Edmonds Center for the Arts on Monday announced the appointment of Kathy Liu as ECA’s next executive director. Liu will assume the role on Wednesday, Nov. 1, succeeding ECA’s founding Executive Director Joe McIalwain, who reached the end of his tenure after 17 years with the organization in August. ECA’s Associate Executive Director Lori Meagher will serve as interim executive director until Liu comes onboard.
“Kathy’s passion for the performing arts, commitment to community and partnerships, clear investment in ECA’s mission, vision, and values, and specifically ECA’s commitment to equity and becoming an anti-racist organization, is truly inspiring,” Meagher said. “Kathy will be joining a talented team of enthusiasts and I look forward to our partnership as ECA’s executive leadership team. I am excited to welcome Kathy’s vision for ECA and enhancing our impact in the communities we serve, especially as we enter this next chapter in our organization’s history.”
Liu’s appointment comes after an extensive, nearly year-long executive search. A leadership transition team of staff and ECA and Edmonds Public Facilities District (EPFD) board members was formed in September 2022 to partner with m/Oppenheim Executive Search to find the next executive leader. “We feel strongly that Kathy, as ECA’s next executive director, is the kind of collaborative and dedicated leader who can lead us forward through our strategic planning and visioning of the organization’s future, said EPFD Board President Ray Liaw. “Her strengths in contributed revenue generation, authentic relationship building, and community engagement and outreach efforts will take ECA to new heights.”
As executive director, Liu will lead the advancement of ECA’s strategic plan and ensure the organization’s goals are consistent with the organization’s mission, vision and values. According to an ECA announcement, this will include expanding recognition of ECA as a premier performing arts center in Washington and beyond, broadening education and community engagement experiences to meet the needs of the community, attracting a new and diverse generation of performing arts patrons and supporters, and working diligently to ensure the accessibility of inclusivity of ECA and it programs.
“It’s an honor to be asked to lead Edmonds Center for the Arts as its second executive director following Joe McIalwain,” Liu said. “ECA is a strong voice for the performing arts and their impact on a vibrant community, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining the ECA team, contributing to its future success. I look forward to immersing myself in the greater Edmonds community and working closely with our external partners. Together with the talented ECA team, I’m eager to continue bringing excellent and exciting artistic programming to Edmonds, Snohomish County, and beyond, and serving our local communities through our dynamic and diverse education and community engagement programs.”
“Throughout her career, Liu has led teams of varying sizes and worked closely with Boards, committees, volunteers, local government, and community stakeholders, said ECA Board President Lindsay Geyer. “She brings to ECA a deep dedication to arts and culture, collaboration, diversity, teamwork, and transparent communication. These values will undoubtedly serve her well as she joins the ECA team, lending her experience and skills to stewarding ECA’s mission into the future.”
A lifelong lover of the performing arts, Liu brings more than 15 years of nonprofit arts administration and fundraising experience to ECA. Most recently, she served as director of advancement for the Asian Cultural Council, a global arts and culture non-profit, heading the marketing/communications and development departments. Prior to that she was director of major gifts for The Metropolitan Opera, where she led a team responsible for $30 million-plus in annual gifts alongside special campaign fundraising and various donor and ticketing services.
Liu has held prior leadership roles at New York City Center and American Ballet Theater,where her accomplishments included developing and implementing cultural membership benefits for the city-wide IDNYC program, coordinating annual and capital funding between the nonprofit organizations and local and national government, and managing artist fellowships. In all of her roles, she has led strategic planning development, working closely with board members and cross-team staff.
Liu’s leadership and expertise has been recognized in the greater arts field. The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs has invited her to serve multiple terms on the funding panels for music, dance, and multi-disciplinary organizations, and she has presented and taught at various industry conferences.
Liu is also an amateur violinist and frequently plays with community orchestras and chamber ensembles.