Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden appoints new President and CEO

STATEN ISLAND, NY – Jessica Baker Vodoor is a tight fit.

The veteran of nonprofit management and theater has been named the next president and CEO of Snug Harbor Cultural Center and Botanical Garden, ending a month-long search for the new head of the cultural gem.

“To run such an amazing campus is an honor,” Vodoor told Advance / “I am really excited to undertake a project that will have an impact on the cultural landscape of New York City as a whole, and also very happy to connect with the whole community as a whole, the community. Culture of Staten Island and in particular the North Coastal Zone.


Vodoor, a native of Tampa, Florida, who lived in the Westerleigh community of Staten Island for a few years after college, noted that one of the many reasons she accepted Snug Harbor # 1 was the cultural approach to contemporary arts adopted by the center, which appealed to its background. .

“I think the aesthetic and the kind of art and theater and the things that I really love are happening and growing there, which I think is really exciting,” Vodoor said, adding that being able to support emerging artists was something that she always loved and appreciated in her career.

A self-proclaimed historic preserver, Vodoor is delighted to ensure that “our historic theaters and historic buildings do not disappear, [that they’re kept] vibrant and alive.

“There are so many parts of Snug Harbor that are so interesting: the incredible assets like the buildings, the gardens, the farm, the wealth of beauty, the history that exists. And I think in the city in general, Snug Harbor is such an amazing place that so few people even know it, and that’s, for me, one of the interesting challenges and also the opportunities.


Vodoor inherited the reins of the cultural gem from Aileen Chumard Fuchs, who was credited with nearly $ 40 million in improvements to the Snug Harbor grounds during her nearly five-year tenure. Fuchs officially resigned from his post in May after accepting a position as president and executive director of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC

“My first priority is really to get my feet on the ground and… start to understand the goals of the community, as my vision is mostly focused at the moment on the idea of ​​both supporting and amplifying the role of Snug. Harbor as a place for the community. connection, ”Vodoor said. “What I see makes it incredibly special is that… Snug Harbor is a place where the arts and nature and all kinds of interesting people and projects come together, and I would love to continue to develop and amplify that. “

According to Mark Lauria, chairman of the board of Snug Harbor, there are currently $ 52 million in projects spanning the 83-acre Snug Harbor campus, including the ongoing $ 23 million renovation of Music Hall which has started in 2019.

Lauria said that under Vodoor’s tutelage, he envisions Snug Harbor continuing to expand its site by 26 buildings, including the addition of a visitor center and restaurant, and ensure that the Music Hall is consistent with actor equity for off-Broadway theater. Additionally, Lauria predicts that Vodoor will help facilitate an increase in Snug Harbor’s annual budget from $ 5 million to $ 10 million.

“This leader is going to take us to the promised land,” Lauria said. “The last leaders we have [Fuchs and her predecessor Lynn B. Kelly] did a wonderful job, they really supported us. They financially place Snug Harbor in the best position he has ever held. … If there is anyone who can really now take him to the top of the ladder, it is [Vodoor]. “

Lauria highlighted Vodoor’s “incredible accomplishments” as well as her “human personality” as the reasons she caught the attention of the board.

“[We knew] she would truly be the voice of Snug Harbor we would like in the community, and her experience with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Department of Design and Construction, theaters, nonprofits , his experience in building construction, building management is amazing.


A graduate of the University of South Florida and an MA from the Marxe School of Public and International Affairs at Baruch College, Vodoor has over 30 years of experience in the cultural community. She began her career as Theater Director of the Blue Man Group in 1998, and eventually moved to the position of Senior Director of Operations where she oversaw the group’s real estate portfolio as well as theater operations in New York, Boston. , Chicago, Las Vegas, Orlando and Toronto.

After his 10-year tenure with Blue Man Group, Vodoor accepted a role with former creative director of Cirque du Soleil Franco Dragone’s Belgian company Dragone and launched a multi-million dollar theater start-up in the Autonomous Region of Macau, located on the south coast of China, where she worked for almost two years before returning to the United States and becoming independent.

Until she accepted the position at Snug Harbor, Vodoor was vice president of operations at The New 42nd Street in Manhattan, a nonprofit she joined in 2013, where she oversaw the annual revenues of real estate transactions arising from negotiations and relationships with commercial and non-profit tenants. with the Lyric Theater, American Airlines Theater, Times Square Theater, Empire 25 Movie Theaters and Liberty Theater, and has managed five nonprofit office tenants and one retail food services tenant in the New Building. 42nd Street Studios.

Vodoor also led a team responsible for the management of operations, facilities, real estate and capital projects for the New Victory Theater, New 42nd Street Studios and The Duke on 42nd Street.

Additionally, she worked as the owner’s construction representative for the multi-million dollar renovation of the Lyric Theater for the Broadway production of “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.”

Suffice to say that Vodoor was a good candidate for the job.

“We had a fabulous search committee led by David Cheng from DHC Search that we’ve used before, and they brought in some amazing candidates,” Lauria said. “[We looked] to Jessica’s experience in the theater, the number of theaters she has opened and started just in Manhattan, her understanding of how to deal with city and state government, how to raise funds and her experience in building and dealing with unions.

” It’s amazing. She is remarkable.


While Vodoor has reflected fondly on her time with The New 42nd Street, she is excited to lead Snug Harbor into her next chapter and, in particular, to work with the community.

“I come with open ears and heart, and an approach to listen and hear the needs and vision of the community as a central point in making plans together,” she said. “It’s so important to me that I feel like shaping this vision collectively and being at the forefront of the world for it.

“I think my hope and enthusiasm is to really start meeting a lot of different people, hearing their ideas and building this future vision together. … Snug Harbor should be a place for everyone. It should be a place where everyone should belong. And I hope that would be part of my goal, to embrace this culture and this environment. Embodying that, I think, would be something I would absolutely strive to do.

Vodoor, who currently resides in Brooklyn with her husband, will begin his tenure on January 10.

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