Flying Cloud Institute’s Executive Director to Step Down at Year’s End

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NEW MARLBOROUGH, Mass.— Flying Cloud Institute has announced that Jane Burke will step down as executive director at the end of 2016 after 32 years in that role.

As Flying Cloud’s founder and first executive director, Burke has overseen the organization’s growth from an inventive experiment on a family farm in New Marlborough to a highly respected and effective educational force reaching more than 3,500 young people and hundreds of teachers through science and arts programs in schools and through other local partners throughout Berkshire County.

“Flying Cloud is thriving as never before,” said Amy Rudnick, chair of the board of directors. “With Jane as our leader, we have a strong set of effective programs, managed by a talented team of professionals, a solid financial footing and a number of trusted collaborative partners throughout Berkshire County. We have ample time to conduct a thoughtful search and transition successfully to new leadership. Our board, staff and donors are committed to seeing that the next generation of students can avail itself of the invaluable resource of Flying Cloud’s programs.” 

Flying Cloud is a leader in science and arts professional development for teachers and innovative programming for youth in Berkshire County. Among its outstanding programs are its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) in the Schools program that reaches students from Sheffield to Pittsfield; Young Women in Science, which inspires girls in grades 3-12 in the areas of STEM subjects and its renowned SMArt Summer Program for children ages 5-14.

“It’s been a joy to do this work over all these years,” Burke said. “I have had the privilege of pursuing my personal passion for sharing science and art ideas with children while building a significant community resource. I never imagined that Flying Cloud Institute would continue after me. I’m grateful that our Board, staff and donors value this work and are committed to continuing the programs for the next generation of young people. I look forward to having time to complete my curricular efforts on the Chemistry of Art for the classroom and to support innovative educational initiatives.”  

Burke was publicly acknowledged for her work of several decades at the Berkshire Museum in March when she was named one of the 2016 recipients of the Berkshire Award for her significant contribution to the wider Berkshire community “working to create, keep and promote our artistic, historic and natural heritage.”

A search committee, led by Rudnick and supported by Jennifer Dowley of Dowley Associates, has been formed to search for Burke’s successor. As part of the transition plan, Flying Cloud Institute has moved its office from the New Marlborough campus to Great Barrington and will be a tenant at the newly renovated St. James Place on Main Street. The summer program remains on the New Marlborough campus. In addition, Lisa Lesser, an experienced educator from the Framingham, Massachusetts school district, has been hired to be director of Flying Cloud’s STEM in Schools Program.

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