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CEO - St. Petersburg Arts Alliance

Posted By Keara McGraw


Terry Marks had big shoes to fill when she replaced John Collins as CEO of the nonprofit St. Petersburg Arts Alliance in the spring of 2021. Collins, who had founded the organization a decade earlier, said he had taken it as far as he could - but there was much work, continuing work, that needed to be done. And he endorsed Terry Marks, who has a long history of fundraising in locations including Sarasota, New York and Los Angeles. She spent a decade teaching at the Center for Nonprofit Management in Southern California, and operated a successful Los Angeles consulting practice, serving organizations with budgets from $2 million to over $250 million. Marks, said Colins, "can be that next person to build upon what’s there by helping build the capacity of the organization to do more."

Years in St. Pete

In March, I’ll be here one year.

Organizations involved in

Well, I’m involved because of the position. I’m involved with the museums and the galleries and the art districts, the artists. But as far as collaboration, I’m involved with St. Pete College with ACE, which is Arts for a Complete Education. And, of course, the St. Pete Chamber.

What gets you out of bed every day?

Actually, my cat Brisket gets me out of bed every day at 5 in the morning because she wants cold tuna. I don’t know anybody else in the world that would want cold tuna at 5 in the morning. But beyond Brisket, I think the opportunity to make a difference in St. Pete through art has been extraordinary for me, and exciting for me, and has revealed lots of discoveries during the course of almost a year. So that gets me out of bed. It’s that sense of adventure and not knowing what the possibilities are for the day.

Why St. Pete?

Oh, my gosh. St. Pete is diverse. It is progressive, it’s innovative, it’s creative. It feels like the community that I grew up in, actually, in New York City, where you actually go out and you get to see people, you know, which gives that a sense of neighborhood and warmth. So it’s an extraordinary city, a wonderful city.

What is one habit that you keep?

Every morning I meditate, and it’s not easy for someone who comes from New York, but I do. And during Covid in particular, it has made a remarkable difference in my life to stop just for 20 minutes in the morning and calm myself and center myself. And I do that every day.

Who are some people that influence you?

There are two women. One is my mother, because she was very strong, and very resilient, and had many challenges in her life and overcame them. And I watched her do that. And the other  is a woman by the name of Michelle Redwine, who’s the founder and CEO of the Suncoast Black Arts Collaborative. And she is an artist and an educator, and she’s a remarkable leader, resilient, and has such a positive attitude in terms of dealing with challenges. She’s been an inspiration to me, and a dear friend as well, the power of intention.

What is one piece of insight - a book, methodology, practice - that you would share with our readers?

It’s really important for me that I’ve learned to be positive and to know that there is lots of abundances out there. There are lots of positive outlooks that one could take. And every day and every moment you have a choice whether you’re going to be that positive person or you’re not. And I consistently choose that positive path so that my intention is in alignment, and it’s like magic things happen. Good things happen.

What is one thing you wish you knew about your work 3 years ago?

I thought that the learning process was pretty much gotten. I didn’t realize that the more you get into your career and as your career changes, the learning changes, I have been tested in new ways. And I’ve learned in new ways. And it’s refreshing to be able to grow not only professionally but personally through work experiences. So it never stops.

What’s next?

What’s next? Okay, so what’s next is in February. We have an Arts Business Academy with St. Pete College. Very excited about that, giving tools to artists on the business end of their life; And then, of course, the 2022 MUSE Awards ceremony and event. We’ve added a new award, which is art and technology. And we changed the date to March 4 at the Morean Center for Clay. Very excited about that. We have a great team working on that; and then our first year garden party, to hopefully encourage a whole new audience to support the St. Petersburg Arts Alliance. 

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