The largest organization promoting arts throughout the Cross Timbers region has a new leader.

On January 2, Stacy Smith assumed the role of executive director of Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council. Smith stepped into the position after former executive director Keri Wallace resigned due to family illness.

Smith is no stranger to the area - or to the arts. A native of De Leon, Smith brings a wealth of fine arts and non-profit organization knowledge to the position.

After earning a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Tarleton State University and a Masters in Arts from Oklahoma City University, Smith devoted much of his professional career managing non-profit arts organizations. He served as assistant director for the Arts Experiment Station in Tifton, Georgia, where he advised five major school districts in arts curriculum, managed several arts venues and served as resident director of the Tifton Theater for Performing Arts. Most recently Smith held the title of Cultural and Special Events Manager for the City of North Richland Hills. Among his various roles in NRH, he produced and created the first Arts and Entertainment Series, the ARTsploration year-round arts residencies, and the Summer Theatre and Arts Camps for children.

Smith said his is “very happy to be back in the area,” and that he looks forward to continuing the tradition of “making the arts accessible to all people of all walks of life.”

“I want to continue with the programs we already have in place,” he said. “But I would also like to add some new exhibits and fund-raisers such as a black-tie gala.”

In the meantime, Smith and his staff are busy focusing on the upcoming “Ragin Cajun,” slated for Friday, Feb. 23. The annual event features live music and Cajun-style seafood served by local “celebrity” waiters.

A welcome reception in honor of Stacy Smith will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., Thursday, Feb. 1, at the Cross Timbers Fine Arts Council and River North Gallery located at 204 River North Blvd in Stephenville. The public is invited. If interested in attending, RSVP to ctfac@our-town.com or call 254-965-6190.

Sara Vanden Berge covers courts, law enforcement, and business and political issues for the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached at sara.vandenberge@empiretribune.com. Her work number is 968-2379, ext. 240.