21 Sep Board Corner: James Lemons
1) Why were you interested in getting involved in the ROOST board?
As the executive director of the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, I know first-hand of the amazing generosity of the people who live and work in the area. Without the support of our community, we would not have been able to see the tremendous growth we have experienced over the last three years, including a 40 percent increase in our operating budget and serving an additional 15,000 people each year. Our organization relies upon the generosity and service of others – and it is only fair to return that kindness by service to another organization. ROOST plays an integral role in making our entire region prosper, and I am happy to help in any way I can.
2) What have your impressions been of the organization and the board since you’ve been on it?
What surprised me the most when I joined the board is the sheer number of activities that ROOST is involved with that help promote our region. It is easy to look at the huge events like Ironman, but almost every week there is something that ROOST is focusing on that is working to bring people to visit. During any week, they might be promoting an event in Tupper or distributing a series of blogs that promote all of the fantastic places to hike. They are always working to promote the region and share how great the Adirondacks are all year long.
4) Tell me about your background.
I grew up on a small farm in Texas. After school I moved to Dallas, where I spend 10 years helping to run a professional theatre. There I directed more than 40 plays and musicals and learned the ins-and-outs of how a nonprofit runs. After Dallas, I moved to Florida, where I managed the construction of a $7.5 million renovation of a 100-year-old theatre and the creation of two additional theatre spaces. Over the past 15 years, I’ve experienced working at nonprofits that were both very large and very small. And I have seen how nonprofits can actively change a community and make them an even better place to live and work.
5) Where do you see yourself as fitting in in terms of representing voices on the ROOST board?
At present, I represent the nonprofit community on the ROOST board. As a community, we don’t always do the best job of talking about our economic impact on a community. But the North Country has many nonprofits — from performing and visual arts to health and human services. All of our nonprofits contribute to the overall health of the community and give people a reason to visit the region. I see that impact directly at the LPCA. At almost every performance, we have someone who has traveled to the region to see a performance or take a class, and those people spend money at local shops, restaurants, and hotels. Our nonprofit community is a huge economic drive for the region, and I’m proud to be a voice for that success.