At SJMA, volunteers make the world go round. More than 150 volunteers contribute over 12,450 hours of time to make the Museum’s many programs possible and pleasurable. Volunteers are a big part of SJMA’s unpretentious, friendly face. They help customers in the shop find just the right gift; they visit tens of thousands of kids annually through our Let’s Look at Art program; they have lively conversations with thousands of visitors on drop-in tours; they guide hundreds of families through hands-on art activities at Community Days; they are eagle-eyed “spotters” for SJMA’s annual benefit auction; they scrutinize budget reports on the finance committee; they give pro-bono legal counsel; they have been glam models for fashion shows and less-glam filing assistants tucked away in our basement offices.
SJMA could not run full-speed-ahead without our volunteers, who give most generously of their time and myriad abilities. Art fills a special role in the creative lives of our behind-the-scenes extended family. The volunteer with whom you chat may be a biochemist; a retired lawyer; a speaker of multiple languages; a yoga instructor; a revitalized engineer on a break from the high-tech grind; a speech therapist; a physicist; a pioneer of LEDs; a military veteran; and even an anesthesiologist nurse. They share with the public their deep personal belief in the important role art plays in our lives—emotionally and intellectually, for the right brain and left.
“Art is like our opposable thumb: it makes us human and defines civilization.” So says our outgoing board president Mike Nevens, who was SJMA’s de facto volunteer-in-chief from 2009–2013 and has served as a trustee for over twenty years. This was Nevens’s second stint chairing the board, a task he took on during the nadir of the recession. It was my pleasure to work closely with Mike to initiate SJMA’s ambitious strategic plan while also steering through the downturn and nonetheless successfully ramping up public programs. His counsel and astute political advocacy helped clear the way for SJMA’s resurgence of growth. The senior staff and I thank Mike for his leadership, his sound advice and ready ear, and his inspiring commitment to this Museum—as both board president and as a generous philanthropist alongside his wife Yvonne, who similarly contributes her great energies to SJMA on multiple fronts. Nevens made time for SJMA amid many business commitments. A former managing partner of Global Technology Practice at McKinsey and Company and founder of the firm’s Silicon Valley practice, Nevens serves on the boards of Altera and Net App, Inc. He is a senior advisor to Permira, an international private equity firm, and is a member of the Advisory Council of Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, where he is an adjunct professor of Corporate Governance and Strategy. We are grateful that he will continue to serve as a trustee and as a member of the executive committee, with a focus on future growth and (so we promise) fewer routine meetings on his calendar.
In 2012, 26.5% of all Americans volunteered in some capacity. Amazingly, 42.2% of those over 25 with college degrees were also volunteers. I thank our dedicated, smart, and sometimes surprising volunteers for choosing to make SJMA such an important part of their lives and for giving back through the arts.
Oshman Executive Director
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