Amy Gardner is looking forward to her new position as the associate vice president for major and planned gifts at the development office and enriching the Chautauqua experience through her work.
Gardner is originally from Mayville, New York, and has been coming to the Institution since she was a child. She is excited to be back in Chautauqua and is amazed to see how much the community has changed over the years.
“It’s really exciting for me to come back; it’s kind of like coming full circle,” Gardner said. “I see it in a totally different light, and it’s really wonderful to see how much it’s grown and changed and evolved over the last 20 years. I’m excited to be a part of taking it to the next level.”
This isn’t Gardner’s first job at the Institution. As a young adult, she worked in numerous positions at the Institution and was involved in the Chautauqua community.
“I grew up coming to Chautauqua,” Gardner said. “I was in the Boys’ and Girls’ Club when I was a kid. I worked here as a tour guide and at the Amphitheater.”
Gardner said that coming to the Institution still feels the same, though she now enjoys getting to share these experiences and learning opportunities with her husband and three sons.
“It was really interesting being back and knowing that I was going to be here for the summer, and seeing all of the things that I knew from growing up here,” Gardner said. “Coming into the grounds, it still feels the same. It still feels like this oasis of a place where you can do as much or as little as you want — you can learn as much as you possibly can even in a day.”
Gardner’s position is new to the development office, and she believes her experience and former positions have prepared her for this role at the Institution as a new strategic plan, 150 Forward, charts greater aspirations for new philanthropy at Chautauqua.
She previously worked at the Kennedy Center for a few years doing development, and then at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C.
“After Shakespeare Theatre, I went to the University of Maryland where I worked in the College of Arts and Humanities for three years, and that’s where I was before coming here to Chautauqua,” Gardner said.
Gardner is going to be based at the Institution’s Washington, D.C. office during the off-season and will be at Chautauqua during the summer season. She said her previous training and experience will help her bring new ideas and solutions to Chautauqua.
“I feel like I can bring a lot of creative solutions and ideas to really make this an operation that’s going to take us into the next campaign, the 150th anniversary, and the next 10 years for the strategic plan,” Gardner said. “To me, it is really exciting to have that plan in place and to be able to look at it and think, ‘OK, where do we go from here?’ and to have a voice on how that’s going to happen.”
Gardner is looking forward to Chautauqua’s 150th anniversary. She said the sesquecentennial will create an opportunity to spread the story of Chautauqua outside the Institution’s grounds and introduce people to the experiences offered here.
“One of the best things about coming here is not only that it’s Chautauqua, but that it’s a place I love and care about and want to support,” she said. “It’s also a place where I can have a voice and where I can have an impact.”