The Board of Directors of Northern Clay Center announces the appointment of Leah Hughes to succeed NCC Director, Sarah Millfelt.

After eight years at the helm and 20 years of service, Board Chair Craig Bishop reflected on the legacy she is passing to Hughes, “Through Sarah’s advocacy for ceramic arts, her desire to see Northern Clay Center scale new heights, her love and empathy for her colleagues, a desire for equity, and sound fiscal management she has created a magical institution.”

With 15 years of experience developing and implementing comprehensive arts education programs for numerous organizations including; Artistry in Bloomington, Minnetonka Center for the Arts, and Highpoint Center for Printmaking, Hughes, in the role of Executive Director ensures a continuation of meaningful and enriching ceramic arts opportunities at NCC.  

Mary K. Bauman, Vice Chair of the NCC Board and Creative Director at the American Craft Council, noted, “’Rock Star’ were the two words that became a constant refrain as we learned more about Leah in the interview process.”

She's a creative thinker, innovative planner, and mindful leader who excels at cultivating strong relationships between staff, arts organizations, and community partners alike. Hughes specializes in building sustainable relationships to further the arts and bring groups of people together to express themselves, dialogue, engage, and create. As a chief ambassador to the community, Hughes works closely with all levels of stakeholders to build and nurture mutually beneficial relationships in the local arts community and beyond.

Transitioning to NCC from her post at Artistry, where she began in 2012 as the Director of Education, Hughes has increased arts access for diverse and underserved populations, leading long-range, fiscally viable programming initiatives. Her success in this role led to her more recent promotions. In 2017 she became the Director of Community Partnerships and a year later, she took on the role of Senior Director of Operations. Because of her commitment to a balanced management approach, equity in the field, and her ability to nurture sustainable growth the Board was enthusiastically unanimous in their decision to bring Hughes on to lead NCC.

Hughes commented on her new role, “I am very excited to join the staff, board and the NCC community and to be a part of the continued efforts to advance the ceramic arts in all forms. This is truly an amazing team and the growth and advancement of NCC's programs and reputation under Sarah’s leadership has been remarkable and inspiring. I believe that we can continue this momentum, expanding NCC's engagement in our local, regional and national communities and continue to excel as a non-profit ceramic arts organization.”

Hughes earned her BFA at Minnesota State University-Mankato and her MFA at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.

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