Fort Wayne, Ind. – Anna Ross, longtime director of Audiences Unlimited, is making plans to retire from her executive role at the organization. She will transition to an advisory role at the end of June 2024 and will work closely with interim director Nancy Louraine through the end of the year.

Ross joined the organization in 2012 as the first paid managing director, working alongside founder Lillian Embick. When Embick retired in 2014, Ross assumed the executive director position, a role she’s held for the last 10 years.

A steadfast supporter of AUI, Ross first became acquainted with the organization through The Philharmonic back in 1989. “Part of my role at The Philharmonic included coordinating our ensemble performances with AUI at long-term care facilities,” she said. So, when they offered her the option of working alongside Embick, she knew it was a perfect fit.

Under Ross’ leadership, AUI has expanded its partnership opportunities, increased its regional footprint, revised its mission statement as part of its first-ever strategic plan, and taken steps to ensure its sustainability as a not-for-profit organization.

Ross also helped AUI navigate all the changes to long-term care facilities during COVID, and she spearheaded the organization’s 50th anniversary celebrations, including Fort Wayne’s first-ever inclusion mural. Under Ross’s direction, AUI has been able to bring the arts to more than 10,000 individuals annually.

“When we learned of Anna’s plans to retire back in the fall of 2023,” said Deborah Beckman, board chair, “we knew our first step was not just to begin succession planning, but also to initiate an organizational assessment, which has yielded a rich palette of information to help guide the Board’s next steps.”

Last year, AUI engaged Loring Sternberg & Associates, an Indianapolis firm, to assist with organizational planning. In May, the AUI board asked its vice chair, Nancy Louraine, to step down from the board and into the role of interim executive director. Louraine previously served for 20 years as executive director of Turnstone Center for Children and Adults with Disabilities.
She also worked as the major gifts officer for Embassy Theatre and has served on the boards of many northeast Indiana nonprofit organizations.

“Anna Ross has done a fabulous job getting AUI to where we are today. We are grateful for her leadership in a time of significant growth and expansion,” Louraine said. “We look forward to celebrating her accomplishments and dedicated service later this fall.”

While Ross is convinced that this is the right move for both her and the organization, the departure is bittersweet. “My role at Audiences Unlimited marries my love for music and the arts with my passion for people, making sure that everyone—regardless of age or ability—can experience the arts. It’s been a joy to serve.”

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