Laying a new path
Bravo Greater Des Moines’ second executive director is planning a new course for the arts organization
Friday, March 14, 2014 7:00 AM
Sally Dix doesn’t describe herself as a “gut feeling” person.
Hometown: Wilmette, Ill.
Education: Degrees in environmental science and policy from Northwestern University and Johns Hopkins University. M.B.A. from the University of Iowa’s Henry B. Tippie College of Business
Family: Husband, Patrick, and sons, Will and JT
“I’m more of a person who believes if you gather enough information, the right answer will present itself,” Dix said. “I’ve never been one of those people who just knows.”
Neverthless, when she heard that M.D. Isley was leaving Bravo Greater Des Moines’ executive director job, a position he had held since 2008, Dix had that gut feeling.
“I wasn’t looking. I didn’t have my resume together. I wasn’t unhappy at my job,” she said, “but I remember reading it and in that instant, thinking that job was for me.”
Dix assumed the helm of Bravo in January. Prior to that, she worked for Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield as Blue Zones engagement manager and was executive director of the Des Moines affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a role she filled after taking time off following the birth of her twin sons. She also spent 10 years as vice president of communications for the Science Center of Iowa.
An Illinois native, Dix and her husband Patrick, a WHO-TV anchor, moved to Des Moines in 1999 for his job.
When they did, they had absolutely no intentions of staying.
“We didn’t even hang pictures on the wall,” Dix said. “The reason we stayed, though, was because of the changing arts and culture scene, my position at the Science Center and the direction Des Moines was going.”
Now, the thing that kept Dix and her family here is one she hopes to shape.
Isley, Bravo’s first and only executive director until Dix, announced he was leaving the organization in May 2013. When he left, Bravo’s board of directors put strategic planning for the organization on hold until it found his replacement.
“Bravo has always been very thoughtful about how they move forward,” Dix said. “Things are always done with great consideration.”
Strategic planning and goal-setting are near the top of Dix’s list. Her approach is to engage staff, the board of directors, Bravo partners and community members in conversation about Bravo’s future.
“It won’t just be us sitting in a room by ourselves and rolling out a plan,” she said. “We have so many stakeholders and want to make sure we’re listening ... and that we look at where the community is going and where the voids are we can fill.
“People want Bravo to succeed,” Dix said. “People are so passionate about it and the potential it represents. I have a lot to learn, but I think I have the right people helping and the right people invested in my success.”
Bravo is a nonprofit committed to increasing cultural awareness, advocacy and funding in Greater Des Moines. It also works to foster collaboration among arts, culture and heritage organizations.
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