New MPA executive director

Lori Carbonneau is executive director of the McLean Project for the Arts. (Photo by Brian Trompeter)

McLean Project for the Arts’ new leader has plenty on her plate just six weeks into her job, from planning for an art festival this fall and renovations next spring to streamlining operations and building upon the group’s successes.

“Arts have always been an important part of my life,” said Lori Carbonneau, who in early June succeeded MPA’s former executive director, Susan Corrigan. “I really enjoy the content of my work and hope to grow and sustain the organization. There’s a business opportunity to deliver services more efficiently while maintaining the personal touch.”

Carbonneau had served since April 2015 as MPA’s director of information strategy, membership development and special events.  

MPA has had much success in recent years, Carbonneau said. The group’s ArtReach program last year educated about 3,000 Title I school students, senior citizens and people with special needs – a 50-percent participation increase, she said.

“It’s a super-exciting time for us,” said Carbonneau, adding that MPA leaders wish to extend ArtReach to assisted-living centers, aging-in-place communities and home-schoolers.

Carbonneau grew up in Vienna, attended Oakton High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in religion and American studies from Princeton University in 1990, followed by a master’s in business administration from Harvard Business School in 1995.

Her business career has taken her around the United  States and overseas. She did sales and customer-service work with Bausch & Lomb in Rochester, N.Y.; supply-chain management and sales operations for Dell in Austin, Texas; and non-profit consulting and early childhood music and movement education in China. She also helped the Atlanta Opera boost its ticket sales and profitability.

Carbonneau speaks Spanish, German and Mandarin. “When you know enough of a language, you can really immerse yourself in the culture,” she said.

Carbonneau lives in McLean with her husband and children ages 8, 10 and 12. She is active with community groups, including the New Dominion Women’s Club and Offender Aid and Restoration, and enjoys traveling. She and her family each year visit Chautauqua, N.Y., for intellectual stimulation.

MPA selected Carbonneau for her non-profits experience and strong community involvement, said board chairman Joe Wetzel.

Selwa Masri, co-chair of this year’s MPAartfest, said the organization was fortunate to have selected Carbonneau.

“She’s immensely qualified and so dedicated to this,” Masri said. “She has the most impeccable background, educationally and professionally, and is active in our community. She’s a delightful person to work with and very forward-thinking.”

Corrigan, who previously had a lengthy career in non-profit management, retired after leading MPA for 15 months. She left MPA in fine shape, Masri and Wetzel agreed.

“For someone heading a non-profit, you would have thought she was leading a Fortune 500 company,” Masri said.

Corrigan “brought a lot of energy to us,” Wetzel said. “She left behind a real foundation of a path to follow.”

MPA will roll out a new Web site in August and beef up its social-media presence, Carbonneau said.

The organization is gearing up for its 10th annual MPAartfest, which will be held Oct. 2 at McLean Central Park. About 50 artists will display and sell works at the event. MPA also will provide a Children’s Art Walk, plus Science, Technology Engineering, Art and Math [STEAM] activities.

As with other organizations affiliated with the McLean Community Center, MPA’s leaders are searching for temporary relocation sites for when the center closes next spring for an 18-month renovation period.

“We’ve got real estate on the mind,” Wetzel said.

This period will pose challenges, but also provide opportunities for different display spaces, which might lend themselves to solo exhibitions, Carbonneau said.

Ideally, MPA will be able to relocate into the same space as the community center’s other operations, preserving the organizations’ connection, MPA leaders said. A key challenge will be communicating to the public about the pending move and the return to the community center when renovations are done, Wetzel said.

“It’s hard to get that word out and make people understand [the move] is happening and then to unstick it when it’s done,” he said.

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