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West Nebraska Arts Center getting a new Program Manager

West Nebraska Arts Center getting a new Program Manager
Stephanie Cooley and Maria Lena Medina, incoming and outgoing Program Managers for the West Nebraska Arts Center (Miller/KNEB/RRN)

There’s a transition in progress at the West Nebraska Arts Center in Scottsbluff, where Maria Lena Medina will be leaving some time later this spring.

Medina tells KNEB News she was initially hesitant to take the program manager’s post, but wanted to learn the business end of the art world and found promoting the center’s work has been enjoyable. “I remember when I was a teenager in high school, I didn’t know we had an arts center. I didn’t know we had an arts center until I was an adult,” says Medina. “I happened to showing at the Gering Art Festival and someone approached me from the North Platte Valley Artist’s Guild, and that’s how I found out about the arts center. I was like, ‘I didn’t even know this was here, how come my art teacher never told me?'”

Medina’s replacement will be Stephanie Cooley, who started part-time before going full-time in mid-March. Cooley says she’s learning from the best on how to deal with what can be a complex position. “You really have to be thinking about everything, but focusing on one thing all at the same time,” says Cooley. “And you have to be always looking ahead, and being prepared for everything.”

Medina says she has full confidence in Cooley’s abilities to build on the foundation of work Medina will leave behind.

For her part, Medina describes the decision to move on as bittersweet. “My plan is to possibly be gone sometime in the middle of May and do some traveling and go to some places I haven’t been before,” says Medina. She says toward the end of her travels, she will decide where to set down roots again, but will absolutely be back through the area to visit with friends, family and a grandchild that’s on the way.

Medina says she plans to tell the Arts Center Board of her final day sometime in April.

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