New faces at education, culture organization | SierraSun.com

New faces at education, culture organization

Joanna Hartman
Sierra Sun

Courtesy photo/Sierra SunJanet Zipkin, right, was selected by the Squaw Valley Institute as its second professional director. Anne Silvern, left, is the new director of development.

Changes are in store for the Squaw Valley Institute, the fledgling cultural foundation of the high country.

After losing its first executive director, the nonprofit organization has brought on board two new additions to keep the arts and cultural center running strong.

Janet Zipkin was hired in late July to fill the shoes as executive director, and Anne Silvern started Wednesday in the newly created position of director of development.

“They are to take us to a higher level both in more and better programs, and the constant need of a nonprofit for more funding,” said John Wilcox, the institute’s board president.

Both women have impressive resumes, have lived in the Tahoe-Truckee area for a few years and will work for the organization part time.

Zipkin ran a distinguished speaker series at Stanford Business School and when she saw the opening for executive director, said she wanted to get involved.

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“[Squaw Valley Institute] is a little gem ” a readily accessible, year-round source of education and enrichment,” she said.

“One goal is to encourage further community involvement as a result of our presentations, whether it’s getting more residents out to vote or paying more attention to the wildflowers on their next hike,” she added.

Squaw Valley Institute was founded in 2002 to bring the region artistic, cultural, educational and entertainment programs, and to foster a sense of community.

For four years the institute went without staff, operated only by volunteers. But in January 2006, the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association allocated $25,000 to employ director Raine Howe.

In June, however, Howe moved on to work for the Tahoe Forest Hospital Foundation in Incline Village.

“What’s unique about the institute is we’re the only organization in the whole area that does a wide variety of programs on a year-round basis,” Wilcox said.

The institute offers programs and lectures on anything from retirement issues to a photographer’s account of time spent in Pakistan.

“Compared to, say the San Francisco Bay Area or other large city areas, there’s a much smaller amount of culture here … this area is way behind other destination resorts in that area,” Wilcox said. “So we’re trying to grow from a small start to be a substantial institute.”

The primary way to expand the organization is through membership. Silvern was hired as part of this effort because she is particularly gifted in asking for and raising money, Wilcox said.

“We need to concentrate a little bit more on fundraising and the financial side of the business,” said Wilcox. “Membership had grown quite a bit, and we’re just in the middle of a new membership drive. We’re having a high percentage of last year’s member have already renewed, and we are developing some number of new members.”