As 2017 comes to a close, Arts Ed NJ will be losing one of our visionary leaders. Kris Wenger will be retiring at the end of the month, after helping to lead Arts Ed NJ since the very inception of the organization,
This news creates mixed emotions, as we are all happy for Kris and her husband Ken as they move on to the next exciting phase of their lives, while at the same time a little sad we will no longer have Kris’ wisdom and passion to help guide our work.
I first met Kris nearly 15 years ago when she was leading Young Audiences of New Jersey and we were on various committees convened by the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to review arts education strategies for the state. Little did I know at the time that our first meeting would end up developing into a professional partnership unlike any other I have had.
It would be hard to overstate the role Kris has played in developing Arts Ed NJ and leading the transformation of arts education across our state. Before Arts Ed NJ was even an idea… Kris was at the table bring her years of experience to the effort, researching models from across the country, helping to develop the vision and mission for a new organization and then ultimately becoming the first leader of what was then the New Jersey Arts Education Partnership.
Everything we have accomplished over our first decade (and the several years of planning before) is marked with Kris’s fingerprints. Of particular note is the instrumental role she played in the development of the first Arts Education Census, the Model Schools in the Arts Program, the State Pilot Policy Program with Americans for the Arts, the Arts Ed Now Campaign and one of her lasting legacies…saving and revitalizing the Governor’s Awards in Arts Education.
We, as a statewide community, have been truly blessed by Kris’ contributions to arts education across the entire arc of her career. As an organization, Arts Ed NJ would not be thriving without her critical contributions. And on a personal note, I would not have had the pleasure of enjoying the best professional partnership I have ever had in my life.
Kris, we are indebted to you for your entire body of work for arts education across the state. Just know that you will always be an important part of our arts education family.
And also know that we will miss you greatly.
Bob Morrison, Co-Director
Arts Ed NJ