ASPEN - This wasn't the way they scripted it, but the Aspen Writers' Foundation now has two directors. The Writers' Foundation announced on Thursday that Maurice LaMee will be the new director of the 37-year-old organization, while Adrienne Brodeur will be the creative director.
Going into the process, the search team was not thinking of two people to replace former executive director Lisa Consiglio. But the search committee - comprising members of the Aspen Institute and of the board of the Writers' Foundation, a program that operates within the institute - was impressed with the interviews conducted with both LaMee and Brodeur.
"Out of the discussions came the idea that we might have the perfect combination," said Dennis Vaughn, who has been president of the Writers' Foundation for four years. "We came to the unanimous conclusion that this was the best way to go. It's hard for me to imagine we would have found this combination in any two people. In film and theater it's not uncommon to have an executive director and an artistic director. We studied that, and it seemed to work."
LaMee and Brodeur bring different backgrounds to the positions. LaMee served for 12 years as the executive and artistic director of the Creede Repertory Theatre, a small-town company that has established a remarkable reputation. Brodeur is a New York-based writer who co-founded with Francis Ford Coppola the literary magazine Zoetrope: All-Story and served as its editor in chief from 1996 to 2002.
Vaughn said there were no specific changes planned for the Writers' Foundation's programs. The organization's two flagship programs, the Aspen Summer Words festival and the Winter Words series, will remain intact.
"But we're looking to our new leadership to come up with new creative ideas and to build the excellence of what we do," Vaughn said.
Two of the Writers' Foundation's top staff members have left the organization in recent months: Consiglio and Natalie Lacy, the former programs manager, who was promoted to another position within the Aspen Institute.
"We're going through a tough period," Vaughn said. "We're in good shape. But that doesn't mean we don't have a lot more to accomplish."
Last summer, the Writers' Foundation adopted a strategic plan designed so that each of the organization's programs would be looked at in an overall framework that touched on financial, operational and organizational matters. That plan has not been implemented; Vaughn said the two new directors will give their input into the plan before it is implemented.
During Brodeur's time at Zoetrope, the magazine earned the National Magazine Award for best fiction. Her novel "Man Camp" was published in 2005 by Random House, and she is working on a memoir. Brodeur appeared at last year's Aspen Summer Words festival, leading the Editor's Room program, which arranged editorial services for writers. Brodeur will continue to live in New York, where she is expected to draw on her connections in the literary world.
While LaMee directed the Creede Repertory Theatre, the company earned an Outstanding Achievement in Theatre Award from the National Theatre Conference, and in 2011, LaMee was named theatre person of the year by The Denver Post. LaMee will be relocating from Grand Junction to the Roaring Fork Valley.
"He's a very talented guy who has a very good way with people," said Vaughn, who has made several trips to Creede specifically to see theater productions. "He seemed to know how to make the right moves. It's an amazing story. And people attribute that to him."