T he Slate Valley Museum said goodbye to an important player and welcomed two new faces to its staff last week.
The board of trustees recently announced the appointment of an interim director to oversee the museum following the Nov. 12 departure of former Executive Director Kathryn Weller, who has accepted a position as chief of education and visitor services at the New York State Museum in Albany.
“Working with Kate Weller has been a wonderful experience,” said Molly Celani, president of the museum’s board of trustees. “We wish her success in her new endeavor, and we are excited to have the opportunity of welcoming two experienced professionals to the museum staff.”
Sarah Kijowski, who was the assistant director and educator at the Slate Valley Museum from 2008 to 2010, will take over the responsibilities and direction of the institution as the interim director through May 2014, at which time a permanent director will be appointed.
Kijowski grew up in Crown Point and learned at a young age that history can be powerful in defining communities. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and a masters in history museum studies through SUNY Potsdam and Oneonta, respectively.
Following an internship at the Adirondack Museum, she opted to remain in upstate New York to work in museums that serve rural communities like the one in which she was raised. Prior to her recent return to the Slate Valley Museum, Kijowski worked as a development associate at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, raising funds through grant writing and corporate relations.
Sarah Kijowski’s personable, down-to-earth style of community-building combined with her visionary approach to program development will be integral in expanding the potential of the Slate Valley Museum during her tenure as interim director,” officials said.
The board also recently hired Serena Kovalosky as an exhibitions and marketing consultant. Originally from Whitehall, Kovalosky worked in Boston and Montreal before returning to the Slate Valley region and brings 30 years’ experience in tourism, marketing and exhibition/event planning to the museum.
Kovalosky is passionate about weaving tourism, arts and culture into the economic development plans of rural communities. She was the original co-founder and former executive director of Open Studios of Washington County, which was featured as an excellent example of cultural tourism marketing in “Professional Artist” magazine. She was the guest curator for the 2012 Landscapes for Landsake exhibition in Coila, N.Y., a major fundraiser for the Agricultural Stewardship Association, and she has organized conventions and events for corporations around the world through international travel management companies such as Thomas Cook.
Kovalosky is well-known in the region as a professional sculptor and in the blogosphere as a promoter and supporter of the arts and culture.
“It is an honor to be putting the best of my talents in the service of this jewel of a museum,” Kovalosky said. “Sarah and I are already discussing ways in which we can engage the local community and develop relationships with the entire Slate Valley region for the benefit of businesses and residents alike.”
Her first project with the museum will be “Slate as Muse,” a National Art Exhibition scheduled to open in 2014. She will be collaborating with Kijowski and the museum’s education coordinator, Bob Isherwood, on programming that will support the museum’s mission of celebrating the heritage of the Slate Valley.
“I am excited to join the Slate Valley Museum as the interim director during this leadership transition,” she said. “This is truly a remarkable place, and I am grateful for the opportunity to come back and use my skills to support the museum as it continues to serve its community and to help shape its future. I encourage everyone to stop by and say hello.”
Celani and the board are looking forward to working with both professionals.
“The combined expertise of Sarah and Serena will enable the Slate Valley Museum to extend its influence deeper into the Slate Valley region and beyond,” Celani said. “Their personal goals reflect those of the museum’s mission and blend with our strategic plan for the next decade.”