Greetings WESTAF Board of Trustees:
Hope this message finds you well and happy. I thought I would check in with you after my first two weeks on the job here at WESTAF to offer a very brief update on how things are going.
As you probably know, I am about two thirds of the way through a rigorous WESTAF Onboarding process. In the past two weeks, I have had immersive meetings generally comprised of history, overviews and discussions around most of the major WESTAF products and services. Since January 14, we’ve covered General WESTAF Operations, Budget Management, Multicultural Programs, Communication, Marketing and Professional Development Programs, ZAPP, CaFE, Public Art Archive, GO, YouJudgeIt and Creative Vitality Suite. Next week from 1/28 – 2/1 I’ll be covering IMTour and engaging in a series of meetings with Anthony to zero in on WESTAF’s work with State Arts Agencies, Regional Arts Organizations, the NEA, NASAA, AFTA, private foundations and NGOs. By Friday, 2/1 I will have graduated from WESTAF Academy with my diploma, and I’ll be ready to dive in!
At every step I have been impressed with the level of care and preparation that has gone into this onboarding process. For example, in collaboration with the team, Anthony has prepared an authoritative overview of the history, operations and current thinking around each technology project. Spending this amount of time on the preparation and execution of these meetings has been a necessary disruption for the team, but immensely helpful in every respect. I am grateful.
Initial Contact with Trustees, Colleagues in the Field and Stakeholders
This is an ongoing process, but I did get my feet wet these past few weeks. I have reached out and scheduled lunches with some local Colorado Arts Leaders, including some past WESTAF Trustees. I had an initial call with the Board Chair and also received the Board-Level Transition Plan that addresses priorities around my first 90 days at WESTAF. Next week I’ll be reaching out to Committee Chairs to schedule time to meet by phone to zero in on priorities. The week of 2/4 I’ll be reaching out to say a formal “hello” to each State Arts Agency and Regional Arts Organization. In the next couple of months, I’ll be arranging to spend time in person with each SAA, beginning with participating in the Wyoming Arts Alliance Advocacy Day on 2/7. We also have a meeting with our longtime web development partner Brownrice scheduled for 2/13.
While onboarding work has occupied most of my bandwidth these past few weeks, the Strategic Plan has been top of mind. I’ve hung the Kanban grid in my office (temporarily) to start to absorb the elements of the plan and align our day-to-day thinking around it. Thanks to Erin’s presentation to the staff (before I arrived), I can detect an eagerness and appetite among the team to get going with this process, which is wonderful. The team and I are looking forward to meeting with Erin and Tamara from 2/5 – 2/6 to begin to map out this process.
Team and Office Culture
Beginning Monday, 1/28, we’ll be embarking on all-team 10-15 minute Daily Stand Ups in the morning when the whole team gathers in a circle and very briefly checks in on their individual priorities, dependencies, meetings, deadlines, etc. I’m hoping this will help to build ownership and appreciation around the complete tapestry of awesome WESTAF projects and programs. At the very least, it will help me with names, faces and roles! I’ve also instituted weekly 30-minute 1:1 check in meetings with direct reports to run through priorities and to-dos. It’s worth mentioning here that the WESTAF office maintains an extremely orderly and professional workplace — a real testament to WESTAF leadership.
Just a quick word about how the government shutdown has impacted WESTAF: As of December 12, WESTAF had about $300,000 in funding requests submitted to the National Endowment for the Arts. This amount remains unpaid through the partial government shutdown. Of that total, about half supports WESTAF’s general program work and has a direct impact on cash flow. There appears to be movement on the shutdown today with the President opening the government for at least three weeks. Finance staff will be sure to check the bank account for the $300,000 delayed payment as well as submit the January funding request of an additional $74,000. With even a brief reprieve of the shutdown, any future shutdown and the corresponding effect on cash flow can be managed.
There’s lots more percolating of course but I’m trying not to overwhelm us. However, if you have any questions or comments don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
In the meantime, I’m looking forward to seeing many of you again at the Board Meeting in Salt Lake City on 2/27 – 2/28.
Thank you for the privilege of leading WESTAF and for the good work that you do.