Hello friends,

Well, the day has come! As announced last December, I am stepping out of my role as Executive Director and today is my final day at the helm. It has been the personal and professional joy of my life to serve the extended folk community in this role and to have led our organization into a new era.

I am immensely proud of the transformational work we have done since that date, best reflected in the catalog of Annual Reports, and most personally for me, as reflected in the scope of creative work in the Artist in Residence program.

None of the above would have been possible without the incredible support, talent, and dedication of every staff member and contractor that I’ve had the absolute honor to work with during my time here (including many not listed on the “current” staff page). I have learned much from each person, and I’m forever grateful for our collective effort to lift FAI up in every way.

Speaking of staff, currently the Executive Director Search Committee of the Board is in the process of interviewing candidates and they hope to have a new ED in place by early fall. It gives me great pleasure and pride to let our community know that Jennifer Roe, our Deputy Director and my collaborative business partner of the past eight years, will be assuming the role of Interim Executive Director until that time.

I must also acknowledge the tremendous foundation set by my predecessors Art Menius, Phyllis Barney, and the late Louis Meyers and each of their associated staff since FAI’s inception.

Leadership is both a calling and a challenge, a mixture of diplomacy and innovation. You can’t please everyone, but you must make decisions… and with a non-profit, the mission, vision, and values of the organization are a leader’s compass in all decisions. As such, there are no big shoes to fill, and FAI does not need another me.

FAI has a strong staff, is a healthy organization, and has an invested community. What more could a new leader want? What we needed eight years ago is very different from what we need now from a leader. After all, this work is incremental and each new leader builds on the best of what came before and brings new energy.

I also want to thank each of the board members I have had the pleasure to work with since 2014. I have been inspired by their service and passion, not just for the organization, but for the idea of “who” folk is rather than “what” folk isn’t.

Finally, thank you as community members who didn’t just show up at the conference to get work, but who embraced calls to action, invitations to reflect, and opportunities to grow together.

We still have lots of work to do as a community, but I am heartened by the momentum we have and the programs, practices, and policies in place to ensure that the deep work is not fleeting.

I’m heading back to Canada this weekend to spend time with family and friends and to trade in my computer screen for some blue sky of summer for a while. I don’t have immediate future plans yet, but I know I owe myself some time to decompress and recenter.

I look forward to crossing paths and sharing songs together in the future, and I will forever remember these incredible years in Kansas City at the heart of a community I have always loved.

Sincerest thanks to one and all,

Aengus Finnan