After serving for 10 years as the executive director of the Garrett County Arts Council Inc
, Karen Reckner is retiring from the position to end her tenure by the end of June.
The GCAC’s board of directors has announced that a search committee from within the board has conducted an interview and hiring process, and has offered the position to Kathy Beachler of Oakland. She has accepted and will soon begin training for the position, to officially take over on July 1.
The GCAC, a nonprofit organization, is the over-arching arts organization in Garrett County. It is headed up by the GCAC board of directors, and the executive director operates at the direction of the board. GCAC, supported by the Maryland State Arts Council, membership, and Garrett County government, offers grant funding to a wide range of arts organizations and projects annually. The GCAC also operates and maintains The Gallery Shop in Oakland, where the juried work of membership artists is displayed and sold.
Beachler was hired last spring by the Arts Council in another of its branches, to serve as the Arts and Entertainment District Community Arts Development coordinator for the towns of Oakland and Grantsville. Both towns have established A&E districts, which offer the municipalities various incentives and perks for fostering a thriving arts community within district limits. A&E Districts are a program of the Maryland State Arts Council. She will continue to work with the districts’ advisory committees during this time of transition until a new coordinator is named.
Reckner began serving as the executive director in April 2009. She is active in the County Arts Agencies of Maryland and represents that statewide group on the board of directors of Maryland Citizens for the Arts. She played a key role in the establishments of both the county’s A&E Districts, and serves on the boards for both.
She is also part of the Western Maryland Gateway to the West Heritage Area, and is an ex-officio member of the board of Garrett County Chamber of Commerce. Before her role with the GCAC, she was employed as the director of business services for the Chamber.
Prior to that, she worked for the Maryland Office of Tourism as an assistant supervisor at a Maryland welcome center. Reckner was an instructor for the Travel Industry Association of America National Certification Training program, and has served on the boards of the County United Way, Maryland Life magazine, and the Economic Development Workforce Development Committee.
“The arts community in Garrett County is vibrant and strong,” Reckner said. “I am confident that the Garrett County Arts Council, under the direction of Kathy and an active board of directors, will continue to support and grow the opportunities for our artists, residents, and guests.”
Beachler is coming to the executive director position after 20 years in arts education and performance management, partnership development, communications and community organizing.
She is a 1998 graduate of the College of Wooster (Ohio) with a bachelor’s degree in studio art. She has worked at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, the Arts Education Partnership, and Arts Every Day.
In her position as the Community Arts Development coordinator, Beachler will provide general oversight and manage day-to-day operations of the local A&E districts and outreach to other Garrett County municipalities related to development and expansion of their arts programs.
She is also an independent artist, running a printmaking studio in her Swanton home. Her work has been displayed at galleries, restaurants, and shows in Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Richmond, Virginia, and Seattle.
Beachler and her husband, Nate, and their two sons moved to Garrett County in 2015, when they opened Deep Creek Seafood.
“Karen Reckner had a vision for what the arts could accomplish in Garrett County, and I’m grateful that she encouraged me to help us move toward that vision of promoting and strengthening our vibrant arts community and rich traditional culture,” Beachler said.
Mary McEwen, president of the GCAC board of directors, said the directors are excited about the hire, and are greatly appreciative of Reckner’s work.
“In her 10 years as the executive director, Karen Reckner has moved the Garrett County Arts Council in a much more effective and far-reaching direction than ever before in its history,” McEwen said. “The establishment of the A&E districts was successful in large part because of Karen’s leadership and hard work on those projects, and that is only one of her many accomplishments over the years. She leaves the council on good, sure footing for this transition. As for Kathy, we’re excited to have such an accomplished, energetic, knowledgeable artist to take on the challenges of this vital role, and feel sure the arts on the mountaintop will continue to thrive under her leadership.”