BRADENTON -- Six years ago, Carla Niemann took an entry-level, very mundane job at ArtCenter Manatee. Tuesday she was named the center's executive director.
"I started in customer service," she said. "We lovingly call it 'the pit.' I was as low on the totem pole as you can get."
When executive director Mary Roff retired, the center's board had little doubt that Niemann was the right person for the job.
"I think it's going to give us a sense of stability," Linda van Tassell, the president of the center's board of directors, said. "We've had a lot of transitions over the past five years, in executive directors and in board members. Carla knows all the board members and she has a good vision of how she wants the center to proceed into the future.
"I'm coming to the end of my time as president, and I'm excited that this happened during my three years (in office)."
Niemann went from that entry-level job customer service to the center's gift shop. She said she got a lot of support from her colleagues and was able to dramatically expand the shop. Then, a year and half ago, she became the center's director of special events.
"It's just one of those stories of putting in your time
and working really, really hard," Niemann said.
It's a little too soon to talk about exactly what she has in mind for ArtCenter, she said, other than that she wants to expand on the center's 75-year-history of quality in arts programming, education and exhibition.
"We have an a amazing center with more than 1,000 members," she said. "I would like to make this the premiere art center in Florida. Whether that will happen in my lifetime or not I don't know. But that's my goal."
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.