The Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council has been searching for a new executive director and announced that the position will be filled by a familiar face, Whitney Lee.

“I’ve been on the council board for a few years and the arts is something I personally have always been passionate about,” Lee said in a phone interview with the E-T. “It’s been something near and dear to my heart and when Julie told us she was leaving, I didn’t apply right away. But I thought I owed it to myself to at least try.”

Lee will leave her current position as executive director of Meals on Wheels of Erath County and officially start her first day on June 25 for the CTFAC art camp.

“I am very excited and a little overwhelmed. It’s definitely going to be a change from my work at Meals on Wheels, but I’m excited,” Lee said.

Lee said an interim director will be in place for Meals on Wheels until the board hires someone new.

Former CTFAC executive director, Julie Crouch-Smith, started her new position as the manager of the Stephenville Tourism and Visitors Bureau in April.

“She knows all the ins and outs of a non-profit 501c3 and has exciting new ideas for the arts council,” said board president Kelijon Nance. “Julie brought us to a place where we could look forward and we think Whitney will take us into the future. We’re so excited about it. We’re going to see improvements, changes and new ideas.”

Nance said they reviewed many applications.

“We had a really long time period of interviewing and we got applicants from New York City, Alabama, Illinois and just all over the United States,” Nance said. “We had two phases of interviews and narrowed it down to four. We even flew a couple people in to get some face-to-face time.”

A committee was formed for the interview process and was comprised of former CTFAC board members and supporters from all around Erath County. Lee was the final decision. 

“I have a lot of big dreams for the arts council,” Lee said. “We cover eight counties so there is a lot of room to grow and I think it’s fitting that my first week will be art camp because getting in with the kids will be so important. I’m so excited to work in these programs for children and I’m excited to work on expanding our gallery options as well.”

Crouch-Smith is also excited about Lee taking over the role.

“The committee could not have made a better choice than Whitney Lee. Her nonprofit experience and leadership at Meals on Wheels will be a guiding force for the next chapter for the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council," Crouch-Smith said. "As a former board member, she is passionate about the organization and know in my heart the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council will be in great hands. I admire her intelligence, professionalism and her drive, and I look forward to working with her."