Maura Sheffler, a long-time member of the TACA Team, is the organization’s new Donna Wilhelm Family President and Executive Director. Maura is a collaborative relationship-builder who thrives on building partnerships that positively impact the landscape of Dallas arts organizations and artists.
As you take the helm as TACA’s Donna Wilhelm Family President & Executive Director, what’s on your front burner?
My top goal is reshaping our development strategy to position TACA as a nexus between the creative and philanthropic communities. One of TACA’s greatest assets is our depth of knowledge of our arts community – from artistic achievement to administrative functions.
As such, we are working to make our grantees the focal point of our development efforts while creating new ways to elevate their work and facilitate exploration and discovery among curious patrons, new supporters, and our most dedicated arts philanthropists.
To that end, refining our fundraising strategy will pave a path toward a sustainable revenue model vital to supporting our growing local arts sector.
We have an incredible team at TACA, and they, too, are my priority! I want to ensure we’re playing to the talents and strengths of each, giving them the support and encouragement they need to fulfill their professional goals as we strengthen the TACA brand and mission. We’ll also leverage our board’s professional experience and expertise — and their connections – to identify new supporters, fundraise, and elevate awareness about TACA and our mission.
Before being named TACA’s new president and executive director, you had an opportunity to serve in an interim role. What have you learned in those months?
Since taking the helm in December, I’ve learned that we can dream big and accomplish our goal to quickly elevate our grantees’ excellent, innovative work with donors and prospective supporters. In spring 2023, we’ll kick off our ‘Meet the Catalysts’ series with an event at the Dallas Center for Photography, launch our refreshed upper-level giving programs – Founders Circle and Catalyst Club – and plan our annual TACA Silver Cup Luncheon.
You’ve been at TACA for nearly a decade, a long tenure in the nonprofit world. What is it about the organization that makes it feel like home?
My reasons are many, and my list is long. I love our mission which allows us to serve the entire arts community. We have the unique opportunity to touch and impact multiple organizations and artists. I can think of no other arts organization with that impact, and it’s a privilege to lead TACA now and continue that pursuit.
I also love that TACA is a thought leadership incubator and catalyst for knowledge-sharing and collaboration in the arts community, as with our annual Perforum event.
Last, I get incredible joy from watching TACA’s impact on the arts community – organizations, artists, and audiences. As a former classical musician, our work has deep personal meaning.
What can you tell us about your TACA team?
We are a small talented team of passionate people who work collaboratively and resiliently. Each team member tackles their role, bringing their best daily to fulfill our excellent work. Our team is growing – and we’re looking for a new executive assistant. You can learn more by visiting taca-arts.org/about-us/employment/.
I can’t mention our team without highlighting the dozens of volunteer and artist reviewers who are the engine that makes our mission possible. They spend countless hours evaluating our applicants’ artistic work –and we couldn’t do it without them!
Last, anything you’d like to share about your life outside TACA?
My husband Scott, a professional bassist, and I are proud parents of two small children, and the arts are essential to our family life. We spend lots of time on home improvements and renovations when we’re not at the theater watching movies, catching a family-friendly live performance, or checking out a museum exhibit.
I’m also a musician. Though I don’t pick up my violin often these days, I have played since I was six. I had intended to pursue a musical career but realized in college that my true love was on the managerial side of the arts. So, I feel fortunate to fulfill that dream as the Donna Wilhelm Family President & Executive Director.
I grew up in Baltimore/Washington, D.C., where I was exposed to art and music. Today I am a happy North Texan and enjoy my extended family, including Scott’s parents, and a great circle of friends and family.
What Dallas’ Arts Leaders Are Saying About Maura Sheffler
Maura Sheffler’s appointment as Donna Wilhelm Family President and Executive Director is outstanding news for TACA and for the arts in Dallas. Maura has proven herself an exceptional advocate, partner, and thought leader for the arts and arts organizations of all sizes across North Texas, and her work has made a tremendous difference in our community. We can all look forward to the impact of her energy and ideas as she takes on this important position.
Director, Nasher Sculpture Center
Maura Sheffler has worked closely with individual artists and organizations at a grassroots level in Dallas, as well as with foundations and funders that are at the forefront of innovative philanthropy centering artists and their work in community. She understands artists are not simply cultural workers, but a distributive network at the heart of the psychic health of our city. If there is anyone who can move TACA into the future of radical arts equity, it is Maura. Her many years of service in Dallas has dismantled hierarchical formulas in favor of a bridge model, bringing funders and artists together as collaborators.
Director of Development, Teatro Dallas
Working with Maura over the past nine years has been a joy. She’s a consummate professional with an abiding passion for the arts. Her leadership is a gift to TACA and to the arts in North Texas.
Founder/Executive Director, Dallas Winds
There is a vast difference between choosing a relationship consciously rather than falling into it. Great leaders who choose a relationship to work within an arts community can also choose to divert from the norm. Maura mindfully sees the levels of tremendous empowerment she can offer in conjunction with funding such as empathy, action, a growth mindset and mentorship. It is because of Maura that I found a stronger grounding in arts administration.
Founding Member, Artstillery
I want to congratulate Maura Sheffler as the executive director of TACA. Maura brings a wealth of experiences, including her years of work at TACA. She is a passionate arts leader, knowledgeable of the ups and downs facing arts organizations, dedicated to offering new solutions and possibilities for collaborations, building community relationships, and finding the philanthropic means to support the growth of the arts.
Executive Director, Bruce Wood Dance