Cultural Alliance of York County president to retire

Maria Yohn
York Dispatch
Mary Anne Winkelman

Mary Anne Winkelman brought the Cultural Alliance of York County into the digital age, and now she is leaving it to others to continue her legacy of innovation.

Winkelman, who has served the alliance for 17 years, first as a campaign director and then as president, will be retiring at the end of 2018. She plans to step down effective Dec. 31, according to a news release.

Winkelman came to the alliance in 2000 as a volunteer representative of the York Junior Symphony Orchestra and was hired on a full-time, permanent basis in 2001. She has served as president for the past four years.

More:Creative Impact Award winners for 2018 announced

More:Box Lunch Revue 2018 will feature Wednesday performances in May

An Erie native, Winkelman has a background is in software programming, a skill that proved useful when she began working for the Cultural Alliance. She graduated from Temple University with a degree in computer and information sciences and worked for BancTec for 13 years, ultimately serving as vice president of software services.

 “My background is technical,” she said.

After the birth of her daughter, she decided to stay home and support her endeavors, which included a passion for music. When her daughter became a member of the York Junior Symphony Orchestra, Winkelman became a liaison to the Cultural Alliance, marking the beginning of her relationship with the organization.

She was hired full-time as a campaign director in 2001, not long after the alliance was founded as the United Arts Fund in 1999.

Mary Anne Winkelman, Cultural Alliance of York County president, stands in front of a showcase representing almost every campaign she's spearheaded since she began working for the organization in 2001.

Revolutionary: Given her technical background, she knew from the start that she was going to do things differently.

In 2003, the internet was not as prominent in public life as it is today, but she knew she couldn’t handle working with paper.

“I said, ‘I don’t work well with paper. Can we automate this?’" 

Soon, she developed an online, interactive platform for managing the organization’s annual campaign. It was revolutionary at the time and was shared with other nonprofit organizations around the country.

Shortly thereafter, she was asked to give a presentation at the national conference for Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the arts in the U.S.

The Cultural Alliance was one of the tiniest groups there, she said, but they made an impact when she introduced her online platform to the audience.

A representative from one of the largest participating organizations in the country even came to her and offered an observation.

“He said, ‘Who would have thought we could have learned something from little old York, Pa.?'” she said.

After that, the Cultural Alliance sold and installed its platform at a number of organizations, she said.

'Robust': Winkelman said she is proud of how the arts community in York has blossomed over the years she has worked for the alliance, citing the renovation of the Strand-Capitol Performing Arts Center, now the Appell Center for the Performing Arts, as well as the county’s youth and junior symphony orchestras and a plethora of art galleries that have opened in the city.

“Now arts organizations are opening up all the time,” she said. “The arts community has changed remarkably. It’s so much more robust.” 

However, she is ready to retire and embark on new endeavors with her family.

Tony Campisi, chairman of the alliance's board of directors, will lead the transition team to conduct a search for a new president.

“Since Mary Anne began her tenure as president, she has brought a transparency and strength to the Cultural Alliance and our arts sector in York,” he said in the release.

“As we plan for this transition and change in leadership, we also want to express our sincere thanks to Mary Anne for her dedication and commitment to the Cultural Alliance and strengthening the arts in our community,” he said.

Winkelman remains grateful for the alliance staff as well as local philanthropists who have contributed greatly to the arts community. She feels the alliance is on firm footing, providing the perfect timing for her departure.  

“I’m really looking forward to great things out of this organization,” she said.