Kirkland Arts Center Announces Ashlie Beach as Executive Director
Ashlie Beach’s grandparents walked to their jobs at a commercial pottery factory outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; now, as the recently named Executive Director of Kirkland Arts Center, she will lead a nearly sixty-year-strong art school and gallery in Kirkland, WA.
Raised in western Pennsylvania, Ashlie Beach boarded at Brooks School in North Andover, MA, and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Boston University with degrees in Art History and Philosophy. She then studied towards a PhD in Classical Art and Archaeology at the University of Virginia, where she was a teaching instructor and graduate researcher specializing in Greek sculpture. Beach completed an Executive Program Certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy through the University of Pennsylvania in 2019.
Previously, Beach worked in recruitment at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan, maintaining relationships with McKinsey, Bain, Microsoft, and Amazon. As a new parent, she volunteered extensively at Perinatal Support International of Washington, where she did development work and organized an international conference. Beach later served on the board of her children’s cooperative school as the Parenting Education Program liaison for seven area co-op preschools and Shoreline College.
Kirkland Arts Center has remained operational throughout the pandemic; last spring, Beach initiated the challenging pivot to virtual art classes as KAC’s Education Director. This nimble, quick transition enabled KAC to offer classes and resources to the community even while the organization’s home, the historic Peter Kirk Building, was closed. In her prior role as education director, Beach used her skills in fiscal strategy and visual arts education programming to bring classes to a record high eighty percent capacity, raising average enrollment from 400 students per quarter to 600. She also initiated a thriving membership program and recruited exceptional instructors, many of whom have exhibited work internationally.
Throughout this challenging period for non-profits and arts organizations, Kirkland Arts Center has maintained the confidence of major funders. All of KAC’s 2021 grant proposals have been funded and such notable grantors as the Washington State Arts Commission, 4Culture, and ArtsFund have continued to support the organization.
Beach’s lifelong commitment to visual arts is underpinned by her passionate belief in providing scholarships and equitable access to arts programming. Ashlie has a unique spin on noted diversity advocate Vernā Myers’ quote, “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance.” “In the arts, and specifically at Kirkland Arts Center,” Beach says, “Equity is being invited in; true inclusion is being encouraged to paint, throw, or sculpt.”
Ashlie Beach has lived in the Seattle area since 2007. In her free time, she enjoys taking abstract painting classes at KAC with Soo Hong and Miha Sarani, cooking Indian food, and traveling to India to visit family. She looks forward to the bright future of the Kirkland Arts Center.