Bill May Retirement

Bill May, executive director of Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts will retire April 1, 2020, Dr. Steven Gottlieb, president of Arrowmont Board of Governors announced today. The Board of Governors has granted Bill the title of Executive Director Emeritus.

In making the announcement, Dr. Gottlieb said,

These last few years at Arrowmont have been both “exciting” and “challenging”:

  • Exciting because so much has happened, including the forest fires that consumed two of our dormitories but led to the building of a new, larger, more modern and far better equipped one:
  • Challenging as a result of a $33,000,000 comprehensive campaign containing a 2:1 challenge that has so far enabled Arrowmont to successfully raise more than $30,000,000 of that total.

Looking back even a little further, many predicted the demise of the school about the time we learned that we had to purchase the land that we had been on for almost 100 years. But, with a lot of help and superior leadership, we met that challenge too.

None of these successes just happened. People were and are the reasons for our tenacity and determination to make all these good things happen. The combination of dedicated staff, Bill May’s leadership, and a committed Board of Governors are the principal reasons for the good fortune that has come to Arrowmont. For the past eight years with Bill at the helm, supported by a competent staff, and extraordinary donors who believe in the school, Arrowmont has moved into the future equipped for the challenges that lie before us.

As we were planning Moving Mountains, the campaign to secure Arrowmont’s future, Bill announced that at the end of the campaign, he would retire. In anticipation of Bill’s retirement, a nationwide search was conducted for his replacement. We found that person among Arrowmont’s constituency—Jim Scarsella, a Michigan woodturner and corporate leader, was hired as deputy director.

Jim has a unique set of qualifications–award-winning wood turner experience and more than twenty years’ professional management experience including building and operating an anesthesia management and clinical services company. In addition to his anesthesia and medical training, Jim holds graduate degrees in finance and management. His expert leadership skills include finance, contracting, personnel management, and operations experience. Jim’s passion for arts and crafts and woodworking were the reason he left his very successful business to devote himself to Arrowmont. For the past two years, Jim has worked closely with Bill May and our staff, learning about Arrowmont and leading the day-to-day operations. Upon Bill’s formal retirement, Jim will assume executive directorship of Arrowmont.

Gottlieb said, “The Board of Governors and staff have utmost confidence in Jim and his ability to lead Arrowmont into the future. We are all excited about the future and the opportunities and challenges it will bring.”

Bill May Steve Gottlieb Jim Scarsella

On March 21, 2020 Arrowmont will celebrate Arrowmont’s 75th year of operation as a school of arts and crafts, the achievement of the Moving Mountains Campaign goal, and recognize and commemorate Bill May’s contributions to the School with a day-long community event at Arrowmont.

Founded as a settlement school in 1912 by the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, Arrowmont has grown into a national center for contemporary arts and crafts education, supporting learning opportunities for individuals of all skills levels and ages. Arrowmont is located on 13 acres in the heart of Gatlinburg, TN only minutes away from Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With access to tourist attractions, the convenience of a large city nearby, and a thriving arts and crafts community, Arrowmont offers a unique and immersive learning environment—an unexpected creative oasis amidst the bustle of a popular tourist destination.

The heritage of the School is rooted in an approach to the arts that builds upon traditional arts and crafts, and the joy of making. People travel from across the nation and the globe to take classes at Arrowmont. More than 150 national workshops are offered annually, in addition to a full complement of community classes, children’s classes and ArtReach classes, which provide a day of art to over 1,200 Appalachian school children annually.


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