New executive director selected for playa

Ellen Waterston of Bend, Oregon to Head Up Residency Program

The Board of Directors of PLAYA is pleased to announce the selection of arts advocate and author, Ellen Waterston of Bend, Oregon, as the next Executive Director. She assumed her new post April 28, 2017.

In addition to her work as an award-winning author and poet, Waterston has significant experience in private, public, and nonprofit sector work. Her credentials include Waterston Communications, Inc, a strategic planning and communications company; Writing Ranch, offering retreats and workshops for emerging and established writers since 2000; Waterston Desert Writing Prize, a three-year-old nonprofit annually recognizing an author for a nonfiction book proposal on any desert worldwide; and The Nature of Words, a literary arts non-profit based in Bend which Waterston started in 2002 and directed for eleven years. As an author, she has published three volumes of poetry and two nonfiction titles. Her fourth collection of poems, Hotel Domilocos, will be released from Moonglade Press in April 2017.

Waterston replaces Executive Director Deborah Ford who is stepping down after three years at the helm. Ford has attracted significant funding for PLAYA’s programs and has expanded the organization’s support of innovative thinking in the arts and sciences through both traditional and thematic residencies as well as symposia and workshops. She and her husband will return to their home in Montana where Ford will resume her work as a sought-after contemporary photographer.

“Transition and growth are the cornerstones of PLAYA’s mission encouraging dialogue between the arts and sciences,” states PLAYA Board Chair Richard Wilhelm. “The transition from the leadership of Deborah Ford to Ellen Waterston marks a new chapter in PLAYA’s growth. PLAYA’s Board of Directors deeply appreciates Deb for her commitment to our mission. It has been our great honor and pleasure to work with her. As we say goodbye to Deb, we enthusiastically welcome Ellen as PLAYA’s next Executive Director. Drawing upon her life-long devotion to the arts and extensive experience leading highly successful private, public, and non-profit organizations, Ellen will steer the growth of PLAYA, and we are thrilled.”

PLAYA was the vision of founders Julie Bryant and Bill Roach who first opened PLAYA’s doors to residents in 2011. “As one who has personally benefitted from residencies at PLAYA I know how important retreats like this are for artists and scientists,” says Waterston. “I am honored to do my part to grow PLAYA’s base of support and to broaden PLAYA’s reach and am deeply grateful to the founders, Julie Bryant and Bill Roach, to the Board of Directors, for giving me this opportunity, and to Deb Ford for setting the bar so high! I hope to sustain and build on the momentum she created.”

​Waterston joins John Martin, also of Bend, who was hired as Residency Manager in February 2017. A published poet and former owner of John Martin Landscaping, Martin coordinates all residency-related scheduling and activities. Site Assistant, Kris Norris, and Facilities Manager, Michael Norris, round out the on-site team. The couple has been involved with PLAYA since its inception.