She may be leaving, but Diana Rich isn’t going anywhere. Rich, the executive director of the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center is set to walk away from the organization she’s helmed for the past seven years on Dec. 1.
The center’s board of directors announced Rich’s departure on Oct. 23 in a news media release.
“The time is right,” Rich said. “The team we have in place is talented and stable.”
While she’s been mulling the decision to leave for about a year, Rich said she knew the community center was in good hands and in a good place for her to step down. Her point of clarity came after she returned from a two-week vacation. Upon her arrival, the Tubbs and Nuns fires erupted in the east part of the county. By the time she got to the community center, her team was already there, ready to get to work to help the center morph into a much needed evacuation center.
“Let’s face it,” Rich said. “I left for two weeks and the team ran the center just fine.”
Rich was hired by the center’s board in 2010, replacing Rob Carey who held the position for a little over a year before retiring. Chosen among a pool of 70 candidates, David Turchin, the board’s former president called her “the cream of the crop. She had everything we were looking for — tremendous contacts and connections in Sebastopol, she had done lots of fundraising and she also started the Folk Art for Schools Calendar Project.”
Gabrielle Disario, president of the center’s board, credited Rich with bringing many types of musical events to the center, expanding special interest classes and supervising multiple building renovations. During her tenure, new floors were installed in the main hall, the kitchen and restrooms were remodeled and new landscaping was developed outside the building.
It’s work that Rich is humble about, but also takes pride in accomplishing.
“It’s really been the effort of the community,” she said, adding that renovations would not have been possible without funding from community organizations like the Rotary clubs, business associations and the city council.
Disario said Rich’s leadership led to a better center in a better community.
“During her tenure, SCCC grew into a fiscally stable and reassured resource for all members of the west county community,” Disario said. “Diana’s commitment and energy combined with her organizational and problem solving skills helped the center thrive.”
She also brought many new events to the center, including the talent show and Tour D’Organics. Rich said the board of directors brought original ideas to the table and empowered her to execute them.
Rich plans on staying in Sebastopol . Originally from the Sacramento area where she was a corporate law attorney, she feels Sebastopol is home.
She called west county a “great place to live and work. We’re such an interesting collection of people, and it’s a perfect place for a community center because all of us who live here value art, music, entertainment and enrichment.”
Rich grew up in Ibiza, Spain and Venice, CA, surrounded by intellectuals, writers and other creative-minded friends of her “rather bohemian” parents, making Sebastopol and west county a perfect match for her.
The board has not yet named a replacement but Rich said the efforts are underway.