Judi Feniger, who resigned as executive director of the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Beachwood last May, is the new executive director of the Gordon Square Arts District.
The Chagrin Falls resident succeeds Joy Roller, who has been tapped to be president of Global Cleveland.
Feniger takes the helm as the arts district seeks to add the final $3 million to its $30 million fundraising campaign. More than $27 million has been raised.
“We are so thrilled that Judi is joining us at this pivotal moment in the life of the GSAD,” said David Doll, who, with Richard W. Pogue, co-chairs the arts district board of trustees. “Her experience and visionary leadership at arts and community organizations are the ideal combination as we complete our fundraising campaign and envision the future of the district.”
“I credit the vision of Richard Pogue, Albert Ratner, (Ward 15) Councilman Matt Zone and Tom Sullivan, who realized this area’s potential and knew the arts could be a catalyst for growth,” said Feniger.
A fan of the arts district and its seven-year revitalization, Feniger said she feels she is in the “right place at the right time. The area’s economic development is a national model and the community spirit and sense of pride is energizing. The neighborhood’s three theaters, diverse restaurant scene and multiple art galleries make it a destination for east and west siders.”
The district, which runs from West 52nd Street to West 78th Street along Detroit Avenue, includes new loft housing, an enhanced Detroit Avenue streetscape, nonprofit organizations, the newly renovated Capitol Theatre and Cleveland Public Theatre, and the Near West Theatre on Bridge Avenue, which recently broke ground for a new venue on West 67th Street.
“So much is currently under way and there is much more on the drawing board, including a Cleveland Orchestra residency program in the neighborhood and CPT collaboration with Oberlin College students,” said Feniger.
Ratner, co-chairman emeritus of Forest City Enterprises, said, “Gordon Square has become a center for culture, entertainment and employment on the Cleveland’s West Side, and is ready to spread its wings and positively affect surrounding neighborhoods. Judi did great work at the Maltz Museum in terms of community involvement and outreach, and we look forward to her new and expanding role at Gordon Square.”
At the Maltz Museum, Feniger led programs about diversity, bullying, cultural identity, heritage and tolerance, issues she suggested she would explore in her new job. They are currently dealt with through collaboration between the arts district theaters and school-age children. “Further outreach efforts between the neighborhood’s arts community and school children are waiting to be explored,” said Feniger.
One of her immediate goals is to become more familiar with the district’s leaders, residents, artists and merchants.
“Everyone has something to offer and we are all interested in keeping the current momentum growing and even to accelerate it,” Feniger said. “There is a great appreciation for the transformation of this neighborhood.”
Feniger has a bachelor’s degree in business management from Notre Dame College in South Euclid, and received the YWCA Women of Achievement Award. She serves on the board of trustees of the City Club of Cleveland and the Cleveland Council on World Affairs and is on the Notre Dame College Abrahamic Center Leadership Council. She was on the Cleveland Jewish News Board of Directors and was a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2003.
“I can’t wait to get started,” said Feniger. “The moment is now for GSAD.”