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Artlink searching for new director

After 9 years, Washler to join Lincoln nonprofit wing


Artlink Executive Director Deb Washler will resign from the nonprofit organization for a position with Lincoln Financial Foundation, Artlink announced Wednesday.

After nine years, Washler said she’s leaving the gallery on a high note with the annual members’ show Friday marking the end of her tenure.

Effective July 31, Washler will step down to become program officer for Lincoln Financial Foundation, a nonprofit organization supported by Lincoln Financial Group.

The search for a new executive director will begin immediately.

“It’s always nice to hang the biggest show as your final farewell,” Washler said. “I’ve done a lot of great things here, and I think that the next person is poised to do even more wonderful things.”

During her time with Artlink, Washler oversaw the introduction of children’s art classes, weekend programs for Artlink members and the Co.Starters program, an arts and business incubator.

She said she is most proud of the move Artlink made to the Auer Center in 2011. The gallery is now able to hold three exhibitions simultaneously; the visibility has increased attendance.

“I am so pleased with the move our organization made to come to the Auer Center. I think that has set Artlink to be seen more by the community,” she said. “To have classrooms and hold programs like the incubator and just to have the capacity has been a highlight.”

With plenty of experience writing grants, Washler will now play a part in funding them. As the program officer, she will work with executive directors who are looking for additional funding, which Washler said she can relate to and provide some insight.

“It’s kind of the other side of the coin. I’ve spent 13, 14 years in nonprofit arts administration here in Fort Wayne, and I have written many grants with funders. So now I have the opportunity to work with organizations in helping them fulfill their mission and at the same time, fulfill what the foundation would like to see happen with foundation dollars,” Washler said.

“I understand what an executive director feels each day when they go in to work and start writing those grants and the pressures they’re dealing within their organization, and all of that has an impact when you’re looking at funding.

“The fact that I understand what it’s like to be in that seat should make me a better program officer,” she said.