East End Arts (EEA) announced their hiring of new Executive Director Shawn Hirst on Thursday. Longtime director Pat Snyder is stepping down after more than two decades working with the local arts advocacy organization, first as Education Director, from 1995–2001, and then Executive Director.
Joining EEA with more than 15 years of management experience in the non-profit sector, specifically in the community service world, Hirst will report to the Board of Directors and work with them to build and lead staff and volunteers in fundraising, marketing and communications. She has been working alongside Snyder for a few weeks, learning her new role and preparing to take her able predecessor’s place.
“I am humbled and excited to lead this important organization into its next chapter. I want to thank everyone for their warm welcome. I want to thank Pat Snyder, EEA staff and the board of directors for their support and assistance in helping me transition into this position,” Hirst says. “Following in Pat’s shoes will not be easy, but with your input, participation and support, we can be assured that East End Arts has a bright future.”
Snyder announced her decision to step down as Executive Director in March. During her tenure, Snyder made great strides for EEA, earning multiple awards and helping to establish popular programs, such as the Teeny Awards, the Riverhead Community Mosaic Street Painting Festival, Long Island Winterfest and more—all of which are now hotly anticipated annual traditions cemented into the local cultural landscape. She is also credited with developing the music education program, introducing visual art instruction and creating an East End Arts summer camp. Under Snyder’s leadership, the EEA student body grew from 45 in 1995 to the current roster of 600 students in all age groups.
When she announced her pending departure, Snyder said, “It has been an honor to lead East End Arts over the years. My life has been enriched through my work in ways I never could have anticipated. I’ve learned first-hand about the power of the arts to make a difference and have had the pleasure to meet and work with a multitude of amazing, creative people. As I move forward to my next adventure I will keep those memories close to my heart.”
Prior to succeeding Snyder at EEA, Hirst was the Chief Development Officer and the Acting Chief Program Officer for The Suffolk Y Jewish Community Center in Commack, providing executive leadership for the daily operations, various programming and director level staff. She led the organization to meet its current annual fundraising goals, while growing and diversifying its funding base. Before that, Hirst was the Executive Director of Patchogue-Medford Youth and Community Services. In her tenure there, she led the organization through a period of unprecedented expansion.
“I recognize I have a lot to learn and I intend to invest time and attention to get to know and understand the EEA culture; policies and procedures; and the legislative environment impacting the broader community,” Hirst adds, pointing out her commitment to work with the EEA board toward further growth and success.
“We have a great team here at EEA. We are all focused on providing great benefits, services and programs,” Hirst continues, welcoming the community to make themselves heard by her and the organization. “Feel free to reach out to any of us at any time; we are happy to hear from you,” she says.
Hirst received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Syracuse University and her Master’s degree in Social Work from Adelphi University. She resides in Lake Ronkonkoma with her husband and two children.
East End Arts comprises a School of the Arts (141 East Main Street, 631-369-2171) as well as Galleries and Offices (133 East Main Street, 631-727-0900) in Riverhead.
For more info about East End Arts and their many programs, classes, events and more, visit eastendarts.org.