Executive Director

Elizabeth K. Ahrens

Letter from Liz

Dear AIS Members-

Life is truly about opportunities.  Taking risks. Knowing when to embrace your routine and knowing when to make the leap.  

I have jumped into the newly created role of Executive Director for American Impressionist Society and I couldn’t be more excited!   After spending three intense days of training with your CEO/President, Debra Joy Groesser, and Treasurer, Don Groesser, I am amazed at their dedication to you, the members of American Impressionist Society.   We’ve discussed the mission, history, founders, membership, exhibitions, education, events, surveys and new programs we want to launch. Hours have been spent on the efficient administration of an organization without a “bricks and mortar” location.  

And what did we discover?   Traditions are priceless. Our members interests will always drive our work.  The definition of “impressionism” is a great subject for debate. And perhaps, most importantly,  AIS is a your creative community. Our members develop friendships, meet their painting idols and share their triumphs and tribulations.  

I’ve got a lot to learn about you and AIS. Yet, I feel my twenty years leading two arts centers  in northern Michigan gives me a strong tailwind! I reside in Harbor Springs so stop by or give me a call if you are in the area.   Please feel free to reach out to me through email, Facebook or in person at our upcoming Small Works Show at RS Hanna in Fredericksburg, Texas.   Your board of directors have put together a great week of events including much requested critique sessions.  

Thank you for the warm welcome and I’ll end with a question for you--when was the last time you took a leap?  I highly recommend it! 

Liz Ahrens

AIS Executive Director



About Liz

Liz Ahrens was the Executive Director/President of the Crooked Tree Arts Center (CTAC) of Petoskey and Traverse City, Michigan.  She joined the staff of CTAC as Marketing Director in 2000 and was promoted in 2005.  Her responsibilities included strategic planning, development, budgeting, human resources, grant writing, public relations, program planning, events and contract negotiations.  She led a staff of 15 full time employees, 200 contract artists, musicians and performers and managed a budget of $2,000,000.  

Liz has been active in a number of organizations including currently serving as the President of the Rotary Club of Petoskey.   She served as President of the Board of Directors of the Harbor Springs Area Chamber of Commerce in 2012 and President of the Petoskey Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2007.  She was appointed by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder to serve on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs in 2011.  Liz served as a board member of ArtServe Michigan and the Michigan State University College of Arts and Letters Alumni Board.   Liz received the Athena Award in December of 2014 for her dedication to the community and her work in the non-profit sector. 

Liz holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Management from Spring Arbor University and Certificate in Fundraising Management from Indiana University School of Philanthropy.   She earned her undergraduate degree in Humanities from Michigan State University in 1984.

The AIS Board is excited about this new chapter for the American Impressionist Society with the hiring of Liz as our first ever paid executive director, effective January 27, 2020. In this role, Ahrens will lead the executive operational duties, exhibitions, educational programs, communications, membership and the growth of AIS.  As you can see, she is extremely qualified with extensive experience in the arts nonprofit sector and will be a tremendous asset to AIS and our members as we move forward for the future. We are absolutely thrilled to have her on board with us.  

We hope you’ll join us in welcoming Liz to our AIS family! You will be able to meet her during her first official event at our AIS Impressions Small Works Showcase at RS Hanna Gallery in Fredericksburg, TX, which opens on March 6, 2020.

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