Will Call #50: Hancock Shaker Village Appoints Jennifer Trainer Thompson New President and CEO

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Pittsfield, Mass.—The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced Wednesday, September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson as president and chief executive officer. Ms. Thompson will assume her new role at the end of the year from her current post as senior vice president of partnerships and external affairs at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA).

The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson to the positions of president and CEO of the landmark institution (photo, Robert S. Colantuono).

The Board of Trustees of Hancock Shaker Village announced September 14 the appointment of Jennifer Trainer Thompson to the positions of president and CEO of the landmark institution (photo, Robert S. Colantuono).

Ms. Thompson has over 28 years of experience in arts administration and culture in the Berkshires. One of a small team that developed MASS MoCA beginning in 1988, she has been integral to the evolution of the museum, having organized and developed several departments, including development, membership, public relations, and most recently partnerships and external affairs. As MASS MoCA’s director of development from 1988 to 2012, she helped raise some $70 million for operations and programs, including the Permanence Campaign that launched the museum’s endowment and Sol LeWitt building. More recently, she has focused on partnerships, where she worked closely with museum leadership, institutional partners, and other supporters to identify new ways to leverage an expanding network to further the museum’s core mission both regionally and nationally.

If you missed our conversation with Jennifer Trainer Thompson this past Spring about her latest book, “Fresh Fish,” be sure to give it a listen. Warning—your mouth may water uncontrollably!

In conjunction with an annual, highly successful New York gala for MASS MoCA that she created and branded, she has worked with performers ranging from David Byrne to Laurie Anderson, as well as artists such as Jenny Holzer, Darren Waterston, and others to develop unique limited-editions of their work for MASS MoCA’s benefit. Those in the Berkshires know her also as one of the models for photographer Gregory Crewdson’s work, most recently in his critically acclaimed show, “Cathedral of the Pines.”

Richard Selzer, acting chairman of the board of Hancock Shaker Village, introduced Jennifer Trainer Thompson as the newly appointed President and CEO (photo, Jason Velázquez).

Richard Selzer, acting chairman of the board of Hancock Shaker Village, introduced Jennifer Trainer Thompson as the newly appointed President and CEO (photo, Jason Velázquez).

“We are so pleased to have Jennifer join Hancock Shaker Village at this pivotal moment in its history. She has a keen understanding of the region and what is required to make a living history museum a robust, exciting place,” said Dan Cain, chairman of Board of Trustees. “She is a modern-day renaissance woman who possesses the intelligence, skills, style, and a passion for art and community that will propel Hancock Shaker Village into the next decade.”

“There are few professionals in the museum world as multi-talented as Jennifer Thompson,” said Michael Conforti, former head of the Clark Art Institute and president of the Association of Art Museum Directors, as well as current MASS MoCA trustee. “Her expertise from fundraising to program development has been fundamental to the remarkable success of MASS MoCA over the years and those talents will make her an extraordinary leader for Hancock Shaker Village.”

“I am honored to lead Hancock Shaker Village at this great time of opportunity and transformation,” said Ms. Thompson. “The Village is a jewel in the crown of Berkshire cultural organizations, and it is so many things: a museum, an historic village, a library, a working farm—not to mention an inspiration for innovation, design, and beauty. Tremendous opportunities exist to build upon the foundation and successes of the past, starting with the collection and the property, and identifying innovative approaches to presenting these with a special relevance to the region and today’s audiences.”

Jennifer Trainer Thompson is expected to bring a wealth of arts/cultural institution experience to Hancock Shaker Village (photo, Jason Velázquez).

Jennifer Trainer Thompson is expected to bring a wealth of arts/cultural institution experience to Hancock Shaker Village (photo, Jason Velázquez).

Ms. Thompson is the author of 22 books, including ten acclaimed cookbooks, as well as articles on design, science, art, and lifestyle that have been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Travel & Leisure, Omni, and Harvard Magazine. In conjunction with her books, which range in subject from nuclear power to raising heirloom chickens, she has appeared on hundreds of talk shows, such as Good Morning America, CNN, National Public Radio, Live with Regis, and Fox News.

Ms. Thompson will replace Linda Steigleder, who concludes her term as president and CEO in December 2016 after leading Hancock Shaker Village for five years. Ms. Steigleder was instrumental in raising $1.5 million to improve public access and visitor amenities at the historic site, adapt restrooms to handicapped standards, replace and repair roofs, repaint and restore the exteriors of 20 out of the 23 buildings in the Village, including the iconic Meeting House and Laundry and Machine Shop. Under her leadership, the Village energized its public program offerings, completed a partnership study with the Berkshire Museum, collaborated with four other museums on a major exhibition, The Shakers, America’s Quiet Revolutionaries, ramped up the exhibition of contemporary art at the site and programs delivered by living artists and makers, reconnected with lapsed donors, improved the museum’s fundraising event formats and net results, stabilized its finances with a balanced budget to fund all of its exhibits, programs, working farm, facilities maintenance and the presentation of its extensive collection of Shaker artifacts.

About Hancock Shaker Village

Centrally located in the Berkshires, at the intersection of Routes 20 and 41 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Hancock Shaker Village is a living history museum and farm. The 750-acre National Historic Landmark depicts daily life at the Shakers’ City of Peace through its 220 years. The fully restored Village includes 20 historic buildings, heirloom medicinal and vegetable gardens, 22,000 examples of authentic Shaker furniture, crafts, tools, and clothes, as well as heritage breed farm animals and hiking trails. There are tours, craft and cooking demonstrations, lectures and workshops, and a variety of activities for children and families, plus a museum store and café. An interactive audio tour is available in English, French, Italian, and German.

Hancock Shaker Village is open for fall self-guided touring from 10:00am to 5:00pm daily through Sunday, October 30, 2016. Beginning on Monday, October 31 and continuing through Wednesday, November 23, guided tours will be offered daily at 11:00am, with additional tours at 2:00pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For more information, call 800.817.1137 or see www.hancockshakervillage.org.

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