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The Morgan Conservatory Appoints Nicole Donnelly as Executive Director

The Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation (the Morgan) has appointed Nicole Donnelly, an internationally known hand papermaking artist and arts administrator, as the organization’s new Executive Director. Donnelly will assume her position on June 1, succeeding Executive Director Leonard Young, who is retiring after five years at the Morgan.

Nicole Donnelly has received national and international recognition as a hand papermaking artist, educator, arts administrator, and entrepreneur. As an artist and entrepreneur, she has been the owner and operator of paperTHINKtank, a community-accessible hand papermaking studio in Philadelphia, PA, since 2013. In that capacity, she has shared her passion for and knowledge of sustainable and local handmade paper with countless students, interns, and artists and has cultivated strong audiences through programming and special events. She has also developed collaborative relationships with artists and arts organizations, including the Brandywine Workshop & Archives, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Fabric Workshop & Museum, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.

As an educator, Donnelly serves as a professional collaborator and adjunct faculty member, teaching at the University of the Arts and at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and sharing expertise through collaborative work for The Brodsky Center at PAFA as well as Brandywine Workshop & Archives. She also leads papermaking workshops nationwide, including a special workshop at the Morgan in July 2022 titled "Sculptural Papermaking, Working with Armature."

In addition, as an arts administrator, Donnelly is known internationally for her work as President of IAPMA, the International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists. During her seven-year tenure as President, she led the organization to achieve non-profit status, increased membership by 30%, planned and produced three biennial conferences (in-person and online), organized multiple international exhibitions with partner organizations across four continents, recruited new board members, and professionalized the administrative structure and functions.

Donnelly holds a BA in Visual Arts and Japanese Language from Bennington College and an MFA in Painting & Drawing from the University of Iowa. She has completed additional training in nonprofit governance and entrepreneurship and was an artist-in-residence at the Morgan in 2017.

"I'm thrilled to be joining the Morgan, the country's largest facility dedicated to the advancement of hand papermaking and paper arts, as it enters its 15th year,” Donnelly wrote. “I look forward to working with the board, staff, members, and artists to strengthen its robust commitment to both education and the arts communities of Cleveland."

In announcing this appointment, Board Chair Maggie Denk-Leigh said: “All of us at the Morgan are excited to have Nicole as our next leader. She is an accomplished artist and educator who is passionate about papermaking, committed to collaboration, and experienced in leading national and international paper organizations. We look forward to welcoming her to Cleveland.”

Leonard Young, who is retiring after serving as Interim Executive Director and then Executive Director, managed the Morgan through the COVID pandemic while increasing its visibility throughout and beyond Northeast Ohio. Under his leadership, the organization has completed a strategic plan, restructured its leadership team, presented critically acclaimed exhibitions and workshops, expanded its educational programming and reach into local schools, grown its membership, acquired property for future development, developed new partnerships and enhanced its role as one of Cleveland’s cultural gems.

The Morgan is a non-profit art center dedicated to preservation and innovation in hand papermaking and the art of the book. It was founded in 2008 by master papermaker Tom Balbo, who was recently named Papermaker Emeritus and continues to lead master classes and specialized programs. Housed in a 15,000-square-foot renovated facility on East 47th Street in Cleveland, the Morgan is a working studio, gallery, educational hub, and gathering place for the community. Its primary programs include workshops for professional and emerging artists, internships for post-secondary students, artist residencies, custom workshops for K-12 students, gallery exhibitions, a kozo garden to grow fiber for specialized papers, an Art Lab, an Open Studio, and a store.

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