Penland school announces retirement of longtime program director

From Penland School of Crafts:

Dear Penland instructors and former resident artists,

I am writing to share with you the news of an important transition taking place at Penland. Dana Moore, who has been Penland’s director of programs for 19 remarkable years, will be leaving this position on January 15. We salute her for unwavering service to Penland and the field of craft throughout her career with Penland. And we want to introduce you to her successor, Leslie Noell.

Many of you worked directly with Dana and know the inimitable ways in which she has guided our complex workshop program and developed special programs like thematic sessions, instructor retreats, the print and letterpress residencies, and the Andrew Glasgow Writers Residency. Those of you who were able to participate in the new works retreat or the teaching artist retreat will know how carefully and thoughtfully she created a work environment that enabled camaraderie, experimentation, and fun to take place. She worked with Kathryn Gremley to expand the Penland Gallery and develop the dynamic exhibitions we have seen over these years. She gave direction, structure and leadership to the resident artist program and provided the resident artists with her focused support. She also worked diligently behind the scenes on the design of new studios for iron, wood, letterpress, and printmaking (now realized) and drawing/painting, book arts, photography and paper (soon to come.) She consulted with hundreds of you to insure that we were developing studios that would serve artists and Penland today and be flexible so that the programs could grow.

Through the force of her unique personality and vision, Dana helped to establish Penland’s role as a leader in craft education. Her work with the gallery, archives, community outreach, and resident artists established a strong foundation for these programs in ways that will be influential for years to come. Her strength as an artist enabled her to establish genuine connections with her peers. Her contributions have provided invaluable experiences for thousands of students and instructors. Her warm regard for our instructors and resident artists and her continuous presence for almost two decades have helped make Penland a second home for so many artists. Her creative presence and wit strengthened many events, meetings and gatherings. Her volunteer work with community efforts like fundraising for the Mitchell County Animal Shelter brought energy and support to special causes. Dana has truly been the face of Penland and our programs. We are thankful that she chose Penland as the place to share her knowledge, insights, and special talents. As she moves forward to her next endeavors, she leaves Penland with her indelible mark.

As difficult as it is to say goodbye to Dana, it is a great pleasure to welcome Leslie Noell into the role of Director of Programs. Leslie may be no stranger to you. Most recently she has been the manager of Penland’s Core Fellowship Program which evolved into a national education fellowship in craft under her guidance. The program has become a sought-after professional experience with applications rising from under 20 to 85-100 each year. She also worked closely with the school’s leadership to secure endowment funds for the long-term success of the Core program and served on the design team for a new house on campus for the core fellows. We have seen her insightful, creative, collaborative, persuasive, analytic work first hand. Leslie was described by one of Penland’s instructors as someone who is “100% invested in the success of others” and someone with the ability to create and build a strong community among the artists who teach at Penland.

Leslie has an MFA in Artisanry from the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth and a Bachelor of Environmental Design from NC State University’s College of Design. She is an artist and has been an instructor at Penland, teaching a mixed media and encaustic painting workshop. She has taught or been a visiting artist at various schools and universities including Appalachian State University, University of Massachusetts- Dartmouth, UNC School of the Arts, and East Carolina University. Aware of the value of residency programs for artists, she has assisted Core fellows in their pursuit of residency opportunities across the country and she has participated in several herself: Penland’s Print and Letterpress Residency, the Jentel Artist Residency (Wyoming) and the McColl Center for Visual Art International Residency at Caversham Centre Press (South Africa).

In addition to her experience as a Penland core fellow, student, instructor and the manager of the core fellowship, Leslie gained knowledge of Penland’s program as our publication designer. For a decade she worked collaboratively on the editing, design, and production of Penland’s catalogs, annual reports, and other materials like our book, The Nature of Craft and the Penland Experience. She brings a thoughtful nature and a sparkling sense of humor to every situation, and in this new role, she will continue Penland’s program leadership and involvement in the field of craft nationally and internationally.

We wish Dana continued success in her next endeavors and welcome Leslie into her important new role. Please join us in thanking them for their commitment to the vision and work of Penland.

Best wishes,

Jean McLaughlin
Director, Penland School of Crafts


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