[UPDATE: FIL's board and Baker jointly announced her resignation in an email sent out at 6 p.m. Thursday. The release follows this breaking news story.]
The IND has confirmed that Dana Baker's 11-year run as executive director of Festival International de Louisiane ended Wednesday when she tendered her resignation. No reason was given, according to the festival's board president, Monica Hebert.
The resignation was effective immediately, Hebert tells The IND. "We are supportive of whatever endeavor she [pursues]." Hebert says. "People move on. Festival is going to be OK. We're going to work on it as a team."
Hebert says Baker has offered to help tie up any loose ends and would be available if she is needed during the transition.
Diane Harris, who has been FIL's production director for eight years, was named interim executive director, Hebert says.
It is unclear what prompted the departure, as FIL had its most successful event this year in terms of attendance, Hebert confirms, and Baker appeared to be a competent leader. Just last year FIL was named Best World Music Festival in the About.com World Music Readers' Choice Awards.
In 2011 Baker, along with two of her FIL colleagues, was a recipient of ABiz's Women Who Mean Business awards. Read more about why she was chosen here.
The IND left a voice message for Baker, who has already deactivated her Facebook page, on her cell phone. We will follow up on this story.
At 6 p.m. today FIL's board and Baker jointly announced her departure in the following release:
The board of directors of Festival International de Louisiane (FIL) has accepted the resignation of Festival Executive Director Dana Baker, effective June 12, 2013.
Serving as executive director since 2003, Baker has overseen a period of impressive growth for Festival International, culminating with this year’s record-setting attendance of more than 400,000 over a five-day period.
Festival Board President Monica Hebert said, “We want to thank Dana for her years of service to this organization, and we wish her success in the future. We look forward to continuing to build on the momentum that Festival International has gained over the past several years through Dana’s leadership.”
Dana Baker says, “I was fortunate to have served as a Volunteer for seven years and then had the incredible opportunity to serve as both Marketing Coordinator and ultimately Executive Director since 2001 for an organization I love - filled with people I love. I’ve often referred to my job as THE coolest job that exists, and it has been an incredibly fun ride. I could not be more proud of the successes I’ve been so fortunate to be a part of over the last 13 years.”
Hebert says, “It is important that we continue to grow as an organization, and we will be searching for a uniquely qualified individual whose talents and vision will match our goals for the future. Festival will continue to be a truly special celebration for the entire Lafayette community.”
Baker continues, “It is a bittersweet moment for me as I say farewell to an organization that I admire deeply. Like with anything one does in life, there is a time for everything and this is an ideal time of the year for the organization that I love to transition. Likewise, it is the perfect time for me personally and professionally to explore new challenges. The experience I have enjoyed with Festival International for the majority of my professional career will be of enormous benefit in my future endeavors, but first on the list is some quality time with my family and friends.”
The Festival International Board of Directors will form a transition team to guide the search for a replacement director. In the interim, Festival Production Director Diane Harris will serve as acting executive director.
“I cannot express in words the strong feelings I have for the current and former staff members that have dedicated their lives to this great organization,” says Baker. “They have been the foundation of the organization that has worked with the many volunteers, current and past board members, and sponsors which have all collaborated in an effort to increase the economic development and cultural tourism in Lafayette and across Louisiana. These individuals have been and will continue to be instrumental in the education and enrichment of our connection to the Francophone world while celebrating our unique local heritage. I am confident that whoever is fortunate enough to assume this role will know what I have always known and felt, that Festival International and Lafayette are like no other place on earth. I will always be a proud member of the Festival family.”