For the past six months, ArtWorks has been led by a trio of women: CEO Lauren Hannan Shafer, Founder and Artistic Director Tamara Harkavy and Chief Programming Officer Colleen Houston. As part of a major restructuring, the board of directors has announced the promotion of Colleen Houston to the position of CEO & artistic director.
ArtWorks, founded in 1996, creates public art throughout the city each summer, primarily its 190 large-scale murals, employing youth apprentices working under the supervision of experienced, professional artists.
Houston first encountered ArtWorks as a youth apprentice in the summer of 1997. Returning after college, she has spent the last 17 years working in a variety of capacities, overseeing the organization’s public art and youth employment programs, and leading several important organizational initiatives in human resources, organizational culture, workplace safety and development.
According to a statement from Board Chair Joe Muraca and CEO Shafer, “Her commitment to our mission, her resilience and creativity and her continuity as an ArtWorks leader are the perfect combination to ensure we can keep empowering our city’s youth and supporting our local artists.”
Houston succeeds Shafer, who was appointed as CEO in the fall of 2019. During her time as CEO, Lauren realized there was a better way to structure the organization for the future using the talent within ArtWorks. The board credits her for empowering a long-term staff member to take the helm of the organization. Shafer will return to the ArtWorks board and remain an active mentor to Houston.
Founder Harkavy is stepping back from her role as artistic director to focus on projects outside the organization. Under her leadership, ArtWorks has employed more than 3,600 youth and 3,200 creative professionals over the past 24 years. Her work has directly contributed to the region’s global reputation as an arts destination.
A celebration of this transition will take place as coronavirus restrictions are lifted.