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Behind the Scenes with our Interim CEO

Sandy D. McDade recently stepped into the role of ArtsFund Interim CEO. Sandy has been on the ArtsFund Board of Trustees since 2007 and served as Board Chair 2014-2016. He retired from the Weyerhaeuser Company in 2014 after a 34-year career that culminated in his service as Senior Vice President and General Counsel beginning in 2006. We recently sat down with Sandy to learn more about his connection to the arts and to ArtsFund.

What initially got you involved with ArtsFund?

Weyerhaeuser Company has been involved with ArtsFund since day 1 and a company leader has always been on the Board. Weyerhaeuser’s Assistant General Counsel Rachel McCall is on the Board today. I started with ArtsFund in 2007 when one of Weyerhaeuser’s senior managers retired. I was excited to serve on the Board, but had no idea it would lead to a dozen years (including two as chair) and now as Interim CEO.

You’ve come out of recent retirement to take on the interim position.  What draws you to ArtsFund in this moment? 

ArtsFund is such an important organization for the fabric of the arts in our community, and I am even more convinced of that now having a close-up view of the organization. Mari advanced the organization in so many ways, particularly by leadership and support of equity and inclusion in our arts community. I want to do what I can to sustain and nurture that progress and make sure nothing is lost while ArtsFund finds its next permanent leader.*

As ArtsFund’s Board Chair, you attended each of the grantee organizations over the course of a year and blogged about it—what were the biggest takeaways?

I was impressed by how much is happening in the arts at any one point in time in this region, and by how much I had to learn. So much interesting and world class visual and performing art by so many organizations I had never been to before that project. It was a rich learning experience that permanently expanded my horizons outside of my old comfortable favorites.

(click here to enjoy Sandy’s 2014-2015 blog)

Word has it your mom ran a ballet school here in South Seattle?

It’s true. She taught ballet in Seahurst for almost 50 years and I still run across her students all over town – checking in at SeaTac, in meetings, at performances. My favorite story was the unfamiliar gal who approached my brother in a business meeting several years ago and whispered in his ear: “Tell you Mother I am standing up straight!” I never danced but as a kid Mom dragged us to every ballet that came to town.  When I started going to the ballet again as an adult I re-discovered a deeply ingrained dance appreciation. Thanks, Mom.

What’s your most recent arts activity?  

I have been able to see so much in the last couple months and have many more planned in the weeks ahead. I hesitate to name favorites, but will say the show I am looking forward to the most is Seussical the Musical (Jr. edition) at my grandson’s grade school in Ballard next month. A third grader, one of his big concerns when snow closed the school was cancelled rehearsals!

*Sandy will be serving as Interim CEO through the end of Campaign ’19 and until a permanent President & CEO is appointed. For more information on ArtsFund’s leadership transition, click here.