Lawrence Arts Center names new executive director

Humanities and English teacher at Lawrence High to take job on Dec. 1

The Lawrence Arts Center has a new executive director.

Susan Tate, who has taught humanities and English at Lawrence High School since 1989, will begin work at the arts center on Dec. 1, said Bill Carswell, arts center board president.

“With her strong experience in humanities education, her experience and ability to lead an engaging vision, and her passionate advocacy for the arts, Susan will be a strong leader for the Lawrence Arts Center,” Carswell said in a news release Wednesday evening.

Tate has resigned from her teaching job and will leave Lawrence High School at the end of November. She says this opportunity is one that falls right in line with her current goals.

“The Lawrence Arts Center is one place in town where arts, education, civic issues and scholarly issues meet in one place. Those four aspects are really important to me and are four aspects of my life that I have been devoted to over the past 10 years,” Tate said.

Tate replaces David Leamon, who in July left the job after only nine months with the center. Leamon had been director of the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library for 13 years before joining the arts center, 940 N.H.

Leamon had taken over after Ann Evans, the founding director, retired in 2007 after 33 years. The search for Evans’ replacement took longer than those involved had hoped. Officials thought they had made a hire in June 2008, when they narrowed their finalists to one — Talena Mara, a former education director at New York City Opera who also has taught at the Juilliard School in New York. But the center’s board and Mara weren’t able to come to terms.

Tate says she is looking forward to the opportunity and challenges that lie ahead.

“I am very happy to be there,” she said.