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National arts leader advocates for artists and brings over 15 years of arts and disaster management experience

Ruby Lopez Harper Photo by: Leah Preiss Walton Ruby Lopez Harper, CERF+’s incoming executive director. Photo by: Leah Preiss Walton. Image Description: Photo of a woman, who is smiling. She has a single hair braid, slightly longer than shoulder length, and is wearing glasses, a black top with colorful floral embroidery, and a blue blazer.

Montpelier, VT (September 28, 2022) –  After an extensive and competitive national search, the Craft Emergency Relief Fund’s (DBA CERF+) Board of Directors and Staff are pleased to announce the appointment of Ruby Lopez Harper as the organization’s next executive director.

Lopez Harper brings a wealth of expertise in arts and disaster management. She fulfilled several roles at Americans for the Arts (AFTA) over the past six years, most recently as Vice President of Equity and Local Arts Engagement. Prior to AFTA, she served as Grants and Services Director of the Greater Columbus Arts Council.

Lopez Harper recalls, “An artist sent me an email thanking me for spending time with them during a coaching session and said, ‘You are the patron saint of individual artists’ – I took that to heart. From my time leading a small community theater to my time leading a grants and services department and individual artist programming to my time advocating for visibility and acknowledgment of artists to my own identity as a craft artist – I’m in a particular place in my career where I can bring all this and an equity foundation to expand the reach of CERF+ and invite even more craft artists into the fold.”

Outgoing executive director Cornelia Carey guided CERF+ through extraordinary growth and evolution from its early years as a grassroots mutual aid initiative to a national leader in the emerging field of arts emergency management. Carey will be stepping down at the end of October after nearly 26 years of service at CERF+.

Lopez Harper’s appointment comes at a pivotal moment in CERF+’s history with expanded and much sought after programs as increasingly more craft artists face career-threatening losses throughout the United States and its territories due to climate and weather related disasters. Since 2020, CERF+ has provided over 1,500 artists with close to $2.4 million in assistance, with 59% of grants going to craft artists who are Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Further, the organization has served thousands of artists with resources and educational programs that support artists’ readiness and resiliency building efforts.

As CERF+ Board Chair, Cinda Holt notes, “As I wrap up my term as chair, I am thankful to Cornelia for her long service to CERF+ and excited to welcome Ruby as our next executive director. Building upon Cornelia’s legacy, Ruby will lead CERF+ toward continued growth and expanded participation. With Jono Anzalone stepping into the chair’s role, and Ruby’s execution of CERF+’s work, we will be in great hands!” Anzalone added, “As we are seeing with Hurricane Fiona, the climate crisis and disasters pose a grave threat to humanity, with increasing harm faced by BIPOC communities. Our work to scale programming with a focus on equity and inclusion is critical in the years to come.”

Lopez Harper will begin her appointment with CERF+ on November 1, 2022. “There is so much opportunity and space in the disaster management conversation and in expanding how we think about disaster response, relief, and recovery. CERF+ has created a space where it has solid connections with individual craft artists and also has influence in the national conversation around support structures and policies that affect artists in times of disaster. Cornelia and the team have done amazing work and really pushed the practice and understanding. I’m honored to have the chance to carry that light forward,” said Lopez Harper.

About CERF+
Since 1985, CERF+ has assisted hundreds of artists working in craft disciplines with emergency financial assistance, as well as resources and education programs for studio-based artists designed to strengthen and sustain their careers. CERF+ works to assure the well-being and success of artists through these programs and through research and advocacy to improve the overall safety net for artists before, during, and after disasters.



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