We welcome Catherine LeClair to the Garrison Institute!
Catherine brings significant experience to her position as the new Director of Development at the Garrison Institute. Previously she was the Director of Foundation and Government Relations for New York City Ballet. Prior to that Catherine was the Director of Development for the American Craft Council and she began her fundraising career in New York City as the Development Associate for the Martha Graham Center of Contemporary Dance.
Catherine also has experience in marketing and education. She was the Marketing Director for the Bangor Symphony Orchestra and the Education Coordinator for the Penobscot Theatre Company, both in Bangor, Maine. Catherine has a B.A. in Theater Studies from Wellesley College.
We’re delighted that Catherine has joined our team and to introduce her to our community. We asked her a few questions about herself and what drew her to the Institute’s work.
You started your career in marketing and education. Why did you transition into development?
When I was marketing director of the Bangor Symphony Orchestra I watched my development colleague with some envy. What appealed to me was the way she seemed to involve people more deeply with the organization’s mission and programs. Her focus was building and strengthening a community of supporters who cherished the whole organization. This suited my personality better than the more short-term approach to selling tickets to concerts that I was doing. So when I moved to New York City nearly 13 years ago I looked for development positions and not marketing ones even though that meant starting at the junior level again.
A lot has changed in the marketing and development worlds since then—at least as I’ve observed in the NYC arts scene—and there is greater emphasis on building relationships with the audience in ways that are meaningful to them, so I think marketing and development are more aligned than ever. It’s a continuum of relationship with patrons and donors that we are developing together in order to build a community across the spectrum of involvement with the Institute.
What attracted you to the Garrison Institute?
Everything! When I visited the website and saw the words “The Urgent Need to Slow Down” float across my screen as the title of a Garrison blog post, I got excited. Then I read the mission, and it was like a bell going off. I said to myself, I get this. The possibility for my personal contemplative practice and professional life to be combined was compelling, to say the least. Plus, though I’m not a Catholic, when I went to Catholic school as a girl, I secretly wanted to be a nun. It was probably because of the sparkly rosary beads! But now working at this former monastery, I am having something of the romantic, cloistered experience I craved as a kid.
What are your first impressions of the Garrison Institute?
Beautiful and serene. A place filled with spirit. Lovely and inviting grounds.
What part of our work inspires you the most and why?
The impact that inner transformation can have on the external world. We make the world in our image, so if we want to live in a peaceful, verdant, joyful, fun, loving, compassionate, resilient world, then we need to be all those things on the inside. It’s a simple equation, but hard to do, especially when it comes to making a lasting change within ourselves. Garrison provides an opportunity for people to practice this.
What is the last thing you saw or heard that made you laugh hard?
This thing my boyfriend does with his face when he wants to make me smile… I can’t explain it very well, but it’s very, very silly and funny.