, venue and accessibility services, staging, and fiscal sponsorship. Ongoing partnerships were established to offer free professional development for artists on a monthly basis.

Also during Leifheit’s tenure SOMArts has made significant improvements to the facility and renegotiated a long­term lease for its satellite space at Pier 70. Infrastructure initiatives have included extensive board development, implementation of extended benefits for staff, and strategic surveying of artists, clients and curators.

Previous employers include Wesleyan University’s Green Street Arts Center and Center for the Arts in Middletown, Connecticut, as well as the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. Leifheit has served as a grants panelist for Cultural Equity Grants and public art selection in San Francisco and for the National Endowment for the Arts. She is a regular speaker at Bay Area universities and symposia and a contributing writer for arts publications. In 2013 she had the honor of being one of 12 “up and coming” voices in the arts who were selected for The Arts Dinnervention Project, a gathering conceived of by Barry Hessenius and supported by WESTAF. She is currently one of 50 national and international executive directors selected for National Arts Strategies’ Chief Executive Program. She lives in San Francisco. | visit Lex’s LinkedIn Profile

Maria Jensen, Public Partnerships Manager, SFMoMA, Founding Director ArtPadSF – Maria Jenson has established a strong national and international business and art world network as a result of her many years in the art industry. She arrived to the Bay Area almost 6 years ago from Venice, Ca.  She launched a private underground gallery/salon called Salon Oblique as a social experiment and response to the white box gallery experience.  Salon Oblique events in a short while became SRO events that ended up in Black Book magazine and received other notable lifestyle press articles.  Additionally some of the artists that exhibited at Salon Oblique secured relationships with notable galleries and museums.

When she arrived in the Bay Area she launched ArtPadSF with Chip Conley in 2010.  ArtPadSF was an independent art fair that took place at the Phoenix Hotel.  This fair enjoyed a successful three-year run. In 2010, she also served as the director of an independent emerging art fair in Miami during Art Basel Miami Beach.

In 2013 Maria was cherry picked to join SFMOMA’s Marketing and Communications team and is enjoying her role in external affairs where she works across all departments and is a key collaborator on many civic art events and an active participant in the arts community.  She also liaises with the mayor’s office regarding funding for the arts in San Francisco.  She is on the launch committee for Code and Canvas’ Artist in Residency program that launches March 2015, is on the board of Sites Unseen, a public art project being organized and produced by Wendi Norris, gallery owner and President of the San Francisco Art Dealers Association, Dork Keehn SF Arts Commissioner, public artist and former development director for The Bay Lights, and Jessica Shaefer, consultant and former Director of Communication for Creative Time. Maria is also on the board of KALA Art Institute in Berkeley and is on the host committee of the startup Art Fair launching May 2015. | visit Maria LinkedIn Profile

Group Notes