A grateful goodbye to five board members

This month, the Alliance said a heartfelt goodbye and a hearty thank you to five amazing arts education leaders who, after many years of service, retired from our board. 
 
They are Carol Cosivar, current State PTA President; Leslie Johnson, Director, Education & Outreach for Center Theatre Group; Sarah Murr, who recently retired from her position as Global Corporate Citizenship, Community Investor for The Boeing Company; Frances Phillips, Program Officer for the Walter & Elise Haas Foundation; and Jim Thomas, the Visual & Performing Arts Coordinator for the Orange County Deptartment of Education. 
 
We are grateful for their smart, savvy and passionate leadership for arts education in California. Laurie Schell, executive director of the Alliance from 2000 – 2010 shared the following tributes their individual contributions. 
 
Sarah Murr (pictured left) was a singular, powerful spokesperson for the Alliance among her colleagues in the corporate philanthropic community, she was able to bridge the important divide between the arts and the science and technology education communities. For Sarah, it was always “both/and” rather than “either/or”.  She was instrumental in imagining, then supporting, the depth of the Alliance’s partnership with Arts Orange County and the Alliance’s Local Advocacy Network.
 
Jim Thomas’ (pictured above) presence on the board speaks volumes about his commitment to the organization and the field. An enlightened and dedicated arts education leader, Jim has created the kind of partnerships and collaborations among stakeholders in Orange County that mirror the Alliance’s work at the state level. 
 
Carol Kocivar’s (pictured above) service on the Alliance board and the partnership between the two organizations is highlighted by significant collaborative programmatic and legislative victories: Arts Learning in Action, Coach in Every Corner, Insider’s Guide to Arts Education, $105 million for arts education, and more. It always started with Carol getting this look in her eye…. Something that likely couldn’t happen would be followed by lots of phone calls and will-bending. And the rest is history.
 
As board chair, Leslie Johnson (pictured left) was a master at setting the tone, at inviting reflection and participation; then reminding everyone they were there for a reason and it was time to get to work.  With a background in both education and the arts and a gift for organization and management, Leslie’s comments and insights in board discussions are borne of an ability to see, visualize and anticipate the movement and interaction of all the chess players on the board. 
 
As respected member of the philanthropic community, Frances Phillips (pictured above) understood the larger world of nonprofit finance and funding in addition to arts and arts education, and immediately elevated our conversations to a higher level. Frances was the perfect chair to lead the organization through governance restructuring, a critically important and politically sensitive time for the Alliance. 
 
We wish them all the best!