The development office has welcomed new staff member Debbie Meyers to Chautauqua. Meyers serves as the assistant vice president for advancement operations. In a newly created position for the development team, Meyers believes she is ready to flourish in this role and help enhance the Chautauqua experience.
“When I interviewed, I went through each of the four pillars, one at a time, and explained why I thought I would be a good candidate,” Meyers said.
Chautauqua is organized around its four pillars: education, arts, religion and recreation. Being able to relate to the four pillars was a key determinant for Meyers when applying for her position. She also has over 30 years of experience in higher education and development, enjoys nature, was in a dance company and was an active usher at her church.
“All those things made me excited about wanting to come here, but also, beyond that, I believe in this Institution’s mission,” Meyers said. “I can’t say strongly enough how important it is for people to keep learning.”
Before accepting her job at the Institution, she was senior director of stewardship and donor relations at the University of Maryland, College Park.
“It’s challenging, yet it’s familiar,” Meyers said of her new role. “It’s a challenge to me professionally and personally to come up with a different way to look at things. One of the reasons Geof (Follansbee, vice president of development) said he wanted me here is to see if there’s another way things might work better and differently, based on experiences that I’ve had outside this universe.”
As a year-round employee, Meyers started work in June, just a couple of weeks prior to the beginning of the 2019 season. She lives in Mayville, with her husband, Paul (her high school drum major). They have four grown children and are experiencing life in Chautauqua as new “empty-nesters.”
Though she has held multiple positions in the development field, she is particularly pleased with her role at the Institution because of her freedom to be creative and implement new ideas.
“I’ve never been able to run the whole show; I’ve always been the one in the middle who came up with the good ideas and sometimes I’d get to do them, sometimes I wouldn’t,” Meyers said. “Now I get to be the creator. I get to come up with these new things or enhance the existing things.”
One of Meyers’ favorite characteristics about Chautauqua is the close-knit community. She said she enjoys the way Chautauquans take the time to learn more about one another after just meeting for the first time.
“Everybody knows everybody, and they’re so welcoming,” Meyers said. “It’s different from being in a large city, and the whole community vibe is completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced.”
Meyers said things like being able to hear the symphony by just walking past the Amphitheater, and the unlimited access to art on the grounds, are what make Chautauqua so great.
“The convenience and access to all those artistic experiences,” Meyers said, “there’s art everywhere.”
Meyers said being at Chautauqua leaves her with a magical feeling.