August 06, 2009

Lucy-Desi Center Names New Director

As reported by The Post-Journal, Jamestown, NY: After months of uncertainty, the Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Center is ready to move toward a future that, by all accounts, looks bright.

The center's future began Monday, when Falconer native Corie Curtis took the helm at the center as its new executive director. Ms. Curtis, who has more than a decade's worth of experience in marketing, strategic planning, event execution, brand identity management and budget development, said the ''timing was absolutely perfect.''

''It's a little ironic,'' she said. ''I was living in Rhode Island in 2002, when an opportunity first became available here at the center. My mother insisted it was the perfect opportunity for me and said she wished I'd move home. But at the time, I liked what I was doing and really didn't want to go anywhere. But this time around, it seemed like everything just lined up and fell into place. I feel much more poised, personally and professionally, to take on this role now as opposed to where I was six years ago.''

Mike LaTone, president of the center's board of directors and its former acting executive director, said he was ''very pleased'' that Ms. Curtis had joined the center. LaTone said hundreds of people from across the country had applied for the position, but said Ms. Curtis was ''the definite standout.''

''There's so much excitement right now from the board and from the employees,'' he said. ''We've got someone in Ms. Curtis who has a lot of energy and enthusiasm. There's so many different directions she'll be going in that it's really hard to characterize it.''

That might be putting it mildly. Less than 48 hours on the job, Ms. Curtis had already put together a lengthy to-do list that included some ''operational fine-tuning,'' an examination of the center's volunteer policy, some ''not-so-glamorous housekeeping things'' to make the center more efficient and cost-effective and time spent more specifically defining the center's overall mission.

''I'm very fortunate to come into something like this,'' she said. ''The house is definitely in order and it's clear to me that this place has been loved for a long time. I think we've got a good, solid team here, a first-class facility and, obviously, an enviable mission. I can't wait to get started.''

Ms. Curtis has spent more than a decade in the hospitality industry and said she wants to bring that focus to the relationships the center has with the community and other organizations it will collaborate with.

''One thing I have learned is that you can't operate in a bubble or be a stand-alone organization,'' she said. ''That's never going to work. Right from the get-go, I am focusing on ways we can leverage our relationships. There is a big focus on tourism in this community and I think it's important for all of the organizations to help one another. It's a win-win for the organizations, for us, and for the community. It's just good business.''

Ms. Curtis holds a degree in advertising and communications from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, R.I. In June 1996, she began work as the university's institutional relations coordinator before becoming its director of special events in November 1996. She spent nearly three years as the university's director of advancement relations before moving to Hospitality Wares Inc. in 2005 as its executive director of operations. In 2007, she became the general manager at Invision Products.

For three years until 2008, she served as the volunteer executive director of the Feed Their Dreams Children's Foundations. She has also worked as a member of the Council for the Advancement & Support of Education and, in 2004, served as the fundraising consultant for the Rhode Island Hospitality & Tourism Association's capital campaign.

''We chose Corie because she is a big part of what's going to put us at the level we want to be at,'' LaTone said. ''There are new things we need to do. In the long future, I see her traveling the country to tell people about this center and not only bring them here but bring our mission - the healing powers of love and laughter - to the world. Everything is in place and we're ready to move forward. She has all our support and I hope the community will embrace her, work with her, get behind her and help us make this thing bigger than it ever has been. The future starts now.''

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