Thew hired as new Aspen Film director

Staff report
Aspen Film Executive Director John Thew.
Courtesy photo |

Aspen Film has hired John Thew as its executive director, the nonprofit announced Wednesday.

Thew had served as managing director of Theatre Aspen since 2013. He brings more than 30 years of nonprofit and business management to Aspen Film, which presents Aspen Filmfest, Aspen Shortsfest and Academy Screenings annually.

“John has proven to be a visionary leader with a strong understanding of the nonprofit landscape in Aspen,” Aspen Film board’s co-presidents Lee Rittvo and Frianke Welfeld said in an announcement. “He will bring his wealth of experience to Aspen Film, helping us grow the organization, form valuable alliances and move confidently into the future.”

Before his time at Theatre Aspen, Thew was managing director of Theater Latte Da in Minneapolis. Previous positions included working as an executive consultant for Fortune 500 companies, founding and leading a management training and consulting firm and directing development and public relations efforts the Tony Award-winning Second Stage Theater in New York.

Thew succeeds co-directors George Eldred and Laura Thielen at the helm of Aspen Film. Theilen and Eldred are leaving the organization after two decades and after sharing executive director duties for the past two years. Thew will begin July 1. Eldred and Thielen will stay on in an artistic capacity through the summer and will program the 36th annual Aspen Filmfest (Sept. 25 through 30).

“It’s an honor to join Aspen Film,” Thew said. “Laura and George have built one of Aspen’s most treasured and enduring cultural institutions — one that is admired and attended by thousands of film enthusiasts each year. I look forward to working with the board and staff to build upon their legacy.”

The Aspen Film board of directors is expected to announce an artistic programmer in the near future. Thew will assume responsibility for Aspen Film’s overall strategies, daily operations, financial management, special events, fundraising, marketing, communications and community outreach as well as developing and implementing programs.

In the announcement, Eldred and Thielen called Thew “a wonderful choice to lead this beloved community institution into its exciting and successful new chapter,” noting his regular attendance at past Aspen Film events.

The Aspen Film board embarked on a national search to replace Eldred and Thielen in March but found its most compelling candidate close to home (the Aspen Film office is steps down the hall from Theatre Aspen in the Red Brick Center for the Arts).

“We had a lot of extraordinary candidates, but in the end felt John was the ideal fit for Aspen Film,” said Gayle Embrey, board member and selection committee chair.