Sarah Wilke has been hired as the new Executive Director of the Seattle International Film Festival, replacing outgoing Interim Executive Director Christine Martin. Wilke comes to SIFF after a year-long search by SIFF’s Board of Directors, with support from search firm partner Arts Consulting Group. Wilke will transition into her new position over two months, starting next Thursday, October 27th when she makes her first public debut as Executive Director at SIFF’s annual fundraising gala, SIP for SIFF. Martin will remain at SIFF in a reduced capacity through November to help transition Wilke into her new role.
Sarah Wilke became Managing Director of Seattle’s On the Boards at the start of its 2004–05 season. Her responsibilities include the day-to-day and long-term strategic management of the organization. During her time there, On the Boards received a 2015 Fractured Atlas Arts Innovation Award for OntheBoards.tv., a 2013 William Dawson Award for Programmatic Excellence and Sustained Achievement in Programming from the Association of Performing Arts Presenters, a 2011 Mayor’s Arts Award, and a 2006 Stranger Genius Award for outstanding Arts Organization.
Prior to this position, Wilke worked as Managing Director of Consolidated Works in Seattle, as Associate Curator of education at the Tacoma Art Museum, and at the Freer & Sackler Galleries in Washington, D.C. in various education, programming, and curatorial positions. Wilke was a Fulbright Fellow in Sri Lanka. She has served as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts, The Kresge Artist Fellowships, The Pew Center for Arts and Heritage, Artist Trust, and the National Performance Network.
“On behalf of the entire SIFF Board of Directors, we couldn’t be more pleased that Sarah has agreed to leave a job she loves in order to join SIFF as its new Executive Director,” said Brian LaMacchia, SIFF Board President. “This is an exciting time for our organization; SIFF is experiencing consistent upward growth and we are about to conclude another record year. The Board looks forward to supporting Sarah as she continues SIFF’s mission to bring the best of the world of cinema to Puget Sound and beyond. ”
“I’ve known and respected Sarah for many years and am looking forward to working with her,” said Beth Barrett, SIFF’s Interim Artistic Director. “Sarah has demonstrated in her current position that she is incredibly smart, strategic, enthusiastic, and just darn nice. The SIFF staff and I are excited to have a leader like her who not only knows our organization and Seattle so well, but who has the kind of experience she brings to the table.”
“I have been incredibly lucky in my life that I have been able to be places that I love working, in areas that are engaging intellectually to me,” said Wilke. “I have cherished my years at On the Boards and now I am very excited to get to join SIFF, a strong organization I have enjoyed as an audience member since moving to Seattle in 2001. I look forward to furthering SIFF’s role within the film community in Seattle and beyond.”