American Craft Council Announces Andrea Specht As Its New Executive Director

American Craft Council Announces Andrea Specht As Its New Executive Director

Please welcome our new Executive Director as she joins at an exciting time in our organization's history.

Published on Thursday, April 14, 2022.
portrait of andrea specht with cream brick backdrop

Today, ACC would like to welcome Andrea Specht, an experienced arts leader, nonprofit executive, and fundraiser, as its new Executive Director. She begins on May 9, succeeding Sarah Schultz, who served in the role from March 2018 to August 2021.

“I’m delighted ACC will be welcoming Andrea as our new Executive Director,” said Gary J. Smith, Board Chair. “She is an experienced executive with a long, productive tenure at an arts organization, and immediately bonded with those who interviewed her. She is an energetic and compassionate leader who knows how to make things happen. With an innovative new director taking the reins as in-person craft marketplaces reopen, this is an exciting time to be associated with ACC.”

Kristin Mitsu Shiga, Chair of ACC’s Executive Search Committee said, “ACC is committed to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access across our mission and programs, and in our team. In service of that commitment, Arts Consulting Group embraced a non-traditional, multi-faceted approach to guide our extensive national search, and brought forward many outstanding candidates. We are now thrilled to welcome Andrea to lead our hard-working team. Her proven record of nonprofit leadership and passion for craft, paired with her genuine, down-to-earth nature made her our unanimous choice for Executive Director.”

"With an innovative new director taking the reins as in-person craft marketplaces reopen, this is an exciting time to be associated with ACC.”
   —Gary J. Smith, Board Chair

Jean McLaughlin, ACC Trustee and former Executive Director of Penland School of Craft, added: “Andrea understands the leadership roles of the ACC as a national, local and regional organization, advocating for our field, bringing new voices forward to tell craft’s story, embracing digital opportunities to connect our diverse country, and the strategic planning skills to make it happen!"

Meet Andrea Specht

Specht comes to ACC from Normandale Community College, where she was Executive Director of its foundation and Vice President of Advancement since 2019. Before that, she served for 10 years as the Executive Director of Bloomington, Minnesota–based Artistry, a multi-disciplinary arts organization reaching more than 85,000 people annually through professional theater productions, visual arts exhibitions, and other programming. Under Specht’s leadership, Artistry developed a community-based arts education program that engaged more than 75 nonprofit partners and launched a pioneering public-private partnership that led to the nation’s first municipal Creative Placemaking Commission. Specht has served on the boards of many nonprofits including Minnesota Citizens for the Arts and the College of Visual Arts.

A graduate of Macalester College and the University of St. Thomas School of Law, she practiced law for several years between stints in the nonprofit sector.

“I am honored by the ACC’s faith in my leadership and excited to step into a role that will capitalize so fully on my diverse experiences as a visual artist, attorney, nonprofit executive, and arts advocate,” Specht said. “To me the work of advancing craft—with its deep connections to culture and history and its remarkable capacity to help us understand ourselves and others—is the work of advancing more vibrant and just communities. It’s extremely compelling work, and I look forward to collaborating with the ACC’s talented staff and board to realize our organization’s full potential. I’m excited that I’ll have the chance to meet so many of our artists and supporters at our Baltimore marketplace right after I start.”

A studio arts major in college, Specht said, “While I gave up my studio practice years ago, I retain the heart and hands of a maker and focus my creative energies on pursuits ranging from cooking and baking to gardening to pysanky-making.”

You'll be able to meet Andrea in person at our upcoming American Craft Made / Baltimore marketplace in May. Keep an eye out for future online Executive Director Dialogues as well. More info to come!